01.16.20

Links 16/1/2020: Mozilla Layoffs, PinePhone Braveheart Shipping, KDE Plasma 5.18 LTS Reaches Beta

Posted in News Roundup at 6:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Desktop/Laptop

      • Kubuntu Focus Offers The Most Polished KDE Laptop Experience We’ve Seen Yet

        As we mentioned back in December, a Kubuntu-powered laptop is launching with the blessing of Canonical and the Kubuntu Community Council. That laptop, the Kubuntu Focus, will begin shipping at the beginning of February while the pre-orders opened today as well as the embargo lift. We’ve been testing out the Kubuntu Focus the last several weeks and it’s quite a polished KDE laptop experience for those wanting to enjoy KDE Plasma for a portable computing experience without having to tweak the laptop for optimal efficiency or other constraints.

      • Kubuntu Focus Linux Laptop Is Now Available for Pre-Order, Ships Early February

        The previously announced Kubuntu Focus Linux laptop is now available for pre-order and has a shipping date and a price tag for those who want a premium computer.

        Unveiled last month during the Christmas holidays, the Kubuntu Focus laptop is a collaboration between Kubuntu, Tuxedo Computers, and MindShareManagement Inc., and it aims to be the first-ever officially recognized Kubuntu Linux laptop targeted mainly at gamers, power users, and developers.

        Kubuntu Focus is a premium and very powerful device that comes pre-installed with the latest Kubuntu release, an official Ubuntu flavor featuring the KDE Plasma Desktop environment, some of the most popular Open Source software, and astonishing hardware components.

        Today, Kubuntu announced on Twitter that the Kubuntu Focus laptop is now available for pre-order with a price tag starting at $2,395.00 USD for the base model, which features 32GB of RAM, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 graphics card, and one power supply, but the laptop can go for up to $3,665.00 USD.

    • Server

      • Edge AI server packs in a 16-core Cortex-A72 CPU plus up to 32 i.MX8M SoCs and 128 NPUs

        SolidRun’s “Janux GS31 AI Inference Server” runs Linux on its CEx7 LX2160A Type 7 module equipped with NXP’s 16-core Cortex-A72 LX2160A. The system also supplies up to 32 i.MX8M SoCs for video and up to 128 Grylfalcon Lightspeeur 2803 NPUs via multiple “Snowball” modules.

        When people talk about edge AI servers, they might be referring to some of the high-end embedded systems we regularly cover here at LinuxGizmos or perhaps something more server-like such as SolidRun’s rackmount form factor Janux GS31 AI Inference Server. The system would generally exceed the upper limits of our product coverage, but it’s a particularly intriguing beastie. The Janux GS31 is based on a SolidRun CEx7 LX2160A COM Express Type 7 module, which also powers the SolidRun HoneyComb LX2K networking board that we covered in June.

      • IBM

        • CentOS Linux 8 (1911) Released: Free/Community Version Of RHEL 8.1

          Just four months after the release of first CentOS 8 series based on the Red Hed Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 8 source code, the second CentOS Linux 8 (1911) was released on Jan 15, 2020.

          If you’re aware, CentOS is the “community version” of RHEL. The current release for CentOS 8, tagged as 1911, is derived from RHEL 8.1 source code, which is fully compatible with the upstream product.

        • Red Hat ups its OpenShift Kubernetes hybrid-cloud game

          When they’re not working on Linux, Red Hat is making it darn clear that job one is the hybrid cloud by way of Kubernetes. In its latest steps to support this, Red Hat is releasing its Kubernetes-based Red Hat OpenShift 4.3 and Red Hat OpenShift Container Storage 4 to provide multi-cloud Kubernetes container support.

          OpenShift 4.3 is based on Kubernetes 1.16. Red Hat supports customer upgrades from OpenShift 4.2 to 4.3.

          Building on last fall’s developer-friendly OpenShift 4.2, the new OpenShift release brings stronger platform security to Red Hat’s Kubernetes take. Specifically, it brings the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) compliant encryption (FIPS 140-2 Level 1) to OpenShift. FIPS validated cryptography is mandatory for US federal departments that encrypt sensitive data.

        • Huawei has created an alternative to Android and Windows: the project openEuler

          A trade war between the US and Huawei has forced Chinese companies to look for a replacement Android, the license of which was revoked by Google. In the summer of 2019 mobile giant from China has introduced Harmony OS – the concept of a universal operating system for mobile devices, including smartphones, TVs and even wearable electronics. On the weekend unexpectedly Huawei has introduced another OS – openEuler.

          [...]

          It is worth noting that at this point in the project repositories, there was no documentation in languages other than Chinese. Wishing to establish openEulear yourself you can use an. ISO file (3.2 GB), but all the documentation is available in Chinese only.

          We will remind that earlier smartphones Huawei promised to ban in Google and lock your apps. Also Huawei has introduced a smartphone Mate 30 without the support of Google.

        • Google Cloud Now Offering IBM Power SystemsGoogle Cloud Now Offering IBM Power Systems

          With this, customers can now run IBM Power Systems as a service on Google Cloud—whether they are using AIX, IBM i, or Linux on IBM Power.

        • Crafting a future-proof application environment across the hybrid cloud

          Modern information technology (IT) success requires the right investment in infrastructure and tooling. Beyond the tooling, however, the real benchmark for accomplishment lies in the successful development, deployment and operation of applications that power an organization. Ultimately the applications are what drive value to customers, partners and employees.

          The challenge for IT becomes how to combine available technologies to empower development teams to do their work and successfully operate the resulting applications.

          Thinking of the overall organizational IT capacity as an application environment that spans the various cloud locations, on-premises resources and technologies deployed seems daunting. However, it provides a very useful lens through which to look at long term IT strategy.

        • The Red Hat Edge: How Red Hat OpenStack Platforms Delivers the Potential for Nearly 600 Percent ROI

          To conduct this study, IDC interviewed eight organizations asking survey respondents a mix of quantitative and qualitative questions about the impact that Red Hat OpenStack Platform has had on their IT operations, businesses and cost of deploying private cloud services. Interviewees encompassed the financial services, manufacturing, financial technology, information technology, medical research, automotive, education and healthcare sectors.

        • Red Hat Summit 2020 flash sale: get your hoodie before it’s gone!

          Planning to go to Red Hat Summit this year? You don’t want to miss the industry’s premier enterprise open source technology conference, and it’s coming up fast! We’ve got an added incentive for you to sign up today, until end of day January 23 or we run out, we’re giving a special bonus to folks who register for Red Hat Summit.

          Through January 23rd or until we’ve moved through our limited quantity (whichever comes first), those who register for Red Hat Summit will get an exclusive Red Hat Summit hoodie with their Summit registration. We expect these to go fast, so don’t hesitate to register today and take advantage of the flash sale to get Early Bird Red Hat Summit pricing and a little something extra.

        • OpenShift Container Storage 4: Introduction to Ceph

          This Blog will go through Ceph fundamental knowledge for a better understanding of the underlying storage solution used by Red Hat OpenShift Container Storage 4.

        • New and improved Topology view for OpenShift 4.3

          The Topology view in the Red Hat OpenShift console’s Developer perspective is a thoughtfully designed interface that provides a visual representation of an application’s structure. This view helps developers clearly identify one resource type from another, as well as understand the overall communication dynamics within the application. Launched with the 4.2 release of OpenShift, the Topology view has already earned a spotlight in the cloud-native application development arena. The constant feedback cycles and regular follow-ups on the ongoing trends in the developer community have helped to shape up a great experience in the upcoming release. This article focuses on a few showstopper features in the Topology view that were added for OpenShift 4.3.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • FLOSS Weekly 562: Kong

        Kong delivers a next-generation API and service lifecycle management platform designed for modern architectures, including microservices, containers, cloud and serverless. Offering high flexibility, scalability, speed and performance, Kong enables developers and Global 5000 enterprises to reliably secure, connect and orchestrate microservice APIs for modern applications.

      • 2020-01-15 | Linux Headlines

        We say goodbye to a community member, the latest Vulkan update is looking great, while GitHub, IBM, and CentOS all have announcements.

      • 2020-01-16 | Linux Headlines

        Mozilla faces difficult choices after a major layoff, a new release of PyTorch adds long-awaited Java support, GNU Guile sees a significant speedup, and the LLVM community debates the future of decision making for the project.

      • The Linux Link Tech Show Episode 840

        nest, home, dan horror story

      • Compromised Cameras | Self-Hosted 10

        Wyze and Xiaomi suffer major cloud hosted blunders, so Alex tells us about his new fully offline camera secuirty system, tied into Shinobi.

        Plus Chris gets ready for Project Off-Grid’s solar upgrade, our new favorite self-hosted SpeedTest app, and a Ring alternative.

      • Unix keyboard joy | BSD Now 333

        Your Impact on FreeBSD in 2019, Wireguard on OpenBSD Router, Amazon now has FreeBSD/ARM 12, pkgsrc-2019Q4, The Joys of UNIX Keyboards, OpenBSD on Digital Ocean, and more.

    • Kernel Space

      • A medley of performance-related BPF patches

        BPF programs cannot run until they are “attached” to a specific call point. Tracing programs are attached to tracepoints, while networking express data path (XDP) programs are attached to a specific network device. In general, more than one program can be attached at any given location. When it comes time to run attached programs, the kernel will work through a linked list and invoke each program in turn.

        Actually executing a compiled BPF program is done with an indirect jump. Such jumps were never entirely fast, but in the age of speculative-execution vulnerabilities those jumps have been turned into retpolines — a construct that defeats a number of Spectre attacks, but which also turns indirect jumps into something that is far slower than they were before. For cases where BPF programs are invoked frequently, such as for every incoming network packet, that extra overhead hurts.

        There have been a number of efforts aimed at reducing the retpoline performance penalty in various parts of the kernel. The BPF dispatcher patch set is Björn Töpel’s approach to the problem for BPF programs, and for the XDP use case in particular. It maintains a machine-code trampoline containing a direct jump instruction for every attached BPF program; this trampoline must be regenerated whenever a program is added to or removed from the list. When the time comes to call a BPF program, the trampoline is invoked with the address of the program of interest; it then executes a binary search to find the direct-jump instruction corresponding to that program. The jump is then executed, causing the desired program to be run.

        That may seem like a lot of overhead to replace an indirect call, but it is still faster than using a retpoline — by a factor of about three, according to the performance result posted with the patch series. In fact, indirect jumps are so expensive that the dispatcher is competitive even in the absence of retpolines, so it is enabled whether retpolines are in use or not. This code is in its fifth revision and seems likely to make its way into the mainline before too long.

      • Removing the Linux /dev/random blocking pool

        The random-number generation facilities in the kernel have been reworked some over the past few months—but problems in that subsystem have been addressed over an even longer time frame. The most recent changes were made to stop the getrandom() system call from blocking for long periods of time at system boot, but the underlying cause was the behavior of the blocking random pool. A recent patch set would remove that pool and it would seem to be headed for the mainline kernel.

        Andy Lutomirski posted version 3 of the patch set toward the end of December. It makes “two major semantic changes to Linux’s random APIs”. It adds a new GRND_INSECURE flag to the getrandom() system call (though Lutomirski refers to it as getentropy(), which is implemented in glibc using getrandom() with fixed flags); that flag would cause the call to always return the amount of data requested, but with no guarantee that the data is random. The kernel would just make its best effort to give the best random data it has at that point in time. “Calling it ‘INSECURE’ is probably the best we can do to discourage using this API for things that need security.”

        The patches also remove the blocking pool. The kernel currently maintains two pools of random data, one that corresponds to /dev/random and another for /dev/urandom, as described in this 2015 article. The blocking pool is the one for /dev/random; reads to that device will block (thus the name) until “enough” entropy has been gathered from the system to satisfy the request. Further reads from that file will also block if there is insufficient entropy in the pool.

      • Oracle, OpenZFS respond to Linus Torvalds saying ‘Don’t use ZFS’ from @Lunduke on LBRY.tv
      • Oracle, OpenZFS respond to Linus Torvalds saying ‘Don’t use ZFS’

        The reporting around his comments — coming from a wide array of news outlets (some Linux-centric, others less so) — has been heavy on opinion… but light on commentary from the key parties involved.

        In fact, I have yet to see a single article on this topic where the journalist has reached out to the folks that own ZFS (Oracle) or the maintainers of OpenZFS (which was forked from an earlier, open source version of ZFS).

        Let’s correct that.

    • Benchmarks

      • Intel’s Mitigation For CVE-2019-14615 Graphics Vulnerability Obliterates Gen7 iGPU Performance

        Yesterday we noted that the Linux kernel picked up a patch mitigating an Intel Gen9 graphics vulnerability. It didn’t sound too bad at first but then seeing Ivy Bridge Gen7 and Haswell Gen7.5 graphics are also affected raised eyebrows especially with that requiring a much larger mitigation. Now in testing the performance impact, the current mitigation patches completely wreck the performance of Ivybridge/Haswell graphics performance.

        The vulnerability being discussed and analyzed this week is CVE-2019-14615. This CVE still hasn’t been made public over 24 hours later (though there are the Intel SA-00314 details for this disclosure), but from going through kernel patches and other resources, it certainly caught our interest right away and have been benchmarking it since yesterday evening. The CVE-2019-14615 vulnerability amounts to a new information disclosure issue due to insufficient control flow in certain data structures. Local access is required for exploiting this control flow issue in the hardware, but it’s not yet known/published if say WebGL within web browsers could exploit this issue. This is a hardware issue with all operating systems being affected. Our testing today, of course, is under Linux.

    • Applications

      • broot Is An Interactive Treeview Directory Navigation Tool For The Command Line

        broot is an interactive command line tool written in Rust for navigating directories using a tree view and fuzzy search. It also incorporates a ncdu like disk usage mode.

        The tool is inspired by the tree command (which is not interactively searchable though, and doesn’t act as a launcher) and the excellent fzf command line fuzzy finder, allowing users to navigate to a directory and locate a particular file with the minimum amount of keystrokes.

        It runs on Linux, macOS and Windows. There are some rough edges on Windows though – some things need fixing, and it’s quite slow on Windows for now. It works great and it’s very fast on Linux though (and I assume macOS, although I don’t own a Mac so I didn’t try it).

      • VokoscreenNG – Vokoscreen Screencaster Rewritten From Scratch

        VokoscreenNG, open-source screen recording software formerly called Vokoscreen, released its first stable version days ago.

        Vokoscreen 2.5 is the last version with ffmpeg and will not more continue developed. The new VokoscreenNG, which is based of Qt and GStreamer, has been rewritten from scratch with new modern UI. And it works on Linux and Windows.

        VokoscreenNG so far does not provide any binary packages, though Linux binary Appimage and Flatpak package were requested. At the moment, you can build the software from the source.

      • Kubic with Kubernetes 1.17.0 released

        The Kubic Project is proud to announce that Snapshot 20200113 has just been released containing Kubernetes 1.17.0.

        This is a particually exciting release with Cloud Provider Labels becoming a GA-status feature, and Volume Snapshotting now reaching Beta-status.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • When Kickstarter goes wrong for indie games: Drift Stage

        A lot of the time Kickstarter (and other crowdfunding services) for indie games goes well, in fact the vast majority of the time all is fine. Sometimes though, everything breaks down as is the case with Drift Stage.

        Drift Stage was successfully funded on Kickstarter back in February of 2015, with a reasonable sum (compared with other projects) of $57,720 to make their modern take on retro racing a reality. Over the years, they released multiple demo versions and showed it off at Minecon (the Minecraft convention) in 2016 which you can still find a demo of here on itch.io and all seemed well on the surface.

        Time went on, backers noticed a lack of new details and progress on it with many trying to find out what was actually going on. In December of 2018, the Artist on the project Charles “DelkoDuck” Blanchard posted on Steam to finally clear it up and it wasn’t good. The programmer and co-creator, Chase Pettit, apparently did a bit of a disappearing act, becoming hard to get in contact with and claimed they were just too busy for it.

      • Open-world puzzler ‘Bonfire Peaks’ has you climb mysterious ruins and set fire to your belongings

        Arriving with Linux support on May 5, from the developer of Pipe Push Paradise and Hiding Spot is the open-world puzzle game Bonfire Peaks.

        Not much info on it yet, with it only just being announced. From what the developer said it’s a “difficult open world puzzle game about climbing mysterious ruins and setting fire to your belongings” that’s being made in Unity. They do at least have a trailer up you can see below:

      • Action-packed drone building game ‘Nimbatus’ has a huge update, we have 3 copies to give away

        We’ve teamed up with Stray Fawn Studio again to give away three copies of their space drone construction game, Nimbatus, plus there’s a massive update out now.

        So what’s new in the “Mothership Update”? A lot and it sounds awesome!

        Your Nimbatus mothership can be upgraded now, there’s some Steam Achievements with drone skins you can unlock and they will be adding even more in the next update. There’s a new “Programmer” Captain to pick which unlocks everything but it only allows you to build autonomous drones (no manual piloting), proper save file management giving more freedom, new difficulty settings, multiple new locations including a Jungle Ruin and new rewards when you advance through the campaign. There’s also new building parts, bug fixes and balancing changes

      • Core Defense aims to mix up the Tower Defense genre with deck-building and randomness – out now

        Core Defense, available today in First Access on itch.io is a Tower Defense game that’s trying to be a little different. Throwing out predefined waves and rewards, in favour of a little random generation. Note: The developer provided an early key for GamingOnLinux.

        Having everything mostly set in place is usually a big part of Tower Defense, since you know what you will be dealing with and often from where. Throwing that out to keep you on your toes is certainly interesting, as is the rewards system of getting you to pick from a randomised set of rewards each time which could be a new tower or an upgrade.

      • Chaotic platformer with a curved gameworld ‘CreatorCrate’ getting a demo next week

        You’ve played plenty of platformers before, but have you played a platformer where the entire world is a great big spinning space station with variable gravity? CreatorCrate has a fun idea.

        In CreatorCrate you play as a little robot that eats anything, to then print out shiny new objects that might be a bit more useful. Gravity is different throughout the space station, except in the middle where it vanishes altogether. Currently in development by Jori Ryan, it sadly didn’t pass the Kickstarter test with it not getting enough funding. Ryan carried on development and they’ve let us know that next week on January 22nd it’s going to get a public demo.

      • The Frictional Games strange teaser appears to be growing

        Frictional Games, the team that craft some very interesting horror experiences like SOMA and Amnesia are teasing something and it appears to now be growing.

        We posted about it recently, since then checking back each day on their dedicated teaser website to see if anything is different. It appears the video file playing has a date on it when checking the page source, which they update each time a new video is put up.

      • Valve give a little more info on what ‘Gamescope’ actually does for Linux gaming

        Recently, a Valve developer revived steamcompmgr (the SteamOS compositing and window manager) and renamed it to Gamescope. After writing about it yesterday here on GOL, they’ve now given some more info on what it actually does.

        Valve developer Pierre-Loup Griffais is spearheading the effort and a few hours ago they actually gave it a readme, mentioning that “gamescope does the same thing as steamcompmgr, but with less extra copies and latency”

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • Xfce 4.16 Desktop Environment Switches to Client-Side Decorations

        Work on the upcoming Xfce 4.16 desktop environment continues in 2020 with a lot of new features and improvements that the community can test drive using the Xfce 4.15 development branch.

        Xfce developer Simon Steinbeiß reports on the latest changes and improvements that have been added to the forthcoming Xfce 4.16 desktop environment release, and the biggest new feature so far is support for client-side decorations (CSD) or GtkHeaderBars for all dialogs.

        “The first big step in this direction has now happened in libxfce4ui, our main user interface library. With the change, almost all dialogs will be converted to using CSD by default without any code changes in existing projects,” said developer Simon Steinbeiß in a recent blog post.

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • November/December in KDE PIM

          Following Kévin here’s the summary of what happened around KDE PIM in the last two months. While this post got slightly delayed due to the holidays, work didn’t slow down at all. More than 1300 changes by 26 contributors landed in the KDE PIM repositories, and we got the 19.12.0 release out in December.

        • Jonathan Riddell: KUserFeedback 0.9.90 Beta Release

          KUserFeedback is a framework for collecting user feedback for applications via telemetry and surveys.

          The library comes with an accompanying control and result UI tool.

        • Plasma 5.18 LTS Beta

          This new version of your favorite desktop environment adds neat new features that make your life easier, including clearer notifications, streamlined settings for your system and the desktop layout, much improved GTK integration, and more. Plasma 5.18 is easier and more fun, while at the same time allowing you to do more tasks faster.

          Apart from all the cool new stuff, Plasma 5.18 also comes with LTS status. LTS stands for “Long Term Support” and this means 5.18 will be updated and maintained by KDE contributors for the next couple of years (regular versions are maintained for 4 months). So, if you are thinking of updating or migrating your school, company or organization to Plasma, this version is your best bet. You get the most recent stable version of Plasma for the long term.

          Read on to discover everything that is new in Plasma 5.18 LTS…

        • Here’s What’s New in KDE Plasma 5.18 LTS

          With a beta build now available for testing I figured it was time to recap the key changes included in KDE Plasma 5.18 LTS so that those of you who ride the plasma wave have some idea of what to expect when it arrives.

          And do expect a varied set of changes when it does, as there’s lots planned, including notifications that are easier to understand, streamlined organisation of system settings, better integration of GTK applications, and plenty more.

          Let’s take a closer look.

        • KDE Plasma 5.18 LTS Reaches Beta With Much Better GTK App Integration

          Out this morning is the first beta of KDE Plasma 5.18, which is also the project’s first long-term support (LTS) release since Plasma 5.12.

          Some of the changes to find with the forthcoming KDE Plasma 5.18 LTS include:

          - Support for GTK applications using client-side decorations. Additionally, GTK applications now inherit Plasma settings for fonts / icons / cursors and more.

        • KDE Plasma 5.18 LTS Desktop Environment Enters Beta, Here’s What’s New

          The KDE Project announced today the general availability of the beta version of the upcoming KDE Plasma 5.18 LTS desktop environment for Linux-based operating systems and Linux-powered devices.

          KDE Plasma 5.18 is a major version of the popular Linux desktop environment as it’s the third LTS (Long Term Support) series, coming three and a half years after the first LTS branch and two years after the second one. This means that KDE Plasma 5.18 LTS will be supported with maintenance update for the next two years.

          “LTS stands for “Long Term Support” and this means 5.18 will be updated and maintained by KDE contributors for the next couple of years (regular versions are maintained for 4 months). So, if you are thinking of updating or migrating your school, company or organization to Plasma, this version is your best bet,” reads today’s announcement.

    • Distributions

      • Top 5 Linux Distros for Windows Users

        When Microsoft initially released Windows 7 in October 2009, the software giant committed to providing ten years of support for its popular operating system. The much-maligned Microsoft was true to their word, support for Windows 7 ended just yesterday a little over ten years after its release.

        According to NetMarketShare, the Windows 7 EOL will affect over one-third of PCs that use Windows 7. That’s hundreds of millions of people. Many no doubt will foolishly continue to use the unsupported OS, placing their PCs at “greater risk for viruses and malware.” Still, a great many others will incur the $139 to “upgrade to Windows 10.

        However, there is a third option. A much better option. To upgrade is to “raise (something) to a higher standard, in particular, improve (equipment or machinery) by adding or replacing components.”

      • Screenshots/Screencasts

      • SUSE/OpenSUSE

        • Running for the openSUSE Board again or: reelect (Sarah);

          I was in the openSUSE Board for 2 years in the past and I have enjoyed this time to bring along the openSUSE project.

          I want to run for the openSUSE Board again after a short break about 1 year. I am happy that the existing openSUSE Board has proceeded my idea with the foundation so successfully. But I would be happy about being allowed to finalize this/ my topic together with the other Board Members as my old idea.
          Additionally, I have watched the decreasing reputation. Public representations of openSUSE have been missing by the openSUSE Board in the last year. I would increase that on the same way I have done that at our university.

      • Arch Family

        • Now using Zstandard instead of xz for package compression

          zstd and xz trade blows in their compression ratio. Recompressing all packages to zstd with their options yields a total ~0.8% increase in package size on all of their packages combined, but the decompression time for all packages saw a ~1300% speedup.

          We already have hundreds of zstd-compressed packages in our repositories, and as packages get updated more will keep rolling in. No user-facing issues have been found as of yet, so things appear to be working.

        • Everything you need to know about pacman
        • rsync compatibility

          Our rsync package was shipped with bundled zlib to provide compatibility with the old-style –compress option up to version 3.1.0. Version 3.1.1 was released on 2014-06-22 and is shipped by all major distributions now.

          So we decided to finally drop the bundled library and ship a package with system zlib. This also fixes security issues, actual ones and in future. Go and blame those running old versions if you encounter errors with rsync 3.1.3-3.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • A brand-new desktop theme in works for Ubuntu 20.04

          As we get closer to the release of Ubuntu 20.04, we’re finding out more and more information about how the new operating system update would look like. From what we’ve learned thus far, there’s a new desktop theme in the works that will give the users a fresh look and feel of Ubuntu.

          As Ubuntu users would already know, the operating system has been using Yaru as its UI theme since v18.10. Of course, this is an important period for Canonical as the release of Ubuntu 20.04 is right around the corner, or the 23rd of April, to be more specific. So, the minds behind Yaru considered this the perfect time to conduct a meeting with Ubuntu’s design team at the official Canonical headquarters located in London.

        • Ubuntu 20.04 LTS Gets Fresh Desktop Theme

          As Ubuntu 20.04 LTS is due to be released in April 2020, the Ubuntu Desktop team has announced a new default theme.

          For those who don’t know, Yaru is the theme being used since Ubuntu 18.10. Yaru, Canonical Design, and Ubuntu Desktop team have geared up collaboratively to ship the successor of the Yaru theme in the upcoming Ubuntu 20.04 LTS version.

          [...]

          The option of switching between these variations will be available in the settings. These variations will also be available for shell elements, such as the top bar and notification bubbles.

          To make the upcoming Ubuntu Desktop version more distinctive, more upgradation in the design of the folder icons and other elements is continued, which will be disclosed at a later stage.

        • Our 2019 in Review

          2019 was an intense and record-breaking year for us at elementary. You can read about the monthly updates in detail, but let’s take a look back at milestones from the year—and then look forward to our goals for 2020.

        • elementary OS 6 Will Be Based on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (Focal Fossa)

          The elementary OS team is kicking off 2020 with a retrospective of the things they managed to do in 2019 and a set of goals for the year ahead as they want to further improve their Linux-based operating system.

          In a recent blog post, elementary co-founder Cassidy James Blaede talks about an “intense and record-breaking” 2019 and also highlights some of the major goals for 2020 while also revealing the fact that work on the next major release, elementary OS 6, is on the way and it will be based on the upcoming Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (Focal Fossa) operating system.

          “Ubuntu 20.04 LTS will be coming out this year, and subsequently we plan to release elementary OS 6 with a 20.04 base. We’ve begun some of the underlying work to migrate to and build against newer libraries, but much of that work still lies ahead,” said Cassidy James Blaede, Co-founder & CXO of elementary.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • 3 open source tools to manage your contacts

        I have collected a lot of email addresses over the course of my, well, life so far. And managing all that data can be a bit of a pain. There are web-based services, but they aren’t as fast as a local copy.

        A few days ago, I talked about vdirsyncer for managing calendars. Vdirsyncer also handles contacts using the CardDAV protocol. Vdirsyncer supports google_contacts and carddav to do contact synchronizations in addition to the filesystem store it uses for calendars, but the fileext setting will change, so you won’t be trying to store contacts in calendar files.

      • Top Open Source Machine Learning Tools

        Google, Facebook, IBM, Microsoft and other tech giants including renowned developers have already taken a nimble step towards the Machine learning and Artificial intelligence to make the dream of human beings of creating a highly intelligent machine. And to armed others to partake in this journey of building a conscious machine for the future, there are quite a good number of open source tools avail by tech giants to integrate artificial intelligence into applications.

        Yet, the artificial intelligence and machine learning are at very early stage, so don?t expect something like some sci-fi movie, however developers those are into AI and ML can use the open-source software we are going to discuss for writing apps for better speech recognition, Image recognization, Voice assistance, developing a neural network and more? Take a look at some of the most popular open-source solutions.

      • Events

        • Call for FOSDEM 2020 Booth volunteers

          This year we’ve got one of the high-traffic locations, on the ground floor where Free Software Foundation Europe set up last year, right next to the stairway to *all* the dev rooms. So we’re looking for volunteers to come and talk about both Perl and Raku at FOSDEM 2020 in Brussels. If I haven’t already talked to you, please email me at drforr [at] pobox (dot) com and give me an idea of your availability and what you’d want to do. We’ve made arrangements for the usual booth swag, and will have pamphlets to hand out and books to sell on both Raku and Perl.

        • A day in the life at SUSECON 2020. Here’s what to expect!

          We are roughly about 9 weeks out from SUSECON 2020 taking place in Dublin, Ireland! Wondering what you can expect from this years event? I’ve got you covered!

          Plan to be inspired by keynotes, 150+ breakout sessions and more certification opportunities than ever before! Expect the latest innovations in Linux, Ceph, Cloud Foundry, and a host of other great open source technologies now available from SUSE and from our technology partners. You can also plan to network with open source technologists and experts in their field, gain new skills in our deep dive hands-on technical sessions and gain insight through talking with peers. Your SUSECON pass brings you the best content and value of any conference in the industry, from hands-on training to complimentary certifications to meeting with experts — it’s all here!

        • Daniel Stenberg: You’re invited to curl up 2020: Berlin

          curl up is the main (and only?) event of the year where curl developers and enthusiasts get together physically in a room for a full weekend of presentations and discussions on topics that are centered around curl and its related technologies.

          We move the event around to different countries every year to accommodate different crowds better and worse every year – and this time we’re back again in Germany – where we once started the curl up series back in 2017.

          The events are typically small with a very friendly spirit. 20-30 persons

      • Web Browsers

        • Chromium

          • Google to kill third-party Chrome cookies in two years

            So it’ll slowly squish third-party cookies, but only after it’s found alternatives. What does that squishing look like, and what are those alternatives?

            The company already announced that it would limit third-party cookies to HTTPS connections, which will make them more secure. It plans to start doing that next month.

            It will also treat cookies that don’t use the SameSite label as first-party only. SameSite is a tag that developers can include with cookies. It sets the rules for exchanging the cookie with other sites. A bank could use it to avoid sending session cookies to another site that links to a customer’s transaction page, for example, so that a third party couldn’t harvest session information. So in future, developers have to be upfront about how third-party cookies will work, or Chrome won’t send them between sites at all.

          • Chrome’s Move To Stomp Out Third Party Cookies? Good For Privacy, Good For Google’s Ad Business… Or Both?

            We’ve talked in the past how efforts solely focused on “protecting privacy” without looking at the wider tech ecosystem and the challenges its facing may result in unintended consequences, and now we’ve got another example. Google has announced that it’s beginning a process to phase out support for third-party cookies in Chrome. Looking at this solely through the lens of privacy, many privacy advocates are celebrating this move, saying that it will better protect user privacy. But… if you viewed it from a more competitive standpoint, it also does much to give Google significantly more power over the ad market and could harm many other companies. Former Facebook CSO, Alex Stamos’ take is pretty dead on here:

          • Windows 10 users: Google reveals when it’s killing off Chrome apps

            Chrome apps that work offline for Windows, Mac, and Linux have been around since 2013, but Google has now committed firm dates for switching off support for them.

          • Google sets final timeline for killing and replacing Chrome Apps

            Back in 2016, Google announced that it was killing Chrome Apps in favor of the web. This process began with that category disappearing from the Web Store in late 2017, and Google now has a final timeline for the deprecation.

            Chrome Apps launched in 2013 to a different state of the web. “Packaged Apps” were built with HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript to offer an “experience comparable to a native application.” They were touted as allowing for a wider user base than just one OS, and targeted towards device manufacturers and educators.

            Citing “substantial progress” since then, Google believes that “modern browsers puts the Web in a good position to answer the vast majority of use cases.” Touted first-class experiences include Google Earth and Figma for designers, as well as Progressive Web Apps.

        • Mozilla

          • Firefox 73 Enters Development with New Default Zoom Settings, Improved Audio

            With the Firefox 72 release hitting the stable update channel last week, Mozilla kicked off the development of the next version of its popular, open-source and cross-platform web browser, Firefox 73.

            Now that Mozilla has adopted the monthly release cycle for new Firefox versions, the Open Source company aims to address various bugs and improve the functionality, reliability, and stability of its web browser for all supported platforms.

            Firefox 72 introduced Picture-in-Picture support for Linux and macOS users, the ability to block fingerprinting scripts by default on all supported platforms using the built-in Enhanced Tracking Protection feature, new developer features, and removed the annoying notification request pop-ups.

            With the Firefox 73 release, Mozilla adds the ability to set a default zoom level that’s applicable for all websites. The new option will be implemented in the Preferences page under the “Language and Appearance” section, allowing users to scale the zoom levels up or down from the default 100% setting.

          • Readying for the Future at Mozilla

            Mozilla must do two things in this era: Continue to excel at our current work, while we innovate in the areas most likely to impact the state of the internet and internet life. From security and privacy network architecture to the surveillance economy, artificial intelligence, identity systems, control over our data, decentralized web and content discovery and disinformation — Mozilla has a critical role to play in helping to create product solutions that address the challenges in these spaces.

            Creating the new products we need to change the future requires us to do things differently, including allocating resources for this purpose. We’re making a significant investment to fund innovation. In order to do that responsibly, we’ve also had to make some difficult choices which led to the elimination of roles at Mozilla which we announced internally today.

          • Mozilla lays off 70 as it waits for new products to generate revenue

            In an internal memo, Mozilla chairwoman and interim CEO Mitchell Baker specifically mentions the slow rollout of the organization’s new revenue-generating products as the reason for why it needed to take this decision. The overall number may still be higher, though, as Mozilla is still looking into how this decision will affect workers in the UK and France. In 2018, Mozilla Corporation (as opposed to the much smaller Mozilla Foundation) said it had about 1,000 employees worldwide.

            “You may recall that we expected to be earning revenue in 2019 and 2020 from new subscription products as well as higher revenue from sources outside of search. This did not happen,” Baker writes in her memo. “Our 2019 plan underestimated how long it would take to build and ship new, revenue-generating products. Given that, and all we learned in 2019 about the pace of innovation, we decided to take a more conservative approach to projecting our revenue for 2020. We also agreed to a principle of living within our means, of not spending more than we earn for the foreseeable future.”

          • Mozilla lays off 70 employees to prepare for tough years ahead
          • Layoff survival guide

            If you’re reading these lines, you may have recently been laid off from your job. Or maybe, depending on your country and its laws, you’re waiting to know if you’re being laid off.

          • No Mo’zilla for about 100 techies today: Firefox maker lays off staff as boss talks of ‘difficult choices’ and funding

            On Wednesday Mozilla Corporation, maker of the Firefox browser and would-be internet privacy protector, said it plans to lay off an undisclosed number of employees.

            “Creating the new products we need to change the future requires us to do things differently, including allocating resources for this purpose,” said Mozilla executive chairwoman Mitchell Baker in a blog post.

            “We’re making a significant investment to fund innovation. In order to do that responsibly, we’ve also had to make some difficult choices which led to the elimination of roles at Mozilla which we announced internally today.”

            A Mozilla spokesperson declined to provide a copy of Baker’s internal memo discussing the job cuts, said to affect 70 people. The spokesperson declined to confirm a specific number of affected employees but said the organization’s total number of employees “was just under 1,100 prior to today’s announcement and will be just over a 1,000 going forward.”

          • Niko Matsakis: Async Interview #4: Florian Gilcher

            Hello! For the latest async interview, I spoke with Florian Gilcher (skade). Florian is involved in the async-std project, but he’s also one of the founders of Ferrous Systems, a Rust consulting firm that also does a lot of trainings. In that capacity, he’s been teaching people to use async Rust now since Rust’s 1.0 release.

            [...]

            We discussed the futures crate for a while. In particular, the question of whether we should be “stabilizing” traits by moving them into the standard library, or whether we can use the futures crate as a “semi-stable” home. There are obviously advantages either way.

            On the one hand, there is no clearer signal for stability than adding something to libstd. On the other, the future crate facade gives a “finer grained” ability to talk about semver.

            One thing Florian noted is that the futures crate itself, although it has evolved a lot, has always maintained an internal consistency, which is good.

            One other point Florian emphasized is that people really want to be building applications, so in some way the most important thing is to be moving towards stability, so they can avoid worrying about the sand shifting under their feet.

      • Productivity Software/LibreOffice/Calligra

        • Welcoming the new Board of Directors at The Document Foundation

          In December, members of The Document Foundation voted for a new Board of Directors. The Board is the main administration of the Foundation’s projects and teams – including LibreOffice and The Document Foundation. The new Board will begin work after FOSDEM in February – and there are some new faces to welcome! Let’s hear from them…

        • Image Compression

          Finally LibreOffice image compression did what you expect. Shrink your image or the impress presentation and don’t destroy your pictures.

      • CMS

        • Kiwi TCMS 7.3

          We’re happy to announce Kiwi TCMS version 7.3!

          IMPORTANT: this is a critical security update for CVE-2019-19844: Potential account hijack via password reset form!

          Also migrates to Django 3.0 and includes several other improvement and bug-fixes!

        • WordPress Leaders Nominated for CMX Awards

          Two members of the WordPress leadership team were nominated for excellent work in their field in the first ever Community Industry Awards. Andrea Middleton is nominated for Executive Leader of a Community Team and Josepha Haden Chomphosy is nominated for Community Professional of the Year.

          [...]

          Andrea has been a vital community strategist for the WordPress project since 2011. Her work to build and support a vibrant community has played a part in the success around the popular open source CMS. Her work is sponsored by Automattic, where she leads a team that focuses on educational efforts, funding, and in-person community-driven events that serve a global base.

          Josepha has been the Executive Director of the WordPress project since 2019. Her work to coordinate and guide volunteer efforts spans 20 teams and involves thousands of volunteers. Her work is also sponsored by Automattic, where she leads the open source division that focuses on all aspects of open source contribution including design, development, volunteer engagement, and the health of the overall WordPress ecosystem.

      • BSD

        • Insight into Why Hyperbola GNU/Linux is Turning into Hyperbola BSD

          In late December 2019, Hyperbola announced that they would be making major changes to their project. They have decided to drop the Linux kernel in favor of forking the OpenBSD kernel. This announcement only came months after Project Trident announced that they were going in the opposite direction (from BSD to Linux).

          Hyperbola also plans to replace all software that is not GPL v3 compliant with new versions that are.

          To get more insight into the future of their new project, I interviewed Andre, co-founder of Hyperbola.

      • FSF

        • First LibrePlanet 2020 keynote announcement: Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle

          The Free Software Foundation (FSF) today announced Brewster Kahle as its first keynote speaker for LibrePlanet 2020. The annual technology and social justice conference will be held in the Boston area on March 14 and 15, 2020, with the theme “Free the Future.”

        • GNU Projects

          • GNU Guile 3.0.0 released

            We are ecstatic and relieved to announce the release of GNU Guile 3.0.0. This is the first release in the new stable 3.0 release series.

            See the release announcement for full details and a download link.

            The principal new feature in Guile 3.0 is just-in-time (JIT) native code generation. This speeds up the performance of all programs. Compared to 2.2, microbenchmark performance is around twice as good on the whole, though some individual benchmarks are up to 32 times as fast.

          • GNU Guile 3.0 Released With JIT Code Generation For Up To 4x Better Performance

            GNU Guile 3.0 has been released, the GNU’s implementation of the Scheme programming language with various extra features. The big news with Guile 3.0 is better performance.

            GNU Guile 3.0 adds just-in-time (JIT) code generation yielding up to four times faster performance. JIT code generation for Guile is enabled automatically and transparently. Guile 3.0 moves its virtual machine instruction set to be lower-level now to allow for more optimizations and has a variety of other improvements.

          • GNU Guile 3.0.0 released
            We are delighted to announce GNU Guile release 3.0.0, the first in the
            new 3.0 stable release series.
            
            Compared to the previous stable series (2.2.x), Guile 3.0 adds support
            for just-in-time native code generation, speeding up all Guile programs.
            See the NEWS extract at the end of the mail for full details.
            
            
            The Guile web page is located at http://gnu.org/software/guile/, and
            among other things, it contains a copy of the Guile manual and pointers
            to more resources.
            
            Guile is an implementation of the Scheme programming language, packaged
            for use in a wide variety of environments.  In addition to implementing
            the R5RS, R6RS, and R7RS Scheme standards, Guile includes full access to
            POSIX system calls, networking support, multiple threads, dynamic
            linking, a foreign function call interface, powerful string processing,
            and HTTP client and server implementations.
            
            Guile can run interactively, as a script interpreter, and as a Scheme
            compiler to VM bytecode.  It is also packaged as a library so that
            applications can easily incorporate a complete Scheme interpreter/VM.
            An application can use Guile as an extension language, a clean and
            powerful configuration language, or as multi-purpose "glue" to connect
            primitives provided by the application.  It is easy to call Scheme code
            from C code and vice versa.  Applications can add new functions, data
            types, control structures, and even syntax to Guile, to create a
            domain-specific language tailored to the task at hand.
            
      • Programming/Development

        • Federico Mena-Quintero: Exposing C and Rust APIs: some thoughts from librsvg

          Librsvg exports two public APIs: the C API that is in turn available to other languages through GObject Introspection, and the Rust API.

          You could call this a use of the facade pattern on top of the rsvg_internals crate. That crate is the actual implementation of librsvg, and exports an interface with many knobs that are not exposed from the public APIs. The knobs are to allow for the variations in each of those APIs.

          This post is about some interesting things that have come up during the creation/separation of those public APIs, and the implications of having an internals library that implements both.

        • Dirk Eddelbuettel: RQuantLib 0.4.11: More polish

          New year, new RQuantLib! A new release 0.4.11 of RQuantLib arrived overnight on CRAN; and a Debian upload will follow shortly.

          QuantLib is a very comprehensice free/open-source library for quantitative finance; RQuantLib connects it to the R environment and language.

          This version does three new things. First, we fixed an oversight on our end and now allow a null calendar (as the C++ API). Second, the package switched to tinytest as a few of my other packages have done, allowing for very flexible testing during development and deployment—three cheers for easily testing installed packages too. Third, and per a kind nag from Kurt Hornik I updated a few calls which the current QuantLib 1.17 marks as deprecated. That lead to a compile issue with 1.16 so the change is conditional in one part.

        • Top Skills In Demand For 2020 [Ed: One cannot properly study jobs in need based only on ads in a site owned and controlled by Microsoft]

          The start of the year, when it is traditional to come up with self-improving resolutions, is a good time to contemplate new job opportunities. So what are employers looking for in 2020? Here we have two lists of the most sought skills.

          The first thing to note is that both of them are biased and there is little common ground between them. The divergence is because they have been constructed with differing goals. As a jobs site Dice is on the look out for the terms that crop up in job postings while LinkedIn Learning is hoping to sign you (or your employer) up to its skill building courses which are provided by Lynda.com, the online learning platform which LinkedIn acquired in 2015.

        • Google open-sources tool to boost 2FA adoption in npm

          Google has open-sourced an npm publishing tool for heightened security across organizations? client libraries.

          The tool, Wombat Dressing Room, aims to reduce the security risks associated with the automation of npm publishing.

          ?On my team, a small number of developers manage over 75 Node.js libraries,? Benjamin Coe, developer engineer at Google, said in an announcement on Friday (January 10).

          ?We see automation as key to making this possible,? he said.

        • This Week in Rust 321

          Always wanted to contribute to open-source projects but didn’t know where to start? Every week we highlight some tasks from the Rust community for you to pick and get started!

        • LLVM Developers Discuss Improved Decision Making Process

          LLVM project founder Chris Lattner has proposed a new decision making process for the LLVM compiler stack around new sub-project proposals, new social policies, changes to core infrastructure, and other key changes.

          Lattner is proposing a process similar to the Swift language’s Evolution Process (to which Lattner has been involved with Swift), Rust’s RFC process, Python PEP, and other similar processes for different programming languages. The motivation is to provide clearer steps for developers wishing to propose effectively fundamental changes to the project with no code owners. And, yes, there still is the LLVM Foundation for more project related matters where as the process changes here are technical focused.

        • LLVM 10 Adds Option To Help Offset Intel JCC Microcode Performance Impact

          Disclosed back in November was the Intel Jump Conditional Code Erratum that necessitated updated CPU microcode to mitigate and with that came with a nearly across the board performance impact. But Intel developers had been working on assembler patches for helping to reduce that performance hit. The GNU Assembler patches were merged back in December while now ahead of LLVM 10.0 that alternative toolchain has an option for helping to recover some of the lost performance.

          On the GNU side the exposed option is “-mbranches-within-32B-boundaries” for altering the handling of jump instructions to aide in reducing the performance hit from the Intel CPU microcode update for Skylake through Cascadelake. (More details in the original JCC article, which includes early benchmarks of the JCC impact and of the mitigated support that has been available within Intel’s Clear Linux since the disclosure date.)

        • RcppRedis 0.1.10: Switch to tinytest

          Another minor release of RcppRedis just arrived on CRAN, following a fairly long break since the last release in October 2018.

          RcppRedis is one of several packages connecting R to the fabulous Redis in-memory datastructure store (and much more). RcppRedis does not pretend to be feature complete, but it may do some things faster than the other interfaces, and also offers an optional coupling with MessagePack binary (de)serialization via RcppMsgPack. The package has carried production loads for several years now.

          This release switches to the fabulous tinytest package, allowing for very flexible testing during development and deployment—three cheers for easily testing installed packages too.

        • Excellent Free Tutorials to Learn COBOL

          COBOL is an acronym which stands for Common Business-Oriented Language. The US Department of Defense, in a conference, formed CODASYL (Conference on Data Systems Language) to develop a language for meeting business data processing needs which is now known as COBOL.

          COBOL is a standard language that can be compiled and executed on various machines. It’s ideally suited for business-oriented applications as it can handle huge volumes of data. It provides numerous debugging and testing tools. COBOL is a structured language; it has different divisions, so it’s easy to debug. The language is not designed for writing systems programs.

          COBOL is one of the oldest computer languages.

        • Perl / Raku

        • Python

          • The 9th Annual PyLadies Auction

            If you haven’t attended one previously, you’re missing out! There’s charity. There’s competition. There’s laughter, food, and drinks. There are auction paddles flying in the air as people graciously give money where it has impact.

            The PyLadies auction holds a special place in my heart – I attended my first PyCon in 2015 thanks to financial aid from PyLadies. If you haven’t heard of PyLadies before, we are an international mentorship group with a focus on helping more women become active participants and leaders in the Python open-source community. Last year, the auction raised over $44,000 from the 58 items auctioned off.

          • A Primer on the Python Game Framework

            Computer games are a great way to introduce people to coding and computer science. Since I was a player in my youth, the lure of writing video games was the reason I learned to code. Of course, when I learned Python, my first instinct was to write a Python game.

            While Python makes learning to code more accessible for everyone, the choices for video game writing can be limited, especially if you want to write arcade games with great graphics and catchy sound effects. For many years, Python game programmers were limited to the pygame framework. Now, there’s another choice.

            The arcade library is a modern Python framework for crafting games with compelling graphics and sound. Object-oriented and built for Python 3.6 and up, arcade provides the programmer with a modern set of tools for crafting great Python game experiences.

          • Things You Need to Know Before Hiring Developers for Your Startup
          • More efficient way to sum a list comprehension

            List comprehensions in Python let you create a list declaratively, much like the way you would describe the set in English.

          • Airflow Case Study: ProofPort

            Airflow is an open source tool under the Apache Software Foundation developed by Airbnb. Simply put, Airflow is a workflow orchestration platform. Even so, it is most commonly used for data processing (ETL). It has been very successful and has become the industry standard for batch data processing.

          • Python pip
          • Reuven Lerner made one of the first 100 websites… ever… and other things I learned recording his DevJourney
          • Create a daily earning database with Python SQLite

            In this chapter, we will start a project which will then record my daily earning in the future. We will create the earing table and populate the first row of data into that table. I can then view my earning table using DB Browser which is a browser uses to create, edit, plot and view the SQLite table’s items.

            First of all, let us go to the homepage of DB Browser to download DB Browser through this link. I will temporarily use this tool to view my SQLite table but my final objective is to create my own SQLIte table viewer using the tkinter module. I will go phase by phase to accomplish my objective.

          • Build REST API with Flask & SQLAlchemy

            Flask is a great framework that enables you to build web applications quickly with Python. It’s fast, small, and fun to work with. In this tutorial, we’re going to build a RESTful API with Flask framework, and some other supporting tools.

            The objective of this tutorial is to understand the concept of building a Flask server from the ground up, learn how to commuticate with SQL databases via object-relational mapper, as well as design a RESTful API with object-oriented design pattern.

          • User Accounts With django-allauth – Building SaaS #41

            In this episode, we added django-allauth to create accounts that default to email instead of using usernames. We added the package, configured some templates, and created tests.

            We continued to look at Will Vincent’s django-allauth post on creating user accounts with email and passwords.

            django-allauth let’s us swap out username and email so that users won’t need to create a username, which is the behavior that I want for this service.

          • Variable-Length Arguments in Python with *args and **kwargs

            Some functions have no arguments, others have multiple. There are times we have functions with arguments we don’t know about beforehand. We may have a variable number of arguments because we want to offer a flexible API to other developers or we don’t know the input size. With Python, we can create functions to accept any amount of arguments.

            In this article, we will look at how we can define and use functions with variable length arguments. These functions can accept an unknown amount of input, either as consecutive entries or named arguments.

          • Some median Python NaNsense

            Anybody who has ever taken a numerical analysis course understands that floating-point arithmetic on computers is a messy affair. Even so, it is easy to underestimate just how messy things can be. This topic came to the fore in an initially unrelated python-ideas mailing-list thread; what should the Python statistics module do with floating-point values that are explicitly not numbers?
            Kemal Diri doubtless did not mean to start a massive thread with this request to add a built-in function to the language to calculate the average of the values in a list. That request was quickly dismissed, but the developers went on to the seemingly strange behavior of the statistics module’s median() function when presented with floating-point not-a-number values.

          • Toward a conclusion for Python dictionary “addition”

            One of Guido van Rossum’s last items of business as he finished his term on the inaugural steering council for Python was to review the Python Enhancement Proposal (PEP) that proposes a new update and union operators for dictionaries. He would still seem to be in favor of the idea, but it will be up to the newly elected steering council and whoever the council chooses as the PEP-deciding delegate (i.e. BDFL-Delegate). Van Rossum provided some feedback on the PEP and, inevitably, the question of how to spell the operator returned, but the path toward getting a decision on it is now pretty clear.

            [...]

            At the beginning of December, Van Rossum posted his review of the PEP to the python-ideas mailing list. He encouraged the authors (Brandt Bucher and Steven D’Aprano) to request a BDFL-Delegate for the PEP from the steering council, noting that he would not be on the council after the end of the year. D’Aprano indicated that he would be doing so. Apparently that happened, because, tucked away in the notes from the November and December steering council meetings was a mention that a BDFL-Delegate had been assigned—none other than Van Rossum himself.

            In his review, he comes down strongly in favor of | and |= and had some other minor suggestions. He said: “All in all I would recommend to the SC to go forward with this proposal, targeting Python 3.9, assuming the operators are changed to | and |=, and the PEP is brought more in line with the PEP editing guidelines from PEP 1 and PEP 12.” Given that, and that he is the decision maker for the PEP, it would seem to be smooth sailing for its acceptance.

            That did not stop some from voicing objections to the PEP as a whole or the spelling of the operator in particular, of course, though the discussion was collegial as is so often the case in the Python world. Van Rossum thought that | might be harder for newcomers, but was not particularly concerned about that: “I don’t think beginners should be taught these operators as a major tool in their toolbox”. But Ryan Gonzalez thought that beginners might actually find that spelling easier because of its congruence to the Python set union operator.

            Serhiy Storchaka is not a fan of the PEP in general, but believes that | is a better choice than +. He thinks there are already other ways to accomplish the same things that the operators would provide and that their use may be error-prone. He also had a performance concern, but Brett Cannon pointed out that it might only exist for CPython; PyPy and other Pythons might not have the same performance characteristics.

        • Shell/Bash/Zsh/Ksh

          • Automating Helm deployments with Bash

            Some of our applications are hosted in a Kubernetes cluster, and we use GitLab Continuous Integration (CI) to automate deployments and Helm 2 to deploy our applications. Helm charts enable the storage of templates of Kubernetes object YAML files with variables that can be programmatically set from command-line arguments passed when the chart is used during deployments. This allows us to store critical secrets in GitLab-protected environment variables or in Hashicorp Vault and use them within the CI deployment job.

            [...]

            The script performs all tasks required to deploy a Helm chart for an application to Kubernetes and waits for the deployment to be ready using kubectl and Helm. Helm runs with a local Tiller installation instead of running Tiller in the Kubernetes cluster. The Kubernetes HELM_USER and HELM_PASSWORD are used to log into the Kubernetes CLUSTER_SERVER and PROJECT_NAMESPACE. Tiller is started, Helm is initialized in client-only mode, and its repo is updated. The template is linted with Helm to ensure that syntax errors have not been accidentally committed. The template is then deployed in declarative mode, using helm upgrade –install. Helm waits for the deployment to be ready using the –wait flag.

      • Standards/Consortia

        • Schneier: “It’s really too late to secure 5G networks”

          Schneier points to a variety of factors contributing to 5G’s intrinsic, irreparable unsuitability: first, the US government pushed for weaker security in order to ensure that it could conduct domestic surveillance; the standards themselves are so complex as to be impossible to implement securely; and the system calls for software running on dynamically configurable hardware, which “dramatically increases the points vulnerable to attack.”

          Moreover, 5G is backwards compatible with earlier protocols, inheriting all their insecurities, and generating new ones where these protocols’ weak spots can be chained together to create attacks that each protocol was, in and of itself immune to, but which the system remains vulnerable to.

        • The trouble with IPv6 extension headers

          It has taken longer than anybody might have liked, but the IPv6 protocol is slowly displacing IPv4 across the Internet. A quick, highly scientific “grep the access logs” test shows that about 16% of the traffic to LWN.net is currently using IPv6, and many large corporate networks are using IPv6 exclusively internally. This version of the IP protocol was designed to be more flexible than IPv4 in a number of ways; the “extension header” mechanism is one way in which that flexibility is achieved. A proposal to formalize extension-header processing in the kernel’s networking stack has led to some concerns, though, about how this feature will be used and what role Linux should play in its development.
          In both versions of the IP protocol, the header of each packet contains a collection of information about how the packet is to be handled; at a minimum, it contains source and destination addresses and a higher-level protocol number. In IPv4, the contents of the header are rigidly specified; it is difficult to add new types of information to the header. When IPv6 was designed, extension headers were added as a way to (relatively) easily add new information in the future.

          A few extension header types are defined in RFC8200 (which describes IPv6). Two of particular interest are the “Hop-by-Hop” and “Destination” headers; the former is meant to be acted upon by every system that handles the packet, while the latter is only for the destination node’s attention. These headers may contain one or more options, each encoded in a type-length-value (TLV) format. RFC8200 only defines a couple of options that insert padding into the header, but there is interest in adding a number of others.

          For example, In-situ Operations, Administration, and Maintenance options are meant to allow providers to collect telemetry information on packets passing through their networks. The Path MTU mechanism uses a Hop-by-Hop option to discover the maximum packet size a path can handle. Firewall and Service Tickets (FAST) are a Hop-by-Hop option that documents a packet’s right to traverse a network or pass through a firewall. The Segment Routing options allows a packet to contain the path it should take through a network. And so on.

  • Leftovers

    • Life was a cabaret – the Roaring Twenties in Cairo

      Less than two years before Ashbee saw her performance in that village, she had left behind the life of a nightclub singer to make her theatrical debut on the stage of the Printania Theatre on Alfi Bey Street. She was said to be the first Egyptian Muslim woman to become a professional actress – before then actresses had largely been Christian or Jewish and from Ottoman Syria. The next year she became the first Egyptian woman to lead her own theatrical company.

      Long after Ashbee saw her, Mounira remained one of the biggest names of the riotous underworld of parties and nightlife that flourished in Cairo throughout the 1920s and ’30s. In this period, downtown Cairo was thick with theatres, cabarets, dancehalls, and cinemas, and had an entertainment scene to rival other global cities – Berlin, Paris, or New York.

    • Education

      • Traversed by Tensions: Quebec’s Religious Symbols Law

        Fatima Ahmad, 23, an Education student at McGill University in Montreal, says that Bill 21 prevents her from working as a public school teacher in Quebec. A fourth year student, graduating in April 2020, she is already making plans to move to the United Arab Emirates or Calgary once she graduates. She is photographed wearing a niqab. Thirty-seven year old Nadia Naqvi is a high-school teacher in Quebec. But she is blocked from advancing up the ladder. “Bill 21 has turned me into a second-class citizen in my own profession—my peers can advance professionally, but I cannot. That’s state-sanctioned discrimination” (Globe and Mail, December 21, 2019). She is wearing a beautifully flowered hijab.

      • real world crypto talks

        Real World Crypto 2020 was last week. It’s a conference I like because the talks are usually pretty interesting. The crypto talks have real world applications and the real world application talks have crypto. Afterwards, there’s usually not just something to be learned, but something to be done. I didn’t actually attend every talk, but here’s some notes.

      • France Says Netflix, Disney Must Plow 25% of Local Revenue Into Content

        France is finalizing a bill to force video-on-demand services from Netflix Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc., Walt Disney Co. and others to invest at least 25% of their revenue derived in the country to fund local productions.

        The French legislation falls under a European Union directive requiring such companies to ensure that at least 30% of their catalogs are comprised of European-made content. The French Culture Ministry, which shared a presentation made Tuesday in Paris with Bloomberg, didn’t comment on how France is planning to measure sales of the platforms in France.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • Analysis of 30 Years of Single-Payer Research Shows Medicare for All Would Absolutely Save US Money

        “Across the political spectrum, there is near consensus among these economists that a single-payer system would save money.”

      • Study Shows Being Rich Buys 9 Extra Years of ‘Healthy’ Living in US and UK

        “In both countries, efforts in reducing health inequalities should target people from disadvantaged socioeconomic groups.”

      • A Truly Antiwar Agenda Must Include Free College and Medicare for All

        Last night’s debate brought home a reality for me: A truly antiwar agenda is not confined to priorities traditionally seen as “foreign policy.” It must include bold plans to address climate change, education, institutional racism and sexism, health care and immigration justice. And our movements must reflect that broad-based vision.

      • States Can’t Protect Themselves From the Harmful Effects of ACA Repeal

        The Trump Administration and 18 state attorneys general are asking the courts to strike down the entire Affordable Care Act (ACA) as unconstitutional. With a cloud of uncertainty hanging over coverage and protections for tens of millions of people, some states are looking for ways to protect their residents. On their own, however, states can do nothing to stop most of the harmful consequences of ACA repeal: the only solution is for the courts to uphold the law.

      • The Year in Disability Rights

        People with disabilities around the world face serious obstacles to realizing their rights on an equal basis with others. Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2020 documents abuses such as violence, discrimination, segregation, and unlawful detention of people with disabilities in 32 countries including Australia, Tanzania, Kazakhstan, Mexico, and the United States.

        Due to prevalent stigma and lack of adequate mental health services, thousands of people with mental health conditions are shackled – chained or locked up in small confined spaces – in many countries, including Nigeria, Ghana, Indonesia, and Somaliland. Human Rights Watch has documented cases of shackling in homes, traditional and religious-based healing centers, schools, psychiatric hospitals, and state-run rehabilitation centers. Those shackled are often exposed to physical and emotional abuse, neglect, and isolation. Though shackling persists in Indonesia, government agencies have made some progress by signing an agreement to monitor places where people with mental health conditions have been shackled. Governments should ban shackling and develop quality, accessible community-based support and mental health services.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Amazon to invest $1 bn in India to digitise small, medium businesses, says Jeff Bezos

          Under the initiative, Amazon would establish ‘Digital Haats’ in 100 cities, villages, and communities to help businesses integrate into the digital economy. Digital Haats would be in local neighbourhoods and available to MSMEs irrespective of their association with Amazon, a company statement said.

        • Jeff Bezos Says Amazon To Invest $1 Billion To Digitise Small And Medium Businesses In India

          The company will use its global footprint to export USD 10 billion worth of Make In India goods by 2025, Bezos said at the Amazon smbhav summit which will focus on discussions around how technology adoption can enable small and medium businesses (SMBs) in India.

        • CGI to hire 15,000 over the next 5 years

          CGI plans to hire nearly 15,000 people in India over the next four to five years, the Canadian IT services provider’s founder said.

          The software services company’s India offices, which currently employ nearly 15,000 people, play a strategic role in service delivery across key markets. The about $12 billion company follows a strategy of setting up bases close to client locations, either organically or through acquisitions, Serge Godin, founder and executive chairman of CGI told ET in an interview. India continues to be one of the largest facilities outside Montreal, he added.

        • Security

          • Celebrating a million dollars in bounties paid

            But it’s about much more than a million dollars in bounty payments. Our journey to this point has been an iterative one, gaining strength and improving along the way as we grow, learn and receive feedback from the security research community. We believe our journey models our commitment to building a strong and secure product for our customers but also our dedication to the open source and security community; one where everyone can contribute and also reap the rewards.

          • GitLab Celebrates $1 Million In Paid Bounties

            GitLab has officially awarded more than $1 million in bug bounties to hackers on HackerOne for reporting valid vulnerabilities in the past year.

            The milestone comes hot on the heels of the GitLab security team completing one year of its public bug bounty program in December 2019. The vulnerability disclosure program (VDP) was first launched in 2014 and soon moved to a private, paid bounty program.

          • Kubernetes Bug Bounty Program Announced

            Google has joined forces with the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) and HackerOne to launch the bug bounty program for Kubernetes. The program has been running in a ‘beta’ mode with invite-only researchers for several months now.

            While driving awareness of Kubernetes’ security model, it aims to secure one of the most widely used open source technologies through the support of the developer and hacker communities.

            Interested in helping lock down Kubernetes? Well, the Kubernetes bug bounty program will reward researchers who find vulnerabilities in the container orchestration system, with bounties ranging from $100 to $10,000.

          • Micro Focus Introduces Industry’s First Active Directory Bridging Solution that Extends Security Policies and Access Controls to Cloud-based Linux
          • Microsoft, NSA confirm killer Windows 10 bug, but a patch is available

            The flaw, CVE-2020-0601, was found in the usermode cryptographic library, CRYPT32.DLL, that affects Windows 10 systems. (Contrary to earlier rumors, it does not affect Windows 7, which coincidentally is being shut down Tuesday as well.) Fortunately, Microsoft reported that the library was not in active use, though that doesn’t prevent an attacker from weaponizing it now that it’s been disclosed.

            Specifically, the attack could allow malware to hide behind a spoofed cyrptographic signature. Antivirus software could therefore identify malware as legitimate applications, or fake banking sites could use the vulnerability to trick a user’s PC into thinking it was legitimate.

          • Malware Marketer NSO Group Looks Like It’s Blowing Off Facebook’s Lawsuit

            In late October of last year, Facebook and WhatsApp sued Israeli surveillance tech provider NSO Group for using WhatsApp to deliver device-compromising malware. The lawsuit sought to use the CFAA to stop NSO from using WhatsApp as an attack vector.

          • Some FCC Subsidized Low Income Phones Are A Chinese Malware Shitshow

            We’ve long talked about the problems with the FCC’s Lifeline program, which was created by Reagan and expanded by Bush Junior (yet somehow earned the nickname “Obamaphone”). The $2 billion program doles out a measly $9.25 per month subsidy that low-income homes can use to help pay a tiny fraction of their wireless, phone, or broadband bills (enrolled participants have to choose one). But for years, the FCC has struggled to police fraud within the program, with big and small carriers alike frequently caught “accidentally” getting millions in taxpayer dollars they didn’t deserve.

          • Security updates for Thursday

            Security updates have been issued by Debian (debian-lan-config and phpmyadmin), openSUSE (openssl-1_1), Oracle (firefox and kernel), Red Hat (.NET Core, git, java-11-openjdk, and thunderbird), SUSE (Mesa, python3, shibboleth-sp, slurm, and tigervnc), and Ubuntu (libpcap and nginx).

          • Linux 5.6 Crypto Getting AVX/AVX2/AVX-512 Optimized Poly1305 – Helps WireGuard

            Now that lead WireGuard lead developer Jason Donenfeld has managed to get this secure VPN tunnel technology queued for introduction in Linux 5.6 mainline, he’s begun optimizing other areas of the kernel for optimal WireGuard performance.

            Poly1305 is used by WireGuard for the message authentication code and that’s the latest bit being optimized in mainline to not only benefit WireGuard but other crypto users as well. Donenfeld has provided x86_64 vectorized implementations of Poly1305 for AVX, AVX-2, and AVX-512F. These AVX/AVX2/AVX-512 optimized versions are proving to be clearly faster — though with AVX-512 is only enabled for Cannonlake/Icelake and newer as for Skylake the AVX-512 down-clocking is causing the performance to come up short.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Company Sells Surveillance Cameras Hidden In Tombstones, Threatens Websites For Talking About Its Tombstone Cameras

              Thanks to a FOIA request by Open the Government policy analyst Freddy Martinez, we now know someone’s trying to sell cops cameras they can hide in… gravestones?

            • The Internet Should Hide Your Data, Not Share It

              This is where default options matter. If every browser window automatically opened in incognito mode, then it wouldn’t be considered incognito browsing, but regular web browsing. But if only outlaws take the time to safeguard their privacy, then privacy becomes a de facto outlaw product.

            • Did Giuliani Goons Plot Against US Ambassador? ‘Incredibly Disturbing’ House Impeachment Docs Raise Serious New Questions

              “The new documents from Lev Parnas are chilling, and damning,” said Rep. Ted Lieu. “Is Donald Trump a thug? I don’t know. But Trump certainly used thugs to help him abuse the power of his office.”

            • Giuliani Associates May Have Surveilled U.S. Ambassador, New Evidence Shows

              Associates of U.S. President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer appeared to physically, and perhaps electronically, surveil the then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine last spring as they dialed up their pressure campaign on authorities in Kyiv, according to new evidence released by House Democrats on Tuesday.

              The new revelations came on the eve of Wednesday’s House vote to hand over articles of impeachment to the Senate, and it could increase pressure on Republicans to call for further evidence and witness testimony as part of the president’s Senate trial, which is expected to get underway next week.

              The trove of documents includes notes and messages provided to lawmakers by Lev Parnas, a Republican donor and associate of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Parnas was indicted in October for campaign finance violations.

            • Security expert offers hacking advice to students whose campuses have implemented pervasive wireless surveillance

              In a followup Gizmodo article, Vick delves into the deficiencies with the notifications, consent and privacy policies associated with these services — which are a typical mess of overbroad grabs that are subject to change without notice, couched in deceptive language.

              Vick also puts campus location-tracking in the context of campus information security, which is historically very poor, with low-quality passwords, a lack of access auditing, and interconnection of services and networks that allow both outside attackers and insider threats (such as a professor who wants to stalk a student) to operate with wide latitude and a low likelihood of being caught. Adding location-tracking to such a system vastly increases the risks of the kinds of cyberattacks that are already endemic to campuses.

            • Toronto business and government signal full support for Sidewalk Labs’ dominance of the city and beyond

              I’ve previously written about how Sidewalk Labs is poised to gain control of a vastly larger area than Quayside alone, thanks largely to eager enabling by our municipal, provincial and federal governments and by Waterfront Toronto, which is a creation of these three levels of government.

              The company hasn’t been secretive about its goal to use Quayside as a launching pad for much bigger ambitions. But now it appears they’re confident enough – due to the successful co-opting of our governments and business communities, together with much of the mainstream media and the public – to broadcast more of the scope of their plans.

            • Cards not used for online payments to be disabled of service, says RBI

              “Existing cards that have never been used for online/international/contactless transactions shall be mandatorily disabled for this purpose,” said the central bank, in a notification on Wednesday.

              For existing cards, which have seen the online or ‘card-not-present transactions’, the banks have been directed to carry out a risk assessment and take a call on disabling them based on the risk perception.

              Card transactions are usually divided in two categories — card-present transactions and card not present transactions. In the case of the former, the customer physically interacts with payment machinery using his or her card and in case of the latter, the cardholder does not or cannot physically present the card for a merchant’s visual examination.

            • No documents will be asked or biometric taken for NPR, says Home Ministry

              Amid concerns expressed by Opposition parties and states like West Bengal on the National Population Register (NPR), the Home Ministry on Wednesday said that no documents will be asked or biometrics taken while updating the register.

              A form carrying questions as part of the NPR exercise will be finalised soon, ministry officials said. However, the information available on the website of the office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, the NPR database would contain demographic as well as biometric details.

            • Apps are sharing more of your data with ad industry than you may think

              Those laws aren’t doing squat to protect us from the digital marketing and adtech industry, according to a new report from the Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC).

              What chance do laws stand against policing what the NCC describes as a shadowy network of companies, “virtually unknown to consumers,” with which popular apps are sharing exquisitely personal behavior/interest/activities/habits data, including our religious preference, menstruation cycle, location data, sexual orientation, political views, drug use, birthday, the unique IDs associated with our smartphones, and more?

              The current situation is “completely out of control, harming consumers, societies, and businesses,” the NCC writes, as evidence continues to mount against what it calls “the commercial surveillance systems” at the heart of online advertising.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Fifty Years and Still the Unrelenting Drumbeat of War

        History tells quite a different story of  Democrats who have run for president supporting war and/or war funding. Look to the failure of the antiwar candidacies of Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern as Democrats who didn’t even get remotely close to the presidency. Eugene Debs ran as an antiwar candidate on the Socialist Party of America ticket and got 3.4% (in his 1920 bid from prison) of the vote in his last run for the presidency. There’s lots of money to be made from war and more power for the empire.

      • Who Wins and Who Loses in the Iran Crisis?

        In the latest phase of the US-Iran confrontation, who came out on top is not clear-cut; both countries made gains and losses from the crisis and some of its the results are still to come.

      • Vague Imminence: US policy, Pre-emptive Force and Qasem Soleimani

        International relations is typified by its vagueness of definition and its shallowness of justification. Be it protecting citizens of a state in another, launching a pre-emptive strike to prevent what another state might do, or simply understanding the application of a treaty provision, justifications can prove uneven and at odds.

      • Missiles, Lies and Assassinations

        Since President Trump’s assassination of Iranian General Qasam Soleimani in Iraq, I’ve seen some well meaning people sharing a video entitled “My 2 cents on current events” on social media. It is by Iranian-American Saghar Erica Kasraie. In the video Kasraie states she is a “human rights activist” and proclaims that Iranians are celebrating the assassination of Soleimani. She then goes on to thank President Trump for this illegal and brazen act of war. I couldn’t help but be reminded of another “viral video” that was circulated by Venezuelan-American comedian Joanna Hausmann when the US was targeting Venezuela for a coup against Maduro last year. She also praised the American led actions against the country, albeit in a manner more appealing to her progressive audience.

      • ‘Huge’: House to Consider Lee- and Khanna-Backed Measures to Stop Trump’s March to War With Iran

        The Congressional Progressive Caucus said the two bills are “our best chance to avoid future conflict.”

      • American Murder

        Clausewitz said, “War is the continuation of politics by other means”, but  American Presidents have modified his apothegm.  No one knows when it was first judged–How to put it?  Not legal, no; not moral, no, surely not.  Conceiveable..?  Permissible..?–politically safe, for a nation to assassinate a human being, a foreign enemy.  There is no record of that meeting of our government’s most powerful men–only such a group could plan so radical an action–when one of them first dared to say, “Suppose we kill him?”

      • Support for Combat Troop Withdrawal Is Not Enough to Stop Endless Wars

        Six Democratic presidential candidates sparred on Tuesday night in Des Moines, the last debate before the crucial Iowa caucuses. The debate, hosted by CNN and The Des Moines Register, focused heavily on foreign policy and rising tensions with Iran following the U.S. assassination of that country’s top military commander, Qassem Soleimani. As the presidential field continues to narrow, the U.S. Senate is preparing for the historic impeachment trial of President Trump, for which Senators Sanders, Warren and Klobuchar are all expected to leave the campaign trail to serve their role as jurors.

      • Trump’s Unprecedented Attack on Iran and the Rule of Law

        The assassination of Iranian major general Qassem Soleimani on Jan. 3 in Baghdad is what happens when the steady erosion of congressional war-making powers intersects with the tenancy of a madman in the Oval Office.

      • Citing Threat From Armed Groups, Virginia Gov. Declares Emergency and Bans Guns at State Capitol

        “This isn’t about the Second Amendment,” said activist Molly Conger, “this is about threats of terrorism.”

      • ‘A Truly Historic Moment’: 50 Years After Congress Passed ERA, Amendment Meets Constitutional Threshold With Virginia’s Approval

        The amendment is likely to be tied up in court battles following a Justice Department statement that the deadline for ratification has passed.

      • China-Backed Pakistan Bid To Raise Kashmir At UN Fails To Make Noise, Again

        Last month, France, the US, the UK and Russia foiled an attempt by China to discuss Kashmir at a closed-door meeting of the UNSC.

        China has been critical of India’s reorganisation of J-K, and has particularly criticised New Delhi for making Ladakh a union territory. China lays claim over several parts of Ladakh.

      • China isolated on Jammu and Kashmir in informal UNSC talks

        China and Pakistan tried, for the third time, to raise the Kashmir issue at the United Nations, in part to embarrass India on the international stage and, in part, to stoke fires in Kashmir Valley, according to officials aware of the development who said the efforts were thwarted by India’s diplomatic allies who left Beijing isolated.

        China got a “stinging response” when it raised Kashmir at a closed-door informal consultation of the UN Security Council (UNSC), Syed Akbaruddin, the Indian envoy to the UN, said in a late-night tweet.

      • Canada investigates reports that Iran is harassing families trying to repatriate remains of crash victims

        Little is known at this point about how the repatriation process will play out. Iran does not recognize dual citizenship, something that’s been an issue in past consular cases; a government official said it’s too early to say what impact that factor could have in this case.

      • The Kariye Museum in Istanbul – a Byzantine masterpiece under threat

        aFollowing the Ottoman conquest of the city in 1453, the Byzantine church was appropriated for Muslim worship and its frescoes and mosaics were gradually (never completely) covered by a thin layer of dye and lime. After the building was declared a national monument in 1945 under the secular Turkish republic, the Kariye Camii underwent a major conservation program, which restored the 14th-century Byzantine paintings and mosaics to their original splendour. Today the Kariye Camii Museum is a major tourist destination in Istanbul.

        The decision to return the Kariye (or Chora) Museum from its non-confessional status to a mosque is a populist one intended to appeal to the pious, nationalistic base of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s AKP (Justice and Development Party).The transformation of Byzantine churches into mosques is the ultimate manifestation of AKP’s neo-Ottomanist vision, its main legitimising cultural policy. If the court’s verdict is indeed implemented, it sets a clear precedent for the most politically charged landmark of the city: Hagia Sophia, the liturgical and political centre of Byzantine Constantinople, which was claimed as the imperial mosque by the Ottoman sultan Mehmed II in 1453 and has been serving as a museum since 1934.

      • Iran arrests person for sharing video of missile striking Ukrainian airliner

        On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that it had verified security footage that showed two missiles hitting the plane. The first disabled the jet’s transponder before the second missile struck.

        The footage was captured by a camera on a building four miles away from an Iranian military site. The video was uploaded to YouTube by an Iranian user about 2 a.m. Tuesday, according to The Times.

      • Biden Says His Vote for War Wasn’t Really a Vote for War. He’s Still Lying.

        I found myself tumbling through a time warp during the opening segment of Tuesday night’s debate in Iowa. I was sitting there attentively, listening to the six candidates discuss their various stances on the Iraq War … when all of a sudden, I flashed back to October 25, 2002.

      • Joe Biden skates by again

        But Biden did back Bush on Iraq. He backed Social Security cuts. He backed a bad bankruptcy bill in 2005. And he lauded a bad budget deal with Republican Mitch McConnell as an example of sound bipartisan policymaking.

        This pattern of behavior raises, to me, a real worry about a potential Biden presidency. Not that his talk of a post-election Republican Party “epiphany” is unrealistic — every candidate in the field is offering unrealistic plans for change — but that he has a taste for signing on to bad bargains. There’s potential for a critique of Biden that isn’t just about nitpicking the past or arguing about how ambitious Democrats should be in their legislative proposals, but about whether Biden would adequately hold the line when going toe-to-toe with congressional Republicans.

      • Joe Biden Is Still Lying About His Role in Invading Iraq

        In the former vice president’s new telling of events, he and other Democratic politicians who preferred a multilateral, diplomatic solution were misled by a Bush administration hell-bent on taking America into a war he then promptly set out to oppose.

        The facts say something very different. Biden was one of the Iraq invasion’s most zealous boosters — supporting it vocally and publicly throughout 2003 and 2004 — and it was not until a debate with Dick Cheney the following year that he would finally deem his vote to authorize it a “mistake.” In July 2003, some four months into the invasion, Biden could still be heard saying: “It was the right vote then and would be a correct vote today.”

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • NPR’s sanitizing of Trump’s Milwaukee rally shows how he’s broken the media

        The disconnect between the real Trump and the whitewashed version that emerges from mainstream reporting was captured nicely by Guardian Australia editor Lenore Taylor in a piece she wrote last September headlined, “As a foreign reporter visiting the US I was stunned by Trump’s press conference”:

        I’ve read so many stories about his bluster and boasting and ill-founded attacks, I’ve listened to speeches and hours of analysis, and yet I was still taken back by just how disjointed and meandering the unedited president could sound.

    • Environment

      • UN warns more extreme weather ahead after hottest decade on record

        The past decade has been the hottest on record, the UN said Wednesday, warning that the higher temperatures were expected to fuel numerous extreme weather events in 2020 and beyond.

        The World Meteorological Organization, which based its findings on analysis of leading international datasets, said increases in global temperatures had already had dire consequences, pointing to “retreating ice, record sea levels, increasing ocean heat and acidification, and extreme weather”.

        WMO said its research also confirmed data released by the European Union’s climate monitor last week showing that 2019 was the second hottest year on record, after 2016.

      • ‘We are on the brink of a different world’ – Caroline Lucas MP turns to curating

        I knew I wanted to do something about the environment and nature; that’s what gets me up in the morning and that’s what my passion is. One of the lovely things about the Towner collection is that there are so many landscapes and seascapes, a lot of them quite local, so there was a real familiarity with a part of the world I understood. But beyond nature, environment and climate being the theme, my starting point was the David Nash exhibition which opened a couple of months before mine [closes 2 February]. I feel so lucky I was able to meet him, and also visit his studio and the gallery at Capel Rhiw. It was a wonderful immersion in his work and in his thinking. And I was struck by the fact that his exhibition is a retrospective – 200 seasons, 50 years looking back at his work. So my own starting point became: what do we know about the next 200 seasons, what can we be certain of, do we even have 200 seasons of safe life on this planet? That question led me to choose landscapes and seascapes, many of them local, many familiar, but now with a question mark over them. What happens to this over the next 50 years? These outlines of landscapes and seascapes that have long been taken for granted can no longer be assumed to be permanent and unchanging.

      • Drinking water: Key challenge this decade

        “Almost 22% of the groundwater in the country has either dried up or in the critical and over-exploited categories,” said Jal Shakti (Water Resources) Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat. The water bodies across the country continue to disappear in an alarming pace amid errant real estate growth, needless infrastructure development, citizens’ irresponsibility, corruption and administrative apathy.

        According to the Ministry of Water Resources, the water bodies, excluding the rivers and lakes, cover an area of about seven million hectares. The total length of rivers and canals runs around 1,84,000 km. Unfortunately, the majority of the water bodies are not performing to improve the living condition of people.

      • Copernicus: 2019 was the second warmest year and the last five years were the warmest on record

        The Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) announces today that 2019 was the fifth in a series of exceptionally warm years and the second warmest year globally ever recorded. Meanwhile, Europe saw its warmest year on record by a small margin. Together with the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS), C3S also reports that CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere have continued to rise. Their data provide the first complete, global picture of 2019 temperatures and CO2 levels. The results are in line with previous projections from WMO and the Global Carbon Project (GCP) for 2019. The WMO estimated that 2019 was likely to be the 2nd or 3rd warmest year on record, while both WMO and the GCP indicated that atmospheric CO2 concentrations had continued to increase.

      • We Spent $17b On One Fleet, We Won’t Spend $500m On The Other. Which Do You Think Is More Urgent?

        Australia’s immediate security concerns have nothing to do with foreign powers and cold wars. Professor Anthony Burke explains the biggest security threats facing Australia right now, and how we can best confront them.

      • Geo-engineering could make poor countries richer

        There is still no certainty that geo-engineering could save the world. But, paradoxically, if it did work it might repair climate injustice.

      • Climate Groups Thank Sanders for Being Only Candidate at Debate to Stand Against Trump-Led Trade Deal

        “We can do much better than a Trump-led trade deal that does not even have the phrase ‘climate change’ in it.”

      • To Help Australia, Look to Aboriginal Fire Management

        Cultural burning is proactive, while Western-style controlled burning, also called hazard reduction burning, is reactive.

      • Shuttered Refinery in Philly Shows Climate Activists Cannot Ignore Labor

        In the early morning hours of June 21, 2019, a catastrophic explosion tore through the Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) oil refinery in the southwest section of Philadelphia. The training and quick thinking of refinery workers, members of United Steelworkers Local 10-1, averted certain disaster and saved millions of lives. One month later, on July 21, PES declared bankruptcy — their second in as many years — and began to close down the refinery in the following months, laying off almost 2,000 people with no meaningful severance. According to workers who spoke with In These Times, the refinery stopped running crude oil in early August, although there are fewer than 100 workers who were kept on as caretakers for the waste water and steam generating units.

      • ‘Unquestionably Alarming Signs’: New Data Confirms Earth Just Had Hottest Decade on Record

        2019 was also the second warmest year on record, and the past five years were the five warmest on record.

      • Cory Booker’s Halt on Factory Farms Would Help the Climate

        Data from the EPA shows a steady increase in agriculture-related greenhouse gas emissions, much of it linked to industrial systems of crop production and the rise of factory farms over the last two decades.

      • Energy

        • Australia on the Chasm of Climate Catastrophe

          Australia: coal and Murdoch are kings 

        • Compromised: Genie Energy and the Murdoch media’s climate denial

          Rupert Murdoch, Dick Cheney, former CIA director James Woolsey, former US Treasury head Larry Summers, former US Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, hedge fund boss Michael Steinhardt and Jacob Rothschild have something in common. They are all on the board of oil and gas explorer, Genie Energy. Gas industry whistleblower Simone Marsh explores Rupert Murdoch’s fossil fuel interests.

          Psychological warfare, or psywar, is the use of propaganda against an enemy, supported by such military, economic or political measures as may be required. Such propaganda is generally intended to demoralise the enemy, to break his will to fight or resist, and sometimes render him favourably disposed to one’s position.

          Psychological warfare, winning the “hearts and minds” of the civil population, has been integral to the climate war.

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • Australia’s Bushfires Expose an Extinction Crisis Decades in the Making

          The hundreds of fires racing across Australia have captured the world’s attention and left an indelible scar on the continent, with at least 27 human lives lost, 15 million acres consumed and nearly 2,000 homes destroyed. And then, of course, there are the animals, shown dead or scarred in unforgettable photos. The exact number of wild creatures killed in the blazes won’t be known for a while, but one estimate, from University of Sydney ecologist Chris Dickman, puts it at a staggering 1 billion animals.

        • Scientists hope to revive near-extinct northern white rhino in Kenya

          The northern white rhino came closer to extinction in 2018 when the last known living male died in Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy. The only surviving northern white rhinos now are a mother and daughter, which also live at the site, making them the world’s most endangered mammal.

          Researchers collected sperm from male rhinos before their deaths and developed three embryos using eggs collected from the two living females last year. They plan to implant the embryos in female southern white rhinos, which are more populous.

        • The Koreguaje Tribe: Threatened Guardians of the Northwest Amazon
        • Help Us Understand Logging and Timber Practices Across Oregon

          The timber industry for decades drove the economy in Oregon, a state where nearly half of the land is forest.

          Today, the industry has changed. Logging in federal forests, once a major source of lumber, is a fraction of what it was before environmental restrictions. Dozens of mills have closed. Stands of trees that once required a crew of loggers to cut can now be felled by one person in a single machine.

    • Finance

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • A Fine Republic, But Can We Keep It?  

        As Benjamin Franklyn was leaving Independence Hall on the final day of the Constitutional Convention, the story goes, a woman asked him, ‘Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?”  He is said to have replied without hesitation, “A republic, if you can keep it.”*

      • Calling Bernie Sanders a ‘Champion’ for Immigrant Families, Make the Road Action Endorses Vermont Senator for President

        “Bernie Sanders is the champion our community needs and is helping to lead the movement that will help us defeat Trump in 2020.”

      • France at a Crossroads
      • City Problems: A Fairly True Barcelona Story

        We won the elections. We won by an absolute minority and there’s some merit in that. When you win you have to do a lot of incomprehensible things and no one explains them to you, among them negotiating who’ll end up being mayor at the investiture. Since you’re the winning force (sic) you’ve got to take the lead in the negotiations. They don’t tell you how, it’s not in the “Handbook for Commons Citizens Who Win the Elections”, but there’s a certain logic to it. Then you learn that there’s no such manual and, anyway, if it did exist and tried to reproduce the logic operating in The Castle, it would profane Frege’s grave. I even wondered if the logic of the negotiations is based on quantum physics. Some famous physicist with a few notions of sociology should study the phenomenon.

      • Ilhan Omar Warns Progressives Escalating Warren-Sanders Disagreement Only Fuels Trump’s Attacks on Both Candidates

        “Let’s stay focused on the task ahead: defeating Donald Trump in November and fighting for the America we deserve.”

      • Indian Students Refuse to Give an Inch to the Far Right

        With her head bandaged and her arm in a sling, university student Aishe Ghosh went before the cameras to say that the students of the university she attends in New Delhi would move “not an inch back.” The students would continue to agitate to defend Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and its union, and to fight against the divisive and toxic politics of the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

      • The Wrong Question for Democrats to Be Asking About Trump
      • Sanders and Warren Show Differences on Trade and Health Care in Debate

        The final Democratic debate before the Iowa caucus had moments that further highlighted the distinctions between the leading candidates on issues like free public college and health care but for the most part it covered familiar ground.

      • It Is Clear the Establishment and Corporate Media Would Prefer Trump Reelection to President Bernie Sanders

        Sanders is likely to face two strikes—one in the capitol and one from capital—if he wins the Democratic nomination and later the White House.

      • Putin nominates Federal Tax Service head Mikhail Mishustin to become Russia’s prime minister

        Russian President Vladimir Putin has proposed Federal Tax Service (FNS) head Mikhail Mishustin to the State Duma as a candidate for the post of prime minister of the Russian government. The Kremlin’s press service reported Putin’s decision to the news agency Interfax.

      • Russia’s government resigns as Putin offers spot on Security Council to Medvedev

        Following Vladimir Putin’s annual state-of-the-nation speech on Wednesday, where the president called for major constitutional reform, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has announced that Russia’s entire ministerial cabinet, commonly referred to as “the government,” will formally resign.

      • A modest proposal Putin has suggested a bunch of Constitutional amendments. Here’s what he wants to change.
      • Putin proposes national referendum on Russian Constitutional amendments

        In a state-of-the-nation speech on Wednesday, Vladimir Putin proposed a national referendum on amendments to the Constitution that would shape the Russian government in the years after the president’s current term ends in 2024. Putin noted that Russia’s parliament is legally capable of changing the Constitution, but he argued that a national vote is necessary to make the amendments legitimate.

      • Russia’s government has resigned. What happens now?
      • ‘Vice President Medvedev’ Russia’s prime minister is about to become Putin’s deputy in the Security Council. What does that mean?

        Vladimir Putin has offered Acting Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who resigned the prime minister’s post on January 15, a new position as the deputy chair of Russia’s Security Council. This will make Medvedev deputy to Putin himself: Russia’s primary security law dictates that the Security Council is always chaired by the president. Medvedev’s former position, meanwhile, will be occupied by Federal Tax Service head Mikhail Mishustin.

      • Putin Engineers Shakeup That Could Keep Him in Power Longer

        President Vladimir Putin engineered a surprise shakeup of Russia’s leadership Wednesday, proposing changes to the constitution that could keep him in power well past the end of his term in 2024.

      • House Leaders March Trump Impeachment Articles to the Senate

        In a dramatic procession across the U.S. Capitol, House Democrats carried the formal articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate late Wednesday, setting the stage for only the third trial to remove a president in American history.

      • Sanders’ Wife on Feud With Warren: ‘This Discussion Is Over’

        Jane O’Meara Sanders, the wife of Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, has a clear message about the simmering dispute between her husband and Elizabeth Warren: It’s over.

      • CNN Debate Moderators Pilloried for Blatant Anti-Sanders Bias

        Critics of the corporate media as well as supporters and staffers of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign blasted the moderators of the CNN/Des Moines Register Democratic presidential debate Tuesday night for employing centrist talking points and demonstrating a bias against Sanders in how they framed questions.

      • ‘CNN Is Truly a Terrible Influence on This Country’: Democratic Debate Moderators Pilloried for Centrist Talking Points and Anti-Sanders Bias

        “This is an unusually vile performance by CNN,” tweeted Rolling Stone contributing editor Matt Taibbi.

      • CNN, Clinton Democrats Sow Discord In Democratic Presidential Race

        Senator Bernie Sanders did everything he could to help Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton defeat President Donald Trump in 2016. In 1988, during a C-SPAN appearance, he said, “A woman could be elected President of the United States.” He even encouraged Senator Elizabeth Warren to run for president in 2015.  Yet, before, during, and after the last presidential debate before the Iowa Caucuses, CNN and Clinton Democrats sowed discord among Democratic voters by promoting a spurious story against Sanders—that he told Warren a woman could not win the election during a private meeting in December 2018.

        It is still gaining traction, especially since CNN waited until 24 hours after the debate to release audio of a “tense confrontation” between Sanders and Warren that occurred.On January 15, CNN moderator Abby Phillip asked Sanders about the network’s story. “CNN reported yesterday that — and Sen. Sanders, Sen. Warren confirmed in a statement, that in 2018 you told her that you did not believe that a woman could win the election. Why did you say that?”The question was not, what do you recall from that meeting? That would have undermined what CNN reported. Sanders responded, “Well, as a matter of fact, I didn’t say it. And I don’t want to waste a whole lot of time on this, because this is what Donald Trump and maybe some of the media want. Anybody knows me knows that it’s incomprehensible that I would think that a woman cannot be president of the United States.”He mentioned he “deferred” to Warren in 2015, when there was a movement to draft her to run for president. He also said, “Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 3 million votes. How could anybody in a million years not believe that a woman could become president of the United States?”The CNN moderator pressed Sanders further:

      • The Big Loser in the Iowa Debate? CNN’s Reputation

        The biggest loser from last night’s Democratic debate (1/14/20) was CNN’s journalistic credibility.

      • CNN Asked No Questions About Immigration at First All-White Democratic Debate

        As the federal government plans to divert an additional $7.2 billion from the military budget for the construction of President Trump’s promised border wall, and tens of thousands of asylum seekers from Central America, the Caribbean and other regions are stranded throughout the U.S.-Mexico border, CNN moderators failed to question Democratic presidential candidates on border and immigration issues. We speak to Julio Ricardo Varela, co-host of the Latinx political podcast “In the Thick” and founder of Latino Rebels. “Anyone who thinks that a wall is going to protect us, the statistics aren’t there. … But that is what the American people are led to believe,” Varela says. “The only way you fight against this is that you challenge that propaganda, because that is what it’s becoming. It has become propaganda. And political journalists need to do a better job in challenging what the president says.”

      • In Iowa Debate, Progressives Resist Efforts to Divide Them

        The moderators did all they could to start a fight, but Sanders and Warren refused to bite.

      • ID cards required to enter Hong Kong universities following campus protest clashes last year

        PolyU began its new semester on Monday with entry gates installed at entrances. Students and staff members must now present their identification cards to enter.

      • Facebook’s problems moderating deepfakes will only get worse in 2020

        Hwang argues that the dilution of the term deepfakes could actually have benefits in the long run. “I think the great irony of people saying that all of these consumer features are also deepfakes, is that it in some ways commoditizes what deepfake means,” says Hwang. If deepfakes become commonplace and unremarkable, then people will “get comfortable with the notion of what this technology can do,” he says. Then, hopefully, we can understand it better and focus on the underlying problems of misinformation and political propaganda.

      • Lev Parnas implicates president in first TV interview: “Trump knew exactly what was going on”

        Former acting solicitor general Neal Katyal and former Department of Justice official Joshua Geltzer wrote in a joint Washington Post op-ed that the new evidence turned over to Congress by Parnas earlier this week “demolished” Trump’s defense ahead of his looming trial.

        “These new documents demolish at least three key defenses to which Trump and his allies have been clinging,” they wrote. “The documents released Tuesday now show what Trump has been so afraid of.”

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Facebook’s Soleimani Ban Flies in Face of First Amendment

        If sanctions can be invoked by a social media network to take down certain content, what is next?

      • Content Moderation At Scale Is Impossible: YouTube Says That Frank Capra’s US Government WWII Propaganda Violates Community Guidelines

        You’ve heard me say it over and over again now: Masnick’s Impossibility Theorem is that it is literally impossible to do content moderation at scale well. There will always be dumb mistakes. The latest example? Rogue archivist Carl Malamud had posted filmmaker Frank Capra’s classic Prelude to War on YouTube. If you’re unfamiliar with Prelude to War, it’s got quite a backstory. During World War II, the US government decided that, in order to build up public support for the war, it would fund Hollywood to create blatant American propaganda. They had Frank Capra, perhaps Hollywood’s most influential director during the 1930s, produce a bunch of films under the banner “Why We Fight.” The very first of these was “Prelude to War.”

      • US company offers free cybersecurity assistance to campaigns

        The new “Cloudflare for Campaigns” program will offer free cybersecurity services including firewall protection and and internal data management for campaigns. It will also assist staffers with access to internal systems from accidentally being exposed to malware and other viruses.

      • Wikipedia access restored in Turkey after court ruled against ban

        Access to Wikipedia was restored in Turkey on Wednesday after more than two and a half years, the Wikimedia foundation announced.

        The access comes after Turkey’s highest court ruled at the end of last year against the country’s ban on the website, calling it a violation of freedom of expression.

      • Easing of restrictions will lead to separatist activities in Kashmir, warn intelligence

        Inputs gathered by the intelligence Agency suggest that restoration of [Internet] services and easing of other curbs will lead to separatist activities in Kashmir Valley. Agencies also warned that Pakistan’s ISI is planning a strategy to exploit the situation once [Internet] services are fully operational in the Valley.

        Meanwhile, the Official Spokesperson, Mr. Rohit Kansal told reporters that Terror outfits have been using encrypted mobile communications and Voice on Internet Protocol (VoIP) to plan infiltrations into India and reactivate their cadre in Kashmir.

      • Five Years After Charlie Hebdo: The West is on its Knees

        Tuesday was the fifth anniversary of the massacre at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, in which Islamic terrorists murdered twelve people in the name of Allah. In the years since the attack, the West has become even more craven, and is even less willing to engage in frank discussion about the nature of Islam or the Islamization of Europe.

      • SHAH: Criticism of Islam is not hate speech

        As a university lecturer, Hafeez drew harsh criticism from the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami political party for being “too liberal” and was later arrested after being accused of criticizing the Prophet Muhammad on social media in 2013. He was held in solitary confinement for five years awaiting his sentence. Those who represented him were also targeted. Hafeez’s first lawyer abandoned the case after multiple death threats. His second lawyer, Rashid Rehman, was gunned down in 2014.

    • Freedom of Information / Freedom of the Press

      • We Must Remedy Discrimination in Our Media System

        If we’re going to foster journalism that actually meets community needs, we must address how the foundation of the U.S. media system is built on racism and sexism.

      • Former Charlie Hebdo Columnist: We Hope to Avoid Creation of ‘French Islamic Republic’

        That day, brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi killed 12 people and wounded 11 others in one of the worst attacks on the press in history. Jokes the magazine made about Islamic leaders and Prophet Muhammad, as well as its depictions of the prophet, considered a sin in Islam, are understood to have been the primary motive behind the attack.

        Speaking on a French radio network ahead of the fifth anniversary of the tragedy, Patrick Pelloux defends the beliefs the magazine still holds.

      • Where is the Reporting on PetroCaribe?

        January 12 marks ten years since Haiti’s deadly earthquake. Usually, Haiti appears in international news when there’s a scandal, a disaster, violence. There was a flurry of coverage in October when daily protests, begun with a nine-week general strike – in Haitian Creole, peyi lòk – met with government repression, including the death of three journalists. The mobilization has been ongoing since July 2018, leading to a partial report naming high-ranking government officials of mismanagement of PetroCaribe funds published at the end of May 2019.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • They Were Promised Broadband and High-Tech Jobs. They’re Still Waiting.

        A year ago, Mary Lou Muncy landed her dream job advising home health care agencies on wound care.

        The timing seemed perfect. Muncy’s contract as a nurse at the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Lexington had ended, and she wasn’t ready to retire. With an annual salary of $77,000, Muncy would have enough money to help her daughter pay for medical school.

    • Monopolies

      • Cancelling a Covenant-Not-To-Sue

        In a divided opinion, the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s summary judgment against the patentee Molon — holding that a 2006 covenant-not-to-sue remained in force despite a subsequent 2007 settlement agreement stating that prior covenants “concerning the subject matter hereof” are “of no further force or effect.”

        The Subject Matter of a Contract: The majority opinion penned by Judge Lourie and joined by Judge Hughes concludes “that the two agreements concern different subject matter” and and thus finds the merger and cancellation clause inapplicable. Writing in dissent, Judge Reyna came to the opposite conclusion since both the 2006 covenant and the 2007 settlement agreement focused on a license to practice the ‘915 patent.

        [...]

        One interesting additional issue not addressed here is the extent that a unilateral covenant-not-to-sue can be revoked, even by agreement. If we think of the covenant as a conveyance (of property rights), a revocation would ordinarily be insufficient to transfer rights back to the patentee. Rather, we would need an express conveyance or release. A covenant-not-to-sue could also be seen as an abandonment of rights — something like a ‘release.’ Historically courts have distinguished between a release and a covenant-not-to-sue, although that distinction appears to have lifted based as covenants now operate as a complete bar to a subsequent underlying action rather than their historical role of only creating a breach of contract action. See Skilstaf, Inc. v. CVS Caremark Corp., 669 F.3d 1005, 1017 (9th Cir. 2012).

      • Patents

        • Hospira, Inc. v. Fresenius Kabi USA, LLC (Fed. Cir. 2020)

          It seems that memes can be as compelling in the law as in social media, and the meme of the moment in patent law is inherency, particularly as applied to obviousness determinations (see, for example, Persion Pharmaceuticals LLC v. Alvogen Malta Operations Ltd.; Acorda Therapeutics, Inc. v. Roxane Labs., Inc.). This tendency was most recently illustrated in the Federal Circuit’s decision in Hospira, Inc. v. Fresenius Kabi USA, LLC.

          [...]

          On appeal, Hospira argued that the evidence that the 2% limitation was inherent was adduced from samples made according to the patent disclosure, and thus not prior art; the weakness of this argument is that inherency almost by definition arises where the inherent property existed in the prior art but was not appreciated in the art. The opinion notes that, as here, “extrinsic evidence can be used to demonstrate what is ‘necessarily present’ in a prior art embodiment even if the extrinsic evidence is not itself prior art,” citing Monsanto Tech. LLC v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 878 F.3d 1336, 1345 (Fed. Cir. 2018), and Schering Corp. v. Geneva Pharm., Inc., 339 F.3d 1373, 1377 (Fed. Cir. 2003). In addition, the opinion states that “the work of the inventor or the patentee can be used as the evidence of inherency,” citing Alcon Research, Ltd. v. Apotex Inc., 687 F.3d 1362, 1369 (Fed. Cir. 2012), and Telemac Cellular Corp. v. Topp Telecom, Inc., 247 F.3d 1316, 1327–28 (Fed. Cir. 2001).

          [...]

          In addition to the promulgation of the idea that inherency is available to be used to support for obviousness, this decision makes clear that the Court (or some members of the Court) is of a mind to consider claims in a restrictive, rather than permissive way. It is clear that like “mere” isolation in other contexts the discovery of novel properties, not appreciated in the prior art will be treated as inherently present in the art and thus can be used for determining obviousness. This tendency has support in earlier Federal Circuit decisions (for example, that “[i]t is well-settled that the inclusion of an inherent, but undisclosed, property of a composition does not render a claim to the composition nonobvious,” Atlas Powder Co. v. Ireco Inc., 190 F.3d 1342, 1347 (Fed. Cir. 1999)) but its extension to obviousness under the recent case law indicates that prudence suggests applicants limit statements of discoveries as the basis for their inventions and to include some evidence that claims to an invention, like this one, contain limitations that distinguish over any inherent properties (e.g., by reciting the need for treating the diluted formulation by nitrogen sparging). Doing so might (just might) provide a basis for asserting that what provokes or illustrates the inherent property was itself not inherent and thus preclude determining that the invention is obvious.

        • Genentech, Inc. v. Hospira, Inc. (Fed. Cir. 2020)

          Last week, the Federal Circuit affirmed invalidation of claims to methods for reducing Protein A leaching in affinity column chromatographic methods important inter alia in purifying monoclonal antibodies, in Genentech, Inc. v. Hospira, Inc. In doing so, the panel majority (over a dissent by Judge Newman) illustrated anew the importance of the deference the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (and particularly the Patent Trial and Appeal Board) is due under the Administrative Procedures Act, and how that deference can be outcome determinative under the right circumstances.

          The case arose before the PTAB in an inter partes review (IPR) of U.S. Patent No. 7,807,799, which claimed methods for purifying antibodies comprising a CH2/CH3 region using Protein A affinity chromatography. The claimed methods are directed to an improvement wherein the amount of Protein A contaminant in the antibody eluate is minimized (substantially to zero). The opinion characterized the claimed method as a “standard purification technique,” relying on high affinity, reversible binding to CH2/CH3 regions, which methods were capable of “reducing leaching of protein A . . . by reducing [the] temperature” of the “composition that is subjected to protein A affinity chromatography.” The inventors found that leaching can be minimized by performing chromatography at temperatures between 10-18°C (the specification also disclosing a broader range of 3-20°C).

          [...]

          The majority’s opinion closes with the Court’s rejection of Genentech’s challenge that inter partes review are an unconstitutional violation of the Fifth Amendment (for reasons substantially identical to the Court’s earlier opinion in Celgene Corp. v. Peter, 931 F.3d 1342, 1356–63 (Fed. Cir. 2019)), nor the Seventh Amendment nor Article III.

          Judge Newman dissented, on the basis inter alia that the invention had actually solved a real world problem and that the majority’s affirmance ignored the value the invention brought to the art. “The court presents a hindsight determination that this apparently simple solution to a difficult problem is anticipated and obvious, although it was not known or obvious to the scientists who were attempting to solve the problem of leaching contamination, and the experts for both sides agreed that the solution presented in the ’799 patent was new to them,” Judge Newman writes. She sees the complexities involved in arriving at this solution, and the failure in the art to disclose the solution rebuts, for the Judge the Board’s invalidation on anticipation and obviousness grounds. On the merits, Judge Newman discounts the overlap at 18°C as supporting anticipation, because her understanding of the law would require the temperature range disclosed in the ’389 PCT publication (18-25°C) to be the same as the claimed temperature range (10-18°C).

        • CRISPR hearing days 2-3: Board of Appeal poised to refer to the EBA?

          In brief summary, the Broad Institute’s CRISPR patent was revoked by the opposition division for lacking a valid priority claim under the well-established EPO approach to priority, based on mountains of Boards of Appeal case law. The Patentee’s argument on appeal is that the EPO approach to priority is wrong because it is not in line with the Paris Convention or a proper interpretation of Article 87 EPC. There are three threads to the Patentee’s argument: (I) Entitlement to priority should not be assessed by the EPO, (II) the EPO incorrectly interprets the phrase “any person” in Article 87 EPC and Article 4 Paris Convention, and (III) US law should govern the interpretation of “any person” in Article 87 EPC when the priority application is a US provisional.

          In a dramatic development this morning, it seems that the Board of Appeal (3.3.08) were poised to seek clarification from the EBA on each of the three strands of the patentee’s argument. The Board of Appeal indicated that the referral would be justified on the grounds that the points of law in question were of fundamental importance (Article 112 EPC). Thus, the Board of Appeal announced that it was their intention to refer questions on the issue of priority to the EBA. A break ensued to allow parties to consider their response. IP Magazine’s twitter account reported that a referral had in fact been made. These reports turned out to be false [Merpel: Fake News!].

          [...]

          The Board of Appeal has indicated that they would contemplate a referral on the ground that the issues at stake are of fundamental importance. The criteria for what constitutes an “issue of fundamental importance” was supplied by the EBA in G 1/12: “a point of law is…to be regarded as of fundamental importance if its impact extends beyond the case in hand. Such importance is established if it could be relevant to a large number of similar cases”. As Opponent 1 pointed out, the “large number” of cases to which the issue could be said to be relevant in this case, are all cases of the Patentee that claim priority from the same US provisional…

          If there were to be a referral from the Board of Appeal, this would arguably not seem to be keeping with the norms of EPO legal practice. It is hard to argue that there is not uniform application of the law of priority across the Boards. It is also difficult to see how their can be said to be an issue of fundamental importance (except to the Patentee). To refer the issue to the EBA would be extraordinary. In this Kat’s view, if the technology to which the patent relates wasn’t so valuable, and if the case wasn’t so high profile, it seems highly unlikely that a Board of Appeal would even contemplate a referral.

          Stay tuned to IPKat for Day 4 as the hearing continues.

        • US patents hit record 333,530 granted in 2019; IBM, Samsung (not the FAANGs) lead the pack

          We may have moved on from a nearly-daily cycle of news involving tech giants sparring in courts over intellectual property infringement, but patents continue to be a major cornerstone of how companies and people measure their progress and create moats around the work that they have done in hopes of building that into profitable enterprises in the future. IFI Claims, a company that tracks patent activity in the US, released its annual tally of IP work today underscoring that theme: it noted that 2019 saw a new high-watermark of 333,530 patents granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office.

          [...]

          Consider the so-called FAANG group, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google: Facebook is at number-36 (one of the fastest movers but still not top 10) with 989 patents; Apple is at number-seven with 2,490 patents; Amazon is at number-nine with 2,427 patents; Netflix doesn’t make the top 50 at all; and the Android, search and advertising behemoth Google is merely at slot 15 with 2,102 patents (and no special mention for growth).

          Indeed, the fact that one of the oldest tech companies, IBM, is also the biggest patent filer almost seems ironic in that regard.

        • US Patents Hit Record 333,530 Granted in 2019; IBM, Samsung (Not the FAANGs) Lead the Pack

          IFI Claims, a company that tracks patent activity in the US, reports that 2019 saw a new high-watermark of 333,530 patents granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office.

        • Nokia on losing track in LTE-essential patent infringement case against Daimler in Mannheim and rumored to struggle in Munich case, too

          Next Tuesday (January 21, 2020), the Mannheim Regional Court is scheduled to hold a trial in a Nokia v. Daimler case over EP2286629 on a “method and apparatus to link modulating and coding scheme to amount of resources.” With mediation having practically failed (though the mediators might invite everyone to another meeting, it wouldn’t be likely to yield a result), the assumption is still that the trial will go forward.

          Nokia is going to lose that one in all likelihood. Presiding Judge Dr. Holger Kircher notified the parties and the numerous intervenors (various Daimler suppliers) that, on a preliminary basis, his panel has concluded the patent-in-suit is not essential to the 4G/LTE standard–neither on the basis of a literal infringement theory nor the German equivalent of the Doctrine of Equivalents (DoE).

        • German ministry of justice outlines patent “reform” bill: thick but void smokescreen, designed only to cement the status quo on injunctions

          It’s a rehash of the Emperor’s New Clothes. It’s a smokescreen devoid of any substance. A Fata Morgana for those longing for relief from plaintiffs’ unfettered access to injunctive relief. And a boon for those benefiting from a huge number of mostly meritless patent infringement actions being brought in Germany for leverage. The ministry officials don’t even pretend to be concerned with economic policy, job creation and sustainment, innovation, consumer choice. They’re the guardian angels of a patent litigation system that is out of control–and now gets thje ministry officials to cheer (“Citius, Altius, Fortius” for the patent judiciary–not for the economy, not for society, just for patent judges, patent litigators, patent attorneys involved in litigation, patent trolls, and failed or failing businesses increasingly reliant upon a patent licensing revenue stream).

          To be fair, one must make a distinction here between what constitutes a political achievement for the pro-reform movement and an assessment of suitability-to-task of the measure as it stands. This is like applauding a boxer for having been allowed to challenge his rival, for not getting knocked out in the first round, and for the winner quickly hugging the loser before walking away to cash in and celebrate with his supporters.

          In that sense, it was no small feat to get the ball rolling at all. Originally, the German Federal Ministry of Justice envisioned a minor update to patent law with changes ranging from the cosmetic replacement of the term “Patent Office” with “German Patent and Trademark Office” to a more digital process at the German PTO (almost every patent-in-suit I ever saw in my industry was an EPO patent anyway…). They didn’t go to the drawing board with an intention to redress the balance between plaintiffs and defendants. Then there were some dynamics that shifted the focus to injunctive relief and the injunction gap resulting from the German bifurcation system. Arguably, the pro-reform movement “hijacked” the process. But, so far, to no avail.

          [...]

          If the German legislature adopted the proposal, it would deal a blow to the centuries-old notion of the Separation of Powers. The legislative branch of government would reduce itself to the judiciary’s secretariat. Instead of telling the judges what to do, it would merely restate what the judges have been saying all along. It’s not a conspiracy theory, especially in light of what government insiders know, to presume that the patent judges of the Federal Court of Justice had a hand in this. Whether the ministry officials merely decided to stick to existing case law or whether the Federal Court of Justice simply authored the bill (in Germany, there’s no written or unwritten rule preventing that from happening) is secondary. The result is nothing more than a smokescreen.

          The ministry officials were standing at the drawing board. Instead of sketching a superior solution, they threw their pens away and contented themselves with being mere photographers. It’s now a challenge–but also an opportunity–for the reform movement to appeal to the German Federal Parliament’s institutional self-conception of a legislative institution that looks ahead, not back.

          German government wants to change patent law

          Yesterday the Federal Ministry of Justice in Germany published the first draft of a new patent law. It provides for tighter deadlines for nullity proceedings before the Federal Patent Court. It also covers greater discretion for patent judges when granting automatic injunctions. The German automotive and telecommunications industries, which had previously called on the government to update the law, welcome the changes.

          [...]

          Now the German government wants to make it mandatory for the Federal Patent Court to send a qualified opinion on the validity of a patent to the infringement court after six months. The qualified opinion was imposed on the Federal Patent Court when the patent law was last amended in 2009, albeit with no time limit. The new six-month deadline shortens the time between the filing of a nullity suit and the qualified opinion.

          The opinion indicates to the infringement court if a patent has been rightly granted. Therefore the judges can decide whether to suspend infringement proceedings until the Federal Patent Court has ruled on the patent’s validity.

          However patent experts claim that, all too often, this qualified opinion is either not provided at all or comes too late for the infringement case. This leads to the so-called and oft-criticised injunction gap.

          Furthermore, patent experts have repeatedly called on the government to employ more staff at the Federal Patent Court in Munich. A change in the allocation of work in favour of the nullity senates could also help. Although the government can provide the patent court with more funds, it has no influence on the allocation of work.

        • Software Patents

          • Barcelona Courts approve Trade Secrets Protocol that may indirectly impact patent cases

            Barcelona Commercial Courts have a well-deserved reputation for being dynamic and creative. Not surprisingly, it was Judge Ferrándiz, already retired from the Supreme Court, who back in 1993, when he was sitting at Section 15 of the Court of Appeal of Barcelona, had the idea of specializing that Section on a small number of commercial matters, including intellectual property matters. This was the seed of the specialization introduced across the country on 1 September 2004, the date when Commercial Courts, which have exclusive jurisdiction for patent matters, came into force. These little changes resulted in a modernization of the patent enforcement system that was further enhanced by the coming into force of the new Patents Act on 1 April 2017. Since then, the standards of patent litigation in Spain are approaching the benchmark set by the most experienced European patent courts.

            Among the practical measures introduced by the Commercial Judges in Barcelona during the last few years, the Mobile World Congress Protocol, discussed in other blogs, stands out. Over Christmas, a few months after the coming into force of the 2019 Trade Secrets Act, they circulated a new Protocol that deals with trade secrets.

      • Trademarks

        • Carve It All Up: Compumark Report Shows Trademark Registrations, Claims Of Infringement Both Rising Fast

          As we’ve talked about for some time, one of the long-tail effects of the increased use of intellectual property in American culture has been the supercharging effect it’s had on fomenting a permission culture in general. This effect is compounding, as permission culture breeds IP protectionism, which breeds permission culture. The overall effect this has is to cause far too many people to believe that everything that exists can be owned and controlled.

      • Copyrights

        • Conservancy Joins Mozilla’s Amicus Brief in Google v. Oracle

          We are pleased to announce our participation in an amicus brief filed by Mozilla with the United States Supreme Court. The amicus brief calls on the court to reverse the Federal Circuit’s earlier decision. The earlier decision came down in Oracle’s favor and held Oracle’s Java API copyrightable. We Amici (Latin for “friends of the court”) are asking the Supreme Court to find in favor of Google and take the stand that copyright law should not be expanded to include API’s. Developers rely on the ability to use API’s without fear of retaliation to provide users with interoperability, additional choices, and modifiable software. Forcing payment agreements in this new area disproportionately harms smaller projects and projects in the public interest.

          In addition to Conservancy, Mozilla was joined by other charities including Creative Commons, Open Source Initiative, and Wikimedia Foundation, as well as a number of small to medium tech companies that rely on FOSS and the freedom to innovate.

        • Google v. Oracle: Amici Weigh in on Why the Supreme Court Should Reverse the Federal Circuit’s Rulings

          In the past week 28 amicus curiae briefs were filed in the Google v. Oracle case, including one written by me and Catherine Crump (of which more below). All but two support reversal of one or both of the Federal Circuit’s copyrightability and fair use rulings.[1]

          Especially significant are IBM’s brief with Red Hat arguing against the copyrightability of computer interfaces and Microsoft’s brief criticizing the Federal Circuit’s unduly rigid fair use analysis and indifference to the need for flexible rules that promote interoperability in today’s highly connected world. The briefs are substantively excellent, and significant because these firms are such prominent developers of software.

          For those interested in the case who are not computing professionals, I recommend the amicus briefs submitted by 83 computer scientists and by the Developers Alliance which explain the Java API technology and why reuse of Java declarations and interfaces generally is so important to enabling compatibility. Several other briefs, including one for the Center for Democracy and Technology et al., and another for R Street and Public Knowledge, offer numerous examples of compatible software systems that benefit consumers as well as software developers

          By my count, more than half of the 28 amicus briefs focus only on the copyrightability issue and another 9 address both the copyrightability and fair use issues. Only 4—the Microsoft, Tushnet, Snow, and Rauschenberg Foundation briefs–address only fair use. This was a something of a surprise given that the fair use decision seems quite vulnerable to challenge. After all, a jury rendered a verdict in favor of Google’s fair use defense, and appellate courts are supposed to defer to jury verdicts. Several amicus briefs take the Federal Circuit to task for substituting its judgment on the merits for the jury’s as to issues about which there was conflicting evidence in the record. Also much criticized are the Federal Circuit’s analysis of the four fair use factors and the manner in which it weighed the factors together.

          One very pragmatic reason why some amici would prefer that the Court rule on the copyrightability issue over the fair use issue is that fair use is a fact-intensive, complex, and much debated limitation on copyright. Google may be able to litigate software interface copyright cases for a decade or more, as it has done in this case, but startups and other small and medium-size companies as well as open source developers would prefer the certainty of a no-copyright-in-interfaces rule, as several amicus briefs pointed out. If the Court rules that interfaces are not protectable by copyright law, litigation over reuses of interfaces is much less likely. And if some developer does bring suit, chances are good that the case can be won on a motion to dismiss or for summary judgment

        • Jetflicks Piracy Trial Delayed After Canada Hands Over Masses of Discovery Data

          The trial of six defendants who allegedly operated the ‘pirate’ streaming service Jetflicks will now take place in July 2020. The delay is in response to Canadian authorities handing over masses of discovery data, including subscriber information and support tickets of the defunct service. The original request for information was made around 22 months ago.

        • Operator of Popcorn Time Info Site is Liable for Piracy, Supreme Court Rules

          The Danish Supreme Court has upheld a conditional prison sentence against the operator of a website that provided information on the piracy app Popcorn Time. The site itself didn’t host the infringing software, but the detailed instructions it provided were enough to warrant criminal liability for copyright infringements of the site’s users.

        • Paris Museums Just Released 321,178 Works of Art Online for Free

          Paris is home to hundreds of thousands of works of art. I’s various museums hold paintings from Francisco Goya, Paul Cézanne, Claude Monet, and countless others. Paris Musées, a public institution incorporating the city’s 14 museums, has just made it easier to see those masterworks. Paris Musées has uploaded 321,178 works of art—including paintings, photographs, and coins—to its website. More than 150,000 of those images are in the public domain and users can download them in glorious 300 DPI high definition. The other artworks can be viewed, but aren’t available in high definition.

        • Thoughts on “Non-Amicable” Enforcement of CC Licenses

          Broken Hill Wall Mural-07= by Sheba_Also 43,000 photos is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

        • iHeartRadio Replaces Hundreds of Workers With ‘Technology and AI’

          Yesterday, we first reported on iHeartMedia’s mass layoff of employees nationwide.  Now, the company has explained why those people were let go.

        • Rights Groups to European Commission: Prioritize Users’ Rights, Get Public Input For Article 17 Application Guidelines

          The implementation of Art 17 (formerly Article 13) into national laws will have a profound effect on what users can say and share online. The controversial rule, part of the EU’s copyright directive approved last year, turns tech companies and online services operators into copyright police. Platforms are liable for any uploaded content on their sites that infringes someone’s copyright, absent authorization from rightsholders. To escape liability, online service operators have to make best efforts to ensure that infringing content is not available on their platforms, which in practice is likely to require scanning and filtering of billions of daily social media posts and content uploads containing copyrighted material.The content moderation practices of Internet platforms are already faulty and opaque. Layering copyright enforcement onto this already broken system will censor even more speech. It’s paramount that preserving and protecting users’ rights are baked into guidelines the EC is developing for how member states should implement the controversial rule. The guidelines are non-binding but politically influential.The commission has held four meetings with stakeholders in recent months to gather information about copyright licensing and content moderation practices. Two more meetings are scheduled for this spring, after which the EC is expected to begin drafting guidelines for the application of Article 17, which must be implemented in national laws by June 7, 2021.The fifth meeting was held today in Brussels. The good news is EFF and other digital rights organizations have a seat at the table, alongside rightsholders from the music and film industries and representatives of big tech companies like Google and Facebook. The bad news is that the commission’s proposed guidelines probably won’t keep users’ rights to free speech and freedom of expression from being trampled as internet service providers, fearful of liability, race to over-block content.That’s why EFF and more than 40 user advocate and digital rights groups sent an open letter to the EC asking the commissioners to ensure that implementation guidelines focus on user rights, specifically free speech, and limit the use of automated filtering, which is notoriously inaccurate. The guidelines must ensure that protecting legitimate, fair uses of copyrighted material for research, criticism, review, or parody takes precedence over content blocking measures Internet service providers employ to comply with Article 17, the letter says. What’s more, the guidelines must make clear that automated filtering technologies can only be used if content-sharing providers can show that users aren’t being negatively affected.Further, we asked the commission to share the draft guidelines with rights organizations and the public, and allow both to comment on and suggest improvements to ensure that they comply with European Union civil and human rights requirements. As we told the EC in the letter, “This request is based on the requirement of transparency, which is a core principle of the rule of law.” EFF and its partners want to “ensure that the guidelines are in line with the right to freedom of expression and information and also data protection guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights.”The EC is scheduled to hold the next stakeholder meeting in February in preparation for drafting guidelines. We will keep the pressure on to protect users from censorship and content blocking brought on by this incredibly dangerous directive.

Microsoft is a Market Leader in Lying and Corruption

Posted in Deception, Microsoft, Patents at 11:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Recent: Microsoft Continues to Get Away With Serious Crimes Very Cheaply

Music Night Club
Keep spinning, Microsoft…

Summary: Microsoft is working hard to describe itself as the exact opposite of what it is and what it has been; ‘Internet rot’ helps a lot with this agenda, not to mention control of the media (the narrative)

TO distrust Microsoft is not to “hate”; not any more than a cop chasing a thief does so out of “hatred”…

Microsoft did more than plenty to lose trust; it also lost antitrust cases. Microsoft is a convicted abuser. It continues to exist, sure, because political ties help a lot..

“Microsoft did more than plenty to lose trust; it also lost antitrust cases. Microsoft is a convicted abuser.”Several new readers of ours (we’re definitely growing so far this year) have asked for more indexes that help document particular patterns of abuse; thankfully, several folks have also offered help with it. Over time the site will improve and we’ve been made aware of large-scale legal actions that fish evidence out of Techrights. Some of these actions are against Microsoft (e.g. for sexism), but some pertain to patents — our ‘bread and butter’ in recent years.

It’s really regretful that many articles about Microsoft’s past crimes are vanishing from the Web. ‘Internet rot’ will make many not-so-flattering articles and quotes rot away, allowing PR ‘puff pieces’ to fill the gap with revisionism and marketing. That’s a huge problem and this is why we must take stock of old articles too (because their domains expire, along with copies). Only this way material and quotes can be verified. Obfuscation facilitates denials and societal/historical amnesia.

The other day we quoted Bill Gates and someone told us he was unable to locate the source of that quote. Eventually it was found on a quotes sites. “Then AZQuotes would be the source,” he said, but actually that site merely makes a copy of the original (with context, source and even date missing). “A very long time ago,” I responded, “about a decade [back] I got the quote copied into my notes from somewhere I saw as reliable.”

“That’s a huge problem and this is why we must take stock of old articles too (because their domains expire, along with copies).”Sometimes it seems like the death of many news sites will benefit most those whose past is full of evil deeds. They can craft a fictional history for themselves, hoping nobody will dig any deeper.

“Yes,” the person above noted, “that rot has been happening for a while. It even applies to articles promoting open standards. I supposed unlike with print, there is no authoritative copy archived anywhere on the planet. That’s one reason I donated to the Internet Archive this year, another was the FSF’s mistreatment of RMS and ongoing refusal to fix things up on any level so far.”

“The Internet may forget, but the Internet Archive never forgets (as long as it’s sufficiently funded).”We’ve often used the Internet Archive to highlight Microsoft’s older crimes. We’ll soon use the Internet Archive to show some really embarrassing things about Gates and his family. The Internet may forget, but the Internet Archive never forgets (as long as it’s sufficiently funded).

The person continued: “But back to the general rot, this quote has disappeared from Spaf’s home page in recent years: “Securing an environment of Windows platforms from abuse – external or internal – is akin to trying to install sprinklers in a fireworks factory where smoking on the job is permitted.” (by Prof. Eugene H “Spaf” Spafford, father of the field of Internet Security)

“Speaking of revisionism, Microsoft is once again trying to rebrand itself as anti-patent trolls. Yes, Microsoft…”“Governments could legally end Microsoft in an instant, with or without force, if the politicians were not so thoroughly bribed by Bill, Bill’s dad, and their friends.”

“Yes,” I responded, but “this is applicable to many kinds of companies. In more than one country.”

Speaking of revisionism, Microsoft is once again trying to rebrand itself as anti-patent trolls. Yes, Microsoft…

There’s this new article (behind paywall) with the title “Apple, Microsoft and BMW urge EU to stop patent trolls” and it’s mentioned in some tweets this week.

How can Microsoft — and Apple too to a lesser degree — pretend that it opposes trolling? Together with IBM and OIN it recently said the same thing, never mind if Microsoft is one of the world’s biggest trolls and it’s arming many as well. Microsoft has outsourced the trolling to a subsidiary and to proxies, so is Microsoft asking the EU to stop itself? Nope. Those liars just hope to magically change the written record.

“How can Microsoft — and Apple too to a lesser degree — pretend that it opposes trolling?”Take note of this tweet/reply: “When we sold our patent about 10 years ago – only co we could find to by it was a Patent Troll 1/3 owned by Microsoft execs…” (by DataInforms (@DataInforms) January 16, 2020)

Intellectual Vultures we assume (see the reply from the former Microsoft employee, Rick Falkvinge, and see our wiki on “Intellectual Vultures”).

What DataInforms said on Twitter was seen alongside similar replies, such as: “They dont give a shit about innovation. The only reason why they changed their minds is, because they ran into some patent-walls for stuff that THEY want to profit / patent. If they could, they would gladly file those patents. Big companies dont have morals.”

“So now Microsoft claims to be champion of the fight against patent trolls.”There’s also this : “What i know have Apple on one hand been fighting patent trolls since the 80:ties. On the other hand they are acting like trolls to gain marketing and legal advantages. I guess that goes for all the big ones.”

So now Microsoft claims to be champion of the fight against patent trolls. What a bunch of liars and crooks. They sued Foxconn over Linux less than a year ago.

The European Patent Organisation Continues to ‘Piss All Over’ Separation of Powers

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 10:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nobody speaks for judges’ loss of independence anymore (the European Patent Office controls them instead of the other way around)

AYE PEE everywhere AYE PEE? Does it mean invalid patents (IP)?

Summary: The EPO continues to scatter invalid patents (IPs) that are European Patents (EPs) all over Europe and nobody can stop this, not even the judges of the EPO because they lack independence (by their very own admission)

THE U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) deals with both patents and trademarks, so sometimes it wants a “collective” term for both. “AYE PEE” (“IP”) is a misnomer though; “IPR” is even worse because it adds one more lie, falsely implying that patents aren’t just “property” but also “rights” (they’re neither).

António Campinos — like Battistelli — has no excuse for (mis)using legal terms. He runs a patent office, not a “patents and trademarks” office (though he was in EUIPO before) and so far this week we saw the EPO ‘tweeting’ terms like “IP” several times per day. More than the usual…

Remember that any time they push software patents in Europe in defiance of the EPC (or 35 U.S.C. § 101 in the US) they basically try to tell us that code doesn’t need copyrights but patents. That’s baloney. Ask actual developers and coders…

“The law firms want us to view nature and life as “sciences” which are therefore “inventions” that merit patents. Sounds ridiculous? Of course! Because it is.”The EPO’s misleading terminology is contagious and it originally comes from litigation firms/lawyers. In the copyright domain they’ve dubbed infringers “pirates” — same word as used to describe people who raid boats, murdering ship crews (or turning them into hostages if they’re ‘lucky’).

Conflating patents with “AYE PEE” (“IP”) — and that’s how patents are described in this new and typical press release about the EPO [1, 2, 3] — is no laughing matter. It has significant harms.

How about the term “life science”? We wrote several articles about that back in 2018. The law firms want us to view nature and life as “sciences” which are therefore “inventions” that merit patents. Sounds ridiculous? Of course! Because it is.

Nowadays, as the EPO violates all the laws, it can’t seem to see how ridiculous it is. Life Sciences [sic] Intellectual Property [sic] Review has just published:

The European Patent Office (EPO) will refer several questions in the Broad Institute’s ongoing CRISPR patent case to the enlarged board of appeal, meaning the case is set to drag out further.

The appeals board hearing the case made the announcement at the start of proceedings in Munich this morning, January 15.

Under the European Patent Convention (EPC), the enlarged board of appeal is a higher panel which reviews questions of “fundamental importance” that have been referred to it by a lower appeals board or the EPO president.

Speaking in Munich this morning, the appeals board hearing the Broad’s case also clarified that making the referral would mean the current proceedings would be adjourned.

The Broad Institute gave “emphatic objections” to the decision to refer the issues in question, LSIPR understands.

AstraZeneca at IP Kat (guess who’s side is taken on CRISPR) has insinuated judges are cowards even though we see Campinos already meddling in their cases, partly in the open (pushing them to allow software patents). To quote AstraZeneca Kat:

A week before Christmas, the Court of Justice of the EU handed down its judgment in IT Development SAS v. Free Mobile SAS (case C-666/18). The question, referred to the CJEU by the Paris Court of Appeal was, in short, whether the Enforcement Directive (2004/47) and the Software Directive (2009/24) are applicable to those cases in which the infringement of IP rights (the unauthorized alteration of a computer program) also constitutes a breach of contract (typically a licence agreement) between the parties.

In the case, the plaintiff, IT Development, granted a licence to the respondent, Free Mobile, for use of a software package. The plaintiff alleged that the respondent had modified the software in breach of the licence agreement and, accordingly, it sued for “contrefaçon” (a non-contractual type of IP infringement action under French law). The Tribunal de Grande Instance dismissed the suit, arguing that there was no case of liability in tort, given that the respondent “was clearly alleged to have failed to perform its contractual obligations, providing a basis for an action for contractual liability, and not for the tortious act of infringement of software copyright”.

On appeal by the plaintiff, the Paris Court of Appeal asked the CJEU–
whether Directives 2004/48 [Enforcement Directive] and 2009/24 [Software Directive] must be interpreted as meaning that the breach of a clause in a licence agreement for a computer program relating to the intellectual property rights of the owner of the copyright of that program falls within the concept of ‘infringement of intellectual property rights’, within the meaning of Directive 2004/48, and that, therefore, that owner must be able to benefit from the guarantees provided for by that directive, regardless of the liability regime applicable under national law.

As usual, the comments at today’s IP Kat are vastly better than posts. The second comment said: “The world is not so simple as expressed above. Let’s say the priority application contained a rechargeable battery and a charger developed for that battery. These two aspects were developed by two companies and they file a joint application. It turns out that only the charger is novel so the company which developed the charger files an application on it own for the charger claiming priority. Should it be denied the right to priority simply because the EPO has interpreted “any” in a manner contrary to its normal meaning?”

“MaxDrei” took issue with the term “chickening out”:

I sympathise with the Board and think it true but a bit harsh, to characterize a reference as “chickening out”. If ever there was a case deserving of analysis by the EBA, this is it.

I disagree that the crux of the dilemma is special treatment for Americans. I see it, rather, as the burden which the EPO Boards of Appeal carry, to craft a body of law which the rest of the world is unable to disparage, which the RoW can accept as a template for development of its own national jurisprudence.

For example, the existing “Gold Standard” at the EPO is, to my mind, more or less unassailable. But, on matters of ownership of rights, the EPO has less experience, less case law. Further, the way the EPC sets it up, the EPO is not tasked to be the final arbiter of ownership of rights. The EPC envisages this to be a job for the courts.

Then there is the important universal issue of “proportionality”. As Robin Jacob has said: who wants to be a patent attorney, when one moment of inattention to one formality or another can blow away for ever all possibility of any patent rights whatsoever. My view is that one should refrain from punishing excessively something in the nature of a simple oversight. Rather, one should strive to find a remedy that is proportionate and which balances the interests of the parties in dispute.

Sometimes it takes an extreme set of circumstances to expose a defect in the intellectual foundation of the established case law. And once such a shift in perceptions has occurred, one can never again be satisfied with the established case law. So when a TBA is faced with such an extreme example, and inclined to find fault with the established case law, it should put aside any considerations of discourtesy towards esteemed colleagues. Rather, it should work out why the established law is wrong, and then write a Decision so well-reasoned that all those esteemed colleagues reading it with a mind willing to understand will grudgingly accept the force of the argumentation.

Only the next comment mentioned the independence issues:

I concur with MaxDrei, in particular, because

1) the priority issues at stake ARE a point of law of fundamental importance,
2) Art. 112(1)(a) EPC (in contrast to Art. 112(1)(b) EPC) does not require diverging case law,
3) Art. 112(1)(a) EPC does not explicitly require that the questions is decisive for the acutal case (see German version: “hierzu” instead of “hierfür”, i.e., the referral is to be required for a uniform application of the law or for answering a point of law of fundamental importance (and not for the actual proceedings),
4) the external members of the EBoA have to be involved for anwering points of law of fundamental importance, because
a) they are truly independent (e.g., their main income does not come from the EPO),
b) they are less biased from an established (sometimes very questionable) practice of the EPO and/or case law of the BoA.

Like we said earlier this week, we wish “MaxDrei” and others still remembered the outcry of the judges. They aren’t happy being stuck there in Haar with the Office meddling in their affairs. Why is nobody mentioning that anymore?

Zealots of Team UPC (Patent Litigation) Now Attacking the Courts and the Judges, Removing Their Mask on the Face of Things…

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 9:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

And in other news, Kieren McCarthy of The Register is back to debunking the EPO’s lies

The UPC will be a titanic success. Oops. SNAP!

Summary: The tactics of Team UPC aren’t changing, only the shamelessness associated with these tactics is changing (because it looks like the end of days to them)

TEAM UPC — unlike managers at the European Patent Office (EPO) — is not above the law. It can also be held accountable.

We’ve privately seen communications from these people urging strongly for software patents in Europe and it’s no secret that they like Battistelli. They tried to pretend otherwise when he was unpopular and when he became too much of liability to their ’cause’ (profit) they wanted him replaced. They replaced him with another Frenchman, António Campinos, this one younger and more ‘orange’… but the goals are the same.

“The UPC(A) has been practically dead for 3 years. UPCA proponents just didn’t give up lying about it… “Yesterday we saw this tweet which said: “Bad news for the #UPC? UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that the UK would not extend the Implementation Period beyond 31 December 2020; and that any future partnership must not involve any kind of alignment or ECJ jurisdiction.”

This cites IAM, which the EPO paid to promote the UPC.

The UPC(A) has been practically dead for 3 years. UPCA proponents just didn’t give up lying about it

Sometimes, albeit not so often, even Team UPC sort of ridicules itself for its false predictions and empty promises.

“Of course they all know — deep inside at least — that the UPCA is illegal/unconstitutional.”Thomas of Team UPC is nowadays attacking the courts/judges (first because of speed, now other things; this is at least the second time this week). Give it up and move on, Thomas. Maybe move out of Munich. You’re only there for the money.

Of course they all know — deep inside at least — that the UPCA is illegal/unconstitutional. But they don’t really care as long as they can profit from it.

Thomas speaks of an “outside view on DE Constitutional Court’s particularities of a UK barrister.” It can be found here and here, e.g. stating that the German Constitutional Court (FCC) “sits with an even – yes even – number of Judges (two Senates of 8). The idea is that more than a bare majority is required to rule any law unconstitutional.”

“These people have been harassing judges with falsehoods, provoking for replies and imposing on them deadlines that fellow judges did not even agree on/consent to.”Well, this thread or cluster of ‘tweets’ is not a form of journalism; it’s just a “Barrister at Blackstone Chambers” pushing his agenda.

These people have been harassing judges with falsehoods, provoking for replies and imposing on them deadlines that fellow judges did not even agree on/consent to. It’s just like Watchtroll’s raves about abusive judges (who behind the scenes collude with the litigation firms) and rants about anything that upholds 35 U.S.C. § 101. It’s tasteless. It’s disgusting. They also lie a lot. Knowingly. Intentionally.

Thankfully, this morning the media caught up with them. Not the typical corporate/mainstream media but someone who really understands these issues and is based in the US. “The dream of a single European patent may die next month – and everyone is in denial about it” has been published by Kieren McCarthy, who covers EPO scandals again (first time in ages).

“Let’s hope that Mr. McCarthy intends to carry on covering these issues; he has hardly done that for years.”Pro-UPC people are cherry-picking/quoting Team UPC’s talking points only, whereas the FFII’s President takes note of: “Can a non-EU country be a part of a UPC? If the answer is no, the entire thing needs to be redesigned because the UK was a compulsory signatory. If the answer is yes, then where and how do you draw the line? Can JP join the UPC? Can the US?”

Here’s the opening bunch of paragraphs (it’s pretty long and detailed):

It has been years in the making and Europe’s largest law firms are smacking their lips in anticipation but the long-held dream of a single European patent system may die next month – and everyone appears to be in denial.

“It would be realistic to expect the UPC to be operational in early 2021,” said the head of the Unitary Patent Court (UPC) Preparatory Committee, Alexander Ramsay, in November. That confident prediction came just one week after the lead judge in a case against the UPC at German’s Constitutional Court said he expected the court to finally decide it in the first quarter of this year.

Similar confidence abounds in the intellectual property world; large law firms already have plans to handle what they believe will be a sudden influx of clients from smaller specialist patent law firms because, with a single patent stretching across Europe, it will be that much more important to make sure you get issued one, and defend it.

Industry journals continue to be convinced that the German court process is little more than an annoyance; a delay that is holding back the unitary patent’s introduction rather than an existential threat. And the man who almost certainly brought the case (he has yet to officially admit it), German lawyer Ingve Stjena, is being treated as part-joke, part-pariah by his profession.

And yet. And yet. The reality is that Stjena’s complaint isn’t frivolous, or wrong-headed. In fact, there’s a very good chance that he is absolutely correct. And if the German court does ultimately reject his case it may have to go to some trouble to explain its way around his legal arguments for the UPC’s unconstitutionality.

Let’s hope that Mr. McCarthy intends to carry on covering these issues; he has hardly done that for years. Team UPC needs more fact-checking in the media (or the little that's left of it).

Microsoft Now Uses or Leverages Software Freedom Against Free Software

Posted in Antitrust, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft at 7:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“For most people, if you wanted to get on the internet, you just clicked on the big blue E on the desktop. It was right there, it worked, and that’s all that mattered.” (Gates was grilled, in his grueling deposition, about admitting this would be the strategy; he put that in writing)

They won't use Chrome... If we preload EDGE every time they boot their PC
Same strategy as WSL in Vista 10

Summary: A reader’s explanation of what Microsoft is trying to accomplish with its so-called ‘embrace’ and what steps will come next (how they manifest themselves)

THIS may sound strange, but it is absolutely true. Take a moment to think about it. Read carefully because our reader seems to have hit the nail right on the head.

Last week a reader told us what he had seen at the local store, a British shop (large chain) that sells loads of magazines.

That same reader has sent us more input after researching the matter even further.

To put it very succinctly, Microsoft nowadays uses the freedom of Free software to attack both this software and our collective freedom. The company did not change. It is still run by liars, criminals and crooks (ask the US government as it has just fined them for it).

“To put it very succinctly, Microsoft nowadays uses the freedom of Free software to attack both this software and our collective freedom.”An associate of ours takes note of this “spam” this morning (his words) and it comes from The Verge, a site which was edited by Bill Gates some years ago. As one might expect, nowadays it does lots of ads for Microsoft, but they’re cleverly disguised as articles with insights. We’ve named some British ‘news’ sites that do the same for Microsoft. The summary says “Microsoft’s new browser takes on Chrome with some different features.”

What are those features? Let’s find out…

Our associate has meanwhile taken note of a similar problem (almost identical but at the OS rather than browser space). Some Microsoft-leaning, WSL-promoting “spam” (his word) is being published. People are supposed to think that WSL is a replacement for GNU/Linux? What a joke…

Or that nobody needs to download a browser for Windows anymore? Because of “EDGE”?

“Get a load of this self-serving garbage from Microsoft,” our reader explained to us today. “The new Microsoft Edge… is twice as fast as legacy Edge” (tall claims from Microsoft Paul).

“People are supposed to think that WSL is a replacement for GNU/Linux? What a joke…”Get ready for the epic fake ‘benchmarks’… the ones Microsoft paid so-called ‘analysts’ to make about GNU/Linux, especially to make GNU/Linux seem inadequate for servers.

Our reader researched the MSEdge repository and posited that: “translation: Bury core functionality in a Windows DLL that loads at boot, hide the API calls from third-party developers, then sing the praises of the faster and better graphics/media playing of Microsoft Edge. Have these people no shame? That’s a rhetorical question…”

To quote the puff piece: “Outside the Microsoft Edge browser, users of other browsers on Windows PCs sometimes face inconsistent feature-sets and performance/battery-life across device types. Some browsers have had slower-progress to embrace new Windows capabilities like touch and ARM processors…”

Time for EEE, right? WSL style

“Time for EEE, right? WSL style…”Our reader responds: “translation: As Microsoft Edge DLLs gets loaded at boot, they’re not counted as impacting battery performance. Any such battery saving features we have buried in Microsoft Edge and are not of course shared with third-party developers. This is the same shuffle we’ve been playing on you poor fools since the dawn of the personal computer and as long as you still let us, we’ll go on fooling you.

“Incidentally, I seriously doubt that Bill Gates has fully withdrawn from Microsoft. The willful distortions and historical revisionism coming out of Redmond has all the hallmarks of his speech patterns. Remember when he welcomed Mozilla onto the Internet, after Microsoft tried to buy Mozilla and then had to settle with licensing Spyglass, who Bill Gates of course cheated out of revenue. (It’s in one of the Comes documents)

“Isn’t it amazing, someone could go into a magazine shop and come out with a DVD containing all the software they would ever need. That software is at least equal if not better than the Microsoft innovation. And yet every year, the world spends billions on Microsoft licenses.”

IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:04 am by Needs Sunlight

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