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04.04.20

Major Revelation: Microsoft Blackmail Against LAMP (GNU/Linux and Free Stacks for Servers) Goes At Least 16 Years Back, Predating the Novell Patent Deal

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 11:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

One year after the SCO lawsuit, predating the Sun shakedown

“On the same day that CA blasted SCO, Open Source evangelist Eric Raymond revealed a leaked email from SCO’s strategic consultant Mike Anderer to their management. The email details how, surprise surprise, Microsoft has arranged virtually all of SCO’s financing, hiding behind intermediaries like Baystar Capital.”

Bruce Perens

“Steve Jobs threatened to sue me, too. [and also] Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. They’d flown in over a weekend to meet with Scott McNealy. [...] Bill skipped the small talk, and went straight to the point, “Microsoft owns the office productivity market, and our patents read all over OpenOffice.” [...] Bill was delivering a slightly more sophisticated variant of the threat Steve had made, but he had a different solution in mind. “We’re happy to get you under license.” That was code for “We’ll go away if you pay us a royalty for every download” – the digital version of a protection racket.”

Jonathan I. Schwartz, Sun

Summary: (Techno-)Anthropological analyses of Microsoft’s patent war on Free/libre software must take into account what Microsoft did to MySQL, a Swedish company at the time

FOR one reason or another, more than half a decade after Microsoft had paid him as we noted back then, Florian Müller decided to suddenly spill the beans about a past (but untold) story that I’ve never come across. Apparently nobody was supposed to know about it. It is rather significant because it helps show just how far back Microsoft’s patent blackmail goes (it persisted as recently as last year, so this is not “irrelevant” and there’s no “new Microsoft”).

More than a decade before 35 U.S.C. § 101 and about a year before the directive against patents on algorithms in the EU, Microsoft’s extortion and blackmail against Free software servers had already begun, using bogus software patents. Microsoft did the extortion and blackmail against a European company while lobbying hard for software patents in Europe. As Müller recalls:

In early 2004, Microsoft’s patent licensing department contacted MySQL AB, the originally Finnish-Swedish and, at that time, heavily Americanized open-sourced database company (whose CEO I was advising at the time). What Linux was in comparison to Windows, MySQL was to Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, and IBM Db2. The term isn’t used much anymore, but back then the “LAMP Stack” meant Linux, the Apache webserver, the MySQL database, and one of the P languages (mostly PHP, with a few people using Perl, or even Python): an open-source technology stack powering more websites than any other comparable configuration. MySQL had risen to popularity alongside Linux. It was a symbiotic relationship. Microsoft, of course, favored Windows + Internet Information Server + SQL Server + Visual Studio (C# or Visual Basic).

What Microsoft–and again, the Microsoft of then is not the Microsoft of now when it comes to these types of issues–told MySQL (a company that had received tens of millions of dollars of venture funding while Microsoft already had roughly 10,000 times greater resources) was that they claimed to hold a patent that covered functionality at the very core of the MySQL database engine. From a software development perspective, a database engine is a relatively monolithic (as opposed to modular) thing. If someone asserted a patent against the basic architecture of your engine, it could mean that you have to almost start all over. You’d lose years.

Microsoft was clear about its demand: a 2% royalty on MySQL’s (tiny) sales. Two things were not clear, however: whether Microsoft had an agenda to actually start a patent war against open source and, particularly, the LAMP Stack, so that an initial royalty agreement would not have been an amicable resolution of an IP issue but could have been the beginning of the end for MySQL and LAMP; and Microsoft declined to disclose that mysterious killer patent.

[...]

At some point MySQL was seriously considering making Microsoft’s patent royalty demand public. We had already prepared a press release, and it was going to be centered around an open letter to EU policy-makers urging them to abolish software patents in Europe (though that wouldn’t have solved the problem for MySQL anywhere else, and it actually generated most of its revenues in the U.S. anyway). We didn’t escalate the conflict, and ultimately that was better for everyone involved.

Oddly, about five years later Microsoft actually tried to defend MySQL’s independence. Oracle was in the process of acquiring Sun Microsystems, which had acquired MySQL the previous year for $1 billion. While Sun wanted MySQL’s business to grow, there were reasons to assume Oracle simply wanted to control it so as to eliminate a competitive threat. Microsoft and SAP (even though mostly concerned about Java in the beginning) were the two large complainants, and MySQL’s founder, Michael “Monty” Widenius, was the third complainant, with help from me. So MySQL’s founder and I ended up in an alliance with Redmond about five years after we had thought Microsoft would potentially use patents to destroy it.

Readers may still recall the lobbying Mr. Müller did for MariaDB/MySQL amid Oracle’s (over)reach for MySQL.

Mr. Müller was, back then, fiercely against software patents and he published a book about the lobbying Microsoft had done for such patents.

“Dozens of people knew,” he told me about the above story. “I’m still the first one of them to speak out. Sure, 16 years is a long time.”

He also tweeted:

Today is the 10th anniversary of the launch of #FOSSPatents–and here’s a #Microsoft #patent threat from 2004 no one has previously reported bit.ly/2UEXy5K #mysql #opensource #freesoftware #foss #linux #patents #frand #standards

I told Florian: “Wish this was reported much earlier!” He separately tweeted with “FRAND” again (it’s an infamous misnomer):

Today is the 10th anniversary of the launch of #FOSSPatents–and here’s a #Microsoft #patent threat from 2004 no one reported before https://bit.ly/2UEXy5K #patents #standards #frand

Florian wrongly asserts that Microsoft has changed since then; but no, the PR tactics have changed. The strategy is largely the same and the shallow attitudinal change is seen as necessary for entryism. They cannot infiltrate OSI, the Linux Foundation etc. without showing the teeth of a smile as opposed to bloody fangs.

“We need to slaughter Novell before they get stronger….If you’re going to kill someone, there isn’t much reason to get all worked up about it and angry. You just pull the trigger. Any discussions beforehand are a waste of time. We need to smile at Novell while we pull the trigger.”

Jim Allchin, Microsoft’s Platform Group Vice President

Links 4/4/2020: Sparky 5.11, Firefox 74.0.1, POCL 1.5

Posted in News Roundup at 9:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Server

      • Announcing Oracle Linux Virtualization Manager 4.3

        Oracle is pleased to announce the general availability of Oracle Linux Virtualization Manager, release 4.3. This server virtualization management platform can be easily deployed to configure, monitor, and manage an Oracle Linux Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) environment with enterprise-grade performance and support from Oracle. This release is based on the 4.3.6 release of the open source oVirt project.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • Storage Stories | TechSNAP 426

        We take a look at Cloudflare’s impressive Linux disk encryption speed-ups, and explore how zoned storage tools like dm-zoned and zonefs might help mitigate the downsides of Shingled Magnetic Recording.

        Plus we celebrate WireGuard’s inclusion in the Linux 5.6 kernel, and fight some exFAT FUD.

      • Brunch with Brent: Daniel Foré | Jupiter Extras 68

        Brent sits down with Daniel Foré, founder of elementary OS and co-host of User Error. We explore his early years in design and software, formative aspects of Ubuntu and Gentoo, the philosophies and history of elementary OS, and more.

      • 2020-04-03 | Linux Headlines

        Outreachy receives the second Open Source Community Grant from IBM, the LLVM project adds mitigations for Load Value Injection attacks, more bad news for the Linux-based Atari VCS console, and the Python Software Foundation seeks recurring sponsorships to support its software repository.

      • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 189 – Video game hackers – speedrunning

        Josh and Kurt talk about video games and hacking. Specifically how speed runners are really just video game hackers.

      • LHS Episode #336: The Weekender XLV

        It’s time once again for The Weekender. This is our bi-weekly departure into the world of amateur radio contests, open source conventions, special events, listener challenges, hedonism and just plain fun. Thanks for listening and, if you happen to get a chance, feel free to call us or e-mail and send us some feedback. Tell us how we’re doing. We’d love to hear from you.

    • Kernel Space

      • Linus Torvalds Questions The Not So Glorious Driver For That Funky Looking RGB Mouse

        Last month I noted a new Linux driver for a buggy and funky looking mouse. A special driver was created by a community developer due to not all the mice button working otherwise due to not abiding by HID specifications. Now that the driver was merged for Linux 5.7, Linus Torvalds had words to share on this open-source driver.

        The hid-glorious driver is a basic HID Linux driver needed for PC Gaming Race’s Glorious mice of at least some different models. Their HID behavior is not following spec resulting in some mouse buttons not working. This isn’t some knock-off super cheap mouse either but the Glorious Model O for instance retails for $50 USD.

      • PCI Changes For Linux 5.7 Bring Error Disconnect Recover, P2P DMA For Skylake-E

        The PCI subsystem changes were sent out today for the ongoing Linux 5.7 kernel merge window.

        The PCI highlights for the Linux 5.7 kernel include:

        - Error Disconnect Recover (EDR) support for ACPI so firmware can report devices disconnected and try to recover when hitting an error.

      • Linux 5.7′s Char/Misc Brings MHI Bus, Habana Labs AI Accelerator Code Additions

        Greg Kroah-Hartman on Friday sent in his “char/misc” updates for the Linux 5.7 kernel several days later than normal.

        Greg was delayed in his char/misc pull request due to last minute reverts but now all is well for this random smattering of extra kernel bits. Some of the Linux 5.7 char/misc changes include:

        - The new MHI bus developed by Qualcomm for the Modem Host Interface as a communication protocol between their processors and wireless modems.

      • Graphics Stack

        • High Resolution Wheel Scrolling Back To Being Finished Up For The Linux Desktop

          Added over a year ago to the mainline Linux kernel was the high resolution mouse wheel scrolling support. While the support landed on kernel-side for to provide “buttery smooth” wheel scrolling, the work has yet to be wrapped up on the user-space side for making this a reality on the Linux desktop.

          Nearly a year ago to the day we reported the Wayland support for high resolution scroll wheel being worked on by longtime Linux input expert Peter Hutterer. Since then all has been quiet on this functionality for Linux.

        • Peter Hutterer: High resolution wheel scrolling in the desktop stack

          This is a follow up from the kernel support for high-resolution wheel scrolling which you totally forgot about because it’s already more then a year in the past and seriously, who has the attention span these days to remember this. Anyway, I finally found time and motivation to pick this up again and I started lining up the pieces like cans, for it only to be shot down by the commentary of strangers on the internet. The Wayland merge request lists the various pieces (libinput, wayland, weston, mutter, gtk and Xwayland) but for the impatient there’s also an Fedora 32 COPR. For all you weirdos inexplicably not running the latest Fedora, well, you’ll have to compile this yourself, just like I did.

          Let’s recap: in v5.0 the kernel added new axes REL_WHEEL_HI_RES and REL_HWHEEL_HI_RES for all devices. On devices that actually support high-resolution wheel scrolling (Logitech and Microsoft mice, primarily) you’ll get multiple hires events before the now-legacy REL_WHEEL events. On all other devices those two are in sync.

        • AMD ACO Backend Implements 8-bit / 16-bit Storage Capabilities – Needed For DOOM Eternal

          It’s been another busy week for Mesa’s RADV Vulkan driver with the Valve-backed ACO compiler back-end alternative to AMDGPU LLVM.

          ACO, which has been wildly popular with Radeon Linux gamers for offering quicker load times and often better overall performance, continues working quite well though isn’t the default yet and has been missing some features in comparison to AMDGPU LLVM.

        • NIR Vectorization Lands In Mesa 20.1 For Big Intel Graphics Performance Boost

          The recently covered NIR vectorization pass ported from AMD’s ACO back-end for improving the open-source Intel Linux graphics performance has landed now in Mesa 20.1.

          This vectorization pass for NIR came about last month and based on the AMD ACO optimization while with the Intel implementation benefits both OpenGL and Vulkan with this pass being at the NIR intermediate representation level.

    • Benchmarks

      • Dell XPS Ice Lake Taking A Wallop On Ubuntu 20.04

        With our early benchmarking of Ubuntu 20.04 in its current nearing the end of development state, we’ve been seeing Ubuntu 20.04 boosting Intel Xeon Scalable performance, running well with AMD EPYC Rome, and good AMD Ryzen performance, among other tests. Strangely though the one platform where I’ve found Ubuntu 20.04 hard regressing so far is with the Dell XPS 7390 Ice Lake.

    • Applications

      • Cockpit 216

        Cockpit is the modern Linux admin interface. We release regularly. Here are the release notes from version 216.

      • Excellent Console-Based YouTube Tools

        YouTube is a video-sharing website, created in February 2005, and purchased by Google in November 2006. The web service lets billions of people find, watch, and share originally-created videos. This service lets you watch a wide variety of user-generated and corporate media video. It also offers a forum for people to communicate with others around the world, and acts as a distribution platform. Mainstream media corporations such as CBS, Vevo, Hulu and the BBC publish some of their catalog via YouTube, as part of the YouTube partnership program.

        Although some parents might disagree, YouTube is one of the shining lights of the internet. According to a survey of 1,500 American teenagers commissioned by Variety, the top five most influential celebrities are YouTube stars, with mainstream celebs eclipsed. Moreover, there are many thousands of “YouTube celebs” who have spun a full-time career of creating videos. This new wave of young ‘YouTubers’ threaten mainstream entertainment with their direct video blogs and interaction with their millions of mostly teenage devotees.

      • Sparky Upgrade text tool

        There is a tool available for Sparkers, which lets you make full system upgrade in a text mode via just one command: Sparky Upgrade.

      • FSFE Supporters write about Free Software for remote working

        Due to the ongoing Covid-19 virus outbreak many employees – voluntarily or mandatory – are working remotely now. Many organisations who have not been used to remote working so far now face a number of difficulties adapting to the situation. To avoid potential lock-ins, some FSFE supporters collectively wrote about the good reasons to use Free Software for remote working and collected a detailed list of practical solutions in our wiki.

        Because of the ongoing Covid-19 virus outbreak many organisations who never previously directed any strategic thought towards the available solutions for remote working in their business now opt for a quick solution and choose to follow the – in the beginning often free of charge – offerings from big tech companies and their proprietary solutions. However, such proprietary solutions lock-in these organisations in the future.

        Choosing a Free Software solution instead means to opt for a solution that has a future, where your organization no longer depends on a particular vendor or file format or whichever other means those vendors choose to lock you in. Free Software puts you in control.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Side-scrolling open world RPG ‘Regions Of Ruin’ is FREE this weekend

        In the mood to play something new? How about a game that blends the side-scrolling of Kingdom and adds in some open-world RPG elements too? Regions Of Ruin is FREE until April 7.

        When I say free, I mean it too. This is not a free weekend, if you add it to your Steam account you’ve got it forever. The developer said they’ve done this to just help people who are bored and at home due to COVID-19 lockdown. What a wonderful gesture.

      • Sparklite has some gorgeous art, intense action and it’s coming to Linux

        Sparklite from Red Blue Games, an action-adventure set in a whimsical and ever-changing land, released on Steam last year and it’s on the way to Linux. When speaking to the team over email, they confirmed that it’s coming to Linux. Not only that, they’re “actually working on it now”.

        Inspired by the likes of Rogue Legacy and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past it’s a top-down action-adventure with tons of gadgets, guns and gear to collect. Set in a procedurally generated world for a fresh experience each team, you need to take down titans of the mining industry, and harness the power Sparklite. Check

      • Steam and CS:GO just keep knocking down records as Steam hits over 24 million concurrent users

        There seems to be no stopping Steam right now, Valve are on a roll with repeatedly breaking their own user records.

        Sound familiar? Yeah, at this point it’s not even a surprise. With masses more people staying home, it’s going to happen and likely again a few more times still. Yesterday, for the first time, Steam hit over 24 million concurrent users online at the same time with just over 7 million of those actually in a game.

        We missed something else too, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has repeatedly smashed through milestones too since last writing about it only a week or so ago. At each peak time of around 6-7PM UTC, CS:GO regularly smashed records over the last week to a new high of 1,226,724 set on April 1st.

      • Steam Survey Points To Tiny Uptick In Linux Percentage For March

        With the Steam Survey numbers out this week, the March 2020 statistics point to the Linux gaming marketshare ticking up by 0.04% to 0.87%. But in reality that is almost a rounding error and sticks to what we have largely been seeing in recent months of 0.8~0.9% for Linux gaming on Steam. Though even with the record number of users on Steam in March, it’s good to see the Linux percentage didn’t actually diminish — at least according to the survey numbers.

      • The Atari VCS is in trouble again as Rob Wyatt sues Atari for lack of payment

        Rob Wyatt, the architect behind the original Xbox and someone Atari hired to work on the Atari VCS system is now suing Atari over their failure to actually pay up.

        This is something we mentioned last year, when it was announced that Wyatt left Atari on poor terms, mentiong how they hadn’t actually payed for over six months and they were left with no choice but to leave the project. Since then, we’ve not heard much. Atari continued putting out their development blog posts, showing off pictures of units in production in China and delaying the release. Spotted by VentureBeat and confirmed here, Tin Giant (Rob Wyatt’s company), are now suing Atari over a “Breach of Contract”. According to the suit, Atari owes something around $261,720 which is no small sum.

      • Hypnotic puzzle-adventure ‘Path to Mnemosyne’ looks wild and it’s now on Linux

        Path to Mnemosyne from DevilishGames originally released back in 2018, going on to receive some quite positive reviews about the setting and visuals and now it’s on Linux. It does look incredibly trippy, and they say the “infinite zoom” feature makes it quite unique.

      • Humble Choice has a new bundle up for April with a bonus game if you subscribe

        Humble Choice, the monthly game bundle subscription has a fresh selection ready for April and they’re giving out a bonus game to people who subscribe. This is the tiered subscription that gives you the ability to pick a certain amount of games based on whatever level you sub at.

      • FROGSONG is a sweet looking frog adventure where it’s okay to be small

        Ready for an adventure of a different sort? FROGSONG looks really quite sweet, an action adventure where you’re an actual frog hopping around in a world ‘where it’s okay to be small’.

      • Valve and CodeWeavers now offering test builds of Proton before release with Proton 5.0-6 RC1 up

        Looks like Valve and CodeWeavers are switching up how Proton is released, with a series of test builds now being provided before a new stable release in the hopes of seeing less issues.

        Looking to get started with Steam Play on Linux? Have no idea what it is? Be sure to check our previous beginners guide for some tips and explanations. We’ll be keeping that up to date with any major changes.

        Today, Wine hacker and CodeWeavers developer Andrew Eikum announced the release of Proton 5.0-6 RC1 on the Proton GitHub page. Keep in mind these new builds haven’t had the usual quality assurance as the main Proton releases, however it’s a good chance for more people to test before they go live for everyone on Steam.

      • Proton 5.0-6 To Allow Out-Of-The-Box DOOM Eternal On Linux

        Valve is finishing up work on Proton 5.0-6 as the next version of their Wine downstream that powers Steam Play. With Proton 5.0-6 are some promising improvements.

        Most notably, Proton 5.0-6 will allow DOOM Eternal to run out-of-the-box under Steam Play on Linux. This Windows game was recently released and has been seeing improvements for its Wine-based Linux support. There have also been driver optimizations already by NVIDIA’s Vulkan driver as well as RADV improvements too for some hardware with this latest game in the DOOM franchise. Now with Proton 5.0-6 should be a pleasant out-of-the-box experience after fixing some DRM failures. The latest Vulkan drivers are still a must.

      • More Switch games

        Sonic Mania is a really lovely homage to the classic 90s Sonic the Hedgehog platform games. Featuring more or less the classic gameplay, and expanded versions of the original levels, with lots of secrets, surprises and easter eggs for fans of the original. On my recommendation a friend of mine bought it for her daughter’s birthday recently but her daughter will now have to prise her mum off it! Currently on sale at 30% off (£11.19). The one complaint I have about it is the lack of females in the roster of 5 playable characters.

      • Why Nullpomino is the only acceptable open-source Tetris

        Note: acceptable from the perspective of a Tetris fanatic who regularly uses jargon like SRS, lock delay, DAS, ARR, etc. For the casual player, these games are perfectly fine. Albeit, I would recommend Quadrapassel over KBlocks to casuals because of the better rotation.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • Developing KWin Wayland

          On the last few weeks I’ve been looking at KWin more closely than in the past. It’s definitely a special beast within KDE and I figured it could be useful to give some hints on how to develop and test it.

          When developing something, first step is always to compile and get the code installed and usable. It’s especially delicate because when we mess up our system becomes quite unusable so it needs to be done with care. To prevent major damage, we can probably try installing it into a separate prefix (See this blog post, change kate for kwin).
          Second step is to make sure that modifying the code will modify the behaviour you perceive. This is what we’ll focus on in this piece.

          Bear in mind most of the things I’m saying here are possibly obvious and not news, but it’s still good to have it written in case you feel like building on this (not fun to come up with) experience.

      • GNOME Desktop/GTK

        • The 15 Best Cinnamon Themes for Linux System in 2020

          Linux Mint is an excellent community-driven Linux distro based on Ubuntu. It is very popular among beginners because Linux Mint is very easy to use. Though it has Debian in its core, the user interface is quite modern and beautiful. It is mostly because of its default desktop environment Cinnamon. This open-source desktop environment can be used on other Linux distributions. Cinnamon is almost similar to Xfce and GNOME 2 because of its conservative design model. But since its release in 2011, it has got huge coverage because of its ease-of-use. The active developer community of Cinnamon is relentlessly developing amazing Cinnamon themes for the mass users. These Linux Mint themes can change your desktop and create such a gorgeous look.

        • Georges Basile Stavracas Neto: This Month in Mutter & GNOME Shell | March 2020

          During March, GNOME Shell and Mutter saw their 3.36.0 and 3.36.1 releases, and the beginning of the 3.38 development cycle. We’ve focused most of the development efforts on fixing bugs before starting the new development cycle.

          From the development perspective, the 3.36.0 release was fantastic, and the number of regressions relative to the massive amount of changes that happened during the last cycle was remarkably small.

    • Distributions

      • Reviews

        • LMDE4: How Much Does Debian Matter?

          LMDE4 works as intended. It is a more polished release overall than last year’s version 3. It proves the developer’s experimental intent. Linux Mint certainly can carry on with relatively minor changes should there ever be a parting of ways over the continued use of the Ubuntu Linux base.

          What could make LMDE a better proposition going forward? Adding more diversification with a choice of MATE and Xfce desktops.

          That would put the Debian-based Linux Mint variant on a more equal footing. In turn, the additional options could create interest in a Debian Linux-based alternative for potential new Linux Mint users who do not want the Cinnamon desktop.

      • New Releases

        • ExTiX LXQt ‘Mini’, featuring Linux 5.6.2 released

          With ExTiX 20.4 running live, users can take a snapshot using the pre-installed Refracta tool to create their own installable Ubuntu 20.04. While I can’t verify that doing so is ‘so easy that a ten-year-old child can do it’ as developer Exton claims, it is quite easy and intuitive.

          Another keen feature of ExTiX 20.4 is that the distro utilizes the latest Linux kernel, version 5.6.2-exton, surprisingly released on the same day as ExTiX 20.4, itself.

          ExTiX 20.4 also uses LXQt as its desktop environment.

      • Screenshots/Screencasts

      • SUSE/OpenSUSE

        • Mesa, Nano, Redis, Git Update in openSUSE Tumbleweed

          Another four openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshots were released this week.

          A notable package updated this week is a new major version of (gucharmap)[https://wiki.gnome.org/Apps/Gucharmap]. Plus several python package updates, nano, mesa, git and Xfce packages also had new minor updates.

          The most recent snapshot, 202000331 is trending well with a stable rating of 99 on the Tumbleweed snapshot reviewer. The GNOME Character Map, gucharmap, updated to version 13.0.0, but no changelog was provided. An update for glib2 2.62.6 is expected to be the final release of the stable 2.62.x series; maintenance efforts will be shifted to the newer 2.64.x series. The updated glib2 package fixed SOCKS5 username/password authentication. The 2.34 binutils package added and removed a few patches. GTK3 3.24.16 fixed problems with clipboard handling and fixed a crash in the Wayland input method. The package for creating business diagrams, kdiagram 2.6.2 fixed printing issue. The Linux Kernel updated to 5.5.13. A handful of Advanced Linux Sound Architecture changes were made in the kernel update. The 5.6.x kernel is expected to be released in a Tumbleweed snapshot soon. The libstorage-ng 4.2.71 package simplified combining disks with different block sizes into RAID. The programming language vala 0.46.7 made verious improvements and bug fixes and properly set CodeNode.error when reporting an error. Several xfce4 packages were updated and xfce4-pulseaudio-plugin 0.4.3 fixed various memory leaks and warnings and xterm 353 was updated. The yast2-firewall 4.2.4 packaged was updated and forces a reset of the firewalld API instance after modifying the service state and yast2-storage-ng 4.2.104 extended and improved the Application Programming Interface to get udev names for a block device

          The package to improve audio and video under Linux pipewire 0.3.1 switched the license to MIT and added fdupes BuildRequires and pass fdupes macro while removing duplicate files, which came in snapshot 20200326. The 1.1.9 spec-cleaner package drop travis and tox and now uses github actions. Several python arrived in this snapshot. Python-packaging 20.3 fixed a bug that caused a 32-bit OS that runs on a 64-bit ARM CPU (e.g. ARM-v8, aarch64), to report the wrong bitness and python-SQLAlchemy 1.3.15 fixed regression in 1.3.14. The Xfce file manager package, thunar 1.8.14 updated translations and reverted a bug that introduced a regression. The snapshot recorded a stable rating of 99.

        • openSUSE Tumbleweed – Review of the week 2020/14

          The week started with problems inside the openSUSE Tumbleweed distribution (caught by QA, so no worries) and ended even worse: we have some trouble on openQA since Thursday and many tests are failing. The failures seem more to be related to openQA’s infrastructure though, and not to openSUSE Tumbleweed. Nevertheless, we will not publish new snapshots until QA is stable again. During this week we have thus only released two snapshots: 0326 and 0331 (promised, no joke).

        • Kubic with Kubernetes 1.18.0 released

          The Kubic Project is proud to announce that Snapshot 20200331 has been released containing Kubernetes 1.18.0.

          Release Notes are avaialble HERE.

        • Containers and SUSE® Manager 4

          Linux container technology dials up efficiency and keeps costs to a minimum, but only if you have the tools you need to keep control of audits, updates, configuration and other lifecycle tasks. And with the ever-changing technology landscape, it has become critical that such management technology can work with containers. Fortunately, SUSE® Manager 4 includes such a solution, with tools for easily managing your container-based Linux resources.

        • Fast Track Your Digital Transformation Today

          As the world faces travel restrictions, school closures and work from home advisories that aim to limit the spread of COVID-19, businesses are confronted by a new imperative: fast track their digital transformation, or be outpaced by the competition.

          At SUSE, we believe you can achieve digital transformation, drive innovation AND focus on value even during tough times. There’s no need to trade one for the other. And our open source solutions are here to help.

      • Fedora

        • Fedora Council January 2020 in-person meeting

          The Fedora Council stuck around Brno the day after DevConf.CZ to have a day-long working session. This is part of our newly-adopted regular cadence of in-person meetings. We mostly used this day to follow up on some items from the November meeting, including the vision statement.

        • Fedora Join SIG 2019 retrospective

          There are five active members animating the SIG. One new contributor asked to join the SIG in 2019. And other people not formally part of the SIG but that welcome new people and hang around in the Telegram group, proposing new ideas and giving feedback on various topics.

          We get in touch with new people practically every day.

          The majority of newcomers get in touch via Telegram, someone via IRC and the fewer in the mailing list.

        • What’s new in the Fedora Security Lab?

          Unlike other security distributions is the Fedora Security Lab, speaking about the live media here, not standing alone. The Fedora Security Lab is a package set inside the Fedora Package Collection and a part of that package set is available as live media.

          Everything, I mean everything, that is present in this package set can be used on a regular Fedora installation (some parts are also available for EPEL). You don’t have to switch to a different distribution to perform a security test, an assessment or doing forensics, simple use your day-by-day system.

        • Making a git forge decision

          After evaluating over 300 user stories from multiple stakeholders, the Community Platform Engineering (CPE) team have aligned on a decision for the git forge that CPE will operate for the coming years. We are opting for GitLab for our dist git and project hosting and will continue to run pagure.io with community assistance.

          A lot of comments and concerns were raised about the suitability of GitHub as a forge of choice. The preference from all stakeholders (Fedora, CentOS, RHEL, CPE) is that GitHub is not a contender and not a preference. With that in mind, we have decided to not analyse it as an option and respect the wider wishes of our stakeholders. Therefore the rest of this analysis focuses on Pagure versus GitLab as our choice.

          Looking at the user story list, we have a picture of a standard set of practices that users expect to have from a git forge. The basics of storing code, accessing it, merging, forking and the traditional git workflow are satisfied by both gorges under investigation.

        • PHP version 7.3.17RC1 and 7.4.5RC1

          Release Candidate versions are available in testing repository for Fedora and Enterprise Linux (RHEL / CentOS) to allow more people to test them. They are available as Software Collections, for a parallel installation, perfect solution for such tests, and also as base packages.

        • editorconfig-geany available for Fedora via Copr
      • Debian Family

        • Sparky 5.11

          A quarterly update point release of live/install media of Sparky 5.11 “Nibiru” of the stable line is out. This is a release based on Debian 10 “Buster”.

          Changes:
          – the base system upgraded from Debian stable repos as of March 1, 2020
          – Linux kernel 4.19.98 LTS (PC)
          – Linux kernel 4.19.97 LTS (ARMHF)
          – added 9 new nature wallpapers captured by Aneta, Pavbaranov and me
          – Sparky repository changed to the named “nibiru” (“stable” works as before); no need to manually change the repo; see also: https://sparkylinux.org/sparky-named-repos/
          – Firefox 68.6.0 ESR
          – Thunderbird 68.6.0
          – LibreOffice 6.1.5

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Canonical releases LXD 4.0 LTS machine container hypervisor

          Canonical, the company behind the popular Linux distribution Ubuntu, has announced the availability of LXD 4.0 LTS, its machine container hypervisor. This is the third long-term support release of LXD and will receive updates for five years until June 2025. This update includes improved networking, storage, and security features.

          One of the new features in this update is support for adding virtual machines. The firm said that VM images are available for most common Linux distributions but that more will be added in the future. Until now, LXD focused on containers, with the introduction of VM support, Canonical says it wants to give users a similar experience whether they choose to use a container or a virtual machine.

        • Ubuntu 20.04 Flavours Hit Beta, But What’s New?

          Rather than push out a post for each of them I figured I’d offer a concise roundup of their major new features, alongside links to download the relevant beta snapshot for your own testing and/or enjoyment!

          Remember: if you install Ubuntu 20.04 beta (any flavour) and you want to upgrade to the final stable release on April 23, you can: just install ALL updates issued between now and then to do so.

        • Ubuntu Linux 20.04 LTS ‘Focal Fossa’ Beta now available for download

          Today is Friday, meaning later this afternoon, we will officially be starting the weekend! Woo-hoo! Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, many of us will be spending our weekend downtime indoors once again. Sigh. The weekend is far less exciting when you’ve been self-quarantining for weeks due to a pandemic.

          Thankfully, we can all still have plenty of fun while indoors thanks to the internet. Not only can we stream video and music, but we can play online video games too. If you are a computer nerd, however, I have a much better suggestion — install the Ubuntu Beta! That’s right, Linux fans, Ubuntu 20.04 LTS “Focal Fossa” Beta is now available for download. This doesn’t just include the “vanilla” GNOME version either, but other variants like Kubuntu and Xubuntu as well.

        • Kubuntu Focal Fossa (20.04 LTS) Beta Released

          The beta of Focal Fossa (to become 20.04 LTS) has now been released, and is available for download.

          User of Kubuntu, Ubuntu, and other flavours are invited to take part in #UbuntuTestingWeek.

          This milestone features images for Kubuntu and other Ubuntu flavours.

        • Ubuntu 20.04 “Focal Fossa” Beta Released

          Ubuntu 20.04 “Focal Fossa” heads toward its final release later this month with the Beta release. Ubuntu 20.04 Beta version is available to download with a number of changes & new features in the base system.

        • Ubuntu 20.04 LTS Beta is Available. Download Now.

          The beta release of Ubuntu 20.04 LTS is here and it is available for download immediately. The final release is planned on Apr 23, 2020, and this beta release gives early adopters, testers a quick preview on what to expect on the final product.

          Before you read on the various changes in Ubuntu 20.04 “Focal Fossa”, note that Ubuntu 20.04 LTS “Focal Fossa” is supported for five years till July 2025 as per standard LTS policy. Hence it is a significant release considering desktop and servers which is running the current stable Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

        • Ubuntu 20.04 has hit Beta (as have all the extra flavours) – help make it a release to remember

          Ah Ubuntu, it’s like a warm cuddly blanket or a favourite jumper. There’s others in your wardrobe but nothing is quite like the comfy and safe feel of it. A major new version is approaching with Ubuntu 20.04 which is a “Long Term Support” release.

          Ubuntu 20.04 and all the flavours like Ubuntu MATE, Kubuntu, Budgie and so on have all hit the Beta stage so they’re ready for some wider testing and reporting. It’s also now Ubuntu Testing Week which runs until April 8, which all the effort now focused on ISO testing, bug reporting, and of course fixing bugs.

        • The State of Robotics – March 2020

          Damn it March. 2020 was doing so well. The biggest news last month was the dramatic escalation of COVID-19. We won’t go into any detail, I’m sure you’re seeing enough of that. But due to the outbreak, the state of robotics this March has been, heartwarming. We have seen a surge in online learning platforms, companies, startups and communities rising to the challenge. Members of open-source communities across the world are doing great things, with and without robotics, to support whoever they can. In this blog, we first want to highlight at a few responses to COVID-19 using robotics. And then it’s back to usual programming, highlighting robotics work and projects we have seen or done in March. If we have missed something in particular, please reach out to robotics.community@canonical.com and let us know.

        • Edge AI in a 5G world – part 3: Why ‘smart cell towers’ matter to AI

          In part 1 we talked about the industrial applications and benefits that 5G and fast compute at the edge will bring to AI products. In part 2 we went deeper into how you can benefit from this new opportunity. In this part we will focus on the key technical barriers that 5G and Edge compute remove for AI applications.

        • Edge AI in a 5G world – part 4: How your business can benefit from ‘smart cell towers’

          In part 1 we talked about the industrial applications and benefits that 5G and fast compute at the edge will bring to AI products. In part 2 we went deeper into how you can benefit from this new opportunity. In part 3 we focused on the key technical barriers that 5G and Edge compute remove for AI applications. In this part we will summarise the IoT use cases that can benefit from smart cell towers and how they will help businesses focus their efforts on their key differentiating advantage.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Web Browsers

        • Mozilla

          • Andy Wingo: multi-value webassembly in firefox: from 1 to n

            Greetings, hackers! Today I’d like to write about something I worked on recently: implementation of the multi-value future feature of WebAssembly in Firefox, as sponsored by Bloomberg.

            In the “minimum viable product” version of WebAssembly published in 2018, there were a few artificial restrictions placed on the language. Functions could only return a single value; if a function would naturally return two values, it would have to return at least one of them by writing to memory. Loops couldn’t take parameters; any loop state variables had to be stored to and loaded from indexed local variables at each iteration. Similarly, any block that would naturally return more than one result would also have to do so via locals.

            This restruction is lifted with the multi-value proposal. Function types now map from result type to result type, where a result type is a sequence of value types. That is to say, just as functions can take multiple arguments, they can return multiple results. Similarly, with the multi-value proposal, block types are now the same as function types: loops and blocks can take arguments and return any number of results. This change improves the expressiveness of WebAssembly as a compilation target; a C++ program compiled to multi-value WebAssembly can be encoded in fewer bytes than before. Multi-value also establishes a base for other language extensions. For example, the exception handling proposal builds on multi-value to pass multiple values to catch blocks.

          • 74.0.1 Firefox Release

            Version 74.0.1, first offered to Release channel users on April 3, 2020

          • Firefox 74.0.1

            Firefox 74.0.1 has been released with two security fixes. CVE-2020-6819 is a use-after-free when running the nsDocShell destructor and CVE-2020-6820 is a use-after-free when handling a ReadableStream. In both cases there have been targeted attacks in the wild abusing these flaws. These issues have also been fixed in Firefox ESR 68.6.1.

          • Creating VR Worlds and Teaching Class with Mozilla Hubs

            With so many people stuck at home, self-isolating, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, people in every walk of life, including educators, are looking for novel ways to reach out to their audience. For teachers, that means students in classes that are now empty. How best to create and present content to students scattered in their various homes? Virtual reality (VR) presents an interesting way to scratch every itch, from the social, to the visual, to the need for ‘being there’. It’s also a great way to explore new and interesting ways to share information with students. #teachers #virtualreality #covid19

          • Twitter Direct Message Caching and Firefox

            Twitter is telling its users that their personal direct messages might be stored in Firefox’s web cache.

            This problem affects anyone who uses Twitter on Firefox from a shared computer account. Those users should clear their cache.

            This post explains how this problem occurred, what the implications are for those people who might be affected, and how problems of this nature might be avoided in future. To get there, we need to dig a little into how web caching works.

          • Twitter Data Cache on Mozilla Firefox

            We recently learned that the way Mozilla Firefox stores cached data may have resulted in non-public information being inadvertently stored in the browser’s cache. This means that if you accessed Twitter from a shared or public computer via Mozilla Firefox and took actions like downloading your Twitter data archive or sending or receiving media via Direct Message, this information may have been stored in the browser’s cache even after you logged out of Twitter. The Mozilla Firefox browser’s cache retention period is set to 7 days and after that time the information should have automatically been removed from the cache. This issue did not impact people using other browsers like Safari or Chrome.

          • What you need to know about Twitter on Firefox

            Yesterday Twitter announced that for Firefox users data such as direct messages (DMs) might be left sitting on their computers even if they logged out. In this post I’ll try to help sort out what’s going on here.

            First, it’s important to understand the risk: what we’re talking about is “cached” data. All web browsers store local copies of data they get from servers so that they can avoid downloading the same data over the internet repeatedly. This makes a huge performance difference because websites are full of large files that change infrequently. Ordinarily this is what you want, but if you share a computer with other people, then they might be able to see that cached data, even if you have logged out of Twitter. It’s important to know that this data is just stored locally, so if you don’t share a computer this isn’t a problem for you. If you do share a computer, you can make sure all of your Twitter data is deleted by following the instructions here. If you do nothing, the data will be automatically deleted after 7 days the next time you run Firefox.

      • CMS

        • Kiwi TCMS 8.2

          We’re happy to announce Kiwi TCMS version 8.2!

        • Contact Form 7 Datepicker Taken down from WordPress Plugin Repository

          With great power comes great responsibility. Recently a WordPress plugin with as many as 100,000 installations was taken down from WordPress plugin repository due to a severe vulnerability.

          The Wordfence team found a severe vulnerability in Contact Form 7 Datepicker, a WordPress plugin allows to show datepicker in forms created with a very popular plugin Contact Form 7. Though the vulnerability does not affect Contact Form 7 but anyone with Contact Form 7 Datepicker on site, should immediately deactivate and uninstall the plugin from the site.

        • The Month in WordPress: March 2020

          The month of March was both a tough and exciting time for the WordPress open-source project. With COVID-19 declared a pandemic, in-person events have had to adapt quickly – a challenge for any community. March culminated with the release of WordPress 5.4, an exhilarating milestone only made possible by dedicated contributors. For all the latest, read on.

      • Education

        • David Humphrey: On Teaching Online, Week 2

          I learned how to “emote” online using irc with Mozilla. A lot of people are using online chat systems like Slack and Microsoft Teams as a place to ask and answer questions. But what about all the in-between time when you don’t yet understand the question you need to ask? Using chat as an ambient thought bubble can be a useful way to share your presence, for people to avoid feeling alone, and for you to work out ideas as you’re having them. I can remember being in channels with developers like bz, who would narrate his investigation into some bug, ask questions (of no one, and everyone), and share the results of his debugging. It was a text adventure where you got to pretend to be a better developer than you were, and watch bz battle monsters in deeper and darker sections of the code base. It’s not unlike what streamers do on Twitch, and it’s such a useful way to build a shared sense of time and place.

          [...]

          However, even the best students are having a hard time. It’s been difficult because everyone is burned out or struggling in some way. I’ve noticed other faculty overcompensating for their distrust of the move online by piling on more and more work, asking too much of students, and therefore eating into the time and energy reserves that students might spend on my courses. I keep reminding myself that we’re not “teaching online,” but rather making the most of a pivot to online: this isn’t anyone’s best effort, nor can it be.

          I’m also starting to hear some of my best students tell me of companies pulling out of previous co-op offers for the summer. It’s really upsetting, because these are such important opportunities for them to get out into industry. If you’re reading this and you still need interns, get in touch. I’d be happy to connect you with some good people.

      • Funding

        • Daniel Stenberg: Google Open Source Peer Bonus award 2020

          I’m honored to – once again – be a recipient of this award Google hands out to open source contributors, annually. I was previously awarded this in 2011.

          [...]

          This time, the reward comes with a 250 USD “payout” (that’s the gift mentioned in the mail above), as a real money transfer that can be spent on other things than just Google merchandise!

          I’ve decided to accept the reward and the money and I intend to spend it on beer and curl stickers for my friends and fans.

      • FSF

        • Better than Zoom: Try these free software tools for staying in touch

          In times like these it becomes all the more important to remember that tools like Zoom, Slack, and Facebook Messenger are not benign public services, and while the sentiment they’ve expressed to the global community in responding to the crisis may be sincere, it hasn’t addressed the fundamental ethical issues with any piece of proprietary software.

          After taking the LibrePlanet 2020 conference online, we received a number of requests asking us to document our streaming setup. As the pandemic grew worse, this gave way to more curiosity about how the Free Software Foundation (FSF) uses free tools and free communication platforms to conduct our everyday business. And while the stereotype of hackers hunched over a white on black terminal session applies to us in some ways, many of the tools we use are available in any environment, even for people who do not have a lot of technical experience. We’ve started documenting ethical solutions on the LibrePlanet wiki, in addition to starting a remote communication mailing list to help each other advocate for their use.

          In the suggestions that follow, a few of the tools we will recommend depend upon some “self-reliance,” that is, steering clear of proprietary network services by hosting free software solutions yourself, or asking a technical friend to do it for you. It’s a difficult step, and the benefits may not be immediately obvious, but it’s a key part of preserving your autonomy in an age of ubiquitous digital control.

          To those who have the technical expertise and available infrastructure, we urge you to consider hosting instances of free communication platforms for your friends, family, and your community at large. For example, with a modest server and some GNU/Linux knowledge, you could help local students learn in freedom by volunteering to administer an instance of one of the programs we’ll be recommending below.

          The need to self-host can be an uncomfortable reminder of our dependence on the “cloud” — the network of someone else’s computers — but acknowledging our current reliance on these providers is the first step in making new, dependable systems for ourselves. During dangerous and stressful times, it’s tempting to sideline our ethical commitments for easier or more convenient ways to get things done, and software freedom is no exception. We hope these suggestions will inspire you to inform others about the importance of their freedom, privacy, and security.

        • The cataloging of free software

          The Free Software Directory is a collaborative catalog of software aimed to be the primary source for representing all free software. Each free program has its own page in the Directory from which it is possible to study the evolution it has undergone in both technological and legal terms through a chronological system similar to that of Wikipedia. Each catalogued program is distinguished by one or more aliases, and accompanied by a huge amount of information, which goes beyond the pure needs of the end user. Snapshots of the graphic interface, detailed descriptions, change logs, links to social pages, and lists of licenses and dependencies are examples of all the useful information which can be carefully attached by users to each page.

          Everyone can freely subscribe to the Directory and create new pages, but only the pages reviewed and approved by administrators become visible and indexable. Administrative approvals are always made according to strict rules aimed at preventing the spread of proprietary content. As on Wikipedia, each user can have a self-approved personal page, where they can define their identity and discuss with other users. Users can also include sub-pages on which to publish their thematic articles, and any tools useful for the daily life of the Directory. User access rights are assigned to active users, and all those who demonstrate that they have the necessary technical skills and wish to devote themselves daily to the care of the pages have a chance to be welcomed onto the staff. This serene and flexible organization, based on bonds of trust built on facts and adherence to well-defined common ideals, guarantees that the technological and social development produced by the project is gradual but unstoppable. Thus, any investment of time by volunteers is amply repaid.

          The project has proved to be a clear success, so much that over the years it has received funding from UNESCO, and is still supported by the Free Software Foundation. The portal boasts the participation of more than 3,000 users from all over the world. Since its creation, it has accumulated more than 80,000 verified and recorded revisions for posterity in the chronology of the MediaWiki pages, all of which are dedicated to facilitating the essential freedoms in more than 16,000 free programs.

          The portal’s ability to adapt and survive was possible not only because of the technical creativity of the staff, but also by the solid ideal at its base. By guaranteeing maximum visibility to free software, it has thus rewarded developers who freely employ their knowledge for the good of humanity. The transition to free licenses is indeed a moral duty of every developer, and the Free Software Directory is deployed at the forefront to facilitate it with great benefit to the world’s cultural heritage.

      • Programming/Development

        • pocl v1.5 released

          A more detailed changelog here.

          Please note that there’s an official pocl maintenance policy in place. This text describes the policy and how you can get your favourite project that uses OpenCL to remain regression free in the future pocl releases.

        • POCL 1.5 Released With Performance Improvements, Fixes For OpenCL On CPUs

          POCL 1.5 has been released as the “Portable CL” implementation for running OpenCL on CPUs and other devices with LLVM back-ends.

          The POCL project lets OpenCL 1.2~2.0 run over CPU back-ends as well as for running OpenCL on NVIDIA GPUs over CUDA, on AMD GPUs via HSA, and other accelerator targets that have LLVM back-end coverage.

        • How to work from home like a pro

          Across the globe, businesses are transitioning to remote work. While remote work or “working from home” has been an overall growing trend, the recent push to transition has been driven by the COVID-19 response; organizations are asking staff to work from home to help limit the spread of the Coronavirus.

          If you are like many of your peers, you may quite suddenly find yourself working from home. How can you remain productive at home when you’re used to going into an office?

          A year ago, I launched my own business as a consultant. When I’m not working with a client, I’m working from my home, and during that time, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to be most effective. I’d like to share a few of those tips here.

        • LLVM Lands Performance-Hitting Mitigation For Intel LVI Vulnerability

          Made public in March was the Load Value Injection (LVI) attack affecting Intel CPUs with SGX capabilities. LVI combines Spectre-style code gadgets with Meltdown-type illegal data flows to bypass existing defenses and allow injecting data into a victim’s transient execution. While mitigations on the GNU side quickly landed, the LLVM compiler mitigations were just merged today.

          Intel quickly provided LVI mitigations for the GNU Assembler as new opt-in flags. These assembler mitigations end up introducing many more load fences (LFENCE) to mitigate and cause quite some performance hits but is not enabled by default.

          Intel and other developers in the LLVM community have been working on their respective mitigations for LVI. In fact, a Google engineer proposed a new “SESES” technique for helping address LVI and speculative execution in general. But with Google’s own benchmark that only left 7% the original performance (as in down 93%) for the company’s BoringSSL workload as their internal fork of OpenSSL.

        • Ada++ Wants To Make The Ada Programming Language More Accessible

          Ada is a beautiful programming language when it comes to code safety with it continuing to be used by aircraft and other safety critical systems. There is now Ada++ as an unofficial fork of the language focused on making the language more accessible and friendlier in an era of the likes of Rust and Golang attracting much interest.

          Ada++ allows for curly braces in place of begin/end keywords, new types like Int_32 / Int_64 / Char_8 / Bool, allow pragmas to be set with a leading # or :, supporting the ++ operator, a raise when construct, and other changes in discussion.

          Ada++ is currently implemented as a forked version of GCC with its Ada front-end being modified but there is talk of a possible LLVM front-end in the future.

        • [Old] Who Made America? Innovators: Gary Kildall

          A technology industry urban legend claims that Kildall went flying rather than meet with IBM, thus causing IBM to market Microsoft’s inferior operating system, changing the course of computer history. The story is untrue.

        • [Old] Gary Kildall Special

          A profile on computer pioneer Gary Kildall and the important contributions he made to the PC industry including the true story on how IBM ended up using MS-DOS rather than CP/M. Kildall developed CP/M, the first personal computer operating system. He was also a co-host on the early Computer Chronicles series. Includes comments by Gordon Eubanks, Symantec; Tom Rolander, DRI; Tim Bajarin, Creative Strategies; Lee Lorenzen, DRI; Jacqui Morby, TA Associates; Alan Cooper, CP/M applications developer. Originally broadcast in 1995. Copyright 1995 Stewart Cheifet Productions.

        • My home DSL link really is fast enough to make remote X acceptable

          Of course, running X remotely over a DSL link that’s only medium fast doesn’t measure up to running it over a 1G Ethernet network, much less the local machine. I can certainly feel the difference (mostly in latency and responsiveness). But it’s much more usable than I might have expected, and I’ve had to change my work habits less than I feared.

        • How to SSH Properly

          The methods above give practical examples of several ways in which you can improve the security of your SSH infrastructure, all while giving users the flexibility to keep using the tools they’re familiar with.

        • Killed by Apple: Dark Sky isn’t alone in Cupertino’s Android app graveyard

          Unfortunately, Android users are no stranger to the effects of Apple’s spending spree. Over the years, Apple has bought some of the best and most beloved apps and left Android users twisting in the wind with no alternative other than to switch to an iPhone.

          And sadly, this won’t be the last time it happens. Apple has a history of buying and killing (or crippling) Android apps and services over the years with a smile, and with a ton of money, lots of clout, and a billion-plus customers, there isn’t much Google can do to stop it.

        • How to exploit parser differentials

          The move to microservices-based architecture creates more attack surface for nefarious actors, so when our security researchers discovered a file upload vulnerability within GitLab, we patched it right up in our GitLab 12.7.4 security release. We dive deeper into the problems that lead to this vulnerability and use it to illustrate the underlying concept of parser differentials.

        • Perl/Raku

          • CY’s take on PWC#054

            This is a part of Perl Weekly Challenge(PWC) #054 and the followings are related to my solution. If you want to challenge yourself on Perl, go to https://perlweeklychallenge.org, code the latest challenges, submit codes on-time (by GitHub or email) if possible, before reading my blog post.

        • Python

          • Python 2.7.8 : Using python scripts with Revit Dynamo.

            Dynamo is a visual programming tool that extends the power of the Revit by providing access to Revit API (Application Programming Interface.

          • Analysis of the progress of COVID-19 in the world with Data Science.

            All the data in this article was made with Data Scientis tools.

            Given the circumstances the planet is experiencing at the moment, we show below a series of results after implementing Data Science techniques to monitor the virus.
            For the following analyzes, the data from the Johns repositories were taken Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering (JHU CSSE).
            As it is public knowledge, the advance of the pandemic is a worldwidede concer, that is why I consider interesting to be able to make an analysis of certain countries.

            Therefore we can see in the following graph how the curve of confirmed infected persons in countries such as USA, Italy, France and Argentina advances from the beginning to today.

          • Introduction to the Python HTTP header

            You can create your own custom headers for the HTTP destination using the Python HTTP header plugin of syslog-ng and Python scripts. The included example configuration just adds a simple counter to the headers but with a bit of coding you can resolve authentication problems or fine tune how data is handled at cloud-based logging and SIEM platforms, like Sumologic.

          • Announcing a new Sponsorship Program for Python Packaging

            The Packaging Working Group of the Python Software Foundation is launching an all-new sponsorship program to sustain and improve Python’s packaging ecosystem. Funds raised through this program will go directly towards improving the tools that your company uses every day and sustaining the continued operation of the Python Package Index.

          • Python String Concatenation

            String concatenation means creating a new string by combining two or more string values. Many built-in methods and ‘+’ operator are used to combine string values in many programming languages. ‘+’ operator is also used in python to combine string values but it works differently than other scripting languages. In JavaScript, when a string value combines with the number value then the number value will convert automatically into the string and combines with the other string value. But if you do the same task in Python then it will generate an error because Python can’t convert the number into string automatically. Many other ways exist in Python to combine string values. This article shows how you can do string concatenation in Python in different ways. Here, spyder3 editor is used for writing and executing the scripts of this article.

          • Python String Replacement using Pattern

            Any string data can be replaced with another string in Python by using the replace() method. But if you want to replace any part of the string by matching a specific pattern then you have to use a regular expression. It is used to search a specific pattern in a particular string value and the string will be replaced with another string if any match found. Python uses ‘re’ module to use regular expression pattern in the script for searching or matching or replacing. Using regular expression patterns for string replacement is a little bit slower than normal replace() method but many complicated searches and replace can be done easily by using the pattern. You can replace a string in various ways using the pattern in Python. Some common uses of pattern to replace string are shown in this tutorial. Spyder3 editor is used here to write and run the script.

          • Python String startswith and endswith

            Sometimes we need to check the starting or the ending part of any string for the programming purpose. There are two built-in methods in Python to do the task. These are startswith() and endswith() methods. If any string starts with a given prefix then startswith() method will return true otherwise returns false and if any string ending with a given suffix then endswith() method will return true otherwise returns false. How these methods work and use in Python are shown in this tutorial. Spyder3 editor is used here to write and run the python script.

          • Examples are Awesome

            There are two things I look for whenever I check out an Opensource project or library that I want to use.

            1. Screenshots (A picture is worth a thousand words).

            2. Examples (Don’t tell me what to do, show me how to do it).

            Having a fully working example (or many examples) helps me shape my thought process.

          • App Assisted Contact Tracing

            I don’t know how I thought the world would look like 10 years ago, but a pandemic that prevents us from going outside was not what I was picturing. It’s about three weeks now that I and my family are spending at home in Austria instead of going to work or having the kids at daycare, two of those weeks were under mandatory social distancing because of SARS-CoV-2.

            And as cute as social distancing and “flattening the curve” sounds at first, the consequences to our daily lives are beyond anything I could have imagined would happen in my lifetime.

            What is still conveniently forgotten is that the curve really only stays flat if we’re doing this for a very, very long time. And quite frankly, I’m not sure for how long our society will be able to do this. Even just closing restaurants is costing tens of thousands of jobs and closing schools is going to set back the lives of many children growing up. Many people are currently separated from their loved ones with no easy way to get to them because international travel grinded to a halt.

  • Leftovers

    • Roaming Charges: Strange Things Happening Every Day

      + Is it possible for an entire country to win a Darwin Award?

    • ‘Azure appears to be full’: UK punters complain of capacity issues on Microsoft’s cloud

      Customers of Microsoft’s Azure cloud are reporting capacity issues such as the inability to create resources and associated reliability issues.

      [...]

      Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD), a handy solution for remote workers, is one example. One user complained on Twitter that “Azure seems to be full” when trying to allocate a VM for WVD, though it appears to be a test deployment (if the name WVD-TEST-0 is anything to go by). The error reads “Allocation failed. We do not have sufficient capacity for the requested VM size in this region.” The region is UK South.

    • Introducing Windows CSI support alpha for Kubernetes

      The alpha version of CSI Proxy for Windows is being released with Kubernetes 1.18. CSI proxy enables CSI Drivers on Windows by allowing containers in Windows to perform privileged storage operations.

    • Science

      • Drs. Vladimir Zelenko and Stephen Smith: Abandoning evidence-based medicine to promote unproven drugs for COVID-19

        If there’s one thing that the coronavirus pandemic has revealed, it’s just how weak physicians’ dedication to science- and evidence-based medicine truly is. Facing COVID-19, doctors have embraced protocols to treat the virus based in the thinnest of evidence, or even no evidence. I discussed this phenomenon yesterday, using as my example the rapid, near universal embrace of the anti-malaria drugs (which are also used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and some other autoimmune diseases) chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, even though the evidence base for them is anecdotal and the existing clinical evidence is either negative or very, very weak. It’s worse than that, though. Now we have doctors like Dr. Vladimir Zelenko and Dr. Stephen Smith promoting the use of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, even though the evidence for this drug combination comes entirely from a truly awful study by French “brave maverick scientist” Didier Raoult. Worse still than even that, these two physicians are actively feeding the right-wing quackery promotion machine touting all manner of “miracle cures” for COVID-19. Before I discuss these doctors, here’s a bit of background.

      • The SIR Model of Epidemics

        Now, I’m not an epidemiologist. I don’t study infectious diseases. But I do know a little about how mathematical models work, so I wanted to explain how one of the common, simple epidemiological models works. This model isn’t anywhere near good enough to make concrete predictions about what’s going to happen. But it can give some basic intuition about how epidemics progress, and provide some context for what the experts are saying.

    • Education

      • My New Print Bookstore

        No, I’m not shipping books myself. I outsourced procurement and delivery to Aerio.

      • US war on science ‘undermining war on coronavirus’

        The US administration’s war on expertise is imperilling the country’s people and jeopardising the global fight against Covid-19, according to former Australian chief scientist Penny Sackett.

        Professor Sackett, a Nebraska-born astronomer, said the “shocking” politicisation of science under Donald Trump was increasingly affecting the rest of the world.

      • Online Teaching in the Time of Coronavirus

        I’ve been spending a lot of the past week looking at different options for transitioning my teaching online for the rest of the term. There are certainly people far more expert at online instruction than I am, but I wanted to share some of my thoughts and what I’ve found.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • Early Data Shows African Americans Have Contracted and Died of Coronavirus at an Alarming Rate

        The coronavirus entered Milwaukee from a white, affluent suburb. Then it took root in the city’s black community and erupted.

        As public health officials watched cases rise in March, too many in the community shrugged off warnings. Rumors and conspiracy theories proliferated on social media, pushing the bogus idea that black people are somehow immune to the disease. And much of the initial focus was on international travel, so those who knew no one returning from Asia or Europe were quick to dismiss the risk.

      • Russia confirms another 601 coronavirus infections, bringing official total to 4,149 cases

        As of the morning of April 3, Russia recorded 601 new coronavirus cases across 32 different regions in the past day, bringing the national total of confirmed infections to 4,149. Once again, the numbers rose mostly in Moscow (+448), followed by the Moscow region (+34), the Krasnodar Territory (+17), the Penza region (+11), the Leningrad region (+10), and the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug (+10).

      • The Message—and Meaning—of COVID-19

        Coronavirus is neoliberalism’s Chernobyl.

      • Medicare for Each of Us in the Age of the Coronavirus

        The U.S. public—and increasingly the business community—are becoming acutely aware of the rising costs and inadequacies of our current for-profit system, particularly as the current epidemic unfolds. There is no other choice but Medicare for All.

      • Infographic: Russia’s escalating COVID-19 curve
      • Covid-19 Attacks the Down-and-Out in Ultra-Unequal South Africa

        It’s hard to imagine a more worrying place to watch Covid-19 hit a society than Johannesburg, South Africa.

      • Russian doctors’ union leader arrested twice and beaten by police for delivering masks to medical staff fighting COVID-19

        Anastasia Vasilyeva, the head of the medical workers’ union Alyans Vrachei (Doctors’ Alliance), has been arrested twice in the Novgorod region city of Okulovka, where she was attempting to deliver personal protection equipment (PPE) to local medical personnel.

      • When doctors become vectors As Russian medical staff catch and spread COVID-19, entire hospitals and treatment wings are going on lockdown

        On March 31, Denis Protsenko tested positive for COVID-19. Protsenko, by now a well-known figure, is the lead doctor for Moscow’s City Hospital No. 40 — more commonly known by its location, the Kommunarka neighborhood. In early March, the Moscow government set aside the Kommunarka hospital for patients who had either tested positive for the novel coronavirus or who had potentially been exposed to it. Vladimir Putin visited the facility a week before Protsenko got back his positive test. When asked to comment on the news that Putin had shaken hands with a now-confirmed patient, the president’s press secretary said Putin is regularly tested for the virus. “Everything’s okay,” he assured journalists. The press secretary for Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin, who was also present during the visit, likewise said her employer was keeping a watchful eye on his health.

      • Dissenter Weekly: Dumping Nuclear Waste, COVID-19 Risks From Food

        On this edition of the “Dissenter Weekly,” host and Shadowproof editor Kevin Gosztola highlights how President Donald Trump’s administration is apparently moving to massively deregulate nuclear waste disposal while everyone is focused on the coronavirus outbreak.

        Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a group known for its work representing environmental whistleblowers in government agencies, says the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) plans to allow “every reactor in the country to dump virtually all its radioactive waste except spent fuel in local regular garbage dumps, which are designed for household trash not for plutonium.” “Both the National Academy of Sciences and EPA calculate that the risk of such doses would be every 500th person exposed getting a cancer from the radiation,” according to PEER.

      • How Do People Living in a Food Desert Feed Themselves Amid a Pandemic?

        In Mississippian Richard Wright’s ferocious short story Hunger, an overworked, time-pressed mother sends her young son to the grocery story with a list, a basket and a few dollars. When he returns with no groceries, having been relieved of his money by a gaggle of neighborhood boys, she sends him out again, this time with a stick as a weapon, which he’s forced to use — busting heads, drawing blood and winning the streets. “I flayed with tears in my eyes, teeth clenched, stark fear making me throw every ounce of my strength behind each blow. I hit again and again….”

      • Fauci and Most Americans Want Federal “Stay Home” Order, But Trump Refuses

        President Donald Trump has so far resisted calls for issuing a national “stay-at-home” order for all Americans (with exceptions for essential travels, such as forgetting food or medicine) in order to combat the spread of coronavirus.

      • Gaza’s New Conflict: COVID-19

        At a time when everyone was celebrating the arrival of a new decade, a rare once-in-a-100-year event took the world by surprise: a major global pandemic named COVID-19. Governments around the world struggled to fight the virus, taking extreme measures to contain it with nearly one billion people now living in confinement. At first, Palestinians followed up on the pandemic with sighs of relief thinking that the virus will never reach them, especially in Gaza, where two million people have been living under a suffocating siege for more than a decade. Alas, their worst fears have been realized: the discovery of dozens of Coronavirus cases in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

      • Just breathing or talking may be enough to spread COVID-19 after all

        Large droplets are still a means of infection, but researchers now say that tiny airborne particles may also carry infectious virus. “Currently available research supports the possibility that SARS-CoV-2 could be spread via bioaerosols generated directly by patients’ exhalation,” researchers from the U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine wrote in an April 1 report to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

        If the coronavirus is airborne, that could help explain why it is so contagious, and can spread before people have symptoms (SN: 3/13/20).

      • Trump empowered conspiracy theorists: Now they’re a major threat to public health and safety

        r. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been a stabilizing presence during the crisis, quietly and calmly doing everything he can to correct the firehose of lies Donald Trump has been drenching the country with on a daily basis.

        For his service, Fauci now requires a security detail, due in no small part to fanatical Trump fans who have embraced conspiracy theories that paint Fauci as part of a “deep state” conspiracy to unseat Trump by faking the threat of COVID-19.

      • Doctors Say Hospitals Are Stopping Them From Wearing Masks

        When she asked hospital administrators why, the reasons kept changing. First Buckalew said she was told it was against hospital policy for health care workers to bring their own gear. Then, she said, administrators told her if she wore her own N95 mask, others would want to wear the masks as well and the hospital didn’t have enough. Finally, Buckalew said, it was that CDC guidelines don’t require the mask at all times.

        “I said if I can’t wear it, then we have a problem,” she said.

        Refusing to take off her mask, she said, got her terminated. Then, she said after complaining she was reinstated and then terminated again — all within three days.

        “I’m raising a huge big stink because it’s wrong. It’s unsafe. We’ll never flatten the curve if hospital systems keep acting this way,” she said, adding that she’s speaking now because she’s already lost her assignment and wanted to speak on behalf of those who can’t. “A lot of people can’t speak out because they’re afraid, or they know that they’ll be fired.”

      • FDA calls for heartburn drug Zantac to be pulled from market immediately

        The FDA noted that an ongoing investigation has determined that levels of a contaminant in the heartburn medications increase over time and when stored at higher-than-normal temperatures, pose a risk to public health.

        The contaminant, N-nitrosodimethylamine or NDMA, is a probable human carcinogen and the FDA has been investigating levels of it in ranitidine since the summer of 2019.

      • Young People Are Getting Sick From Coronavirus Too

        In the short term, though, it looks like COVID-19 may be more dire for young people’s health than previously thought. Although older people and those with underlying conditions are more likely to be killed by the virus, the New York Times reported on March 18 that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s early data found that 29 percent of Americans hospitalized for COVID-19 were between the ages of 20 to 44. The Times also reported that according to the CDC, as of March 20, about 1 or 2 in 1,000 of these “younger” cases will be fatal. Advertisement

        Experts speculate that the rates of youth illness and fatality could be exacerbated by the intensity and timing of the curve’s peak, when hospitals are expected to become too inundated to provide all patients with adequate care. The number of staffed hospital beds in America is woefully insufficient for the number of people whom medical experts believe will require hospitalization for the virus in the days and weeks ahead. That’s why “flattening the curve,” or slowing the spread of the virus, is so critical in the effort to save lives. Many hospitals are already operating at maximum capacity.

      • Video shows Chinese worker rubbing shoes on masks for export

        While China continues its propaganda campaign to paint itself as the savior of the world during the pandemic, a number of reports have surfaced alleging that the test kits, face masks, and other medical supplies it is donating and selling to countries in need are defective. At the same time, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is seeking to shift blame for its bungled handling of the disaster by fostering conspiracy theories such as the U.S. military being behind the outbreak, leading to a spike anti-foreigner sentiment in China.

        In the latest incident, a video posted on Twitter appears to show a Chinese factory worker soiling face masks meant for foreign clients. The man, who is not properly wearing his own mask, can be seen laughing with glee as he grabs surgical masks by the handful and rubs them on his shoes.

      • Coronavirus: Netherlands recalls ‘defective’ masks bought from China

        Several hospitals in the Netherlands had already rejected some of the shipment even before the Health Ministry issued the recall.

        “When they were delivered to our hospital, I immediately rejected those masks,” a hospital source told Dutch public broadcaster NOS.

        China is sending millions of masks and medical supplies to countries across the world to combat the COVID-19 outbreak. Countries that are receiving China’s supplies include Serbia, Liberia, France, the Philippines and the Czech Republic.

      • How an Iranian Airline Tied to Terrorism Likely Spread the Virus (and Lied About It)

        What has made the suspicions worse are contradictory statements and misinformation coming from officials and airline executives. On Jan. 31, the Iranian government announced the suspension of all flights to and from China. But arrival and departure information furnished by Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport, as well as by Chinese airports, showed that flights by Mahan Air between both countries continued for another full week—including one direct evacuation flight from Wuhan, ground zero for the virus. Other data showed flights continuing into March.

        The airline, while privately owned, has links to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its Quds Force, an intelligence and special operations unit that has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States and other governments. Mahan Air has been sanctioned by Washington for helping the IRGC ferry arms and personnel in support of Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria’s brutal civil war. In a tweet on Feb. 2, China’s ambassador to Iran, Chang Hua, noted that Mahan Air CEO Hamid Arabnejad said he wished to continue cooperating with China. Two days later, the semiofficial Iranian Students’ News Agency criticized these ongoing flights and not for the first time. In a press release, Mahan Air claimed it ended all emergency repatriation flights from Wuhan and elsewhere by Feb. 5.

      • Fighting for a Just COVID-19 Response

        The coronavirus gives us the opportunity to declare in our political and medical decisions that we will not drape the cloak of invisibility over historically neglected victims of disaster.

      • Update on Patent-Related Measures in Germany in View of Corona Pandemic

        On March 24, 2020 we reported that the German government planned amendments to the Act on the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases in Humans (Gesetz zur Verhütung und Bekämpfung von Infektionskrankheiten beim Menschen – Infektionsschutzgesetz – IfSG), which could also have an impact on patents (see here). In the meantime these amendments have been enacted by the Act on the Protection of the Population in Case of an Epidemic Situation of National Significance (Gesetz zum Schutz der Bevölkerung bei einer epidemischen Lage von nationaler Tragweite) of March 27, 2020 which entered into force on March 28, 2020 (see for the legislative process here and for the IfSG in amended form here).

        Now the IfSG lays down that in case the German Federal Diet (Bundestag), i.e. the lower chamber of parliament, finds that there is an epidemic situation of national significance, the amended IfSG confers upon the Federal Ministry of Health additional powers to control the epidemic situation, including the competence to order limitations on patents. The relevant subsections of the new s. 5 IfSG, which pursuant to Article 3 and Article 7(4) of the Act of March 27, 2020 will expire on March 31, 2021, read as follows….

        [...]

        One expression of the principle of proportionality is that under s. 13(3) Patent Act the patentee can claim an ‘equitable remuneration’ from the Federal Republic of Germany. Some scholars suggest that such remuneration should be based on a reasonable royalty.

        An order under s. 13 Patent Act as such could be challenged before the administrative courts. Due to s. 5(4) IfSG an action for annulment before the administrative courts would have no suspensory effect. The civil courts would be competent to hear disputes regarding the amount of the ‘equitable remuneration’.

        The provision of s. 13 Patent Act has not been used for decades and can be regarded as unchartered territory. It remains to be seen whether the Federal Ministry of Health will issue orders under s. 13 Patent Act and s. 5(2) n. 5 IfSG in the course of the Corona pandemic. Such orders require in any event a fair balancing of all interests involved.

      • A call to honesty in pandemic modeling

        Recently there has been a proliferation of modeling work which has been used to make the point that if we can stay inside, practice extreme social distancing, and generally lock-down nonessential parts of society for several months, then many deaths from COVID-19 can be prevented.

        For example, a new study by Christopher J.L. Murray at the University of Washington models hospital and ICU utilization and deaths over a 4 month period of mitigations, and estimates that “Total deaths” can be kept under 100,000.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Archival Cloud Storage Pricing

        Unfortunately, the lower the commitment the higher the risk to long-term preservation. Since it doesn’t deliver immediate returns, it is likely to be first on the chopping block. Thus both reducing storage cost and increasing its predictability are important for sustainable digital preservation. Below the fold I revisit this issue.

        For more than 6 years I’ve been pointing out that Amazon’s margins on its S3 storage service are extortionate, using first local storage and later Backblaze as example competitors. Another issue I raised in Cloud For Preservation was the effect of the lock-in period. The cost and time involved in getting the data out make the customer vulnerable to price hikes. Since cloud storage pricing is normally on a month-by-month basis these can happen with a month’s notice.

      • Proprietary

        • Federal, State, and Local Law Enforcement Warn Against Teleconferencing [Cracking] During Coronavirus Pandemic

          Western District of Michigan U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge advised video conference users: “Whether you run a business, a law enforcement meeting, a classroom or you just want to video chat with family, you need to be aware that your video conference may not be secure and information you share may be compromised. Be careful. If you do get [attacked], call us.”

        • Zoom CEO says company reached 200 million daily users in March

          In order to address the company’s problems, Yuan detailed steps taken including removing Facebook’s software development kit to stop the collection of unnecessary user data, updating Zoom’s privacy policy to be more transparent, giving tips to users to prevent Zoom bombings and offering more specific programs for classes on Zoom.

        • Update: Zoom issues fix for UNC vulnerability that lets [attackers] steal Windows credentials via chat

          All an attacker needs to do is to send a link to another user and convince them to click it, for the attack to commence. Though the Windows password is still encrypted, the hack claims it can be easily decrypted by third-party tools if the password is a weak one.

        • Thousands of Zoom recordings exposed because of the way Zoom names recordings

          Thousands of Zoom cloud recordings have been exposed on the web because of the way Zoom names its recordings, according to a report by The Washington Post. The recordings are apparently named in “an identical way” and many have been posted onto unprotected Amazon Web Services (AWS) buckets, making it possible to find them through an online search.

          One search engine that can look through cloud storage space turned up more than 15,000 Zoom recordings, according to The Washington Post. “Thousands” of clips have apparently also been uploaded to YouTube and Vimeo. The Washington Post said it was able to view recordings of therapy sessions, orientations, business meetings, elementary school classes, and more.

        • Move Fast & Roll Your Own Crypto

          Zoom documentation claims that the app uses “AES-256” encryption for meetings where possible. However, we find that in each Zoom meeting, a single AES-128 key is used in ECB mode by all participants to encrypt and decrypt audio and video. The use of ECB mode is not recommended because patterns present in the plaintext are preserved during encryption.

          The AES-128 keys, which we verified are sufficient to decrypt Zoom packets intercepted in Internet traffic, appear to be generated by Zoom servers, and in some cases, are delivered to participants in a Zoom meeting through servers in China, even when all meeting participants, and the Zoom subscriber’s company, are outside of China.

          Zoom, a Silicon Valley-based company, appears to own three companies in China through which at least 700 employees are paid to develop Zoom’s software. This arrangement is ostensibly an effort at labor arbitrage: Zoom can avoid paying US wages while selling to US customers, thus increasing their profit margin. However, this arrangement may make Zoom responsive to pressure from Chinese authorities.

        • ‘Zoombombing’ is a federal offense that could result in imprisonment, prosecutors warn

          Federal prosecutors are now warning pranksters and [attackers] of the potential legal implications of “Zoombombing,” wherein someone successfully invades a public or sometimes even private meeting over the videoconferencing platform to broadcast shock videos, pornography, or other disruptive content.

          The warning was posted as a press released to the Department of Justice’s website under the US Attorney’s office for the state’s Eastern district with support from the state attorney general and the FBI.

        • [Attackers] are targeting your kids to infect Android and Chromebook devices with malware

          Hide your kids; hide your wives. Security investigators from Check Point Research discovered 56 malware-infected Google Play apps. Before Google had a chance to pull them down, users already downloaded the apps one million times; 24 of those apps, Check Point Research discovered, targeted children.

          The study — spearheaded by Israel Wernik, Danil Golubenko , Aviran Hazum — found that the Google Play Store-based apps were poisoned with Tekya, which is a form of adware. The goal of Tekya, Hazum told Laptop Mag, is to commit mobile-ad fraud.

        • Apparently Microsoft’s Claim of 775 Percent Surge in Cloud Services Wasn’t Really Accurate

          The company has now made a correction, saying that the 775 percent increase was experienced by Microsoft Teams, not all of the cloud offerings, which isn’t as surprising since the video calling app generated over 900 million meeting and calling minutes daily in a one-week period alone.

          As it turns out the figure also only came from Microsoft Teams’ users in Italy, where millions of people were put under lockdown. The corrected statement now reads: [...]

        • Zoom isn’t actually end-to-end encrypted

          Zoom does use TLS encryption, the same standard that web browsers use to secure HTTPS websites. In practice, that means that data is encrypted between you and Zoom’s servers, similar to Gmail or Facebook content. But the term end-to-end encryption typically refers to protecting content between the users entirely with no company access at all, similar to Signal or WhatsApp. Zoom does not offer that level of encryption, making the use of “end-to-end” highly misleading.

        • Zoom Calls Are Not End-to-End Encrypted Contrary to Claims

          What this means it that Zoom can access the video feed of your meetings. The company did confirm that it does not “directly access, mine, or sell user data.”

          Zoom offers an option where a meeting can only be hosted with mandatory encryption for third-party endpoints. However, when contacted, the company clarified that it is currently not possible to hold E2E video meetings using Zoom.

        • Zoom’s sudden spike in popularity is revealing its privacy (and porn) problems

          With its vaguely worded privacy policies and misleading marketing materials, Zoom’s real overarching issue seems to be a lack of transparency. Combine that with an apparent lack of forethought about how video meetings with insufficient privacy protections — both on the back and the front end — could be exploited by [attackers] or trolls. This entire scenario becomes especially problematic considering the growing number of students that Zoom eagerly recruits for the platform. It all seems like a bad publicity time bomb that went off as soon as Zoom became an essential piece of pandemic software and people started really looking more closely at how the service worked.

        • Dark Sky Has a New Home

          Android and Wear OS App

          The app will no longer be available for download. Service to existing users and subscribers will continue until July 1, 2020, at which point the app will be shut down. Subscribers who are still active at that time will receive a refund.

          Website

          Weather forecasts, maps, and embeds will continue until July 1, 2020. The website will remain active beyond that time in support of API and iOS App customers.

        • Microsoft’s Skype struggles have created a Zoom moment

          The transition lasted years, and resulted in calls, messages, and notifications repeating on multiple devices. Skype became unreliable, at a time when rivals were continuing to offer solid alternatives that incorporated messaging functionality that actually worked and synced across devices. Instead of quickly fixing the underlying issues, Microsoft spent years trying to redesign Skype. This led to a lethal combination of an unreliable product with a user experience that changed on a monthly basis.

        • ‘War Dialing’ Tool Exposes Zoom’s Password Problems

          Lo said a single instance of zWarDial can find approximately 100 meetings per hour, but that multiple instances of the tool running in parallel could probably discover most of the open Zoom meetings on any given day. Each instance, he said, has a success rate of approximately 14 percent, meaning for each random meeting number it tries, the program has a 14 percent chance of finding an open meeting.

          Only meetings that are protected by a password are undetectable by zWarDial, Lo said.

        • Pseudo-Open Source

          • Openwashing

            • Open Source Moves From Rebel to Mainstream

              That shift has its critics. “The degree in which corporations knowingly and openly use open source has grown,” says Karl Fogel, a developer and open-source advocate. Still, some open-source developers feel that although these businesses build a lot of value on top of their work, they’re not seeing “enough of it flowing back to them,” Fogel says.

              But the narrative of a noncommercial open source being colonized by the corporate world also has its flaws, cautions Fogel. Open source has always been commercial to a certain degree. Even in the more radical currents of the movement, where the term “free software” is preferred over open source, making money isn’t necessarily shunned. Richard Stallman, one of the movement’s pioneers, famously said that the “free” in “free software” should be taken as “free speech, not free beer.” All the talk about freedom and digital self-ownership doesn’t preclude making money.

            • HPE announces new open source programme to simplify 5G rollout

              Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) today announced the Open Distributed Infrastructure Management initiative, a new open source programme that will simplify the management of large-scale geographically distributed physical infrastructure deployments. In addition, HPE will introduce an enterprise offering, the HPE Open Distributed Infrastructure Management Resource Aggregator that is aligned with the initiative.

              Open Distributed Infrastructure Management helps resolve the complexity that telcos face in rolling out 5G networks across thousands of sites equipped with IT infrastructure from multiple vendors and different generations of technology. This new initiative underlines HPE’s continued leadership in open 5G technologies and commitment to accelerating industry alignment through open source innovation.

        • Security

          • Browser makers cite coronavirus, restore support for obsolete TLS 1.0 and 1.1 encryption

            By common agreement, Google’s Chrome, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) and Edge, and Mozilla’s Firefox were to disable support for TLS 1.0 and 1.1 early in 2020. They, along with Apple – which produces Safari – announced the move a year and a half ago, noting then that the protocols had been made obsolete by TLS 1.2 and 1.3.

            Apple, Google and Mozilla had committed to dropping support in March 2020, while Microsoft had only promised to purge TLS 1.0 and 1.1 sometime during the first half of this year.

            But it was Microsoft that was most detailed about the TLS turnabout. “In light of current global circumstances, we will be postponing this planned change – originally scheduled for the first half of 2020,” Karl Pflug, of the Edge developer experience team, wrote in a post to a company blog.

          • Security updates for Friday

            Security updates have been issued by Debian (mediawiki and qbittorrent), Gentoo (gnutls), Mageia (bluez, kernel, python-yaml, varnish, and weechat), Oracle (haproxy and nodejs:12), SUSE (exiv2, haproxy, libpng12, mgetty, and python3), and Ubuntu (libgd2).

          • Google Squashes High-Severity Flaws in Chrome Browser

            Do you use Google Chrome as your web browser? Google has patched high-security vulnerabilities in its Chrome browser, and is rolling out the newest Chrome browser version in the coming days.

            [...]

            As is typical for Chrome updates, Google is initially scant in details of the bugs “until a majority of users are updated with a fix.” It did outline three of the vulnerabilities that were discovered by external researchers, however.

            These included two high-severity vulnerabilities the WebAudio component of Chrome (CVE-2020-6450 and CVE-2020-6451). The WebAudio component is used for processing and synthesizing audio in web applications.

            The flaws tied to CVE-2020-6450 and CVE-2020-6451 are both use-after-free flaws. Use after free is a memory corruption flaw where an attempt is made to access memory after it has been freed. This can cause an array of malicious impacts, from causing a program to crash, to potentially leading to execution of arbitrary code.

          • How YubiKey Bio could make remote security concerns a thing of the past

            The bottom line is, your office brings a level of built-in security that’s not as readily available at home. Even if your Wi-Fi is WPA2-encrypted with a strong password, the security on your PC and personal accounts likely pales in comparison to the firewalls and intranets inside your office. “This is the perfect scenario for an attacker to thrive in and opens opportunities for social engineering and phishing attacks––making it imperative for businesses to develop a contingency plan that includes securing remote workers,” said Appenzeller. “Enabling multi-factor authentication wherever possible is one of the best ways to protect a remote team and should be a top requirement for a work-from-home policy.”

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • How EFF Evaluates Government Demands for New Surveillance Powers

              The COVID-19 public health crisis has no precedent in living memory. But government demands for new high-tech surveillance powers are all too familiar. This includes well-meaning proposals to use various forms of data about disease transmission among people. Even in the midst of a crisis, the public must carefully evaluate such government demands, because surveillance invades privacy, deters free speech, and unfairly burdens vulnerable groups. It also metastasizes behind closed doors. And new surveillance powers tend to stick around. For example, nearly two decades after the 9/11 attacks, the NSA is still conducting dragnet Internet surveillance.

              Thus, when governments demand new surveillance powers—especially now, in the midst of a crisis like the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak—EFF has three questions:

            • Al Jazeera Live interview on corporate and government mass surveillance in the time of COVID-19

              I was on Al Jazeera Live today and spoke about how we must remain vigilant in the face of surveillance capitalists and governments that want to use the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to widen their dragnets.

            • Rights Groups Around The World Unite To Press Governments On Coronavirus Surveillance

              More than 100 human rights organizations, civil liberties campaigners and consumer groups from around the world have issued a joint statement on Covid-19 and digital surveillance.

              The groups are urging governments to use tracking technologies only if they’re carried out strictly in line with human rights principles.

            • Joint civil society statement: States use of digital surveillance technologies to fight pandemic must respect human rights

              The COVID-19 pandemic is a global public health emergency that requires a coordinated and large-scale response by governments worldwide. However, States’ efforts to contain the virus must not be used as a cover to usher in a new era of greatly expanded systems of invasive digital surveillance.

              We, the undersigned organizations, urge governments to show leadership in tackling the pandemic in a way that ensures that the use of digital technologies to track and monitor individuals and populations is carried out strictly in line with human rights.

              Technology can and should play an important role during this effort to save lives, such as to spread public health messages and increase access to health care. However, an increase in state digital surveillance powers, such as obtaining access to mobile phone location data, threatens privacy, freedom of expression and freedom of association, in ways that could violate rights and degrade trust in public authorities – undermining the effectiveness of any public health response. Such measures also pose a risk of discrimination and may disproportionately harm already marginalized communities.

              These are extraordinary times, but human rights law still applies. Indeed, the human rights framework is designed to ensure that different rights can be carefully balanced to protect individuals and wider societies. States cannot simply disregard rights such as privacy and freedom of expression in the name of tackling a public health crisis. On the contrary, protecting human rights also promotes public health. Now more than ever, governments must rigorously ensure that any restrictions to these rights is in line with long-established human rights safeguards

            • White House urges agencies to implement new authentication methods amid telework

              A March 22 memo from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget encouraged agencies to consider alternative methods of authentication in case of an extended telework period caused by the new coronavirus.

            • Internet Censorship During COVID-19 Is Threat To Cryptocurrencies And Liberty

              Beyond just the blunt question of on/off censorship however, cryptocurrencies and their relationship to the Internet at large pose interesting dilemmas. As central banks look more and more at digitizing their currencies and the legal attitude towards digital privacy is being redefined by COVID-19, broad changes may threaten

              Centralized digital currencies will have access to lots of metadata associated per each account, including possible location data, that can be tracked and compiled.

            • Pandemic dilemma: Emergency surveillance won’t be easy to unplug

              Technology – including surveillance drones, facial recognition algorithms, and smartphone geolocation trackers – has emerged as a powerful weapon in the battle against COVID-19. But its rapid deployment raises important ethical questions reminiscent of those raised by the war on terror. Governments are turning to telecommunications companies, social media platforms, and app developers for help monitoring individuals who contracted the virus and identifying at-risk clusters – with and without consent.

              “There are interests and obviously appetites for governments to take advantage of this opportunity to test out tracking and privacy-breaking technologies,” says Alex Gladstein, chief strategy officer at the Human Rights Foundation.

              Fionnuala D. Ní Aoláin, a United Nations special rapporteur for human rights, says emergency powers, once enacted, are rarely rolled back. “Even if they are created on the basis of being temporary aberrations, they essentially become permanent additions to the legal architecture of the state,” she warns.

            • World risks permanent surveillance with coronavirus controls

              “Dictatorships and authoritarian societies often start in the face of a threat,” UN Special Rapporteur Joseph Cannataci said. “That is why it is important to be vigilant today and not give away all our freedoms.”

              “We must not sleepwalk into a permanent expanded surveillance state now,” cautioned Rasha Abdul Rahim, deputy director of Amnesty International’s tech division.

            • Google to publish user location data to help governments tackle virus

              Google will publish location data from its users around the world from Friday to allow governments to gauge the effectiveness of social distancing measures put in place to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the tech giant said.

              The reports on users’ movements in 131 countries will be made available on a special website and will “chart movement trends over time by geography,” according to a post on one of the company’s blogs.

              Trends will be display “a percentage point increase or decrease in visits” to locations like parks, shops, homes and places of work, not “the absolute number of visits,” said the post, signed by Jen Fitzpatrick, who leads Google Maps, and the company’s chief health officer Karen DeSalvo.

            • Data protection poorly understood in Mauritius

              Mauritius counted 186 positive COVID-19 cases including 7 deaths as at 3 April.

              With the rise of cases I notice a lot of people calling the authorities to release personal information of patients having tested positive for the novel coronavirus. People think the release of such personal information will make contact tracing a much quicker exercise.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Developing a Vaccine Against War

        What if the vaccine that’s eventually developed is so large in scope it includes the words of UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Pope Francis?

      • Yale psychiatrist: Trump endangers lives by waging war on reality, not the coronavirus

        Yale psychiatrist Bandy X. Lee is leading a group of mental health professionals calling for President Donald Trump’s ouster from office or the “complete removal” of his decision-making powers on the coronavirus response.

        Dr. Lee, a forensic psychiatrist at Yale School of Medicine and editor of the bestseller “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,” recently convened a panel on the coronavirus in her role as president of the World Mental Health Coalition. The panel discussed Trump’s bungled response to the crisis and his attempts to downplay the threat posed by the pandemic.

        The panel issued a “prescription for survival” arguing that Trump must be removed from office, whether through the 25th Amendment, a second congressional impeachment or his resignation. Alternatively, the panel recommended an intervention by mental health professionals or an act of Congress to establish a Coronavirus Crisis Department headed by the Centers for Disease Control to ensure the safety of the public.

      • Our Dunning-Kruger president: Trump’s arrogance and ignorance are killing people

        The Dunning-Kruger effect manifests in the form of the drunk at the bar who weighs in on every conversation with unwanted advice, the online troll who monopolizes comment sections, or the person who reads one book (or perhaps the introduction) and then acts like an authority on the subject.

        Visionary science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov signaled to the Dunning-Kruger effect with his famous observation in 1980: “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”

      • Daniel Pearl: Pakistan overturns convicted man’s death sentence

        A group of US journalists, including former colleagues of Pearl, said in 2011 that they believed Sheikh had not carried out the beheading. The Pearl Project alleged the killer was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is being held in Guantanamo Bay, accused of being behind the 9/11 attacks.

      • Murder conviction in Daniel Pearl’s death overturned

        A Pakistani court on Thursday overturned the conviction of the man found guilty in the 2002 kidnapping and killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

      • Pakistan court overturns conviction in death of Daniel Pearl

        The Committee to Protect Journalists issued a statement expressing disappointment at the court decision and supporting an appeal.

        “The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply disappointed to see justice in the murder case of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl denied by a Pakistani court today,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator.

        U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric, asked for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ response, said: “We stand against the use of the death penalty. We do, however, strongly believe that there needs to be accountability for people who take the lives of others, especially in this case of a journalist.”

      • Message from the Chairman: We Will Take Action to Prevent the Loss of Our Land

        Regardless of the answer, we the People of the First Light have lived here since before there was a Secretary of the Interior, since before there was a State of Massachusetts, since before the Pilgrims arrived 400 years ago. We have survived, we will continue to survive. These are our lands, these are the lands of our ancestors, and these will be the lands of our grandchildren. This Administration has come and it will go. But we will be here, always. And we will not rest until we are treated equally with other federally recognized tribes and the status of our reservation is confirmed.

      • Secretary Of Interior Orders Mashpee Wampanoag Reservation ‘Disestablished,’ Tribe Says

        “Today’s action was cruel and it was unnecessary. The Secretary is under no court order to take our land out of trust. He is fully aware that litigation to uphold our status as a tribe eligible for the benefits of the Indian Reorganization Act is ongoing,” Cromwell wrote. “It begs the question, what is driving our federal trustee’s crusade against our reservation?”

        Having land “held in trust” by the federal government effectively affords a tribe special legal status and autonomy to decide how to tax, develop and manage a plot of land. The decision to take land into trust is typically made by the Department of the Interior, which had OK’d the trust status for the Mashpee land in 2015.

        But in February, the tribe suffered a legal defeat when the U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston upheld a lower court decision declaring the federal government had not been authorized to take the land into trust. That ruling marked another major development in what has been a lengthy legal battle over the land.

      • Exiled Pakistani journalist Sajid Hussain Baloch goes missing in Sweden

        The journalist’s brother told CPJ that the family did not know who might be behind the disappearance. “We don’t know whom we are fighting,” he said, adding that Swedish police had given no word to the family on the status of the investigation.

        CPJ called the Swedish police, and was patched through to an officer overseeing the case, who did not answer the call.

      • Fears grow for Pakistani journalist missing in Sweden

        Fears are growing for a Pakistani journalist who, having escaped the South Asian country for safety reasons in 2012, has gone missing in Sweden where he was living in self-imposed exile.

        Rights groups are concerned the disappearance of Sajid Hussain, 39, could be related to his reporting.

      • Chief editor Sajid Hussain went missing in Sweden

        The editorial board of the Balochistan Times has decided to share the deeply concerning news about the disappearance of our Chief Editor, Sajid Hussain. He has been missing from Uppsala, Sweden, since March 2, 2020. A formal case was filed with the Swedish police on March 3, 2020.

      • HRW: Ankara Denying Water to Syrian Kurds as Coronavirus Escalates

        The key Allouk water-pumping station is at the center of the controversy. HRW says that through March, the station worked only intermittently and now is closed again.

        Syrian forces backed by Ankara operate the water station that serves territory held by the Syrian Kurdish militia, the YPG, which is designated as terrorists by Ankara.

        In October, Syrian rebels backed by Turkish forces launched an offensive against the YPG, taking control of a large swathe of territory. Ankara claims the Kurdish militia is affiliated with the PKK, which is fighting a decade’s long insurgency inside Turkey for greater minority rights.

      • Send the Marines

        The ten-year “force design”, first described by the Wall Street Journal and released last week, offers it. It is at once a return to the marines’ naval roots, and a drastic revamp. It aims to cut the corps down from about 186,000 personnel today to 170,000 while slashing artillery and aircraft, with the number of F-35 jets falling by over a third. Most drastically, the marines will get rid of all their tanks. In their place comes a commando-like infantry force, equipped with nimbler weapons: drone squadrons will double in number and rocket batteries will triple.

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • Some Local Agencies Are No Longer Responding to Public Records Requests

        Fifty-seven out of 83 agencies responded to VOSD’s March 20 request saying the virus would delay their response. Most indicated the request would not be processed until the emergency orders from the governor were lifted or normal business resumes at some unknown date in the future. Another 10 agencies didn’t respond after two weeks, other than a couple that sent autoreplies.

    • Environment

      • Why Old-Growth Trees Are Crucial to Fighting Climate Change

        It was a visionary act, but even Munger—for whom the reserve is named—saw no inherent value in its quiet, needle-dusted acres of firs and hemlocks and cedars and alder, beyond their use in research. According to the orthodoxy of the day, old trees were worthless and wasteful: effete, slow-growing, and decaying relics that ought to be ripped out and replaced with young and vigorous plantations. “There is little satisfaction in working with a decadent old forest that is past redemption,” Munger told a conference of loggers in 1924. (He had a particular hatred for standing dead trees, known as snags, which are a common feature in mature forests. He once wrote an entire essay about snags, in which he argued that they deserve “outlawry”: “They stand, fringing the skyline like the teeth of a broken comb, in mute defiance of wind and decay, the dregs of the former forest, useless to civilization and a menace to life.”) This general contempt for old growth defined the field of forestry for decades. “We grew up thinking of old forests as biological deserts or cellulose cemeteries,” says Jerry Franklin, a forest ecologist now renowned as the father of a very different school of thought. “We climbed over huge piles of downed logs and woody debris, and we didn’t think about anything other than how to get rid of it, how to liquidate it.”

      • The northern-hemisphere winter of 2019-20 was the warmest ever on land

        The northern-hemisphere winter that ended on March 20th was the second-warmest since records began, and the warmest ever on land. The anomaly was biggest in Europe and Asia, where average temperatures from December to February were 3.2°C (5.8°F) and 3.1°C above the average from 1951-80, and 0.8°C and 0.7°C above those continents’ previous record highs. After a normal autumn, temperatures stayed close to their November levels for months. In Boston, where daily lows in January tend to hover around -6°C, the average minimum this January was 0°C; for Tokyo the figures were 0°C and 5°C. By local standards, the balmiest winter of all was in Russia. Moscow’s average daily low in January was -2°C, far from the customary -13°C.

      • ‘No Time for Requirements’: Aviation Industry Lobbying Against Green Strings in Coronavirus Bailouts

        Across the world, the industry is now asking for huge sums of government money to help it get through. IATA says $200 billion is needed globally. Many consider bailouts of some kind are essential to support those working in the airline industry and avoid throwing them into economic insecurity. 

      • Unions Disregard Call for Large Scale Climate Action Strikes

        Union workers have the power to send a strong message to governments and big industry when they choose to strike. This would bring a halt to production because, in the words of the Briarpatch report, “the strike is the working class’s most powerful weapon.”

      • Energy

        • The Oil War in the Permian May Not Have Any Winners

          In an unusual move this week, the CEOs of the shale oil companies Pioneer and Parsley sent a letter to the Texas Railroad Commission, asking the state oil and gas regulator to take an active role in limiting Texas oil production — a move Commissioner Ryan Sitton recently has endorsed.

        • Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, Some Pipeline Projects Push Forward While Others Falter Nationwide

          Iowa’s approval landed just two days after a federal judge in North Dakota found that the project must undergo a full environmental review in a March 25 order, throwing the pipeline’s legal status into question. U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg, who issued that order, also asked attorneys involved in that dispute to submit briefs on whether DAPL should be shut down while the pipeline undergoes its environmental review.

        • Under Cover of Pandemic, Fossil Fuel Interests Unleash Lobbying Frenzy

          A new briefing by UK-based think tank InfluenceMap summarizes this fossil fuel lobbying during the time of the pandemic, pointing to specific examples of how fossil fuel interests around the world are using the cover of the coronavirus crisis to advance their agenda.

        • Saudi Arabia to raise oil exports to record high

          “The kingdom plans to raise its petroleum exports by 600,000 barrels per day from May,” a Saudi energy ministry official the told state-run SPA news agency, bringing its total daily exports to 10.6 million. Saudi Arabia is the world’s top oil exporter and has already made a sharp increase in exports during April.

          Overall, Saudi Arabia will add an extra 3.6 million barrels per day to the global supply — as oil prices continue to sink.

        • Trump Admin Set to Announce Bullshit Plan to Build Dirtier Cars That Cost More to Drive

          Donald Trump’s administration is set to gut Barack Obama-era fuel efficiency standards on Tuesday, the New York Times reported, in a huge middle finger to anyone who cares about the environment and likely the White House’s biggest backtrack in federal climate policy.

          The new rule by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation is estimated to add almost a billion tons more carbon dioxide over the lifetime of U.S. vehicles than if the rules remained untouched, per the Times. According to the L.A. Times, the White House scaled back an initial effort to freeze fuel efficiency standards at this year’s levels that was furiously opposed by states, as well as major auto makers—who were concerned that such a drastic rollback could cause major problems in their market.

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • Coronaviruses and the Human Meat Market
        • The Control of Nature

          I started the day (Sunday, March 29, 2020) in relatively good spirits. The Sun was bathing nature in light and pleasant warmth. Spring and flowers were everywhere. My wife and I were walking in our beautiful neighborhood in Claremont, California.

        • Poles attract marine life avoiding rising heat

          In a warming ocean, some species will swim, others sink. But all agree: the poles attract marine life without exception.

        • [Old] Listen to Every Pitch Change in a Pacific Wren Call

          What we hear as a blur of sound, the Pacific Wren hears as a precise sequence of sounds. That birds can hear so acutely the fine structure of song allows them to convey much information in a short sound. “This is probably why,” naturalist Rosemary Jellis writes, “even the most extensive bird songs seem so brief to us.

          Let’s listen again, but this time with the song slowed down to one-quarter speed.

        • Public Comment Period on Gutting of 100-Year-Old Bird Protection Law Ends

          The MBTA is a 100-year-old law that protects more than 1,000 bird species. The proposed change ends the prohibition on the killing or “taking” of migratory birds from industrial activities, such as birds flying into uncovered oil pits or other predictable and avoidable killing – also known as “incidental take”. That policy change first appeared in a 2017 Department of the Interior legal opinion (M-37050), but with this rulemaking it would be cemented as an official regulation.

          Despite requests from a number of conservation organizations, including the National Audubon Society, to extend the comment deadline for proposed changes to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), the Trump Administration allowed the public comment period to close today amidst an escalating national emergency in response to COVID-19.

        • Coronavirus: Thai elephants face starvation as tourism collapses

          An almost total absence of visitors means that many caretakers are struggling to afford food for Thailand’s 4,000 captive elephants.

          The animals can eat up to 200kg (440lb) of food a day.

      • Overpopulation

        • Top personal actions you can take to stop climate change

          Annual CO2 Savings in Tons for a Person Living in a Developed Country.

        • This is exactly the time to be talking about climate change

          I rarely get exasperated from reading environmental business media, but a quote last week in a Bloomberg article about sustainability and the U.S. economic crisis got me headed in that direction.

          The quote came from Ted Nordhaus, co-founder of the Breakthrough Institute, a research group whose founders, self-described environmentalists, have made a career out of being gadflies — for example, arguing in favor of nuclear power and natural gas, arguing against putting a price on carbon emissions and claiming that there’s no real limit to the earth’s carrying capacity, or that energy efficiency doesn’t work because of something called the “rebound effect.”

        • For most of the world, social distancing is an unimaginable luxury

          Calls for social distancing and isolation have become the coronavirus battle-cry, and lockdowns are halting cities and towns all over the world (except in Sweden). Schools are closed, and so are non-essential businesses. All gatherings are off. Remote working is the new working, and time spent outside the home is down to a bare minimum.

          That is, of course, when you have a home. In rich western cities, the homeless are at higher risk of contracting the disease, and cities with large homeless populations—that is, cities with more inequality—will have a harder time flattening the proverbial curve.

          Still, in wealthy countries social distancing is a choice most people can make. In much of the rest of the world, the concept is an unimaginable luxury.

    • Finance

      • In This Remote Town, Spring Means Salmon — and Thousands of Fishermen From Coronavirus Hot Spots

        Later this spring, Alaska’s Bristol Bay will blossom into one of the largest annual salmon fisheries in the world.

        The regional population of about 6,600 will triple in size with the arrival of fishermen, crews and seasonal workers on jets but also private planes and small boats, many traveling from out of state.

      • Capitalism Drains America’s Blood Banks as Exports Bring in $1.4 billion

        This situation, which resulted in a loss of 130,000 donations, is unprecedented, according to Dr. Claudia Cohn, AABB’s chief medical officer and director of the blood bank at the University of Minnesota Medical Center.

      • March’s Huge Job Losses Are Just the Tip of the Iceberg of What’s to Come

        EPI estimates that nearly 20 million jobs could be lost by July.

      • Capitalism is the Virus!

        The U.S. Senate’s March 25, $2 trillion 97-0, COVID-19 corporate bailout vote gifted the ruling rich an amount never exceeded in world history. The overwhelming portion went directly to the coffers of the billionaire elite for whom the lives of literally millions of Americans are subordinate to their horror at seeing their casino capitalism stock market and associated paper fortunes evaporate to the tune of 30 percent in a matter of days. That some qualifying two-person working class households are to receive one-time payments of $2,400 along with promised temporary waivers of debt payments owed to the federal government and other short term measures aimed at modest and temporary relief for working people was subordinate to guaranteeing unprecedented multi-trillion dollar sums to the one percent. Not a single Senator thought to divide the 880-page package into distinct components that would embarrassingly expose exactly who got what. One lying Democrat did note that in the panic rush to approval no one challenged a provision that banned funding and/or forgivable grants to abortion rights groups like Planned Parenthood.

      • Would Dying for the Economy Help Anybody?

        Let me start this essay with an important caveat: I, for one, wish this question would not be raised. I find it morally reprehensible to even entertain the idea that sacrificing the lives of the elderly and vulnerable is necessary for the perseverance of any economic system.

      • Capitalism vs. Humanity

        From today’s perspective of Covid-19 mass death, the virtues of left-wing policies like Medicare for All are abundantly clear. Especially at the capitalist core, where, in the U.S., a stripped down, for profit, privatized, price-gouging, neoliberal health-care system has been proven wholly inadequate and been quickly swamped. Tens of millions cannot afford health insurance. They fall sick with Covid-19 and have a choice: suffer and spread the disease or go to a hospital, get treated and go bankrupt. M4A would correct that. In fact, every other plank of the Sanders campaign would correct similar abuses. In a sane world, that would lead to a leftish government to implement M4A, student loan forgiveness, progressive taxation and more. But this is not a sane world. And not all recent leftist governments have covered themselves with glory.

      • Under Cover of Pandemic, Trump’s NLRB Moves to Make Unionizing ‘Nearly Impossible for Workers’

        “The Trump NLRB takes this moment to publish a rule that will make it harder both for workers to unionize and to keep unions they have. Shameful does not even begin to describe this.”

      • COVID-19 and the “Just-in-Time” Supply Chain: Why Hospitals Ran Out of Ventilators and Grocery Stores Ran Out of Toilet Paper

        On March 25th, N.Y. Times op-ed columnist Farhad Manjoo wrote about “How the World’s Richest Country Ran Out of a 75-Cent Face Mask.” The subtitle certainly went against the grain of what you’d read from a page dominated by Thomas Friedman: “A very American story about capitalism consuming our national preparedness and resiliency.”

      • Silver Linings Amidst the Capitalist Coronavirus Crisis

        The COVID-19 crisis is confronting U.S.-Americans with yet more undeniable evidence of the complete craziness and cruelty of American capitalism and class rule more broadly. The demented viciousness of the possessing class’s parasitic profits regime and many elite professionals’ privileged status are being exposed in graphic ways.

      • Women’s Wage Gap Widened by Expected Beauty Standards

        A 2016 study from the University of Chicago and the University of California showed that women who were well-groomed, regardless of natural attractiveness, earned more than poorly groomed women.

      • Overwhelmed Hospitals Face a New Crisis: Staffing Firms Are Cutting Their Doctors’ Hours and Pay

        The country’s top employers of emergency room doctors are cutting their hours — leaving clinicians with lower earnings and hospitals with less staff in the middle of a pandemic.

        TeamHealth, a major medical staffing company owned by the private-equity giant Blackstone, is reducing hours for ER staff in some places and asking for voluntary furloughs from anesthesiologists, the company confirmed to ProPublica. Multiple ER providers working for a main competitor, KKR-owned Envision Healthcare, said their hours also are being cut.

      • Work, Crisis and Pandemic

        As the depth of the crises resulting from the coronavirus pandemic sink in, millions of the most vulnerable citizens will be facing eviction, hunger and the ravages of illness. America has always been a brutal place for workers and the socially marginalized. Recently enacted economic stimulus and corporate bailouts will demonstrate both the bluntness of the government’s tools and the differentiated class interests they serve. The difference between who they help and who they don’t will be spilling forth as people facing sudden homelessness and hunger aren’t going to just fade away.

      • Bama Athreya on Gig Economy & Covid-19

        This week on CounterSpin: The Wall Street Journal called frontline workers like grocery store employees and food deliverers “unexpected heroes” of the Covid-19 pandemic, which should prompt the question: Unexpected to whom? The truth is the US has always relied on low-paid, unprotected workers for all kinds of services, only now it’s called a “gig economy” and celebrated by some as some radical way forward, offering workers “flexibility” and a chance to “be your own boss.” Strikes going on around the country right now are an indication of how workers themselves are reacting to this moment, in which it’s being made painfully clear that they are deemed both essential and expendable at once.

      • ‘These Devices Making the Super-Wealthy Super-Wealthier Will Have to Come Apart’
      • Hungary to keep details of Beijing-funded rail link secret

        Hungary plans to classify information concerning its largest ever infrastructure project, a €2.3bn Chinese-backed rail modernisation, a move critics said shows that Prime Minister Viktor Orban is taking advantage of the coronavirus crisis to push his own agenda.

        Details of the 350km Beijing-funded high-speed rail link between Budapest and the Serbian capital Belgrade will be classified for 10 years, according to draft legislation submitted to the Hungarian parliament on Thursday.

      • Slumlord Capitalism v. Global Pandemic

        The poet Langston Hughes once wrote, “I wish the rent was heaven sent.” With 10 million Americans filing for unemployment benefits in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Hughes’ words resonate now more than ever. As we hurtle toward a public health and economic catastrophe, we must reckon with the sobering fact that our federal government is helmed by landlords, real estate developers, and financiers whose fortunes have been made – and whose worldview has been shaped – by years of predatory and extractive business practices. These practices prefigured the federal response to the pandemic and overdetermine the nature of the state-led economic rescue that is already underway.

      • We need to talk about valuation in ISDS

        Over the last few years, Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) has received an increasing amount of critical attention. Where previously only specialists were aware of the existence of this field of international adjudication, now even the general press discusses its shortcomings and lack of legitimacy. Criticism can be divided into two broad categories. The first focuses on the competence of the arbitral tribunals to adjudicate investor-State disputes involving public interest considerations. People for instance question whether private arbitrators, rather than courts or public authorities, are in a position to decide whether a certain country ought to be able to regulate economic activity in a certain way. The second concerns the extent of the protection offered to foreign investors. Thus, many do not accept that foreign investors should be treated more favourably than domestic actors.

        Beyond the questions of arbitral jurisdiction and investor rights (or State duties), there is a key third pillar of ISDS that has largely escaped attention. Once an arbitral tribunal has decided that it is competent to adjudicate the investor’s claim against the State and found the latter in breach of its obligations, it will proceed to consider the appropriate remedy. Such a remedy will practically always consist in damages. That is, States will be ordered to pay a sum of money to compensate the investor for the breach. The sums are often gigantic, particularly in cases involving natural resources. For example, last summer Pakistan was held liable for $5,84 billion, which amounts to around 2% of the country’s GDP, for refusing to grant a mining licence. Other recent examples of so-called ‘mega-awards’, amounting to similar fractions of the domestic GDP, include Occidental v Ecuador ($2,3 billion, for the termination of an oil concession), Yukos v Russia ($50 billion, for the expropriation of the oil company), or ConocoPhillips v Venezuela ($8,7 billion, for the nationalisation of the oil giant’s Venezuelan subsidiary).

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • “It’s Not Like We Have a Massive Recession or Worse,” Says Trump After 10 Million Lost Their Jobs in Two Weeks

        “It’s artificial because we turned it off,” Trump said of the economic crisis, a distinction that makes no difference to the millions who have lost their jobs and their health insurance.

      • ‘This Is Unacceptable’: Trump Administration Says Millions May Have to Wait 5 Months to Receive $1,200 Relief Check

        “That’s not even remotely fast enough for the millions of working people who have seen their hours slashed, their expenses rise, and their government refuse to take sufficient action.”

      • Could COVID-19 Reshape Global Leadership?
      • With the Feds Missing In Action, Depending On the Kindness Of (RV-Owning) Strangers
      • Bernie Sanders Calls for ‘Boldest Legislation in History’ to Halt Spiraling Covid-19 Catastrophe

        “In this unprecedented moment in modern American history, it is imperative that we respond in an unprecedented way.”

      • “I Have a Plan So That We Can Remain Anonymous But Have Maximum Effect”

        These were the words, shown in court, in a text of Ms H to a co-conspirator as they launched their infamous effort to destroy Alex Salmond. The plan was to make false sexual allegations against Salmond, which would ensure the conspirators lifelong anonymity as “victims” and thus protect them against any backlash should the plan fail. They were all very powerful women, so insuring themselves was paramount. The “plan” turns out to have the added advantage that the collapse of their efforts in court in no way diminished their ability to continue their anonymous campaign to destroy Salmond.

      • Wisconsin Governor Finally Moves to Postpone State’s Primary Elections, Shift to Vote-by-Mail

        Fifteen states in recent weeks have delayed their primary elections in light of the coronavirus pandemic, but Wisconsin has yet to do so.

      • Democracy Dies in Blah Blah Blah

        In a live appearance on the Fox News network (3/30/20), Donald Trump said it was good that Democratic proposals for increased voting protections and ballot access—including vote-by-mail, same-day registration and early voting, as well equipment and staffing to make voting safe during the pandemic—were not included in the coronavirus relief package.

      • The WHO Ignores Taiwan. The World Pays the Price.

        By the time Taiwan confirmed its first case of Covid-19 on January 21, the country was arguably more prepared than any other place in the world. It mobilized its Central Epidemic Command Center—a rapid-response agency formed in the wake of the 2003 SARS outbreak—to implement quarantines and conduct drills at hospitals. Citizens were asked to stay calm and assured that they would all be able to buy surgical masks, as production of the masks ramped up into millions per day. Soon after, Taiwanese masks were temporarily banned from export.

        By contrast, Hubei did not begin its own emergency measures until the day after, when the Chinese health authority was already reporting 440 cases and nine deaths across mainland China.

        In spite of its decisive response, Taiwan was shut out of the WHO’s emergency meeting on January 22, where representatives from 16 countries—including the PRC, Japan, South Korea, and the United States—opted to delay declaring the coronavirus a global health emergency.

      • Jared Kushner makes coronavirus briefing appearance, draws backlash for ‘our stockpile’ comment

        White House senior advisor Jared Kushner made a rare appearance during Thursday’s coronavirus task force briefing, an appearance that drew backlash when he referred to the national stockpile of medical supplies as “our stockpile” and not one belonging to states.

      • Hospitals Tell Doctors They’ll Be Fired If They Speak Out About Lack of Gear

        Ming Lin, an emergency room physician in Washington state, said he was told Friday he was out of a job because he’d given an interview to a newspaper about a Facebook post detailing what he believed to be inadequate protective equipment and testing. In Chicago, a nurse was fired after emailing colleagues that she wanted to wear a more protective mask while on duty. In New York, the NYU Langone Health system has warned employees they could be terminated if they talk to the media without authorization.

        “Hospitals are muzzling nurses and other health-care workers in an attempt to preserve their image,” said Ruth Schubert, a spokeswoman for the Washington State Nurses Association. “It is outrageous.”

      • Kushner Puts Himself in Middle of White House’s Chaotic Coronavirus Response

        The culture clash between public and private sectors has been jarring. The senior official described the Kushner team as a “frat party” that descended from a U.F.O. and invaded the federal government. To government officials, the outsiders demonstrated a lax attitude to policy discussions, at one point using the website FreeConferenceCall.com to arrange high-level meetings. Others have used personal email accounts in delicate policy exchanges.

      • Trump’s War on Whistleblowers Continues as Navy Fires Captain Who Spoke Up About Coronavirus Outbreak on Aircraft Carrier

        The captain of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, Brett Crozier, was dismissed by Navy higher-ups on Thursday — a move that was precipitated by Crozier sending a letter earlier this week to military leaders pleading for help with the outbreak of coronavirus cases onboard Crozier’s aircraft carrier.

        In the letter that was later leaked, Crozier wrote that “decisive action” was needed for the ship which was forced to dock in Guam. “We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die,” he said.

        Crozier continued, “If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our sailors.”

      • Navy Removes Captain of Aircraft Carrier Stricken by Coronavirus

        In a letter that leaked to news organizations on Tuesday, Capt. Brett E. Crozier laid out the dire situation unfolding on the warship, with almost 5,000 crew members, and described what he said were the Navy’s failures to provide the proper resources to combat the virus by moving sailors off the vessel and disinfecting areas on board.

        About 114 sailors have been infected so far, a number that is expected to rise by hundreds as the vessel remains docked at Guam.

        Senior Defense Department officials were angry that the letter found its way first to The San Francisco Chronicle, and then to other news outlets, where it was widely reported.

      • Navy fires captain who sought help for virus-stricken ship

        He complained that Crozier sent the memo to people outside his chain of command and in a non-secure, unclassified email. And, he said he concluded that the captain’s ability to react professionally was overwhelmed by the virus challenge, “when acting professionally was what was needed most. We do, and we should, expect more from the commanding officers of our aircraft carriers.”

      • Let the Killing Stop

        On October 23, 1969—one week after the historic Moratorium March on Washington to end the Vietnam War—46-year-old Kurt Vonnegut took the stage in his small Cape Cod hometown of Barnstable, Massachusetts, to bring the news of the fight against the war home to his neighbors and their children. His breakout novel, Slaughterhouse Five, had come out in March of that year to near-instant, near-universal acclaim. As someone who had witnessed the firebombing of Dresden as a captured soldier, he could speak to the perils of war with authority and humanity, and it seemed like the entire population of Barnstable came out to hear him—800 people filled the high school gymnasium that night. “Let the Killing Stop” is Vonnegut’s earliest recorded speech, and is reprinted for the first time here and in the paperback edition of Vonnegut’s If This Isn’t Nice, What Is? The Graduation Speeches and Other Words to Live By, selected and introduced by Dan Wakefield, released today by Seven Stories Press. “We are here because our leaders have made mistakes which have had ghastly consequences,” he told the audience. And, “Let the killing stop.”

      • Over 70% favor removing ‘China’ from Taiwan passport

        On Sunday (March 29), the NPP announced that 74.3 percent of survey respondents supported removing the “Republic of China” from the English name on the country’s passport and replacing it with “Taiwan” to avoid being confused with communist China. According to the survey, 51.2 percent strongly supported the suggestion, 23.1 percent were supportive, 10.8 percent disagreed, and 6.4 percent strongly disagreed, while 8.5 percent expressed no clear opinion.

      • Mitch McConnell blames delayed coronavirus response by President Trump on impeachment

        But journalist David Corn pointed out that the impeachment trial did not distract Trump from playing golf eight times between mid-January and early March.

        McConnell overlooked Trump’s repeated false claims that the virus was “very much under control” through February and early March.

        “This is both a pathetic excuse and damning admission by McConnell,” CNN legal analyst Susan Hennessey tweeted. “Trump administration had warning and time to act and didn’t because they only focus on the president’s political fortunes and not the health and safety of nation. People are dying because Trump didn’t do his job.”

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Social Media Bill: Kill it, NUJ, CSOs, NCC, Amnesty Int’l tell Senate

        A bill that will regulate the use of social media in Nigeria yesterday suffered a major setback as stakeholders, including Amnesty International, Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ, and Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, asked the Senate to kill it without delay.

        The position of the stakeholders in the bill set the Senate on the path of confusion at the public hearing it organised by the Senator Opeyemi Bamidele-led Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to seek the buy-in of Nigerians.

      • [Older] 95 coalitions warn Senate against passage of social media bill

        Calling on the ninth Assembly to prove it’s not a rubberstamp for the presidency as alleged and urging them to take a cue from the leadership style of the eighth assembly, the group said, “We urge this Senate to take historical note of how previous sessions of the National Assembly sided with the people and resisted executive overbearing and repression, thereby safeguarding the civic space and ensuring respect for Nigeria’s international human rights obligations.”

      • EXCLUSIVE: Facebook admits error in marking videos of Hong Kong police storming MTR station as ‘false,’ reverses decision

        Facebook has acknowledged it was a mistake to mark Instagram videos of Hong Kong police storming Prince Edward MTR station last year as false information.

        Last Saturday, multiple users of the social media app shared footage of the incident to mark seven months since the attack. Third-party fact-checkers subsequently applied a warning display, marking the clips as “false information.” Users were only allowed to view the content of the posts after tapping through the notice.

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • Unidentified attackers shoot at office of Lebanese journalist Shuaib Zakaria

        Zakaria posted a video and pictures on his Facebook account showing bullet holes in the door, windows, and wall of his office, shattered glass on the floor and the stairs, and a bullet hole in a printer.

        Zakaria covers local news in Akkar; on the day of the attack, he covered a protest by fishermen demanding government compensation for lost revenue over the effects of the COVID-19 crisis. He also recently covered local fundraising efforts and community meetings in Akkar in response to the virus.

      • Top Algerian journalist arrested

        Drareni was covering protests which shook Algeria for most of last year, forcing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to resign in April 2019, before they were suspended over the coronavirus.

        The justice ministry has not released a statement.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Along the Border, the Population Is High Risk for Coronavirus, but Testing Is In Short Supply

        On Monday afternoon, paramedic Theresa Fitzpatrick inched her Dodge Dart through a brand new drive-in testing center for COVID-19 in the small South Texas border city of Edinburg, a dozen miles from the Rio Grande. She had been wracked for a week with a dry, hacking cough ever since picking up a patient who had just crossed the international bridge with similar symptoms.

        But she hadn’t been able to get a test since seeing her doctor last week, until a local university opened up drive-thru testing sites in her home county on Monday.

      • The Virus That May Bring us Together

        A country paralyzed. A booming economy about to crash. Citizens afraid of an enemy they can’t see, hear or smell. The coronavirus has captured the world. Life as we have known it has stopped abruptly.

      • Fear and Loathing in Coronaville Volume 2: Panic On the Streets of Tehran

        There’s panic on the streets of Bellefonte, panic on the streets of Lancaster, I wonder to myself, could life ever be sane again? Barely two weeks into Pennsylvania’s largely mandatory shutdown and I’m already paraphrasing lyrics from vintage Smiths songs. I can’t deny to anyone, much less myself, that I’m not handling this shit particularly well. Quite frankly, I’m losing my proverbial shit. Flipping out on fucking trashcans and stalking the halls like Jack Torrance in lipstick, dragging an ax called ‘Nervous Breakdown’ behind me. I’d say I’m just a few loose screws away from chopping my family up into three neat stacks and hammering out “All business and no play make Nicky a dull girl” for volume three of this fucking thing. I’m an agoraphobic for shit’s sake. How the Christ did I do this for six years straight without committing a single homicide? I had sixty minutes with my shrink over the goddamn phone this week and she stopped my yammering no more than three times to ask me if I was suicidal. So, yeah, dearest motherfuckers, I’m not exactly doing well. At least I’m not alone.

      • Historic Injustices Against Native People Put Them at Greater Risk of COVID-19

        As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the U.S., Indigenous people are particularly vulnerable to this virus. On March 24, Indian Country Today reported there were 40 confirmed cases, 29 of which were on the Navajo Nation reservation. The first person to die of the virus in Oklahoma was a Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma citizen. On April 1, the number of cases in Indian Health Services (IHS) had risen to 276 with 14 confirmed deaths; 214 of these cases are on the Navajo Nation reservation.

      • Duterte Threatens to Kill Citizens Who Disobey COVID-19 Lockdown in Philippines

        In the Philippines, authoritarian President Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday he’s ordered soldiers to shoot to kill residents if they resist a strict lockdown on the island of Luzon. His order came after residents of Manila’s Quezon City shanty town staged a protest, saying they’ve gone hungry without food promised when the lockdown began more than two weeks ago. The Philippines death toll is 136 with more than 3,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases. As those numbers grow, nurses and doctors report a drastic lack of personal protective equipment. While the Philippines has seen a surge in cases, Indonesia is now reporting the second most fatalities in Asia after China with 181 dead. Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan have also had success in containing the virus. For more on how countries in the region are responding to coronavirus, we speak with Natashya Gutierrez, editor-in-chief of VICE Asia.

      • Nearly 60% in US Believe System Made Solely to Serve Rich

        The poll, which had a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points, was conducted online among 1,002 registered voters between March 22 and 23.

        This comes as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on the U.S. with over 216,000 cases reported Wednesday and over 5,000 death. The health emergency has also resulted in an economic recession with over three million filings for unemployment last week.

      • Grocery Workers Keep America Fed, While Fearing For Their Own Safety

        “It sounds crazy now that people ever doubted that these workers who are really keeping society functioning to a large extent were ever not worth $15 an hour or should ever have been denied paid sick leave,” he says.

        But he notes that companies’ policy changes are temporary, just for the duration of this crisis. It’s an open question whether all this new appreciation will last.

        And the protections are piecemeal — different stores have different approaches, and different levels of commitment to worker safety.

      • Covid-19: Can France’s ethical support units help doctors make challenging decisions?

        Doctors will have to make far more decisions than usual on whether to treat patients or withdraw treatment from those who are too ill to benefit. But in addition, because of shortages of beds or ventilators, doctors will increasingly have to choose one patient over another when both could benefit from treatment.

        Each of France’s 13 regions will now have an “ethical support unit”—made up of experts in emergency medicine, geriatrics, palliative care, medical ethics, philosophy, ethics, and law, as well as representatives of patient groups and civil society—to support hospital staff, GPs, and the public as these decisions are made.

        The units will also provide psychological support to medical professionals and will support the public and the state as they grapple with all sorts of ethical issues arising from the covid-19 epidemic. Two psychological support units, contactable by telephone, are also being set up in each region to support all medical workers as they work in crisis conditions that are widely being compared to wartime.

      • Discrimination amid pandemic, Pakistan refuses to give food to Hindus as coronavirus rages

        Hindus in Liyari, Sachal Ghoth and other parts of Karachi as well as all over Sindh are being denied a share in government food and rations if they happen to be Hindus.

        Amjad Ayub Mirza, a political activist has warned that the minorities are now faced with a serious food crisis and asked the Indian government to send supplies via Rajasthan to Sindh.

      • ‘Our Lives Are Worth More Than Packages’

        On Monday night, at least 30 workers—around half the size of the shift due to go in—gathered outside the facility’s entrances for a socially distanced speak-out and urged coworkers not to clock in and risk their health for Amazon’s packages.

        “Our warehouse is a petri dish for spreading this,” says Ted Miin, one of the workers who spoke. “We know that as things get worse, our walkouts and our picket lines and our actions will only grow.”

        Anger has been building inside Amazon facilities nationwide as the company tries to keep running flat-out to meet demand. Earlier in March, a Queens warehouse shut down when workers walked out after learning of a positive case. On Monday, March 30, workers at a Staten Island facility where as many as 10 employees are infected walked out mid-shift; one of the main organizers of the action was fired.

      • Keeping poor safe in lockdown is state responsibility, not an act of charity

        Clearly, the distress of the most vulnerable sections of the society is not just financial. The lockdown has been implemented in such a way that it has already resulted in their disempowerment. The quantity of additional food that needs to be distributed under the PDS has been underestimated in many states — Kerala is an exception and a model for other states.

        Keeping the poor and vulnerable safe is a matter of responsibility for the state and the private sector, not an act of charity. Leaving migrant workers to fend for themselves and forcing them to return to their villages will only enable the spread of coronavirus. In this regard, a clear distinction in the provision of aid for the urban and the rural poor must be made so that resources are better allocated amongst the poor.

      • CBS Studios Says It Is Not Retroactively Cutting Assistant Pay (EXCLUSIVE)

        The assistant who spoke with Variety is skeptical, however, that the original two emails sent by CBS Studios were a mistake.

        “I’ve known Mo and Suki to be very thorough and careful with what they send, they wouldn’t have blasted this out to assistants without careful vetting with people above them,” this person said, referring to the senders of the pay-cut emails. “It also seems weird that it could be chalked up to a mistake since it was two separate emails, sent almost half an hour apart. So, I don’t know that I believe that it was a mistake, no.”

      • Union-Busting in the Name of God

        The rise in corporate religious rights has coincided with an erosion in legal protections for workers overall. Forced to turn to a higher power than the law, workers at Catholic institutions have invoked the long history of support for unions in Catholic teaching. These workers have mounted campaigns accusing their institutions of taking advantage of the Trump administration’s evisceration of union rights while abandoning their Catholic values. “The efforts by these universities come at a time when a conservative judicial majority right now in the Supreme Court—and a growing sentiment on the federal court benches in general—favors using constitutional principles like the First Amendment as a battering ram against workers’ ability to bargain collectively,” said Joseph McCartin, a professor of history at Georgetown University. “What you’re seeing is institutions that are hiding behind the law but ignoring their own social teaching.”

      • UK’s leading prison charities warn of unprecedented deaths in jails if low-risk inmates are not released early

        Two of Britain’s leading prison charities have demanded the early release of prisoners due to the coronavirus outbreak and warn failure to act could lead to loss of life on an “unprecedented scale.”

        The Howard League for Penal Reform and Prison Reform Trust have written to Robert Buckland, the Justice Secretary, calling for the early release of prisoners who were either medically vulnerable or presented a low risk of harm to the public.

        Alongside their letter, they also published a report by a leading professor from London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, which warned risk of exposure to the virus to prisoners and staff is “far, far greater” than that in the community.

        The research by Professor Richard Coker, Emeritus Professor of Public Health, warns social distancing and personal infection control measures are “almost impossible” in prisons. It recommends that authorities “should consider alternative options to incarceration where feasible”.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • China’s “New IP” proposal to replace TCP/IP has a built in “shut up command” for censorship

        The Chinese government and the Chinese telecommunications companies such as Huawei under its control are proposing a “New IP” addressing system for the internet to replace TCP/IP. The New IP system includes top-down checks and balances and such features as a “shut up command” that would allow a central controller to stop packets from being received or sent by a target “New IP address.” The China led proposal was first unveiled at the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) meeting in September 2019. The associated power point presentation and formal proposal have been made available by Financial Times.

      • What COVID-19 Means for Network Security

        Recent reports suggest that this has already begun. Statistics from VPN provider NordVPN show the US has experienced a 65.93% growth in the use of business VPNs since 11 March, with the biggest gain being in desktop users.

        This is both good and bad news for network security. It’s great, of course, that users are now encrypting sensitive commercial and personal data. On the other hand, some network engineers are struggling to manage users on systems that make use of IP addresses for authentication.

    • Monopolies

      • Amazon Workers Protest Near Detroit, Following NYC Walkout

        They demand that Amazon shut down the Romulus, Michigan fulfillment center for additional cleaning and cover all medical bills for associates and their family members who contracted the virus from the site, according to a Facebook live stream of the demonstration.

        That followed confirmation that a worker from that location had tested positive for the virus, Amazon said.

      • “Amazon Is a Breeding Ground”

        Christian Smalls, from Newark, New Jersey, is a thirty-one-year-old assistant manager at the Staten Island Amazon warehouse. The facility, called JFK8, employs nearly five thousand people — and more with each passing week, as mass layoffs send workers onto the job market and Amazon puts them to work delivering packages to those staying home during the economic shutdown.

        But Smalls doesn’t think Amazon deserves the praise for benevolent job creation that it’s been receiving. He says that he knows of seven confirmed COVID-19 cases at JFK8, and he believes it to be the “epicenter of the next coronavirus wave” if it’s not shut down.

        Tomorrow, Smalls and his coworkers are walking off the job, hoping to bring operations to a halt and grab Governor Andrew Cuomo’s attention. They’re demanding that JFK8 be shut down for a minimum of two weeks and professionally sanitized. Workers, he says, should be paid during this quarantine, which should be long enough for the virus to induce symptoms in whoever’s currently infected.

      • Patents

        • CARES Act – Patent Deadline Extensions for COVID-19 Related Delays

          The CARES Act (March 27, 2020) provides the USPTO Director with authority to extend deadlines to account for our current national emergency regarding the COVID-19. Dir. Iancu today announced a set of extensions noting that “we are working to provide as much relief as possible to our stakeholders, consistent with our ability to maintain the USPTO’s fee-funded operations. We are especially mindful of the outsized impact on small businesses and independent inventors, and have provided additional relief for these groups. Ultimately, our goal is to ensure not only that inventors and entrepreneurs can weather the storm, but that they can hit the ground running once it passes.”

          The basic rule is that most PTO prosecution deadlines March 27 to April 30 are eligible for a 30-day extension if filed with a statement that the delay “is due to the COVID-19 outbreak” and some party involved with the prosecution “was personally affected.” Here, the personal impact can apply to applicants, patent owners, 3rd party requesters, inventors, practitioners, etc. This list presumably includes non-human corporate owners. The “personally affected” clause is quite broad and includes office closures, cash flow interruptions, inaccessibility of files, travel delays, family illnesses, or other non listed reasons.

        • Comcast v. ITC and Rovi: Supreme Court petition.

          The USITC sided with Rovi against Comcast and barred importation of the set top boxes that Comcast uses for its X1 cable service. Comcast has now petitioned its case to the U.S. Supreme Court with three questions:

          Should the case be vacated as moot since the patents are now expired?United States v. Munsingwear, Inc., 340 U.S. 36 (1950).
          The statute focuses on “articles that . . . infringe.” Here, the accused set-top boxes themselves don’t infringe and are not infringing when imported. The infringement only occurs when used by customers. What gives?
          The ITC found that Comcast did not actually import the set top boxes, but should still be liable for “importation” of the boxes. What gives?

        • COVID-19’s Impacts on the USPTO’s Budget

          The USPTO is required by law to set its fees to no more than what is necessary to cover its costs. But the Office has chosen not to set the fees associated with a given activity—filing, examination, etc.—at the level required to conduct that activity. Instead, examination fees are set at less than half of the cost to the Office of conducting examination. That shortfall is only covered when an applicant pays issue and renewal fees. In fact, for a patent issued to a large company, the USPTO doesn’t fully recover its costs until the 8-year fee is paid—8 years after the patent is issued. If the patent never issues, or if it’s abandoned before the 8-year fee is paid, the Office loses money on the examination.

          This already creates issues—for example, when the Patent Office is faced with continuously increasing patent applications, it runs the risk of the income from maintenance fees on previously granted patents being insufficient to cover the cost of examining the significantly greater number of applications for the current year. The same is true if patent owners abandon or fail to renew patents at a higher rate than previously predicted. These situations can place budget pressure on the Office that has been empirically shown to correlate to increased grant rates for patents, suggesting patents that would not have been found patentable in times of budgetary sufficiency will be found patentable in times of budgetary stress.

          In other words, budget shortfalls can lead to the issuance of patents of marginal quality.

        • Galderma Laboratories, L.P. v. Amneal Pharmaceuticals LLC (Fed. Cir. 2020)

          The specification expressly defined the immediate-release component of the pharmaceutical composition as “a dosage form that is intended to release substantially all of the active ingredient on administration with no enhanced, delayed or extended release effect.” In contrast, the delayed release component was not strictly defined.

          Relevant to the issues on appeal was Amneal’s inter partes review proceeding against the ’740 and ’405 patents, and the arguments the patent owner made regarding claim construction. Specifically, the patent owner argued that the DR portion of the pharmaceutical composition “requires no substantial release from the [DR] portion until some time other than promptly after administration – and in particular, until after the DR portion passes through the acidic stomach and sections of the GI tract below pH 4.5″ (emphases in opinion). The patent owner also argued that prior art “secondary loading” portion was “intentionally designed to be ‘leaky’ in the stomach,” but that “the Chang ’740 patent expressly stated that for the ‘DR portion’ described and claimed therein, ‘there is no substantial release of doxycycline in the acidic stomach environment of approximately below pH 4.5.’” Thus the distinction the patent owner attempted to draw between its claimed invention and the prior art was that the ’740 patent had essentially no release of the delayed release component in stomach, while the prior art had some stomach release (characterized as being “leaky”).

          The Board disagreed; applying the broadest reasonable interpretation standard, the Board construed the claims to mean that the DR component of the claimed pharmaceutical composition “is not limited to formulations requiring that there be no substantial release in the stomach” and “[t]he portion of the ’740 patent specification upon which [Patent Owner] relies to support its narrower construction addresses properties of ‘enteric coated pellets,’ not a delayed-release component” and hence did not provide a basis for distinguishing the claims. The Board based its construction on the rubric that it would have be improper to read limitations reciting a narrow embodiment in construing a claim term that is read more broadly elsewhere in the specification. As set forth in the Federal Circuit’s opinion, “the Board construed ‘delayed release’ to mean ‘release of a drug at a time other than immediately following oral administration’” and that the cited art did not disclose a delayed release formulation as the term was construed.

          [...]

          Because the panel found that this determination was based on record evidence, there was no reason to overturn the District Court and thus the Federal Circuit affirmed.

        • Sarnoff on After-Arising Technologies and the Doctrine of Equivalents

          DePaul Professor Joshua Sarnoff has a new article addressing a recently reinvigorated subject: the doctrine of equivalents. In Correcting Misunderstandings of Literal Infringement Scope Regarding After-Arising Technologies Protected By the Doctrine of Equivalents, forthcoming in the Akron Law Review, Professor Sarnoff argues that while it is conventional wisdom that, for purposes of ‘literal’ infringement, interpreted claim meaning and the application of such meaning can expand over time to encompass after-arising, equivalent technologies, this conventional wisdom is wrong: “current case law regarding literal infringement does not authorize claims to literally encompass or apply to after-arising technologies.” Id. at 6.

          The term “after-arising technologies” refers to the idea that there are technologies that are developed after an application is filed or a claim is written. Due to the centrality of time to patent law, a central question in patent law is whether a patent’s claims can (and should) encompass technologies that were unknown–and indeed may have been unforseeable–at the time the claim was drafted. Excellent examples of this problem can be found in Kevin E. Collins, The Reach of Literal Claim Scope into After-Arising Technology: On Thing Construction and the Meaning of Meaning, 41 Conn. L. Rev. 493 (2008) and Robert P. Merges & John F. Duffy, Patent Law and Policy: Cases and Materials, 7th ed. (2017), at 273-277 (discussing the “temporal paradox” mostly in the context of enablement).

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

          The Federal Circuit affirmed the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB) claim construction (and inter partes review (IPR) decision invalidating claims for obviousness) in it recent Genentech, Inc. v. Iancu decision, and also had the occasion to review and affirm the Board’s procedure-based denial of patent owner Genentech’s motion to amend when Petitioner requested the Board to enter adverse judgment on one ground of IPR institution.

        • NL – Sisvel v. Xiaomi – PI based on SEP denied

          On 17 March 2020,The Hague Court of Appeal dismissed a preliminary injunction (PI) based on alleged infringement of a Standard Essential Patent (SEP) held by a Non-Practicing Entity (NPE) based on a balancing of interests – without assessment of validity and infringement of the patent in suit, and without assessment of FRAND-related obligations.

          In case of a non-practicing SEP holder, the damage addressed by a PI is not loss of market exclusivity, but rather delayed payment of easily calculable license fees. The SEP holder’s interest in a PI therefore does not outweigh the implementer’s interest to prevent an injunction, in view of, inter alia, the irreparable harm associated with the injunction.

        • Mexichem v Honeywell [2020] EWCA Civ 473: Arrow Declarations – How broad can they be?

          On 1 April 2020, the Court of Appeal, led by Floyd LJ, handed down judgment concerning the strike out of an Arrow declaration in litigation between Mexichem and Honeywell.

          Honeywell owns six patents that focus on the use of two refrigerants (‘ze’ and ‘yf’) in mobile air-conditioning systems (“MACs”), often used in cars, with a further four divisionals undergoing examination at the EPO.

          Mexichem launched revocation proceedings in the UK, and to counter the divisionals, sought an Arrow declaration. By the earliest priority date of the patents a Japanese patent application (“Inagaki”) that disclosed ze and yf had been made available to the public. Accordingly, the Arrow declaration sought was that by the priority date it was obvious, in light of Inagaki, to use ze or yf in the manufacture of a product for use as a refrigerant in a MAC.

          Honeywell applied to strike out the Arrow declaration, arguing that there was no real prospect of success, as the declaration was not sought in relation to a specific product or process, and that it was so broad that it would lack utility. This application was refused by HHJ Hacon at first instance judgment ([2019] EWHC 3377 (Pat)). He found that general declarations could still serve a useful purpose as they would provide “a finding of obviousness which can serve as an unchallenged foundation for argument on the inventive step of inventions claimed in patents which may be granted to the defendant in the future”.

        • UK IP courts go virtual, as COVID-19 shutters courtrooms across the globe

          The legal profession is lucky. Our jobs can be performed anywhere. All we need is a laptop and a phone. However, when it comes to litigation we still prefer our analogue world. We like the tactile nature of hard copy paper bundles that we mark-up and flag. We like walking into a courtroom where we can we see the whites of our opponent’s eyes, assess whether the judge is interested or annoyed at a line of argument and observe whether a witness is fidgeting in the box or making nervous glances at the lawyers. But in this new reality, we need to do what is in the best interests of everyone. That may mean that, as far as possible, litigation has to go full virtual. And who better than intellectual property lawyers to embrace and lead the change?

        • USPTO Announces Extension of Certain Patent Deadlines

          In a USPTO Alert distributed earlier today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office announced the availability of extensions to the time allowed to file certain patent-related documents and to pay certain required fees. The extensions are a result of the temporary authority provided to the USPTO by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which was signed by President Trump on March 27, 2020. Declaring that “[i]nventors and entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of our economy, and we recognize that many of them are having difficulty as a result of COVID-19,” USPTO Director Andrei Iancu noted that the Office was working to provide as much relief as possible to its stakeholders. Director Iancu recognized that the Office was “especially mindful of the outsized impact on small businesses and independent inventors, and we have provided additional relief for these groups,” adding that the Office’s ultimate goal was “to ensure not only that inventors and entrepreneurs can weather the storm, but that they can also hit the ground running once it passes.”

        • What is all due care in stressful situations? (T 0600/18)

          Many patent attorneys will be working from home during this time. A recent decision from the Board of Appeal (dating back to 2018), considers the criteria for all due care in stressful situations, in which were employees are sick or working from home.

          Imagine for a moment that you are a patent attorney in charge of a case for which there is an appeal deadline falling due tomorrow, and the appeal fee needs paying. In the office, there are only 3 computers on which the EPO online filing software is installed. The support staff who normally use these computers (and who normally do all the online filing) are not at work today. On top of this, a fierce storm is brewing. There is pressure to allow all patent attorneys and support staff to leave work early so that they can get home safely before the storm. Everyone is also planning on working from home the following day. You need to pay the appeal fee today. How stressed would you be?

          This was the situation considered in T 0600/18. The Board of Appeal assessed whether a procedural error made by a patent attorney in just such a situation was an isolated mistake made despite all due care, and therefore satisfied the requirements for re-establishment of rights (Article 122 EPC). The case related to an appeal of the decision of the Opposition Division to maintain BAE systems European patent EP 2490936 in amended form. An attempt was made to pay the appeal fee the day before the deadline. However, the patent attorney responsible for the case attempted to pay the fee by paper debit order, a method of payment that was no longer accepted by the EPO (following supplementary publication 5, OJ EPO 2017, published the previous year). The patent owner and would-be appellant, BAE, therefore failed to pay the appeal fee in time. BAE requested re-establishment of the right to file the appeal.

        • Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Patent Offices and Federal Courts — March 29 UPDATE
        • Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Patent Offices and Federal Courts – April 2 UPDATE

          On March 11, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom declared that the COVID-19 outbreak “can be characterized as a pandemic,” cautioning that the WHO has “rung the alarm bell loud and clear.” At the time of the announcement, the WHO noted that there were 118,000 cases reported globally; in its situation report for April 2, the WHO indicates that there have been 896,450 cases globally. The WHO’s declaration earlier this month — and global developments since then — raise the question of how the pandemic has been affecting the patent community.

        • Component-level patent licensing and pricing has always served the PC industry well–only trolls and other SEP abusers deviate from the norm

          So cellular SEPs are part of W. That W component can be found in a cheap phone (“dumbphone”), in a high-end smartphone, or in a car. A car is not even the limit: it could be an airplane or it could be installed in a building. W always does the same; should there be a difference in terms of what features of a standard are actually used, then there might be price differentiation, but no one has provided a real-world example and cars certainly don’t use any features of those standards that a smartphone wouldn’t use as well.

          Now let’s assume we have the SEP holders in the W area demand an extra $20 not because of an increase in the value of the W part in its own right, but because of everything else around it.

          On that same basis, anyone holding SEPs on memory standards, display standards, the standards implemented by an operating system (such as video codecs), or standards closely related to the CPU (such as data bus standards) could also demand more money just based on all the other components, including but not limited to the wireless part.

          SEP holders of the W kind would want 10% of W+P+M+O+D. If the OEM acceded to those demands instead of insisting on a reasonable royalty based on the value of the relevant component, the price would have to be raised to maintain the same level of profitability (or any profitability at all). SEP holders of the P, M, O, and D kinds would then also want higher royalties. Each and every time the OEM accepts this, and increases the price of the end product accordingly, you get another round of successive rate increases. That’s economic mayhem with prices spiraling to the sky.

          If each of the five categories of SEP holders wanted 5% of the end-product price, it would mean 25% in total. So at some point–sustainable or not–the spiral would stop. But it would never stop if everyone argued “use-based pricing” as long as technology improves here, there, and everywhere, or gets incorporated into a bigger end product. Theoretically, the fact that a single (unless totally negligible) app becomes available on an app store could trigger a round of “use-based” price increases across all fields of technology.

          In this simplified hypothetical example, we’re talking about only a smartphone. But a car is way more multifunctional than a smartphone, which further exacerbates the problem I just described.

          [...]

          In the PC space, modularity wasn’t merely an architectural, technological reality. The way those components were sold and optionally assembled by anybody made it easy to see. But that doesn’t mean that other technology stacks aren’t modular, too. The modular commercial model of the PC industry is the (only) appropriate one for smartphones and connected cars.

        • “A single inartful statement in the prosecution history”

          ‘441 patent, claim 1 (elsewhere claimed “effective amount”). The Board found a number of the claims invalid and Genentech appealed. None of the petitioners participated in the appeal to defend the Board’s decision as part of a settlement with Genentech, but the USPTO intervened.

          The question on appeal is the meaning of the claimed “amount effective to extend the time to disease progression.” The problem for the patentee is that the specifications do not define the required comparisons. During prosecution the examiner originally rejected “extend the time to disease progression” as indefinite after explaining that the specification “never set[s] forth what the extension of time to disease progress is relative to.”

          After receiving the indefiniteness rejection during prosecution, the patent applicant did not amend the claims but rather explained that “clearly” the effectiveness of the claimed combination should be compared with the baseline “relative to an untreated patient.” Later, during the IPR, the Board used the statement to construe the claim term as stated and find the claim invalid as obvious.

        • Unified’s Open COVID Pledge

          Though people often don’t connect the two, collective action is required to minimize the effects of COVID-19 and stop patent abuse. We at Unified are doing our part to help further both, starting with the following:

          First, Unified launched a crowd-sourced prior art campaign against two ex-Theranos patents recently asserted by Laborador Diagnostics, LLC, a Fortress Investment Group / Softbank Group subsidiary, against makers of COVID testing kits—an ongoing effort located here. Diagnostics companies play a crucial role in combating COVID-19. Fortress has a demonstrated record of asserting invalid patents across industries, and has now targeted U.S. diagnostics makers. We believe deterring invalid patent assertions is essential to ensuring U.S. companies are focused on beating back the current scourge and saving lives.

        • Nokia swimming against judicial tide with its dogged refusal to license automotive component makers

          Not only has the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition (DG COMP) resumed its preliminary investigations of Daimler’s and four of its suppliers’ antitrust complaints over Nokia’s refusal to license automotive suppliers, but the former handset maker may come under pressure in a variety of jurisdictions.

          Nokia apparently hopes to gain leverage from a German court ruling scheduled for next week’s Thursday (earlier this week, the Munich I Regional Court’s press office confirmed that the decision was, for now, still slated for that day), though the coronavirus crisis may limit the immediate impact on Daimler’s German sales while the appeals court would review a hypothetical Nokia win. Daimler brought an extremely strong invalidity contention, fulfilled its obligations under the Court of Justice of the EU’s Huawei v. ZTE ruling to be shielded from an injunction, and couldn’t have been sued by Nokia in the first place had the Finnish company lived up to its FRAND licensing promise and licensed Daimler’s suppliers. Furthermore, banning an entire car over one of thousands of little elements of a wireless standard would not be a proportionate remedy in accordance with Article 3 of the European Union’s IPR Enforcement Directive.

          The third point–the obligation to grant an exhaustive component-level license on FRAND terms to suppliers at any level of the supply chain–is what the dispute is all about. In addition to those ten Nokia v. Daimler patent infringement cases (of which Nokia has already lost one and will likely lose many more), let’s not lose sight of Huawei’s German antitrust lawsuit aiming to obligate Nokia to make a component-level FRAND licensing offer. That case will presumably go to trial later this year. The Dusseldorf Regional Court has taken favorable positions on component-level licensing before, and as I mentioned in the post I just linked to, the presiding judge of one of the patent-specialized panels of its appeals court (Judge Thomas Kuehnen of the Dusseldorf Higher Regional Court) explained in an article last year that SEP holders have an obligation under Art. 102 TFEU (the abuse-of-dominant-position paragraph of EU law) to license any implementer of a standard who so requests.

        • Software Patents

          • Huawei changes its patent story

            On the one hand, Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei is warring with the US over trade sanctions, including suing Verizon over its misuse of its patents. Verizon has replied that Huawei is taking “credit for American innovation” with baseless suits over “outdated and valueless” patents. But, on the other hand, Huawei just opened up its more than 56,000 patents to Linux and open-source companies by joining the Open Invention Network (OIN). What’s going on here?

            For background, you should know that Huawei’s patent portfolio is both enormous and, especially in 5G, comprehensive. Statia reports Huawei Is leading the 5G patent race with 3,147 patents. If you want to deploy 5G technology, you must deal with Huawei.

          • Jenam Tech patent challenged as likely unpatentable

            On April 1, 2020, Unified filed a petition for inter partes review (IPR) against U.S. Patent 9,923,995, owned and asserted by Jenam Tech, LLC (an NPE and Oso IP affiliate). The ’995 patent, generally directed to sharing information for detecting an idle network connection between two nodes, has been asserted in district court cases against LG and Samsung.

          • Q1 2020 Patent Dispute Report

            A new venue is beginning to emerge this quarter for NPEs, as they continue their assault on the High-Tech sector. Over the past few years filings for both the District Court and PTAB proceedings steadily declined, but are now beginning to level off.

            [...]

            While Delaware is a preferred venue for patent litigation outside of the PTAB, the West District of Texas has not only become a hotbed for patent litigation, but a preferred venue for NPEs. The Western District of Texas is on pace to have over 600 patent related cases, which NPEs comprise 80% of all cases. This is partly due to Judge D. Albright, a former patent litigator appointed to the bench.

            Filings for both PTAB and District Court appear to be leveling off, with a similar amount of cases as compared to last year.

            Small-to-medium enterprises (SME) were sued in 270 (or 32%) of all patent litigation defendants. Most by NPEs. SMEs were responsible for less than 10 of all the Q1 PTAB challenges.

            NPEs continue to bring the most patent disputes in the High-Tech sector for both District Court and PTAB proceedings. NPEs accounted for 85% of patent assertions in District Court and were responsible for 68% of all PTAB proceedings in the High-Tech Sector.

      • Trademarks/Copyright

        • US court rules that unlicensed reproduction of NBA players’ tattoos in their videogame avatars is not a copyright infringement

          Are tattoos protected by copyright? If so, can a person give a third party permission to use their likeness (which includes displaying the tattoos attached to their body) without the consent of the tattoo artist who realized said tattoos?

          These intriguing questions have been raised in a number of jurisdictions [see IPKat posts here, here, here, here, here, here, here; see also here for the (in)famous tattoo copyright headache surrounding The Hangover - Part II] though conclusive answers were not really provided … at least until very recently.

          Earlier this week, in fact, the US District Court for the Southern District of New York issued its much-awaited summary judgment opinion (16-CV-724-LTS-SDA) in the (long-standing) proceedings initiated by a company (Solid Oak), which seemingly holds an exclusive copyright licence in the tattoos of NBA players Eric Bledsoe, LeBron James, and Kenyon Martin, against videogame developer and publisher Take-Two [see here for a recap; and here for a comment, also noting the potential effect of the decision in other pending cases].

        • When the court turned to an expert on whether there was cybersquatting

          Kat friend Paul McClelland discusses a less frequent use of expert testimony in a case in Singapore concerning a contract for the transfer of a domain name, where an expert witness was relied upon to determine whether cybersquatting had occurred.

          As previously reported by IPKat, here, 3 Corporate Services Pte Ltd v Grabtaxi Holdings Pte Ltd [2020] SGHC 17 concerned the enforceability of a contract for the transfer of a number of ccTLDs containing the word “grab”. These domain names had been purchased by various entities who were connected in some way with the plaintiff, in or around the time that the defendant, today a leading provider of ride-hailing and financial services across South-east Asia, established operations in various South-east Asian countries under the “GRAB” name.

          It later transpired that the plaintiff (or a related party) had registered more than 1,000 domain names, including names similar or identical to other well-known brands. As a result of this information, the defendant declined to make payment, which ultimately led to the Court proceedings alleging breach of contract.

        • Gleissner fails again in aptly-named UK trade mark invalidity action

          To trade mark professionals, Michael Gleissner is a man who needs no introduction. The avid collector of registered trade marks (and unpaid costs orders) recently lost two registrations for PARASITE-related marks in a UK Intellectual Property Office invalidity action (decision here). This continues a trend of rightsholders successfully taking a stand against the activities of Mr Gleissner and his web of companies; a small piece of good news in generally difficult times.

          [...]

          In 2018, Trademark Merkenbureau CV, another Gleissner vehicle, successfully revoked Square Enix’s 2000-registered EUTM for SQUARE ENIX for non-use (the decision has been appealed). Following the revocation decision, Gleissner filed applications for PARASITE EVE and PARASITE in the UK, Benelux and Latvia (no use of these marks by the proprietors was claimed or proven) and the UK applications were registered without opposition.

          Square Enix relied on sections 5(4)(a) (passing off) and 3(6) (bad faith) (cf. section 47) of the Trade Marks Act 1994 to invalidate the UK registrations. The Latvian registrations had already been invalidated on the basis of bad faith, a fact relied upon by Square Enix. The Latvian court found that “[Gleissner's] attempt to register a nearly identical mark is not accidental, but is a deliberate, repeated, international operation with the specific purpose of appropriating trade marks and domain names belonging to others and the profiting at the expense of those trade marks and domain names and impeding trade mark owners from doing business … [this] constitutes a manifestly unfair act.”

      • Copyrights

        • Teaching Online, Copyright, and Queen Anne’s Revenge

          On March 23, 2020, the Supreme Court announced a decision in one of the three copyright cases before it this term, Allen v. Cooper, a case that involves alleged copyright infringement by the state of North Carolina for using some video shot by a private videographer of the salvage operation for Blackbeard’s notorious pirate ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge. Predictably, the Justices cannot resist word play about piracy and copyright infringement. The truth is that the case is really about sovereign immunity, so the jokes might have more appropriately focused on Queen Anne. The question presented in the case was whether a state can be sued in federal court for copyright infringement, and, specifically, was the effort to allow such lawsuits through the Copyright Remedies Clarification Act a valid exercise of Congressional authority.

          Both these questions received a resounding “no” in the unanimous opinion. The Court found that Congressed did not have authority, either under its Article 1 power to grant patents and copyrights or under section 5 of the 14th Amendment, to abrogate sovereign immunity to create state liability for copyright infringement. Patent practitioners will not be surprised that much of the discussion focused on the Court’s 1999 precedent in Florida Prepaid. Indeed, most of the debate in the case, which feature a majority opinion and two different concurrences, focused on the amount of deference due to established precedent, and it seems pretty clear that much of the background in this discussion are positions being established regarding Roe v. Wade.

        • Significant Revisions to the Swiss Copyright Act

          The typical mischievous mood of April Fool’s Day is absent this year, indeed even Google has decided to skip sharing jokes today to pay respect to those who are fighting COVID-19. In this current difficult and in so many ways extraordinary situation, it may only be a sideshow that today is also the date of entry into force of the arguably most important amendment of the Swiss Copyright Act since 1992 (the Act is available in English here, though at the time of writing the English translation does not yet reflect the amendments; these can be found here in German).
          The bill is the result of eight years’ efforts by a group of experts, the Swiss government and the legislature. During this time, the entire project seemed more than once on the brink of being abandoned for good. The first draft, published in 2013, gave rise to over 1200 comments from interest groups and the general public, showing the strong – and vastly diverging – interests at stake.
          The resulting compromise tries to accommodate many of these interests, but does so at the cost of a systematic approach to copyright law. Not surprisingly, therefore, the bill is a conglomeration of specific measures to address specific issues and lacks a general narrative of where Swiss copyright law is heading – or should be heading. This post will summarize only some of the most important aspects in (fully subjective) order of decreasing importance.

        • SCT: States can Keep Infringing Copyright With Immunity/Impunity

          In this case, copyright holder Rick Allen sued the State of North Carolina (Cooper is the Governor) for copyright infringement in Federal Court after the state willfully and deliberately copied his works. The videos and photos at issue here are ones that Allen captured as part of the recovery and exploration of the Pirate Blackbeard’s downed ship Queen Anne’s Revenge. The state used his materials for various educational purposes and Allen sued.

        • RIAA Declares “Victory” in Megaupload Case Despite Not Having a Trial

          Chairman and CEO Mitch Glazier has been oulining some of the RIAA’s successes since he joined the industry group. Interestingly, he went straight to the Kim Dotcom and Megaupload case, which he described as a “huge significant victory”. While the case hasn’t yet gone to trial, its destruction more than eight years ago may be a good enough result for the RIAA.

        • Bulgaria Plans to Take Down Top Torrent Sites, with U.S. Assistance

          The Bulgarian Government is actively trying to take down several top torrent sites. The country’s Combat Organized Crime Unit are working together with U.S. authorities to shut down servers and seize domain names. Popular local trackers Zamunda.net and ArenaBG are mentioned as prime targets, but RarBG.to and Zelka.org are listed as well.

        • World’s Worst Copyright Trolling Lawyer, Richard Liebowitz, Files Lawsuit Against Ellen Barkin For Posting Photo Of Herself

          I’m still amazed that any photographer could think it’s wise to hire notoriously bad copyright trolling lawyer Richard Liebowitz. Liebowitz, among many other problems, has been sanctioned for lying to the court, sanctioned for failing to comply with court orders, and even got into trouble for lying to a court about the death of his grandfather (in that one he actually had a friend of his father’s write a letter to the court basically saying that the judge should excuse Richard’s many lies, because he’s just not that experienced). And even if you could look past all that, he’s a dreadful copyright lawyer. Going back a few years we quoted a judge telling him “No reasonable lawyer with any familiarity with the law of copyright could have thought…” Just a few months ago, a court made it clear that Liebowitz’s reputation comes with baggage:

        • How The Public Domain Coronavirus ‘Beauty Shot’ You Now See Everywhere Came To Be

          By now, you’ve probably seen this image of the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19 a million times:

IRC Proceedings: Friday, April 03, 2020

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:43 am by Needs Sunlight

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