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11.28.19

Understanding Thierry Breton: Thierry and the EPO’s “Sun-King”

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Overview

Understanding Thierry Breton

Further parts pending review and research


Atos headquarter
Atos headquarter on the banks of the Seine in Bezons

Summary: Revolving doors galore in the EPO, Atos, and French politics

The corporate headquarters of the French multinational Atos are located on the banks of the River Seine, on the Quai Voltaire in Bezons, a municipality located in the northwestern suburbs of the Greater Paris area.

Bezons is part of the administrative department of Val-d’Oise which borders on the neighbouring department of Yvelines where Saint-Germain-en-Laye is located.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye and Atos
Saint-Germain-en-Laye just a stone’s throw away from Bezons…

Saint-Germain is quite literally just around the corner – or perhaps more accurately just around the bend of the river – from Bezons.

So when Atos CEO Thierry Breton appeared as the guest of honour of EPO President Benoît Battistelli at the European Inventor Award extravaganza held in Saint-Germain-en-Laye on 7 June 2018 he didn’t have far to travel and he could pride himself on minimising his environmental footprint in accordance with company policy…

Atos and a car
Atos strives to minimise its environmental footprint…

Techrights readers will recall that Battistelli is a minor luminary of a notoriously corrupt and Libyan-funded mafia-like entity: the French political party known as the Union pour un mouvement populaire (UMP) which rebranded itself in 2015 as Les Républicains.

“In 2010 his close connections with the Sarkozy/Lagarde faction of the UMP helped him to move up in the world when he was parachuted in as head of the European Patent Office.”Battistelli has been involved in local politics for the UMP in Saint-Germain-en-Laye for many years as the deputy mayor for culture. In his day job he was a career civil servant who ended up as the head honcho at the French national intellectual property office (INPI).

In 2010 his close connections with the Sarkozy/Lagarde faction of the UMP helped him to move up in the world when he was parachuted in as head of the European Patent Office. Lagarde supported Battistelli’s candidacy as EPO president and issued a congratulatory press release following his election in 2010.

Battistelli in UMP
In 2010 INPI boss Battistelli was parachuted in as head of the EPO by the notoriously corrupt and Libyan-funded UMP under the leadership of Sarkozy

Once installed at the EPO, Battistelli proceeded to wreak havoc and conduct a managerial “reign of terror” over the next eight years. He was aided and abetted in this by his faithful sidekick, the “Great Dane” Jesper Kongstad, who according to insider sources at the EPO, is reported to have been in receipt of an upper-management salary (of the order of € 15K per month net of tax) which was allegedly paid to him “off the books”.

“It has been rumoured that Kongstad’s premature departure was linked to an internal Danish government investigation into the allegations that he had been illicitly pocketing a generous “supplementary income” from Battistelli from 2010 onwards.”Kongstad always strenuously denied these allegations but very few at the EPO are inclined to give much credit to his self-serving denials.

It’s a known fact that Kongstad had to step down unexpectedly from his position as AC chair in 2017. It has been rumoured that Kongstad’s premature departure was linked to an internal Danish government investigation into the allegations that he had been illicitly pocketing a generous “supplementary income” from Battistelli from 2010 onwards.

As Battistelli’s excesses at the EPO generated ever-increasing negative PR and he was openly denounced as a “disgrace” to France, he became an embarrassment to his political patrons.

“Kongstad always strenuously denied these allegations but very few at the EPO are inclined to give much credit to his self-serving denials.”His cronies on the EPO Administrative Council also started to fret about his managerial style and the increasing public scrutiny of EPO governance. In March 2016 they passed a resolution expressing “deep concerns” about the social unrest at the EPO. This turned out to be little more than a timid slap on the wrist. Subsequent events showed that the AC was nothing more than a “toothless tiger” that lacked the backbone and resolve to call its errant subordinate to account.

In the end Battistelli got off lightly. He was allowed to serve out the remainder of his term of office and ride off into the sunset with a golden parachute rumoured to have been of the order of € 600K.

Readers of Techrights will also be familiar with the European Inventor Award (EIA) ceremony, an annual multi-million Euro boondoggle shamelessly exploited by Battistelli and his cronies as a vehicle for self-aggrandisment.

The last event of Battistelli’s tenure was held on 7 June 2018 in the Théâtre Alexandre Dumas in Saint-Germain-en-Laye which came under his personal remit as deputy mayor for culture.

“One of these buddies, Atos CEO Thierry Breton, was selected as chairman of the jury for the EIA boondoggle in 2018.”In the normal course of events, such a curious “coincidence” would qualify as a textbook example of illicit influence-peddling and improper diversion of public funds.

But hey, folks, let’s not get too excited about such hypothetical irregularities. Remember that we’re talking about a “dangerous cocktail” of EPO immunity and French political intrigue.

In other words, “business as usual” for Benoît and his buddies.

One of these buddies, Atos CEO Thierry Breton, was selected as chairman of the jury for the EIA boondoggle in 2018.

Battistelli-Breton photo-op
Thierry Breton (right) with EPO boss Battistelli and the Secretary General of the cultural organisation Francophonie in Saint-Germain-en-Laye (7 June 2018)

The EPO Web page showing the composition of the 2018 jury has disappeared from the official website but an archived version is still accessible here.

“The EPO Web page showing the composition of the 2018 jury has disappeared from the official website…”The organisation of the EIA extravaganza is shrouded in impenetrable opacity and there isn’t a lot of openly available information about the connections between the two UMP foot-soldiers, Breton and Battistelli. So nobody can say for sure how Breton ended up as chair of the EIA jury in 2018.

At the moment we only have a few fragmentary pieces of the jigsaw puzzle. For the rest we have to rely on guesswork and speculation.

It has been noticed that, during Battistelli’s tenure at the EPO, Atos was awarded a number of juicy contracts for the provision of IT services at the EPO.

“It has been noticed that, during Battistelli’s tenure at the EPO, Atos was awarded a number of juicy contracts for the provision of IT services at the EPO.”EPO tendering procedures are another “riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma” where it is difficult to obtain detailed information. As far as can be determined, the EPO had never awarded any tenders to Atos prior to 2013.

Once upon a time back in 2002, that is to say well before the Battistelli era, Atos submitted an unsuccessful bid for the provision of “managed storage services, capacity management and related services” in accordance with the EPO International Open Tender 2002/0586/Tp.

On that occasion the bid was rejected due to non-compliance with the tender requirements. There is no record of any EPO contract being awarded to Atos over the next decade.

However, in 2014, as Battistelli was in the middle of his initial five-year term as EPO president, Atos was awarded a deal worth almost € 830 K under the terms of contract no. 2013/0207 which related to the provision of “business services”.

Atos money

In 2017, the initial contract was extended by a further € 1.7 million bringing the total value of the contract to around € 2.5 million.

Atos NL

Documents from 2018 reveal that as Battistelli’s reign at the EPO was drawing to a close Atos was awarded two more juicy contracts, one “for the provision of business analysis support services and business operational support services” worth a cool € 11 million and another “for the provision of Identity and Access Management services” worth almost € 5 million.

Atos and EPO

Atos NL millions

But it’s not just about a one-way cashflow from the EPO to Atos.

There are also indications of a transfer of “intangible cultural assets” in the reverse direction.

“There are also indications of a transfer of “intangible cultural assets” in the reverse direction.”Some insiders have pointed to an uncanny similarity between the management practices adopted at the EPO under Battistelli and those which Breton helped to pioneer in France from the 1990s onwards.

As explained by one commentator, “Breton-style management” is an expression that became idiomatic in France. It evokes “a way of managing by means of the exertion of considerable pressure on the employees of an organisation, relying heavily on recriminations and unachievable objectives in order to increase their productivity”.

This was how Breton established his reputation as a “cost killer” at France Telecom where he was appointed CEO in 2002. It was also how he eroded the morale of the company’s employees in record time, with the tragic consequences that are all too well known.

Breton-style management
French union members in Paris at the trial of France Télécom executives who pursued “Breton-style management” practices (May 2019)

During his time at Atos Breton is reputed to have introduced quotas for “low performers”. This refers to a practice where the ability of firm’s employees to achieve their objectives is assessed on an annual basis and where it is stipulated in advance that 20% are to be rated as “unsatisfactory”, i.e., effectively branded as potential candidates for dismissal.

“The similarities between “Breton-style management” and the EPO’s “Social Democracy à la sauce Battistelli” are so pronounced that it’s difficult to believe that they are purely coincidental rather than a deliberate “cultural enrichment” of EPO flowing from the clandestine off-radar collaboration between Breton and Battistelli.”Setting a predetermined quota for the number of “incompetent” staff is an idea that appealed to Battistelli and he was keen to implement it at the EPO. However, his successor Campinos seems to have back-pedalled on that one – at least for the moment – following resistance from the staff union at the EPO.

The similarities between “Breton-style management” and the EPO’s “Social Democracy à la sauce Battistelli” are so pronounced that it’s difficult to believe that they are purely coincidental rather than a deliberate “cultural enrichment” of EPO flowing from the clandestine off-radar collaboration between Breton and Battistelli.

Breton’s connections with Battistelli should not be regarded solely as a case of cross-border money and influence trafficking by UMP cronies. The Atos CEO is likely to have been interested in cultivating the relationship in the hope of furthering his own IT business interests.

“He has invested considerable effort in trying to position Atos as a “European champion” in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and it is probable that Atos hopes to jump on the “Hey Hi” patenting bandwagon which has been gathering steam in recent years.”Breton has been keenly aware of the commercial and monetary value of patents since his time at Thomson Multimedia due to the significant revenue generated by that company’s “IP portfolio”. Thomson’s records show that in 1998 its income from patents and IP licencing agreements was already a modest but respectable € 67 million. After it began reaping revenues from RCA patents in 1999, this rose to € 278 million in 1999 and by 2002 it had reached a whopping € 506 million.

So Breton would have had little difficulty in understanding the strategic value of having his own personal hotline to the 10th floor penthouse of the EPO Isar Building.

He has invested considerable effort in trying to position Atos as a “European champion” in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and it is probable that Atos hopes to jump on the “Hey Hi” patenting bandwagon which has been gathering steam in recent years.

Atos hey hi
Thierry getting ready to jump on the “Hey Hi” patenting bandwagon?

The first step in this direction took place in December 2010 when Atos and Siemens announced their intention to form a global strategic partnership to create a “European IT champion”. The planned partnership involved Atos acquiring Siemens IT Solutions and Services for the sum of €850 million.

Atos was advised on the deal by Rothschild & Cie Banque and the key Rothschild contact was a certain Emmanuel Macron. The deal was completed following approval by Atos shareholders at an Extraordinary Shareholders Meeting on 1 July 2011.

Siemens will expand financing opportunities for its customers with its own bank /  Atos Origin und Siemens gründen führenden europäischen IT-Service-Dienstleister
Siemens and Atos CEOs announcing a “global strategic partnership” (December 2010)

Shortly afterwards at a press conference to announce the EPO’s annual results in March 2012 Siemens was honoured as “Europe’s leading innovator in 2011″ and Battistelli appeared in a photo-op with Siemens CEO Peter Löscher.

Press conference: Battistelli and Siemens
Battistelli presenting a certificate to Siemens CEO Peter Löscher (March 2012)

It remains unclear if this was just a coincidence or whether it was part of a co-ordinated campaign orchestrated by Battistelli and Breton to “love-bomb” the newly acquired German partner of Atos with unctuous Gallic charm.

“Shortly afterwards at a press conference to announce the EPO’s annual results in March 2012 Siemens was honoured as “Europe’s leading innovator in 2011″ and Battistelli appeared in a photo-op with Siemens CEO Peter Löscher.”Whatever the truth of the matter may be, Atos has continued to develop the AI branch of its operations.

Earlier this year, in September (copy here [PDF] without paywalls), it announced the opening of its first AI Laboratory in Germany. To be more precise: in Munich where the EPO headquarters are located.

Annette Maier and Breton
Annette Maier, Managing Director Google Cloud DACH, Thierry Breton, Atos CEO and Ursula Morgenstern, CEO Atos Germany at the opening of the AI Lab in Munich

Battistelli may have departed the Bavarian capital and returned to his old stomping-ground in Saint-Germain-en-Laye. But this doesn’t mean that Thierry’s hotline to the 10th floor of the EPO’s Isar Building has been disconnected.

Let’s not forget that one of the members of the European Inventor Award jury in 2018 was none other than Battistelli’s designated successor, EUIPO boss António Serge de Pinho Campinos.

“Let’s not forget that one of the members of the European Inventor Award jury in 2018 was none other than Battistelli’s designated successor, EUIPO boss António Serge de Pinho Campinos.”The EIA boondoggle at the Théâtre Alexandre Dumas in June 2018 would have provided an ideal opportunity for some bonding between Breton, Battistelli and his successor Campinos over a few bottles of expensive French plonk, preferably some Mouton Rothschild.

Although he is reputed to hold French citizenship, Campinos has no known connections to the UMP. But he is a long-serving member of the EU technocratic elite and has spent much of his career working at the EUIPO (formerly OHIM) which comes under the remit of the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship.

And as if we haven’t encountered enough revolving doors already, the next Commissioner for the Internal Market is none other than … wait for it, folks … former Atos CEO, Thierry Breton!

Breton buys democracy
The newly appointed EU Commissioner for the Internal Market…

So it can be seen that all the preconditions for a smooth and fruitful working relationship between the president of the EPO and the next Commissioner for the Internal Market are already in place.

“And as if we haven’t encountered enough revolving doors already, the next Commissioner for the Internal Market is none other than … wait for it, folks … former Atos CEO, Thierry Breton!”It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise if the new Commissioner decides to include a visit to the EPO in Munich as part of his initial tour of duty in the coming weeks… let’s just wait and see…

And if all those revolving doors haven’t made you too dizzy, stay tuned for the next and final part of this series where we will take a look at how Thierry ended up in his latest position as “Macron’s joker” in Brussels.

JUVE Has Become Little But a Team UPC Propaganda Site

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 12:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Yet another one of those… (and follow the money)

The true journalism

Summary: JUVE, which used to do some real journalism a few years ago (including coverage of EPO corruption), lost staff, lost direction, and reinvented itself as an English-speaking propaganda platform for UPC hopefuls (litigation firms and patent trolls)

True journalism seeks the truth, not what is profitable. And likewise, a good patent office adheres to justice, not profit (the flagrantly neo-liberal approach of Campinos and Battistelli). Papers have been published to explain how profit motives doomed the USPTO, whose granted patents rarely withstand courts’ scrutiny these days, owing largely to 35 U.S.C. § 101.

“Don’t expect the UPC to ever exist.”The thugs who run the EPO hope to cheat justice by ousting judges, driving many of them to ‘exile’, and working to replace the courts with something they can control. It’s a major coup, it is unconstitutional, and it involves a lot of lying (to the public, to politicians, to stakeholders and so on). But people at several levels have caught up and more or less scuttled the UPCA, probably for good. Don’t expect the UPC to ever exist. Ask the US, don’t just take our word for it.

But welcome back Amy Sandys of JUVE. She is doing UPC propaganda again. JUVE is evidently compromised — nothing like the site it was several years ago. As we noted several months ago, JUVE is nowadays a megaphone for Team UPC. Today’s article is part of a known pattern, entitled “The UPC will be operational in early 2021” (a lie as a title; yes, the headline even!)

“Shame on JUVE and it’s a shame to see it committing suicide (reputation-wise).”We’ve seen these sorts of “fake news” headlines in Kluwer Patent Blog over the years. Loads of these! We’ve lost count. It’s as if the job of a journalist is to drop quotes from propagandists with vested interests (Alexander Ramsay in this case).

Team UPC (Bristows’ Gregory Bacon) links to it on the same day, within hours, just to say: “JUVE has reported here on its recent interview with Alexander Ramsay, Chair of the UPC Preparatory Committee, in which Mr Ramsay described the remaining preparations for the opening of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) and said it was realistic to expect that to be in early 2021.”

With this piece of propaganda ‘planted’ in JUVE, on goes Team UPC lying to the whole world again and again.

Shame on JUVE and it’s a shame to see it committing suicide (reputation-wise). Even the tweets have been equally misleading as of late. That’s just where the money is when your subscribers are the patent microcosm, especially in Germany (where lots of legal ‘action’ takes place these days).

Links 28/11/2019: New PHP Release and RC of Mesa 19.3

Posted in News Roundup at 11:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Desktop/Laptop

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        Linux distributions like Ubuntu, Linux Mint, and Manjaro are readily downloadable from their official websites to be easily installed on dual-boot systems or as a complete replacement on some computers.

        One common issue, even though it is becoming less rampant, is driver/hardware incompatibility. Without going into any details, it suffices to say that there are several options you can choose from if you want to purchase a laptop that runs Linux from the factory or one on which it is extremely easy to install Linux.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

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        Kernel developer Sebastian Andrzej Siewior figured out the bug — since confirmed to address both the C test case and the Golang issues — from caching access to the fpu_fpregs_owner_ctx context. The context was being cached but as the kernel deferred loading the FPU registers on return to userland, fpu_fpregs_owner_ctx could change during preemption and shouldn’t be cached, per the patch devised to fix the issue.

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        The Linux 5.5 power management code doesn’t bring any big changes on the Intel or AMD front this round, but there is Comet Lake mobile and desktop IDs added to the Intel RAPL (Run-time Average Power Limiting) driver used for scaling back the power-limit as well as monitoring it. That’s about it with no big CPUfreq or P-State changes, including nothing to report on the AMD CPPC front for newer processors.

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        As usual, the DRM updates are exciting on the graphics front particularly if you are running recent generations of Intel or AMD Radeon graphics. There aren’t any prominent Nouveau (open-source NVIDIA) updates but at least Intel and AMDGPU remain quite eventful along with all of the ARM/embedded drivers.

    • Mesa

      • mesa 19.3.0-rc5
        Hi list,
        
        Mesa 19.3.0-rc5 is now available as the latest release in the 19.3 series. This
        is a pretty small release, likely due to tomorrow being a major US holiday. The
        majority of the changes are for radv, but there's a few other bits and pieces
        here too: v3d, r600, freedreno, and old intel, just to name a few.
        
        Dylan
        
        Shortlog
        ========
        
        
        Alejandro Piñeiro (1):
              v3d: adds an extra MOV for any sig.ld*
        
        Bas Nieuwenhuizen (2):
              radv: Do not change scratch settings while shaders are active.
              radv: Allocate cmdbuffer space for buffer marker write.
        
        Dave Airlie (1):
              llvmpipe/ppc: fix if/ifdef confusion in backport.
        
        Dylan Baker (1):
              VERSION: Bump version for -rc5
        
        Eric Engestrom (1):
              vulkan: delete typo'd header
        
        Gert Wollny (1):
              r600: Disable eight bit three channel formats
        
        Hyunjun Ko (1):
              freedreno/ir3: fix printing output registers of FS.
        
        Ian Romanick (1):
              intel/fs: Disable conditional discard optimization on Gen4 and Gen5
        
        Jose Maria Casanova Crespo (1):
              v3d: Fix predication with atomic image operations
        
        Timothy Arceri (3):
              radv: add some infrastructure for fresh forks for each secure compile
              radv: add a secure_compile_open_fifo_fds() helper
              radv: create a fresh fork for each pipeline compile
        
        Yevhenii Kolesnikov (2):
              glsl: Enable textureSize for samplerExternalOES
              meson: Fix linkage of libgallium_nine with libgalliumvl
        
        Zebediah Figura (1):
              Revert "draw: revert using correct order for prim decomposition."
        
        
        git tag: mesa-19.3.0-rc5
        
      • Mesa 19.3-RC5 Brings RADV Secure Compile Update, Other Fixes

        Due to the holiday week already, the Wednesday Mesa 19.3-RC5 release is fairly uneventful. Arguably the most interesting changes of Mesa 19.3-RC5 are the RADV secure compile update being worked on by Valve that was back-ported from Mesa 20.0 Git to the 19.3 series for stable The changes result in lower shader compile times and other improvements.

        Besides the secure compile bits, there are a few other Radeon Vulkan fixes too plus a lone R600 driver fix and some V3D driver fixes along with other small items.

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        Besides the Intel drivers leading the NIR transition along with smaller drivers like Freedreno and VC4, RADV has been making use of NIR and now RadeonSI is working on transitioning to it while TGSI currently remains the default. The LLVMpipe Gallium3D software rasterizer is the newest in-tree Mesa driver making use of this IR.

    • Applications

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        Back in February marked the release of Compiz 0.9.14 as the first upstream release to the project in two years. Meanwhile today is a point release on top of that providing various fixes.

      • Compiz 0.9.14.1 released
        Yesterday I released Compiz 0.9.14.1.
        
        This is mostly a bug-fix release. The changes from 0.9.14.0 are:
        
        - Several bugs in CCSM have been fixed, including a crash when plugin
          descriptions contain non-ASCII characters.
        - Fixed build failure with GCC 9 because of format-truncation warning.
        - CCSM is now compatible with Python 3.8.
        - Fixed gtk-window-decorator crash with Cairo theme.
        - Removed MATE configuration. See the merge proposal [1] for details.
        
        Also, compiz is now translatable on Launchpad. Feel free to contribute on [2].
        The imported translation files are based on the previous work from Ubuntu.
        
        The tarball for the new release can be downloaded at [3].
        Please report any bugs you have found to our bug tracker [4].
        
        I want to thank Alberts Muktupāvels for his work on this release.
        
        [1]: https://code.launchpad.net/~muktupavels/compiz/+git/compiz/+merge/374783
        [2]: https://translations.launchpad.net/compiz
        [3]: https://launchpad.net/compiz/0.9.14/0.9.14.1
        [4]: https://bugs.launchpad.net/compiz/
        
        --
        Dmitry Shachnev
        
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        Not all VPNs support Ubuntu users. Along with Mint (which is forked from Ubuntu anyway), Ubuntu is widely regarded as the most newbie-friendly Linux distro available. It is also very popular as most Linux developers and Linux guides assume Ubuntu as the “default”, so Ubuntu users enjoy unparalleled levels of support (for the Linux world!).

        A lot of VPN services offer manual setup guides for Ubuntu, but it can still be difficult to find a VPN service that offers customer Ubuntu VPN client. All the VPNs we recommend below, offer their own custom Ubuntu software, some of which have GUI clients for Ubuntu.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

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      • Checking up on the latest huge updates to sci-fi mining game, Rings of Saturn

        ΔV (pronounced DeltaVee), the top-down space mining game has been under constant development since its Early Access launch in August. In the last few weeks, however, a number of major updates were made to add places of interest, a crew roster, expanded upgrades and more.

        Liam has covered ΔV in quite a few articles recently, but as a reminder, this Godot-powered game is based on real science, applying thermal dynamics, pressure and realistic physics to each element of your ship as you mine minerals from the asteroid comprising Saturn’s rings. The term for this is “hard sci-fi”. The game itself isn’t “hard” as such, but the science is made as realistic as possible, given the fictional setting.

        So what’s new in the latest release? Well, when I first dropped around 8 hours into the game on release, the feeling of the ship and its mechanics blew me away. However, the rings themselves felt a bit empty. The desolation was quite atmospheric in fact, but it was hard to sustain interest in mining the same rocks on each run, with only an occasional other ship to break up the bleak asteroid belt.

      • Love the classics? The Atari Vault has added 50 more retro titles with a new DLC

        Sometimes you just can’t beat the classics, if you feel like that and love the old Atari games this is for you.

        The Atari Vault, said to be the “ultimate collection” of titles across old Atari systems includes around 100 games with the base package. It includes online and local Steam leaderboard support, online multiplayer, Steam Controller support and more wrapped in an easy to use interface.

      • The Shadow & The Blade pack announced for Total War: WARHAMMER II

        Total War: WARHAMMER II is set to expand again with another Legendary Lords Pack, this time it’s The Shadow & The Blade and it actually sounds like it includes quite a lot for one of their smaller packs.

        Feral Interactive, who ported Total War: WARHAMMER II to Linux have confirmed the Linux version will support the DLC “shortly after Windows” which releases on December 12.

        I must admit, showing a Dark Elf riding what’s pretty much a Dinosaur certainly got my attention. Just look at this below, that’s quite an awesome shot. Even if you’re not traditionally a WARHAMMER fan, that certainly does look like it could be fun to see in battle.

      • Tactical top-down shooter Police Stories now has online multiplayer on Linux

        After having a bit of a rough patch with the online support in Police Stories, the team at Mighty Morgan and HypeTrain Digital have now rolled out the feature in the Linux version.

        Released originally back in September, you can see some of my previous thoughts here. For a top-down shooter, it really does have a different gameplay feel to it. The slower, more tactical approach you need to take is a nice change of pace compared to other such shooters.

      • Heroes Of Avranche, a new action RPG is heading to Linux in early December

        The endless dungeons await in Heroes Of Avranche, an Early Access action RPG that’s going to appear on December 3 on Steam.

        According to the information from the developer, Heroes Of Avranche has gameplay that’s comparable to the likes of Diablo and Torchlight. Unlike certain others, your character isn’t locked into a specific class. You can easily swap between them and each class has two different stances changing their play-style too.

      • Lutris game manager 0.5.4 released with Python 3.8 support and lots of fixes

        Managing games across multiple stores, emulators and compatibility layers doesn’t need to be a hassle. Lutris takes the majority of that annoyance away and a big new release is now available.

        Included in Lutris 0.5.4 is support for Python 3.8, due to some distributions upgrading this caused some features of Lutris to not work and so now things should be smooth again. It also adds in config validation, support for NVIDIA PRIME off-load, a pop-up now appears when a game is successfully imported and they’ve added support for alacritty as a terminal option.

      • Steam Play Proton 4.11-9 is out with a few fixes, plus a new release of Proton GE

        First, the official Proton 4.11-9 release handled by Valve and CodeWeavers which is quite a small one. There’s a performance regression fix that affected 32-bit games using DXVK and D9VK, reporting to little GPU memory for certain GPUs was fixed and they fixed a crash when launching Crazy Machines 3 with certain GPUs. The only other improvement in this release is the restoration of force feedback for steering wheels.

    • Distributions

      • Kali Linux 2019.4 released with Xfce, a new desktop environment, a new GTK3 theme, and much more!

        Another significant new addition to the documentation is the use of BTRFS as a root file system. This gives users the ability to do file system rollbacks after upgrades.

        In cases when users are in a VM and about to try something new, they will often take a snapshot in case things go wrong. However, running Kali bare metal is not easy. There is also a manual clean up included. With BTRFS, users can have a similar snapshot capability on a bare metal install!

        NetHunter Kex – Full Kali Desktop on Android phones

        With NetHunter Kex, users can attach their Android devices to an HDMI output along with Bluetooth keyboard and mouse and get a full, no compromise, Kali desktop from their phones.

        To get a full breakdown on how to use NetHunter Kex, check out its official documents on the Kali Linux website.

        Kali Linux users are excited about this release and look forward to trying the newly added features.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Events

      • Productivity Software/LibreOffice/Calligra

        • Skia branch merged to master

          So, the branch implementing VCL drawing based on the Skia graphics library has been merged in.

          All(?) the necessary info about how to enable it etc. are in this mail, but there are things that better fit a blog post than a mail, and in this case that’s going to be a table and a picture showing how well it may perform. Note that these results are from running visualbackendtest, which is not really a benchmark, so these numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. It’s just a test that draws a gradient, several big polygons (each circle is actually 720 lines) and short text.

      • CMS

        • My thoughts on Gutenberg Accessibility

          Gutenberg, or the new WordPress block editor, is the next generation writing and site building interface in the WordPress blogging platform. WordPress has evolved to a full content management system over the years, and this new editor is becoming the new standard way of writing posts, building WordPress pages, and more.

          The idea is that, instead of editing the whole post or page in a single go, and having to worry about each type of element you want to insert yourself, WordPress takes care of much of this. So if you’re writing an ordinary paragraph, a heading, insert an image, video or audio, a quotation, a “read more” link, or many other types of content, WordPress will allow you to do each of these in separate blocks. You can rearrange them, delete a block in the middle of your content, insert a new block with rich media etc., and WordPress will do the heavy-lifting for you. It will take care of the correct markup, prompt you for the necessary information when needed, and show you the result right where and how it will appear with your theme in use. It is a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor, but in much more flexible form. You can even nest blocks and arrange them in columns nowadays.

          Gutenberg also supports a rich programming interface so new blocks can easily be created, which then blend in with the rest of the editor. This is supposedly less complex than writing whole plugins for a new editor feature or post type. Imagine a block that adds a rich podcast player with chapter markers, show notes and other information, and you can easily embed this in your post or page where needed. Right now, this is a rather complex task. With Gutenberg, designing, arranging and customizing your content is supposed to become much easier and flexible.

      • Public Services/Government

        • Germany’s CDU, Angela Merkel’s Party Of Fuddy-Duddies, Decides To Join The Cool Kids: Backs Open Standards, Open Source, Open Data, Open APIs — Open Everything

          The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) of Germany is Angela Merkel’s party. She led it for 18 years before resigning last year as leader, but remaining as Chancellor of Germany until 2021. It is a party that has often held the reins of power in Germany, but has seen a steady decline in membership over the last 30 years. From a peak of nearly 800,000 in 1990, it is now down to around half that. According to figures on Wikipedia, in 2012, the members’ average age was 59 years, and 6% of the Christian Democrats were under 30 years old. In other words, it is German’s party of old fuddy-duddies. Against that historical background, the following passage from its “Digital Charter”, agreed during its recent party conference, is noteworthy (original in German pdf)…

      • Programming/Development

        • PHP 7.4.0 Released!

          The PHP development team announces the immediate availability of PHP 7.4.0. This release marks the fourth feature update to the PHP 7 series.

        • PHP 7.4 Released With FFI, Typed Properties, Arrow Functions, Better Performance

          PHP 7.4 is out this US Thanksgiving day as the newest feature release for the PHP scripting language. PHP 7.4 comes with a number of prominent language additions while, yes, also having even better performance on the PHP series.

        • Let’s Go! – Installing the Go programming language on Debian

          Go, also referred to as Golang, is an open-source, lower-level, statically typed programming language created by Google.

          A team of Google programmers (Robert Griesemer, Rob Pike, and Ken Thompson) developed Go in 2007. Go’s primary purpose is building fast, simple, efficient, and reliable server-side and web-based applications.

          Some commonly known open source applications written with Go include Dockers, Lime, InfluxDB, Kubernetes, etcd, and Terraform. Go keeps growing and increasing in popularity as it evolves, leaving many to wonder if it is the eventual replacement of programming languages such as Python, Java, C++, and others.

  • Leftovers

    • Hardware

      • Exclusive: Amazon’s cloud unit readies more powerful data center chip – sources

        Amazon.com Inc’s (AMZN.O) cloud computing unit has designed a second, more powerful generation of data center processor chip, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters, the latest sign that the company is pouring money into custom silicon for its fastest-growing business.

        [...]

        In cloud computing, businesses rent out servers from Amazon instead of running their own data centers. Analysts expect Amazon’s cloud unit to generate $34.9 billion in sales in 2019, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

        Cloud computing has become big business for data center chip makers. Intel controls more than 90% of the server processor market, with AMD controlling most of the remainder. Intel’s data center group generated almost of half of the company’s overall operating profit last year.

        And most server chips go to the cloud. In 2018, almost 65% of Intel’s data center chip sales were from cloud and communications service providers, its executives have said.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • ‘Their Secret Agenda Today Is Exposed’: Corbyn Says Leaked Trade Docs Show Tory Plan to Privatize NHS With Trump’s Help

        The U.K. Labour leader said the move, if successful, “could lead to runaway privatization of our health service.”

      • This Doctors Group Is Owned by a Private Equity Firm and Repeatedly Sued the Poor Until We Called Them

        After nine visits to the emergency room at Baptist Memorial Hospital in 2016 and 2017, Jennifer Brooks began receiving bills from an entity she’d never heard of, Southeastern Emergency Physicians.

        Unsure what the bills were for, Brooks, a stay-at-home mother, said she ignored them until they were sent to collections. She made payment arrangements, but when she was late, she said the collection agency demanded $500, which she didn’t have.

      • New Orleans Forum Explores Industrial Pollution, Environmental Impact and Community Action

        Eve Miller has lived in the historic rural settlement of Freetown in St. James Parish, Louisiana, for most of her life, and her family has been there for more than 100 years. “My grandparents had fruit trees all over the place. We had like eight or 10 different types of pecan trees,” she said at an event last week at Tulane Law School about the impacts of industrial emissions in Louisiana. “This time of year, the levy would be black with birds passing through for migration. You don’t see any of that now.”

        Miller believes that these environmental changes are the result of industrial emissions from the chemical plants and oil storage tanks that have been built in the area. Even worse, she says, are the effects on her community’s health. “In my community, I run across people all the time who have cancer,” said Miller, a community activist and a breast cancer survivor herself. “My neighbor up the street has woken up in the morning at 2 o’clock and coughed not knowing what caused it, but she left her windows open. I know ladies in my community who are having miscarriages when they are diagnosed with breast cancer. You have children that are getting sick. So we have a very serious problem in my neighborhood.”

      • Just One Week After Trump Rolled Back Safety Measures, Chemical Plant Explosion Rocks Texas Town

        “This facility has a track record of violating the Clean Air Act.”

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Splunk warning over Y2K-style bug set to hit all versions on 1st January 2020

          Splunk has disclosed a flaw in its platform that would cause timestamp recognition of dates with two-digit years to fail – starting on New Year’s Day.

          The issue affects all unpatched Splunk instances, including Splunk Light, Enterprise, and Cloud, on all operating systems. According to Splunk, it would keep users from getting correct results when they query threat data for crucial information.

          “Beginning on January 1, 2020, un-patched Splunk platform instances will be unable to recognise timestamps from events where the date contains a two-digit year,” the company warned in an advisory released this week.

        • Security

          • More Kaspersky vulnerabilities: uninstalling extensions, user tracking, predictable links

            I’m discuss three more vulnerabilities in Kaspersky software such as Kaspersky Internet Security 2019 here, all exploitable by arbitrary websites. These allowed websites to uninstall browser extensions, track users across Private Browsing session or even different browsers and control some functionality of Kaspersky software. As of Patch F for 2020 products family and Patch I for 2019 products family all of these issues should be resolved.

          • Security updates for (US) Thanksgiving

            Security updates have been issued by Debian (haproxy and libvorbis), Fedora (mod_auth_mellon and xen), Oracle (389-ds-base, kernel, and tcpdump), SUSE (bsdtar, java-11-openjdk, java-1_7_0-openjdk, and libxml2), and Ubuntu (nss and python-psutil).

    • Defence/Aggression

      • ‘The Bloodshed Must Stop’: Sanders, Khanna, and Schumer Demand Passage of Measure to End US Complicity in Yemen Slaughter

        “Without U.S. support, the Saudi bombings on innocent civilians could not continue,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate.

      • How Belfast Prepared Me for the Middle East

        Compared to the Middle East, Northern Ireland was a safe assignment. Tragic, sectarian, brutal, hypocritical; the little civil war – for that is what it was – was what the British army’s intelligence people called a “low-intensity” conflict. We journos did our stories. Then we went home to our rented accommodation in Belfast. And we lived – or thought we did – in the United Kingdom.

      • Popes Against Nuclear Weapons

        The Vatican comes with its ills, contradictions and blatant hypocrisies in the field of moral theology and human existence, but on the issue of atomic and nuclear weapons, the position has been fairly consistent, if marked by gradual evolution. On February 8, 1948, Pope Pius XII held an audience with members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. “What misfortunes,” he asked, “should humanity expect from a future conflict, if it should prove impossible to arrest or curb the use of ever newer and more surprising scientific inventions?”

      • Investigative journalists ask Russian officials to prosecute mercenaries who tortured and killed Syrian soldier

        The independent Russian-language newspaper Novaya Gazeta has sent letters to the Kremlin, the Russian Investigative Committee, and the Prosecutor General’s Office demanding that officials open a criminal case to investigate the brutal killing of a Syrian army deserter. A scanned copy of a passport belonging to one of the alleged perpetrators was attached to each letter.

      • Is Netanyahu Ready to Inflame War to Escape His Legal Troubles?

        The decision to indict Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on three separate criminal counts pushes the country’s already unprecedented electoral stalemate into the entirely uncharted territory of a constitutional crisis.

      • Indonesia: Free Peaceful Papua Activists

        Indonesian authorities should drop treason charges and release at least 22 activists detained since August 2019 for peaceful acts of free expression concerning Papua, Human Rights Watch said today.

      • Ukraine’s Maidan Victims Still Await Justice

        A lawyer who represents families of activists killed during Maidan protests in Kyiv in the winter of 2013 to 2014 has gone on a hunger strike.

    • Environment

    • Finance

      • Chile Despertó! Chile Has Woken Up! The Rising Fight Against Neo-Liberalism in Chile

        These are some the powerful chants that have echoed throughout the streets of cities small and large in Chile during mass protests that began in October 2019. Poor, working and oppressed people and students have united to demand dignity and human rights – in one word, an end to neo-liberalism in Chile.

      • How the Food Sovereignty Movement Helped Bring Down the World Trade Organization (WTO)
      • Should We Have Billionaires?

        The Democratic presidential campaign has taken a strange twist in recent days, with candidates being asked whether we should have billionaires. While there may be some grand philosophical questions at stake here, I will stick to more mundane economic ones. The real question is; how do you want the economy to work?

      • An Opportunity Zone Group Called Our Story About a Yacht Club Getting Tax Breaks “Lurid.” We Respond.

        Last week, the Economic Innovation Group, a think tank dedicated in large part to supporting the tax break program known as opportunity zones, wrote an article questioning ProPublica’s recent story about how wealthy donors to then-Gov. Rick Scott got his administration to include their long-planned investment projects in the program in Florida.

        In our story, we uncovered previously unreported state and local government documents that showed two sets of wealthy donors in West Palm Beach and Tampa lobbied Scott to have census tracts where they owned property and planned to build luxury developments included in the lucrative tax break that’s in President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax overhaul.

      • “Spreading Corruption Is a Russian Government Foreign Policy”

        For Wednesday’s “Trump, Inc.” episode, we spoke to a person who has a lot to say about business corruption and Russian influence in the U.S. He’s also become a central figure in the very story he’s been researching for years. He’s Glenn Simpson.

        Simpson first came to these issues as an investigative journalist at The Wall Street Journal. Then in 2010, he co-founded Fusion GPS, a research firm. During the 2016 campaign, he began to research Donald Trump for two clients: first for a Republican opposed to Trump and then for a lawyer for Democrats.

      • Trump Tax Records Reveal New Inconsistencies — This Time for Trump Tower

        Donald Trump’s business reported conflicting information about a key metric to New York City property tax officials and a lender who arranged financing for his signature building, Trump Tower in Manhattan, according to tax and loan documents obtained by ProPublica. The findings add a third major Trump property to two for which ProPublica revealed similar discrepancies last month.

        In the latest case, the occupancy rate of the Trump Tower’s commercial space was listed, over three consecutive years, as 11, 16 and 16 percentage points higher in filings to a lender than in reports to city tax officials, records show.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Amid National Surge, New Poll Shows Bernie Sanders Top Democrat in New Hampshire

        “Bernie is in the pocket of #BigUs,” supporters are saying. “Pass it on.”

      • Multiple Women Recall Sexual Misconduct and Retaliation by Gordon Sondland

        Three women say they faced sexual misconduct by Gordon Sondland before he was the U.S. ambassador to the European Union and at the center of the presidential impeachment inquiry. They say he retaliated against them professionally after they rejected his advances.

        In one case, a potential business partner recalls that Sondland took her to tour a room in a hotel he owns, only to then grab her face and try to kiss her. After she rejected him, Sondland backtracked on investing in her business.

      • ‘Only Did the Right Thing When He Got Caught’: Trump Reportedly Knew of Whistleblower Complaint When He Unfroze Ukraine Aid

        “It was only until he felt that he was being exposed that he actually stepped up and actually released the funds.”

      • Defeat or Impeach? The (Il)Logic of Impeachment

        I’ve had the displeasure to watch some hours of the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment inquiry. It’s an excruciating spectacle, alternately boring, confusing, and infuriating.

      • When Progressives in Congress Let Us Down, We Should Push Back

        Last week, the Democratic leadership put an extension of the Patriot Act into a “continuing resolution” that averted a government shutdown. More than 95 percent of the Democrats in the House went along with it by voting for the resolution. Both co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Pramila Jayapal and Mark Pocan, voted yes. So did all 11 of the CPC’s vice chairs.

      • Why Obama Is Just Plain Wrong About Democrats Moving ‘Too Far Left’

        Last-minute presidential candidates such as billionaire Michael Bloomberg and former Massachusetts Gov.

      • If Democrats Don’t Go Bold With Social Reform Right Now, Then When?

        “Too radical, impractical, too costly, impossible, can’t pass the Senate.” Those are the terms centrist Democrats use to describe the bold reform ideas put forth by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in the Democratic presidential primaries.

      • For Billionaire Bloomberg, Trying to Buy the Presidency Is Just a Sound Investment

        Gracie Mansion, the official residence of New York’s mayors since 1942, hosted billionaire Michael Bloomberg for three terms.The first of these terms began after Bloomberg, then the Republican candidate for mayor, spent an incredible $74 million to get himself elected in 2001. He spent, in effect, $99 for every vote he received.

      • ‘Both Sad and Funny on a Whole New Level’: The President of the United States of America Just Tweeted This Image of Himself

        Trump, quipped one observer, “just sent this out, as perfectly normal national leaders often do.”

      • Labor’s UK General Election Manifesto

        Those of us who attended the Labour Party annual conference in September knew from the resolutions passed there that the party’s manifesto for the next election would offer a vision of socialism not seen since the immediate postwar Labour government.

      • A new star on a new stage How Irina Shikhman made a popular, liberal YouTube talk show on the Moscow government’s dime

        At the end of December 2017, the YouTube channel Let’s Talk (or, in Russian, A pogovorit?) posted its very first video, an interview with the blogger Nikolay Sobolev that has accrued almost 670,000 views. Since then, the channel’s host, Irina Shikhman, has spoken with journalist Tina Kandelaki, bestselling author Boris Akunin, rock star Andrey Makarevich, actress Chulpan Khamatova, comedian Yekaterina Varnava, and a range of other major celebrities in the Russian-speaking world. In the fall of 2018, Shikhman released her first documentary: It followed the students and mentees of Kirill Serebrennikov, a celebrated film and theater director who is among the defendants in a drawn-out embezzlement case his supporters say is politically motivated. That documentary was followed by a two-part film on the Russian prison system whose sources included Oleg Navalny (the brother of opposition leader Alexey), renowned prisoners’ rights advocate Olga Romanova, and Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina. In August, Let’s Talk released yet another documentary, this time on the wildfires sweeping Siberia. Despite the notable disparity between Shikhman’s subject matter and that of traditional Russian state media channels, she and her colleagues have made no effort to hide the fact that their work is financed by Moscow Media, a conglomerate run on Moscow government money. Meduza special correspondent Sasha Sulim spoke with the people behind Let’s Talk and asked what purpose the unexpectedly independent YouTube channel serves for Moscow City Hall.

      • Leaked US Trade Talks Show How Trump Is Dictating Johnson’s Approach to a Hard Brexit

        The cat is out of the bag: Boris Johnson is dancing to Donald Trump’s tune, regardless of the damage this might cause to Britain. His promises to maintain Britain’s ‘high standards’ after Brexit are not worth the paper they’re written on.

      • Impeachment’s Authoritarian End

        Following just a few days of Congressional testimony, it is clear that Trump will, at most, be impeached but certainly not convicted. This would be nothing new, for although such proceedings have now been brought against four presidents in U.S. history, not a single one has been removed in office. Republicans in the Intelligence Committee have already outlined the basis of Trump’s defense, that not only has he done no wrong, but seemingly that he can do no wrong, period. The genius of this move also gets to the core of why Trump’s base loves him, for when critics call out his abuses, he can claim that he is simply doing what all presidents do. This may be deflection and projection, perhaps, but also a keen observation of the decades long pattern of presidential abuses. In other words, Trump is able to use the corruption of D.C. as his justification for his own corruption. Of course, this is partially correct, for much of the outrageous authoritarian behavior of Trump in office has been consistent with past administrations, though done more brazenly and in plain sight. Even when things look darkest for Trump, this ‘swamp’ allows him an easy scapegoat by playing to the justifiable cynicism many Americans have towards government. Trumpians, in rhetoric and in action, prefer to fight fire with fire, or in this instance, fight the ‘swamp’ with more swampiness.

      • Will Impeachment Affect Trump’s Reelection Chances?

        One of the hallmarks of a democratic political system is that voters change their minds. In North Korea, 100 percent of voters support the ruling party coalition in election after election. In South Korea since 1998, voters backed 10 years of progressive candidates followed by 10 years of conservative candidates.

      • ‘The Naked Pravda’ premiere trailer: Meduza’s new English-language podcast

        “The Naked Pravda” highlights how Meduza’s top reporting intersects with the wider research and expertise that exists about Russia.

      • Founder of Russian investigative journalism group attacked in Moscow

        The founder of the Russian-language investigative news outlet Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT) has posted on Facebook saying he was physically attacked in Moscow. The CIT specializes in using open-source methods to report on covert Russian or Russian-supported military, intelligence, and mercenary activity.

      • Expect More Voting Machine Headaches in 2020

        Still-incomplete explanations of problematic aspects of new voting systems that debuted in November 2019 and will be used in 2020 suggest that voters will likely see random delays in voting and vote counting during next year’s presidential primaries and fall election.

      • If Medicare for All ‘Too Risky,’ How Would NYT Have Reported Push for Social Security, Abolition, or the Overthrow of King George III?
      • Americans Must Choose Between Life and Death in 2020

        If you’re following the presidential race, you’ve heard plenty of sniping about Medicare for All and whether we can afford it. But when it comes to endless war or endless profits for Pentagon contractors, we’re told we simply must afford it — no questions asked.

      • Without Dialing for Dollars or Lobbyist Meetings, Ocasio-Cortez Raised More Money Than Any Other House Democrat in Third Quarter

        “While many try to belittle a progressive agenda that centers working people and the public good, in truth it’s more powerful than ever.”

      • ‘Massive Criminal Enterprise’: Giuliani Reportedly Sought Ukraine Business Deals as He Worked to Dig Up Dirt on Biden for Trump

        “Giuliani sought a payments of $200,000 from the recently dismissed prosecutor general of Ukraine earlier this year. So, Mr. President, about that corruption in Ukraine you said you were so worried about…”

      • The DNC: Finding Your Perfect Match! (Video)
    • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • Cable Execs Now Falsely Claiming Cord Cutting Is Slowing Down

        At no point has the cable industry or its executives been particularly keyed in to the “cord cutting” threat. As streaming video has chipped away at their subscriber bases, most cable giants like Spectrum and Comcast have responded by raising prices. And when confronted by growing evidence that cord cutting (defined as cutting the TV cord but keeping broadband) was a growing trend, most of these same executives spent years first denying cord cutting was happening, then trying to claim the only people doing so were lame man-children living in their moms’ basements.

    • Digital Restrictions (DRM)

      • The End Of Ownership, Military Edition: Even The US Military Can’t Fix Its Own Equipment Without Right To Repair Laws

        We’ve written many times about the right to repair and how various companies have basically destroyed the concept of ownership by putting all sorts of post-purchase restrictions on what you can do with the products you supposedly “bought.” This began with copyright, but has morphed into other areas as well, including abusive and illegal claims about “warranty void if removed.” I still believe that excessive copyright law is to blame for all of this, as physical goods manufacturers looked at the post-sale restrictions enabled by copyright law and immediately began to think of ways to use that on physical items.

    • Monopolies

      • Patents

        • Filing patent applications in Japan to obtain patents in India fast

          On November 21 2019, Japan and India signed an agreement to start a Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) pilot program. The PPH is a cooperative program to facilitate an acquisition of a patent by utilizing search and examination results at other patent office. Japan is the world’s first country that corporates with India for such a patent acceleration program.

          In India, it reportedly takes about 7 years to obtain a patent. However, under the PPH program, it is expected to be able to obtain a patent within a year and a half for the corresponding Japanese patent.

          In this agreement, the technical fields of applications eligible for Indian patent office are limited to computer science, information technology, machinery, automobiles etc., and not include medical or biotechnology (cf. There’s no limitation for the Japan Patent Office). Also, the Office of First Filing must be Japan or India.

      • Copyrights

        • Copyright protection of fictional characters: is it possible? how far can it go?

          Last year, I was fortunate enough to be invited by Associate Professor Yann Basire (Director-General of CEIPI) to participate in a great (and cool!) conference he organized in Strasbourg on Pop Culture and IP. The topic I was asked to discuss was trade mark protection of fictional characters, and the contribution will be published in 2020 as part of a collection edited by Yann and entitled Propriété Intellectuelle et Pop Culture (LexisNexis, coll. IRPI).

          But what about copyright protection of fictional characters: is it possible? how far could it go?

          Copyright protection is available to any work in a Berne and, now, EU sense. While no particular issues arise in relation to the literary, artistic or dramatic works that feature certain characters, in that they are regarded as ‘traditional’ copyright subject matter, whether copyright also vests in fictional characters as such has occasionally proved controversial.

          Difficulties are linked to the fact that, first, one might wonder whether a character is to be considered a ‘work’ in a copyright sense and, secondly, assuming that it is, what type of work a character is. While the latter appears to be less fundamental question than the former, it might still be a problematic one to answer in those European jurisdictions that envisage an exhaustive list of protectable works.

        • Copyright Troll Mathew Higbee Demands ~$1,000 For Image Only His Team Viewed

          Copyright troll Mathew Higbee and lawyer Paul Levy, described as “the web bully’s worst enemy”, have been battling back and forth ever since Paul wrote up a thorough trashing of Higbee’s trollish behavior nearly a year ago. Levy recently noted that more and more Higbee victims are coming to him, and that Higbee has actually told Levy that he “enjoys” that Levy is flooded with requests from Higbee’s victims. Levy also notes that, in some cases, there is actual infringement happening, and then the question comes down to what is a reasonable amount to pay, and what will Higbee accept.

Borg Console

Posted in Site News at 11:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

In progress

Locutus of Borg

Summary: Introducing the “Borg Console” — a page that tracks companies’ actions against society and computing freedom

Links 28/11/2019: Number of Free Software Jobs Reportedly ‘Quadrupled’ in 2 Years

Posted in News Roundup at 7:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • You’ve Come a Long Way, Linux-Baby

      When Linux first emerged from its cocoon in a frenzied Usenet thread, it is doubtful that almost anyone imagined the project would ascend to global prominence.

      Even more astonishingly, its dominance was driven as much, if not more, by its adoption by the private sector — although it posed an antithesis to its business model — as by any of its other notable traits.

      It is precisely because its road from obscure curiosity to corporate mainstay was so unlikely that it pays to appreciate how Linux got to where it is today. Here’s a look at how far Linux has come over its 28-plus years — and at the tech titans that helped it get there.

    • Server

      • Cumulus Networks Enhances Linux Based Network Operating System

        Cumulus Networks has been busy building its Cumulus Linux network operating system since at least 2013, when the company emerged from stealth. On Nov. 18 the company announced the latest iteration with the release of Cumulus Linux 4.0.

        Cumulus Linux is purpose built for networking and can run on both whitebox gear as well as hardware that is compliant with the Open Compute Project’s (OCP) networking specification, including the Open Network Install Environment (ONIE).

      • FGCI Computing Cluster Launch

        The FGCI is an Academy of Finland funded research infrastructure for scientific computing, which consists of 13 interlinked computing nodes hosted in different research institutes. In Turku, Åbo Akademi and University of Turku are members of the consortium and the cluster in Turku has been set up in collaboration.

        In this event we will present the new equipment and invite researchers to use this new resource.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • 2019-11-27 | Linux Headlines

        Zorin OS responds to community concerns about data collection, Microsoft’s terminal gets a lot more competitive, Kali Linux’s clever new feature, and some good news for Mac Users.

      • FLOSS Weekly 557: LSQuic

        LiteSpeed QUIC (LSQUIC) Library is an open-source implementation of QUIC and HTTP/3 functionality for servers and clients. Most of the code in this distribution is used in our own products: LiteSpeed Web Server, LiteSpeed ADC, and OpenLiteSpeed. We think it is free of major problems. Nevertheless, do not hesitate to report bugs back to us. Even better, send us fixes and improvements!

      • Finding Your Community | Choose Linux 23

        A chance to learn some Linux fundamentals in Distrohoppers, and the numerous ways we can all contribute to Linux and open source.

      • Bad Voltage 2×60: Thanks Given
      • Python Bytes: #158 There’s a bounty on your open-source bugs!
      • Talk Python to Me: #240 A guided tour of the CPython source code

        You might use Python every day. But how much do you know about what happens under the covers, down at the C level? When you type something like variable = [], what are the byte-codes that accomplish this? How about the class backing the list itself?

        All of these details live at the C-layer of CPython. On this episode, you’ll meet Anthony Shaw. He and I take a guided tour of the CPython source code. After this, you won’t have to guess what’s happening. You can git-clone the CPython source code and see for yourself.

    • Kernel Space

      • Linux 5.5 Staging Changes Land With New WiFi Driver To Improved exFAT Support

        Greg Kroah-Hartman mailed in the staging area changes today for the Linux 5.5 kernel and they have already been pulled into mainline.

        Among the staging activity work this cycle for Linux 5.5 includes:

        - The new WFX WiFi driver for Silicon Labs WF200 ASICs that are focused on low-power IoT hardware use-cases.

      • Graphics Stack

        • AMD’s RadeonSI Driver Finally Enables OpenGL 4.6 But You Need To First Enable NIR

          The OpenGL 4.6 extension is nearly two and a half years old while finally the open-source Mesa OpenGL drivers are catching up to this latest OpenGL revision that offers Vulkan/SPIR-V interoperability and other additions.

          Last quarter’s Mesa 19.2 release brought OpenGL 4.6 for core Mesa and Intel’s i965/Iris drivers while tonight in Mesa 20.0-devel Git is support for RadeonSI! The AMD open-source OpenGL Linux driver can finally have GL 4.6!

        • AMDVLK 2019.Q4.3 Released With New Extensions + Navi 14 Support

          AMD’s Vulkan driver team has today volleyed their third open-source “AMDVLK” code drop of the quarter. This AMDVLK 2019.Q4.3 driver comes with new extensions as well as Navi 14 enablement.

          Supported by AMDVLK 2019.Q4.3 is VK_EXT_pipeline_creation_feedback and VK_EXT_shader_demote_to_helper_invocation. EXT_pipeline_creation_feedback provides a feedback loop to the application/engine for use with pipeline caching as the principal benefit while the EXT_shader_demote_to_helper_invocation extension is for allowing behavior similar to Direct3D’s HLSL discard instruction.

    • Benchmarks

      • 300+ Benchmarks With AMD Threadripper 3960X vs. Intel Core i9 10980XE

        Complementing our launch-day Intel Core i9 10980XE and AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X/3970X Linux benchmarks, here is much more data now that we’ve had the additional time for carrying out more tests… For your viewing pleasure this US holiday week are more than 330 benchmarks carried out on both the Core i9 10980XE and Threadripper 3960X in the same configuration while running Ubuntu Linux.

        For getting a more diverse idea of where the Core i9 10980XE Cascade Lake X and Ryzen Threadripper 3960X trade blows, I fired up a much broader set of benchmarks for comparison on these HEDT systems. Yes, the Ryzen 9 3950X is priced more comparatively to the i9-10980XE, but I was never sent a review sample of that processor so am using the 3960X for now — if I get my hands on said processor, I’ll certainly have a similar comparison on that front.

      • Intel Nehalem vs. Ice Lake Benchmarks – Including Clock + Power + Thermal Metrics

        As part of the exciting benchmark week and our ongoing tests of Intel Ice Lake on Linux, this next piece has been driven out of curiosity… While recently I posted new benchmark results of Intel Haswell to Ice Lake laptop performance, what about going further back like to the days of Nehalem? Here is that comparison of Core i7 Nehalem to Core i7 Ice Lake including power / performance-per-Watt data, thermal, and performance-per-MHz data too. Enjoy this fun comparison for how the Intel mobile performance on Ubuntu has evolved over the past decade.

        The Nehalem part used is the ten-year-old Core i7 720QM “Clarksfield” processor. This CPU offers four cores / eight threads, 1.6GHz base frequency, 2.8GHz turbo frequency, a 6MB cache, and a 45 Watt TDP. Clarksfield is the mobile variants while Lynnfield made up the desktop side for the 45nm Nehalem microarchitecture.

    • Applications

      • Split or Merge PDFs with PDFsam Basic, an open source program for Windows, Linux and macOS

        PDFs have long been a commonly used format for eBooks, digital manuals or documents thanks to how content is presented regardless of operating system that is used and great support for PDF reading applications (check out Sumatra for an excellent PDF reader).

        Editing PDF documents on the other hand has never been great, especially if you limited your search to free solutions.

        Most free PDF tools are online based, which means you’re uploading your document to a third-party server. While that is okay for generic files, it may be an issue for anything else.

      • Musescore 3: Faster, easier to use, yet powerful and more customisable

        Musescore has just announced the latest version of Musescore 3, which includes work by Martin Keary (formerly a designer at Microsoft and a classically trained composer), who joined the team as the Head of Design in November. He has been collaborating with the community and internal team on a design plan to make Musescore faster and more intuitive. This release is the first step towards that goal.

      • Monitoring Linux and Windows hosts with Glances

        mentioned Glances in my article 4 open source tools for Linux system monitoring, but I will delve into it more deeply in this article. If you read my previous article, some of this information may be familiar, but you should also find some new things here.

        Glances is cross-platform because it is written in Python. It can be installed on Windows and other hosts with current versions of Python installed. Most Linux distributions (Fedora in my case) have Glances in their repositories. If not, or if you are using a different operating system (such as Windows), or you just want to get it right from the source, you can find instructions for downloading and installing it in Glances’ GitHub repo.

      • 6 Wireless File Sharing Apps for Linux and Android

        If you are looking for effortless and minimum configuration GUI apps to share files between Linux and Android devices over a local wireless network, this article will help you out.
        While it is possible to share files in Linux using tools like Samba, FTP and SSH, these utilities often require fiddling with terminal commands and there is no GUI in most cases. A lot of people prefer these methods, however this article focuses on easy to use GUI alternatives that provide similar functionality.

      • Best YouTube Apps for Linux

        If you don’t like to use the official YouTube website and looking for some alternative ways to stream Youtube videos, this article has a list for you.

        In this guide I will list all major desktop YouTube players available today for Linux users. While many popular apps like youtube-dl are available for downloading YouTube videos on Linux, this article will mainly focus on those apps that allows you to search and stream videos on a Desktop Linux PC without having to open a browser. In many cases, these apps will provide advanced functionality than official YouTube website where most of the options are hidden behind a login.

      • Cockpit 208

        Cockpit is the modern Linux admin interface. We release regularly. Here are the release notes from version 208.

        [...]

        Cockpit previously sent problem and crash reports directly to ABRT Analytics from the Logs page. Switching to the new “reportd” framework allows Cockpit report to more places, such as Bugzilla, and has improved authentication methods.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • Modernize your Linux desktop with Enlightenment

        One of Linux’s many advantages is its ability to install and run on old computers. What Linux can’t technically do is make an old computer’s hardware magically perform better. After all, the hardware is the same hardware as ever, and sometimes old hardware feels notably slow when processing modern software that tries to take advantage of new hardware features. This means that an old computer running Linux must run a rather basic desktop, because too many effects or animations might use up precious memory and graphics processing, resulting in sluggish performance.

        The Enlightenment desktop wasn’t designed to solve this exact problem, but in practice, that’s exactly what it does. With its finely crafted foundation and custom libraries, Enlightenment provides an attractive and dynamic environment that runs smoothly on old computers and low-powered systems like the Raspberry Pi. You never have to feel like you’re compromising your user experience (UX) just because you’re running modest hardware. True to its name, it delivers on the promise of eco-friendly computing and is the first line of defense (or second, if Linux itself is the first) against planned obsolescence.

    • Distributions

      • New Undercover mode lets Kali Linux users pretend to be running Windows

        Kali Linux is a security-focused, Debian-based distro popular with hackers and penetration testers. It can be used to identify, detect, and exploit vulnerabilities uncovered in a target network environment.

        Offensive Security, which maintains the Kali Linux project, has just announced its fourth and final release of the year, and version 2019.4 comes packed with lots of changes and new features, including an intriguing Kali Undercover mode that lets you pretend to be using Windows.

      • Hacker Favourite Kali Linux Swaps Gnome for Xfce, Adds New Tricks

        Kali Linux (a Linux distribution used primarily for penetration testing, network security assessments and other security explorations by hackers of various hat colours) has a new brand new set of tools.

        Kali Linux 2019.4 is the final release of 2019. The hacker favourite comes with some quite significant new features for users. Here’s what’s new…

      • Kali Linux 2019.4 Hacking OS Comes With An Undercover Mode

        With the new version, Kali has made a shift from the GNOME desktop environment to a new theme running on lightweight Xfce desktop environment.

        Kali Linux has been running the GNOME desktop environment for quite some time. While it is a full-fledged desktop environment, it has become problematic for a number of Kali users since “these features come with overhead, often overhead that is not useful for a distribution like Kali,” writes Offensive Security in the blog post.

        Other than that, the team behind Kali Linux believes that it was time to give a “fresh, new, and modern” look to the Linux software.

      • Reviews

        • Ubuntu 19.10: It’s fast, like “make old hardware feel new” fast

          Leaves are turning. Temperatures have dipped. These are sure signs—if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, at least—that Canonical’s Autumn release is upon us. Things are a bit different in 2019, however. Not only is Ubuntu 19.10 nicknamed Eoan Ermine (no, I don’t know how you pronounce it either), but it’s the best non-LTS Ubuntu release Canonical has ever put out.

          I should qualify that statement somewhat, because really, as the newest version, it had damn well better be the best Ubuntu ever. But there’s more than recency bias behind the sentiment. I’ve been reviewing Ubuntu for 10 years now, and I was using and interacting with this distro in some form or another for another three or four years before that. After spending recent weeks with Ubuntu 19.10, I can say confidently it is quite simply the best Ubuntu Canonical has ever released.

          The first reason I like 19.10 so much is that it feels insanely fast. Everyday tasks like opening applications, dragging windows, activating the search interface, and even just moving the cursor around are all noticeably faster than in 19.04. The speed boost is immediately noticeable from the minute you pop in the live CD, and it’s even faster once you have 19.10 installed.

      • Fedora Family

        • PHP version 7.4.0 is released!

          A great thanks to all developers who have contributed to this new major and long awaiting version of PHP and thanks to all testers of the RC versions who have allowed us to deliver a good quality version.

          RPM are available in the remi-php76 repository for Fedora ≥ 29 and Enterprise Linux ≥ 7 (RHEL, CentOS) and as Software Collection in the remi-safe repository.

          RPM are also available in the php:remi-7.4 module for Fedora and Enterprise Linux 8.

        • Heroes of Fedora (HoF) – F31 Beta

          Hello everyone, welcome to the Fedora 31 Beta installation of Heroes of Fedora! In this post, we’ll look at the stats concerning the testing of Fedora 31 Beta. The purpose of Heroes of Fedora is to provide a summation of testing activity on each milestone release of Fedora. Without community support, Fedora would not exist, so thank you to all who contributed to this release! Without further ado, let’s get started!

        • Accidental EOL bug closures

          As you’re probably aware, Fedora 29 reached End-of-Life (EOL) status yesterday. The Fedora Program Manager (that’s me!) is responsible for closing any bugs that are still open against that version. Typically, several thousand bugs remain open, so there is a script to do this. This morning, I accidentally closed bugs as EOL that should not have been closed. In the interests of community transparency, I want to share what happened.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • How to bring more designers to open source

        “Most designers don’t have a clue about open source,” says Eriol Fox of Ushahidi, a non-profit social enterprise that creates humanitarian, open source tech tools. Unfortunately, this means there are few design-related contributions to open source software, and this results in an abundance of poorly designed open source tools.

        Ushahidi learned through its Open Design initiative that “designers are really ready to contribute to things that do good,” and this can create a natural alliance with the open source community—once designers are aware of the opportunities.

      • Why I developed my own email newsletter system

        An observant reader contacted me to ask about what he perceived as the automated personalization of the Ctrl blog email newsletter. He had subscribed to the newsletter with two different email addresses and noticed that he received two different versions of it and that they arrived hours apart.

        This reminded me that I haven’t talked about the email newsletter system I developed for Ctrl blog. I’d like to talk about how it works in more detail, and then proceed to address the above observations.

        The email newsletter is managed and delivered by a purpose-built software I developed in October 2018. I wrote it because I wasn’t happy with commercial offerings like MailChimp. I’d also reviewed self-hosted open-source options like phpList and found them lacking.

      • FSF

        • Ethical Tech Giving Guide: Freedom is the gift that keeps on giving

          For many of us, the holiday season is about bringing our loved ones together to celebrate. Most of the time, this includes giving them a neatly wrapped present or two. We go through the buying process carefully, using a friend or family member’s likes and dislikes to sift through the Web and find the right item. But when choosing a tech gift, we need to be careful to give them something that doesn’t harm them instead.

          This is why we at the Free Software Foundation (FSF) publish our Ethical Tech Giving Guide each year, as a way to help free software supporters choose gifts that won’t burden the people they care about with proprietary software or venomous Digital Restrictions Management (DRM). Devices may come and go, but introducing another person to software freedom is the start of a lifelong journey.

          We create resources like the Ethical Tech Giving Guide to let others know that true freedom is dependent on software freedom. Our annual fundraiser is happening right now, and we’re looking to bring 600 new associate members into the fold before December 31st. Our membership program is the heart of our work here at the FSF, and we couldn’t do it without community support. If you’re not already one of our valued members, will you take the next step in your commitment to software freedom and become an associate member today? Beginning at the $120 level of contribution, new and renewing members can choose from a great array of fundraiser premiums, including FSF and GNU patches, an FSF-emblazoned thermos, an FSF backpack, or all at once! We also encourage you to share this Guide, and our message, with friends.

      • Programming/Development

        • Google’s Stadia Controller Support Added To SDL2

          The SDL2 library has been seeing a number of additions in recent days to its game controller database by Valve’s Sam Lantinga. The latest game controller to be added is for Google’s now-shipping Stadia Controller.

          SDL2 maintains a database of game controller mappings and that’s what this addition is for with the Stadia Controller. While Google’s controller is obviously geared for their cloud gaming service, the Stadia Controller can be used for conventional PC games when connected via USB.

        • Rust 2020 – helping to get rust deployed

          This is my contribution to Rust 2020, where community members put forward ideas on what they thing Rust should aim to achieve in 2020.

          In my view, Rust has had an amazing adoption by developers, and is great if you are in a position to deploy it in your own infrastructure, but we have yet to really see Rust make it to broad low-level components (IE in a linux distro or other infrastructure).

          As someone who works on “enterprise” software (389-ds) and my own IDM project (kanidm), there is a need to have software packaged and distributed. We can not ask our consumers to build and compile these tools. One could view it as a chain, where I develop software in a language, it’s packaged for a company (like SUSE), and then consumed by a customer (could be anyone!) who provides a service to others (indirect users).

          Rust however has always been modeled that there is no “middle” section. You have either a developer who’s intent is to develop for other developers. This is where Rust ideas like crates.io becomes involved. Alternately, you have a larger example in firefox, where developers build a project and can “bundle” everything into a whole unit that is then distributed directly to customers.

          The major difference is that in the intermediate distribution case, we have to take on different responsibilities such as security auditing, building, ensuring dependencies exist etc.

          [...]

          I want to see Rust become a major part of operating systems and how we build computer systems, but I think that we need to pace ourselves, improve our tooling, and have some better ideas around what Rust should look like.

        • Twice and thrice over, as they say, good is it to repeat and review what is good.

          Three years ago I wrote about using the AFL fuzzer to find bugs in several NetSurf libraries. I have repeated this exercise a couple of times since then and thought I would summarise what I found with my latest run.

          I started by downloading the latest version of AFL (2.52b) and compiling it. This went as smoothly as one could hope for and I experienced no issues although having done this several times before probably helps.

        • Lifting some of the mystery around QT_MOC_COMPAT

          When working on adding macros to control warnings by & visibility to the compiler for deprecated API in the KDE Frameworks modules, a certain C++ preprocessor macro has been found in some places in the code: QT_MOC_COMPAT. This macro is found as annotation to signals or slots which are otherwise tagged as deprecated.

        • Using Visual Studio Code for Writing Qt Applications

          Software developers like tools, and in particular tools that make them more productive. So in this blog post, I am going to share with you some of the experiences some of us here at KDAB have had using Visual Studio Code for Qt development.

        • Number of open source jobs ‘quadrupled’ between 2016-2018

          The number of people working in Europea open source companies may have quadrupled between 2016 and 2018, suggest numbers gathered by Awesome Free Software (AFS), a free software directory first published a year ago. The project, which is still a prototype, combines publicly available data on free and open source software tools and companies.

        • Former Go champion beaten by DeepMind retires after declaring AI invincible

          Lee, who was the world’s number one ranked Go player in the late 2000s, initially predicted that he would beat AlphaGo in a “landslide” and was shocked by his losses, going so far as to apologize to the South Korean public. “I failed,” he said after the tournament. “I feel sorry that the match is over and it ended like this. I wanted it to end well.”

          Despite the outcome, Go experts agreed that the tournament produced outstanding play. AlphaGo surprised the world with its so-called “move 37,” which human experts initially thought was a mistake, but which proved decisive in game two. Lee made his own impact with his “hand of God” play (move 78), which flummoxed the AI program and allowed Lee to win a single game. He remains the only human to ever defeat AlphaGo in tournament settings. (During training AlphaGo lost two time-capped games to Go player Fan Hui.)

          Since the tournament, though, DeepMind has only improved its AI Go systems. In 2017, it created AlphaGo Zero, a version of the program which surpassed even AlphaGo.

        • Your amazing Raspberry Pi projects #IUseMyRaspberryPiFor

          Yesterday, we asked you to share your Raspberry Pi builds on social media using the hashtag #IUseMyRaspberryPiFor. The result was amazing, with so many of you sharing some really interesting projects, inspiring both us, and others, to get creative.

        • This resilient Raspberry Pi cyberdeck is made for the end of the world

          This custom Raspberry Pi cyberdeck is just such a device for me. With its rugged waterproof case, retro components switches, and compact ortholinear keyboard, it looks like a computer built for the end of the world — and I love it.

          It’s called the Raspberry Pi Recovery Kit and is the work of Jay Doscher, a maker who shares his projects over at Back7.co. Speaking to The Verge via email, Doscher explains that the apocalyptic theme of the Recovery Kit is as much about aesthetics as functionality.

        • This Week In Rust: This Week in Rust 314

          Hello and welcome to another issue of This Week in Rust! Rust is a systems language pursuing the trifecta: safety, concurrency, and speed. This is a weekly summary of its progress and community. Want something mentioned? Tweet us at @ThisWeekInRust or send us a pull request. Want to get involved? We love contributions.

        • Python

          • Python Anywhere: Python 3.8 now available!

            If you signed up since 26 November, you’ll have Python 3.8 available on your account — you can use it just like any other Python version.

            If you signed up before then, it’s a little more complicated, because adding Python 3.8 to your account requires changing your system image. Each account has an associated system image, which determines which Python versions, Python packages, operating system packages, and so on are available. The new image is called “fishnchips” (after the previous system images, “classic”, “dangermouse” and “earlgrey”).

            What this means is that if we change your system image, the pre-installed Python packages will all get upgraded, which means that any code you have that depends on them might stop working if it’s not compatible with the new versions.

          • Python Descriptors: An Introduction

            Descriptors are a specific Python feature that power a lot of the magic hidden under the language’s hood. If you’ve ever thought that Python descriptors are an advanced topic with few practical applications, then this tutorial is the perfect tool to help you understand this powerful feature. You’ll come to understand why Python descriptors are such an interesting topic, and what kind of use cases you can apply them to.

          • Improve Your Python Practices: Debugging, Testing, and Maintenance

            Being a web developer comes with a number of unique challenges. Choosing the right language to build websites and applications which is a lot harder than you may think. For years, developers and programmers have used Python to bring their creations to life.

            In fact, over 8 million developers report using Python on a regular basis. The main concern you should have as an avid user of Python is writing code that is both bug-free. Accomplishing this goal is easy with Python logging and abiding by best practices.

            The following are just some of the things you can do to improve the quality of your Python code.

          • Excellent Free Tutorials to Learn Python

            Python is a high-level, general-purpose, structured, powerful, open source programming language that’s used for a wide variety of programming tasks. It features a fully dynamic type system and automatic memory management, similar to that of Scheme, Ruby, Perl, and Tcl, avoiding many of the complexities and overheads of compiled languages. The language was created by Guido van Rossum in 1991, and continues to grow in popularity, in part because it is easy to learn with a readable syntax. The name Python derives from the sketch comedy group Monty Python, not from the snake.

            Python is a versatile language. It’s frequently used as a scripting language for web applications, embedded in software products, as well as artificial intelligence and system administration tasks. It’s both simple and powerful, perfectly suited for beginners and professional programmers alike.

  • Leftovers

    • The War On Thanksgiving

      Sigh. The Stable Genius has been busy – posting that bonkers Rocky photo, asking why we waited 100 years for a centennial, spending 287 years of presidential salaries on golf, and now making up a red-meat-for-the-masses commie plot to kill Thanksgiving. Cue #WarOnThanksgiving – covfefe running low, send pie, Battle of the Turkey Leg – and #WhatLiberalsCallThanksgiving.

    • Brands Are Bypassing Influencers and Targeting Teens With Memes

      Meme accounts are a way for brands to reach a powerful audience that doesn’t consume media in the same way their parents and grandparents did. Gen Z, roughly between the ages of 7 and 22, is the biggest consumer cohort globally, with spending power to the tune of more than $143 billion in the U.S. alone. And while Instagram remains the most popular social platform among teenagers, Dino said meme accounts are one of the fastest growing parts of Instagram.

    • Science

      • How the Quantum Tech Race Puts the World’s Data at Risk

        The technology one-upmanship between the United States and China is fast becoming the new space race. There’s been a lot of talk in the press about the competition to reach 5G, but little traction outside of the tech community about something more momentous: the dangers of computing in a post-quantum world.

        The recent news from Google about its quantum capabilities is exciting. However, the prospect of supercomputing on this level raises several concerns about data integrity and the overall security threat.

      • The Early History of Usenet, Part VI: The Public Announcement

        Our goal was to announce Usenet at the January, 1980 Usenix meeting. In those days, Usenix met at universities; it was a small, comaparatively informal organization, and didn’t require hotel meeting rooms and the like. (I don’t know just when Usenix started being a formal academic-style conference; I do know that it was no later than 1984, since I was on the program committee that year for what would later be called the Annual Technical Conference.) This meeting was in Boulder; I wasn’t there, but Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis were.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • New York Governor Cuomo Should Ban Chlorpyrifos

        New York Governor Andrew Cuomo should sign a bill to ban the toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos, crucial for protecting public health and the environment in the state.

      • Google Secretly Harvests the Health Data of Millions

        Google has been harvesting the health data of tens of millions of U.S. patients since 2018, unbeknownst to those patients or their doctors, as revealed by a Nov. 11 investigation by the Wall Street Journal. According to the story, Ascension, a private network of some 2,600 hospitals and other health care facilities, had been systematically feeding the medical information to Google’s cloud infrastructure in what amounts to the largest data transfer in the health care field. Google, in turn, plans to “suggest” changes to patients’ care, possibly via machine learning.

      • Why Are Drug Prices Rising So Much? Pharma Exec Admits ‘No Other Rationale’ But Profit-Making

        “The industry executive said the quiet part out loud,” said one outside expert in response. “Price-gouging is central to the industry business model.”

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • TrickBot Evolves to Go After SSH Keys

          TrickBot takes aim at Windows hosts and then downloads different modules to perform various functions. One of these, named pwgrab64, retrieves login credentials stored in a victim’s browser cache, and from any installed applications.

        • I’m not burned out, I’m pissed off

          I’m pissed off at the state of information security. I’m pissed off that our tooling is falling behind. I’m pissed off that my clients don’t seem to take it seriously, and I’m pissed off that the vendors don’t seem to want to help. Let me ask you: is the state of information security really any better today than it was 8 years ago when I started? The easy answer is no. The better answer is, it’s worse.

        • Splunk customers should update now to dodge Y2K-style bug

          If you’re a Splunk admin, the company has issued a critical warning regarding a showstopping Y2K-style date bug in one of the platform’s configuration files that needs urgent attention.

          According to this week’s advisory, from 1 January 2020 (00:00 UTC) unpatched instances of Splunk will be unable to extract and recognise timestamps submitted to it in a two-digit date format.

          In effect, it will understand the ‘year’ up to 31 December 2019, but as soon as this rolls over to 1 January 2020, it will mark it as invalid, either defaulting back to a 2019 date or adding its own incorrect “misinterpreted date”.

          In addition, beginning on 13 September 2020 at 12:26:39 PM UTC, unpatched Splunk instances will no longer be able to recognise timestamps for events with dates based on Unix time (which began at 00:00 UTC on 1 January 1970).

        • Pseudo-Open Source

          • Entrapment (Microsoft GitHub)

            • Grafana focuses on CloudWatch, eases Docker image woes

              Monitoring and observability platform Grafana is now available in version 6.5, adding curated dashboards for a variety of Amazon services, bringing Ubuntu-based Docker images back, and improving server diagnostics configurations as well as Explore UI.

              Most of the changes that made it into the current release turn out to relate to the CloudWatch (CW) data source and were in fact realised in cooperation with the CW team. Users have to be careful though, since some could lead to breakage.

              Starting with Grafana 6.5, the platform uses the GetMetricData API instead of GetMetricStatistics. According to the documentation, the change allows for faster data retrieval, improves support of CloudWatch metric maths, and “enables the use of automatic search expressions”. Those benefits seem to come at a price, however, since GetMetricData calls don’t qualify for the free tier of the CloudWatch API and cost $0.01 per 1,000 metrics requested.

        • Security

          • This week, we give thanks to Fortinet for reminding us what awful crypto with hardcoded keys looks like

            Here’s a summary of recent infosec news beyond what we’ve already covered – earlier than usual because some of us have Thanksgiving to get through in the US. By the way, watch out for hackers taking advantage of IT teams suffering turkey comas.

            Fortinet fsck up: Some Fortinet networking equipment was caught sending customers’ sensitive information over the internet to its servers using weak encryption – XOR and a hardcoded static key. The weakness is present in FortiGate and Forticlient products that have the FortiGuard Web Filter, FortiGuard AntiSpam and FortiGuard AntiVirus features.

            Said information potentially includes, depending on your setup, the serial number of the device, full HTTP URLs visited by users (collected for web filtering), email data (for message filtering) and other info.

          • WireGuard secure network tunnel
            WireGuard is a layer 3 secure networking tunnel made specifically for
            the kernel, that aims to be much simpler and easier to audit than IPsec.
            Extensive documentation and description of the protocol and
            considerations, along with formal proofs of the cryptography, are
            available at:
            
              * https://www.wireguard.com/
              * https://www.wireguard.com/papers/wireguard.pdf
            
            This commit implements WireGuard as a simple network device driver,
            accessible in the usual RTNL way used by virtual network drivers. It
            makes use of the udp_tunnel APIs, GRO, GSO, NAPI, and the usual set of
            networking subsystem APIs. It has a somewhat novel multicore queueing
            system designed for maximum throughput and minimal latency of encryption
            operations, but it is implemented modestly using workqueues and NAPI.
            Configuration is done via generic Netlink, and following a review from
            the Netlink maintainer a year ago, several high profile userspace
            have already implemented the API.
            
            This commit also comes with several different tests, both in-kernel
            tests and out-of-kernel tests based on network namespaces, taking profit
            of the fact that sockets used by WireGuard intentionally stay in the
            namespace the WireGuard interface was originally created, exactly like
            the semantics of userspace tun devices. See wireguard.com/netns/ for
            pictures and examples.
            
            The source code is fairly short, but rather than combining everything
            into a single file, WireGuard is developed as cleanly separable files,
            making auditing and comprehension easier. Things are laid out as
            follows:
            
              * noise.[ch], cookie.[ch], messages.h: These implement the bulk of the
                cryptographic aspects of the protocol, and are mostly data-only in
                nature, taking in buffers of bytes and spitting out buffers of
                bytes. They also handle reference counting for their various shared
                pieces of data, like keys and key lists.
            
              * ratelimiter.[ch]: Used as an integral part of cookie.[ch] for
                ratelimiting certain types of cryptographic operations in accordance
                with particular WireGuard semantics.
            
              * allowedips.[ch], peerlookup.[ch]: The main lookup structures of
                WireGuard, the former being trie-like with particular semantics, an
                integral part of the design of the protocol, and the latter just
                being nice helper functions around the various hashtables we use.
            
              * device.[ch]: Implementation of functions for the netdevice and for
                rtnl, responsible for maintaining the life of a given interface and
                wiring it up to the rest of WireGuard.
            
              * peer.[ch]: Each interface has a list of peers, with helper functions
                available here for creation, destruction, and reference counting.
            
              * socket.[ch]: Implementation of functions related to udp_socket and
                the general set of kernel socket APIs, for sending and receiving
                ciphertext UDP packets, and taking care of WireGuard-specific sticky
                socket routing semantics for the automatic roaming.
            
              * netlink.[ch]: Userspace API entry point for configuring WireGuard
                peers and devices. The API has been implemented by several userspace
                tools and network management utility, and the WireGuard project
                distributes the basic wg(8) tool.
            
              * queueing.[ch]: Shared function on the rx and tx path for handling
                the various queues used in the multicore algorithms.
            
              * send.c: Handles encrypting outgoing packets in parallel on
                multiple cores, before sending them in order on a single core, via
                workqueues and ring buffers. Also handles sending handshake and cookie
                messages as part of the protocol, in parallel.
            
              * receive.c: Handles decrypting incoming packets in parallel on
                multiple cores, before passing them off in order to be ingested via
                the rest of the networking subsystem with GRO via the typical NAPI
                poll function. Also handles receiving handshake and cookie messages
                as part of the protocol, in parallel.
            
              * timers.[ch]: Uses the timer wheel to implement protocol particular
                event timeouts, and gives a set of very simple event-driven entry
                point functions for callers.
            
              * main.c, version.h: Initialization and deinitialization of the module.
            
              * selftest/*.h: Runtime unit tests for some of the most security
                sensitive functions.
            
              * tools/testing/selftests/wireguard/netns.sh: Aforementioned testing
                script using network namespaces.
            
            This commit aims to be as self-contained as possible, implementing
            WireGuard as a standalone module not needing much special handling or
            coordination from the network subsystem. I expect for future
            optimizations to the network stack to positively improve WireGuard, and
            vice-versa, but for the time being, this exists as intentionally
            standalone.
            
            We introduce a menu option for CONFIG_WIREGUARD, as well as providing a
            verbose debug log and self-tests via CONFIG_WIREGUARD_DEBUG.
            
            Signed-off-by: Jason A. Donenfeld <Jason@zx2c4.com>
            Cc: David Miller <davem@davemloft.net>
            Cc: Greg KH <gregkh@linuxfoundation.org>
            Cc: Linus Torvalds <torvalds@linux-foundation.org>
            Cc: Herbert Xu <herbert@gondor.apana.org.au>
            Cc: linux-crypto@vger.kernel.org
            Cc: linux-kernel@vger.kernel.org
            Cc: netdev@vger.kernel.org
            ---
            Note: This benefits from [1], which is currently in Herbert's tree, but
            will be in Linus' for 5.5 pretty shortly. In the meanwhile, this code
            here still does work fine.
            [1] https://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/herbert/crypto-2.6.git/commit/?id=8394bfec51e0e565556101bcc4e2fe7551104cd8
            
          • WireGuard Could Be Mainlined Before Christmas

            It’s been a wild past few weeks for WireGuard as the secure VPN tunnel destined for the mainline Linux kernel and also supported on all other major platforms. It turns out WireGuard could quite well end up in the Linux 5.5 kernel rather than having to wait until Linux 5.6.

            The mainlining excitement grew a few weeks ago after the Linux crypto API adopted some aspects of WireGuard’s Zinc crypto code. That unblocked WireGuard for being able to go mainline as the crypto code has been a point of contention for developers in getting this long sought after code merged.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Sale of 4 Million Stolen Cards Tied to Breaches at 4 Restaurant Chains

              Two financial industry sources who track payment card fraud and asked to remain anonymous for this story said the four million cards were taken in breaches recently disclosed by restaurant chains Krystal, Moe’s, McAlister’s Deli and Schlotzsky’s. Krystal announced a card breach last month. The other three restaurants are all part of the same parent company and disclosed breaches in August 2019.

            • Apple poses a false dichotomy between “privacy” and “competition”

              Apple continuously gathers and stores its users’ location data (and the company has previously been caught lying about this) but companies like Tile (makers of Bluetooth based location tracking stickers for commonly lost items like keys) cannot access this data during setup even if an Iphone owner wishes to share it with them (users can undertake a complex procedure after the app is set up to activate continuous location data access).

              This is particularly worrying, given Apple’s history of using App Store data to pick competitors to clone and force out of the market.

            • Twitter is mass-culling accounts with no activity

              Twitter argues that people who don’t log in to their account regularly aren’t able to accept updates to its terms and conditions and are therefore in violation of the same. It emphasises that it isn’t doing this to free up user names, that’s just a side-effect.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • US Is Again Complicit in an Illegal Coup, This Time in Bolivia

        Once again, the United States is complicit in an illegal coup d’état in Latin America, this time in Bolivia. On November 10, a right-wing, anti-Indigenous group seized power after the Bolivian military’s removal of President Evo Morales, who had declared victory in the October 20 presidential election.

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • Dissenter Weekly Update: Whistleblower Concerns Over Trump Gutting Asylum, WikiLeaks Publishes OPCW Whistleblower Email

        This week’s “Dissenter Weekly Update” episode features a story involving whistleblowers at immigration agencies, who object to how President Donald Trump is gutting the asylum process available to immigrants.

        According to a United States Senate report, “Whistleblowers reported that in nearly all cases where asylum officers found that asylum seekers should be allowed to await their hearing within the U.S. for safety reasons, they were overruled by their superiors, with one whistleblower reporting that it would take ‘Herculean efforts’ to get final approval on any recommendation to allow an asylum seeker to wait in the U.S.”

    • Environment

      • ‘Bleak’ U.N. Report on a Planet in Peril Looms Over New Climate Talks

        “The summary findings are bleak,” said the annual assessment, which is produced by the United Nations Environment Program and is formally known as the Emissions Gap Report. Countries have failed to halt the rise of greenhouse gas emissions despite repeated warnings from scientists, with China and the United States, the two biggest polluters, further increasing their emissions last year.

        The result, the authors added, is that “deeper and faster cuts are now required.”

      • Environmental protection top priority for EU citizens: survey

        In a survey published by Germany’s Bertelsmann Foundation on Wednesday, 40% of respondents from 27 EU member states cited environmental protection as the most pressing issue. Job protection followed with 34% and social security with 23%.

      • ‘The Law Is on Our Side’: Extinction Rebellion Celebrates Dropped Charges Against 105 Climate Activists

        Ultimately, the environmental movement expects the cases of over 1,000 activists arrested in London last month will be discontinued.

      • We’re Still Waiting for ‘Early and Often’ Climate Debate Questions

        As the Democratic Party prepared for its first presidential primary debates in June, climate activists pushed the DNC to schedule a single-issue debate on the climate crisis, given the urgency of the problem and the lack of attention given to it in previous debates. DNC chair Tom Perez refused, saying he had “the utmost confidence” that climate disruption would be discussed in the debates “early and often” (FAIR.org, 6/18/19).

      • Ecological Genocide: Moscow Attempts to Bury Its People in Garbage
      • Iceland put people first to save melting economy

        Faced in 2008 with a melting economy, Iceland acted fast to avoid total collapse. Icelanders’ own needs were its priority.

      • Energy

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • Holy Moses
        • Indigenous Resistance May Just Save All Our Lives

          Thanksgiving is one of the great foundational myths of the United States, turning a single gathering of indigenous people in Massachusetts with English settler colonists in 1621 into one of the greatest whitewashes of genocide in world history. Even by that time, native people throughout the Western hemisphere had already suffered horrific violence for over a century, at the hands of Christopher Columbus and other European explorers intent on enslaving native people and exploiting the region’s vast resources. Thanksgiving has morphed into an event celebrating family, feasting and football, a day off before the commercial onslaught of holiday shopping (although the “Black Friday” sales frenzy has intruded on Thanksgiving Day as well). On this Thanksgiving holiday, we should reflect on our true history, and on the remarkable, ongoing indigenous resistance to colonization.

        • Feral hogs in Texas attacked and killed a woman outside a home

          Sheriff Brian Hawthorne said in a news conference Monday that “multiple hogs” assaulted Rollins when she arrived at work, likely between 6 and 6:30 a.m., when it was still dark outside.

      • Overpopulation

        • CDC: U.S. Births Fall for Fourth Consecutive Year

          In all, there were 3.79 million births in the U.S. last year, down 2% from 2017 and marking the fourth year in a row the total has fallen after an uptick in 2014, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Birth rates fell for teenagers and women under 35, and rose for women 35 and older.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • With New Allegations, Nunes’s Fate Is Tied to Trump in the Ukraine Scandal

        Last week, The Daily Beast reported that House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes used $63,000 in taxpayer funds to travel to Europe where a central player in the impeachment drama, Lev Parnas, helped to arrange meetings for him. Parnas is the associate of President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who’s been indicted for illegal donations to the Trump campaign. Over the weekend, CNN reported that Nunes had gone to Europe to meet with a former Ukrainian prosecutor in order to secure dirt on Joe Biden, according to the lawyer for Parnas. Parnas’s lawyer also said that his client would be willing to testify before the House Intelligence Committee. CNBC built on the story, noting that Nunes wanted to take a different trip to meet with two other Ukrainian officials who claimed to have witnessed corruption by Democratic operatives. But when Nunes realized he’d have to notify House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff of his travels, he scrapped the trip, and had Parnas set up phone and Skype meetings instead. If the allegations are true, Nunes would be an active part of the very scandal whose investigation he is tasked with overseeing.

      • Bernie Sanders Is the Movement Candidate We Need

        As the executive director of Rights & Democracy (RAD) in Vermont and an organizer based in our state for more than two decades, I have had many opportunities  to work closely with U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

      • Native Americans Have the Most Difficulty Accessing Clean Water, Report Says

        The nearest water station for Darlene Yazzie is 9 miles away at the Dennehotso Chapter House — or community center — in the Four Corners region. On a recent day, she counted her nickels and dimes to buy water. It costs $1.10, plus gas money, to fill up two 50-gallon barrels, and she’s just learned the price is going up next month.

      • China Furious as Trump Signs Hong Kong Bills
      • Apple alters Maps and Weather to show Crimea as a Russian territory

        This latest change stems from Russia’s roundly condemned annexation of Crimea in 2014. It only applies when Crimea is viewed or searched for with Apple Maps inside Russia; elsewhere in the world, Crimea isn’t labeled as Russian territory.

      • Apple changes Crimea map to meet Russian demands

        Russian forces annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014, drawing international condemnation.

        The region, which has a Russian-speaking majority, is now shown as Russian territory on Apple Maps and its Weather app, when viewed from Russia.

      • Democrats Don’t Need Mike Bloomberg’s Kinder, Gentler Plutocracy

        Bloomberg, who unlike the current occupant of the White House is a seriously rich man, entered the Democratic race in business-like fashion–with a Monday-morning brand launch. He’s telling us what we already know–that Trump represents an “existential threat to our country and our values”–but he is saying it loud, with a $31.5 million ad buy.

        That kind of spending gets political insiders salivating, especially when they know it’s coming out of Bloomberg’s very deep well of personal wealth. Ironically, with all that paid media comes lots of free media. As with Trump, Bloomberg’s money will get him all the attention that our broken media system’s fixation with wealth and power can “buy.”

      • How the French Revolution Is Inspiring Today’s Online Anti-capitalists

        Rousseau’s most enduring contribution to the current revolutionary discourse, though, came via a 1789 speech. As writer Talia Lavin noted in a recent piece on the phrase’s origins, his pithy warning — “When the people shall have nothing more to eat, they will eat the rich” — has become a rallying cry on social media and at contemporary political protests, where the people’s great and terrible anger at the economic predation of the 1% has helped propel a resurgent anti-capitalist movement. The phrase is all over Twitter, TikTok, and various other social media platforms. It has long been immortalized in song thanks to British heavy metal legends Motorhead (who provided the soundtrack for a bloody 1987 movie also named Eat the Rich about a restaurant that serves the meat of its former wealthy patrons), Swiss hard rockers Krokus, and, bizarrely, Aerosmith, whose vocalist Steven Tyler is currently estimated to be worth about $130 million. (Full disclosure: I have eat the rich tattooed on my stomach, which doubles as a tribute to Motorhead and my own political inclinations.)

      • This Thanksgiving, It’s Time to Take On Your Conservative Relatives

        You might not like conflict, but if you choose to break bread with Trump supporters and climate change deniers because you happen to be related to them, then conflict is required. Anything less is appeasement, and we’ve had far too much of that these past few years. So stiffen your spine, rehearse your talking points, and get ready to fry some turkeys in your family with your righteousness.

        Other people will tell you how to avoid fights. I’m going to tell you how to get into them.

    • Freedom of Information / Freedom of the Press

      • The murder of a journalist in 2017 still haunts Malta’s government

        The murder victim was a journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia, killed by a car bomb in 2017. Her blog was the source of many of the corruption allegations. One was that Mr Schembri and Mr Mizzi had Panama-registered companies and trusts in New Zealand which, Ms Caruana Galizia reported and they denied, had received kickbacks from Russians in return for Maltese passports. She also claimed the politicians’ firms were due to receive payments from a Dubai-registered company, 17 Black. Ms Caruana Galizia died before discovering who was behind 17 Black, but last year a journalists’ collective set up to continue her work reported that the owner was one of Malta’s richest men, Yorgen Fenech, who has interests in gaming, property and energy. Mr Mizzi and Mr Schembri deny any connection to him or to 17 Black.

      • Vietnam Arrests Prominent Blogger Pham Chi Dung

        Dung established IJAVN as a “civil society organization,” July 4, 2014, and has said that America’s Independence Day inspired him to create a platform to advocate for freedom of the press, freedom of expression and democracy.

        “The arrest of Pham Chi Dung is the continuation of an intensified crackdown against political activists and bloggers in Vietnam,” freelancer Duong Van Thai, a Vietnamese political asylum seeker in Thailand and a former state-run media reporter in Vietnam, told VOA. “The arrest showed Hanoi’s desire to exercise greater control over the freedom of speech.”

        Nguyen Tuong Thuy noted that Dung’s criticism of the government had intensified of late, likely triggering his arrest.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • China: FIFA Broke Own Rules for Club World Cup

        FIFA’s surprise selection of China to host the 2021 Club World Cup disregarded its own human rights commitments in the bidding process, Human Rights Watch said today, releasing correspondence with the global football governing body. 

      • UN: States Denounce Egypt’s Rights Record

        United Nations member countries offered strong criticism and scores of recommendations addressing Egypt’s human rights crisis at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the Human Rights Council in Geneva on November 13, 2019, Human Rights Watch said today.

      • Activists Reflect on 20 Years of Indymedia and the Radical Media Movement
      • States Could Soon Be Forced to Fund Religious Education

        In January, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear a case that could result in states being required to use taxpayer money to fund religious education.

      • South Korea Shouldn’t Backslide on LGBT Rights

        Conservative lawmakers in South Korea have already blocked the passage of nondiscrimination laws that would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and other minorities.

      • We Can’t Afford to Banish Politics From the Thanksgiving Table

        I’ve got no more patience for pundits and their annual calls to not discuss politics at the Thanksgiving table. Take USA Today’s self-described “civility expert” Steve Petrow, who just gave the nation a comical list of nine ways to avoid “political food fights.” Rule number 7 reads: “No baseball caps at the table…. Especially if they say ‘Make America Great Again’ or ‘Make Racism Wrong Again.’” So, everything is cool if we don’t talk about racism. But let’s be real — being silent when racism is insurgent all around us will not lead to peace, or much to be thankful for next year. Ignoring racism is not civil.

      • Asylum Seekers Are Being Misclassified Under Migrant Protection Protocols

        A lawsuit was filed in a federal court in Brownsville, Texas, last Wednesday on the behalf of a 23-year-old woman who fled Honduras and was returned to the streets of Matamoros, Mexico, by U.S. immigration authorities in late July.

      • 20 Years After Battle of Seattle, Activists Reflect on Historic WTO Protests

        Twenty years ago this week, tens of thousands of activists gathered in Seattle to shut down a ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization. Grassroots organizers successfully blocked world leaders, government trade ministers and corporate executives from meeting to sign a global trade deal that many called deeply undemocratic, harmful to workers’ rights, the environment and Indigenous people globally. On November 30, 1999, activists formed a human chain around the Seattle convention center and shut down the city’s downtown. Police responded by firing tear gas and rubber bullets into the mostly peaceful crowd. The protests went on for five days and resulted in 600 arrests and in the eventual collapse of the talks, as well as the resignation of Seattle’s police chief. The protests were documented in the film “This is What Democracy Looks Like.” Democracy Now! was in the streets of Seattle 20 years ago. During one live broadcast we spoke to two leading critics of the WTO: Indian physicist and activist Vandana Shiva and Lori Wallach of Public Citizen, who join us on the show today.

      • Iran: Deliberate Coverup of Brutal Crackdown

        Iranian authorities are deliberately covering up the scale of the mass crackdown against protesters, Human Rights Watch said today. The government should immediately announce the number of deaths, arrests, and detentions from the recent protests and permit an independent inquiry into alleged abuses.

      • Ghana: Faith Healers Defy Ban on Chaining

        Faith-based and traditional healing centers in Ghana continue to hold people with real or perceived mental health conditions – psychosocial disabilities – in chains in inhumane conditions despite a 2017 ban on such treatment, Human Rights Watch said today.

      • Protest Song Of The Week: ‘Iraq2Chile (Martyrs of Hope)’ By Lowkey Featuring Mai Khalil

        The following post was originally published at Ongoing History of Protest Songs.

        Lowkey is a rapper and activist of English and Iraqi descent, who recently released “Soundtrack to the Struggle 2,” the long-awaited follow-up to his 2011 album, “Soundtrack to the Struggle.”

      • “If I Could Just Look at Her” – Watch the journey of two separated parents trying to cross the border and reunite with their children.
      • Spot is a Cop

        According to a report by Boston news station WBUR, documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts show that the state’s bomb squad had Spot on loan from Boston Dynamics for three months, from August to November this year.

        It’s not clear from these documents, or statements made by the department, how the Spot was used in those three months. State police spokesman David Procopio told WBUR that it was used as a “mobile remote observation device,” and that Spot is a valuable tool for law enforcement “because of its ability to provide situational awareness of potentially dangerous environments.”

      • Yazidi Still Hears Brothers Before IS Kills Them in Iraq

        But Kachi said in a video briefing that he believes he survived, “under a pile of dead bodies … by God’s will, to be a witness to the hideous crimes committed by the terrorist group” against the Yazidis.

        He urged the international community not only to ensure that the perpetrators are prosecuted but to “acknowledge that the crimes committed against the Yazidi community amount to genocide.”

      • Firing 4 Google Workers Is ‘Illegal Retaliation,’ Organizers Say

        Workers who are organizing at Google say Monday’s firing of four employees is an act of “illegal retaliation” from the company’s management intended to stamp out labor organizing.

        Last week, roughly 200 Google employees protested the suspension of two workers–Rebecca Rivers and Laurence Berland–outside the company’s San Francisco offices for allegedly accessing and sharing internal documents, as well as tracking employee calendars, as previously reported by Motherboard. On Monday, Google fired both workers as well as two others who participated in the rally “for clear and repeated violations of… data security policies,” according to a memo posted by Google’s security and investigations team, first reported by Bloomberg News.

    • Monopolies

      • Uber’s London Ban Marks Global Backlash for Ride-Hailing Giants

        London’s transport authority banned Uber for a second time on Monday, citing concerns about customer safety after vulnerabilities in the app let drivers fake their identities in thousands of rides.

      • Patents

        • Pharma Tech Solutions, Inc. v. Lifescan, Inc. (Fed. Cir. 2019)

          The Federal Circuit held that both types of estoppel precluded Pharma Tech from a finding of infringement under the doctrine of equivalents. Regarding amendment-based estoppel, the opinion states that, prior to amendment Pharma Tech’s claim “was broad enough to cover any bioelectrical blood glucose monitoring system” and afterwards, the claim was limited to systems that converted Cottrell current readings to analyte concentrations that were compared to one another. Accordingly, “[t]he applicants thus presumptively surrendered any bioelectrical blood glucose monitoring systems that do not convert a plurality of current readings into analyte concentration measurements and compare the resulting analyte concentration measurements.” The “equivalent” asserted by Pharma Tech to ensnare Lifescan’s accused infringing article — “the functionality of a system that (a) measures current at two different times, (b) compares the current[s] to ensure they are within a prescribed percentage and (c) converts the current readings into a glucose concentration” — “falls squarely within the territory between the original claim and the amended claim” in the panel’s view. In order for Pharma Tech to overcome the presumption that the amendments estopped them from (successfully) asserting this equivalent, its burden was to show that the amendment was only tangentially related to patentability. Pharma Tech failed to make this showing, according to the opinion, because “the inventors clearly and unambiguously distinguished their invention over the prior art based on the converting and comparing limitations added by [their] amendment.” The opinion cites the “consistent[] assert[ions]” (expressly cited in the opinion) by the patent applicant that their amendment overcame the asserted prior art in support for their conclusion regarding amendment-based estoppel. And to Pharma Tech’s argument that their amendment (under the Court’s reading) surrendered more claim scope than necessary to establish patentability, the opinion states that this doesn’t establish tangentiality, citing Int’l Rectifier Corp. v. IXYS Corp., 515 F.3d 1353, 1359 (Fed. Cir. 2008) (quoting Schwarz Pharma, Inc. v. Paddock Labs., Inc., 504 F.3d 1371, 1377 (Fed. Cir. 2007)) that “‘[t]he fact that the inventors may have thought after the fact that they could have relied on other distinctions in order to defend their claims is irrelevant’ to discerning the objective reason for their amendment.”

          As for argument-based estoppel, the opinion states that Pharma Tech failed to show that the facts before the panel were sufficiently analogous to cases where the estoppel was not found to absolve these claims from this species of estoppel. Specifically, the opinion rejects Pharma Tech’s attempted reliance on Insituform Technologies, Inc. v. CAT Contracting, Inc., 385 F.3d 1360 (Fed. Cir. 2004). In that case, the Federal Circuit was able to find that there was “no indication in the prosecution history of any relationship between the narrowing amendment” and the asserted equivalent. Here, in contrast, the Court found ample evidence that the amendments and arguments had more than a tangential relationship to patentability. Similarly, the panel distinguished these facts from the situations arising in recent Federal Circuit decisions regarding the scope of estoppel, including Eli Lilly & Co. v. Hospira, Inc., 933 F.3d 1320, 1332 (Fed. Cir. 2019) and Ajinomoto Co. v. Int’l Trade Comm’n, 932 F.3d 1342, 1355 (Fed. Cir. 2019).

          The outcome here illustrates the difficulty (if not impossibility) of predicting future design-around efforts by others, and how prudent prosecution practices include maintaining pending applications to give a patentee the flexibility to pursue claims that will be literally infringed by even the most clever competitors.

        • One more way to speedy patents in India approved, EPO launches revamped Espacenet and other patent news

          The Government, last week approved a proposal for adopting the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) Program between the Indian Patent Office (IPO) and patent offices of various other interested countries or regions. The PPH Program will first commence between the Japan Patent Office (JPO) and the IPO on a pilot basis for a period of three years. PPH will enable the IPO to receive patent applications in the field of Electrical, Electronics, Computer Science, Information Technology, Physics, Civil, Mechanical, Textiles, Automobiles and Metallurgy, while the JPO will accept applications in all fields of technology.Additionally, Startups and MSME’s will have an opportunity to expedite the examination process and receive a faster grant.

        • Can artificial intelligence systems patent their inventions?

          Throughout history, innovation has been the result of direct human intervention that creates a technical solution to a practical problem. For hundreds of years, nations around the world have sought to incentivize innovation by giving inventors the right to protect their creations with patents. Recently one legal team has pressured patent offices around the world to answer one question: Can patent protections be extended to inventions developed by technology, not humans?

          Late last autumn, patent applications were filed with the UK Intellectual Property Office and the European Patent Office on behalf of an artificial intelligence inventor known as “DABUS,” which creates new ideas by altering the interconnections among a set of neural networks in the system. Once those ideas are generated, a second set of neural networks analyzes them to reinforce any that are novel or useful. DABUS is the invention of Dr. Stephen Thaler, President and CEO of the St. Charles, Missouri-based neural networking firm Imagination Engines.

          [...]

          At the origin of the legal team filing the patent applications on DABUS’s behalf is Dr. Malte Köllner, Head of Dennemeyer’s Frankfurt office. He instigated an international attorney team to submit patent applications on behalf of DABUS in Great Brittain, Germany, Europe, Taiwan, Israel and the US, as well as a PCT application. The idea to file patent applications listing an AI inventor was born in the Frankfurt office following a discussion on the topic with patent attorney Markus Rieck and Ryan Abbott, a professor of law and health sciences at the University of Surrey. Dr. Köllner said that filing these patent applications was the right way to get patent offices to consider how they will address the growing issue of innovation from AI platforms. “If the court finds some solution, that is fine, but it should not simply ignore the fact that machines are inventing,” Dr. Köllner said. “We are beginning a debate and inviting both patent offices and courts to decide on how to deal with this issue. This is a question whose time has come.”

          [...]

          Over at the EPO, a decision on the fate of the DABUS patent applications is expected on November 25.

          Eventually, patent offices around the world will have to find a solution how to handle this new phenomenon that AI is contributing to inventions. “It is an international discussion, and it will be interesting to see how different countries will come up with different solutions,” Dr. Köllner said.

        • New European Patent Office guidelines protect AI and machine learning ‘inventions’

          Withers & Rogers Karl Barnfather examines the European Patent Office’s ‘Guidelines for Examination’, which took effect on 1st November

        • Law professor claims top priority for U.S. in trade negotiations with South Korea was Qualcomm antitrust case

          A Korea-based source has just drawn my attention to an article (in Korean, but I received a translation) by Kyungsin Park, Professor of Law, Korea University Law School. Professor Park accuses the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) of a failure to act forcefully in “the legal case of the century,” i.e., the Qualcomm case. As I reported in March, Qualcomm could face criminal charges in Korea over its refusal to license chipset makers, but so far–and more than eight months later, it’s apparently still the situation–the KFTC hasn’t referred this contempt matter to the Prosecutor General’s office.

          Meanwhile, Qualcomm is–according to the article–spending hundreds of millions of dollars on the appeal. What Professor Park explains based on publicly available data is that it’s not primarily about the 900 million dollars of fines the KFTC imposed in its late-2016 decision. The professor says it’s just about 1% of Qualcomm’s Korean revenues over the last 25 years, or 2% of what “Qualcomm generated through its illegal activities in South Korea.” Instead, he writes, it’s about the KFTC’s corrective orders, which are about Qualcomm’s business model.

          The article talks about how Samsung ceased to complain about Qualcomm’s practices after its new (early 2018) deal. Well, during the course of those Qualcomm antitrust investigations in multiple jurisdictions, Samsung was far from the only company to sign a new chipset purchasing and patent licensing agreement. Apple settled during opening statements at the April 2019 trial in San Diego–as did Korea’s LG Electronics a few months later. There’s no basis for pointing fingers at those companies: they’re in the smartphone business, not in the antitrust enforcement business. But I do agree with the professor that Korea’s competition authority (and, needless to say, the courts) have a responsibility here. (As for the companies that settled their formal or informal disputes with Qualcomm, there’s plenty of testimony from the time before those deals were struck, and that testimony is still useful, as it was in the U.S. FTC v. Qualcomm case–where Samsung also filed a great amicus curiae brief.)

      • Copyrights

        • Independent Labels Take a Firm Stance Against UMG-Tencent Deal

          Smith’s organization believes that the share purchase of UMG by Tencent would hurt independent record companies because of Tencent’s footprint in the Chinese digital music market.

          It currently controls 90% of this market while having a considerable presence in nearby Asian markets. It also owns 4 out of the top 5 music apps across the world.

        • Telegram Faces Anti-Piracy Referral to US Over Cryptocurrency Plans

          Russia-based anti-piracy outfit AZAPI is threatening to report Telegram to United States authorities including the SEC if the platform does not introduce fingerprinting technologies. The association says that a crackdown is necessary because Telegram’s blockchain project TON will be used to anonymously monetize the spread of copyrighted content.

        • BREIN Wins Court Case Against Prolific Torrent and Usenet Uploader

          Acting on behalf of various copyright holders, Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN has won a court case against an uploader at torrent and Usenet sites. The man, who was also a sysop at the sites, must remove his uploads and provide information on any accomplices. According to BREIN, evidence clearly shows that commercial Usenet companies are involved with the operation of pirate sites.

        • Millions Now Have Access to the CC Certificate in Italian and Arabic!

          In particular, we are proud to highlight the work of CC Network members in Italy and Saudi Arabia. Paola Corti and Lokesh Rajendran have made CC Certificate content translations available in Italian and Arabic. With these translations, over 483 million additional people around the world have access to the course content in their first language.

Embrace Linux, Extend (exFAT) Linux, (Re)Appropriate Linux

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft at 4:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

If you are surprised that former Microsoft is in charge of Linux Foundation Board and current Microsoft in charge of longterm Linux, then you haven't been paying attention

Summary: Microsoft entryism in the board of the Linux Foundation seems to be yielding control over the kernel and outsourcing of LF code to Microsoft (GitHub)

The Collapse of European Patents Continues

Posted in Courtroom, Europe, Law, Patents at 3:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

With or without courts getting involved

Graph extrapolated from the EPO
What good are patents granted in error?

Summary: The European Patent Office (EPO), confronted or challenged by courts that the EPO does not control, sees many of its newly-minted patents thrown out, reducing confidence in the whole system

EACH time an Invalid Patent (IP) gets granted there’s an opportunity for a law firm to make a buck (or euro), if not from application/renewal fees (shared with the patent office) then from frivolous litigation as well. But each such IP (we intentionally twisted this acronym) also harms the image of the office and the law firm. What kind of legal advice are they giving clients/applicants? This is a crisis in the making (early signs of which are nowadays seen and are increasingly visible in the United States).

“It is inevitable, as we’ve warned for a number of years, that many European Patents (EPs) will become IPs.”We’re not against patents; we’re for patent quality. We insist that patents should exist only in domains where their contribution to science/economics are undeniably provable. Yes, it’s about progression and advancement of human knowledge — something that monopolists have long opposed (as it is a form of disruption to the status quo they strive to perpetually exploit).

It is inevitable, as we’ve warned for a number of years, that many European Patents (EPs) will become IPs. If the largest patent-granting authority in Europe strives to just fake ‘production’ by granting loads of IPs, not only will support for this second-largest European institution diminish; it harms the EU’s reputation/credibility as well. It thus becomes a threat to peace, too.

Sara Moran has just commented on the British Court of Appeal looking into an IP:

Therefore the Court of Appeal was entitled to interfere with the trial judge’s assessment of obviousness and to hold that the 181 patent was invalid for lack of inventive step because the skilled team, during routine testing, would have been very likely to have come upon the dosage regime which is the subject matter of the patent.

Why was this patent granted in the first place? Appealing cases to the Court of Appeal (or higher) is unbelievably expensive. Many would have given up before that or never bother with a court battle, instead settling over IPs (patents of no real legitimacy).

“Why was this patent granted in the first place?”But the above case is sadly enough becoming the norm. Earlier this year we covered similar outcomes, even at higher level (the highest possible level). Will EPOnia heed the warning? Of course not! That would be bad for ‘production’…

The following new article/press release from FreshPlaza says that the “Boards of Appeal for the European Patent Office (EPO)” (since it’s besieged and terrorised by Office management, by its very own admission, can it overrule Office management?) has just restored a likely bogus/fake/invalid patent in defiance of the Opposition Division’s findings. To quote:

On November 13, 2019, the Boards of Appeal for the European Patent Office (EPO) reinstated Houweling’s European patent directed to its Ultra-Clima Semi-Closed Greenhouse. The Ultra-Clima European Patent was opposed by eleven greenhouse manufacturers, who combined efforts to challenge the patent. The Opposition Division of the EPO originally proposed revocation of Houweling’s European patent. Houweling disagreed with this finding and appealed the decision to the Boards of Appeal for the EPO. The Boards of Appeal reversed the proposed revocation and finally upheld Houweling’s patent. The Boards of Appeal found that Houweling’s patent meets all formal requirements of the EPO, and claims subject matter that is both novel and involves an inventive step. Houweling’s European patent covers most major countries in Europe.

What’s also noteworthy here is that the patent is a monopoly that decreases (limits/bans) access to something that’s needed to save humanity from catastrophe. Are such patents even desirable (irrespective of whether they’re valid or not)?

We’ve also just seen this new report from pv magazine International about fake patents granted by the EPO in the area of solar energy:

The European Patent Office has revoked SolarEdge’s inverter multi-level topology patent and the Israeli company said it intends to challenge both decisions.

[...]

On November 19, Mannheim Regional Court ruled Huawei had not committed patent infringement in relation to one of the two claims, and a court representative has told pv magazine the second case will be heard by January 7. “The judge declared that Huawei did not infringe on the patent relating to optimizer and inverter architecture and dismissed SolarEdge’s lawsuit directly,” announced Huawei in a statement this morning.

The European Patent Office (EPO) on Thursday responded to a patent opposition case lodged by Huawei against SolarEdge in relation to inverter multi-level topology. “The EPO decided that the SolarEdge patent did not involve an inventive step and the grant of the patent is revoked,” the Chinese manufacturer said.

So much for “green tech” patents, eh? PV-Tech‘s report has said that “German court rules against SolarEdge in Huawei patent infringement case”

So the EPO granted fake patents (monopolies on climate change mitigation techniques) and only lawyers benefited from pointless wars that courts deem fruitless and baseless:

Inverter manufacturer SolarEdge has been dealt a double blow after patent infringement proceedings brought against rival Huawei were thrown out and a European patent held by the firm was revoked.

However, in a statement released today, SolarEdge has confirmed its intent to appeal against the decision.

Last week, Mannheim Regional Court in Germany heard two particular cases brought forward by SolarEdge against Huawei, claiming that the Chinese tech giant infringed on its patents relating to its multi-level inverter topology technology, dubbed HD Wave.

It stems from an original complaint filed with the court last summer, vigorously denied by Huawei at the time, that called for a recall of products infringing on that patent.

But following proceedings heard on 19 November 2019, one infringement claim was dismissed and another deferred.

Imagine how much financial damage (to the firms involved) was caused. No, not the law firms; they always profit from disputes.

“Notice how they’re speaking only to patent and litigation firms in articles about patents (or citing EPO management). That is like speaking only to oil companies in articles about climate.”Who does this EPO policy really benefit? Not SMEs, that’s for sure; they’re harmed the most, but the EPO won’t let such ‘pesky’ facts get in the way. Yesterday a site called Bdaily repeated lies of the EPO, manufactured and paid for by EPO management to mislead the European public. To quote one bit (it’s mostly copy-pasted stuff from lawyers’ mouths): “The report acknowledges that European SMEs have been responsible for some important inventions in diverse fields such as pharmaceuticals, medical technology, clean energy, electronics and computing. Due to their lack of resources however, many SMEs opt to exploit their inventions through collaborations with partners.”

Notice how they’re speaking only to patent and litigation firms in articles about patents (or citing EPO management). That is like speaking only to oil companies in articles about climate. The EPO’s sheer disdain for truth was mentioned here yesterday. It’s a threat to sustained human existence, not just to “business” (which isn’t the same thing; without humans there’s no “business” and no “economy”).

IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:24 am by Needs Sunlight

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