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06.16.19

Links 16/6/2019: Tmax OS and New Features for KDE.org

Posted in News Roundup at 11:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Tmax OS Releases Open Source OS as an Alternative to MS Windows

      Tmax OS will release the Open Edition (OE) of the Tmax Operating System (OS), an open source version of the Tmax OS that anyone can freely use. This will create an ecosystem for an alternative OS to Microsoft’s (MS) Windows.

      The Tmax OS OE has the same functionality as the existing Tmax OS commercial version, except that it limits some functions for the enterprise environment. Users can use a variety of applications such as Linux-based apps as well as its self-developed office program Two Office and the web browser Two Gate.

      Tmax emphasized that it can provide stable and continuous Tmax OS OE upgrade and technical support as it has more than 400 professional researchers and technical personnel. Its graphical environment makes it easy for new MS Windows users to use the Tmax OS OE.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 5.1.10

      I’m announcing the release of the 5.1.10 kernel.

      All users of the 5.1 kernel series must upgrade.

      The updated 5.1.y git tree can be found at:
      git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-5.1.y
      and can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser:

      https://git.kernel.org/?p=linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-s…

    • Linux 4.19.51
    • Linux 4.14.126
    • Linux stable tree mirror at github [Ed: Greg Kroah-Hartman giving Microsoft more control over Linux]

      It differs from Linus’s tree at: https://github.com/torvalds/linux in that it contains all of the different stable tree branches and stable releases and tags, which many devices end up building on top of.

      So, mirror away!

      Also note, this is a read-only mirror, any pull requests created on it will be gleefully ignored, just like happens on Linus’s github mirror.

      If people think this is needed on any other git hosting site, just let me know and I will be glad to push to other places as well.

    • Linux Foundation

      • AT&T, Nokia open up the radio’s edge to third party apps [Ed: Openwashing to dominate the standards and interfaces (with patents) through the "Linux" Foundation]

        AT&T and Nokia have developed a radio edge cloud (REC) appliance that the two companies plan to release into open source via the Linux Foundation. The REC will make it possible for third parties to develop apps and get access to the radio access network (RAN).

        [...]

        Murphy said that it is not easy to predict all the use cases for REC but added that having an open source edge cloud with open interfaces to the RAN control will allow operators to have more options.

      • Accord Project to develop open source framework for smart legal contracts [Ed: They're promoting and spreading proprietary software and proprietary formats of Microsoft]

        One of the main purposes of Accord Project is, therefore, to provide a vendor-neutral “.doc” format for smart legal agreements.

      • Apple joins the open-source Cloud Native Computing Foundation

        Apple, in typical fashion, isn’t commenting on the announcement, but the CNCF notes that end-user memberships are meant for organizations that are “heavy users of open source cloud native technologies” and that are looking to give back to the community. By becoming a CNCF end-user member, companies also join the Linux Foundation .

    • Benchmarks

  • Applications

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • NetherWorld, an impressive looking and weird narrative pixel-art action game is coming to Linux

        Currently in development by Hungry Pixel, NetherWorld has a pretty impressive pixel-art visual style that will mix insane action with narrative elements and it’s coming to Linux.

        The actual plot of the game sounds pretty wild, starting with a marriage crisis as your wife decides to leave you and so you head to the local Bar to drown your sorrows. One thing leads to another with some unexpected turns, as you go on some sort of twisted journey as you explore the darkest corners of the land of NetherWorld.

        Discovered thanks to IndieDB, the developer recently confirmed to me that it will be supporting Linux.

      • Dota Underlords from Valve is already quite addictive and they’re improving it quickly

        With Dota Underlords available for testing, I’ve now taken a look at it (thanks Scaine!) and so far I’ve been quite impressed.

        Valve have essentially rewritten the rules of “Valve Time”, considering how quickly they’ve made it available and how promptly they’ve been responding to feedback. They’ve already adjusted it so you can switch between a Mobile and PC style for the user interface, fixed up the Linux version nicely (it runs beautifully!), removed the odd character outlines from the PC version and so on. Honestly, I’m genuinely surprised at how fast Valve are reacting with it.

        Since this is apparently the next big thing, it’s nice to see that Linux gamers can jump on in right away thanks to Valve. As a reminder, the original creator of the mod is making a stand-alone version for the Epic Games Store and the League of Legends developer Riot are also doing their own.

      • DXVK 1.2.2 released with performance improvements and bug fixes

        DXVK, the incredible project that provides a Vulkan-based layer for D3D11 and D3D10 games run with Wine has another release now available. DXVK 1.2.2 is quite a small point release but as always, it still brings with it some nice changes.

        This time around Team Sonic Racing has a bug fix to help some startup issues and Planet Coaster should also see less startup issues, although Planet Coaster does need “additional wine patches” as of Wine 4.10.

        Also in this release are some CPU overhead optimizations, improved compute shader performance on Nvidia GPUs in some games with Nier: Automata being one that was noted and minor bugs were solved that caused wine test failures.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • New features for kde.org

        The application page now contains some additional metadata information. This can help search engines to better understand the content of the webpage.

      • KDE Plasma 5.16 Released
      • Meet Kdenlive: Free Open Source NLE That Aims for Professionals

        As the battle of the NLEs continues between the big four (Premiere Pro, FCPX, Avid, and DaVinci Resolve), there are a few underdogs that aim to conquer the market. One of them is Kdenlive.

        It’s important to mention that this NLE is not new. The project was started by Jason Wood in 2002 and is now maintained by a small team of developers. Being an open source project constitutes as a significant advantage since it’s backed up by a massive community of contributors that have the privilege of improving and making the software to be more sharpened from an R&D point of view.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Georges Basile Stavracas Neto: Calendar management dialog, archiving task lists, Every Detail Matters on Settings (Sprint 2)

        This was a long-time request, and something that I myself was missing when using To Do. Since it fits well with the product vision of the app, there was nothing preventing it from being implemented.

        Selecting this feature to be implemented during the week was a great choice – the task was self contained, had a clear end, and was just difficult just enough to be challenging but not more than that.

        However, I found a few issues with the implementation, and want to use the next round to polish the feature. Using the entire week to polish the feature might be too much, but it will give me some time to really make it great.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • [ANN] CRUX 3.5 Released!
        Greetings!
        
        The CRUX team is happy to announce the release of CRUX 3.5!
        
        Notable changes include glibc 2.28, gcc 8.3.0 and binutils 2.32.
        
        CRUX 3.5 now also ships with PAM. We've made it as transparent
        as possible and it will be a good stepping stone for users wanting
        2-factor authentication and other fun stuff.
        Breaking changes include the move of dbus configuration from
        /usr/etc to /etc, so back up your configs before updating!
        Another potential headache may be various projects' move from
        autotools to newer build systems. glib may cause some problems here
        and dependent ports will need to be rebuilt.
        
        Release notes: http://crux.nu/Main/ReleaseNotes3-5
        Handbook: http://crux.nu/Main/Handbook3-5
        Changelog: 
        
        https://crux.nu/gitweb/?p=system/iso.git;a=blob;f=ChangeLog;h=118bc92d7be4b22bedd8294bc1d4893ad0e6b172;hb=refs/heads/3.5
        
        For download links see: http://crux.nu/Main/Download
        The ISO is available via BitTorrent: http://crux.nu/files/crux-3.5.torrent
        
        (Note: The HTTP/FTP mirrors will take some time to update.)
        
        Enjoy!
        
        Regards,
        Matt (for the CRUX team)
        
      • CRUX 3.5 Released, which comes with a multilib toolchain

        Matt Housh has proudly announced the new release of CRUX 3.5 on 11 June, 2019.

        CRUX 3.5 comes with a multilib toolchain which includes glibc 2.28, gcc 8.3.0, binutils 2.32, Linux 4.19.48, Xorg 7.7 and xorg-server 1.20.5

        Linux-PAM has been added to the core ports of CRUX 3.5 and important packages like shadow and sudo depend on it now, but normally the user should not even notice the new dependency.

        Linux-PAM will be a good stepping stone for users wanting 2-factor authentication and other fun stuff.

        Configuration of dbus has been moved from /usr/etc to /etc. This is a intrusive change because other ports like wicd, networkmanager and others are affected.

        Another potential headache may be various projects’ move from autotools to newer build systems. glib may cause some problems here and dependent ports will need to be rebuilt.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Microsoft shrugs off CERN’s planned “Microsoft Alternatives” transition to open-source software after price hike [iophk: "how did Microsoft even get into CERN in the first place?"]

    “While the Microsoft Alternatives project is ambitious, it’s also a unique opportunity for CERN to demonstrate that building core services can be done without vendor and data lock-in, that the next generation of services can be tailored to the community’s needs and finally that CERN can inspire its partners by collaborating around a new range of products,” he wrote.

  • Large Redmond Collider: CERN reveals plan to shift from Microsoft to open-source code after tenfold license fee hike

    Last year, anticipating an end to its discount, the lab, perhaps best known for the Large Hadron Collider, set in motion plans to shift toward open-source software to better control its computing costs.

    As such, CERN has been quietly working on a project called Microsoft Alternatives (MAlt) to develop migration paths away from the commercial software offered by Microsoft and like-minded vendors.

    In a memo issued Wednesday officially announcing the existence of MAlt, Emmanuel Ormancey, system architect at CERN, said Microsoft recently rescinded CERN’s academic designation. Following the conclusion of its previous contract with the software giant in March 2019, CERN was presented with a new contract based on user numbers that increased its licensing costs more than tenfold.

    CERN said while it has negotiated a gradual fee increase over the next decade, the higher costs simply aren’t sustainable.

  • CERN, the famous scientific lab where the web was born, tells us why it’s ditching Microsoft and helping others do the same

    For 20 years, Microsoft has been one of CERN’s major IT suppliers, but earlier this week, CERN announced in a blog post that, thanks to a tenfold price hike by Microsoft, CERN was yanking out all of its Microsoft software, a project it calls the Microsoft Alternatives project (MAlt). CERN employs about 2,500 people and collaborates with more than 12,200, and Microsoft told CERN it must pay increased per-user software pricing.

    [...]

    And he said CERN has every intention of showing other organizations how to replace Microsoft software with alternatives.

  • CERN want to see if it can operate with mostly open source software to “take back control”

    And a recent decision of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) certainly seems to be lending its seal of approval to the conclusion that Linux has won this protracted David and Goliath software battle. Not only on technical merit – or because of ethics – but also on cost.

    What happened here is that the Switzerland-based CERN – who run such massive scientific projects as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) – has been declared by Microsoft as “not an academic institution” – a decision designed to make CERN pay a full price for Microsoft products.

  • CERN turns to open source software as Microsoft increases its fees
  • CERN is looking to adopt open source software because Microsoft is too expensive [Ed: They mean proprietary software, not "commercial"]

    The research institute has therefore decided to explore ways of reducing or even eliminating its dependency on commercial [sic] software by employing open source alternatives.

  • CERN is going open source after Microsoft upped its licensing fees [Ed: This is how proprietary software works; it locks you in and then the cost skyrockets (when you're stuck).]

    Foreseeing this issue, the fancy folk at CERN started the Microsoft Alternative project (MAlt), last year, in an effort to figure out what alternative, open source software could be turned to their needs. More than likely, this also means moving to Linux systems, after almost 20 years of using Microsoft. It’s not a small thing, especially when particle physics is involved.

    Microsoft gets a lot of money from providing licenses for governmental and educational institutions, but if CERN can make the jump to open source, it might embolden others to do the same.

  • CERN to move away from Microsoft because license fees have skyrocketed

    Windows may still be the operating system on desktops and laptops, by choice or not, but Microsoft’s biggest profit comes from the wholesale licensing of the OS on enterprise, government, and educational computers. Those, however, are slowly losing ground especially with the latter two categories. That has mostly been because of the increasing costs of Windows licenses. That has caused not only governments but even CERN, the world’s largest particle physics laboratory, to move away from Windows and proprietary software at large.

  • The Open Source Cookbook: A Baker’s Guide to Modern Application Development

    Let’s begin our cookbook by selecting our recipe. I’ve had some phenomenal baked goods, and I’ve had some not-so-phenomenal baked goods (there is rarely a bad baked good). But I’ve been surprised before, by a croissant from a diner that didn’t taste like the one from the local French bakery, or by a buttercream frosting at a supermarket that just didn’t have the same delicate touch as the one I make at home. In each case, I expected the same as I had before – by title – yet encountered a much different experience. When selecting your recipes, it’s important to understand which type of a particular food you are expecting to make, or you may be met with a different taste when you finish than you were hoping for when you began.

    [...]

    As with cooking, when incorporating open source components into applications, it’s important to understand origin and evolution of what you’re baking into your software. Carefully review your open source component versions, and evaluate the community’s activity in order to have the greatest chance possible to predict the possible technical debt you may inherit.

  • Jack Dorsey answers our questions about Square’s plans for Bitcoin

    Square is a company best known for its disruptive card payment technology. Founded in 2009 by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, the company sells affordable mobile-based point-of-sale systems. But beyond the world of traditional fiat currencies, the firm is making cautious steps into the fast-paced world of cryptocurrency.

    Back in March, Dorsey tweeted that Square was actively recruiting a modest team of cryptocurrency developers and designers to work on open-source contributions to the ecosystem. In the months that followed, Square’s kept quiet about its progress.

  • Jack Dorsey’s open-source Bitcoin initiative makes its first hire

    Jack Dorsey’s open-source Bitcoin initiative, Square Crypto, brings on a former Google project manager as its first hire.

  • Nash Prepares to Launch Beta Version of Decentralized Exchange

    With a mission of “bringing distributed finance to everyone,” five open-source blockchain developers have come together to form a distributed finance platform using blockchain technology that allows for decentralized and non-custodial cryptocurrency trading.

  • Target open sources a blockchain solution called ConsenSource; plans to contribute to Hyperledger Grid framework

    Retail behemoth Target has been working on a blockchain proof of concept since mid-2018, the company’s vice president of architecture Joel Crabb wrote in a blog post. The blockchain solution called ConsenSource, which has been recently open-sourced, was developed to manage the certification of Target’s suppliers in the manufacturing of Target-branded paper products.

  • US Retailer Target Unveils Open Source Blockchain for Supply Chain Tracking
  • The Graph: An open-source query protocol for blockchains, using GraphQL

    Anyone who’s ever tried to build distributed applications (dApps) on the (Ethereum) blockchain would concur: Although blockchains are conceptually quite close to databases, querying databases feels like a different world entirely compared to querying blockchains.

  • Letter of Recommendation: Bug Fixes

    I wouldn’t expect a nonprogrammer to understand the above, but you can intuit some of what’s going on: that we don’t need ImageMagick to scale images anymore, because the text editor can scale images on its own; that it’s bad form to spell-check hex values, which specify colors; that the bell is doing something peculiar if someone holds down the alt key; and so forth.

    But there’s also something larger, more gladdening, about reading bug fixes.

    My text editor, Emacs, is a free software project with a history going back more than 40 years; the codebase itself starts in the 1980s, and as I write this there are 136,586 different commits that get you from then to now. More than 600 contributors have worked on it. I find those numbers magical: A huge, complex system that edits all kinds of files started from nothing and then, with nearly 140,000 documented human actions, arrived at its current state. It has leaders but no owner, and it will move along the path in which people take it. It’s the ship of Theseus in code form. I’ve probably used Emacs every day for more than two decades. It has changed me, too. It will outlive me.

    Open source is a movement, and even the charitably inclined would call it an extreme brofest. So there’s drama. People fight it out in comments, over everything from semicolons to codes of conduct. But in the end, the software works or it doesn’t. Politics, our personal health, our careers or lives in general — these do not provide a narrative of unalloyed progress. But software, dammit, can and does. It’s a pleasure to watch the code change and improve, and it’s also fascinating to see big companies, paid programmers and volunteers learning to work together (the Defense Department is way into open source) to make those changes and improvements. I read the change logs, and I think: Humans can do things.

  • The Top 17 Free and Open Source Network Monitoring Tools

    Choosing the right network monitoring solution for your enterprise is not easy.

  • Hedge-fund managers are overwhelmed by data, and they’re turning to an unlikely source: random people on the internet

    Alternative data streams of satellite images and cellphone-location data are where managers are now digging for alpha, as new datasets are created every day. And hedge funds have been spending serious cash searching for those who can take all this information and quickly find the important pieces.

    Now, as margins shrink and returns are under the microscope, hedge funds are beginning to consider a cheaper, potentially more efficient way to crunch all this data: open-source platforms, where hundreds of thousands of people ranging from finance professionals to students, scientists, and developers worldwide scour datasets — and don’t get paid unless they find something that a fund finds useful.

  • TD Ameritrade Is Taking Its First Steps Towards Major Open Source Contributions

    STUMPY is a python library to identify the patterns and anomalies in time series data. STUMPY has benefited from open source as a means to shorten development roadmaps since the early 2000s and it represents a new opportunity for TD Ameritrade to give back to the developer community.

  • The Future of Open Source Big Data Platforms

    Three well-funded startups – Cloudera Inc., Hortonworks Inc., and MapR Technologies Inc. — emerged a decade ago to commercialize products and services in the open-source ecosystem around Hadoop, a popular software framework for processing huge amounts of data. The hype peaked in early 2014 when Cloudera raised a massive $900 million funding round, valuing it at $4.1 billion.

  • No Easy Way Forward For Commercial Open Source Software Vendors

    While still a student in 1995, Kimball developed the first version of GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) as a class project, along with Peter Mattis. Later on as a Google engineer, he worked on a new version of the Google File System, and the Google Servlet Engine. In 2012, Kimball, Mattis, and Brian McGinnis launched the company Viewfinder, later selling it to Square.

  • 6 Reasons Why Developers Should Contribute More To Open Source

    Even by fixing minor things like a bug in a library or writing a piece of documentation can also help the developers to write readable or maintainable code. They can independently suggest to the community and generally tend to stick by the rules of writing a code that is easy to understand. The fact that the code will be exposed to everyone naturally makes them write focus on making it readable.

  • WIDE Project, KDDI develop router with open-source software, 3.2T-packet transmission

    The WIDE Project has adopted a router developed by Japanese operator KDDI. The router runs open-source software, and will be used with the networks operated and managed by the WIDE Project. The router will use open-source software with up to 3.2T-packet transmission.

    For this project, KDDI plans to start tests this month to verify the practical utility and interoperability of these routers when put to use in the actual service environment. The WIDE Project will be in charge of network administration and definition of requirements for router implementation.

  • Lack of progress in open source adoption hindering global custody’s digitisation

    Custody industry is lagging behind the rest of the financial services sector for open source projects, according to industry experts.

  • TNF: Industry should be focusing on open source development

    According to O’Shea, open source and the community are helping firms to find and attract experienced technology talent “uber engineers”.

  • Google Open Sources TensorNetwork , A Library For Faster ML And Physics Tasks

    “Every evolving intelligence will eventually encounter certain very special ideas – e.g., about arithmetic, causal reasoning and economics–because these particular ideas are very much simpler than other ideas with similar uses,” said the AI maverick Marvin Minsky four decades ago.

    Mathematics as a tool to interpret nature’s most confounding problems from molecular biology to quantum mechanics has so far been successful. Though there aren’t any complete answers to these problems, the techniques within domain help throw some light on the obscure corners of reality.

  • Open source to become a ‘best practice’

    There are many magic rings in this world… and none of them should be used lightly. This is true.

    It is also true that organisations in every vertical are now having to work hard and find automation streams that they can digitise (on the road to *yawn* digital transformation, obviously) and start to apply AI and machine learning to.

    Another key truth lies in the amount of codified best practices that organisations now have the opportunity to lay down.

    One we can denote a particular set of workflows in a particular department (or team, or group, or any other collective) to be deemed to be as efficient as possible, then we can lay that process down as a best practice.

  • 10 Open-Source and Free CAD Software You Can Download Right Now

    Many CAD software products exist today for anyone interested in 2D or 3D designing.

    From browser tools to open-source programs, the market is full of free options available for hobbyists or small companies just starting out.

  • Events

    • Open Source Answer To Dropbox And OneDrive: Meet Frank Karlitschek

      During the OpenSUSE Conference in Nurnberg (German), Nextcloud founder Frank Karlitschek appeared on “Let’s Talk’ to talk about the importance of fully open source file sync and storage solutions for enterprise customers. As one of the early contributors to desktop Linux he also talked about the reasons why desktop Linux has not succeeded.

    • Load-Bearing Internet People

      Some maintainers for critical software operate from a niche at a university or a government agency that supports their effort. There might be a few who are independently wealthy.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Robert Helmer: Vectiv and the Browser Monoculture

        So, so tired of the “hot take” that having a single browser engine implementation is good, and there is no value to having multiple implementations of a standard. I have a little story to tell about this.

        In the late 90s, I worked for a company called Vectiv. There isn’t much info on the web (the name has been used by other companies in the meantime), this old press release is one of the few I can find.

        Vectiv was a web-based service for commercial real estate departments doing site selection. This was pretty revolutionary at the time, as the state-of-the-art for most of these was to buy a bunch of paper maps and put them up on the walls, using push-pins to keep track of current and possible store locations.

        The story of Vectiv is interesting on its own, but the relevant bit to this story is that it was written for and tested exclusively in IE 5.5 for Windows, as was the style at the time. The once-dominant Netscape browser had plummeted to negligible market share, and was struggling to rewrite Netscape 6 to be based on the open-source Mozilla Suite.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • Why cloud is the best defense against AWS [Ed: Adobe keeps sending its stooge Mac Asay to support turning FOSS into de facto proprietary software (sometimes Adobe even pays the publishers to do this])
    • Software below the poverty line [Ed: Overlooks the fact that a lot of proprietary software is not profitable, is a failure, goes bankrupt faster due to high expenditure]

      Most people believe that open source sustainability is a difficult problem to solve. As an open source developer myself, my own perspective to this problem was more optimistic: I believe in the donation model, for its simplicity and possibility to scale.

      However, I recently met other open source developers that make a living from donations, and they helped widen my perspective. At Amsterdam.js, I heard Henry Zhu speak about sustainability in the Babel project and beyond, and it was a pretty dire picture. Later, over breakfast, Henry and I had a deeper conversation on this topic. In Amsterdam I also met up with Titus, who maintains the Unified project full-time. Meeting with these people I confirmed my belief in the donation model for sustainability. It works. But, what really stood out to me was the question: is it fair?

      I decided to collect data from OpenCollective and GitHub, and take a more scientific sample of the situation. The results I found were shocking: there were two clearly sustainable open source projects, but the majority (more than 80%) of projects that we usually consider sustainable are actually receiving income below industry standards or even below the poverty threshold.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • My personal journey from MIT to GPL

      As I got started writing open source software, I generally preferred the MIT license. I actually made fun of the “copyleft” GPL licenses, on the grounds that they are less free. I still hold this opinion today: the GPL license is less free than the MIT license – but today, I believe this in a good way.

      [...]

      I don’t plan on relicensing my historical projects, but my new projects have used the GPL family of licenses for a while now. I think you should seriously consider it as well.

    • The fight to keep open source truly “open” ⁠— open source providers need to stand up

      However, as more projects get embedded into profitable business applications, we are beginning to see new trends in the space. Powerful vendors are pushing their own marketing agendas and monetising what should be freely available, leading open source providers to build walls around their code, limiting the extent to which companies can enrich, police and contribute to any given project, in a vicious cycle. This is the case with Amazon, for instance, which was able to profit from Redis Labs’ software without giving back to its open source community. In response, Redis Labs created a new software license that dictated clear restrictions on what could and could not be done with its software.

      [...]

      With more companies catching on to the ability to monetise open source by selling add-on support and enterprise services, huge technology players are scrambling to get into the scene. To demonstrate just how critical open source is to the software industry, in 2018 alone GitHub was bought for $7.5 billion, Salesforce purchased Mulesoft for $6.5 billion, and — the largest deal of them all — IBM took over Red Hat for $34 billion.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • How We Helped Our Reporters Learn to Love Spreadsheets

      But, some people did learn. At The New York Times and elsewhere, coder-journalists have mashed databases to discover wrongdoing, designed immersive experiences that transport readers to new places and created tools that change the way we work.
      Even with some of the best data and graphics journalists in the business, we identified a challenge: data knowledge wasn’t spread widely among desks in our newsroom and wasn’t filtering into news desks’ daily reporting.

      Yet fluency with numbers and data has become more important than ever. While journalists once were fond of joking that they got into the field because of an aversion to math, numbers now comprise the foundation for beats as wide ranging as education, the stock market, the Census and criminal justice. More data is released than ever before — there are nearly 250,000 datasets on data.gov alone — and increasingly, government, politicians and companies try to twist those numbers to back their own agendas.

    • The New York Times has a course to teach its reporters data skills, and now they’ve open-sourced it

      The New York Times wants more of its journalists to have those basic data skills, and now it’s releasing the curriculum they’ve built in-house out into the world, where it can be of use to reporters, newsrooms, and lots of other people too.

    • Open Source Headset With Inside-Out Tracking, Video Passthrough

      The folks behind the Atmos Extended Reality (XR) headset want to provide improved accessibility with an open ecosystem, and they aim to do it with a WebVR-capable headset design that is self-contained, 3D-printable, and open-sourced. Their immediate goal is to release a development kit, then refine the design for a wider release.

    • Open-Source Bionic Leg Aims to Rapidly Advance Prosthetics

      Scientists at University of Michigan have created an open-source leg in hopes of expediting the development of smart prosthetics.

    • Open-Source AI Bionic Leg Offers a Unified Platform for Prosthetics

      Open-source design and programming could accelerate scientific advances by offering a unified platform to prosthetics research efforts.

    • Bringing Pneumatics To The Masses With Open Source Soft Robotics

      Physicist and engineer [tinkrmind] wants to change that. He has been developing an open source soft robotics tool called Programmable Air for the past year with the aim of creating an accessible way for the hacker community to work with pneumatic robotics. We first came across [tinkrmind]’s soft robotics modules at World Maker Faire in New York City in 2018 but fifty beta testers and a wide range of interesting projects later — from a beating silicone heart to an inflatable bra — they are now being made available on Crowd Supply.

    • Open Data

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • GreatFET One open source hacking tool

        Electronic enthusiasts, hobbyists, hackers and makers may be interested in a new open source piece of hardware called the GreatFET One, which has been designed to provide a “significant step up” in capabilities from GoodFET while making the design manufacturable at a lower cost than GoodFET.

        “Whether you need an interface to an external chip, a logic analyzer, a debugger, or just a whole lot of pins to bit-bang, the versatile GreatFET One is the tool for you. Hi-Speed USB and a Python API allow GreatFET One to become your custom USB interface to the physical world.” The GreatFET One by Great Scott Gadgets is now available to purchase priced at $79.95 directly from the Adafruit online store.

      • Imperas and Metrics Collaborate to Jump Start RISC-V Core Design Verification Using Open Source Instruction Stream Generator
      • X-FAB Silicon Foundries tapes-out open-source RISC-V MCU

        Together with crowd-sourcing IC platform partner Efabless Corporation, X-FAB Silicon Foundries has announced the first-silicon availability of the Efabless RISC-V System on Chip (SoC) reference design.

        This open-source semiconductor project went from design start to tape-out in less than three months using the Efabless design flow based on open-source tools. The mixed-signal SoC, called Raven, is based on the community developed ultra-low power PicoRV32 RISC-V core. Efabless has bench-tested the Raven at 100MHz, and based on simulations the design should be able to operate at up to 150MHz.

        The open-source top-level design uses X-FAB proprietary analog IP and is created with an open-source design flow. This hybrid open-source design brings the power of open innovation and at the same time protecting significant investment in proprietary IP.

      • X-FAB and Efabless Announce Successful First Silicon of Raven, An Open-Source RISC-V Microcontroller

        X-FAB Silicon Foundries, the leading analog/mixed-signal and specialty foundry, together with crowd-sourcing IC platform partner Efabless Corporation, today announced the successful first-silicon availability of the Efabless RISC-V System on Chip (SoC) reference design. This open-source semiconductor project went from design start to tape-out in less than three months using the Efabless design flow based on open-source tools. The mixed-signal SoC, called Raven, is based on the community developed ultra-low power PicoRV32 RISC-V core. Efabless has successfully bench-tested the Raven at 100MHz, and based on simulations the design should be able to operate at up to 150MHz.

      • X-FAB and Efabless Deliver Open Source Mixed-Signal SoC

        Mixed signal foundry X-FAB Silicon Foundries and crowd-sourcing IC platform Efabless Corp. have announced silicon availability of a RISC-V based mixed signal system-on-chip (SoC) reference design. The open-source semiconductor project went from design start to tape-out in less than three months using the Efabless design flow based on open-source tools.

      • X-Fab and Efabless announce Raven open-source RISC-V microcontroller

        X-Fab Silicon Foundries, an analog/mixed-signal and specialty foundry, and crowd-sourcing IC platform partner Efabless, has announced the silicon availability of the Efabless RISC-V system on chip (SoC) reference design. This open-source semiconductor project went from design start to tape-out in less than three months using the Efabless design flow based on open-source tools, they said.

        The mixed-signal SoC, called Raven, is based on the community developed ultra-low power PicoRV32 RISC-V core. Efabless has successfully bench-tested the Raven at 100MHz, and based on simulations the design should be able to operate at up to 150MHz, they added.

  • Programming/Development

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Adobe’s prototype AI tool automatically spots Photoshopped faces

      The world is becoming increasingly anxious about the spread of fake videos and pictures, and Adobe — a name synonymous with edited imagery — says it shares those concerns. Today, it’s sharing new research in collaboration with scientists from UC Berkeley that uses machine learning to automatically detect when images of faces have been manipulated.

    • Chinese Citation Factory

      RetractionWatch published in Feburary 2018 an article titled “A journal waited 13 months to reject a submission. Days later, it published a plagiarized version by different authors”, indicating that in the journal Multimedia Tools and Applications (MTAP) may have been manipulated in the editorial process.

      Now, more than a year later, Springer apparently has retracted additional articles from the journal, as mentioned in the blog For Better Science. On the downside, Elsevier has been publishing many of these in another journal now instead…

      I am currently aware of 22 retractions associated with this incident. One would have expected to see a clear pattern in the author names, but they seem to have little in common except Chinese names and affiliations, and suspicious email addresses (also, usually only one author has an email at all). It almost appears as if the names may be made up. And these retracted papers clearly contained citation spam: they cite a particular author very often, usually in a single paragraph.

      [...]

      Now this is a surprisingly clear pattern. In 20 of the retracted papers, L. Zhang was cited on average 19.25 times. In these papers, also 60% of the references were co-authored by him. In one of the remaining two papers, he was an author. The next authors seem to be mostly in this list because of co-authoring with L. Zhang earlier. In fact, if we ignore all citations to papers co-authored by L. Zhang, no author receives more than 5 citations anymore.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • You are what you eat? Most people ingest a credit card’s weight in plastic every week

      People worldwide could be ingesting five grammes of microscopic plastic particles every week, equivalent in weight to a credit card, researchers said Wednesday.

      Coming mostly from tap and especially bottled water, nearly invisible bits of polymer were also found in shellfish, beer and salt, scientists and the University of Newcastle in Australia reported.

    • Noise can adversely affect human health and quality of life

      There’s a serious public health threat that most Americans are exposed to every day. According to the World Health Organization, the health effects of even short-term exposure include sleep disturbance, stress and anxiety, while long-term impacts include increased risk of ischemic heart disease, cognitive impairment among children, stress-related mental health risks and tinnitus (chronic ringing in the ears).

      It’s not a contagious disease nor the result of unhealthy diet or lack of exercise. The problem is noise and its twin challenges are whether we can reduce it at the source while minimizing the degree to which it adversely affects human health and quality of life.

    • IRC responds to news of Ebola spread to Uganda
    • Prosecutors drop criminal charges in Flint water scandal

      The OSC entered into agreements that gave private law firms that were representing the accused a role in deciding what information would be turned over to law enforcement, according to the release.

    • Why Did Michigan Just Drop All Charges in the Flint Water Crisis?

      This is an unusual strategy, but it’s not unheard of, said Peter Hanning, a professor of law at Wayne State University who’s been closely following this case. The prosecutors were smart in dismissing the charges now versus after their cases went to trial because, at that point, they would’ve been unable to retry the case. Double jeopardy, baby. And Hanning can understand where they’re coming from, entering a trial they didn’t start.

    • Supreme Court denies Flint officials’ request to block lawsuit over water crisis

      The civil lawsuit is separate from any criminal cases. On Thursday, Michigan prosecutors dropped all pending charges against a group of state and local officials accused of a variety of crimes arising from the water crisis.

    • Flint Water Prosecutors Drop Criminal Charges, With Plans to Keep Investigating

      Fifteen state and local officials, including emergency managers who ran the city and a member of the governor’s cabinet, had been accused by state prosecutors of crimes as serious as involuntary manslaughter. Seven had already taken plea deals. Eight more, including most of the highest-ranking officials, were awaiting trial.

      On Thursday, more than three years after the first charges were filed, the Michigan attorney general’s office, which earlier this year passed from Republican to Democratic hands, abruptly dropped the eight remaining cases. Prosecutors left open the possibility of recharging some of those same people, and perhaps others, too.

    • Magic mushrooms, illegal in most places, may have therapeutic uses

      There are plenty of psychedelics researchers could work on, but the focus is on psilocybin. That is partly because nobody has heard of it, so, unlike LSD, it does not raise hackles. It is also relatively easy to synthesise. Since 2006, when the results of the first of the new wave of studies was published, there have been a dozen papers showing that it may be a useful treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder, tobacco addiction, alcoholism, depression and the anxiety that so often afflicts people when they are approaching death.

    • Correction: Flint Water story

      In a story June 3 about the criminal investigation of Flint’s water crisis, The Associated Press reported erroneously the number of current and former state employees whose mobile devices or hard drives were seized from government storage with search warrants. It was 67, not 66.

    • Elevated lead levels found in drinking water of Pequannock homes

      Drinking water in several Pequannock homes has tested high for elevated levels of lead, prompting township officials to send out a notice telling residents how to reduce their exposure.

      Lead levels rose to 28 parts per billion, almost double the federal standard, according to data from the state Department of Environmental Protection. Pequannock had registered only 3 parts per billion in the last round of testing, which ended in 2016.

    • FDA food sampling finds contamination by PFAS ‘forever chemicals’

      The Food and Drug Administration’s first broad testing of food for a worrisome class of nonstick, stain-resistant industrial compounds found substantial levels in some grocery store meats and seafood and in off-the-shelf chocolate cake, according to unreleased findings FDA researchers presented at a scientific conference in Europe.

      The FDA’s disclosure is likely to add to concerns raised by states and public health groups that President Donald Trump’s administration is not acting fast enough or firmly enough to start regulating the manmade compounds, called “forever chemicals.” A federal toxicology report last year cited consistent associations between very high levels of the industrial compounds in peoples’ blood and health risks but said there was not enough evidence to prove the compounds as the cause.

  • Security

    • Industry Watch: Of open source, data breaches and speed [Ed: And proprietary software is a lot less suitable for security and privacy purposes because there are surveillance 'features' disguised and back doors too]

      Open-source software helps developers work faster and smarter, as they don’t have to ‘re-invent the wheel’ every time create an application. They just need to be sure the license attached to that software allows them to use the component the way they want. They also need to stay on top of that application, so if the component changes, or an API changes, their application isn’t affected and they are still in compliance.

      Data protection is also something organizations must get serious about. While the GDPR only affects users in the European Union, it’s only a matter of time before those or similar regulations are in place in the U.S. and elsewhere. Companies should get a jump on that by doing a thorough audit of their data, to know they are prepared to be compliant with whatever comes down from the statehouses or from Washington, D.C.

      On the speed side, the benefits of Agile and DevOps are clear. These methodologies enable companies to bring new software products to market faster, with the result of getting a jump on the competition, working more efficiently and ultimately serving your customers.

      Unfortunately, these efforts are usually done by different teams of developers, database administrators and security experts. If the Equifax and Facebook breaches have taught us anything, it’s that you can’t expect developers to be security experts, and you can’t expect DB admins to understand the ramifications on the business when data is misunderstood.

      It will take a coordinated approach to IT to achieve business goals while not leaving the company — and its IP and PII data — exposed.

    • VLC patches critical flaws through EU open source bug bounty program

      More than 30 security issues have been fixed in VLC, the popular open source media player, with developers praising an EU-funded bug bounty program for helping produce its most secure update yet.

      VLC media player, created by the software non-profit VideoLAN, was found to have 33 vulnerabilities within various versions, including two that were considered critical.

      An out-of-bounds write was one of the severe vulnerabilities found to affect all VLC versions, and a stack buffer overflow was also discovered in VLC 4.0.

      Less severe vulnerabilities consisted of out-of-band reads, heap overflows, NULL-dereference, and use-after-free bugs.

      An updated version, VLC 3.0.7, has since been released for users to download.

    • VLC Player Gets Patched for Two High Severity Bugs
    • Asigra FreeNAS plugin brings open source data protection [Ed: Some openwashing of proprietary software]

      Asigra is trying to capture FreeNAS users with a free-to-try plugin version of its backup software.

      The Asigra FreeNAS plugin released this week allows customers to turn their iXsystems FreeNAS storage systems into backup targets. It encrypts and deduplicates data before it is sent to the FreeNAS system. The plugin also detects and quarantines malware and ransomware so that it doesn’t get backed up.

    • TrueCommand Brings Single Pane of Glass Management to TrueNAS and FreeNAS Fleets
    • WSO2 and Ping Identity Partner to Provide Comprehensive, AI-Powered Cyber-Attack Protection for APIs
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Houthis kill imam, 9 worshippers for following Saudi Eid al-Fitr moon sighting

      Yemenis on Monday were deeply divided over when the first day of Eid would be, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset.

      In the southern port city of Aden, the legitimate Yemeni government declared that Tuesday would be the first day of Eid, while the Houthi militias, who control the capital Sanaa and other northern Yemeni provinces, declared that Wednesday, June 5 would be the first day of Eid.

      This is the first time the country was divided over the moon sighting marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, despite years of deadly conflict between Yemen’s government and the Houthis.

    • An American woman held hostage by the Taliban for 5 years says abusive husband to blame

      Caitlan Coleman, an American woman who was held hostage with her husband by the Taliban for five years, says she and her husband were in Afghanistan because her Canadian husband Joshua Boyle was a Taliban sympathizer.

    • Will the Real Bombers Please Stand Up

      Who is attacking oil tankers in the Gulf between Oman and Iran? So far, the answer is still a mystery. The US, of course, accuses Iran. Iran says it’s the US or its local allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

      Magnetic mines are blamed for the damage, though there have been claims of torpedo use. Last month, four moored tankers were slightly damaged, though none seriously. This time the attacks were more damaging but apparently not lethal.

      A few cynics have even suggested Israel may be behind the tanker attack in order to provoke war between Iran and the United States – a key Israeli goal. Or maybe it’s the Saudis whose goal is similar. The Gulf is an ideal venue for false flag attacks.

      One thing appears certain. President Donald and his coterie of neocon advisers have been pressing for a major conflict with Iran for months. The US is literally trying to strangle Iran economically and strategically. By now, Israel’s hard right wing dominates US Mideast policy and appears to often call the shots at the White House and Congress.

    • Big Media Get Big Things Wrong on Venezuela

      Big media have got some big things wrong on Venezuela. Who can forget CNN’s May 5 claim that “pressure is mounting on Maduro to step down, following elections in January in which voters chose opposition leader Juan Guaidó over him for president”?

      As Dave Lindorff noted for FAIR.org, six reporters were credited for the story that contained this line. And none of them, or their editors, evidently knew that Guaidó was not a candidate in presidential elections, which took place in May 2018, not January 2019; and which Nicolás Maduro won with 68 percent of the vote—an observer-endorsed, and credible, total, given the opposition’s boycott of the balloting.

      Guaidó was a member of the National Assembly—which has been suspended by the Venezuelan Supreme Court—and he was chosen as president by himself, and ultimately by the Trump administration. As for “pressure…mounting on Maduro,” Lindorff called that a “dubious reading of the post-coup attempt political terrain”—a view borne out by events.

      A fortiori, elite media’s fervent transmission of the dramatic story that Maduro was heartlessly blocking a bridge to turn away truckloads of much-needed foreign aid. “Humanitarian Aid Arrives for Venezuela—But Maduro Blocks It,” was NPR’s tagline; NPR was far from alone in not telling listeners that the bridge (with Colombia) described as blocked had never been open; that the Red Cross and UN, among others, had explicitly asked the US not to engage in these types of PR stunts; and that the Venezuelan government has a very rational reason to suspect the US would use humanitarian aid as a cover to smuggle in weapons to foment armed conflict, which is that the person running quarterback for Trump on the current Venezuela operation, Elliott Abrams, literally did just that 30 years ago.

      Venezuela coverage suggests journalistic rigor is taking a backseat to whatever alchemy of profit protection and state fealty motivates elite media and, with valuable exceptions, shapes their presentation of events. But not just in these big, overt screwups, but in the drip drip drip of everyday coverage, the constructions used in ostensibly neutral accounts.

      FAIR contributor Joe Emersberger recently engaged with Reuters about a May 22 article, “Venezuela Turns to Russia, Cuba, China in Health Crisis,” which included the statement, about shortages of medicine and medical equipment, that the opposition blames that on economic incompetence and corruption by the leftist movement in power for two decades, but Maduro says US economic sanctions are the cause.

    • There is Nothing ‘Neo’ about the Colonialization of West Papua

      But in the case of West Papua, blatant colonialism is easy enough to spot. The Indigenous peoples of West Papua were not consulted in who would be their sovereign power. They have been massacred for decades by the Indonesian army, who used the most brutal means to justify its ends: to control the colonized. West Papuans have been forced from their ancestral lands to create space for agribusiness to move in and reshape the island to serve as the ‘Food Basket’ of Indonesia.

    • UN chief waffles over West Papuan human rights violations

      The most serious deforestation, the most serious ecological trouble, as well as the most serious human rights abuses in the whole Pacific are happening in West Papua, Bohane said.

      Shouldn’t the UN be doing more to try and stop the human right abuses, and the ecological disaster that is unfolding there?

      [...]

      At the moment, all international media is banned. Again, shouldn’t the UN be doing more to open up West Papua?

    • Faith on a Wing

      Today, 80 years hence, I find myself debating not with the radicals but the liberals about face veils being a matter of choice. I am all for free will. Yes, sir, I am. But is it really free? Being a woman, I can tell you that it is either indoctrination or force. My good friends give me parallels of Sikh turbans and Jewish caps. I agree that wearing symbols of religion or not having alcohol or avoiding perfume or even not watching the telly or listening to music are a matter of choice, even though they may stem from conditioning. But covering your face lifelong because you’re a woman? Not entering kitchen during your periods? Women undergoing genital mutilation on grounds of religion? Sati? That is not religion; that is an “exasperating farrago of distortions” in the name of faith.

    • Alleged islamization agenda: Christian elders fire back at Islamic group

      However, in a statement signed by the Forum’s Secretary, Pastor Bosun Emmanuel, NCEF described as unfortunate that Muslim groups would make such claims of “prank to score cheap political points” against Christian Elders as no member of NCEF is either a politician.

      The statement added, “The claim is divisive, which rather than contribute to the efforts of the Christian Elders to find a peaceful and lasting solution to current national crisis, and ensure Nigeria can benefit from the gains of democracy, like other advanced democratic countries around the world, is trying to cause disaffection amongst the people”, the rejoinder said.

      “It should be repeated here for emphasis that the root or main cause of the crisis in Nigeria, as stated by the NCEF, has nothing to do with Christianity or Islam, neither is it about North against the South, East against West, nor is it Farmers and Herders clash as some call it, and neither is it a clash of personalities or political parties. All these are symptoms.

      “The Nigerian crisis is caused by the dual conflicting ideology of Sharia against Democracy as practiced in Nigeria, and is now enshrined in the 1999 Constitution and here it is being downplayed and simply called Islam against Christianity by these Muslim groups; no, it is not.

    • Violence against Christians on the rise in Africa

      Mörsbacher believes that the situation is worsening overall, but said the reasons for it vary by country: In Burkina Faso, for example, he explained that the violence there is about the expansion of a conflict already known from Mali.

      “There it’s less about a war of religions than about a conflict between different currents of Islam,” Mörschbacher said.

      Wahabism, a strict traditionalist interpretation of Sunni Islam that is most powerful in Saudi Arabia, plays a special role and it continues to spread, he added.

    • Outrage Over Swedish Church’s Support Concert for ‘Daesh Children’

      A church in Gothenburg’s Högsbo parish has arranged a support concert in order to raise money for several dozen Daesh children with a connection to Sweden left in refugee camps across the Middle East, national broadcaster SVT reported.

    • America’s ISIS Members Are Coming Home

      So far, the handling of returnees has been far different from what Donald Trump promised during the Presidential campaign. In 2016, Trump vowed to use Guantánamo Bay—the prison camp opened in Cuba to house enemy combatants from the Afghanistan war—for captured isis fighters. “We’re going to load it up with bad dudes,” he said. In his first State of the Union speech, in 2018, he announced a new executive order to keep Gitmo open, reversing President Barack Obama’s policy. “Terrorists who do things like place bombs in civilian hospitals are evil,” Trump said. “When possible, we have no choice but to annihilate them. When necessary, we must be able to detain and question them. But we must be clear: terrorists are not merely criminals, they are unlawful enemy combatants.”

      Instead, the Justice Department has opted to try isis returnees in U.S. courts and even to release or resettle some of them. But the process is still in its early stages. “The United States is committed to taking responsibility for its citizens who attempt to travel or did travel to support isis,” Marc Raimondi, the Justice Department spokesman, told me last week, in an e-mail. “We have prosecuted over 100 cases against individuals who tried to travel to support isis and have brought charges against several who have returned, including as recently as earlier this year.”

    • Why Islamic State Recruitment Is Thriving on Telegram

      New research coming out of George Washington University today provides one of the most exhaustive looks yet at the vast and complex network of self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) supporters permeating Telegram, the encrypted messaging platform.

    • How To Make Sure Terrorists Like John Walker Lindh Don’t Stay A Threat After Release

      The May 23 release from federal prison of John Walker Lindh, the so-called “American Taliban” captured on a smoking Afghanistan battlefield right after 9/11, put as much chill in the air as the unchaining of serial killers Ted Bundy or Charles Manson would.

      His release into American society amid reports that Lindh had, during his 17-year penance behind bars in Indiana, preserved his commitment to violent Islamist jihad, raised an obvious question: What have American homeland security and law enforcement done to ensure Lindh won’t use his newfound freedom to act on his religious commitment to kill infidels?

    • Egypt: War Crimes in North Sinai

      The 134-page report, “‘If You Are Afraid for Your Lives, Leave Sinai!’: Egyptian Security Forces and ISIS-Affiliate Abuses in North Sinai,” provides a detailed look into an underreported conflict that has killed and wounded thousands of people – including civilians, militants, and members of the security forces – since fighting escalated in 2013. [...]

    • Sweden: Several injured after explosion at apartment buildings in Linkoping

      At least 25 people were injured in an explosion that damaged two adjacent apartment buildings in the southern Swedish city of Linkoping on Friday, police said.

    • It’s Time for Sweden to Admit Explosions Are a National Emergency

      It is the kind of news we usually associate with war zones, but this bombing took place in Linköping, a peaceful university town in southern Sweden. Remarkably, it was not the only explosion in the country that day; another, seemingly unrelated, blast was reported in a parking lot in the city of Gothenburg earlier in the morning. Three explosions have been reported in Malmö since Tuesday morning. As of this writing, no arrests have been made.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Bangalore Metro now allows you to take foldable bicycles on your trip

      After receiving complaints from the Bengaluru cyclists, the Namma Metro has directed its security official to allow foldable bicycles on the metro which can pass through the luggage scanner.

      Recently a online petition was created asking to Allow Cycles on the Namma Metro. More than 800 people had signed the petition. Chief Public Relations Officer, BM Yashavanth Chavan, Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation (BMRCL), said, “Earlier also we were allowing the foldable bicycles in the metro. This bicycles should fit in the luggage scanner and them cyclist should use the last compartment of the metro to keep his foldable bicycle without causing any problems to fellow passengers”.

    • Environmental Experts Find New Way To Remove Trillion Tons Carbon Dioxide

      Merely planting trees won’t get the world very far. Large and slower-growing trees can sequester more carbon than smaller plants, but the world faces dramatic deforestation and has enormous agricultural needs. Farming seems like a practical focus for how to mitigate growing atmospheric carbon.

      Whether they can get to one trillion tons of carbon is unknown, Perry says, but this represents one of the largest agricultural experiments lately, with software and satellite tools available to every farmer who signs up. The goal is to find out which crops, practices and geographic locations have the ability to drive more carbon into the soil.

    • Slaughter In San Diego

      I’ve seen this several times before when a bee-keeper was called in to capture the swarm. It’s a fairly simple process: put them in a bag or box and move them to a bee-hive somewhere.

      Instead San Diego called in an exterminator who killed the bees with insecticide in front of thousands of fans in the stadium and perhaps millions in TV-land. It was mass-murder of a valuable species endangered by insecticides, diseases, loss of habitat etc. They are pollinators, for Goodness sake. Why kill them?

    • Ballast water management plan and Evergreen Line’s actions to comply with the regulation

      Ballast water is taken onboard by ships to adjust the ships stability and trim. The water usually contain thousands of marine microorganisms, plants and animals, which are carried across the globe onboard the ships. Untreated ballast water released at the ship’s destination can introduce a new invasive marine species, which effects the marine ecosystems and can be harmful to the ecological balance.

    • ‘We All Owe Al Gore An Apology’: More People See Climate Change In Record Flooding

      That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to convince people about the causes of climate change, he says. In some cases, it might be just as important to convince people and community leaders that they’ll need to adapt.

    • Explained: How severe is the water crisis in Maharashtra? What measures has the government taken?

      Until June 3, residents of 5,127 villages and 10,867 hamlets were solely dependent on tanker water supply for their daily needs. Between May 20 and June 3 alone, 512 villages and 728 hamlets were added to the list of areas being catered.

    • The Most Delicious Foods Will Fall Victim to Climate Change

      The high-nutrient, high-flavor crops are incredibly fickle. Coffee is a great example of a crop that needs very specific conditions to succeed. There are, I think, nine major coffee-producing countries in the world. And there are countries like Vietnam, where there’s now huge, large-scale coffee production, which is fairly new. But the single-origin artisanal coffee crops are very threatened. Stone fruits, for example, and vineyards are threatened, as are places where you can’t re-crop every year or every season. It takes six years to plant a new olive tree and get it back online. The impacts on fruits, particularly stone fruits and tree fruits, were really alarming to me, and it wasn’t just here comes a storm and wipes out all the blossoms and devastates the harvest. It was actually subtle changes in seasons, because this tree gets confused and thinks it’s spring and summer in February or January, and so it blooms. Then a normal freeze comes and wipes everything out.

    • Australia approves vast coal mine near Great Barrier Reef

      The vast open cut mine is slated to produce up to 60 million tonnes of coal a year, boosting Australia’s already vast exports by around 20 per cent.

      Coupled with the construction of a railway link, it could open up a swathe of Queensland to further exploitation and new mining projects.

      [...]

      While the Queensland state approval will permit preliminary construction, the firm must obtain some federal approvals before it can begin extracting coal.

    • Real-life characters in HBO’s ‘Chernobyl’ on the moment they found out about the world’s worst nuclear-power-plant accident

      With a few exceptions, most of the characters in the series were based on people in the real-life accident. Some lived to tell their tales, and others did not.

      A few of those who survived were willing to recall the moment when they either found out about the explosion or witnessed it with their own eyes. Here are their firsthand accounts, told in the years since.

    • Concern rises about possible uranium mining near Grand Canyon

      The departments’ decisions have raised the concern of those who oppose mining in the region, who worry the administration may use the moves to justify modifying or rescinding the Department of Interior’s 2012 decision that largely blocked mining on more than 1 million acres near the national park for 20 years. That 2012 decision, which was made to give the US Geological Survey time to study the unique impacts of uranium mining there, was upheld by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017.

      “Uranium mining in the Grand Canyon region is an unnecessary threat to our tourism-based economies and the people who depend on the Grand Canyon,” Amber Reimondo with the Grand Canyon Trust recently told a House subcommittee.

      Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s current position on the ban is that he sees “no reason” to lift it, department spokeswoman Molly Block said Wednesday.

      Neither the Commerce Department nor the White House responded to requests for comment on this topic from CNN.

    • Overfishing has put five species at risk yet they continue to be caught: NGO

      After conducting an audit of the fishing industry in Mexico, the ocean conservation organization Oceana said that red snapper, grouper, bluefin tuna, sharks and octopus are all endangered due to overexploitation.

      The NGO said the failure to update the National Fishing Charter (CNP), a document that details which species are at risk, has allowed the endangered species to continue to be caught in large quantities when their fishing should have been restricted.

      The National Fisheries Institute (Inapesca) has updated the CNP only six times since the year 2000 when it should have been updated annually, Oceana said.

    • Duterte’s Chinese-Funded Dam Will Displace Indigenous Communities

      Corral described how residents fish and farm for food, growing cassava and sweet potatoes in the valley’s temperate climate, and harvest rattan, a palm used to make furniture. His community believe the spring water flowing from the mountains can heal illnesses—but with heavy construction slated to begin at any moment, that’s at risk.

      According to Corral, government officials have not visited his community to discuss their fate once the dam project comes to life, which could happen as early as this summer. Officials insist that only 46 households will be affected by the dam, which is intended to give the water-starved Manila metro area a much-needed lifeline. Meanwhile, environmental groups say that when the three planned dams flank the riverbank, they will put up to 2,000 at risk of displacement, along with thousands more in communities further downstream.

    • Remember Last Year’s Brutal Summer Heatwaves? They’re Coming Again

      A study published this week in the journal Earth’s Future concludes that this heat wave epidemic “would not have occurred without human-induced climate change.”

      The alarming part? There are signs record-setting heat waves are beginning anew this summer – signaling, perhaps, that these exceptional and widespread heat spells are now the norm.

    • Study: Plant Species Lost at Alarming Rate

      Compiling data from the literature, international databases, and museum specimens, Vorontsova and her colleagues surveyed more than 330,000 species to document the losses. That’s more than 10 times the number of species included by any other survey, Duke University conservation scientist Stuart Pimm tells Nature. “[The] results are enormously significant.”

    • Plant extinction ‘bad news for all species’

      Scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and Stockholm University found that 571 plant species had disappeared in the last two and a half centuries, a number that is more than twice the number of birds, mammals and amphibians recorded as extinct (a combined total of 217 species).

      This data suggests plant extinction is happening as much as 500 times faster than what would be expected normally, if humans weren’t around.

      The researchers believe even these numbers underestimate the true levels of ongoing plant extinction.

    • Danes top in Europe in terms of food safety awareness

      According to a new report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the Danes know more about food-related risks that the average European.

      The report (here in English) revealed that 77 percent of Danes had a very high awareness of food risks based on responses regarding 15 topics such as hygiene, antibiotics and pesticide residue in food, chemical pollution and additives.

    • Canada bans whale, dolphin captivity

      The federal bill — which was approved in the House of Commons on Monday after first being introduced in the Senate in 2015 — now requires only royal assent to become law.

      Under the new law, the practice of holding whales, dolphins and porpoises will be phased out, though animals currently in captivity will remain. It also bans the capture of wild dolphins and whales, or cetaceans, as well as the practice of captive breeding and the import and export of such animals.

      There are currently only two facilities that keep captive cetaceans: Marineland in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and the Vancouver Aquarium.

    • 30,000 homes will use electricity generated by new solar plant

      Yucatán predicted to be self-sufficient in renewable energy in 3-4 years

    • European election results: Green parties surge as ‘Green Wave’ hits EU

      Europe’s green parties have made major gains across the continent in this week’s EU elections in a “Green wave”, according to results released overnight on Sunday.

      In Germany, Die Grünen jumped into second place with 20 per cent, solidly beating the historically dominant social democrats, while in France, Les Verts came from nowhere to pull off a surprise third place behind Emmanuel Macron’s outfit.

    • At 48⁰ C, Delhi shatters all records for June

      “The Palam Observatory recorded an all-time high of 48 degrees Celsius Monday. The factors that led to this are dry westerly winds, no effect of a western disturbance in the plains and intense heating in the month of June,” said India Meteorological Department regional weather forecasting chief Kuldeep Srivastava. “Southwesterly winds on Tuesday may cause the temperature to drop by one or two notches. However, the heat wave will persist,” he said.

    • Delhi sizzles at 48 degrees as temperature peaks to all-time high

      In large areas, a heatwave is declared when the mercury touches the 45-degree mark for two consecutive days and a severe heatwave is when the temperature soars to 47 degrees Celsius for two days on the trot, according to the India Meteorological Department.

    • US Scientists Predict Near-Record-Level ‘Dead Zone’ in Gulf of Mexico

      NOAA said in its news release Monday that the prediction for a large dead zone is because of an “abnormally high amount of spring rainfall in many parts of the Mississippi River watershed,” which led to high amounts of fertilizer downriver.

      The fertilizers feed algae, which then die on the sea floor, and as they decompose use up oxygen in the Gulf.

      The size of the average Gulf dead zone is about 15,000 square kilometers. (5,800 square miles) U.S. federal and state officials have previously pledged to reduce its size to less than 5,000 square kilometers (1,900 square miles).

    • Will ‘Flygskam’ (Or Flight Shame) Be The Buzzword Of This Year’s Summer Holiday?

      In all of this, Swedes are (or used to be) frequent flyers. According to a report commissioned by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, in 2017 Sweden’s total aviation sector accounted for 1.1 tonnes of emissions per person, five times the global average of 0.2 tonnes per person.

      If you factor in Sweden’s ambitious plan to be carbon neutral by 2045 and its fame as one of the world’s most eco-friendly countries, it’s easy to understand why the term “flygskam” was coined in the land of ABBA and Ikea.

    • Airlines scramble to overcome polluter stigma as ‘flight shame’ movement grows

      A Swedish-born anti-flying movement is spreading to other European countries, creating a whole new vocabulary, from “flygskam” which translates as “flight shame” to “tågskryt,” or “train brag.”

      A number of famous Swedes have stopped flying, including opera singer Malena Ernman, the mother of teenage activist Greta Thunberg who has thrust climate change into the spotlight.

    • Flygskam: What is the flight-shaming environmental movement that’s sweeping Europe?

      This Swedish word literally translates as “flight shame”. It’s the name of an anti-flying movement that originated in Sweden last year, which encourages people to stop taking flights to lower carbon emissions.

      [...]

      “And then people started to change their travel habits, and it became shameful to go by plane because it’s so devastating for the environment and for the climate.”

    • Low prices, floods and trade wars plague American farmers, putting their survival at risk

      Rain and flooding that began in March have kept farmers from planting a major portion of their crops during the normal mid-April to mid-May season in states like Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio and Michigan. As of Sunday, 39% of soybean acres have been planted in the 18 largest producing states, compared with an average 79% over the past five years, Agriculture Department figures show. Sixty-seven percent of corn acres are in the ground, vs. an average 96%. Such delays are unprecedented, Newton says.

      Projected yield shortages have provided at least some boost to long-depressed prices. Contract corn prices for July delivery have risen from $3.57 a bushel in late April to about $4.15. Soybean futures have edged up from $8.41 to about $8.70. Meanwhile, the Agriculture Department has announced it will provide $16 billion in aid to farmers this year to partly offset the price shortfall resulting from the China trade fight.

    • Air pollution kills more people each year than smoking — but it’s not the only dangerous pollutant you encounter on a daily basis

      Here are 19 different types of pollution that impact the environment — and human health— every day.

    • How many more will die in US heatwaves as world warms?

      The emissions cuts pledged so far in the international Paris Agreement in 2015—if followed through—would limit global warming to the neighborhood of 3°C. That won’t prevent an increase in deaths due to heatwaves, but just how much worse is 3°C than the international goals of stopping warming at 2°C or event 1.5°C?

      To find out, a team led by Eunice Lo at the University of Bristol analyzed the relationship between extreme summer temperatures and deaths for 15 US cities with data: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, and Washington DC.

    • Limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C could prevent thousands of deaths in the U.S.

      Having the world meet a more stringent goal to limit global warming may prevent thousands of heat-related deaths in 15 major U.S. cities, a study shows. The projections illustrate the high risk from climate change faced by urban populations.

      Under the Paris Agreement, participating countries have pledged to curb greenhouse gas emissions with the aim of limiting warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius over preindustrial times by 2100 (SN: 1/9/16, p. 6). Keeping warming to 2 degrees C could mean 75 to 1,980 fewer deaths in an especially warm year in these 15 cities, compared with a scenario in which the world warms by 3 degrees, researchers report online June 5 in Science Advances.

      Limiting warming to a more stringent 1.5 degrees, however, could spare 114 to 2,716 more U.S. city-dwellers from death in an especially warm year than the 3 degree scenario, the team reports.

    • Tiny plastic debris is accumulating far beneath the ocean surface

      Using remotely operated underwater vehicles, researchers sampled microplastics in Monterey Bay at depths from five to 1,000 meters. The team also measured pollutants in the guts of 24 pelagic red crabs and eight mucus filters from giant larvaceans — both of which eat organic particles about the same size as microplastics (SN Online: 8/16/17).

      The concentration of particles 1,000 meters deep was roughly the same as it was five meters deep, averaging about three particles per cubic meter. Plastic in water from 200 to 600 meters deep was more concentrated, with 10 to 15 particles per cubic meter.

    • The Trump Administration Is Targeting Pipeline Protesters With a Proposed Crackdown

      According to Politico, the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) released a proposed addition to existing law that threatens fines and up to 20 years in prison for some protests of pipelines; the proposal seeks to add to the law “vandalism, tampering with, or impeding, disrupting or inhibiting the operation of” existing pipelines or projects “under construction.”

      If that reads like it could be vaguely interpreted, you’re right. Critics say the proposed change could make the existing law dangerous for protesters.

    • It’s Time to Rebel Against the Existential Threat of Climate Change

      The environmental crisis, though, is transgenerational and global in scope: It will affect virtually everyone around the world for hundreds of generations to come, assuming the human race exists that long. The sheer enormity of the problem boggles even the most capacious minds, a problem that the education scholar Christopher Williams refers to as “brain lag.” Quite simply, our brains lag behind the times: They’re evolutionarily incapable of comprehending the consequences of present human actions, nor are they able to muster the moral sympathy needed to change our behaviors to avoid catastrophic harm to people in the far future.

    • Why haven’t genetically engineered crops made food better?

      In fact, the technology does have that potential, and a couple of efforts have been made to do exactly this. Yet, decades into the GMO era, all of the engineered crops on the market provide enhanced productivity and other benefits to farmers but nothing for the people who ultimately end up eating the results. So why the huge gap between potential and reality? The huge number of problems involved is the subject of a review in Nature Plants.

    • 1 Billion Acres At Risk For Catastrophic Wildfires, U.S. Forest Service Warns

      As we head into summer, with smoke already drifting into the Northwest from wildfires in Alberta, Canada, Vicki Christiansen said wildfires are now a year-round phenomenon. She pointed to the hazardous conditions in forests that result from a history of suppression of wildfires, rampant home development in high-risk places and the changing climate.

    • New Report Suggests ‘High Likelihood of Human Civilization Coming to an End’ Starting in 2050

      The paper argues that the potentially “extremely serious outcomes” of climate-related security threats are often far more probable than conventionally assumed, but almost impossible to quantify because they “fall outside the human experience of the last thousand years.”

      On our current trajectory, the report warns, “planetary and human systems [are] reaching a ‘point of no return’ by mid-century, in which the prospect of a largely uninhabitable Earth leads to the breakdown of nations and the international order.”

      The only way to avoid the risks of this scenario is what the report describes as “akin in scale to the World War II emergency mobilization”—but this time focused on rapidly building out a zero-emissions industrial system to set in train the restoration of a safe climate.

    • Climate Undermined by Lobbying

      All told, the total lobbying by these companies reduced the bill’s chances by 13 percentage points, from 55% to 42%, representing $60 billion (2018 dollars) in expected climate damages due to the lowered chance of enacting U.S. climate policy.

    • Rebelling against extinction: ‘It really is a climate crisis’

      In an interview a few hours before her talk, Green acknowledged that with the dire reports that keep coming out about the trajectory the planet is on, it’s a scary situation and it’s time to act.

    • After coal, forest-rich Finland will need to import biomass to keep warm

      Estimates shown to Reuters by Poyry consultancy – which advises the government on energy, industry and infrastructure needs – calculate that Finland will need 64 terawatt hours (TWh) worth of biomass in 2030 just for energy production, up from 38 TWh currently.

      Domestic supply of biomass on the other hand, is forecast to grow by only 8 TWh between now and 2030, according to Poyry.

  • Finance

    • How Americans Became Poor People in a Rich Country

      So what kind of rich society can’t feed its own kids…lunch at school? What does it say when a society legitimizes hunger for kids? When it calls giving a kid lunch at school “theft”? A capitalist one. Hidden in this strange tale is also the story of how capitalism came to wreck and devastate American life.

      I often point out that America is the kind of society which can’t provide the most basic of basics to its people anymore. Hence, it’s destabilizing, collapsing, turning on itself. When a society can’t provide the basics of life to people anymore, affordably, at least, its days are numbered. Yes, I mean that. People will turn to all kinds of alternatives, usually violent ones, usually regressive, toxic ones — like fascism and authoritarianism and theocracy, all of which are rising in America by the day. It’s not a coincidence America’s collapsing into theocracy, fascism, and authoritarianism at the precise moment it can’t provide the basics of life to people anymore: it’s a causal relationship.

    • Rats at the police station, filth on L.A. streets — scenes from the collapse of a city that’s lost control

      The good news is that two trash-strewn downtown Los Angeles streets I wrote about last week were cleaned up by city work crews and have been kept that way, as of this writing.

      The bad news is that I didn’t have to travel far to find more streets just as badly fouled by filthy mounds of junk and stinking, rotting food.

      Then there was the news that the LAPD station on skid row was cited by the state for a rodent infestation and other unsanitary conditions, and that one employee there was infected with the strain of bacteria that causes typhoid fever.

      What century is this?

    • Europe’s Dream: Escaping the Dictatorship of the Dollar

      The problem for U.S. allies in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere that are seeking a way around U.S. financial muscle is that it is proving extremely tough to unwind more than seven decades of dollar dominance. The U.S. financial system remains the central nervous system for the bulk of financial transactions. That gives U.S. policymakers the ability to squeeze other countries that is simply unmatched anywhere else, despite decades of sporadic efforts by countries like Japan, China, and others to make their currencies and banking systems an alternative.

    • Uber and Lyft are trying to make an end-run around unionization

      Then they show their hand: “It’s also no secret that a change to the employment classification of ride-share drivers would pose a risk to our businesses.”

    • Facebook’s cryptocurrency to debut next week backed by Visa, Mastercard, Uber, and others: WSJ

      Facebook has secured the backing of over a dozen companies for its upcoming Libra cryptocurrency set to be announced next week, The Wall Street Journal reports. These companies include major financial organizations like Visa and Mastercard, and internet darlings like PayPal, Uber, Stripe, and Booking.com. Each will invest around $10 million to fund development of the currency, and will become part of the Libra Association, an independent consortium that will govern the digital coin independently of Facebook.

    • Bernie Sanders Delivered the Most Profound Speech Since We Lost MLK

      It is not hyperbole to suggest that Senator Bernie Sanders’s June 12, 2019 Democratic Socialism Speech was as profound as any delivered by either of the two men who Sanders frequently quoted: President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was a speech in which the Vermont senator revealed that his campaign, and accompanying “political revolution”, offer a unique vehicle for societal transformation—from what President Jimmy Carter described as “an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery” to the realization of the promise offered by President Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address: “government of the people, by the people and for the people.”

      Sanders brilliantly coupled a condemnation of the tyranny of capitalist oligarchy with FDR’s recognition that democracy and freedom are unattainable in the absence of economic security. That message was so powerful that all three major corporate-owned cable networks—Fox “News”, CNN and MSNBC—abruptly terminated their live coverage mid-speech. They did so before Sanders outlined what he described as a “21st Century Economic Bill of Rights”.

      Bernie noted that income and wealth inequality have soared to levels not seen since the onset of the Great Depression. “Three families,” he said, “control more wealth than the bottom half of our country, some 160 million people.”

      That was actually an understatement. As of 2017, America’s three richest “individuals”—Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffet—own as much wealth as the bottom 160 million, according to a report released by Institute for Policy Studies. “If left unchecked,” Josh Hardy, the study’s co-author observed, “wealth will continue to accumulate into fewer and fewer hands.”

    • The Trump Administration Is Escalating Its War on Federal Workers

      Claiming over 650,000 members in the United States and overseas, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) stands as the nation’s largest federal and D.C. government employee labor union. The union represents employees who provide care and support for veterans, the elderly and disabled, and people in need of housing through the Social Security Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, along with other federal agencies.

      A statement on the AFGE website describes these employees as the “vital threads of the fabric of American life.” Now, the AFGE contends, its members are under attack, thanks to recent actions by the Trump administration.

      The AFGE is currently in contract negotiations with the Department of Veterans Affairs on behalf of more than 250,000 employees who work for the agency. In the process of these negotiations, AFGE District Office Manager Matt Muchowski says that VA management is attempting to undo labor rights that have been won by the union since its founding in 1932.

      To better understand the nature of these affronts, Muchowski argues, it is important to look at three executive orders signed by President Trump on May 25, 2018. While the orders have since ostensibly been ruled in violation of labor law by a U.S. District Court in August 2018, Muchowski says that sections of the orders which limit time spent during the work day on union activities (known as “official time”) as well as due process are being pushed into the contract by VA negotiators.

      This approach is “making it difficult for federal workers to do what they do,” by seeking to alter key elements of the contracts negotiated between AFGE members—including Veterans Affairs workers—and management, he says. Further, Muchowski notes, this strategy has already been employed during negotiations over the Social Security Administration contract earlier this year, which resulted in major concessions for workers. He says the Trump administration’s approach to the AFGE negotiations “represents an escalation of its anti-union tactics.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Fact Check: No, this is not a photo of Cyclone Vayu

      AFWA did a reverse search of the photo and found that it is an old one. We located the photo on Shutterstock.com. Tushar Kharabe, whose Shutterstock ID is 1143454223, had uploaded the photo on the website on November 16, 2018.

    • Hong Kongers alarmed by Google translation gaffe

      Hong Kong social media lit up on Friday when protesters noticed Google’s translation software was briefly churning out a rather odd suggestion during a week that has seen the worst political violence to hit the city in decades.

      Eagle-eyed Google users discovered that when people entered the phrase “I am sad to see Hong Kong become part of China” the suggested translation in both Simplified and Traditional Chinese converted the word “sad” to “happy”.

    • Supreme Court Ruling on Census Could Deal Grave Blow to Democracy

      The Supreme Court is poised to decide two cases that could prove devastating to the right to vote — the very foundation of a democracy. One case will review the Trump administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The other will consider whether partisan gerrymandering is constitutional. They are related because the citizenship question would “allow Republicans to draft even more extreme gerrymandered maps to stymie Democrats,” the New York Times reported.

      “It’s hard to overstate the significance of the census and partisan gerrymandering cases,” according to Professor Leah Litman of UC Irvine School of Law, interviewed in the Los Angeles Times. “Upholding the addition of the citizenship question and foregoing any judicial oversight of partisan gerrymandering would allow Republican minorities to entrench their political power for decades.”

      Moreover, Thomas Hofeller, a GOP strategist and architect of the citizenship question plan, was known as the “Michelangelo of gerrymandering.” Hofeller’s expertise in drawing partisan political maps “cemented the [Republican] party’s dominance across the country,” Michael Wines wrote in the New York Times.

      The census is used to determine the number of representatives each state will have in the House, how electors are distributed in the electoral college, and how $880 billion in federal funds will be allocated between the states.

    • Don’t Accept the “New Normal” — Keep Outrage Alive

      All you have to do is say something nobody understands and they’ll do practically anything you want them to. — Holden Caulfield, The Catcher in the Rye
      On Tuesday, after Donald Trump blew kisses at North Korea when it was revealed the regime had assassinated a CIA “asset” by spraying VX nerve agent in his face in the middle of a crowded airport, a friend asked me: “Is your capacity for shock as burned out as mine?”

      The asset, by the bye, was Kim Jong Nam, half-brother of Kim Jong Un. You may remember when this very public killing in the Kuala Lumpur airport happened back in 2017. The barrage of Trump-related horrors was still somewhat new and fresh, and we were all yelling “This is not normal!” to maintain some semblance of perspective. We were saying that to others, and to ourselves, because it was a lifeline to reality in a world that had gone positively surreal.

      Two years later and four years nearly to the day since Trump rode his golden escalator into presidential infamy, I’m having conversations with friends about shock burnout … and that was Tuesday, which was before Wednesday, which was the day Trump spent denying even the existence of internal polling that showed Democratic frontrunners beating him in 2020 matchups. The polls had been reported on by virtually everyone in the media. “They reported Fake numbers that they made up & don’t even exist,” he frothed on Twitter pretty much first thing in the morning.

      Leave aside the fact that he’s saying this because his base will believe it and his base is all that matters to him, because that’s the kind of political calculation one cobbles together in a world where mathematics make sense. The president of the United States is lying in public about the non-existence of things that tangibly exist, again. This should be flatly terrifying.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Telegram Traces Massive Cyber Attack to China During Hong Kong Protests

      Hong Kong protesters have grown increasingly concerned about legal repercussions as Beijing tightens its influence over the former British colony and the local government prosecutes demonstrators. They’ve relied on encrypted services to avoid detection. Telegram and Firechat — a peer-to-peer messaging service that works with or without internet access — are among the top trending apps in Hong Kong’s Apple store.

      Many protesters masked their faces to avoid facial recognition and avoided using public transit cards that can be voluntarily linked to their identities. An administrator of a large local Telegram group was arrested Tuesday for allegedly conspiring to commit a public nuisance, the South China Morning Post reported.

    • Yle reporter suspected of defaming famous film director

      Police are conducting a preliminary investigation into whether Yle reporter Sara Rigatelli defamed film director Aki Louhimies when she published a story in which she detailed actors’ claims of his humiliating and degrading behaviour.

    • France’s Le Pen to go on trial for tweeting gruesome IS images

      A judge in the western Paris suburb of Nanterre ordered that the National Rally leader stand trial on charges of circulating “violent messages that incite terrorism or pornography or seriously harm human dignity” and that can be viewed by a minor.

    • J-K: Four journalists allegedly roughed up by police while covering encounter in Pulwama

      Four photo and video journalists were allegedly beaten and their cameras were snatched by J&K Police personnel when they were covering an encounter which broke out in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Friday morning.
      Advertising

      The Kashmir Press Club (KPC) has condemned the police action.

    • Kochs’ Dark-Money Network Bankrolls Right-Wing “Free Speech Crisis” on Campuses

      Over the last few years, right-wing groups have cried that there is a “free speech crisis” on campuses and have pushed state governments to pass legislation that many professors and civil liberties advocates argue only makes the situation worse.

      Speech First is the latest group to arise to challenge university speech policies. Launched in late 2017, it claims to be a “membership association of students, parents, faculty, alumni, and concerned citizens,” but is in reality managed by a right-wing operative and funded by the Koch brothers’ dark money network, a joint investigation by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) and the Corporate Genome Project (CGP) has found.

      While other organizations, such as the Christian Right hate group Alliance Defending Freedom, have been challenging campus speech policies for years, Speech First is the only group to be specifically set up for this purpose. Its aim is to show universities that “shutting down unwanted speech will no longer be tolerated,” says founding executive director Nicole Neily.

    • Despite being innocent, Asia Bibi was forced out of her country – this is the dark truth about Pakistan’s blasphemy laws [Ed: The concept of "blasphemy" persists even in the EU and its highest court]

      In truth, and contrary to the statement of the Pakistan Foreign Office, Bibi had entirely lost her freedom – as had her family. Certainly they did not have the freedom to live their lives like any ordinary citizens of Pakistan.

      Wherever they might have gone in their own country, the sword of blasphemy would have continued to hang over their heads for the rest of the lives in a society which is not ready to have any kind of reasoned debate about the misuse of religious laws.

    • Insider’s perspective: The full story of Asia Bibi [Ed: Even the legal representatives are at risk from radicals]

      It was dangerous for anyone to speak out – for instance the governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province, Salman Taseer, was assassinated by one of his bodyguards for speaking in her defence in 2011. Mr Taseer was shot 27 times.

    • Fanatic vows ‘terrible death’ and ‘hell’ for Christian Asia Bibi [Ed: Pakistan has a major problem in its hands if it lets aggressive radicals steer policy and civil discourse, even if by threats and assassinations]

      Bibi fled to refuge in Canada earlier this month but religious fanatics don’t appear ready to let the matter die.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Moldovan passport offer lures investors to Dubai’s Seahorse Villas

      UAE-based European real estate developer Kleindienst Group announced that investor interest in its floating Seahorse Villas homes at The Heart of Europe had increased following its decision to offer Schengen visa-free citizenship through the Moldovan Citizenship by Investment (MCBI) programme wherein investors paying more than $1.3m (AED5m) in the project’s first or second phases will be eligible for the scheme.

    • Investors in Dubai’s Heart of Europe to qualify for Moldovan passports

      Investors who buy property worth more than AED 5 million in UAE developer Kleindienst Group’s Heart of Europe project this summer will automatically qualify for Moldovan citizenship, the company announced on Wednesday.

      With a Moldovan citizenship, investors would be able to travel visa-free across the Schengen area and 121 countries around the world.

    • What Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five” Tells Us Now

      This piece was adapted from a lecture delivered in April, in Indianapolis, to mark the fiftieth anniversary of “Slaughterhouse-Five.”

    • Linda Fairstein Is Still Trying to Take Down the Central Park Five

      In real life, Fairstein appears to be an even worse person than she is portrayed to be. You’d think Fairstein would be inconsolable, ashamed, or just plain embarrassed when she learned that her actions not only put five innocent boys in jail but also allowed the real perpetrator to go on raping people for that much longer. But, no, she’s not humiliated—she is defiant.

      This week, The Wall Street Journal gave her editorial space to attack the Central Park Five again. It’s so very on-brand for the Journal to allow a disgraced prosecutor to make a soliloquy against people of color. That’s the kind of news we need so we can determine whether to hang onto our “unrepentant white supremacy” stocks for another day.

    • Canada: Deaths of indigenous women were ‘genocide’

      A 1,200-page report was released Monday detailing a Canadian government inquiry into thousands of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. It concluded that the deaths and disappearances of the women in recent decades constituted a “national genocide.”

      The report, titled “Reclaiming Power and Place,” was the result of a national inquiry commissioned by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2016.

    • ‘Hold China accountable’ for fentanyl, Andrew Scheer says

      Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says the federal government needs to “hold China accountable” for the illicit fentanyl that has fuelled Canada’s opioid crisis.

      Speaking to municipal leaders at a convention in Quebec City, the opposition leader said opioid addiction and overdoses are both a health problem and a public-safety problem, and part of the solution is to restrict the supply.

    • Here’s the new police list of trouble suburbs in Sweden: fewer vulnerable areas

      Swedish police on Monday hailed positive developments within the nation’s 60 so-called ‘vulnerable areas’. But there’s both good news and bad news.

      In an update to a list first introduced in 2015, police reduced the number of areas defined as “especially vulnerable” from 23 to 22.

    • Sweden’s Self-Inflicted Mess: The Scared Girls of Uppsala; Children of ISIS Terrorists

      In response, officials from Uppsala apparently told the Swedish press, “We usually encourage girls who feel insecure to think about what they need to do to feel safe, such as not walking alone, making sure they get picked up and anything else that can reduce their sense of insecurity.” In other words, the authorities are leaving the responsibility for dealing with this critical security issue to the girls themselves.

      The scared girls in Uppsala are only a small part of the entire picture. According to the latest National Safety Report, published by the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brottsförebyggande Rådet or Brå), four out of 10 women are afraid to walk outside freely. “Almost a quarter of the population chooses a different route or another mode of transportation as a result of anxiety about crime… Among women aged 20-24, 42 percent state that they often opted for another route or another mode of transportation, because they felt insecure and worried about being subjected to crime. The corresponding proportion among men in the same age group is 16 percent…” according to Brå.

    • Muslim mob vandalises petrol pump, beat up staffers because some were getting late for Namaz and didn’t want to wait in queue

      When OpIndia contacted Malad Police, they corroborated the TOI report and added that the two bike-borne men were getting late to offer their namaz. It is for this reason that they jumped the queue leading to a spat with the petrol pump staff. They subsequently summoned a group of 15-20 men and thrashed the petrol pump staffers there.

    • Bikers break queue, then bones at Malad fuel point

      Less than an hour later, a mob armed with lathis arrived at the pump. They did not say a word to anyone and went about bashing up the staff. Around a dozen men entered a glass cabin and smashed its door and tables inside. They also smashed two POS (point of sale) swiping machines and a fuel reading meter. Among the staff, Shrikant Vishwakarma suffered arm and leg fractures. Ashish, Singh and their colleagues, Kamal Mishra, Kaushal Yadav, Vikas Yadav and Dheeraj Sharma, suffered injuries to the head, back, arm, leg and face. Some of the accused were masked.

      The Malad police were informed. Based on information provided by witnesses, the police registered a case of assault and rioting, among other charges. Later, the petrol pump management went through their cash counter and found that Rs 35,000 had been looted. The police then added the charge of dacoity.

    • Tunisia: Café Owner Jailed Over Ramadan Hours

      On May 18, police visited the Damascus café and checked the identity cards of all customers who were there. They asked Zaghouani to promise in writing to remain closed, which he refused to do, he told Human Rights Watch. The next day, they returned, asked the customers to leave, and arrested Zaghouani, he said. On May 20, Zaghouani appeared before a prosecutor, who ordered him held in pretrial custody.

    • Cabinet may take up a fresh triple talaq Bill today [Ed: Banning Talaq-e-biddat and separating states from dogma or superstitions]

      According to sources aware of the matter, a bill to ban Talaq-e-biddat may be discussed by the Union Cabinet, which may grant its approval for the government to bring the bill in the upcoming session of the Parliament starting on June 17.

    • German Court Fines 7 Men Who Claimed to Be ‘Sharia Police’

      The group took to the streets of the western city of Wuppertal in 2014, dressed in orange vests bearing the words “Sharia police” and handing out leaflets declaring the area a “Sharia-controlled zone” where alcohol, music and pornography were banned under Islam’s Sharia law.

    • German court orders fines for self-declared ‘sharia police’

      Seven men patrolled streets of the city of Wuppertal in uniforms, warning Muslims not to visit cafes or drink alcohol

    • German court fines 7 men who claimed to be ‘Sharia police’

      At the time of the “sharia police” patrol, the men were led by one of Germany’s best-known fundamentalist preachers, Sven Lau, a 38-year-old convert to Islam.

      He was himself sentenced in 2017 to a five-year jail term in a separate case, after being found guilty of “supporting a terrorist organization” by recruiting potential militants to travel to Syria.

    • Child marriage ban takes effect in Finland

      The Nordic countries of Sweden, Norway and Denmark have all banned underage marriages in recent years. The National Church Council has long said that legislation should be used to prevent child marriages and overturn the exemption rule.

    • It’s Time for Progressives to Protect Women Instead of Pronouns [Ed: One can protect both; a false dichotomy leveraged by right-wing zealots and chauvinists to pretend they care about women whereas liberals do not]

      Before we took the stage, speakers were given an hour-long briefing by the university’s security team. We were told what would happen if the stage were stormed by protesters, or if it became necessary to vacate the venue. This is what it now means to advocate publicly for women’s rights.

    • Hong Kong Protests: Council Delays Debate on Extradition Law

      Ms. Tsang, 25, said she had come in hopes of a drawing international attention to the bill, and said that she hoped global condemnation could force the government to back down from presenting the bill for a second reading in the local legislature.

      “Hong Kong is a civilized city but they don’t listen to the citizens,” Ms. Tsang, who had worn sunglasses and a surgical mask to guard against pepper spray, said of the authorities. “It’s quite ridiculous.”

    • The Latest: Hong Kong Session Delayed as Protest Gathers

      A vote on the amended laws is scheduled for June 20.

    • ‘Million march’: Huge Hong Kong protest against China extradition law

      Organisers said more than a million people marched in blazing summer heat through the cramped streets of the financial hub’s main island in a noisy, colourful demonstration calling on the government to scrap its planned extradition law.

      The demonstration was the biggest the international finance hub has experienced since it was returned to China by Britain — beaten only by a 1.5 million-strong rally during colonial rule in 1989 supporting the Tiananmen protesters.

    • Hundreds of thousands march in Hong Kong to protest China extradition bill

      U.S. and European officials have issued formal warnings – concern matched by international business and human rights lobbies that fear the changes would dent Hong Kong’s rule of law. The former British colony was handed back to Chinese rule in 1997 amid guarantees of autonomy and various freedoms including a separate legal system, which many diplomats and business leaders believe is the city’s strongest remaining asset.

    • Hong Kong protests: Leader Carrie Lam defiant after massive protest

      Organisers estimate that one million people took part in Sunday’s march, however police put the figure at 240,000 at its peak.

      If the organisers’ estimate is confirmed as correct, it would be the largest demonstration in Hong Kong since the territory was handed over to China by the British in 1997.

    • Hong Kong Leader Delays Extradition Bill Amid Mass Protests

      Embattled Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam sought to quell public anger Saturday by shelving an unpopular extradition bill that has highlighted apprehension about relations with mainland China, but opponents of the measure said it was not enough.

      Activists said they were still planning a mass protest for Sunday, a week after hundreds of thousands marched to demand Lam drop the legislation, which many fear would undermine freedoms enjoyed by this former British colony but not elsewhere in China.

      The battle over the proposal to amend the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance to allow some suspects to face trial in mainland Chinese courts has evolved into Hong Kong’s most severe political test since the Communist Party-ruled mainland took control in 1997 with a promise not to interfere with the city’s civil liberties and courts.

    • Why the UAW Lost Again in Chattanooga

      It was a bad sign. On the day voting began at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the shift change suddenly turned blue.

      Throngs of workers were passing through the factory turnstiles in both directions, as the day shift ended and the night shift began. On the preceding days, handfuls of union supporters in bright green shirts were there to hand out flyers and banter with their co-workers.

      But on Wednesday, instead of bustling union activists, a sea of workers passed quietly through the turnstiles wearing the blue anti-union “One Team: I Am Volkswagen” shirts provided by the company.

      Only a few workers were wearing the United Auto Workers shirts. Union supporters were visibly outnumbered by as much as 20 to 1.

      This scene was a warning of what was to come. On Friday night, the votes were counted and the union lost in another heartbreaking close vote, 776 yes to 833 no. Ninety-three percent of eligible workers cast ballots.

    • Ocasio-Cortez: “We’re Going to Fight to Repeal the Hyde Amendment”

      Hyde, passed in 1976, bars federal funds from being used for abortion care except in the cases of rape or incest, or if the woman’s life is in danger.

      Last week, Ocasio-Cortez blasted former vice president Joe Biden’s Hyde Amendment position: “That’s not a progressive position. And you know what? If your pride is being a moderate, centrist candidate, then go out and say that.”

      Biden’s campaign for president confirmed on June 5th that the Delaware Democrat still supported the controversial, anti-choice Hyde Amendment, a revelation that generated intense criticism from rights groups. One day later, Biden did a flip-flop and announced a reversal course on his longstanding position on Hyde.

      Ocasio-Cortez , speaking with The Young Turks show “Rebel HQ” in an interview posted June 6th, said that “record is important because it shows a consistency in values in beliefs.”

      She was responding to interviewer Emma Vigeland mentioning Biden’s previous declaration that he’s the “most progressive candidate” and Ocasio-Cortez choosing to not endorse any of the Democratic hopefuls yet.

      “I think we need a progressive president,” Ocasio-Cortez told Vigeland.

    • Pakistan Christians beaten by mob after mosque accuses them of blasphemy: report

      The London-based charity British Pakistani Christian Association reports that two Christian families in the Arif Wala Tehsil district of Punjab province were forced to flee from their homes after the attack last Wednesday by a mob of about 40 Muslim men and children with weapons.

      According to BPCA, which is providing financial assistance to the community, the mob was incited by a local mosque that claimed over its loudspeakers that the Christians had insulted Islam.

    • Muslim surgeon accused of sterilising non-Muslim patients without their knowledge or consent

      The 42-year-old surgeon was arrested by Kurunegala Police last week for amassing unusually large sums of money and assets. According to reports, police will be investigating whether the money was obtained from a terrorist organisation.

      Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Health has launched a special committee to investigate the allegations, comprised of gynaecologists and representatives of the Sri Lanka Medical Council.

    • Ayaan Hirsi Ali warns of Islamic anti-Semitism [Ed: She is making a career by helping people like Netanyahu]

      Islamic anti-Semitism is of a “scale and scope” that most people in the West do not understand and is therefore all the more insidious, the controversial critic of the Muslim religion, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, told a capacity audience at the Jewish Public Library (JPL) in Montreal on May 13.

    • Terror in Burkina Faso: how insurgents brought chaos to the once-stable Francophone state [Ed: The real threat is extremism in all its form, the accumulation of power and vanity that accompanies it]

      Abdoulaye is an alias he uses due to ongoing threats against his life. The young teacher has not worked since leaving his community, and struggles with the cost of living in the capital, Ouagadougou.

      Violence has displaced more than 150,000 people in this poor West African country over the last two years alone.

      [...]

      Currently, more than 145,000 children are out of school and 1,000 educational establishments have closed their doors due to extremist threats.

      But as it turned out, the school attacks were just the beginning.

    • Islamist migrants [Ed: The right wing in Israel apparently has no strategy left other than inciting Europe against Muslim immigrants, hoping to deflect distrust if not hate]

      The millions of Muslims rapping on the doors of Europe over the last few years come from failed, war-torn states, rife with unemployment, neglect and despair. They are in search of a secure environment, honorable employment, education for their children, a roof over their heads and safe, fulfilling lives. Once they achieve economic stability in their host state, many also integrate culturally and become part of the society in which they have found themselves. They break their ties to Islamic tradition, eat whatever is put on their plates and drink whatever is poured into their cups.

      In contrast, however, there are millions of Muslims settled in Europe who have a clear objective: Staying loyal to their religious tradition while strengthening its status in Europe. They make demands whose goal is turning the host country into an even more welcoming one: They see to the availability of Halal foods sans alcohol and pork, courts acting according to Islamic Sharia law instead of local statutes, non-marking of Christian holidays, eliminating Holocaust education that includes the genocide of the Jews, the establishment of a banking system according to Islamic law, and allowing Muslim women to wear the niqab covering their faces in the public sphere. They want their women treated by female medical personnel and not by males, as well as many other demands whose objective is to turn the host country into a place that will attract more Islamist migrants.

    • Indonesia riots: Islamic teachers linked to defeated candidate Prabowo Subianto told teens to take part, human rights chief says [Ed: If teachers incite violence, then it doesn't matter what their rationale may be; they break the law.]

      Initial investigations by the country’s National Commission on Human Rights found religious teachers incited students to take part

    • ‘A Regular Woman’: Remembering honor killing victim Hatun Sürücü [Ed: People who are an impediment to assimilation and integration cause harm and may cost many people their lives]

      She left her abusive husband, however, and returned to Berlin, pregnant.

      At first, the young, independent and strong woman lived with her family, but in hopes of a self-determined life, she moved with her son to a hostel for single mothers, despite great resistance from her family. The young mother moved on to an apartment, she consulted a therapist, went back to school to finish her degree, took off her headscarf and began an apprenticeship as an electrician.

      At the age of 23, almost done with her training and ready to move to Freiburg to continue her education, one of her brothers shot her in the head three times at a Berlin bus stop.

      The gruesome murder triggered a heated debate about forced marriages and values in Muslim families in Germany.

    • Bill 21 Is Québec’s Renewed Attempt at Legislative Intolerance

      Though Québec, Canada, has the tendency to portray itself as a progressive and open society, the popular obsession with curtailing the rights of marginalized groups clearly undermines this image. Having made headlines in 2017 following the horrific killing of six Muslims in a Québec City mosque, the province is once again facing scrutiny for the proposed adoption of Bill 21, a new law aimed at restricting public sector workers from displaying religious symbols at work. This revived attempt to legislate religious and civil rights has attracted much criticism, most recently by the United Nations special rapporteurs on religious freedom, racial discrimination, and minority issues.

      As Truthout previously reported, the debate on state secularism in Québec has occupied much of the public and political discourse. In 2017, the province’s then-liberal government tried unsuccessfully to ratify Bill 62, a law prohibiting access to public services to those who covered their faces. The bill was rapidly denounced as a discriminatory measure against Muslim women who chose to wear a niqab or burqa. This issue is, unfortunately, not new in a province that has been debating the meaning of state secularism (laïcité) — particularly as it applies to Canada’s Muslim community — since the early 2000s. In 2007, a commission headed by prominent philosopher Charles Taylor and sociologist Gérard Bouchard examined the question of religious accommodations and concluded that it was the state’s responsibility to encourage tolerance and to uphold individual religious freedoms.

    • Forced Conversions, Marriages Spike in Pakistan

      Every year, thousands of Hindu and Christian girls and young women are kidnapped in Pakistan and forcibly married, disappearing from their families. And while these forced conversions have been going on for decades, a recent surge in reported cases has brought the issue back into the limelight.

      Around 1,000 cases of Hindu and Christian girls being forced to convert were estimated in the province of southern Sindh alone in 2018, according to the annual report of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

    • Ugly reality: Forced conversions ‘not seen as a crime’ in Pakistan

      According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), only five other countries see more children abducted and forcibly married than Pakistan. Once they have converted to Islam, the religion affords their spouse and relatives-in-law the legal protection to conduct this controversial practice.

    • Pakistani Christian teen ‘raped, forcibly converted to Islam’

      According to Neha’s family, police were initially reluctant to register their complaint, but they were able to lodge a case on May 13 with the help of others including Pastor Ghazala Shafiq of the Church of Pakistan.

      The pastor said Neha’s marriage was illegal because she was only 15.

      “Girls under 18 years of age are considered minor and those doing this are punishable according to Pakistan’s Penal Code. We will fight her case in court,” she said.

    • Islam and Prison: Why Are So Many Inmates Converting?

      An estimated 40,000 inmates in U.S. prisons are converting to Islam every year. At the outset, it is important to note that religious conversion to Islam – or any religion — is not by itself an indicator of future extremism, violent or otherwise.

    • Muslim gangs in UK jails beating prisoners until they convert to Islam

      Muslim gangs in UK jails are forcing prisoners to convert to Islam with threats and beatings, according to a new Ministry of Justice report.

      “The tactic they use is to befriend someone when they come in. If they don’t convert, they will then start spreading rumours about them, that the person is a snitch (informer), so that they will be ostracised. Then the beatings follow,” said a non-Muslim inmate.

    • Muslim gangs ‘beat prisoners’ who will not convert to Islam

      The gangs operated under the guise of religion, with a hierarchy of leaders, recruiters, enforcers, followers and foot soldiers, the report by the Ministry of Justice said. One non-Muslim inmate said: “There is an underlying pressure for people to convert and join the gang.

    • Outrage as Eid al-Fitr Replaces National Day Feast in Swedish Municipality

      The municipality then called its plans a “misunderstanding” and effectively abandoned its integration attempt, deciding to only mark Eid al-Fitr, despite the fact that Ramadan this year officially ends on 4 June, and relegating the National Day celebrations to a less prominent location.

    • Pakistani cleric complains about minister in ‘moon-lighting controversy’

      A cleric in Pakistan has lodged a complaint with police accusing a federal minister of violating Islamic tradition by introducing a moon-sighting website and an official lunar calendar. In the complaint, Mufti Inam-ul-Haq said Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhry had perpetrated an “un-Islamic act.”

    • Ex Tehran Mayor Confesses To Killing His Wife On Iranian State TV

      But Najafi, a former mayor of Tehran, was there to make a confession. He said he had killed his wife, Mitra Ostad, ,the night before after threatening her with a gun because she refused to grant him a divorce.

      [...]

      “So far, [this case] is not a criminal investigation, even by the standards of the Iranian judiciary,” Tehran-based lawyer Shady Sadr said on Twitter.

    • Germany is failing to prosecute IS foreign fighters, Yazidis accuse

      Members of the Yazidi minority in Germany are taking the federal government to court. They say Berlin isn’t doing enough to bring German “Islamic State” supporters captured in Syria to justice.

    • Islamic scholar calls for ‘separation of mosque and state’, gets death threats

      Following the scholar’s interpretation of the Quran, under which he suggested that fasting was not compulsory, Saïd Djabelkhir received numerous death threats. A hate campaign was initiated, with TV programs broadcast to vilify him.

      A facebook page went as far as publishing a call to murder him. The administrator of the page provided the address of the scholar in the municipality of Blida, inviting people to attack him “We must deal with it today, not tomorrow“.

    • ‘A gross violation’: UK must demand an end to Indonesian military’s invasive virginity testing, say experts

      The “two finger test”, in which medics check whether a woman’s hymen is still intact, has no basis in science and is used as a humiliating threat to keep women from progressing in the country’s security apparatus.

    • Mauritanian Cleric Muhammad Al-Hassan Ould Al-Dadou Al-Shanqiti Says Muslims Must Strive To Obtain Nuclear Weapons, Agrees They Should Achieve ‘Balance Of Terror’

      Mauritanian cleric Muhammad Al-Hassan Ould Al-Dadou Al-Shanqiti said in an interview broadcast on Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas-Gaza) on May 22, 2019, that the Muslims have a duty to strive to obtain nuclear weapons because there is a threat that nuclear weapons might be used against them and it is the “only way to deter the enemies.” He gave the example of Pakistan, which he said stopped being “harassed” by its neighbors once it obtained nuclear weapons. Al-Shanqiti also said that the recent “rush” to normalize relations with the Zionists is caused by a lack of faith in Allah and by the fact that the Zionists possess a nuclear weapon while the Arabs do not. He added that Muslims must not use such a weapon unless it is used against them. The interviewer said that there should be a “balance of terror.”

    • Don’t Blame the Surge of European Anti-Semitism on the Populists

      So when a German federal official recently advised Jews to avoid wearing a kippah or religious head covering in public so they wouldn’t be targeted for violence, most foreign observers concluded that it was right-wing anti-Semites who have been attacking Jews, given that right-wingers have been making gains in elections, including in the recent European Parliament election.

    • At least 95 killed in attack on Mali village [Ed: The brutality seen in some parts of Africa is unspeakable by most standards; sometimes to steal cattle (food)]

      Ninety-five charred bodies had been counted among the village’s 300 residents, the major said. Fulani men attacked the village last week but only stole cattle, he said.

      The Dogon and the Fulani have clashed in the past over access to land and water. Armed men in March killed 134 people, including women and children, during an attack on a village in central Mali, the United Nations said at the time.

    • Rape and Sudan’s revolution: ‘They were crying and screaming’

      A feared unit of Sudan’s security forces raped women as they dispersed pro-democracy protesters camped outside the military’s headquarters 12 days ago, witnesses have told the BBC.

    • Sudan crisis: Call for civil disobedience after arrests

      The umbrella group leading Sudan’s pro-democracy movement has called for a nationwide campaign of civil disobedience, days after a bloody military crackdown left dozens dead.

    • Arab States Foment Sudan Chaos While U.S. Stands By

      More than 100 people were killed on Monday, according to civilian groups, when Sudanese military forces destroyed the country’s protest site and rampaged through Khartoum. Videos showed civilians walking through the streets and then being attacked by soldiers. Forty bodies were pulled from the Nile River, according to the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors, a professional association affiliated with the protest, after reports that soldiers from Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces paramilitary unit threw them in. One video showed bodies with rocks tied to their feet to make them sink in the river. There was no regular internet access in Khartoum on Wednesday, the third day of a web blackout.

    • Sudan Pro-Democracy Groups Vow to Continue Protests After Deadly Crackdown

      At least 108 demonstrators have been killed and hundreds of others wounded since security forces stormed a protest camp in Khartoum on Monday. Pro-democracy groups have vowed to continue peaceful protests that gathered momentum after the ouster in April of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir until the ruling military council is removed and those responsible for the deaths this week are brought to justice.

    • Valedictorian Says School Cut Off Mic During Speech Due to the Topics

      She and her family immigrated from Iran when she was just 12-years-old, after facing religious persecution.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Japan IP High Court rules standard for calculating damages in patent infringement case

      Then, the court said that the licensing royalty rate in this case should not be less than 10%, considering that the average royalty rates in recent years in the technology field of the patented inventions are 5.3% in the questionnaire results of domestic companies and 6.1% in the judicial decision, and also there was a case in which the patent holder settled a patent infringement dispute in the same technology field by receiving 10% of sales of the infringing products.

      As described above, the court made a decision in favor of the patent holder by indicating standard for calculating damages, especially defining the deductible expense as “the expense which is additionally required by production and sales of infringing products and which is also directly related to such production and sales of infringing products”.

      Recently, the government has been trying to promote the development of IP dispute resolution system in favor of patent holders, although it has not progressed as expected, which we featured before.

    • Copyrights

      • ‘Copyright Troll’ Lawyer Sentenced to 14 Years in Prison

        Paul Hansmeier, one of the lead attorneys behind the controversial law firm Prenda, has been sentenced to 14 years in prison. In addition, he must pay his victims $1.5 million in restitution. The attorney was one of the masterminds behind the fraudulent scheme in which Prenda created and uploaded porn movies to extract settlements from alleged pirates. The Pirate Bay played a crucial role in the case.

Stuffed/Stacked Panels Sent Back Packing After One-Sided Patent Hearings That Will Convince Nobody, Just Preach to the Choir

Posted in America, Deception, EFF, Law, Patents at 9:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“A stacked panel, on the other hand, is like a stacked deck: it is packed with people who, on the face of things, should be neutral, but who are in fact strong supporters of our technology. The key to stacking a panel is being able to choose the moderator. Most conference organizers allow the moderator to select die panel, so if you can pick the moderator, you win. [...] Thus, the “independent” panel ends up telling the audience that our technology beats the others hands down. Get the press to cover this panel, and you’ve got a major win on your hands.”
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Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

TripsSummary: Almost a week ago the ‘world tour’ of patent lobbyists in US Senate finally ended; it was an utterly ridiculous case study in panel stacking and bribery (attempts to buy laws)

THE NEW Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) does not like 35 U.S.C. § 101, but there’s nothing he can do about it. He has already crafted some poor guidelines and it doesn’t change how judges decide cases. To make matters worse, the USPTO got bombarded with very negative comments, perhaps 90% of all the comments, based on some estimates we saw. The patent maximalists try to blame it on the EFF, which means that the EFF is doing something right (rallying supporters who actually support technology rather than litigation).

“The EFF was there, but it was surrounded by dozens of think tanks and lobbyists of litigators.”Sites of patent trolls (sponsored by them) tried hard to amplify this month’s Senate hearings, knowing these hearings were grossly biased, one-sided, and therefore misleading. The EFF was there, but it was surrounded by dozens of think tanks and lobbyists of litigators. It was so profoundly ridiculous that we couldn’t help but respond, repeatedly, even though we said that we’d try focusing on the European Patent Office (EPO) instead.

“Apple is a constant target of high-tech patent assertions, with 58 cases filed against it in the US last year (Lex Machina),” Battistelli‘s friends at IAM write at the moment. But actually, Apple itself is a patent aggressor and bully. Hardly the victim. Taking into account the Eastern District of Texas (EDTX), the EFF has just told this story of trolls whose targets include Apple. To quote:

For years, the Eastern District of Texas (EDTX) has been a magnet for lawsuits filed by patent trolls—companies who make money with patent threats, rather than selling products or services. Technology companies large and small were sued in EDTX every week. We’ve written about how that district’s unfair and irregular procedures made it a haven for patent trolls.

In 2017, the Supreme Court put limits on this venue abuse with its TC Heartland decision. The court ruled that companies can only be sued in a particular venue if they are incorporated there, or have a “regular and established” place of business.

That was great for tech companies that had no connection to EDTX, but it left brick-and-mortar retailers exposed. In February, Apple, a company that has been sued hundreds of times in EDTX, closed its only two stores that were in the district, located in Richardson and Plano. With no stores located in EDTX, Apple will be able to ask for a transfer in any future patent cases.

In the last few days those stores were open, Apple was sued for patent infringement four times, as patent trolls took what is likely their last chance to sue Apple in EDTX.

This month, as part of our Stupid Patent of the Month series, we’re taking a closer look at one of these last-minute lawsuits against Apple. On April 12, the last day the store was open, Apple was sued by LBS Innovations, LLC, a patent-licensing company owned by two New York patent lawyers, Daniel Mitry and Timothy Salmon. Since it was formed in 2011, LBS has sued more than 60 companies, all in the Eastern District of Texas. Those defendants include some companies that make their own technology, like Yahoo, Waze, and Microsoft, but they’re mostly retailers that use software made by others. LBS has sued tire stores, pizza shops, pet-food stores, and many others, all for using internet-based maps and “store location” features. LBS has sued retailers that use software made by Microsoft, others that use Mapquest, some that use Google, as well as those that use the open-source provider OpenStreetMaps.

So it has become a serious problem for Free/Open Source software, even directly. Thankfully, nowadays it’s easier to tackle the underlying patents these trolls leverage. Will any of that change? Not any time soon. We doubt it.

Regardless, the EFF’s Joe Mullin wrote the following some days ago:

xperts Warn Congress: Proposed Changes to Patent Law Would Thwart Innovation

It should be clear now that messing around with Section 101 of the Patent Act is a bad idea. A Senate subcommittee has just finished hearing testimony about a bill that would wreak havoc on the patent system. Dozens of witnesses have testified, including EFF Staff Attorney Alex Moss. Alex’s testimony [PDF] emphasized EFF’s success in protecting individuals and small businesses from threats of meritless patent litigation, thanks to Section 101.

Section 101 is one the most powerful tools patent law provides for defending against patents that never should have been issued in the first place. We’ve written many times about small businesses that were saved because the patents being used to sue them were thrown out under Section 101, especially following the Supreme Court’s Alice v. CLS Bank decision. Now, the Senate IP subcommittee is currently considering a proposal that will eviscerate Section 101, opening the door to more stupid patents, more aggressive patent licensing demands, and more litigation threats from patent trolls.

Three days of testimony has made it clear that we’re far from alone in seeing the problems in this bill. Patents that would fail today’s Section 101 aren’t necessary to promote innovation. We’ve written about how the proposal, by Senators Thom Tillis and Chris Coons, would create a field day for patent trolls with abstract software patents. Here, we’ll take a look at a few of the other potential effects of the proposal, none of them good.

This will hopefully be our last post in this subject (we have already published about half a dozen). Over the past week we’ve kept an eye on Twitter (sadly, a lot of input goes into those social control media sites instead of proper news sites) and here’s what we can report as concisely as possible.

“So it has become a serious problem for Free/Open Source software, even directly.”First of all, the hearings were full of buzzwords. They were, as usual, misusing/misapplying buzzwords like “HEY AI” (AI) to promote fake patents on software. It isn’t just done in Europe but also in the US and in Israel [1, 2] (we mentioned this the other day; that same article has been reposted everywhere they could fling it).

Benjamin Henrion (FFII) quoted and said: “the ILPO adopted the “technical effect” test used in the EU jurisprudence” while there is no European Union involved, only rogue EPO administrative tribunals…”

That’s based on a purely promotional piece, more or less marketing and lobbying by law firms, but it’s still worth entertaining again because we see the same buzzwords brought up in the hearings. As one person put it: “Senate Judiciary Committee on 101: Laurie Hill (Genentech); Genentech pioneers biologics; Under 101/Alice/Mayo, many of these inventions are unpatentable; AI/bioinformatics/biology is the future of medicine but is not patentable.”

“They were, as usual, misusing/misapplying buzzwords like “HEY AI” (AI) to promote fake patents on software.”There it is: “AI”. And again here: “The SCP (Standing Committee on the Law of Patents) at @WIPO has just published a revealing document on AI and Patentability under the title “Background document on patents and emerging technologies”.”

Of course WIPO too participates in the “HEY AI” (AI) hype; that’s just done in order to grant fake patents on maths — no doubt patents that would be rejected if tested by courts.

Henrion also said (having watched these dull hearings): “Till and Coons strongly motivated to restore software patents, citing buzzwords such as “AI”, “quantum computing”, or “5G”…”

He found this tweet: “The AI hype is pervasive and everybody wonders when the bubble will burst, but it is true this technology poses some challenges to patentability…”

It links to this blog post by Leopoldo Belda Soriano. He says “AI” many dozens of times.

“Of course WIPO too participates in the “HEY AI” (AI) hype; that’s just done in order to grant fake patents on maths — no doubt patents that would be rejected if tested by courts.”On the rogue composition of the panels, as expected, much has been said as well. Here’s the list of people. Stacked panels. Very stacked. Patent zealots were (at the time) linking to things like “Final Panelists at Senate 101 Hearing Stress Real-World Effects of Status Quo, Tillis Signals Changes to Draft Text” from Watchtroll’s Eileen McDermott and other blogs like Patently-O.

Henrion took note of IBM’s role in these hearings when he wrote: “Senate hearing: IBM has also used super low quality software patents such as a diff between 2 contact lists to extract money from Groupon [] Qualcomm says they want to patent encoding algos such as OFDM, you could infringe them with a pen and paper https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orthogonal_frequency-division_multiplexing … [] At least americans are pretty clear about software patents, and not this CII mess…”

Henrion carried on speaking about IBM: “Nokia and IBM thanks Tillis and Coons for an “open legislative process”, while the interventions are all stacked by the patent community [] Not inviting small companies nor software developers “reminding those present that they had specifically invited Apple, Google, Microsoft, Oracle and Dell, who declined to come in favor of being represented by industry associations.”

Jan Wildeboer, who will soon be an IBM employee, expressed concerns about policies that are actually supported by IBM: “51 pages on so-called #FRAND licensing of Standard Essential Patents (SEP) by CEN/CENELEC. And they manage to completely avoid the simple question of how such schemes would work for #OpenSource implementations (Hint: it’s not possible IMHO). https://www.cencenelec.eu/news/workshops/Pages/WS-2019-014.aspx …”

“On the rogue composition of the panels, as expected, much has been said as well.”All these patents on maths are highly problematic. They oughtn’t be granted. On went Henrion: “Michael Blankstein of Scientific Games wants to restore software patents for games, and wants US to avoid copying the European Patent Convention, which explicitely bans computer programs, and rules for playing games [] Cyborg patents logic to compress data, wants to see Alice abolished https://cyborg.co/tech/intellectual-property [] John D. Vandenberg says Alice is not a mess, says the proposed bill will restore software patents…”

Alice actually restored order. How is elimination of fake patents not a positive thing? For patent trolls it certainly isn’t… but should they count?

The CCIA’s main patent person soon weighed in as well, followed by Henrion: “The “innovation” is using existing data mining techniques on data sets to determine a correlative relationship. Is that what we want to promote with patents? [] [Spot the disconnect: Tillis/Coons, op-ed: “We have no intention of overruling that central holding of the Myriad decision.” Tillis/Coons, bill: ‘No implicit exceptions to subject matter eligibility shall be used and all cases regarding those exceptions are abrogated.” [] Also, Tillis made it a point to complain that tech didn’t come. Given that the 4-1 stacked panels today on other issues, is it any wonder those companies didn’t want to show up?”

“That’s just political corruption (check who’s bribing Coons for this bill).”The funding of Coons (over a million bucks from lawyers and liars) means that lying is part of the show. As Henrion explained: “Lawyers always win when they own the “patent reform”, law firms sending donations to Senators @ChrisCoons , I guess “Small Businesses” don’t donate enough…”

That’s just political corruption (check who’s bribing Coons for this bill). It’s quite blatant and obvious.

“ACLU popping up a banner against genes patents at the senate hearing on the patent maximalist bill,” Henrion added, “where are the protesters against software patents?”

Here’s a photo of it.

ACLU banner

On the other hand we could also quote some patent maximalists, to whom these stacked hearings were a festival of joy; one of them said: “Senate Judiciary Committee on 101: Sean Reilly (Clearing House); Financial Services Industry has strong interest in strong patent system; 101/Alice has killed low quality patents; Clearing House opposes any changes to status quo.”

“The sponsors called these initiatives of theirs “bipartisan” to give an illusion of widespread consent, but what they really meant was, they got a couple of politicians from two ‘opposing’ (corporate) parties inside their pockets.”Another one quoted “George, Invitae (1:11:00): “As you consider legislative proposals, instead of abrogating 150 years of precedent case law [e.g. fixing 101], I believe the right approach is to start where the law is correctly working…” https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/meetings/the-state-of-patent-eligibility-in-america-part-iii …”

Working for who? Lawyers? Trolls? Science? Anyway, these hearings are now nearly a week behind us. As we’ve said right from the very start, we don’t expect these to change anything. The sponsors called these initiatives of theirs “bipartisan” to give an illusion of widespread consent, but what they really meant was, they got a couple of politicians from two ‘opposing’ (corporate) parties inside their pockets. So much for ‘public’ support…

2019 H1: American Software Patents Are as Worthless as They Were Last Year and Still Susceptible to Invalidation

Posted in America, Law, Patents at 7:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

End of spring, end of software patents

End of spring

Summary: With a fortnight left before the second half of the year it seems evident that software patents aren’t coming back; the courts have not changed their position at all

THE YEAR 2019 was supposed to be all about the European Patent Office (EPO) and GNU/Linux — the latter topic we’ve neglected in recent years and are gradually catching up with (e.g. concerns about the Code of Conduct). One single aspect we still watch at the USPTO is 35 U.S.C. § 101, which we hope remains in tact for many years to come. Last year and the year before that it became abundantly clear that suing with software patents in the US was a losing bet, especially if appeals were to reach the Federal Circuit. SCOTUS kept declining to even revisit the subject and last year it reaffirmed the status of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and inter partes reviews (IPRs). Nothing has really changed since then. In our daily links we include stories about cases that support this claim; as we shall show later, even attempts to bypass or change the law will most likely fail. As Janal Kalis put it the other day: “In re Gitlin (Fed. Cir. 2019) The CAFC upheld the PTAB’s holding of patent ineligibility under 101/Alice; The CAFC ignored the USPTO eligibility guidelines: http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions-orders/18-1461.Opinion.6-13-2019.pdf …”

“The Federal Circuit remains stubborn and strong in the face of smears and strong-arming by patent maximalists.”Rightly so; that’s just more of the usual. Courts refuse to be sort of manipulated if not bullied by the likes of Battistelli and Campinos, who not only lobby for software patents in Europe but also abuse judges who stand in their way.

Eileen McDermott, this year’s new editor of Watchtroll, published “Federal Circuit to University of Minnesota: No State Sovereign Immunity For You” (we omit all links to Watchtroll this year).

Again, as above, that’s just more of the same. Patents cannot be shielded from justice using such ‘scams’. I got threatening letters from facilitators of these 'scams' as recently as last year.

So here we are in the middle of 2019 (two weeks left). The Federal Circuit remains stubborn and strong in the face of smears and strong-arming by patent maximalists. Former chief judges cannot quite change Sharon. Sharon Prost is the Chief United States Circuit Judge. She has done splendid work since taking over, whereas those former judges became little more than lobbyists — a matter we’ve criticised many times before. So did Benjamin Henrion (FFII) and few other people, who can differentiate/tell apart judge-bashing from reasonable things, e.g. highlighting ethical breaches like those which forced removal/resignation of Sharon’s predecessor (IAM wanted him appointed at to top again).

“Patent maximalism is warning in the US.”The way things stand, we see no reason to spend entire weekends covering US patents (as we did in past years). Patent maximalists’ sites such as The National Law Review and JD Supra reflect upon the new status quo; many US patents are presumed invalid and it takes a lot of effort to just keep these “alive” (the term they use, equating them with organisms); these patent law firms/lawyers, who author these pieces, obviously address their clients, trying to persuade them to get fake patents, avoid delays, and then keep these “alive”; they want more money to keep these fakes “alive” (e.g. for blackmail purposes):

Patentees may obtain additional PTA if the USPTO’s calculation of “applicant delay” includes a period of time during which the patentee could have taken “no identifiable effort” to avoid. However, the onus is entirely on the patentee to identify and correct the USPTO’s error.

This is one aspect among several that weaken US patents and at some stage these law firms will need to ‘come clean’ and admit to clients that the patent bubble has burst and their services aren’t worth the high price anymore. The number of US patents granted last year was a decrease compared to the prior year (we’re not sure about the number of applications), which may suggest that the Office too is aware of that. Patent maximalism is waning in the US.

As European Patent Office Management Covers up Collapse in Patent Quality Don’t Expect UPC to Ever Kick Off

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Hiding from the truth

Hiding from the truth

Summary: It would be madness to allow EPO-granted patents to become ‘unitary’ (bypassing sovereignty of nations that actually still value patent quality); it seems clear that rogue EPO management has, in effect, not only doomed UPC ambitions but also European Patents (or their perceived legitimacy, presumption of validity)

THE previous post focused on the EPO‘s promotion of software patents in the whole world, including eastern Asia and the USPTO. António Campinos is just like Battistelli in that regard. Later this weekend we’ll remark on the American status quo (35 U.S.C. § 101 in particular), showing that courts continue to reject software patents, no matter what Iancu says. There’s more stuff to that effect in our daily links.

In Europe, with almost no exception, software patents perish in courts. A great number of European Patents also perish in courtrooms, for a variety of reasons other than patent scope. It seems clear that patent quality has collapsed. Even the Office knows it. It suppresses discussion about this as if censoring truth is a longterm strategy rather than procrastination and exacerbation of the crisis.

For a number of years (almost a decade) the EPO hoped to just change standards of patenting (hijacking the role of legislator, in effect diminishing separation of powers). It didn’t go too well when constitutional complaints were filed, stalling if not altogether killing the UPC. With these inherent structural deficiencies a court system outside national control would be profoundly unconstitutional. Ask Hungary, which deemed that to be the case. Germany may soon follow.

“It seems clear that patent quality has collapsed. Even the Office knows it. It suppresses discussion about this as if censoring truth is a longterm strategy rather than procrastination and exacerbation of the crisis.”We are disappointed but not surprised that Team UPC keeps spreading falsehoods. It wants a Europe (or EU) of litigation, not of science and wellbeing. It’s about money; theirs.

Sniffing around the news at the end of last week we saw establishment of a Greek “Academy” for parasitic elements that sue and harass engineers in Europe. “The above-mentioned Academy,” said the promotional posting, “is established as a service of “OBI”, and will be situated in Athens. The purposes of its establishment, except for the training and certification of “patent attorneys”, include, for example, the development and harmonization of education and training in the field of Greek, European and International industrial property law, the promotion of equal access to educational opportunities in this field, the support of initiatives for the cooperation between “certified patent consultants” (“patent attorneys”) and lawyers specialized in intellectual and industrial property, the cooperation with international organizations, such as the European Patent Office (EPO), as well as with Greek and foreign universities, etc.”

There’s that word again: “harmonization”.

‘Who’s Who Legal’, another publication of law firms, took note of the EPO’s role in parasitic litigation in Ireland (which the law firms profit from). “Current trends in Patent Litigation in Ireland,” according to them:

While Ireland is a common law jurisdiction with fewer cases than most European jurisdictions, there have been a number of recent cases that provide useful guidance on a number of interesting aspects of Irish patent law, in particular, preliminary injunctions, stays pending EPO proceedings and discovery.

[...]

As mentioned previously, patent litigation in Ireland is often one piece of a much broader pan-European litigation strategy. In such circumstances, it is common for related proceedings to be ongoing before the European Patent Office (EPO) in addition to other national courts.

In July 2018, the Irish High Court stayed the hearing of patent revocation proceedings between Eli Lilly and Eisai pending the determination of EPO opposition proceedings concerning the patent the subject matter of the proceedings. However, contrary to previous case law on the subject, the Court did not stay the proceedings in their entirety and instead allowed the parties to proceed with the exchange of pleadings and trial preparations, only the hearing would be stayed. In other words, the parties would go to the effort and expense to prepare the case for trial but the trial itself would not proceed during the stay.

This decision is noteworthy as, in effect, the public interest in bringing the matter on for trial was not considered to outweigh the potential wasted costs if the patent was revoked centrally at the EPO. The court acknowledged the risk of wasted costs in circumstances where the matter may be resolved before the EPO. The court also noted that a strong public interest existed in ensuring that the risk of any delay in supplying a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease should be minimised. Earlier case law was distinguished on the basis that it did not concern potentially ground-breaking treatment. These considerations were found to significantly outweigh the plaintiff’s concerns as to costs in preparing for a trial that may not proceed.

As readers may recall, Ireland was about to have a referendum question about UPC/UPCA ratification, but that never happened. It may be eternally ‘postponed’. What’s noteworthy above is the Irish High Court’s position on public interest. They ‘get’ it. So does the English/British High/Supreme Court (it’s called the UK High Court, the equivalent of SCOTUS in the US), which keeps throwing out European Patents on algorithms.

Has patent quality in Europe already hit rock bottom, just like in the US? Are patents to be presumed invalid? How about this case summary from 3 days ago?

Although at first instance the patent was found to lack inventive step without using the problem-and-solution approach, the use of the PSA by the Court of Appeal did not make a difference to the outcome in the present case.

We are seeing more and more such outcomes. Patents that the EPO insisted deserved a patent turn out to be rubbish.

This is clearly a problem for Team UPC. What good are patents one cannot successfully enforce in courts? So they obviously try to just bypass these courts, replacing them with plaintiff-friendly kangaroo courts.

Here comes Asma Abbarova, author/deputy research editor at the patent trolls’ lobby, IAM. We took note of nonsense like this earlier this month. Here they go again. To quote:

The saga of the Unitary Patent System and Unified Patent Court’s implementation – and the effect of Brexit on this – has created uncertainty for practitioners across Europe. This has had an impact on the advice they provide to their clients and the way in which they staff, train and resource their litigation departments.

Who cares about these so-called ‘practitioners’, who practice nothing but threats and litigations? Moreover, there’s no “uncertainty” per se; it’s looking pretty certain that the UPC isn’t happening. As Mr. Henrion put it the other day: “The debate around “Intellectual Property” yesterday ended by “Prozac for everybody!”. If the UPC goes through, I need to order some more #depression #patents …”

Henrion was apparently influenced by tweets like this (in French): “Pour le brevet unitaire on va dire qu’ils prennent leur temps. (Par contre si brevet unitaire il y avait, ça risquerait de foutre aux orties la JP française sur la question du brevet logiciel, et la JP OEB pèserait plus.)”

“When French courts rejects [sic] software patents,” he said, “the patent industry route around it and get them back with the Unitary Patent Court: “les brevets délivrés par l’OEB ne seront plus jugés dans chaque pays, mais par la juridiction unifiée du brevet” https://www.village-justice.com/articles/Brevet-logiciel-France-justice,20334.html …”

They’re unlikely to succeed however; they’ve tried for many years and failed. Over the past half decade they kept saying this was just around the corner; where are we now? Here’s a new take that shows RWS is totally delusional and is spreading, probably deliberately, fake news:

Addressing the long-awaited and controversial Unitary Patent, RWS said that “we now anticipate that the proposed European Union Patent (“the Unitary Patent”) will come into effect in Q2 2020 at the earliest.”

When it does hit, patent applicants will be able to choose whether to use the current system or adopt the new Unitary Patent, RWS said, since both systems will run in parallel.

What are these estimates based on? Also, have they not paid attention to the fact that many barriers exist? Apparently not. Facts just don’t seem to matter.

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