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05.21.20

Links 21/5/2020: LibreOffice 6.4.4, MauiKit and Maui Apps 1.1.1, NuTyX 11.5

Posted in News Roundup at 3:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Desktop/Laptop

      • This DIY laptop costs as much as a MacBook Air — How is it selling so well?

        Storage can either be via an SSD in the M.2 socket or there is an SD slot as well. The company views the latter as a nice option for those with particularly sensitive data that could run a separate OS or leave their sensitive work on that SD card to be easily removed when traveling.

        The MNT Reform features a full HD 12.5-inch IPS display and while it lacks any USB-C ports, it has an abundance of USB Type-A with three external USB 3.0 ports and 2 USB 2.0 ports inside. It also includes HDMI, a 3.5mm headphone jack, an SD card reader, gigabit ethernet, and a power input jack.

        The keyboard is a point of pride for the MNT Reform team, this laptop isn’t shooting for any thin and light awards which leaves plenty of room for the mechanical keyboard with Hailh Choc Brown switches and a dimmable backlight. It should make for a pretty untouchable laptop typing experience.

      • Anti-interdiction Update: Six Month Retrospective

        It was only six months ago that we formalized our anti-interdiction services so instead of being a “hidden menu item” that you had to ask about, it was available as a drop-down along with the PureBoot Bundle.

        [...]

        Adding anti-interdiction measures to our laptops is rather labor-intensive between all of the email back-and-forth and all of the extra steps we perform. We have tried to set a price that captures all of that extra, custom labor and when we processed some of the first orders I did question whether we charged enough. The first few orders took a lot of extra effort and time and as a result the first anti-interdiction customers often had to wait an extra few weeks to get their order depending on how fast they responded to emails.

        As time has gone on patterns have emerged and the whole process has become more streamlined and faster so that now, adding anti-interdiction adds only a small delay. Most of the delay simply comes from the fact that most customers choose to wait to ship their laptop until they have confirmed they have received the Librem Key.

        [...]

        Six months on I would have to say that the anti-interdiction service has been a success. We have processed far more orders than I initially thought and for a very diverse range of customers. Now that the process has become more streamlined we should be able to complete future anti-interdiction orders even more quickly and are looking for other ways we can make it even faster. We have also expanded anti-interdiction services beyond laptops and adapted it to Librem Server, Librem Mini, Librem 5 and Librem 5 USA.

      • We live in a Sad World – Purism Anti-Interdiction Services are (Somewhat) Popular

        A few years ago, we learned the NSA may intercept networking gear during shipping in order to modify it to provide backdoor access to the hardware, and it’s likely other national security agencies around the world also modify hardware on transit for spying purposes.

        I’d think most people would not really care, and only high-profile business and governmental targets may take preventive measures, but according to a recent post from Purism, their Anti-interdiction services are fairly popular among their customers.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • LHS Episode #346: Project Update Round Table

        Hello and welcome to Episode 346 of Linux in the Ham Shack. In this episode, the hosts invite listeners on to talk about current projects–open source, amateur radio or otherwise–that they’re working on. Several interesting topics evolve out of the conversation from digital modes to Internet linked radio systems to satellite operation. And there’s so much more than that. Thank you for tuning in. We hope you find this episode entertaining and informative.

      • FLOSS Weekly 579: MindsDB

        Doc Searls and Dan Lynch talk to Jorge Torres, Co-Founder and CEO of MindsDB. MindsDB is a free, open-source autoML framework to streamline the use of neural networks. It’s designed to make it super easy for developers to deploy machine learning in their projects.

      • The Linux Link Tech Show Episode 858

        3d printing grammaphone, windows package manager winget, desktop environments vs window managers, stuff going on

      • BSD Now 351: Heaven: OpenBSD 6.7

        Backup and Restore on NetBSD, OpenBSD 6.7 available, Building a WireGuard Jail with FreeBSD’s standard tools, who gets to chown things and quotas, influence TrueNAS CORE roadmap, and more.

      • The Open Source Catch-22 | Self-Hosted 19

        We react to recently proposed Home Assistant changes, Alex attempts an extreme remote install, and we take a look at HomelabOS.

        Plus why Chris continues to collect Raspberry Pi’s at an alarming rate.

    • Kernel Space

      • Deleting A Few Lines Of Code Can Yield “Significant” Power Savings On Some Linux Systems

        A patch slated to be merged for the Linux 5.8 kernel cycle next month that simply deletes ten lines of code (well, six lines of code and four lines of comments) will for some systems yield “significant power savings” due to an oversight in the kernel code that has lasted for about twelve years.

        Queued as part of the PCI-next changes building up for Linux 5.8 is allowing Active State Power Management (ASPM) on links for PCI Express to PCI/PCI-X bridges. As we’ve seen when investigating Linux ASPM issues over the years (that big power regression from 2011, et al), the power savings can be quite dramatic when correctly working. But up to now it turns out PCIe-to-PCI (and PCI-X) bridges have not had the Linux kernel enable ASPM on those links and could in turn keep the CPU in higher power states than otherwise could have been achievable.

      • Oracle Talks Up Btrfs Rather Than ZFS For Their Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel 6

        While Red Hat Enterprise Linux deprecated Btrfs and no longer supports it on RHEL8, Oracle does continue supporting this Linux file-system on their RHEL-based Oracle Linux when using the company’s “Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel” alternative to their Red Hat Compatible Kernel. An Oracle engineer put out a lengthy post outlining the highlights of Btrfs in their new Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel 6.

        Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel 6 is making use of the upstream Linux 5.4 kernel and with the more recent kernel code-base the Btrfs driver allows for configurable compression level, other compression improvements, fallocate zero-range support, swapfile support, unregistering scanned devices, out-of-band deduplication, and other features compared to the prior state of Btrfs support on Oracle Linux.

      • Check Point fixes a 20-year-old Linux security issue

        For around two decades now, hackers have exploited the design of the memory management system used by Linux programs in order to take control of a target’s computer.

        Now though researchers at Check Point have introduced a new security mechanism for Linux users called ‘safe-linking’ which means attackers will need more than one vulnerability in order to take over the program.

      • Check Point released an open-source fix for common Linux memory corruption security hole
      • Intel Volleys New Sandy Bridge CPU Microcode

        For reasons currently unknown, Intel released new CPU microcode on Wednesday for their Sandy Bridge processors.

        Intel released the 20200520 CPU Microcode Update and it only consists of Sandy Bridge family updates. This is a bit strange with Sandy Bridge being nine years old and other Intel CPU families not seeing similar microcode updates this week.

      • Intel Sends Out Patches Bringing Up The “DG1″ Graphics Card Under Linux

        For months now Intel’s open-source driver developers have been working on the “Gen12″ graphics support needed most notably for Tiger Lake and more recently is also confirmed for Rocket Lake. But Gen12 is also needed for the highly anticipated Xe Graphics with the discrete graphics offerings to come in the months ahead by Intel. Building off the existing Gen12 graphics driver code, Intel today published the first DG1 patches for enabling their first discrete graphics card under Linux.

      • Completing and merging core scheduling

        Core scheduling is a proposed modification to the kernel’s CPU scheduler that allows system administrators to control which processes can be running simultaneously on the same processor core. It was originally proposed as a security mechanism, but other use cases have shown up over time as well. At the 2020 Power Management and Scheduling in the Linux Kernel summit (OSPM), a group of some 50 developers gathered online to discuss the current state of the core-scheduling patches and what is needed to get them into the mainline kernel.

        [...]

        One open area, Pillai said, was in the area of load balancing, which doesn’t currently work well with core scheduling. This could perhaps be improved by selecting a single run queue to hold the shared information needed for core scheduling. When a scheduling event happens, the highest-priority task would be chosen as usual. Then any sibling processors can be populated with matching tasks from across the system, should any exist.

        Core scheduling currently uses CPU control groups for grouping; there is a cpu.tag field that can be set to assign a “cookie” identifying the scheduling group a task belongs to. This was done for a quick and easy implementation, he said, and need not be how things will work in the end. There is a red-black tree in each run queue, ordered by cookie value, that is used to select tasks for sibling processors.

        The patch series is up to version 5, which includes some load-balancing improvements. Earlier versions did not understand load balancing at all, so if a task was migrated to a CPU running (incompatible) tagged tasks, it could end up being starved for CPU time. A sixth revision is coming soon, he said.

        One challenge that has to be dealt with is comparing the priority of tasks across siblings. Within a run queue, a task’s vruntime value is used to determine whether it should run next. This value is a sort of virtual run time, indicating how much CPU time the task has received relative to others (though it is scaled by the process priority and adjusted in various other ways), but this value is specific to each run queue. A vruntime in one run queue cannot be directly compared to a vruntime in another queue.

      • O_MAYEXEC — explicitly opening files for execution

        Normally, when a kernel developer shows up with a proposed option that doesn’t do anything, a skeptical response can be expected. But there are exceptions. Mickaël Salaün is proposing the addition of a new flag (O_MAYEXEC) for the openat2() system call that, by default, will change nothing. But it does open a path toward tighter security in some situations.

        Executing a file on a Unix-like system requires that said file have an applicable execute-permission bit set. The file must also not reside on a filesystem that has been mounted with the noexec option. These checks can prevent the execution of unwanted code on a tightly controlled system, but there is a significant hole in this protection: interpreters that will happily read and execute code found in a file. If a file contains Perl code, for example, it cannot be executed by typing its name if it fails either of the above two tests. If an attacker is able to pass that file as a parameter to a perl -e command, though, its contents will still be executed.

        The new O_MAYEXEC flag is a way for language interpreters (or other programs, such as dynamic linkers, that execute code) to indicate to the kernel that a file is being opened with the intent of executing its contents. This flag is totally ignored by open() which, because it never checked for invalid flags, is difficult to extend in general. The newer openat2() system call, instead, does fail when unknown flags are passed to it; it has been extended to recognize O_MAYEXEC. But, by default, nothing will change if that flag is present.

      • Blocking userfaultfd() kernel-fault handling

        The userfaultfd() system call is a bit of a strange beast; it allows user space to take responsibility for the handling of page faults, which is normally a quintessential kernel task. It is thus perhaps not surprising that it has turned out to have some utility for those who would attack the kernel’s security as well. A recent patch set from Daniel Colascione is small, but it makes a significant change that can help block at least one sort of attack using userfaultfd().
        A call to userfaultfd() returns a file descriptor that can be used for control over memory management. By making a set of ioctl() calls, a user-space process can take responsibility for handling page faults in specific ranges of its address space. Thereafter, a page fault within that range will generate an event that can be read from the file descriptor; the process can read the event and take whatever action is necessary to resolve the fault. It should then write a response describing that resolution to the same file descriptor, after which the faulting code will resume execution.

        This facility is normally intended to be used within a multi-threaded process, where one thread takes on the fault-handling task. There are a number of use cases for userfaultfd(); one of the original cases was handling live migration of a process from one machine to another. The process can be moved and restarted on the new system while leaving most of its memory behind; the pages it needs immediately can then be demand-faulted across the net, driven by userfaultfd() events. The result is less downtime while the process is being moved.

        Since the kernel waits for a response from the user-space handler to resolve a fault, page faults can cause an indefinite delay in the execution of the affected process. That is always the case, of course; for example, a process generating a fault on memory backed by a file somewhere else on the network will come to an immediate halt for an unknown period of time. There is a difference with userfaultfd(), though: the time it takes to resolve the fault is under the process’s direct control.

      • Private loop devices with loopfs

        A loop device is a kernel abstraction that allows a file to be presented as if it were a physical block device. The typical use for a loop device is to mount a filesystem image stored in a file. Loop devices are global and shared between users, which causes a number of problems for container workloads where the instances are expected to be isolated from each other. Christian Brauner has been working on this problem; he has posted a patch set solving it by adding a small virtual filesystem called loopfs.

        Loop devices typically appear under /dev with names like /dev/loopN. The special /dev/loop-control file can be used to create and destroy loop devices or to find the first available loop device. Associating a file with a specific device, or setting other parameters like offsets or block sizes, is done with ioctl() calls on the device itself. The loop(4) man page has the details on how it all works.

      • Graphics Stack/Mesa

        • Intel’s Mesa Drivers Add A Simple But Effective Helper For Dealing With Incomplete Bug Reports

          As a result of increased bug reports where Linux users are reporting Intel graphics hangs but not including the most pertinent details like the Mesa version, the Intel Mesa drivers are now embedding the driver name and Mesa version as part of their error state.

          All Intel execbufs will now have a buffer object containing the Intel driver name (Iris, ANV, i965) as well as the Mesa version / Git hash. This then is incorporated as part of the error state so for users forgetting to mention their driver version (or not readily knowing), it’s included.

        • mesa 20.1.0-rc4
          Hi all,
          
          I'd like to announce the fourth release candidate for the 20.1 branch,
          Mesa 20.1.0-rc4.
          
          As always, please test it and report any issues you may find to
          
          https://gitlab.freedesktop.org/mesa/mesa/issues/new
          
          And to help us track issues and merge requests relevant to this branch,
          please add them to the 20.1.0 release milestone:
          
          https://gitlab.freedesktop.org/mesa/mesa/milestones/14
          
          There are still several open issues that we need to close before the
          final 20.1.0 release, which is currently planned for the 27th, ie.
          next week.
          
          Eric
          
        • Mesa 20.1 Could Be Out Next Week If You Help Test RC4

          The fourth weekly release candidate is available of Mesa 20.1, the Q2’2020 feature update to the open-source OpenGL / Vulkan driver stack predominantly used by Linux systems. This is the last scheduled release candidate with Mesa 20.1 stable potentially coming out next week if testing goes well and the remaining blocker bugs are addressed.

          Mesa 20.1-RC4 has a few fixes to the RADV and ANV Vulkan drivers, implementing the i2bl instruction for Zink, fixes for building the OpenCL target against LLVM 10.0+ with Polly support, limiting where 16x anti-aliasing is exposed for RadeonSI to address an occlusion query issue, and a few other fixes.

    • Benchmarks

      • Windows 10 vs. Ubuntu 20.04 Linux Performance On The AMD Ryzen 7 4700U



        While most of you are well aware how Linux often slaughters Microsoft Windows performance on high-end desktop and platform servers with large core counts, on smaller systems it can be a different story and often comes down to the particular workloads and any peculiarities of the hardware under test. With recently buying the Lenovo IdeaPad 5 (14) for our AMD Ryzen 7 4700U Linux benchmarking, here are some benchmarks for how that Zen 2 laptop is comparing with different workloads between Windows 10 and Ubuntu 20.04 LTS.

        The AMD Ryzen 7 4700U Renoir with its eight cores and Vega graphics were running within the Lenovo IdeaPad with 2 x 8GB DDR4-3200 memory, 512GB Samsung NVMe SSD, and 1080p panel. I have been quite impressed by the Ryzen 7 4700U performance so far under Linux as my lone Zen 2 laptop so far for testing.

    • Applications

      • 5 Best Free Linux Simple Backup Software



        Surveys suggest that up to 90% of home computer users do not back up their data. That is a pretty frightening statistic bearing in mind how valuable and precious users’ files are. Computer users who do not backup their files are at risk of losing all of their personal and irreplaceable documents. The hard drive in a PC can malfunction at any time, sometimes without any warning at all. Alternatively, the computer’s hard disk can be damaged by an accident, a fire, flood, power cut, or infected by a virus.

        If that situation ever occurs (without a backup), the only way to recover documents may be to employ a data recovery company. Their services are extremely expensive, and they may only be able to recover some documents. Your priceless photo albums of your children taking their first steps, your personal videos of your dream vacation to the Seychelles, important document files, emails and spreadsheets, as well as your entire multimedia collection could be lost forever. Even the loss of the boring stuff, such as information used to compile your tax returns, could cause you a real headache. We hope you are never in that situation.

      • Denemo Sheet Music Notation Program Brings Latest Release

        Denemo – a sheet music creation program that brings the latest release with bug fixes and improvements.

      • April the month of Linux releases and open source updates

        Linux releases and software updates, as every year, April almost never passes without a new event in Linux and open source world. This year, The month “overlooked us” with interesting events about Linux and open-source.

        So what is this events and news? This is what you will know in the following lines. Have a pleasant reading.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Open Joystick Display, a gamepad input HUD has been discontinued

        Open Joystick Display is a free and open source HUD, one that can display your gamepad input on top of a video feed for video creators and livestreaming – sadly it’s being discontinued.

        The original developer didn’t go deep into their reasoning, other than no longer having the time or money to support it due to some recent life events. A shame but the good news is that since it’s open source using a BSD license, anyone can pick it up and fork it to continue it on.

      • G2A has paid Wube Software over illegitimate Factorio keys

        Last year, the website G2A once again went into the spotlight due to their market place allowing anyone to sell game keys and often they’re from dubious sources. Now G2A has given an update.

        In 2019, G2A said in in a blog post that they would pay 10x the cost of chargebacks as a result of any stolen keys sold through G2A. This follows on from many developers being unhappy with them. This required any interested developer to work with G2A on it and they were going to hire an external auditor to do it.

        In the now updated blog post titled “Keeping our promise”, G2A announced that Wube Software who make Factorio were the only developer to take them up on the offer and a settlement was reached.However, they were unable to find an external auditor so they did the audit themselves. G2A finally admit they actually had stolen keys! Against the list of 321 illegitimate keys provided, they found 198 keys were sold on G2A.

      • Supernatural horror adventure ASYLUM is getting a demo

        Arriving next month for the Steam Games Festival, the upcoming supernatural horror adventure ASYLUM will give us a peak behind the door with a 2-hour long demo.

        From the creators of cult sleeper hit Scratches and the haunting Serena, comes a chilling journey into the darkest depths of your mind. ASYLUM is an ambitious and intricate horror adventure casting you into the hallucinatory setting of the Hanwell Mental Institute, a silent witness to unimaginable atrocities that transpired between its endless corridors.

      • Ultimate ADOM – Caverns of Chaos brings a modern touch to the classic roguelike

        ADOM is a classic roguelike, one loved by a great many people but it’s also not the most inviting. Ultimate ADOM – Caverns of Chaos aims to change that, reinventing it for the modern era. It’s being made from the original ADOM creators too, so it will be a faithful remake.

        It was originally announced quite a few years ago, and I honestly haven’t kept up with it. Sometimes it can be fun when that happens, as you get a nice surprise when it’s nearing release. It just recently had a Steam page go live and they firmly plan Linux support with it.

      • Firefighting game Embr is Stadia’s first Early Access title, it’s good fun

        Out today is Embr, an amusing game that makes a bit of a joke of the gig economy by letting anyone be a firefighter. Available on Stadia so you can easily play it on a Linux desktop, it’s their first Early Access game.

        The idea of the game is simple with you taking on jobs to fight fires, which includes saving people from burning buildings. You do this using whatever means necessary because you’re not exactly a professional. Think of it like the Uber or Deliveroo of firefighting and you get the idea. Smash windows, doors, throw people out of windows onto trampolines and much more. It’s pretty hilarious.

      • Denuvo Anti-Cheat to support Steam Play Proton, being removed from DOOM Eternal

        Some really good news for PC gamers everywhere, as it seems one small battle against invasive anti-cheat has been won.

        Recently, DOOM Eternal gained the brand new Denuvo Anti-Cheat tech, which is not to be confused with their usual DRM tech. This addition entirely broke it in the Steam Play Proton compatibility later for Linux and enraged the wider PC community for being added after the game was already released. Just take a look at how the user reviews went on Steam…

      • Retro block-pushing puzzler Akurra to get Linux support

        Currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter, Akurra from developer Jason Newman looks like a wonderful retro block-pushing puzzle adventure and they plan Linux support.

        Inspired by games like Chip’s Challenge, Star Tropics, Sokoban, and Zelda it’s got a lot to live up to but it already looks like a lot of fun. You push blocks to cover pits and avoid spikes, explore caves, go hunting for keys while riding on sea turtles and find secrets.

      • Steampunk base-builder Volcanoids adds online co-op

        Volcanoids is pure joy if you love steampunk and great big machines, as it combines the two together and now it has online co-op. Probably one of the most unique survival base-building experiences, especially with your base being something that goes with you on your adventures.

        Released yesterday was online co-op support, along with a brand new trailer to show it off, and I will admit my own hype for it has increasingly somewhat dramatically after watching it. This was the most requested featured for Volcanoids and it’s an obvious fit for such a base-builder. Currently it only supports a max of 4 people.

      • Viking strategy game Northgard arrives on GOG with a discount

        In Northgard you take control of a clan, trying to try to settle new lands while dealing with all the other clans also wanting riches. It added Linux support on Steam back in 2018 and now it’s also finally available on GOG.com.

      • Command & Conquer Remastered source code will be released to support modding

        Command & Conquered Remastered Collection is only a couple of weeks away, and EA has finally revealed that it will have mod support—a subject it and developer Petroglyph had skirted before—at launch. It’s going one step further, too, by giving players access to the source code.

        Producer Jim Vessella announced that the TiberianDawn.dll and RedAlert.dll and their source code will be available to root around in and tinker with under the GNU General Public License 3.0. Giving modders this much access hopefully means we’ll see some pretty wild projects. A map editor will also be available, so you’ll also be able to create new battlefields for your custom units and tweaked gameplay. I’m envisioning some big overhauls in our future.

        To get the ball rolling, Petroglyph has created a Brotherhood of Nod version of the Mammoth Tank, which it’s stuck a nuke-launching cannon onto. You should be able to take it for a spin at launch. You’ll be able to download maps and mods from the Steam Workshop or, if you’re using Origin, just grab them from the in-game menu.

      • Good News! EA To Open Source Command and Conquer’s Tiberian Dawn & Red Alert

        Command and conquer is probably one of the biggest active classic RTS (Real-Time Strategy) game franchise out there.

        And, EA recently announced that they will be making two of the popular titles of the franchise (Tiberian Dawn and Red Alert) open source.

        And, this is coming from EA that we’ve held responsible for banning Linux gamers earlier this year. So, this is quite a surprise!

        I wasn’t even on earth when this game started a revolution of RTS games — so it makes sense that many gamers have nostalgic experiences with the game.

      • EA is releasing the source code for two classic Command and Conquer games

        EA plans to release the source code for its classic real-time strategy games Command and Conquer: Tiberian Dawn and Command and Conquer: Red Alert, the studio announced today. The source code for the two games is scheduled to be available alongside the release of Command and Conquer Remastered Collection, which includes remastered versions of both titles and their expansions, on June 5th.

        By open sourcing the games, players should be able to use the assets to create mods that could, in theory, be quite extensive. “These open source DLLs should assist users to design maps, create custom units, replace art, alter gameplay logic, and edit data,” said EA’s Jim Vessella, producer on Command and Conquer Remastered, in a blog post. The open sourced assets can also be used in tandem with a new map editor that’s part of the collection, he added.

      • Command & Conquer Remastered Collection’s source code released in mod support update

        Modding has long been a part of the fun in the classic Command & Conquer community, and Electronic Arts and Petroglyph know it. With that in mind, players with interest in modding the Command & Conquer Remastered Collection got a major treat today as Electronic Arts announced it would be releasing the source code for both Red Alert and Tiberian Dawn.

        Electronic Arts announced the release of the Command & Conquer Remastered Collection source code in a Command & Conquer Reddit post on May 20, 2020. EA Producer Jim Vassella took to the reddit to speak directly to the update regarding mod support.

        “Today we are proud to announce that alongside the launch of the Remastered Collection, Electronic Arts will be releasing the TiberianDawn.dll and RedAlert.dll and their corresponding source code under the GPL version 3.0 license,” Vassella wrote. “It’s worth noting this initiative is the direct result of a collaboration between some of the community council members and our teams at EA. After discussing with the council members, we made the decision to go with the GPL license to ensure compatibility with projects like CnCNet and Open RA.”

      • The Command & Conquer source code is going public

        EA has announced that the source code for Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn and Red Alert will be released alongside the Remastered Collection next month. That’s in addition to the new map editor included with the remaster, so expect bigger and better Command & Conquer mods in the near future.

        “Today we are proud to announce that alongside the launch of the Remastered Collection, Electronic Arts will be releasing the TiberianDawn.dll and RedAlert.dll and their corresponding source code under the GPL version 3.0 license. This is a key moment for Electronic Arts, the C&C community, and the gaming industry, as we believe this will be one of the first major RTS franchises to open source their source code under the GPL,” reads the announcement from EA.

        With the Command & Conquer source code out in the open, modders will undoubtedly have a field day making dramatic changes to the games’ maps, art style, and gameplay. Producer Jim Vessella gave us an example of just one way the DLL files can be used to engineer custom Command & Conquer experiences. Behold up above the Nuke Tank, which is what Remastered devs imagined would happen if Nods came across a Mammoth Tank.

      • EA to Open Source PC Game Command & Conquer, Enabling You to Create Crazy Mods

        Electronic Arts announced the news as the company prepares to release the 4K remaster to Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn and Command & Conquer: Red Alert on June 5th.

        In a Reddit post on Wednesday, EA producer Jim Vessella said the company has been receiving questions over whether the remaster will support gamer-made modifications. In response, EA has decided to open source the gaming code to both Tiberian Dawn and Red Alert.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • MauiKit and Maui apps 1.1.1

          Today, we are pleased to announce the release of MauiKit and Maui Apps 1.1.1!.

          Are you a developer and want to start developing cross-platform and convergent apps, targeting, among other things, the upcoming Linux mobile devices? Then join us on Telegram: https://t.me/mauiproject. If you are interested in testing this project and helping out with translations or documentation, you are also more than welcome.

          The Maui Project is free and open-source software incubated by the KDE Community and developed by Nitrux Latinoamericana.

      • GNOME Desktop/GTK

        • Media in GTK 4



          Showing moving pictures is ever more important. GTK 4 will make it easier for GTK apps to show animations; be that a programmatic animation, a webm file or a live stream.

          Before looking at animations, it is worth spending a little bit of time on the underlying abstractions that GTK uses for content that can be drawn. In GTK 2 and 3, that was mainly GdkPixbuf: you load a file, and you get a block of pixel data (more or less in a single format). If you wanted to animate it, there is GdkPixbufAnimation, but it is fair to say that it was not a very successful API.

          GTK 4 brings a new API called GdkPaintable that was inspired by the CSS Houdini effort. It is very flexible—anything that you can plausibly draw can be a GdkPaintable. The content can be resizable (like svg), or change over time (like webm).

        • Welcome to the May 2020 Friends of GNOME Update!

          Free software projects want to grow their contributor bases, and one of the most important ways to do that is to make it easy (and hopefully even fun) to get involved. We’ve teamed up with Endless to work on the Community Engagement Challenge, to get more people involved in GNOME. There is the opportunity for over $20,000 USD in prizes. Entries for ideas for projects to engage new and potential community members are open until July 1.

          [...]

          GTK4 Updates

          Core GTK Developer Emmanuele Bassi continues to work on GTK4, including on accessibility and documentation.

        • Patent case against GNOME resolved



          Today, on the 20th of May 2020, the GNOME Foundation, Rothschild Patent Imaging, and Leigh M. Rothschild are pleased to announce that the patent dispute between Rothschild Patent Imaging and GNOME has been settled.

          In this walk-away settlement, GNOME receives a release and covenant not to be sued for any patent held by Rothschild Patent Imaging. Further, both Rothschild Patent Imaging and Leigh Rothschild are granting a release and covenant to any software that is released under an existing Open Source Initiative approved license (and subsequent versions thereof), including for the entire Rothschild portfolio of patents, to the extent such software forms a material part of the infringement allegation.

          Neil McGovern, Executive Director for the GNOME Foundation said “I’m exceptionally pleased that we have concluded this case. This will allow us to refocus our attention on creating a free software desktop, and will ensure certainty for all free and open source software in future.”

        • GNOME resolves Rothschild patent suit

          The patent suit filed against the GNOME Foundation last September has now been resolved. “In this walk-away settlement, GNOME receives a release and covenant not to be sued for any patent held by Rothschild Patent Imaging. Further, both Rothschild Patent Imaging and Leigh Rothschild are granting a release and covenant to any software that is released under an existing Open Source Initiative approved license (and subsequent versions thereof), including for the entire Rothschild portfolio of patents, to the extent such software forms a material part of the infringement allegation.” There is no mention of what the foundation had to give — if anything — for this settlement,

        • Linux desktop org GNOME Foundation settles lawsuit with patent troll

          The GNOME Foundation has settled a US lawsuit brought against it by Rothschild Patent Imaging, complete with an undertaking by the patent assertion entity that it will not sue GNOME for IP infringment again.

          In a so-called “walk away” settlement, Rothschild Patent Imaging (RPI) and the open-source body are discontinuing a case that began in October last year. RPI sued for alleged IP infringement of one of its patents in GNOME photo-organising tool Shotwell, marking the first time a free software project had been targeted in that way.

        • GNOME and Rothschild Patent Imaging settle

          Back in October 2019, the GNOME project announced they had been hit by what they called a patent troll with Rothschild Patent Imaging. Now it seems it has been resolved and it’s a bin win for open source.

          The problem was with the Shotwell image management application, as Rothschild claimed it infringed on their patents. Yesterday, GNOME announced a “walk-away settlement” that not only drops the case against GNOME but both Rothschild Patent Imaging and Leigh Rothschild in the case will now grant a “release and covenant” to any software released under an OSI (Open Source Initiative) approved license which covers the entire Rothschild portfolio of patents. That’s a nice win for FOSS developers.

    • Distributions

      • CAINE: The Best Digital Forensics Tool

        CAINE is a professional open-source forensic platform that integrates powerful scripts into its GUI. The tool is an Italian GNU/Linux live distribution, which offers an operational environment for forensic investigative processes, including preservation, collection, examination, and analysis.

        The platform is a live Linux distribution, and users can boot it using a flash drive or an optical disk. It can also be run on memory. There are a few other installation options that involve physical as well as virtual systems.

        To download CAINE, visit the CAINE Live download page. It is now in its 11th version, which can be booted on UEFI/UEFI+Secure and Legacy BIOS. Also, it allows the platform to be installed on older as well as new operating systems, including Windows NT, Linux, and even Windows 10.

      • New Releases

        • NuTyX 11.5 available with cards 2.4.115

          I’m very pleased to announce the new NuTyX 11.5 release.

          The 64-bit version contains about 700 packages upgraded.

          The 32-bit version of NuTyX, still actively supported.

          In the newest release, base NuTyX comes with the Long-Term Support (LTS) kernel 4.19.123 (4.9.224 for the 32-bit version).

          For 64-bit systems,the kernel release 5.6.13 is also available.

          Changelogs for the kernels are available here: kernel 4.19.123 changlog kernel 5.6.13 changelog

          The gnu c library, glibc, is now glibc 2.31

          The graphical server is xorg-server 1.20.8.

          The mesa lib is 20.0.6, gtk3 is 3.24.20, and qt has been updated to 5.14.2.

          Python interpreters 3.8.3 and 2.7.18 have been included in this release.

          The MATE Desktop Environment comes in 1.24.0, the latest version.

          The XFCE Desktop Environment comes in 4.14.1, the latest version.

          The KDE Plasma Desktop is now 5.18.5, the Framework is now 5.70.0 and applications are now 20.04.1

          Available browsers are: firefox 76.0.1, falkon 3.1.0, epiphany 3.36.1, etc

          Many desktop applications have been updated as well like thunderbird 68.8.0, Scribus 1.5.5, libreoffice 6.4.3.2, gimp 2.10.18, etc.

      • BSD

      • SUSE/OpenSUSE

        • SUSE turns open-source innovations into consumable business solutions

          While cutting-edge technologies may be the most appropriate for solving increasingly sophisticated business problems, companies need easy-to-use solutions. Simplifying modernization to facilitate its consumption by companies is one of the goals of the open-source software company SUSE.

          “We have to curate and prepare and filter all the open-source innovation that [enterprises] can benefit from, because that takes time to understand how that can match your needs and fix your problems,” said Dr. Thomas Di Giacomo (pictured, left), president of engineering and innovation at SUSE. “It is SUSE … working in the open-source projects, innovating them, but with customers in mind.”

        • SUSE, Elektrobit innovate at the edge

          Early stages of autonomous driving, the connected car, and electrification are no longer future ideas but realities on the road today, writes SUSE CEO Melissa di Donato.

          As the speed of innovation increases across the automotive industry, vehicles are now as much software platforms as chassis and engines. This fundamental shift away from hardware dominated to software-defined vehicles means there is a need to completely rethink the customer experience that the future best-selling vehicles need to deliver.

        • SUSE innovates at the edge with Elektrobit to transform how cars operate

          Mobility as we know it is about to change forever. Early stages of autonomous driving, the connected car, and electrification are no longer future ideas but realities on the road today. As the speed of innovation increases across the automotive industry, vehicles are now as much software platforms as chassis and engines. This fundamental shift away from hardware dominated to software-defined vehicles means there is a need to completely rethink the customer experience that the future best-selling vehicles need to deliver.

          [...]

          By combining Elektrobit’s automotive experience with our leadership in delivering mission-critical Linux and container technologies, we aim to provide a future software platform for automobiles that fulfills key requirements around openness and transparency, seamless system updates over the air, all through a broad open source community that provides constant innovation and a large talent pool.

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • Cloud-native computing terms all in one place

          What does eventual consistency even mean? Or, how about a dark launch? What is gRPC? Or a database saga? Wouldn’t it be great if someone gathered all the terms associated with cloud-native computing and put them in one place, where developers could find, link to, and even update them?

          Well, guess what: Red Hat Developer has done just that with Cloud Native Compass, a GitHub repository containing definitions of terms and links to related materials for cloud-native software development and microservices.

        • Healthcare resource planning optimization built from the frontline

          Scheduling challenges within our nation’s hospitals aren’t new, but they’ve been exacerbated by COVID-19. Scheduling has become increasingly complex due to high patient volume, patient quarantine requirements, staff shortages and quickly changing availability, and adaptation to new hospital policies to limit exposure and risk. Those challenges are not likely to go away, even after the pandemic begins to subside.

          We’ve been talking to healthcare providers to understand how technology can be applied to address these scheduling problems and help frontline workers, both currently and in the future. We are proud to announce that this dialogue has resulted in a new component to the Red Hat Business Optimizer that allows healthcare organizations to use applied AI to solve scheduling and resource challenges.

        • Hardening QEMU through continuous security testing

          Red Hat’s virtualization ecosystem consists of QEMU, an emulator, and Linux’s Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM), an in-kernel driver along with many other software projects that encompass QEMU and KVM. These software projects (or a subset of them) are the backbone of Red Hat products such as Red Hat Virtualization and Red Hat OpenStack Platform to name a few. While KVM relies on architecture-provided hardware virtualization extensions to provide processor virtualization, QEMU is responsible for emulating devices that provide Input/Output functionality in guest environments.

        • Use Node.js 14 on Red Hat OpenShift

          On April 21st, Node.js released its latest major version with Node.js 14. Because this is an even-numbered release, it will become a Long Term Support (LTS) release in October 2020. This release brings a host of improvements and features, such as improved diagnostics, a V8 upgrade, an experimental Async Local Storage API, hardened the streams APIs, and more.

          While Red Hat will release a Universal Base Image (UBI) for Node.js 14 in the coming months for Red Hat OpenShift and Red Hat Enterprise Linux, this article helps you get started today. If you’re interested in more about Node.js 14’s improvements and new features, check out the article listed at the end.

        • 5 open source projects that make Kubernetes even better

          Beyond container runtimes, Kubernetes has also served as the primary center of gravity for the many other cloud-native projects that have come into its orbit. These projects have brought many additional capabilities to Kubernetes, such as performance monitoring, developer tools, serverless capabilities, and CI/CD workflows. This allows the Kubernetes project itself to stay focused on the core aspects of container orchestration. Just as Linux distributions require integrating lots of projects beyond the kernel, so too does a complete Kubernetes container platform distribution require many additional open source projects in addition to Kubernetes.

          You’ll find a great many open source projects in the Kubernetes ecosystem: These five are widely used and provide capabilities in a number of key areas relevant to developers, operations, or both.

        • CPE achievements during Q1 2020

          2020 has seen a lot of changes for everyone—understatement of the year right? One of these changes has been how the Community Platform Engineering (CPE) Team has decided to adjust how they work. We are on an agile workflow journey. We began this year with quarterly planning, for the first time ever! We kicked off the start of the year working on some prioritised initiatives that we discussed as a review team during our first quarterly planning session. The review team included Brian ‘Bex’ Exelbierd, Paul Frields, Jim Perrin, Leigh Griffin, Pierre-Yves Chibon, Brian Stinson and Clément Verna.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Canonical Outs Kernel Update for Ubuntu 19.10 and 18.04 LTS Systems Running Linux 5.3



          After releasing kernel updates for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and 16.04 LTS, as well as Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, Canonical now also published a kernel security update for Ubuntu 19.10 (Eoan Ermine) and Ubuntu 18.04.4 LTS (Bionic Beaver) systems that use Linux kernel 5.3 to fix eight vulnerabilities.

          The issues fixed in this security update are a race condition (CVE-2019-19769) discovered by Tristan Madani in Linux kernel’s file locking implementation, which could allow a local attacker to either expose sensitive information or cause a denial of service.

        • Didier Roche: ZFS focus on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS: what’s new?



          Ubuntu has supported ZFS as an option for some time. In 19.10, we introduced experimental support on the desktop. As explained by then, having a ZFS on root option on our desktop was only a first step in what we want to achieve by adopting this combined file system and logical volume manager. I strongly suggest you read the 2 above blog posts as introductions to this blog series we are starting. Here we cover what’s new compared to 19.10 in term of installation and general features. We then look at what ZSys, our dedicated helper for ZFS systems, can do for you and how you can interact with it. Finally, for the more tech savy, we will deep dive in to how we use ZFS, store properties and understanding how the puzzle fits together. We will give you tips on how to tweak it at your convenience if you are a ZFS sysadmin expert, while still keeping ZSys advanced capabilities compatible.

          Without further ado, let’s dive into this!

        • Ubuntu 20.10 Installer With ZFS Will Enable TRIM By Default

          In addition to working on easy ZFS encryption for Ubuntu 20.10, the Ubiquity installer in its latest code for this next Ubuntu Linux release is now enabling TRIM by default for all Zpools.

          A change made to the latest Ubiquity desktop installer for Ubuntu 20.10 flips on auto trim for all ZFS pools by default. The change is just passing the “autotrim=on” mount option when creating the Zpool during the installation process.

          The autotrim=on option is the means of enabling TRIM automatically rather than having to run the zpool trim command.

        • Ubuntu 20.04 (Focal Fossa) Review



          Although Windows and macOS are the most popular desktop operating systems, they are not your only options. Ubuntu, (pronounced “oo-boon-too”), is an excellent alternative: It features a sophisticated UX and solid performance. Plus, the operating system is free to download, highly portable, and simpler than ever to get up and running. The latest version, 20.04 (Focal Fossa) doesn’t bring too many earth-shattering changes from the last release, but the move to newer versions of Linux kernel and GNOME desktop environment, combined with improvements to the interface, are welcome updates. You’ll still face the challenges inherent with Linux systems, however, including a steeper learning curve, limited third-party application support, and a dearth of first-party hardware. Although we recommend that most people stick with Windows 10 or macOS, Ubuntu is a good fit for those looking for a change of pace.

        • Innovating and scaling efficiently with Kubernetes and MicroK8s

          With the benefits of Kubernetes now well established in the containerisation space, its adoption continues to exponentially increase. However, as developers and enterprises alike turn to Kubernetes for more and more types of use cases, available Kubernetes solutions often fail to meet their exact needs.

          Canonical’s extensive Kubernetes portfolio is centered around Charmed Kubernetes and MicroK8s, designed to provide full flexibility from cloud to edge in order to facilitate efficient innovation and scaling.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Is Agile compatible with open source development and communities?



        Isee this question popping up quite often in different conversations. Recently, we had a good discussion about it within my team. The main question was about how to communicate openly with the community, as well as have the space to build a team and work as a team. This can be challenging; for example, when a company or a sponsor pays a part of the contributors to work full time on a project.

        In this article, I will explain why agile works with the open source development model.

      • Open Source Artificial Intelligence: Leading Projects

        Open source artificial intelligence projects don’t always get a lot of publicity, but they play a vital role in the development of artificial intelligence. Because these open source projects are often pursued as passion projects by developers (sometimes in colleges and universities), the advances are creative and particularly forward looking.

        Typically freed from the constraints of a corporate setting (though some are supported by companies), these open source AI projects can dream big – and often deliver ground breaking machine learning and AI advances.

        Also important: the advances from these leading open source AI projects fuel the larger AI sector. That is, a new idea from this month’s AI project ends up next year (or even next month) in a high end AI solution sold by a company.

        Remember, if you know of additional top open source AI tools that should be on this list, please include them in the comments section below.

      • Web Browsers

        • Mozilla

          • Chrome 83 adds DNS-over-HTTPS support and privacy tweaks

            After delays to Chrome version 81 in March, and the scrapping of version 82 a month later, this week sees the early arrival of Chrome 83 with a longer list of new security features than originally planned.

            As browser updates go, it’s a lot to take in although some of them are more tweaks to existing features than anything radically new.

            It’s hard to pick out a single big feature, although for some it will be upgraded support for DNS-over-HTTPS (DoH), a privacy technology that makes it much harder for third parties (ISPs, the Government, malevolent parties) to see which web domains someone is visiting.

            See our previous coverage for more explanation of the benefits of DoH (and forthcoming support for it in Windows 10) but be aware that Google still doesn’t make using this as easy as it should be.

          • Google rolls out pro-privacy DNS-over-HTTPS support in Chrome 83… with a handy kill switch for corporate IT

            Google released Chrome 83 on Tuesday after skipping version 82 entirely due to coronavirus-related challenges, bringing with it security for DNS queries, a revised extension interface that developers dislike, and a few other features.

            The latest iteration of Google’s browser implements DNS-over-HTTPS (DoH), a way to prevent domain-name queries from being observed on the network, between the browser and the DNS server, at least. Traditionally, DNS queries and replies sent using TCP or UDP are not encrypted, even when internet users are interacting with websites over an encrypted HTTPS connection.

            DoH was proposed to improve privacy and security by wrapping TLS encryption around the DNS queries that convert human-friendly domain names, like theregister.co.uk, into network addresses computers can connect to, such as 104.18.5.22.

            Google has been testing DoH since Chrome 78 last year, and is now rolling it out proper. Mozilla has been doing the same in its Firefox browser, and in February made DoH available to US Firefox users by default.

          • Mozilla VR Blog: Firefox Reality for HoloLens 2

            Mozilla’s Mixed Reality team is excited to announce the first public release of Firefox Reality in the Microsoft store. We announced at Mobile World Congress 2019 that we were working with Microsoft to bring a mixed reality browser to the HoloLens 2 platform, and we’re proud to share the result of that collaboration.

            Firefox Reality is an experimental browser for a promising new platform, and this initial release focuses on exposing the powerful AR capabilities of HoloLens 2 devices to web developers through the new WebXR standard.

      • Productivity Software/LibreOffice/Calligra

        • LibreOffice 6.4.4 available for download

          The Document Foundation announces the availability of LibreOffice 6.4.4, the 4th minor release of the LibreOffice 6.4 family, targeted at technology enthusiasts and power users. LibreOffice 6.4.4 includes many bug fixes and improvements to document compatibility.

          LibreOffice 6.4.4 represents the bleeding edge in term of features for open source office suites, and as such is not optimized for enterprise-class deployments, where features are less important than robustness. Users wanting a more mature version can download LibreOffice 6.3.6, which includes some months of back-ported fixes.

        • LibreOffice 6.4.4 Is Now Available for Download with 98 Bug Fixes

          Coming five weeks after LibreOffice 6.4.3, the LibreOffice 6.4.4 point release is here to address several bugs and other issues reported by the community or discovered by the LibreOffice developers. A total of 98 bugs have been fixed in this update, as documented here and here.

          Those of you using the latest LibreOffice 6.4 office suite series should upgrade to version 6.4.4 as soon as possible. Downloads are now available from the official website, but they’re also coming soon to the stable software repositories of your favorite GNU/Linux distribution.

      • Programming/Development

        • Marcin ‘hrw’ Juszkiewicz: From a diary of AArch64 porter — firefighting

          When I was a kid there was a children’s book about Wojtek who wanted to be firefighter. It is part of culture for my generation.

          I never wanted to follow Wojtek’s dreams. But during last years I became firefighter. And this is not a good thing in a long term.

          CI failures

          During last months we (Linaro) took care of AArch64 support in OpenStack infrastructure. There are nodes with CentOS 7 and 8, Debian ‘stretch’ and ‘buster, Ubuntu ‘xenial’, ‘bionic’ and ‘focal’. And several CI jobs in some projects (Disk Image Builder, Kolla, Nova and some other).

        • What’s coming in Go 1.15

          Go 1.15, the 16th major version of the Go programming language, is due out on August 1. It will be a release with fewer changes than usual, but many of the major changes are behind-the-scenes or in the tooling: for example, there is a new linker, which will speed up build times and reduce the size of binaries. In addition, there are performance improvements to the language’s runtime, changes to the architectures supported, and some updates to the standard library. Overall, it should be a solid upgrade for the language.

          Since the release of Go 1.0, the Go team has consistently shipped improvements to the tooling and the standard library with each version, but has always been conservative about language changes. Many other languages ship significant language features every release, but Go has only shipped a few minor ones in the versions since 1.0.

          This is a conscious design choice: since the 1.0 release, the emphasis from the team has been stability and simplicity. The Go 1 compatibility promise guarantees that all programs written for Go 1.0 will continue to run correctly, unchanged, for all 1.x versions. Go programmers usually see this as a good thing — their programs continue to “just work”, but generally get consistently faster.

        • Daniel Holbach: Gitops Days – Day 1 playlist

          What a brilliant day 1 of GitOps Days it was. Weeks of hard work from a great team went into this, as was quite apparent. Minor glitches, some last minute shuffling of speakers, but apart from that very very seamless. (You can still sign up and get links to the recordings.)

        • Automating tasks in Qt Creator

          My first project when I entered KDAB was the migration of a multi-million lines Motif application to Qt… feels quite scary said like that. Fortunately, migrations from any toolkit to Qt is something KDAB has been doing from the beginning, and has lots of experience with.

          You may be wondering what this has to do with automating tasks in Qt Creator, or why I have a new entry in my Qt Creator locator… keep up with me and everything will be clear shortly.

        • Python

          • Subinterpreters for Python

            A project that has been floating around in the Python world for a number of years is now working its way toward inclusion into the language—or not. “Subinterpreters”, which are separate Python interpreters that can currently be created via the C API for extensions, are seen by some as a way to get a more Go-like concurrency model for Python. The first step toward that goal is to expose that API in the standard library. But there are questions about whether subinterpreters are actually a desirable feature for Python at all, as well as whether the hoped-for concurrency improvements will materialize.

          • Wing Tips: Conditional Breakpoints Wing’s Python Debugger

            This Wing Tip describes how to use conditional breakpoints in Wing Pro to stop in Python code only when certain conditions are true. This is useful for isolating a single case out of many that may be processed by the same code in a particular run, in order to investigate how that case is being handled.

            Conditional breakpoints are also a great way to select the runtime state for which you want to write new Python code, with the ability to immediately try out what you write.

        • Shell/Bash/Zsh/Ksh

          • Santiago Zarate: Looking for exceptions with awk

            Sometimes you just need to search using awk or want to use plain bash to search for an exception in a log file, it’s hard to go into google, stack overflow, duck duck go, or any other place to do a search, and find nothing, or at least a solution that fits your needs.

          • The state of the AWK

            AWK is a text-processing language with a history spanning more than 40 years. It has a POSIX standard, several conforming implementations, and is still surprisingly relevant in 2020 — both for simple text processing tasks and for wrangling “big data”. The recent release of GNU Awk 5.1 seems like a good reason to survey the AWK landscape, see what GNU Awk has been up to, and look at where AWK is being used these days.

            The language was created at Bell Labs in 1977. Its name comes from the initials of the original authors: Alfred Aho, Peter Weinberger, and Brian Kernighan. A Unix tool to the core, AWK is designed to do one thing well: to filter and transform lines of text. It’s commonly used to parse fields from log files, transform output from other tools, and count occurrences of words and fields. Aho summarized AWK’s functionality succinctly:

            AWK reads the input a line at a time. A line is scanned for each pattern in the program, and for each pattern that matches, the associated action is executed.

        • Rust

          • NuShell: the shell where traditional Unix meets modern development, written in Rust

            Shells have been around forever and, for better or for worse, haven’t changed much since their inception. Until NuShell appeared to reinvent shells and defy our muscle memory. It brought some big changes, which include rethinking how pipelines work, structured input/output, and plugins.

            We wanted to learn more about NuShell so we interviewed both of its creators: Jonathan Turner and Yehuda Katz.

  • Leftovers

  • Science

    • Genetic Variant Responsible for Short Stature in Human Population

      Mendelian inheritance exists in most species (ABO blood type in humans, for example), but many traits are multivariate (i.e., being caused by expression of several genes). While these include susceptibility to many diseases like cancer, the most common multivariate trait is height, which varies widely in different human ethnic and racial groups.

      Recently an international group of genomics researchers* published a paper in Nature entitled “A positively selected FBN1 missense variant reduces height in Peruvian individuals.” The interest in this Peruvian population is that they are recognized as being among the shortest known existing human group that is otherwise ethnically diverse (165.3 cm or 5’5″ for men and 152.9 cm or 5′ for women). The FBN1 gene variant reported by these researchers was found to have a specific aspartic acid residue changed to a glycine residue (E1297G, due to a change from a transition mutation of a T to a C) correlated with an average reduction in height of 2.2 cm in heterozygotes and 4.4 cm in homozygotes (corresponding to 0.87 in and 1.75 in, respectively). The FBN1 gene encodes extracellular matrix protein fibrillin 1, a major structural component of myofibrils. Individuals homozygous for the variant have less densely packed fibrillin-1-rich microfibrils with irregular edges in skin tissues.

  • Education

    • Zooming Past Equity in Higher Education: Technocratic Pedagogy Fails Social Justice Test – Censored Notebook

      The response to COVID-19 by governing institutions has altered the lives and practices of people across the nation, including the students, faculty, and staff in higher education. One of the biggest changes in educational institutions has been the increased reliance on Zoom conferences in-place of traditional face-to-face classroom meetings. For example, in May 2020, the website for Ohlone College, a community college in Fremont, CA, had an announcement that read, “IMPORTANT: All classes will be held online during the 2020 Summer Term. Classes that have scheduled meeting days and times will meet via ConferZoom online.”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Pregnant Pause: Remarks on the Corona Crisis

      We were already living in a general global crisis, but most people were only vaguely aware of it since it was manifested in a confusing array of particular crises — social, political, economic, environmental. Climate change is the most momentous of these crises, but it is so complicated and so gradual that it has been easy for most people to ignore it.

    • Our New Blog Series Exploring Tech In The Time Of COVID

      It should be no secret at all that the world is a different place than it was just a few months ago, thanks to the novel coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19. We’ve been doing our best to deal with these trying times, as I hope you are as well. One thing we’ve noticed over the last few months is the role of technology in these crazy times, leading myself to often wonder what this kind of crisis would have looked like if even only a decade ago. As we were seeing more and more stories highlighting the amazing ways in which technology has been a huge (sometimes literal) lifesaver, we thought it would be worth launching a new “edition” on our site, focused on the role technology has played during this pandemic.

    • Russian doctors’ union releases ‘map of problems’ medical workers face during the coronavirus pandemic

      The “Doctors’ Alliance” medical workers union has launched what it’s calling the COVID-19 Map, visualizing data according to four parameters: lack of protective equipment, lack of promised hazard pay, refusal to test medical workers for the coronavirus, and healthcare workers’ deaths caused by COVID-19. Anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny announced the new project on his blog.

    • Inglorious Bastardry: Hacking for Vaccines

      If you cannot discover or create something, best steal it. It has been the operating principle for everything from wealth to technology. With the efforts to discover a vaccine to the novel coronavirus being all but bound by solidarity, the race on plundering secrets has already begun in earnest. No one party can claim particular innocence in this endeavour. All states engage in economic espionage and old-fashioned secret pinching to advance their interests. Finding the building blocks for a COVID-19 vaccine is proving no different.

    • Freedom From the Great Disease
    • Emergency Room Doctor: Getting Best COVID-19 Treatment Ideas Via WhatsApp

      The excellent podcast Radiolab has been running some shorter (from its normal fare) “dispatches” from the pandemic that have been quite interesting, but I wanted to take a quick look at one recent such episode that is mostly a discussion between host Jad Abumrad and ER doctor Avir Mitra, who, in a prior life, had interned at Radiolab, in which Mitra plays some of the voice memos he’s been recording for himself as he deals with being an ER doctor on the frontlines in a hospital in NYC, where the largest number of COVID-19 cases are happening.

    • Reverend Barber Organizes “Poor People’s Digital March on DC” for June 20

      We look at the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Black, Brown and poor communities, and the next steps officials should take, with Reverend William Barber, who is organizing an online Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington, D.C., on June 20. “We’re not going to just die. We’re going to stand up and fight back,” says Rev. Barber. He also discusses voter suppression ahead of the November election.

    • Florida Data Chief Claims She Was Fired for Refusing to Tamper With COVID Data

      The architect of Florida’s COVID-19 data dashboard claims that she was fired by the state’s health department for refusing to “manually change data to drum up support for the plan to reopen.”

    • Amid COVID-19, NYC Subway Closures Force Unhoused People Into Packed Shelters

      For the first time in its 115-year history, this month New York City began shutting down its subway system overnight. The unprecedented move has left unhoused people who rely on the trains for shelter suddenly with nowhere to go, and made them even more vulnerable as the coronavirus continues to spread. “The situation is concerning,” says emergency physician Dr. Kelly Doran, who has joined advocates in calling on New York to do more to protect unhoused people from infection. We also speak with Josh Dean, executive director of the homeless advocacy group Human.NYC.

    • Global Cockfights, Viruses, and the Monsters Within

      It’s a funny thing, language. Geniuses tell us that it’s what separates us most from the chimpanzees at the zoo who spit at us, unimpressed. One time, I saw a guy spit back and pick up a banana that had fallen from the cage, and made as if to give it back to the chimp with entreating eyes, only to pull it back at the last minute and begin a burlesque peel that drove Bonzo, and his mates, cageshakingly apeshit, and as he ate it, like a one-percenter, I could see in Bonzo’s eyes a vow to evolve — just to get him back. The guy riposted with a finger, and flashed his opposable thumb, and walked away, a stream of ejectile whizzing past his head. Made me ashamed to be a homo sapien.

    • What The President Continues To Say (About The Plague)

      In two previous pieces in CounterPunch I compiled Donald Trump’s statements on the COVID-19 pandemic up to May 2nd-3rd. Here is a continuation of that list.

    • Coronavirus and the Inhumane Treatment of Meat Packers

      The meat industry has always been exploitative of employees—but the coronavirus has exposed the poor working conditions of meat packers who are getting sick at alarming rates.

    • “They Don’t Care for Our Lives”: McDonald’s Workers Strike Across US to Demand Better Protections From Covid-19

      Organizers say scores of McDonalds workers have tested positive for Covid-19 in at least 16 states, but the company often doesn’t notify employees when their coworkers are sick. 

    • Women Have Risen to Heroic Heights During Covid-19

      Yet, the global pandemic in physical and sexual violence against women continues unabated and worsened during the coronavirus pandemic.

    • Conspiracies and the Coronavirus in the USA and Germany

      By early May 2020, Coronavirus and Conspiracies had become a pressing issue. It should not come as a surprise that the global right-wing is linking the coronavirus to conspiracies. The use of conspiracies is nothing new. In 2018, CNN reported that within 72 hours, three hate crimes killed two African-Americans in Kentucky, nail bombs were sent to Democrats to people who criticized Donald Trump. Before that, a man shouting anti-Semitic slurs opened fire at a Pittsburgh synagogue, killing eleven people attending Jewish services. The men who committed these acts had one thing in common. They believed in conspiracies.

    • ‘The minister realized a catastrophe was brewing’ The authorities in Dagestan admitted to underreporting statistics on COVID-19 deaths. What has this changed?

      During a recent interview with local blogger Ruslan Kurbanov, Dagestan’s health minister acknowledged that the region has significantly under-reported coronavirus deaths in official data. The admission came a week after Meduza published a report on the critical situation the coronavirus pandemic has caused in this republic on Russia’s southern edge. The interview with the minister, streamed on Instagram, became a national sensation. Now, even the Russian state media says the minimum number of coronavirus deaths reported here could be significantly higher than the official numbers indicate. In a follow up report on the situation in Dagestan, Meduza journalist Vladimir Sevrinovsky spoke to the interviewer who got the republic’s health minister to admit that the government’s statistics are bogus.

    • No to California Bill on Verified Credentials of COVID-19 Test Results

      EFF opposes a California bill, A.B. 2004, that would authorize the issuers of COVID-19 test results to do so with digital verifiable credentials. This bill would take us a step towards national digital identification, create information security risks, exacerbate social inequities in access to smartphones and COVID-19 tests, endorse one solution to an evolving technological problem, and fail to limit who may view credentials of test results. The bill also would not effectively advance its stated goal of addressing the COVID-19 outbreak.

      The official bill analysis for A.B. 2004  states that the “purpose of the bill” is to “authorize the use of blockchain-based technology to provide verifiable credentials for medical test results, including COVID-19 antibody tests …” The bill’s author wrote that such credentials could be used for “returning to work, travel or any other processes wherein verification of a COVID-19 test would be needed.” The analysis states these credentials could be used as “‘immunity certificates’ for antibody tests in order to resume economic activity,” and might encourage people to participate in automated contact tracing.

    • More than 300,000 people have now been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Russia

      On the morning of May 20, Russian officials announced that the country recorded 8,764 new coronavirus infections in the past day (499 fewer new cases than the day before) bringing the nation’s total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases to 308,705 patients. 

    • Russia’s tourism industry to begin easing quarantine restrictions June 1

      Russia’s tourism industry will begin the first stage of lifting quarantine restrictions on June 1, said Zarina Doguzova, the head of the Federal Agency for Tourism (Rosturizm), during a broadcast of the television program “Dok Tok” on Channel 1. 

    • Amid Floods and Pandemic, Trump Threatens Michigan’s Funding Over Mail-In Voting

      Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced on Tuesday that every registered voter in the state would be receiving an application in the mail allowing them to register to become an absentee voter for this year’s remaining elections — a move that brought about sharp criticism and threats from President Donald Trump the following day.

    • After Dams Fail, Dow Admits Floodwaters in Midland, Michigan ‘Commingling’ With Toxic Chemical Storage Ponds

      “This has the potential to be a major environmental disaster.”

    • WHO Doctor Warns Against Hydroxychloroquine Use as Trump Continues to Peddle It

      A high-ranking member of the World Health Organization (WHO) encouraged people against seeking out a drug frequently touted by President Donald Trump, who, without evidence backing up his claims, has called it a “game-changer” in the fight against coronavirus.

    • Mnuchin Wants to Deny Unemployment to Workers Who Stay Home Due to COVID Risk

      United States Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin assured conservative lawmakers on Tuesday that unemployment benefits could not be collected by workers who refused to return to work out of fear of contracting coronavirus.

    • A Tale of Two Pandemics

      Systematic inequality in America has produced two very different pandemics: In one, billionaires are sheltering in place on their yachts in the Caribbean, and wealthy families are safely quarantining in multimillion-dollar mansions.In the other boats sit people risking their lives for their jobs and people without incomes going hungry, a disproportionate number of whom are people of color, and all of whom deserve better. This is a tale of two pandemics. There is nothing “equal” about it.

    • EPA Chief Says Trump’s Evisceration of Regulations “Make Things Better”—But Forgets to Add “For Polluters”

      “For Wheeler to claim these rollbacks were for the good of the nation is absurd and insulting,” says environmental leader.

    • Families of Special Needs Students Fear They’ll Lose School Services in Coronavirus Shutdown

      In Sangamon County in central Illinois, a father whose 10-year-old receives occupational and vision therapy at school was already concerned about how remote learning would affect his son and other students with disabilities.

      Then he got a letter from his son’s school district that made him worry even more. The letter asked parents to either accept the remote learning being offered, which amounted to a scaled-down version of what was provided when children were at school, or decline and acknowledge that they were “voluntarily waiving” their rights to a “free appropriate public education” and the ability to seek services from the school later.

    • Medicare Is Best Way to Cover the Millions of Americans Whose Health Insurance Has Been Taken Away

      This solution is the most seamless for patients, and the most cost-effective approach for taxpayers. Plus, it prevents an unnecessary and massive transfer of government money to America’s health insurance companies.

    • Update: Florida Health Department manager told to delete coronavirus data forced to resign, she says

      One day before a top Florida Department of Health data manager lost her role maintaining the state’s COVID-19 data, she objected to the removal of records showing people had symptoms or positive tests before the cases were announced, according to internal emails obtained by the Tampa Bay Times.

      On Tuesday, a spokeswoman for Gov. Ron DeSantis said she had been fired.

      According to the emails, department staff gave the order shortly after reporters requested the same data from the agency on May 5. The data manager, Rebekah Jones, complied with the order, but not before she told her supervisors it was the “wrong call.”

    • Sale of menthol cigarettes to be banned from Wednesday

      Smokers will be unable to purchase flavoured cigarettes and skinny cigarettes from May 20.

      The move, which was announced by the Government last month, is the latest effort to deter young people from taking up smoking.

      The law change, which comes as part of new EU Tobacco Product Directive laws, does not ban menthol filters, although it will be illegal to sell them packaged with cigarettes or tobacco.

    • Menthol and flavoured cigarette ban starts today and Scots expert hopes it’s the end of “global success” for tobacco companies

      Menthol cigarettes are being banned across the UK and the EU from today (WED) in a bid to discourage younger people from taking up smoking and improve public health.

      The ban will also cover “capsule cigarettes”, launched in 2007, which allow users to depress a capsule in the tip of the cigarette to release a different flavour.

    • The forgotten front line: Nursing home workers say they face retaliation for reporting COVID-19 risks

      In early April, he and a few other colleagues presented the facility’s management with a demand letter asking for higher pay, more hires to relieve staffing shortages, and more personal protective equipment. The workers had support from the Service Employees International Union, which represents them.

      In response, the nursing home management threatened to call the police, Carter said, and he was told he would be fired. The union pushed back, but Carter was ultimately suspended without pay for three days for the unauthorized use of a digital or cellular device during the confrontation with management, he said. (Carter denied recording the incident.)

      “When you hold them accountable, they see you as a nuisance,” Carter said. “They’d rather have someone with less experience as long as you do what they say.”

    • Jane Roe’s “conversion” confession: More proof the religious right is run by grifters and liars

      For instance, over the past few years anti-choice activists have begun to claim that doctors deliver viable infants alive and let them die. Trump likes to tell this story with vivid and completely made-up details about swaddling a baby in blankets before murdering it. The Senate held hearings in which anti-choice activist Jill Stanek — a crazed, racist liar who also claims Chinese people think aborted fetuses are a “delicacy” — claimed, almost certainly falsely, that she once witnessed a baby being killed this way. (Stanek has also argued that contraception bans are necessary to force people to have sex only within marriage.)

      To bolster this argument, the anti-choice movement also trots out a series of people who claim to have “survived” abortion. Did they? Probably not! The procedures they describe have no relationship to actual methods used to terminate pregnancies in the real world. Anti-choice “testimony” is all to often as McCorvey described it: “[T]hey took me out in front of the cameras and told me what to say.”

      But this “born alive” mania has mostly been ignored by the mainstream media, except for occasional gawking at Trump’s weird rally stories. I suspect that happens because these tales are so grotesque and improbable that journalists fear their audiences will think they made it all up. Instead, anti-choice activists get a glow-up in mainstream coverage, presented as less hysterical and less prone to lies and bizarre flights of fancy than they actually are.

    • Remdesivir Part II: Allocating Access

      In granting the EUA for remdesivir, the FDA stated that the drug’s distribution will be “controlled by the United States (U.S.) Government.” The government played a similar role in the distribution of hydroxychloroquine under the FDA’s EUA for that product, and in both cases the government seeks to control distribution and ensure that the products are being prescribed for their restricted, authorized uses. But for remdesivir, the federal government has taken a heavier hand in the product’s distribution. Unlike hydroxychloroquine, for which public health authorities can obtain distributions from the strategic national stockpile, remdesivir is in relative scarcity because of the time needed to ramp up manufacturing capacity. For now, Gilead is planning to donate its existing supply of the drug to governments around the world, placing them in charge of the distribution process.

      Unfortunately, the federal government’s initial distribution of remdesivir across the country was chaotic and opaque. In early May, the government made distributions directly to hospitals in many states. But news reports suggested that the distributions seemed “random.” The drug did not go to hospitals treating the most patients, or the sickest patients, or to hospitals in states with the highest burdens. Procedurally, physicians expressed frustration with the lack of transparency as to which hospitals were receiving the product (information which was crowdsourced on Twitter), or even who in the federal government was responsible for ordering the distribution to occur as it did. Subsequently, Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, expressed that there was a “misalignment of the therapeutic and on-the-ground current need in the first shipment.”

      On May 9, HHS issued a press release to provide more information about how remdesivir would be distributed going forward. The drug would be sent to the “areas of the country hardest hit by the pandemic,” and the federal government would distribute the product to states, which would themselves need to decide how to allocate the drug among their many hospitals. Yet this explanation also raised more questions than answers. Substantively, HHS’s list of states that have received distributions of the drug did not seem to match data on disease burden among states. Whether in terms of case count or cases per capita, several states near the top of each ranking were left off the initial distribution lists for remdesivir. More procedurally, it was still not clear who within the administration was responsible for the decision of allocating the drug to the states. HHS also provided no additional explanation for why the initial shipments were made to hospitals, rather than the states, nor guidance for states on how to make their internal allocation decisions.

      [...]

      For now, COVID-19 patients are receiving remdesivir for free. In addition to supplying the drug for compassionate use and clinical trials, Gilead committed in April to donating its existing supply of 1.5 million doses of remdesivir (enough for over 140,000 treatment courses). After the FDA granted an EUA in May, 607,000 of those doses were pledged to the US, and Gilead has since increased the number of doses donated to the US to around 940,000. But there is already enormous interest and speculation in how remdesivir will be priced.

      On May 1, the nonprofit Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) issued an expedited report on remdesivir pricing, which described two different approaches. On the low end, if the drug is priced based on allowing Gilead to recover its costs, then a 10-day course should cost about $10. On the high end, a model based on cost-effectiveness—including a reduction in mortality (“a critically important uncertainty”)—suggests a 10-day course price around $4,500. Drug pricing experts have given a similarly wide range of suggestions, including noting the difficulty determining the drug’s value from the limited clinical trial data released so far.

      Importantly, the price of remdesivir in the US will have only a limited effect on access. For uninsured patients, the federal government has already committed to paying for COVID-19 treatment at Medicare rates. Rather, the main effect of the remdesivir pricing will be on the dynamic incentives for further innovation.

      As we discussed last week, there are really two innovation policy problems here. First, we need better evidence of how effective remdesivir actually is. Using randomized trials when allocating access to scarce supplies would improve this evidence base, and Gilead would have an incentive to continue these trials if the size of reimbursement were conditioned on producing stronger evidence of efficacy. Second, development of drugs that are more effective at treating COVID-19 should still be a first-order policy priority. Other firms will be watching what kind of evidence Gilead is required to produce and how much revenue it brings in—and how the revenue compares with the company’s spending on remdesivir’s development and distribution, which “could be up to $1 billion or more, primarily comprising manufacturing scale-up costs” according to a recent SEC filing. So far, investors have been skeptical that Gilead will see a real return. When regulating the price of remdesivir, policymakers should make clear that truly effective drugs will be handsomely rewarded. Given the daily social costs of COVID-19, ensuring robust profits for treatments and vaccines with robust evidence of efficacy seems like one of the most cost-effective investments we can make.

  • Integrity/Availability

    • Proprietary

      • CrowdStrike Falcon Expands Linux Protection with Enhanced Prevention Capabilities
      • BlueMail Launches Support for Debian and Red Hat Linux in Major Expansion

        Blix Inc., a leading provider of messaging solutions to consumers and businesses, today announces its popular BlueMail client is now compatible with Debian and Red Hat Linux. With this expansion, BlueMail is now available on a dozen Linux distributions, including Arch Linux, CentOS, elementaryOS, Fedora, KDE Neon, Kubuntu, Manjaro, Linux Mint, openSUSE and Ubuntu. As the world faces an increasingly remote workforce, this expansion brings BlueMail’s cross-platform productivity and safety features to a global network of consumers, companies, and IT business leaders.

      • Zoom fatigue is real and it’s costly

        I think a good rule of thumb is to keep Zoom calls restricted to four people or fewer and 30 minutes or shorter. And even with four people, do email if you can, phone calls if you must and Zoom only if there’s some really good reason for it.

      • Pseudo-Open Source

        • Privatisation/Privateering

          • Linux Foundation

            • EdgeX Foundry Hits Major Milestone with 5 Million+ Container Downloads and a New Release that Simplifies Deployment for AI, Data Analytics and Digital Transformation

              EdgeX Foundry, a project under the LF Edge umbrella organization within the Linux Foundation that aims to establish an open, interoperable framework for IoT edge computing independent of connectivity protocol, hardware, operating system, applications or cloud, today announced a major milestone of hitting 5 million container downloads and the availability of its “Geneva” release. This release offers more robust security, optimized analytics, and secure connectivity for multiple devices.

              “EdgeX Foundry is committed to developing an open IoT platform for edge-related applications and shows no signs of slowing down the momentum,” said Arpit Joshipura, general manager, Networking, Edge and IoT, the Linux Foundation. “As one of the Stage 3 projects under LF Edge, EdgeX Foundry is a clear example of how member collaboration and diversity are the keys to creating an interoperable open source framework across IoT, Enterprise, Cloud and Telco Edge.”

      • Security

        • A remote code execution vulnerability in qmail

          Just in case anybody out there is still using qmail: a remote code execution vulnerability has just been disclosed. Its CVE number is CVE-2005-1513 because, as it turns out, the problem was reported 15 years ago but the fix was refused by the maintainer. “As a proof of concept, we developed a reliable, local and remote exploit against Debian’s qmail package in its default configuration. This proof of concept requires 4GB of disk space and 8GB of memory, and allows an attacker to execute arbitrary shell commands as any user, except root (and a few system users who do not own their home directory).”

        • Security updates for Thursday

          Security updates have been issued by Arch Linux (keycloak, qemu, and thunderbird), Debian (dovecot), Fedora (abcm2ps and oddjob), Red Hat (java-1.7.1-ibm, java-1.8.0-ibm, and kernel-rt), SUSE (ant, bind, and freetype2), and Ubuntu (bind9 and linux, linux-aws, linux-aws-5.3, linux-gcp, linux-gcp-5.3, linux-gke-5.3,linux-hwe, linux-kvm, linux-oracle, linux-oracle-5.3, linux-raspi2 ).

        • A review of open-source software supply chain attacks

          Here’s a preprint paper from Marc Ohm, Henrik Plate, Arnold Sykosch, and Michael Meier looking at attacks on language-specific repositories. “Recent years saw a number of supply chain attacks that leverage the increasing use of open source during software development, which is facilitated by dependency managers that automatically resolve, download and install hundreds of open source packages throughout the software life cycle.

        • Backstabber’s Knife Collection: A Review of Open Source Software Supply Chain Attacks

          A software supply chain attack is characterized by the injection of malicious code into a software package in order to compromise dependent systems further down the chain. Recent years saw a number of supply chain attacks that leverage the increasing use of open source during software development, which is facilitated by dependency managers that automatically resolve, download and install hundreds of open source packages throughout the software life cycle. This paper presents a dataset of 174 malicious software packages that were used in real-world attacks on open source software supply chains, and which were distributed via the popular package repositories npm, PyPI, and RubyGems. Those packages, dating from November 2015 to November 2019, were manually collected and analyzed. The paper also presents two general attack trees to provide a structured overview about techniques to inject malicious code into the dependency tree of downstream users, and to execute such code at different times and under different conditions. This work is meant to facilitate the future development of preventive and detective safeguards by open source and research communities.

        • Privacy/Surveillance

          • The Case For Contact Tracing Apps Built On Apple And Google’s Exposure Notification System

            Apple and Google have now released their update to their mobile operating systems to include a new capability for COVID-19 exposure notification. This new technology, which will support contact tracing apps developed by public health agencies, is technically impressive: it enables notifications of possible contact with COVID-positive individuals without leaking any sensitive personal data. The only data exchanged by users are rotating random keys (i.e., a unique 128-digit string of 0s and 1s) and encrypted metadata (i.e., the protocol version in use and transmitted power levels). Keys of infected individuals, but not their identities or their locations, are downloaded by the network upon a positive test with the approval of a government-sanctioned public health app.

          • London’s Facial Recognition Rollout Trips Over The Pandemic As Facemasks Render The System Even More Useless

            The rollout of London’s facial recognition cameras — hundreds of them — is being held up by unexpected developments. No, it’s not the efforts of legislators, privacy activists, or some sudden concern about the unreliability of the tech. It’s the global pandemic, which has taken away many of the facial features the cameras are looking for. (h/t Jeffrey Nonken in the TD Chat window)

          • International Proposals for Warrantless Location Surveillance To Fight COVID-19

            Time and again, governments have used crises to expand their power, and often their intrusion into citizens’ lives. The COVID-19 pandemic has seen this pattern play out on a huge scale. From deploying drones or ankle monitors to enforce quarantine orders to proposals to use face recognition or thermal imaging cameras for monitoring public spaces, governments around the world have been adopting intrusive measures in their quest to contain the pandemic.

            EFF has fought for years against the often secretive governmental use of cell phone location data. Governments have repeatedly sought to obtain this data without a court order, dodged oversight of how they used and accessed it, misleadingly downplayed its sensitivity, and forced mobile operators to retain it. In the past, these uses were most often justified with arguments of law enforcement or national security necessity. Now, some of the same location surveillance powers are being demanded—or sometimes simply seized—without making a significant contribution to containing COVID-19. Despite the lack of evidence to show the effectiveness of location data to stop the spread of the virus, a number of countries’ governments have used the crisis to introduce completely new surveillance powers or extend old ones to new COVID-related purposes. For example, data retention laws compel telecom companies to continuously collect and store metadata of a whole population for a certain period of time. In Europe, the Court of Justice of the European Union declared such mandates illegal under EU law. 

          • COVID-19 Patients’ Right to Privacy Against Quarantine Surveillance

            Governments around the world are using surveillance technologies to monitor whether COVID-19 patients are complying with instructions to quarantine at home. These include GPS ankle shackles, phone apps that track location, and phone apps that require patients to periodically take quarantine selfies and send them to government monitors.

            All of these surveillance technologies burden fundamental rights. And they can harm public health, by discouraging people from getting tested. No patient should be compelled to submit to such surveillance technologies merely because they tested positive for COVID-19, or are otherwise believed to be at elevated risk of infection.

          • opt-in-script: letting visitors choose

            I’ve thought about opt-in analytics before: I’d like to have analytics on my site, but I don’t want to track my visitors without consent or give their data to third parties1. The solution might be a please track my visit button. Perhaps not that many people would click, but maybe I’ll try it someday.

            The general idea seems more suited for comments, though: maybe you want to read comments or write one, and one click isn’t a big annoyance. Meanwhile the visitors that don’t care about comments (ie. most, I guess) avoid some unnecessary traffic and content.

          • Facebook will reopen offices at 25 percent capacity starting in July

            This plan does not change Facebook’s pledge to allow all of its employees who can perform remote work to do so through the end of 2020. The company told its employees of the new policy earlier this month, and it’s likely that a vast majority of Facebook’s nonessential staff — meaning those workers who can perform most, if not all, of their job responsibilities remotely — will continue to do so through the end of the year.

          • Facebook to Limit Offices to 25% Capacity, Require Masks at Work

            Not all staff can work remotely. Employees working on hardware, operations, or other tasks that aren’t possible at home will be asked to return to the office, the people said. In the Bay Area, local governments just relaxed shelter-in-place rules for employees who can’t work from home. Facebook may ask some hardware employees to return to the offices before July 6 as long as they are willing and abide by the new policies being put in place, one of the people said.

          • Privacy rights and social media: can a person be prohibited from sharing online a picture of her grandson?

            From recreation of famous paintings using household materials to baking sourdough breads with home-made starters: the lockdown has prompted many of us to explore new hobbies. So, too, this Kat. The curiosity spread to the legal domain, and I was grateful to do some reading on issues outside my regular expertise. Some of it resulted on this post on an issue I find captivating: the interface between privacy and social networks.

            I was prompted to write it by a recent decision of the Gelderland district court in the Netherlands [here], which ordered a person to remove from her Facebook and Pinterest accounts a picture of her underage grandchild, at the request of the child’s mother (the defendant’s daughter). This raises the question what rights, if any, a person in such a position should be able to claim to post such pictures.

            [...]

            First and foremost, there is the matter of the personal-or-household-activity exception. The exception appeared already in the GDPR’s predecessor, Directive 95/46/EC [here] and the most authoritative interpretation remains the Court of Justice EU (CJEU)’s decision in C-101/01 Lindqvist. Referring to examples of “correspondence and the holding of records of addresses” cited in the Directive’s preamble, the CJEU there ruled that the “exception must therefore be interpreted as relating only to activities which are carried out in the course of private or family life of individuals, which is clearly not the case with the processing of personal data consisting in publication on the internet so that those data are made accessible to an indefinite number of people.”

            It has been argued that in current times, where for many social networks are the primary outlet for personal contacts and expression, this is an unduly narrow interpretation of the exception. For instance, the Article 29 Working Party (WP29) issued a guidance paper in which it discussed the ascent of social networking and the extent to which data processing on such sites should be considered strictly ‘personal’ [here]. According to WP29, “making information available to the world at large should be an important consideration when assessing whether or not processing is being done for personal purposes. However, this should not in itself be considered determinative” [page 9].

            Recital (18) of the GDPR reflects this recommendation, stating as it does that “social networking and online activity undertaken within the context of [household] activities” should fall within the exemption of Article 2(2)(c). But then one wonders why the court adopted such a restrictive interpretation of this exemption.

            This Kat also wonders whether in a case as was before the Dutch court it might have been preferable to order the defendant to close her Facebook and Pinterest pages to the public. If the concern was that the pictures could be viewed by an indefinite number of people, this would solve that problem; and as will be discussed below, the defendant likely had countervailing rights that entitle her to place the picture online.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Stop the $2 Billion Arms Sale to the Philippines

      On April 30, the U.S. State Department announced two pending arms sales to the Philippines totaling nearly $2 billion. Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Bell Helicopter, and General Electric are the main weapons manufacturers contracted to profit from the deal.

    • How Russia is Botching Its Relationship With Syria

      Russia’s relationships with its client states have never been easy. Of course, managing client states is always a complicated exercise. The Kremlin’s cupboard is full of skeletons—Hungary (1956), Czechoslovakia (1968), Cuba (1962), Afghanistan (1980), Ukraine (2014) and so on.

    • The CIA’s Murderous Practices, Disinformation Campaigns, and Interference in Other Countries Still Shapes the World Order and U.S. Politics

      IN THE WEEKS BEFORE THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION, the most powerful former leaders of the Central Intelligence Agency did everything they could to elect Hillary Clinton and defeat Donald Trump. President Obama’s former acting CIA chief Michael Morrell published a full-throated endorsement of Clinton in the New York Times and claimed “Putin ha[s] recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation,” while George W. Bush’s post-9/11 CIA and NSA Chief, Gen. Michael Hayden, writing in the Washington Post, refrained from endorsing Clinton outright but echoed Morrell by accusing Trump of being a “useful fool, some naif, manipulated by Moscow” and sounding “a little bit the conspiratorial Marxist.” Meanwhile, the intelligence community under James Clapper and John Brennan fed morsels to both the Obama DOJ and the U.S. media to suggest a Trump/Russia conspiracy and fuel what became the Russiagate investigation.

      In his extraordinary election-advocating Op-Ed, Gen. Hayden, Bush/Cheney’s CIA Chief, candidly explained the reasons for the CIA’s antipathy for Trump: namely, the GOP candidate’s stated opposition to allowing CIA regime change efforts in Syria to expand as well as his opposition to arming Ukrainians with lethal weapons to fight Russia (supposedly “pro-Putin” positions which, we are now all supposed to forget, Obama largely shared).

      As has been true since President Harry Truman’s creation of the CIA after World War II, interfering in other countries and dictating or changing their governments — through campaigns of mass murder, military coups, arming guerrilla groups, the abolition of democracy, systemic disinformation, and the imposition of savage despots — U.S. interference in and control over the internal affairs of every other country on the planet is regarded as a divine right, inherent to American exceptionalism, and anyone who opposes it or seeks to impede it is suspect at best.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Trump’s Crackpot Claims Are a Distraction—and We’re Taking the Bait

      He could be right, but the point is we don’t know. Yet the story got disproportionate coverage for almost 48 hours. It’s just another example of how Trump gets the media to cover his sideshows, which then edges aside coverage of real scandals; like the firing of six inspectors general in six weeks; or Attorney General William Barr’s dropping charges against former national security adviser and confessed liar Michael Flynn, or on Wednesday his threats against Nevada and Michigan for the perfidy of sending voters absentee ballot applications. It’s not crowding out coverage of the nation’s unconscionable and avoidable Covid-19 death toll—but there shouldn’t even be any competition.

  • Environment

    • 18 New Environmental Books to Help You Through COVID-19 Isolation
    • The Way Out of the COVID-19 Crisis Is a Green New Deal

      This crisis has reinforced what we already know—our current economic system is leading us down a path of destruction.

    • Chemical plant and hazardous waste sites in path of Michigan flooding

      A major chemical plant and two hazardous waste sites stood in the path of floodwaters streaming over two breached dams in central Michigan, authorities said Wednesday.

    • The continuous whipsawing of climate change policy

      When different administrations ignore the absence of legislative authority and rely exclusively on executive power or judicial overreach to issue major policy decisions, those decisions can be easily overturned by the next administration. Such actions are not governing; they are whipsawing policy.

      Our nation needs to return to a constitutional process in which each branch of government recognizes the limits of its constitutional authority. Our Constitution clearly places all legislative power in Congress. Only Congress can develop the balance between the environment and our economy that the American people seek. Until Congress acts, the actions of courts and agencies merely allow us to imagine that we have a national climate policy. Unfortunately, this illusion only lasts until the next administration.

    • After Coronavirus Triggers 17% Emissions Drop, Experts Say Only ‘Fundamental Structural Change’ Can Save Humanity’s Future

      The research “underscores a simple truth,” says climate scientist Michael Mann. “Individual behavior alone …won’t get us there.”

    • Naomi Klein and Arundhati Roy Help Launch Global Green New Deal Project With Worldwide Invitation

      “The time to build the future we deserve is now, and international solidarity is the tool we need to begin its construction.”

    • In the Fight to Curtail the Climate Crisis, the Earth Just Moved a Little

      Nearly half of Chase’s owners have demanded to know how the bank plans to align its business model with the Paris Agreement. On the surface, that probably doesn’t sound like an earthquake. But it’s quietly seismic.

    • Energy

      • Rosneft files lawsuit against Russian news agency ‘RBC’ for report on the transfer of its Venezuelan assets

        Russian energy giant Rosneft has presented the news agency RBC with a lawsuit. According to a statement posted on the oil company’s website, Rosneft is taking RBC to court for its report claiming that a private security company in Ryazan acquired a stake in Rosneft’s former Venezuelan project.

      • Two-Thirds of Interior Dept Meetings Attended by Fossil Fuel Interests as Trump Lavishes Industry With Covid Relief: Report

        “With energy corporations mounting an intense lobbying campaign to receive emergency bailouts from the government, it is important to know who has the ear of the Trump administration.”

      • Exxon Sued Again for ‘Misleading’ Advertising

        The Washington, D.C.-based environmental nonprofit Beyond Pesticides alleges that Exxon’s deceptive marketing and advertising violates the District of Columbia Consumer Protection Procedures Act. According to the organization, Exxon portrays itself as an environmentally friendly company in ads without revealing the true extent of its business that remains overwhelmingly invested in exploiting fossil fuels to the detriment of the environment and the climate.

      • Safety Can’t Be a ‘Pretext’ for Regulating Unsafe Oil Trains, Says Trump Admin

        The statement appeared in the Trump administration’s justification for overruling Washington’s oil train regulation, which was challenged by crude-producing North Dakota and oil industry lobbying groups. The Washington rule seeks to limit oil vapor pressure unloaded from trains to less than 9 pounds per square inch (psi) in an attempt to reduce the likelihood that train derailments lead to the now-familiar fireballs and explosions accompanying trains transporting volatile oil.

      • Fossil fuels: Heading down, but not yet out

        Renewable energy is making rapid inroads into the market, but fossil fuels still wield enormous global influence.

      • Drop Anchor: How COVID-19 Will Kill the Cruise Industry

        As with many of the changes that COVID-19 will bring about—including the retail migration to Amazon and the trend of people working from home—this may be a case of simply accelerating something that would have come about anyway. Every new generation is more sensitive to environmental issues than the one before. And cruise ships gobble obscene amounts of fuel, and can directly or indirectly befoul some of the most beautiful places on Earth. They also happen to be floating dens of all-you-can-eat gluttony that sometimes resemble a fattening farm run by Kang and Kodos. Even before COVID-19, cruising already was seen as a politically incorrect, white-privilege, “Ok, boomer” form of indulgence. We live in an age when even many grandparents follow social media and know the derisive cruise memes from Seinfeld et cetera. They were willing to suffer the stigma associated with cruising for the sake of the attendant pleasures. But add on the threat of respiratory failure and you can bet they’ll opt instead for a socially isolated bike tour with Butterfield & Robinson.

    • Wildlife/Nature

  • Finance

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • California Prisons Block AI Researchers from Examining Parole Denials

      San Francisco – A team of researchers who want to develop a machine learning platform to help analyze and detect any patterns of bias in California parole-suitability decisions has been blocked for years by the state’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). In a lawsuit filed today by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the researchers argue that the state’s public records law requires the release of race and ethnicity data they need to develop their work.

      “We want to create a machine learning tool that can extract factors from parole hearing transcripts, describe the current decision-making process, and identify which decisions appear inconsistent with that process and might be worthy of reconsideration. We need race data to do that,” said Catalin Voss, a PhD student at Stanford University.

    • Protest Song Of The Week: ‘Nine Times Out Of Ten’ By Ryan Harvey

      As we currently face a global pandemic, it is easy to lose sight that these issues are compounded by an endless cycle of war. America’s never-ending war in Afghanistan, the continuing fallout of the Iraq War, and the continued US support for regime change in various countries contributed to the refugee crisis and has affected countless innocent lives.

    • Trump’s Assaults on Government Watchdogs Expose His Authoritarian Ambitions

      It has nearly reached the point of being a parlor game: Which government watchdog will Donald Trump fire next?

    • Somalia sees “massive” rise in FGM during lockdown and Ramadan

      “We’ve seen a massive increase in recent weeks,” said Sadia Allin, Plan International’s head of mission in Somalia. “We want the government to ensure FGM is included in all COVID responses.”

      She told the Thomson Reuters Foundation nurses across the country had also reported a surge in requests from parents wanting them to carry out FGM on their daughters while they were off school because of the lockdown.

  • Monopolies

    • Patents

      • Mannheim court reverses position on FRAND defense: standard-essential patent injunctions become readily available again
        =

        On Tuesday, the Mannheim Regional Court held a trial in a Nokia v. Daimler case (case no. 2 O 34/19 over EP2981103 on an “allocation of preamble sequences”) and announced the most colossal about-face I’ve seen from a court so far on a key question of patent law:

        Presiding Judge Dr. Holger Kircher of the Mannheim court’s 2nd Civil Chamber explained to the parties and intervenors that he and his side judges had concluded their court’s application of the Court of Justice of the EU’s Huawei v. ZTE standard-essential patent (SEP) injunction decision had been erroneous for several years. They were now going to interpret the CJEU opinion differently, with severe implications for those defending themselves against SEP injunction requests in that court.

        For the time being, I’m not going to comment on the technical merits, though a Tier 2 (= indirect) supplier to Daimler disclosed to the court its implementation of the relevant part of the cellular standard in question and it appears to be clearly non-infringing, given that patent law is all about using specific means to achieve a result, as opposed to the result viewed in isolation. Also there appears to be a very strong case for impermissibly-added subject matter, which would render the patent invalid. But let’s focus on FRAND.

        [...]

        Focusing on the implementer’s (counter)offer turns the CJEU’s case law on its head. It used to be the German Orange-Book-Standard approach to place all the burden on the implementer. But then came the CJEU (in Huawei v. ZTE and basically said (in other words): “No, firstly the SEP holder has an obligation under the antitrust laws, but if it discharges its FRAND duties, then we’re not going to tolerate holdout tactics by the implementer. The implementer can keep negotiating, but within reason.”

        Arguably, the new (but actually not so new) Mannheim stance on SEPs is even worse than Orange-Book-Standard was, given that in the old days defendants were at least able to avert an injunction by making a licensing offer that relegated the determination of royalty amounts to a future judicial proceeding (they still had to post a bond or make a deposit).

        The problem is clear. The impact can be disastrous. But how can this be fixed?

        If an injunction comes down (the decision will be announced on June 23), Daimler can appeal it to the Karlsruhe Higher Regional Court. That appeals court could stay the enforcement of the injunction rather swiftly and set the record straight.

        Regulatory authorities such as the European Commission and Germany’s Federal Cartel Office could make filings with the Mannheim court, or with the appeals court in Karlsruhe. The courts would be free to disagree, but less likely to disagree with, say, DG COMP than with Daimler.

        Theoretically, a solution could also come from the legislature. However, the German patent reform process is much ado about (pretty much) nothing due to the ineptitude of those pushing for injunction reform to make lawmakers understand what benefits an economic majority. They’ve foolishly wasted time and energy within existing industry organizations instead of just simply forging a strong cross-sectoral alliance and taking matters into their own hands while the window of opportunity to influence the political opinion-forming process was open. Now that window is closed, not in formal but in practical terms.

      • No Appeal of Real-Party-In-Interest Errors

        Slip Op. Here, the statute requires that a petition for inter partes review “may be considered only if” the petition identifies all real-parties-in-interest. In the case, ESIP argued that doTERRA should be considered a real-party-in-interest because the company is a co-defendant in the underlying litigation, sells the accused Puhzen product, and agreed to be bound by the IPR estoppel. The Board’s approach to the issue will stand without considering whether it is in accordance with the law.

        Thryv was released after briefing and oral arguments had been complete. The court did accept the supplemental authority, but those are severely limited. In its statement to the court, patentee ESIP argued that it wasn’t (only) appealing the institution decision but rather (also) whether the petition met the statutory requirements [...]

        On the underlying merits, the Federal Circuit affirmed the PTAB’s obviousness final decision regarding the claimed “method for introducing a scent into breathable air,” US9415130; IPR2017-02197.

      • Guest Post: Spurring and Clearing the Path for Open COVID Innovation Through Contextual Patent Disclosure

        The COVID pandemic has created an urgent need for innovation to protect against, treat, test for, and eventually, inoculate against the virus. To save time and lives requires collaboration, making it an opportune time to strengthen the capacity of the patent system, as one part of the much larger innovation ecosystem,[1] to coordinate and include, among multiple innovators, not only to protect and exclude.

        A few years ago, one of us wrote a pair of articles[2] about the importance of contextual patent disclosure (meaning information about, for example, patent ownership, licenses and pledges, and government interests in patented innovation) for open innovation and argued for greater investments and attention to such non-traditional forms of “patent disclosure.” During the COVID crisis, the demand for just this sort of contextual information – most recently by Reps. Lloyd Doggett and Rosa DeLauro, who have asked Gilead for a detailed breakdown of remdesivir patents, applications, and licenses supported with government funding – underscores its usefulness for government accountability as well, especially as the US government commits billions of dollars (some of which is already bearing fruit) to fund COVID innovation. Contextual information can also facilitate voluntary licensing, a market-based “third” way in the access v. innovation debate.[3]

        The USPTO’s recently-launched Patents 4 Partnerships platform, the US-based Open Covid Pledge, and Japan-based Open Covid-19 Declaration represent important efforts to provide contextual information about patent owner intents (to share and license technology) to the public. These efforts, as well as others to provide immunity to makers of personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies are profiled below. Building on previous work, here are several other steps that could bolster collaborative innovation and patent disclosure, on coronavirus and in general. Many could be taken by the USPTO and other agencies as executive actions and do not require Congressional authority…

        [...]

        Adoptees of the US-based Open Covid Pledge, created by Professors Jorge Contreras, Mark Lemley, and others, promise to share their patents and related intellectual property on non-exclusive, royalty-free, worldwide terms for the purpose of ending the COVID pandemic. To do so, an adoptee makes a public announcement of intent and then implements one of the three licenses, all of which grant rights to patent and regulatory exclusivities until one year after the WHO declares the end of the pandemic or Jan 1, 2023, whichever comes earlier or a compatible variant and notifies the Pledge. Nearly 20 companies, including tech giants Microsoft and IBM have signed on, with details about each company’s commitment linked to from the Pledge website. Most members have provided access to their entire patent portfolio; while others have instead pledged a particular technology, such as the New Jersey Institute of Technology, or copyrights, like Skopos Labs. Over twenty of Japan’s major corporations have made a similar commitment to not assert some 300,000 patents through the Open Covid-19 Declaration, including two leading suppliers of COVID tests, LSI Medience and SRL Inc, and Teijin Limited, a Japanese pharmaceutical and information technology company. IAM has reported that the initiative, led by Canon, has reached out to thousands of Japanese companies and intends to expand to companies in China and Korea as well. Though no contract is ever signed, the pledges rely on estoppel and implied license theories for enforceability. For an analysis under US law, see Pledge Co-founder and Creative Commons GC Diane Peters’ whitepaper.

        With permissions secured, the next question is how to find technologically relevant IP. The lightweight nature of the Open Covid Pledge makes it, as founder Jorge Contreras has described, “a start” at doing so. Innovators can use traditional search tools, but without context, in particular reliable assignee or product information, may be hard-pressed to find relevant technology. A few pledging companies have supplied some contextual disclosure – Hewlett Packard Enterprises, for example, has highlighted the use of wifi technologies to create a floating hospital in Italy and Sandia National Labs has a search database that is broken down by technology – but the task of finding relevant, safe-from-suit technology remains with the innovator. Due to these features, the Open Covid Pledge is likely to serve primarily as a useful non-assertion covenant that helps to clear the path for innovation, at least until Jan 1, 2023.

      • PTAB Hears Oral Argument on Motions in Interference No. 106,115

        On Monday, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) heard oral argument (remotely) from Senior Party the Broad Institute (and its partners as Senior Party, Harvard University and MIT) and Junior Party the University of California, Berkeley; the University of Vienna; and Emmanuelle Charpentier (collectively, “CVC”) on the substantive motions filed in the Motions Phase of Interference No. 106,115.

        The Broad had four substantive motions to be decided by the Board: Broad’s Substantive Motion No. 1, requesting the Board to find (as it had in the earlier, 105,048 interference between these parties) that there was no interference-in-fact; Substantive Motion No. 2 to Substitute the Count; Broad’s Substantive Motion No. 3 to de-designate claims as not corresponding to Count 1; and Broad’s Substantive Motion No. 4 for priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/736,527.

        CVC for its part filed only two motions to be decided by the Board: CVC’s Motion No. 1 was to be accorded the benefit of priority to three earlier-filed provisional applications for Count 1 of the Interference as declared; and CVC’s Responsive Contingent Motion No. 2 was to be accorded the benefit of priority to three earlier-filed provisional applications contingent on the PTAB granting the Broad’s Motion No. 2 to Substitute the Count of the interference.

        [...]

        Counsel Ellison argued for CVC, and she addressed the benefit motions just argued by Broad’s counsel. Her argument was simple: the disclosure of the P1 application satisfies the requirement for constructive reduction to practice and thus for priority benefit. CVC’s strongest argument is that several groups used the same methods and techniques disclosed in P1 (which, as admitted by Broad in its argument, were the same as those disclosed in the Jinek 2012 scientific journal reference) to practice CRISPR in eukaryotic cells (although counsel missed the opportunity to press home CVC’s best equitable argument, that Broad merely copied CVC’s invention in eukaryotic cells and thus should not be entitled to priority in the interference). CVC counsel argued that Broad is wrong about priority depending on the existence of a working example and deftly distinguishes the differences in case law between what is required to satisfy Sections 103 and 112(a). Specifically, Counsel Ellison argued that what was required was not a simple reasonable expectation of success, but rather the factors as set forth in In re Wands. And she was careful to link these arguments with the availability of post-filing date evidence to show enablement.

      • New Low for a Bad Patent: Patent Troll Sues Ventilator Company

        Patent trolls don’t care much about innovation. Their lawsuits and threats are attempts at rent-seeking; they’re demanding money from people who make, use, or sell technology just for doing what they were already doing—for crossing the proverbial “bridge” that the patent troll has decided to lurk under.

        You might think that, during the Coronavirus outbreak and concurrent economic downturn, meritless patent threats might ease up a bit. After all, a lot of companies—particularly smaller ones—are having a hard time making ends meet. And about 32% of patent troll lawsuits do target small and medium-sized businesses. But that’s not what’s happening. In fact, lawsuits by patent trolls are up this year—20% higher than in last year, and 30% higher than 2018. By the count of one company that tracks them, patent trolls have filed 470 lawsuits in the first 4 months of 2020.

      • Software Patents

        • Clean Energy Management patent held unpatentable on all challenged claims

          On May 19, 2020, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) issued a final written decision in Unified Patents LLC v. Clean Energy Management Solutions, LLC, holding as unpatentable all challenged claims of U.S. Patent 8,035,479, owned by well-known NPE Dominion Harbor subsidiary, Clean Energy Management. The ‘479 patent, directed to a mesh network door lock, had been asserted against over 15 companies including Crestron, Cisco Systems, and Lowe’s. All cases have been closed.

    • Copyrights

      • GitHub Reinstates Popcorn Time Code Despite MPA ‘Threat’

        Earlier this month, an MPA takedown notice pulled Popcorn Time’s GitHub repository offline. The Hollywood group, which also represents Netflix, argued that the code facilitates mass copyright infringement. While that may be the case, Popcorn Time filed a counternotice arguing that they own the code. Faced with contradicting requests, Github has now reinstated the repository.

      • The Simpsons Writer Promotes Disney+ Premiere With Pirate Movie Screenshot

        Next week the Oscar-nominated The Simpsons short The Longest Daycare will premiere on Disney+, a fact announced on Twitter today by Al Jean, who has been writing for the show for more than 30 years. Inadvertently or not, however, Jean managed to promote the show using a screenshot from a pirated version of the show that appeared on torrents more than seven years ago.

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