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12.25.19

Links 25/12/2019: Business Card With Linux, Alpha of Simplicity Linux

Posted in News Roundup at 9:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Now Even Your Business Card Can Run Linux

      It takes a lot of work to get a functional PCB business card that’s thin, cheap, and robust enough to be practical. If you can even blink a few LEDs on the thing and still hand them out with a straight face, you’ve done pretty well for yourself. So you can imagine our surprise when [George Hilliard] wrote in to tell us about his $3 business card computer that boots into a functioning Linux environment. If this were a bit closer to April, we might have figured it was just a joke…

    • My Business Card Runs Linux

      I’m an embedded systems engineer. I spend a lot of my free time looking for things I could use in future designs, or things that tickle one of my fancies.

      One of those things is cheap Linux-capable computers, the cheaper the better. So I started diving into the very deep rabbit hole of obscure processors.

      I thought to myself, “These processors are nearly cheap enough to give away.” After a while I hit upon the idea of making a barebones Linux board in a business card form factor.

      As soon as I had the idea I thought it would be pretty cool to do. I have seen electronic business cards before, with various fun features including emulating USB flash drives, blinkenlights, or even wireless transceivers. I have never seen one running Linux, however.

    • ‘My Business Card Runs Linux’

      In a detailed write-up, Hilliard goes on to explain how he came up with the design and assembled all the components. Naturally, there were some problems that arose during the construction that he had to troubleshoot: “first, the USB port wasn’t long enough to reliably make contact in many USB ports. Less critically, the flash footprint was wrong, which I worked around by bending the leads under the part by hand…”

      Impressively, the total cost of the card (not including his time) was $2.88 — “cheap enough that I don’t feel bad giving it away, as designed!”

    • Designing My Linux-Powered Business Card

      I started by looking for processors that were the magic combination: inexpensive, USB, no BGA footprints, and purchasable somewhere, even if I had to get it from Taobao. (You usually can’t buy these processors from Mouser or the manufacturer.) Ideally, there would also be a known-good piece of hardware I could get as a development board.

      I also really wanted a part that had RAM included in the package. This is fairly rare for microprocessors, in contrast to micro_controllers_ which typically don’t have enough juice to run Linux. This constraint really narrowed down my choices, but I stuck with it because it would make design and assembly a lot easier.

      Many of the processors in this price class are made by Chinese companies and there’s not a lot of info about them available in English, so finding them takes some digging. (If you know of other Chinese-only processors in this category, please let me know about them as I would be excited to learn about them.)

      My first attempt was using an STM32F4, which can be persuaded to run Linux if it’s hooked up to external SDRAM, like in this Emcraft Systems system-on-module.

    • Fallout From Trump’s Tariff War OR GNU/Linux Beats TOOS

      Anytime millions switch to GNU/Linux is a good few years by me.

    • Getting started with security keys

      Paranoia is not entirely unwarranted with the plethora of these attacks today. It was with this mix of curiosity and fear that I began using hardware security keys two years ago. In a nutshell, security keys are little devices (typically USB, NFC or Bluetooth) that compute cryptography keys and serve as a more secure second factor2 that only you can physically possess.

      My evangelism of the benefits of these security keys amongst my friends has come up so often that I decided to write this beginner’s guide (albeit rather detailed) to security keys—a topic generally left to very tech savvy people—to accomplish a few things: [...]

    • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Kernel Space

      • Graphics Stack

        • Virtual DCN / SR-IOV Display Support Being Worked On For AMDGPU In Linux 5.6

          In going through the AMDGPU kernel driver changes currently queuing ahead of the Linux 5.6 cycle, “virtual DCN” support is coming in working on SR-IOV display support.

          For those interested in display-driven GPU virtualization, it looks like AMD is working on some improvements as we move into 2020.

          Catching our eye was support virtual DCN (Display Core Next) being queued for eventual landing in DRM-Next ahead of the Linux 5.6 merge window coming in just over one month.

    • Benchmarks

      • A Look At How Some Video Encoders Saw Their Performance Shift This Year With SVT AV1/VP9 Ascending

        Since March of this year I began benchmarking various open-source video encoders every other day in our lab. Here is a look at how Intel’s SVT encoders and other popular options saw their performance evolve over the course of the year.

        Over on LinuxBenchmarking.com are those bi-daily results for different video encoders built from Git sources on a variety of systems (including two more systems recently brought online). Over on LinuxBenchmarking.com is all the automatically updated data, more system information, and the historical figures, among other daily-ish benchmarks powered via the Phoronix Test Suite and OpenBenchmarking.org.

        While there have been requests for video encoder benchmarks on more systems and with some of the other video encoders and at different presets/configurations, unfortunately, resources are limited. LinuxBenchmarking.com isn’t ad-driven or receiving any other funding for doing these routine video encoder benchmarks. So due to hardware expenditures but mainly the associated ongoing electrical/cooling costs put a damper on making these video encode tests more interesting. But if you would like to see them improved, consider partaking in the Phoronix holiday special or making a PayPal tip and mentioning in the notes/comments about your interest in seeing more video encode tests so it can be earmarked appropriately. It’s tough enough as is operating the site due to ad-blocker users while extra gratis efforts like this video encode tracker would be among the first services to be cut otherwise as a result of those users.

    • Applications

      • Best Application Docks and Panels for Linux

        When it comes to customization of desktop functionality, look and feel, Linux users have got plenty of choice. The freedom to choose a desktop environment, file manager, terminal, icon packs, themes, applets, extensions etc. is one of the many perks of using a Linux distribution.

        This article will list various docks, panels and taskbar apps that allow you to tweak and improve multitasking experience on Linux. So let’s jump in.

      • My 35 most favorite Linux applications in 2019

        Time really flies! It is December again and the year is coming to an end. So for a lot of publishers, like bloggers, vloggers, news channels and magazines, it’s time for their yearly lists to look back on what happened, what was best or what was the most memorable in their past year. As a Linux blogger I look at and try out a lot of different software solutions and I always do my best to write useful and valuable reviews that help others in their decision making on software selection. Out of all the applications I try, many of these applications have my real preference over other applications and I therefore regularly use them for my personal tasks.

        It was only a couple of years ago that I completely switched to Linux and open source, after more than 10 years of being an enthusiastic macOS user. But due to defects in my Apple equipment at the time, I looked for alternative ways to solve my computer needs that were more financially friendly, but that also enabled me to escape from the somewhat stifling Apple ecosystem. So I’ve been using Linux for a number of years now as my main platform, but it was only halfway through 2018 I started my Linux-based website RealLinuxUser.com to write about Linux, Open Source and related applications and workflows. This website is just a hobby for me because I just love to write, but with more than 20,000 monthly visitors now from all over the world, I am glad to see a lot of Linux starters, switchers and enthusiasts, value the stuff I write and keep coming back. I thank you for that.

        So now that we are at the end of the year, it’s time to share my most favorite Linux applications that I used in 2019. These are all applications that I am very satisfied with and really use in a productive way frequently, at least on a weekly basis, but often on a daily basis. I hope you will find some inspiration from my list as well. Here are my 35 most favorite Linux applications in 2019.

      • Darktable 3 Released With GUI Rework and New Features

        Here’s the Christmas gift for the photography enthusiasts. Darktable 3.0 has just released.

        Darktable is one of the best applications for editing RAW images on Linux. You can consider it as a free and open source alternative to Adobe Lightroom.

        Darktable 3 is a major new release with tons of feature improvements and a complete rework of the user interface. The GUI is now completely controlled by GTK+ CSS rules, which makes the whole GUI themable. There are eight themes available by default.

        With the help of over 3000 commits and 553 pull requests, the new release has fixed 66 bugs and added many new features.

        Let’s see what features this new release brings.

      • Adam Williamson: In praise of WebAuthn

        I just got a Yubikey 5 and set it up on a bunch of things. You should too, because WebAuthn is awesome.

        Now the long version!

        Two-factor authentication has been a thing for a while now. You’re probably familiar with it in various forms. There’s SMS-based 2FA, commonly used by banks, where they text you a code you have to re-type when logging in. Then there are token/one-time-password based systems where you can use a hardware key like a Yubikey or a software authenticator like Google Authenticator or FreeOTP to generate and enter a one-time password when logging into a system.

        If you’re like I was yesterday, maybe you’ve got two Yubikeys on your keyring and another in a drawer somewhere and you have to remember which four systems you have set up on which slots on which key, and you’ve got FreeOTP as a backup.

        Maybe you’ve also kinda heard about “U2F” and had the vague idea that it sounded neat. And also maybe you’ve read some stuff about “WebAuthn” recently and thought it sounded maybe cool but also maybe confusing and what’s going on and maybe this isn’t the most important thing you could be figuring out today?

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • KIOFuse Beta (4.9.0) Released

          It’s a great pleasure to announce that KIOFuse finally has a Beta release available for testing! We encourage all who are interested to test and report any bugs or odd behaviour (and feature requests) to our bugzilla entry. You can find the repository here.

    • Distributions

      • New Releases

        • Simplicity Linux Base 20.1 Alpha: A little Christmas present!

          I made a little bet with myself last night. If I finished work early, I was going to use the time to fix a couple of nagging issues with a new version of Simplicity that I’ve been working on and release it. Normally I finish at 5:30pm. Today I finished at 1pm.

          Which is why I am releasing an Alpha of Simplicity Linux Gaming Edition. It comes with Steam, Vortex Cloud Gaming and OBS. I’ve been using it a lot lately, and today played Brawlhalla using Proton on this version. There are still a few issues with it, hence it being released as an Alpha rather than a Beta.

          I’m also releasing Simplicity Linux Base 20.1 Alpha. Base is the version I build on and modify to create the other versions. However, recently I’ve been using it as my daily desktop and have found that it works pretty well. So I decided to release it.

          You might also notice that I’m using BitBucket to store the ISOs. I’m not abandoning SourceForge, instead I am trying BitBucket and comparing them. I thought an Alpha release was a fairly safe way of trying it out and comparing features.

      • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • 12 open source resources for kids and young adults

        Are you looking to challenge your children (or even yourself) to learn new things about open source technologies? Whether you’re in elementary school, high school, or college, or even a parent or teacher, Opensource.com has some great reading about open source technologies suitable for the younger generation. Here are our top 12 articles from 2019 on open source for students (and those who love them).

        As a student, I had difficulty with the abstraction of mathematics. Traditional classroom instruction didn’t work for me. Peter Farrell has another approach for learners who are challenged by conventional mathematics instruction. His unique approach, which teaches math using Python, resonated with me when I interviewed him about how he is Hacking math education with Python.

      • How to run a business with open source: Top reads

        Open source is ready to get to work, and in 2019, Opensource.com had many great articles about how organizations have adopted open source software or open methods to drive their business. As open source matures, we’ve seen open source not just replace proprietary software, but create entirely new business models.

        Check out this list of five outstanding articles from Opensource.com in 2019 about running a business with open source.

      • Top 5 articles on the modern organization in 2019

        The open organization community at Opensource.com published more than 50 articles in 2019. That’s more than 50 new, openly licensed resources to help you explore the ways open principles are changing the way we work, manage, and lead in modern organizations.

      • Best of 2019: Fedora for developers

        With the end of the year approaching fast, it is a good time to look back at 2019 and go through the most popular articles on Fedora Magazine written by our contributors.

        In this article of the “Best of 2019” series, we are looking at developers and how to use Fedora to be a great developer workstation

      • Productivity Software/LibreOffice/Calligra

        • LibreOffice 6.4 nearly done as open-source office software project prepares for 10th anniversary

          The LibreOffice team is testing the first release candidate of version 6.4, which is set for release at the end of January.

          What’s new in version 6.4? There are numerous fresh features; most are small, but they do include the ability to insert QR codes into any document. The Generate QR Code feature lets you enter a hyperlink (or any text) and generate a QR code with four options for complexity. A low complexity is better for long URLs while high has better error correction if there are errors in reading.

          Another neat feature is called full sheet previews. This is for spreadsheets, and lets you specify that you want an entire sheet on one page in PDF export. In effect this is a “shrink to fit” option that is handy if you are frustrated to find that your spreadsheet has been broken into separate pages, ruining its appearance. If your sheet is hundreds of rows long though, it will be rendered unreadable, so use with caution.

          When you select all the rows in a table in a word processor document, and then choose Cut, should it cut all the text but leave the table? Or cut the table? LibreOffice used to do the former, but now does the latter. In Word it would do the former, unless you specifically “select table”. The new LibreOffice behaviour is probably what the user expects, but it is a tricky issue, particularly since if you select online one row and choose Cut, it only cuts the text, not the row. Table-editing controls have also been added to the Writer sidebar.

      • BSD

        • FreeBSD Along With The Other BSDs Had A Pretty Good Run This Decade

          While not attracting as much interest as Linux in the cloud, AI, and other growing markets, the BSDs have seen their share of adoption in many of these areas too as well as the likes of powering some of today’s video game consoles. FreeBSD is also well known for powering much of the networking infrastructure of Netflix and other large enterprises. The BSDs advanced a lot from hardware support to new security features and other capabilities this decade setting them on a good trajectory as we get into the 2020s.

          Though not many websites cover BSD news, on Phoronix during the 2010s we wrote more than 750 articles on their progress and that is not counting our many BSD benchmark articles with still seemingly being the only site or so serving widespread BSD benchmarks. With that said, below is a look at the most popular BSD news items on Phoronix during the 2010s for those wanting to relive those memories.

        • LLVM Began Its Dominance Of The Compiler Landscape This Decade

          Not only has LLVM’s Clang compiler proven to become a viable alternative to C/C++ and is now widely used by many different vendors for building production software and nearly at parity for performance to GCC, but the LLVM compiler infrastructure has proven to be a huge success. Beyond Apple as one of the original stakeholders, LLVM is also used by multiple software projects within Intel, AMD is making extensive use of it for their graphics compiler and other purposes, and many other companies leveraging the LLVM projects for various often innovative purposes — Microsoft is even using it within select projects.

        • LLVM Began Its Dominance Of The Compiler Landscape This Decade

          Not only has LLVM’s Clang compiler proven to become a viable alternative to C/C++ and is now widely used by many different vendors for building production software and nearly at parity for performance to GCC, but the LLVM compiler infrastructure has proven to be a huge success. Beyond Apple as one of the original stakeholders, LLVM is also used by multiple software projects within Intel, AMD is making extensive use of it for their graphics compiler and other purposes, and many other companies leveraging the LLVM projects for various often innovative purposes — Microsoft is even using it within select projects.

          Over the past ten years, or rather the past five years or so, LLVM has matured into an extremely successful open-source project on multiple levels. There are even some Linux distributions like OpenMandriva building their Linux software packages with it and succeeding for nearly their entire archive — as of this year, the Linux x86_64 kernel in Linux 5.3+ and Clang 9.0+ can even be built without out-of-tree patches or other extra steps.

      • FSF

        • GNU Projects

          • Eric S Raymond Believes Reposurgeon Is Finally Ready For Full & Correct GCC Conversion

            After many delays, and seemingly as a Christmas miracle, Eric S Raymond now believes his Reposurgeon utility is officially ready to convert GCC’s SVN repository over to Git.

            If you aren’t familiar with the long and drawn out process it’s taken for migrating GCC from SVN to Git given the size of the code-base and its long history, see this earlier article about the big task at hand and ultimately how multiple solutions were devised to cover the conversion process accurately. ESR has been on the task the longest with his Reposurgeon effort but it involved delays due to RAM prices, the decision to rewrite the code in Go rather than Python, and many other challenges along the way.

      • Programming/Development

        • My tmux setup

          I hope this post motivated you a little to have a look at tmux and maybe give it a try. With above tips applied, it shouldn’t be too painful to set up and get started.

        • JavaScript, Linux and R among most learned tech skills in 2019

          JavaScript, Linux and R were among the most learned technology skills in 2019, according to research from Pluralsight.

          Drawing on data from its users, as well as from job sites Indeed and Dice, the technical skills provider found that JavaScript was the most learned software development skill over the last year, alongside Linux, which was the most learned skill in IT ops, and R, which was the most learned skill in data.

          The top five software development skills learned over the past year were JavaScript, Java, HTML, Python and C++, with the top five IT operations skills being Linux, MacOS, HTTP, Ubuntu and Microsoft Windows.

        • Perl / Raku

          • 2019.51/2 Holidays!

            Vadim Belman as the headliner once again? Well, last week the news was that their work on roles of the past months was merged. This week, they blogged extensively about it! With a little introduction on how they got to work on this part of Raku, how it works with language versioning, and the introduction of the Rolified MRO. If you’re into Raku roles, a must read!

        • Python

          • Pipx: Installing, Uninstalling, & Upgrading Python Packages in Virtual Envs

            Pipx is a Python package management tool much like pip. This tool, on the other hand, enables us to install and run Python packages. What is really neat with pipx is that it installs the Python packages in an isolated virtual environment (see also pipenv). It will also let us run the Python packages without activating the environment. This means that we can install multiple versions of a Python package and still have access to it. Moreover, pipx enables us to run a Python package from a temporary environment.

          • Making trade-offs when writing Python code

            Reading code, by its nature, happens after the code has been added to the system. Often, it happens long after. Neglecting readability is the easiest choice since it does not hurt right now. Whatever the reason for adding new code—a painful bug or a highly requested feature—it does hurt. Right now.

            In the face of immense pressure to throw readability to the side and just “solve the problem,” the Zen of Python reminds us: readability counts. Writing the code so it can be read is a form of compassion for yourself and others.

          • PyCoder’s Weekly: Issue #400 (Dec. 24, 2019)

            In this intermediate-level course, you’ll take a deep dive into how to iterate through a dictionary in Python. Dictionaries are a fundamental data structure, and you’ll be able to solve a wide variety of programming problems by iterating through them.

          • Python 3.7.5 : Is Django the best web framework?

            This is the question for today in order to lineup the Django features with any web framework from my point of view.

        • Shell/Bash/Zsh/Ksh

          • Celebrate the holidays at your Bash prompt

            Are you on call today, or hiding in the back room to avoid being your family sysadmin over the holidays? Why not celebrate the holidays by adding some winter cheer to your Bash prompt?

            Your Bash prompt currently might be a simple dollar sign ($), or more likely, it’s something a little longer. If you’re not sure what makes up your Bash prompt right now, you can find it in an environment variable called $PS1.

  • Leftovers

    • A Bell Cuts Through the Noise

      Dressed in full-on 18th-century-style tricorn hats and bonnets, Freedom Trail tour guides can look out of place amid Boston’s skyscrapers and bumper-to-bumper traffic. They keep the city’s Revolutionary past alive, but in 21st-century conditions.

    • Thousands Mark Christmas in West Bank Town of Bethlehem

      Thousands of Christian pilgrims on Tuesday flocked to the West Bank town of Bethlehem, celebrating Christmas Eve in the traditional birthplace of Jesus.

    • ’1917′: A Cinematic Trip Through Hell

      In the spring of 1917, in the days following Operation Alberich, a strategic withdrawal by the German army to the heavily fortified Hindenburg Line dividing the French countryside, two soldiers are dispatched with a warning. They have only 24 hours to deliver orders to the Second Battalion, 1,600 strong, to cancel attack plans that unwittingly play into a German plot. This tale, reportedly told to filmmaker Sam Mendes by his paternal grandfather who fought in World War I, is the basis for his captivating cinematic reimagining, “1917.”

    • Science

      • Lifespan of Animals Is Written in Their DNA

        Humans have a “natural” lifespan of around 38 years, according to a new method we have developed for estimating the lifespans of different species by analysing their DNA.

        Extrapolating from genetic studies of species with known lifespans, we found that the extinct woolly mammoth probably lived around 60 years and bowhead whales can expect to enjoy more than two and a half centuries of life.

        Our research, published today in Scientific Reports, looked at how DNA changes as an animal ages—and found that it varies from species to species and is related to how long the animal is likely to live.

    • Health/Nutrition

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Security

          • 5 security tips from Santa

            If you’re reading this in 2019, it’s almost Christmas (as celebrated according to the Western Christian calendar), and, like all children and IT professionals, it’s time to write your letter to Santa/St. Nick/Father Christmas. Don’t forget: those who have been good get nice presents and those who haven’t get coal. Coal is not a clean-burning fuel, and with climate change well and truly upon us,1 you don’t want to be going for the latter option.

            Think back to all of the good security practices you’ve adopted over the past 11 or so months. And then think back to all of the bad security practices you’ve adopted when you should have been doing the right thing. Oh, dear. It’s not looking good for you, is it?

          • Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt/Fear-mongering/Dramatisation

            • Lazarus leverages Dacls Trojan to infect Windows and Linux systems [Ed: Does not deal with how such malicious software gets onto a system in the first place]

              Security experts from Netlab 360 have uncovered[1] a new Remote Access Trojan (RAT) used on Linux and Windows operating systems – currently being used in the wild by exploiting a known code execution vulnerability. Dubbed Dacls, the malware was in use since at least May this year and is attributed to the North Korean advanced persistent threat group Lazarus, also known as Hidden Cobra, Guardians of Peace, or Zinc.

              [...]

              As soon as malware is loaded, it will connect to its C2 server – it uses TLS and RC4 double-layer encryption while communicating with it. Additionally, Dacls uses AES to encrypt files that are used for malware’s configuration settings. Once established, RAT is capable of performing a variety of malicious activities on the compromised servers, including stealing sensitive information, importing and deleting files, stopping processes, accessing Log server, obtaining PID and PPID reports, and much more.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • When We Fail To Understand Privacy As A Set Of Trade-Offs, Everyone’s ‘Solutions’ Are Unhelpful

              Last week, Karl wrote up a fascinating post about a NY Times effort to use a dataset that a whistleblower at a data broker firm gave them to track the whereabouts of President Trump, by spotting the location data of what appears to be a Secret Service agent detailed to the President. Karl included two quotes from two different Senators in the article, and I found both of them amusing, as they both basically took the story and responded with their own “hobby horse” solution to the problem, even though neither one of them seemed to accurately understand or describe it:

            • Facebook Removes Accounts With AI-Generated Profile Photos

              Facebook on Friday removed what it called a global network of more than 900 accounts, pages, and groups from its platform and Instagram that allegedly used deceptive practices to push pro-Trump narratives to about 55 million users. The network used fake accounts, artificial amplification, and, notably, profile photos of fake faces generated using artificial intelligence to spread polarizing, predominantly right-wing content around the web, including on Twitter and YouTube.

              It represents an alarming new development in the information wars, as it appears to be the first large-scale deployment of AI-generated images in a social network. In a report on the influence operation, researchers from disinformation groups Graphika and DFRLab noted that this was the first time they had seen the technology used to support an inauthentic social media campaign.

            • Cloudflare Makes It Easier For All Its Users To Help Stop Child Porn Distribution

              We recently wrote about how Senators Lindsey Graham and Richard Blumenthal are preparing for FOSTA 2.0, this time focused on child porn — which is now being renamed as “Child Sexual Abuse Material” or “CSAM.” As part of that story, we highlighted that these two Senators and some of their colleagues had begun grandstanding against tech companies in response to a misleading NY Times article that seemed to blame internet companies for the rising number of reports to NCMEC of CSAM found on the internet, when that should be seen as more evidence of how much the companies are doing to try to stop CSAM.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • The Afghan War: A Failure Made in the USA

        The US-made mess in Afghanistan has much to do with its failed policies and shoot-first-ask-questions-later attitude.

      • Tweets About Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi “Dying Like a Dog” are no Joking Matter

        The media has been overflowing with wisecracks about the absurdity of Trump’s praise for the Belgian Malinois, Conan, one of several dogs used to hunt Isis founder and leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on October 26. On the one hand, Trump tweeted that the “wonderful,” “beautiful” and “talented” dog did a “GREAT JOB” and posted a photoshopped image of himself placing a medal around Conan’s neck with the caption, “AMERICAN HERO!” On November 25, he received Conan at the White House to honor him with a plaque and a medal, holding a press conference with the “brilliant” dog at his side. At the same time, Trump tweeted that Al-Baghdadi “died like a dog,” “whimpering and crying,” like other ISIS leaders who behaved like “frightened puppies” when killed. Reporters have pointed to the ridiculousness of Trump’s apparent obsession with dogs given his contamination phobias and the fact that he is the first U.S. president in one hundred and thirty years not to have one. But, as with so much of his discourse, Trump’s dog comments are no joking matter.

      • The US Approves Bill That May Legislate Hybrid Warfare on Venezuela

        On December 16 both houses in the US approved the appropriation bill to be signed by President Trump. Aside from the mind-boggling amount of $1.4 trillion that was approved in total our interest was in looking at the details concerning Venezuela.

      • A Feminist Alternative to Trump’s Chest Beating on Iran

        Foreign policy should prioritize the needs of ordinary civilians and civil society—and wars of choice should always be off the table.

      • The Christmas Truce of 1914: Proof that Peace is Possible

        As 1914 drew to a close, Europe had been at war for months. On the Western Front, opposing armies faced each other across a stalemated front line running from the North Sea to the Swiss border.  On December 24, 100,000 soldiers from both sides of that line decided to create some peace on Earth.

      • Indo-Pak Nuclear Confrontation: First Use Policy  & the Race towards Armageddon 
      • ‘A whole division, just watching through the windows’ Russian special forces veteran explains where the FSB’s response to last week’s shooter went wrong

        Police and federal agents needed more than an hour to subdue Evgeny Manyurov, the lone gunman who attacked the FSB headquarters in Moscow with an automatic firearm on the evening of December 19. As Meduza previously reported, some of the men injured in the shootout may have been wounded by friendly fire due to a lack of coordination among the different law-enforcement agencies. Meduza investigative correspondent Maxim Solopov asked Dmitry Tselyakov, an ex-member of the “Whirlwind” KGB and “Alpha” FSB units, to study what we know about last week’s incident and explain why security officials did what they did.

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Environment

    • Finance

      • How Trump Has Betrayed the Working Class

        The consequences of Trump’s and the Republicans’ excessive corporate giveaways and their failure to improve the lives of ordinary working Americans are becoming clearer by the day.

      • After the Argentina Debacle, the IMF Endorses Weakening Capital Controls in Ecuador

        Over the past year, a rebranded International Monetary Fund (IMF) returned to Latin America with promises of loan agreements that would be different than the dreaded “structural adjustment programs” of the past. Behind statements about inclusive growth and protecting the most vulnerable, are policies similarto the structural adjustments of the Washington Consensus era. While the Argentina program has already imploded, leaving behind soaring poverty and a collapsed economy, the IMF seems determined to push forward its agreement with Ecuador.

      • Robert Reich: Trump Has One Glaring Weakness

        For a century the GOP has been bankrolled by big business and Wall Street. Trump wants to keep the money rolling in. His signature tax cut, two years old last Sunday, has helped U.S. corporations score record profits and the stock market reach all-time highs. To spur even more corporate generosity for the 2020 election, Trump is suggesting more giveaways. Chief of staff Mick Mulvaney recently told an assemblage of CEOs that Trump wants to “go beyond” his 2017 tax cut.

      • What It Looks Like When a Hospital We Investigated Erases $11.9 Million in Medical Debt

        When Danielle Robinson got a letter in the mail from Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare in October, she braced herself.

        She’d missed a court-ordered payment to the hospital after she was laid off from her job in September.

      • A Half-Million Chicago Drivers Have Unpaid Sticker Tickets, but Only 11,400 Applied for the City’s Relief Program

        Only a small fraction of the half-million Chicago motorists with debt from unpaid city sticker tickets signed up for an amnesty program that ended this month.

        City officials said about 11,400 people applied for some $11.6 million in debt forgiveness by the Dec. 15 deadline. When the debt relief program was unveiled in September, city officials said some 500,000 motorists with $500 million in unpaid city sticker tickets stood to benefit.

      • Blueface Accused of Humiliating Homeless People

        Rapper Blueface is being accused of humiliating homeless people after he threw a large wad of cash at them from his car in Los Angeles’ infamous Skid Row, in an apparent publicity stunt gone awry.

      • Thirty-Two Jurisdictions Will Raise Wages to or Above $15 in 2020

        The federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 an hour for more than a decade due to continued inaction by Congress, but a record 72 jurisdictions across the U.S. are raising their minimum wage floors in 2020 in response to grassroots pressure led by the Fight for $15 movement.

      • Bloomberg Campaign Calls Made by Those Behind Bars

        Fundraising phone calls are the bane of many campaigns’ (and voters’) existence. When it comes to wooing the wealthiest donors, elected officials typically complain about the amount of time spent soliciting funds. “There have been decades and decades of members of Congress losing their lives to ‘dialing for dollars,’ ” Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, a law professor at Stetson University who studies political fundraising, told Marketplace in March.

      • Mariah Carey Sued By Former Nanny Over ‘Severe Emotional Distress’

        A former nanny for Mariah Carey is suing the pop star, alleging ‘severe emotional distress.’

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Obama Insider Confirms Former President Ready to Back Whoever Wins 2020 Nomination—Even Bernie Sanders

        “Whoever emerges from the primary process, I will work my tail off to make sure that they are the next president.”

      • Despite Vow Not to Probe Billionaire Owner’s 2020 Rivals, Bloomberg News Runs ‘Ridiculous Hit Piece’ on Warren and Sanders

        “Hit pieces on progressive candidates become questionable when run by a news outlet owned by one of their rivals. This as much as anything shows why Bloomberg must sell Bloomberg News.”

      • On Hijacking History

        Here’s the question at hand — and I guarantee you that you’ll read it here first: Is Donald Trump the second or even possibly the third 9/11? Because truly, he has to be one or the other.

      • ‘Not Mere Misers, But Actively Cruel’: Trump’s GOP Denounced as Worse Than Scrooge on Christmas Eve

        “We’d be in much better shape if Trump and company were merely heartless misers. What they really are is much, much worse.”

      • Biden’s New Endorsement Reflects Battle for Latino Support

        Joe Biden’s presidential bid got a boost Monday from one of the leading Latinos in Congress, with the chairman of the Hispanic Caucus’ political arm endorsing the former vice president as Democrats’ best hope to defeat President Donald Trump.

      • India Under Modi Is Becoming a Brutal Authoritarian State

        Modi’s Hindutva populism, backed by naked threats against India’s Muslim minority and the suppression of dissent, is crashing India’s economy and its democracy.

      • Where Is the Outrage Over Boris Johnson?

        So imagine you heard someone say or write about Jews as people who control the media, being shady business people, greedy, who exploited immigrant labor, and hurdled around the red-light district looking for “a bit of black.” Who also, let me quote from this, “Some kind of fiddling of the figures in an election by oligarchs of Jewish origin.”

      • The Dream is Over: How Boris Johnson Won the UK Election

        After the shock and the grief comes reflection. After reflection comes renewed determination. But under Britain’s sham of a democracy, the public won’t get the chance to remove the vile creature put into No. 10 by 14 million or so voters for at least five years; and even then, a government has the legal right to seek a general election prior to the five-year period if it is doing well in the public opinion polls, effectively giving itself long-term reign. The defeated Labour party’s forthcoming decision will be fateful. With Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership position now untenable, will the party members elect another Blairite (i.e., someone to the right of the party and the voting public) amid the media clamor of “we told you so,” in reference to Corbyn’s dangerous “radicalism” (read: centrism). Or will they elect a Corbynista to lead the party into the next general election and stick to the principles of democratic-socialism, at least to a degree?

      • ‘Like Something Made by a High Schooler’: Trump Campaign Unveils Snowflake-Destroyer-Machine for Holiday Gatherings

        “Nothing says Merry Christmas like hurling insults at relatives.”

      • Jackie Fielder: Meet the Young Indigenous Activist Running for California’s State Senate

        Jackie Fielder, a member of the Three Affiliated Tribes, is only 25, but she’s been pretty busy for the past few years. Fielder is an activist who has campaigned against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline; helped organize public banking efforts in San Francisco; and worked to defeat a city initiative that would loosen taser use for police in the Bay Area. She’s also authored several pieces for Teen Vogue about her activist work.

        Now, she’s adding another point to her résumé: running to represent San Francisco in the California state Senate. Teen Vogue caught up with Jackie to talk about how her environmental activism and her experience with homelessness are informing her campaign, and the inspiration she’s drawing from other young politicians.

        This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

      • Former GOP Michigan congressman says Trump is unfit for office

        Former Michigan Rep. Dave Trott (R) called President Trump unfit for office and said, based on the president’s behavior, he would now consider voting for a Democrat.

      • Readers respond to our November 2019 issue and more.

        Trump is psychologically, morally, intellectually, and emotionally unfit for office. We can only hope Congress impeaches and removes him so we have a choice between two adults in 2020.

        Dave Trott
        Former Republican Member of the House of Representatives
        Birmingham, Mich.

      • Twitter removes 88K accounts tied to Saudi Arabia

        Twitter on Friday announced that it had taken down more than 88,000 accounts linked to Saudi Arabia, citing concerns they were involved in spreading misinformation and spam.

        The company wrote in a blog post that it is adding data and information on almost 6,000 of the accounts to its public archive of state-backed information campaigns.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Russian anti-corruption campaigner disappears following police searches, reappears as army draftee on Arctic island

        Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) employee Ruslan Shaveddinov has been forcibly drafted into Russia’s military. Leonid Volkov, the chief of staff for FBK founder Alexey Navalny, first reported Shaveddinov’s disappearance. Navalny himself soon posted a video on Twitter that showed law-enforcement officers putting the activist into a minibus. Navalny said at first that Shaveddinov was being taken to “somewhere in Arkhangelsk,” a region in Russia’s extreme northwest. Military service is mandatory for young men in Russia, but avoiding service through education or other means is common.

      • 21-year-old protester convicted of throwing plastic bottle toward police is set free in Moscow
      • Media Company Bans Christmas Song from Retail Playlists

        A media company responsible for music at thousands of U.S. businesses has banned the song “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” from its playlists because the song’s lyrics refers to guns.

      • Imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi begins hunger strike

        Saudi blogger Raif Badawi and his lawyer, both imprisoned for years, have started a hunger strike to protest against their isolation and treatment at Dhahban Prison, near Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.

        The information was made public by Badawi’s Canadian lawyer, Irwin Cotler, of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights.

        In a statement released late Wednesday, Cotler said the two men are behind bars for promoting freedom of expression and human rights in Saudi Arabia.

      • USCIRF Calls for Immediate Release of Saudi Blogger Raif Badawi

        The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) condemns Saudi Arabia’s intensified mistreatment of religious prisoner of conscience Raif Badawi. The Saudi government has moved Badawi to solitary confinement and he has declared a hunger strike in protest. This is Badawi’s second hunger strike since September 2019. Saudi Arabia arrested Badawi in 2012 on charges of “apostasy” and insulting Islam. USCIRF has advocated for Saudi Arabia to release him since 2013 and has recommended that Congress and the administration continue do the same in its 2019 annual report.

      • Jailed for seven years, Canada to press the case of human rights blogger Raif Badawi with Saudi Arabia

        Canada’s new foreign affairs minister is raising fresh concerns about two human rights advocates jailed in a Saudi Arabian prison who have begun hunger strikes, among them Raif Badawi, whose wife and three children live in Canada.

        Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne, speaking after attending an international human rights conference in Berlin and travelling to Egypt this week, told reporters he intends to raise Badawi’s case with his Saudi Arabian counterpart in the next two weeks.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Monopolies

      • Tax Amazon: Strike While the Iron is Hot

        The history of American capitalism is full of corporate bullying, threats and even violence against working people when we stand up for our rights.

      • Sanders and Omar Call on OSHA to Release Amazon’s Injury Records

        Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota are calling on the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration to provide injury records for all Amazon facilities, citing an investigation by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting.

      • Former Uber CEO Kalanick Severs Ties With Ride-Hailing Giant

        Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is resigning from the board of directors, severing ties to the ride-hailing company that he co-founded a decade ago and ran until a series of scandals led to his downfall.

      • Travis Kalanick is leaving Uber’s board of directors

        Kalanick’s last day will be December 31, 2019, after which time he’ll focus on his “new business and philanthropic endeavors.” This is likely a reference to his new startup, CloudKitchens, which he has bragged will be “bigger than Uber,” according to reporting by The Information. He will have sold all his shares in Uber by Thursday, exiting his holding in Uber entirely, The New York Times reported. According to Financial Times, Kalanick has now sold all of his Uber stock.

      • Uber’s Travis Kalanick to Leave Board to Focus on New Business

        Along with co-founder Garrett Camp, Kalanick started Uber in 2009, building the company up from an experimental black car service in San Francisco to a global transportation and logistics company, offering food delivery, freight shipping, helicopter rides and ushering in a new era of work. But he was ousted as CEO in June 2017 following months of chaos and controversy. Detractors pointed to his aggressive and sometimes reckless management style as breeding a toxic workplace hostile to women and overseeing morally questionable company programs including some that intentionally deceived regulators and law enforcement agencies and spied on riders.

      • Patents

        • Patent Case Summaries

          The Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision upholding a jury verdict that Hospira infringed Amgen’s patent relating to erythropoietin (EPO) and that Amgen was entitled to $70 million in damages.

          After Hospira submitted a Biologics License Application to the FDA directed to a biosimilar of Amgen’s Epogen product, Amgen sued Hospira for infringement of two patents. A jury awarded Amgen $70 million in damages for Hospira’s infringement of one of the patents. Hospira filed post-trial motions relating to the jury’s findings of infringement, no invalidity, the Safe Harbor provisions of 35 U.S.C. § 271(e)(1), and damages, and Amgen filed post-trial motions relating to the jury’s finding of noninfringement of the second patent. The district court denied all of the motions.

          The Federal Circuit affirmed as to all issues. First, regarding infringement of the first patent, the Federal Circuit determined that substantial evidence supported the jury verdict of infringement of claim 27 because, although claim 27 references claim 1 and although Amgen did not mention claim 1 at trial, “the jury heard evidence on whether Hospira’s process met the limitations of claim 1.” The Federal Circuit also rejected Hospira’s claim construction challenge that attempted “to limit claim 27 to one embodiment based on [the inventor’s] testimony.” The court was also not persuaded by Hospira’s argument that a prior art reference (Lai) anticipated the asserted claims because, according to the Federal Circuit, Lai “does not expressly disclose EPO isoforms with a predetermined in vivo specific activity.”

          Regarding the Safe Harbor provisions of § 271(e)(1), the Federal Circuit disagreed with Hospira’s argument that the jury instructions “improperly focused on Hospira’s intent for manufacturing batches of EPO.” The “jury instructions properly asked whether each act of manufacture … was for uses reasonably related to submitting information to the FDA.” The Federal Circuit also upheld the jury’s finding that only a subset of Hospira’s EPO batches was within the Safe Harbor. Hospira had manufactured some batches of EPO that were not required for FDA approval, and some batches were for commercial inventory.

        • Patent case: Biologische Abwasserklärung, Germany

          The appeal on a point of law, for which no leave was granted by the Federal Patent Court, was held admissible, because the grounds of appeal under §100 III 3 and 6 PatG were invoked. However, it was unsuccessful on the merits, since the deficiencies asserted by the patentee – namely that the decision was based on a violation of their right to be heard and lacked sufficient reasoning – were not present.

        • China Patent: SPC IP Tribunal holds first joint hearing on patent validity and infringement disputes

          The two actions arose out of a patent infringement dispute between the plaintiff, Xiamen Power Electronic Technology Co., Ltd. (“Power Electronics”), and the defendant, LG Electronics (Tianjin) Appliances Co., Ltd. (“LG Electronics”). Power Electronics owns CN Patent No. 201220203855.0 (“the ’855 Patent”), which is related to the structure of an over-temperature protection circuit.

          Power Electronics brought a lawsuit against LG Electronics for infringement of the ’855 Patent before the Hangzhou Intermediate Court (“trial court”). In response, LG Electronics initiated an invalidation action before the Patent Re-examination Board (PRB), challenging the validity of the ’855 Patent. The trial court made a non-infringement ruling and Power Electronics appealed before the SPC IP Tribunal. Meanwhile, LG Electronics disagreed with the PRB’s decision that affirmed the validity of the ’855 Patent issued, first appealing before the Beijing IP Court, where it lost, then appealed before the SPC IP Tribunal. The SPC IP Tribunal decided to hold a joint hearing as LG Electronics alleged that Power Electronics made different claim interpretations in the infringement and invalidation proceedings, respectively.

          [...]

          In the present case, the SPC IP Tribunal decided to consolidate and hear the two appeals together. The tribunal held a pretrial claim construction hearing, similar to the US Markman hearing, in which the judges heard each party’s arguments on the interpretation of claims at issue and addressed the different claim constructions presented by the patentee in the infringement and invalidity proceedings.

          Perhaps the most valuable information to be gleaned from the case is that the SPC IP Tribunal has clarified that the same claim construction standard shall apply in both invalidation and infringement proceedings, thereby bringing greater certainty to the patent system.

          The unique facts of the Power Electronics v. LG Electronics decision are that the appeal of the trial court decision and the appeal of the PRB decision reached the SPC IP Tribunal at the same time such that the two appeals could be heard and decided together. As mentioned earlier, most cases that could not be consolidated were due to different timings. To address this issue, the SPC IP Tribunal has confirmed that different appeals relating to the same patent will be assigned to the same SPC panel, or to the same judge, where feasible.

          The outcome of this case and the SPC setting up mechanisms to allow more coordinated handling of the invalidation and infringement proceedings are positive signs towards improved patent protection in China. With China evolving as a top forum for patent litigation, with sufficient preparation and modernized strategic goals, patent owners can look forward to a more centralized, better-managed and less skewed patent legal system.

        • Software Patents

          • Representative Danny K. Davis Introduces ”Inventor Rights Act” [Ed: Latest ploy by patent maximalists to lower patent quality and bring rise to more frivolous lawsuits]

            Last year, Judge Illston gifted patentees with a proverbial lump of coal with her decision in Illumina, Inc. v. Ariosa Diagnostics, Inc. by invalidating on summary judgment claims directed to methods for isolating cell-free fetal DNA from maternal DNA on the grounds that they are not patent-eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101. On December 19, Rep. Danny K. Davis (IL-7), joined by Congressman Paul A. Gosar (AZ-04), introduced a bill that is more like a Christmas gift for inventors, entitled the Inventor Rights Act (H.R. 5478).

          • Time to Save Alice: 2019 in Review

            All too often, software patents stop more innovation than they promote. Patents are legal instruments that can be used to sue people and companies for creating, selling, or using software. Very often, the entities wielding software patents are “patent trolls”—companies that make money off suing and threatening to sue others instead of building or doing anything of their own.

            We’ve been advocating against problematic patents, particularly in software, for many years. In the past few years, it’s fair to say that patent trolls have been down—but not out. Two big changes that happened several years ago have made it realistic, finally, to get bad patents kicked out of the system. The first is the creation of the inter partes review system, in 2012; and next, the Supreme Court’s Alice v. CLS Bank decision, in 2014.

      • Copyrights

        • Dutch Filmworks Takes Quest to Identify Alleged Pirates to the Supreme Court

          Film distribution company Dutch FilmWorks is continuing its legal battle to identify BitTorrent pirates. The company is now taking its case against Internet provider Ziggo, where it requests the personal details of subscribers connected to 377 IP-addresses, to the Supreme Court.

        • Hive-CM8 is Looking For Frozen 2 and Star Wars Screeners

          With the infamous pirate release group Hive-CM8 appearing once again, ‘screener season’ is in full swing. The group previously promised not to upset Hollywood too much, but it isn’t shying away from major releases. In the group’s most recent release notes, it specifically requests access to some major titles, including Frozen 2 and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

        • Crisis Looms as YouTube Faces Permanent Blocking by Russian ISPs

          Both YouTube and Yandex’s video platforms are edging dangerously close to being permanently blocked by ISPs in Russia. The Moscow City Court has upheld a complaint from publisher Eksmo and has ordered the services to remove pirated audiobook content. However, anti-piracy group AZAPI says it is preparing other cases too and if they are successful, “we can insist on the eternal blocking of Yandex.video and YouTube in Russia.”

        • Dear Americans: Be Very, Very Afraid Of The EU’s New Copyright Rules

          Former MEP Julia Reda, who lead the fight to block the problematic parts of the EU Copyright Directive (and who came very close to succeeding against huge odds, but eventually lost) has published a really important piece for the Berkman Klein Center at Harvard about why the new Copyright Directive should terrify every American who recognizes the importance of an open internet. First off, these laws mostly target American companies — many of which may just choose to follow the new EU rules globally.

        • Michael Jackson Estate, Disney Settle Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

          A federal court in Los Angeles has approved a settlement in a dispute between Disney and the estate of Michael Jackson, which related to the use of the late singer’s songs, music videos and live footage in a documentary.

        • Katy Perry Slapped With a $20,000 Fee Following $2.79M Copyright Loss

          After getting hit with a massive, $2.79 million copyright infringement fine for infringing upon the work for Christian rapper Flame, Katy Perry is now getting stuck with a $20,000 bill for court costs.

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