05.23.20

Links 23/5/2020: Oracle Solaris 11.4 SRU21, Wine-Staging 5.9

Posted in News Roundup at 12:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Microsoft loves Linux — a little too much?

      Microsoft announces a lot of Linux related stuff, and Maui. Trouble

      is: Maui is already the name of a Linux distribution and the name of a framework for graphical user interfaces for Linux applications — and, as it turns out, has been a registered trademark for those things for 5 years.

    • Server

      • Announcing Oracle Solaris 11.4 SRU21

        We’ve just released SRU 21 for Oracle Solaris 11.4. It is available via ‘pkg update’ from the support repository or by downloading the SRU from My Oracle Support Doc ID 2433412.1.

      • Oracle Updates Many Packages With Solaris 11.4 SRU21

        While still on the Solaris 11.4 series and no signs of major advancements beyond it, SRU21 was released this week by Oracle with quite a number of package updates.

        Solaris 11.4 SRU21 moves off the decade old CUPS 1.4 series to now using the much newer CUPS 2.3 printing system along with other updated printing packages. Another new upgrade is Solaris 11.4 now shipping network driver support for Mellanox ConnectX-4 and ConnectX-5 devices. There are also new libraries added with 11.4 SRU21 like libdazzle, fribidi, libsass, and more.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • Full Circle Weekly News #172

        Debian Leader Says “One Year Will Do”

        https://www.itwire.com/open-source/debian-leader-hartman-says-one-year-at-the-helm-will-do-for-now.html

        Debian 8 Adds Longer Support

        https://raphaelhertzog.com/2020/03/11/keeping-debian-8-jessie-alive-for-longer-than-5-years/

        Debian 11 Package Freeze Scheduled

        https://lists.debian.org/debian-devel-announce/2020/03/msg00002.html

        Gnome 3.36 “Gresik”

        https://help.gnome.org/misc/release-notes/3.36/

        The Linux Foundation Open Sources Project OWL

        https://www.zdnet.com/article/linux-foundation-open-sources-disaster-relief-iot-firmware-project-owl/

        FreeNAS and TrueNAS are Merging

        https://www.ixsystems.com/blog/freenas-truenas-unification/

        There’s a Vulnerability in Timeshift

        https://www.openwall.com/lists/oss-security/2020/03/06/3

        Linux Kernel 5.6 rc6 Out

        https://lkml.org/lkml/2020/3/15/312

        Zorin OS 15.2 Out

        https://zoringroup.com/blog/2020/03/05/zorin-os-15-2-is-released-harder-better-faster-stronger/

        Wine 5.4 Out

        https://www.winehq.org/announce/5.4

        Red Hat’s Ceph Storage 4 Out

        https://www.zdnet.com/article/red-hat-ceph-storage-4-arrives/

        AWS’ Bottle Rocket Out

        https://techcrunch.com/2020/03/11/aws-launches-bottlerocket-a-linux-based-os-for-container-hosting/

        Tails 4.4 Out

        https://tails.boum.org/news/version_4.4/index.en.html

        Basilisk Browser Out

        https://itsfoss.com/basilisk-browser/

        LibreELEC 9.2.1 Out

        https://libreelec.tv/2020/03/libreelec-leia-9-2-1/

        KDE Plasma 5.18.3 Out

        https://kde.org/announcements/plasma-5.18.3.php

        SDL (or Simple DirectMedia Layer) 2 Out

        https://www.gamingonlinux.com/articles/sdl-2-the-hugely-important-cross-platform-development-library-updated-to-2012.16189

        Splice Machine 3.0 Out

        https://searchdatamanagement.techtarget.com/news/252479696/Splice-Machine-30-integrates-machine-learning-capabilities-database

        4M Linux 32.0 Out

        https://4mlinux-releases.blogspot.com/2020/03/4mlinux-320-stable-released.html

    • Kernel Space

      • Allwinner Submits A100 Initial Support to Mainline Linux

        You may also have already used boards based on Allwinner processors with mainline Linux support. But so far you had to thank linux-sunxi community for all the mainlining work they do, and AFAIK Allwinner was not involved.

        But today, I noticed Allwinner A100 initial support was submitted by Frank Lee with an AllwinnerTech dot com email address, and although the company was involved in some other patchsets, AFAIK it might be the first time they work on mainlining one of their processors.

      • It’s About Time: MIPS Release 5 + Warrior P5600 Support Coming With Linux 5.8

        While MIPS Release 6 is the latest version of the MIPS ISA, the MIPS Release 5 support is finally set to be mainlined with the upcoming Linux 5.8 kernel cycle.

        The MIPS R5 ISA was announced in 2012 with SIMD and virtualization capabilities among other improvements with hardware appearing after 2013. Now finally MIPS Release 5 and now finally the Release 5 changes are going to be supported by the mainline Linux kernel. This support is coming thanks to Russia’s Baikal Electronics.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

      • Wine-Staging 5.9 Picks Up A Patch In The Effort To Deal With Denuvo Anti-Cheat

        Just hours after the release of Wine 5.9, the latest staging release is now available that is re-based to the latest upstream while continuing to toss in over eight hundred extra patches.

        Wine-Staging 5.8 was losing weight thanks to upstreaming a number of patches and that trend continued with the new Wine-Staging 5.9. The Wine-Staging 5.9 release is around a 820 patch delta, compared to around ~850 patches generally being around the common delta size for staging. Over the past two weeks some of the staging work upstreamed were around USB support with timestamp updates, various NTDLL functions being implemented, PE handling improvements, and more.

    • Games

      • For Pac-Man’s 40th birthday, Nvidia uses AI to make new levels

        Pac-Man turns 40 today, and even though the days of quarter-munching arcade machines in hazy bars are long behind us, the legendary game’s still helping to push the industry forward. On Friday, Nvidia announced that its researchers have trained an AI to create working Pac-Man games without teaching it about the game’s rules or giving it access to an underlying game engine. Nvidia’s “GameGAN” simply watched 50,000 Pac-Man games to learn the ropes.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • GNOME Desktop/GTK

        • Priyanka Saggu: My experience applying to Outreachy (back in september, 2019)!

          I always saw this incomplete, half written draft about my experience applying to Outreachy internship, in my folder. At first I thought I should just delete it because I’m already done with the internship & I’ve already written my wrap-up post describing a little about my experience. But then I just couldn’t do it only.

          So, today, I gave it an another reading, finally added the left overs, and decided to post it (more for my-own-self). Because now I know Outreachy was once-in-a-lifetime experience for me. And I’m never going to feel the same way how I felt during the first week of my outreachy internship.

          Here is what I wrote some 5 months back, with a little more of what I added today. Now that I have added experience from the time after I finished the internship too, it has some proper more reliable answers I guess.

    • Distributions

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Ubuntu 20.04 is right around the corner with many new features

          Ubuntu 20.04 – codenamed “Focal Fossa” – is set for its final stable release on April 23, with the new software version brining a number of new features to the OS, including WireGuard VPN.

          Ubuntu 20.04 is a long term support (LTS) version of the operating system, meaning that it will be supported for the next 5 years to come. As usual, the new version introduces some features to the benefit of its users – with some features being more exciting than others. One of the more exciting new features is the inclusion of WireGuard – a simple, fast and modern VPN that has the backing of Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux.

        • Ubuntu 20.04.1 LTS Coming on July with Fixes Packed

          The first point release of the Ubuntu 20.04 LTS is planned for release on July 2020. Ubuntu 20.04 LTS “Focal Fossa” released a while back and it was huge. The reason being are the performance improvements, stability, lots of features, latest drivers, and hardware support – all on the very positive side from the user perspective. At least, that’s what the post-release feedback from around the world says.

          [...]

          Ubuntu 20.04 LTS is supported until April 2025 bing a long term release and expected to get six point releases like this in its life span.

          If you are currently running Ubuntu 20.04 LTS focal fossa – you will be prompted to update/upgrade when Ubuntu 20.04.1 arrives in July. And if you are still deciding to update or upgrade, I would suggest you can wait till July 2020 to get the latest packages afresh.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • FSF

        • Licensing/Legal

          • Is Proprietary Software Really Better Than Open-Source?

            All else equal, the perceived costs of open-source are either overestimated or become beneficial given the timeframe. There are other arguments to be made, but a convincing litmus test is what business customers prefer. Evidence from the last six years does not favor proprietary software, according to a Burtchworks’ 2019 survey of data analytics professionals. The most popular proprietary statistical software, SAS, has been losing market share to both major open-source platforms, R and Python, over the past half-decade (with Python emerging as the winner). What’s especially striking is the movement toward open-source programming languages across years of experience. Those with less than a decade of work experience are roughly five to 10 times more likely to prefer one of the open-source languages to SAS. This trend redoubles itself for future workers: 95 percent of college/graduate students prefer open-source to proprietary. Recent moves toward open-source programming and away from proprietary are a result of organizations across many industries innately “voting with their resources” in favor of open-source solutions. This trend is occurring in spite of, or perhaps even because of, the widely perceived costs.

      • Programming/Development

        • David Tomaschik: Everyone in InfoSec Should Know How to Program

          Okay, I’m not going to lie, the title was a bit of clickbait. I don’t believe that everyone in InfoSec really needs to know how to program, just almost everyone. Now, before my fellow practitioners jump on me, saying they can do their job just fine without programming, I’d appreciate you hearing me out.

          So, how’d I get on this? Well, a thread on a private Slack discussing whether Red Team operators should know how to program, followed by people on Reddit asking if they should know how to program. I thought I’d share my views in a concrete (and longer) format here.

        • Perl/Raku

          • Vikna: pre-release of a text console UI framework for Raku

            After almost half a year of work I finally publish my new project Vikna which is also the subject of my talk at the upcoming Conference in the Cloud.

            As the subject says, it is a clear pre-release and a proof of concept for the preview of those who might be interested. In the project I tried to get hold of all the best what Raku can offer in the field of asynchronous/threaded processing and OO. Whish you can as much fun trying it as I have in developing!

  • Leftovers

  • Science

    • How COVID-19 Is Eroding Scientific Field Work
    • The cult of hydroxychloroquine versus dangerous arrhythmias

      So hydroxychloroquine is in the news again. It’s as though it can’t be escaped, probably because it can’t. When President Trump announced earlier this week that he had been taking hydroxychloroquine to protect himself against contracting COVID-19, I briefly debated over whether to write about it but ended up deciding not to, not so much from a sense of the uselessness of doing so but rather due to a profound ennui over the topic, an ennui that, I confess, has hampered my usual ridiculously prolific blog output of late. After all, no matter how much the evidence is trending (and has been for nearly two months now) in the direction that hydroxychloroquine is very likely ineffective against COVID-19 (or, at best, so mildly effective that only large double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials will be necessary to detect any effect) and causes harm through cardiac arrhythmias, the hydroxychloroquine con men, grifters, and cultists are unrelenting. But this morning I’ve been feeling signs of snapping out of it. Why? I don’t know, but one reason might be a study in The Lancet that’s hot off the presses, which I learned about thanks to Eric Topol, that demonstrates increased mortality and ventricular arrhythmias from hydroxychloroquine:

  • Education

    • Putin proposes new bill on patriotic education that references an article not yet included in the Russian Constitution

      On May 21, President Vladimir Putin proposed amendments to Russia’s education legislation, aimed at enshrining in law the promotion of patriotism and respect for “the memory of the defenders of the Fatherland” among schoolchildren. However, as Ekho Moskvy journalist Maksym Kurnikov points out on Twitter, the explanatory notes of the bill include references to an article that has yet to be added to the Russian Constitution. 

    • The Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education

      Sunday, May 17, marked the 66th anniversary of the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision, Brown vs. the Board of Education. The Brown decision addressed consolidated issues from four different cases — in Kansas, South Carolina, Delaware and Virginia — involving racial segregation.

    • Cambridge lectures will be online only next year

      In a statement, the university said that as social distancing was likely to continue to be required, it has “decided there will be no face-to-face lectures during the next academic year”.

      “Lectures will continue to be made available online, and it may be possible to host smaller teaching groups in person, as long as this conforms to social distancing requirements,” the university said.

      The news comes after the University of Manchester confirmed that it would keep all lectures online for at least one semester when the next academic year starts.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • The Peace Sign: A Safe Greeting and Sign of Victory over COVID!

      As the Age of COVID demands new rules of social interaction for the immediate future, a South Florida nonprofit organization has an important suggestion for how we can greet one another safely and pleasantly. The handshake is a memory, as are charming habits such as freely hugging anyone who seemed they might enjoy it and kisses on the cheek, so common in many cultures outside the United States especially.

    • Road Trippin’

      I’ve traveled from Burlington, VT to Washington, DC’s Maryland suburbs several dozen times in the past thirty years. In those trips, I’ve traveled by plane, train, bus and automobile. Although my preferred mode of transport is the train, Amtrak has suspended service between Burlington and New Haven, CT. for the time being because of COVID-19. Likewise, Megabus has also suspended most of its service from Vermont and I just don’t feel safe in an airplane just yet. Since I don’t drive, A couple family members took me to Maryland this past weekend due to another family member being sick. Although the trip was questionable in relation to the current rules regarding travel, it was a journey my siblings felt was necessary and one I needed to make for my own peace of mind.

    • Mutual Aid in Queens Amidst COVID-19

      COVID-19 has taken the lives of over 90,000 in the US alone, and has infected more than 1.5 million. The heart of this crisis is strongly beating in New York City, with 191,650 cases and 20,887 deaths as of May 20th. Amidst the catastrophic loss of lives are the 30 million (and growing) number of Americans that have lost their jobs in the last six weeks. COVID-19 is not a “natural” disaster and therefore it was neither inevitable nor is it apolitical. Despite the natural mutation of viruses, critical geographers have argued that the, “circumstances in which a mutation becomes life-threatening depend on human actions.” Stimulated by violent and unregulated neo-liberal extractivism, it is our austerity-based society, rather than nature’s fate, that has given rise to the unequal conditions creating vulnerability to COVID-19. It is in the midst of what Naomi Klein has termed “Corona Capitalism” that I argue for a movement past our profit-motivated disaster capital responses. Paying particular attention to the experimental community hub Woodbine, located in Queens, New York, I present anarchism as a method for survival amidst the crisis of COVID-19. Woodbine’s organizing efforts manifest that we must create new, resilient social living systems. We need autonomy, and we need mutual aid. Most of all, we need each other.

    • Russia’s coronavirus spread continues to slow, as recovered patient population nears 100,000

      On the morning of May 22, Russian officials announced that the country recorded 8,894 new coronavirus infections in the past day (45 more new cases than the day before) bringing the nation’s total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases to 326,448 patients. 

    • Lancet Study on Hydroxychloroquine Shows Trump ‘As Usual, Is Dangerously Wrong’ on Covid-19 Guidance

      “If there was ever hope for this drug, this is the death of it.”

    • A third of Russian medical workers say they have instructions to underreport COVID-19 deaths, according to a new survey on a doctors’ mobile app

      More than a third of respondents in a recent survey of 509 medical workers at Russian hospitals repurposed during the coronavirus pandemic said they’re instructed not to code pneumonia deaths caused by the coronavirus as COVID-19 fatalities. This policy is allegedly intended to “correct” Russia’s statistics on the incidence and mortality rate of the coronavirus. 

    • More Than 1 in 5 Illinoisans Living in State Homes for Adults With Disabilities Have Tested Positive for the Coronavirus

      While much of the attention related to COVID-19’s impact on vulnerable populations has focused on deaths at nursing homes, infection rates are remarkably high in another kind of residential setting: state-operated centers for adults with cognitive or behavioral disabilities.

      As of Thursday, more than 1 in 5 people living in these developmental centers had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, state data shows. That’s more than double the infection rate seen in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, where confirmed cases account for about 7% of residents, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

    • Alex Azar Knows About Diabetes

      As soon as the Administration got into trouble because it failed to respond to the plague, it began hunting around for scapegoats. Trump’s calling it a “Chinese virus” put heat on the entire Asian American community because the average American can’t distinguish between members of 38 culturally distinct groups. This gave the Trump Shirts an excuse to go around exercising their favorite pastime. Beating up people. Vincent Chin’s murderer’s thought that he was Japanese. Trump believes that San Francisco Chinatown is a part of mainland China. Otherwise he wouldn’t have accused Nancy Pelosi of dancing in San Francisco’s Chinatown, while he was barring some Chinese from entering the country. Just as he believes that Puerto Rico is a separate country, he’s not aware that Chinese Americans had settled in this country about a hundred years before his parents arrived here. Apparently, the journalists who didn’t pick up on this attitude, that Asian Americans are citizens of Asian nations and not Americans, share the president’s belief.

    • A Nurse With One Lung Had COVID-19. Other Nurses Saved Her.

      When Crystal Holloway entered the room on the 14th floor of Northwestern Memorial Hospital to introduce herself to a new patient, Tanya Adell-O’Neal was so out of breath, Holloway remembered, she could barely speak. But she got out a few crucial words:

      “I have to tell you,” Holloway, an ICU nurse, remembered Adell-O’Neal saying. “I’m a nurse myself.”

    • A Pandemic and a Plague of Absurdity

      At a certain point in an age of absurdity the normalization of madness becomes so common that it is almost indiscernible to most in the thick of it. Indeed, late capitalism, the stage which is undoubtedly preceding complete barbarism, has produced an endless stream of absurdities which not only insult the senses of those who possess a conscience and a modicum of critical thinking skills, but can also deliver a fatal injury as we are seeing unfold in real time with tepid or reckless responses to the Covid-19 pandemic.

    • A Tale of Two Pandemics

      We are all weathering the same storm, but we are not all in the same boat.

    • How dangerous is low-level radiation to children?

      A rethink on the risks of low-level radiation would imperil the nuclear industry’s future − perhaps why there’s never been one.

    • Roaming Charges: Shallò: 120 Days of COVID

      + As the USA approaches an official tally of 100,000 dead from Covid-19, let us recall that this bracing toll is still 467,000 fewer deaths than the number of Iraqi children who died as a result of the Bush/Clinton economic sanctions (not to mention the ongoing war itself.)

    • Factory Farming on Hold

      Covid-19 has infected meat-packers, almost 12,000 of them. At least 48 have died and many plants have temporarily closed. So it seems like a good time to ask, would it be so terrible if slaughterhouses shut down for good? True, meat-packers would have to find other employment, but the end of factory farming and industrial slaughter of cows, pigs and chickens has many upsides. First, stopping animal torture. Chickens are so crowded together they have to be de-beaked. Cows spend their entire lives cramped in cells, barely able to turn around. The treatment of pigs – highly intelligent mammals and doubtless aware of the brutality they suffer and who causes it – is abominable. So the idling of slaughterhouses by the pandemic could be a lucky development, and not just for animals.

    • Medicaid Providers Are Last in Line for Federal COVID Funding

      Casa de Salud, a nonprofit clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico, provides primary medical care, opioid addiction services and non-Western therapies, including acupuncture and reiki, to a largely low-income population.

    • In Hard-Hit New Jersey, COVID-19 Saddles Some Small Health Departments With Crushing Workload

      The beaches of the Jersey Shore are set to reopen on Friday. But in a state where nearly 11,000 people have been killed by COVID-19, the same public health system that struggled to implement widespread testing faces what could be an even larger challenge: preventing a second wave of infection that experts say is almost inevitable without coordinated, aggressive efforts.

      And more than almost any state in the country, New Jersey relies on small, local health departments, which have found themselves stretched far beyond their missions by the pandemic.

    • Cuomo Order That Sent Estimated 4,300 Covid-19 Patients to Nursing Homes Denounced as ‘Single Dumbest Decision Anyone Could Make’

      “It was a death sentence.”

    • Corporations’ COVID Response Is Class War Waged From the Top

      Journalists aren’t supposed to “bury the lede.” But when death is the topic and corporate power is the culprit, the connection routinely goes unmentioned.

    • Bernie Sanders Says It Is ‘Nauseating’ to See Corporations Praise Frontline Workers as ‘Heroes’ While Refusing to Pay Them More

      “I personally get really sick and tired of turning on the TV and seeing these companies run these ads, ‘Thank you heroes and heroines, but of course we’re not going to pay you any more money.’”

    • Mike Davis: As Workers Face Dangerous Conditions Amid Reopening, We Need Unions & Medicare for All

      We look at conditions for workers as all 50 states reopen their economies in Part 2 of our discussion with historian and author Mike Davis, whose latest piece for Jacobin is headlined “Reopening the Economy Will Send Us to Hell.” In it, he writes: “A volcanic rage is rapidly rising to the surface in this country and we need to harness it to defend and build unions, ensure Medicare for all, and knock the bastards off their gilded thrones.”

    • Health groups want India to rescind Gilead drug patents

      But health access groups say the pacts mean cheaper forms of the drug may not become available in nations seen as non-profitable to the five drugmakers.

      “The licences divide the global market into two and profitable markets are retained with Gilead and less profitable markets are given to the five generic companies,” said K. Gopakumar, senior legal researcher at Third World Network, which sent a letter to the Indian government on Wednesday.

    • How Stanford Lost Its Soul

      The Santa Clara study was a preprint, meaning it had not been peer reviewed but was being shared so it could be examined by colleagues. The response of the scientific community was harsh. As a column in The New York Times by Aleszu Bajak and Jeff Howe noted, “What followed next was the academic version of a roast, with critics raising issues with the researchers’ recruitment method (Facebook ads), flaws in their statistical methods, and even the tests themselves—manufactured in China, and since banned from export.”

      Last Thursday, Stephanie M. Lee of BuzzFeed reported that the Santa Clara study had been “funded in part by David Neeleman, the JetBlue Airways founder and a vocal proponent of the idea that the pandemic isn’t deadly enough to justify continued lockdowns.” The airline industry, of course, has been badly hit by the pandemic, so Neeleman has a vested interest in any research that makes the case that the lockdown is an overreaction.

      Drawing on a whistle-blower’s evidence, Lee documented just how closely Neeleman had been involved in shaping the Santa Clara study. Beyond helping to fund the research, Neeleman tried to facilitate the study by pressuring Dr. Taia Wang, a Stanford infectious disease expert. Ioannidis’s team wanted Wang to give her stamp of approval to the test they were using. Wang was reluctant, writing that the experiments she conducted on the test left her “alarmed.”

    • Why things could get ugly over COVID-19 patents Hardwicke

      Foreign patents protecting COVID-19 treatments may stall efforts to protect citizens, says Mark Engelman of Hardwicke chambers.

      In a time of crisis, access to appropriate pharmaceuticals is of paramount importance. At present there are six UK centres attempting to find an antiviral treatment for the COVID-19 virus.

      There are many more other drug interventions being sought around the world to stop the rampage of the virus. The World Health Organization (WHO) lists at least 60 such projects.

  • Integrity/Availability

    • Proprietary

      • We Lose A Lot When Podcasts Go Closed Instead Of Open

        Just last week, Ben Thompson’s excellent Stratechery site had a great post describing the important differences between open and free, specifically with regards to podcasts. The occasion was his decision to launch a paid-for, but still “open” podcast. And he explains how there are important differences (in particular) between “open and for-pay” vs. “closed and free.” Open and for-pay means that it’s not locked down, and can work on a variety of different setups and open platforms. The payment is part of the business model, but the openness gives the end-users more control and freedom. In the software world, you might talk about this as “free as in speech” rather than “free as in beer.” The “free, but closed” model is one where you can get the products for free — but they’re locked in a proprietary system. Facebook is an example of free, but closed, for example.

      • Joe Rogan helped create a podcast culture on YouTube, and now he’s leaving it

        Joe Rogan is largely moving on from YouTube, a site that helped transform his podcast into a viral video-making factory, earning him nearly 10 million subscribers in the process. It’s the latest sign that creators who found success on YouTube see other platforms as the next step, but it doesn’t mean that YouTube is anywhere close to being cut out of the podcast game.

        Later this year, Rogan will bring his mega-popular podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, exclusively to Spotify. It’s not just Rogan who’s leaving YouTube behind, either. At a time when video podcasts on YouTube are more popular than ever, some of the platform’s biggest personalities have been taking their content to other services. YouTube star Emma Chamberlain launched her podcast off platform; Tyler Oakley and Korey Kuhl moved their show, Psychobabble, away from YouTube; and, like Rogan, Daniel Keem and Ricky Banks just signed a deal to bring their YouTube show, Mom’s Basement, to Spotify.

      • With Its Joe Rogan Deal, Spotify Is Moving Closer to Podcast Supremacy

        The exclusive Rogan deal exceeded $100 million, according to the Wall Street Journal, making it one of the largest single podcast deals the industry has ever seen. It was clearly a big enough offer to get Rogan, who earns hefty ad revenue via his eight million YouTube subscribers following, to remove his previous podcasts from YouTube later this year. The deal, which sent Spot’s stock rocketing upward this week, is the company’s most serious step into podcasting so far. Whereas other streaming services like Apple and Amazon don’t have to rely on their music platforms for broader profitability, Spotify does — meaning it has to aggressively expand its non-music offerings if it doesn’t want to rely on record companies for revenue forever.

        MIDiA Research managing director Mark Mulligan tells Rolling Stone that moves like these — which also expand Spotify’s audience and age reach — can turn Spotify into “the single biggest force in audio on the planet the same way Facebook became the single biggest force in social.” The rewards could be high, but the bet is still risky, Mulligan says, pointing out that Spotify faces tighter advertising from the coming recession.

      • Pseudo-Open Source

      • Security

        • Privacy/Surveillance

          • On The Same Day The FBI Claimed No Vendor Could Crack IPhones, Another Way To Crack IPhones Made The News

            At the same time the FBI director was claiming the private sector (other than Apple) couldn’t help agents break into encrypted iPhones, the private sector was once again demonstrating it could do exactly that. Chris Wray’s remarks to the press centered less on the underwhelming news that the FBI had conclusively linked the Pensacola Air Base shooter to al Qaeda than on Apple’s supposed unhelpfulness.

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

            Location surveillance comes with a host of risks to citizens’ privacy, freedom of expression and data protection rights.

          • Germany’s highest court rules individual right to privacy applies to everyone, even non-Germans

            Germany’s Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof), the highest court in the country, has ruled that parts of a 2016 law that allowed monitoring of the internet activity of foreign targets outside of Germany are unconstitutional. This landmark ruling will force the Merkel government to update laws governing Germany’s foreign intelligence agency: The BND. Essentially, the ruling clarifies that non-Germans also enjoy constitutional protections under Germany’s Constitution. Specifically, the court ruled that non-Germans also have a right to privacy in communication and that right is in fact universal.

          • TikTok needs to win over Washington. Hiring a CEO from Disney won’t be enough

            Rather than quell concerns that the app could aid Chinese spies, the news this week that Mayer will become the CEO of TikTok — owned by Beijing-based startup Bytedance — instead sparked a fresh round of calls for even tougher scrutiny.

            TikTok “previously told me they couldn’t attend hearings and testify because executives were located in #China,” Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri tweeted. “But this new executive lives in the USA. I look forward to hearing from him. Under oath.”

          • [Old] TikTok Censored ‘Ugly, Poor, or Disabled’ People to Attract More Users

            ByteDance doesn’t want content that will harm “national honor.” Any content breaching this nebulous definition resulted in a permanent ban from the app, as was the “uglification or distortion of local or other countries’ history.” In the documents, the “Tiananmen Square incidents” are mentioned as only one of three real world examples of content that would be removed. Users were also censored for “defamation … towards civil servants, political or religious leaders.”

          • [Old] TikTok curbed reach for people with disabilities

            TikTok, the fast-growing social network from China, has used unusual measures to protect supposedly vulnerable users. The platform instructed its moderators to mark videos of people with disabilities and limit their reach. Queer and fat people also ended up on a list of „special users“ whose videos were regarded as a bullying risk by default and capped in their reach – regardless of the content.

            Documents obtained by netzpolitik.org detail TikTok’s moderation guidelines. In addition we spoke with a source at TikTok who has knowledge of content moderation policies at the video-sharing platform.

            The new revelations show how ByteDance, the Beijing-based Chinese technology company behind TikTok, deals with bullying on its platform – and the controversial measures it took against it.

          • [Old] TikTok instructed moderators to suppress posts by ‘ugly’ and poor users

            The revelations come as TikTok, owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, faces national security concerns and scrutiny from US lawmakers. It’s yet another glimpse into what the social network allows and bars on the popular short-form video app. TikTok, known for its quirky 15-second videos, is the latest social network to come under fire for what content it features prominently.

            Another document showed that moderators were asked to censor certain political speech in live videos, according to The Intercept. That included “controversial” content such as broadcasts about “state organs” such as police and military.

          • How Long Before We’re Living in a Cashless Society?
          • Confidentiality

            • The Sheryl Sandberg Flight Risk at Facebook

              She could have her picks of top jobs across corporate America; she’s even flirted with running for president of the country. She may need to blaze a new path to earn a redemption that may never come as long as she stays at Facebook.

            • Facebook’s Workplace embraces video, touts new users amid pandemic

              Reflecting that stance internally, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the social media company will permanently embrace remote working, even after current lockdowns lift. He told Facebook employees Thursday that the company would be “aggressively opening up remote hiring” and he expects about half the workforce to work remotely over the next five to 10 years.

              Facebook workers have until Jan. 1, 2021 to decide on their new work location.

            • House Democrat to introduce bill cracking down on ad targeting

              The tactic has been criticized for allowing campaigns to avoid accountability by spreading misinformation to susceptible populations in ads not seen by the general public.

              Under Cicilline’s legislation, advertisers would only be allowed to target political ads by age, gender and location.

              The bill would also require disclosure of who paid for ads, how much they cost, who they targeted and who saw them.

              Platforms would be held accountable via existing Federal Election Commission authority, the right of individuals to sue and criminal penalties.

            • Twitter, WhatsApp Sanctions Loom in European Privacy Crackdown

              The Irish Data Protection Commission said Friday that it finalized a draft decision linked to a data breach at Twitter and has asked its peers across the European Union for their sign-off.

              The regulator said it’s also completed a draft decision in a probe of WhatsApp’s transparency around data sharing. The Facebook service will be asked to give its comments on any proposed sanctions before EU counterparts can weigh in.

              The Irish authority’s probes have been piling up since the bloc’s tough General Data Protection Regulation took effect in May 2018 — but with no final decisions to date. The regulator is the lead data protection authority for some of the biggest U.S. tech companies, including Twitter, Facebook, Google and Apple Inc.

            • Jack Ma’s Ant Made About $2 Billion Profit in December Quarter

              The finance giant generated about $721 million in profit for Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. during the period, according to the e-commerce giant’s earnings filing. Based on Alibaba’s 33% equity share, that would roughly translate to $2 billion in profit for Ant. A representative for Ant declined to comment.

              Ant is now valued at about $150 billion, more than Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley combined. The company entered the banking arena as a disruptor, raising alarm bells for many of the nation’s 4,500 lenders. But about two years ago, it flipped the idea on its head, and began turning China’s lenders into clients by helping them provide loans and selling them cloud computing power.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • On Meeting Bao Ninh: “These Good Men Meant as Much to Me as Yours Did to You”

      Three years after the Americans abandoned Vietnam, in the depths of the Jungle of Screaming Souls, NVA veterans search for the remains of men and women killed in combat. So begins The Sorrow of War, by Bao Ninh.

    • Coronavirus and Other US Health Threats? Fund Public Health Not Foreign Wars

      How is it that in the richest nation on Earth we don’t have enough masks, gowns, virus tests, and ventilators to serve our front-line healthcare providers in this coronavirus pandemic? Part of the answer is that the nation’s wealth has been mis-allocated between military and civilian needs over the past four decades.

    • America and the Rise of the Chinese Century

      News of America’s global supremacy and victory as well as demise are often premature.  In 1942 journalist Henry Luce described the coming years as the American Century.  And it looked like he was right despite some setbacks.  Yet coming out of the coronavirus and the Trump presidency, this time maybe the end of the American Century is near and the emergence of the Chinese Century is here.

    • Media Take a Pass on Pentagon’s Systematic Undercount of Civilian Deaths

      The Pentagon released  in early May its congressionally mandated annual report on the number of civilians the US military has killed. The report concluded that the military was responsible for 132 civilian deaths in all theaters of war, including Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Somalia.

    • FBI Says It Will Investigate Breonna Taylor Shooting Death

      We speak with Ben Crump, attorney for the family of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old aspiring nurse who was shot to death by police inside her own apartment. Her family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Louisville Metro Police Department that details how police shot Taylor at least eight times after they burst into her apartment, unannounced, with a search warrant. The man police were looking for did not live in Taylor’s apartment and was reportedly already detained by police when officers arrived at Taylor’s residence on the night of March 13. At the time of her killing, Taylor had been working as an emergency medical technician treating COVID-19 patients.

    • Aiming Missiles at Viruses: a Plea for Sanity in a Time of Plague

      The point I am trying to make here is a simple and obvious one, or would be in a society not burdened with a two-pronged ideology of extreme militarism and extreme individualism. It is this: In feeding the military-industrial complex so richly at this time, we are starving ourselves of many vital things and weakening ourselves as a society, perhaps to the point of suicide. We are in effect sacrificing our future on the altar of American imperialism, which like some dark god of the past, is ever hungry and can be assuaged only by human life.

    • Is the US-Saudi Alliance Headed Off a Cliff?

      Can the US-Saudi alliance endure? Should it? World oil prices crashed in March during a price war between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and rival oil producer Russia. Disregarding the advice of his ministers, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (“MBS,” as he is known to friends and foes), the kingdom’s de facto ruler, turned the oil spigots on full blast. On April 20, the price of oil briefly plunged below $0 a barrel for the first time in history.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Dissenter Weekly: Key Regulatory Agency For Workers Has Massive Backlog Of Whistleblower Complaints

      On this edition of the “Dissenter Weekly,” host and Shadowproof editor Kevin Gosztola highlights how the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has received around two dozen complaints a day during the coronavirus pandemic. The agency has over 1,000 complaints in their backlog.

      Later in the show, Gosztola covers a report from ProPublica on a whistleblower complaint that points to evidence that Wall Street banks are engaged in systemic fraud (again).

    • The Information Apocalypse Is Already Here, And Reality Is Losing

      As the shock of his comments sunk in, the video revealed the speaker was in fact Oscar-winning filmmaker Jordan Peele. The Obama deepfake, a sort of Manhattan Project for fake news, was intended to demonstrate just how easy it is to disseminate convincing disinformation by manipulating video and audio — and how much easier it would become as technology advances.

      “It may sound basic,” said Peele-as-Obama in the video, “but how we move forward in the age of information is going to be the difference between whether we survive or whether we become some kind of fucked-up dystopia.”

    • To show how easy it is for plagiarized news sites to get ad revenue, I made my own

      A two-year study by the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers and PwC articulated with new clarity how the digital media ecosystem hemorrhages cash on its way to publishers. It tracked 15 UK advertisers, including Disney and Unilever, and found that half a brand’s digital marketing spend is absorbed by middlemen before reaching a publisher. Worse, it found that about one-third of the supply chain fees advertisers pay cannot be traced, meaning that it’s impossible for advertisers to know exactly where their money is going.

      It all underscores the fact that the ad tech space is so convoluted, it’s easy to make money from legitimate advertisers just by setting up a web page. That means there’s significant incentive to create sites with not just with low-quality clickbait or A.I.-generated nonsense, but sites filled with outright plagiarized content.

      I was curious how bad the problem was. So I did an experiment to see if I could make a site using stories from CNBC and get ad tech partners to agree to show ads on it.

      It was shockingly easy.

    • Half of Fox News Viewers Believe Bill Gates Wants to Use Virus Vaccines to Track You, New Poll Says

      Misinformation is taking a dangerous hold on Fox News viewers. According to a new poll, half of all Americans who name Fox News as their primary news source believe the debunked conspiracy theory claiming Bill Gates is looking to use a coronavirus vaccine to inject a microchip into people and track the world’s population.

      The Yahoo News/YouGov poll, released on Friday, found that 44 percent of Republicans also buy into the unfounded claim, while just 19 percent of Democrats believe the lie about the Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist.

  • Environment

    • Michigan Flood, Says Group, Shows US Unprepared for ‘Nightmarish’ Threat of Nuclear Disaster Combined With Pandemic

      “The prospect of a nuclear disaster prompting a mass evacuation during a viral pandemic reinforces the need for an energy policy focused on safe, clean and affordable renewable energy.”

    • The Ohio Governor Listened to the Science on COVID-19, But Not on Climate. Why?

      Yet while DeWine has been willing to buck party politics and uphold scientific evidence on coronavirus, his performance on other health-related issues — namely, climate change and the environment — has been less consistent. Green groups have applauded him for his efforts to curb Lake Erie’s toxic algal blooms, which contaminate drinking water and harm human health. But they have derided him for signing a sweeping rollback of Ohio’s clean energy policies, a measure critics called the “worst” anti-renewables law to pass in any state.

      Some environmentalists told Grist they’re cautiously optimistic that DeWine’s science-driven response to the outbreak will influence future decisions on climate policy — particularly given that Ohio’s warming summers, intensifying rainfall, and enduring air pollution threaten the health of adults and children. Other activists, like Addy Zenko, said they’re skeptical that lessons from coronavirus will carry over — or that the current governor would come to mirror his Republican predecessor, John Kasich, who has lately called for policies to address climate change.

    • Greening the Old New Deal

      New bills in Congress ‘‘Pandemic Response and Opportunity Through National Service Act’’ (H.R. 6702 and S. 3624) invoke the 1930s recovery programs as precedents:

    • 10C Above Baseline

      Earth at 10°C above pre-industrial is unimaginable. It’s a deadly horrifying thought, but as shall be explained herein, it should not be dismissed out of hand.

    • Fridays for Future Europe Calls for Transforming Agricultural Policy to Tackle the Climate Crisis

      “E.U. politicians must recognize that a great hope to combat the climate crisis and the collapse of biodiversity lies in agriculture.”

    • Energy

    • Wildlife/Nature

  • Finance

    • Why We Should Commandeer Hotels to House the Homeless

      Homelessness is a humanitarian crisis in plain sight and a bleak indictment of capitalism. Now the capitalists have a chance—a duty, really—to step up in the clutch.

    • Covid-19 Profiteers Are Making a Killing

      Here are some of the most outrageous capitalist responses to the pandemic.

    • Battles Over Barley: Australia, China and the Tariff Wars

      It promised to be bruising to both dignity and wallet. However brazen Australian politicians have been drumming up support for an international inquiry into the origins of the novel coronavirus, the first ones to be slapped in anger would have to be those in agriculture. Barley exporters find themselves facing a suffocating, and potentially market killing tariff, of 80.5 percent. This Chinese tariff, as things stand, is set to be in place for five years. As the PRC accounts for half of Australia’s barley exports (worth $A600 million in 2019), the losses promise to be far from negligible.

    • The Great Pizza Arbitrage Scheme Of 2020 Is Spotlighting The Strangeness Of Food Delivery Services

      Food delivery services always felt a bit wonky to me. I’m usually not terribly old fashioned about most things, but I generally understood that some restaurants delivered and some did not and that that was mostly fine. Along came food delivery services to bring us food from places that didn’t deliver and that was mostly fine, too. But lately it’s starting to become clear that somewhere in the ecosystem of venture capitalist funding and food delivery services, something is broken. We’ll explore the larger issues in a separate post, but one great example of how janky this is getting is how one pizzeria owner managed to make a nice profit by buying his own pizzas from DoorDash. Confused? Well, buckle up.

    • Banks Get Payout From Equifax Hack While Consumers Still Wait For Compensation

      We’ve noted several times that the FTC’s settlement over the Equifax hack that exposed the public data of 147 million Americans was little more than a performative joke. While much was made of the historic fine levied against the company, the FTC’s settlement failed to provide impacted victims much of anything outside of a sad chuckle.

    • The Fed’s Chair and Vice Chair Got Rich at Carlyle Group, a Private Equity Fund With a String of Bankruptcies and Job Losses

      Private equity funds have been variously called “merchants of debt,” “vultures,” or “corporate raiders.” What a private equity fund typically does is to buy up companies by piling debt on the balance sheet, selling off valuable assets like real estate, extracting giant dividends for the private equity partners to the detriment of workers and customers, and then, frequently, letting the company collapse into bankruptcy while laying off thousands of workers or liquidating the whole company.

    • Work is Inevitable But its Organization is Not

      All human societies, from the most primitive to the most modern, have an important commonality — the need to work. Water, food, shelter and other basics of life don’t arrive as gifts. Work is required to secure them and to raise the next generation.

    • Trump Says He Will Not “Close the Country” If Second Wave of Virus Hits

      As several states across the nation remove their shelter-in-place orders and begin to reopen businesses, there remains a looming possibility of a second wave of coronavirus cases.

    • GOP ‘Plot to Gut Social Security Behind Closed Doors’ Gains Steam in Senate Covid-19 Talks

      “With seniors most at risk from Covid-19, we need to be increasing Social Security’s modest benefits, not creating secret commissions to cut them.”

    • As Warnings Mount of So-Called ‘Second Wave’ of Covid-19, Trump Says He Won’t ‘Close the Country’ Again

      “We are witnessing the complete breakdown of the United States government.”

    • GOP “Plot to Gut Social Security Behind Closed Doors” Gains Steam in COVID Talks

      A proposal by Sen. Mitt Romney to establish congressional committees with the specific goal of crafting legislative “solutions” for America’s federal trust fund programs has reportedly resurfaced in GOP talks over the next Covid-19 stimulus package, sparking alarm among progressive advocates who warn the Utah Republican’s bill is nothing but a stealth attack on Social Security and Medicare.

    • “No. It’s Capitalism, Stupid.”

      The title is a riff on James Carville’s disingenuous (and stupid) phrase from 1992 when he was Bill Clinton’s campaign director. Carville’s pithy quip, “It’s the economy, stupid,” became the campaign’s de facto slogan. It functioned as a clever ruse to help Clinton beat Bush by pandering to workers and creating the impression that his policies would actually help them. In retrospect,

    • An Old Story Again: Capitalism vs. Health and Safety

      The U.S. president recently ordered meatpacking employees back into workplaces plagued by coronavirus. He did not order the employers to make their slaughterhouses safe. GOP-proposed legislation exempts employers from lawsuits by employees sickened or killed by coronavirus infections at workplaces. The GOP is mostly silent about requiring employers to maintain safe or healthy workplaces. Employers across the country threaten workers who refuse to return to jobs they find unsafe. They demand that employees return or risk being fired. Job loss likely means loss of health insurance for employees’ families. Being fired risks also losing eligibility for unemployment insurance.

    • In Pandemic, Sunday Shows Centered Official Voices, Sidelined Independent Health Experts

      In April, as crucial political decisions were being made about how to deal with the rapidly escalating coronavirus outbreak, there was a dire need for journalists to clarify the scientific and medical aspects of the pandemic, and to dispel rampant misinformation (much of it coming directly from the president). They were also needed to provide space for a vigorous debate over who, exactly, would receive economic assistance, and how much.

    • Diane Ravitch on Pandemic School Privatization

      This week on CounterSpin: One teacher described it as a “gut punch” hearing New York Governor (and current media crush) Andrew Cuomo talk about “re-imagining” education in the wake of the pandemic,  without what he called the “old model” emphasis on teachers and classrooms. Cuomo announced an initiative with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation—who’ve been behind decades of education interventions in this country—all of which have failed to deliver on their promises, but have drained funds from public schools and undermined public school teachers.

    • Can You Make Stagnating Incomes Go Away? The NYT Wants You To…

      There is an endless market for pieces that tell us that the typical worker is doing quite well, in spite of all the gloom and talk we hear constantly. Michael Strain, who is actually a pretty good economist, took on the job in a column in the NYT yesterday.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Trump’s Pick Could Move VOA Further Right—But It’s Never Been an Independent Outlet

      For decades VOA has enjoyed the best of both worlds for a Western media organization: operating at the government’s behest while masquerading as an exemplar of the free press.

    • Key Biden Adviser Offers Little Hope for Palestinians

      Being better than Trump is a very low bar, and hearing Blinken’s words made it clearer than ever that advocates for Palestinian rights will need to mobilize as never before under a Joe Biden administration.

    • Great Minds Think Alike: From Trump to Bolsonaro

      They were revelations. And they were revealed in the space of three days.  And both were a total surprise.

    • To Save Lives, and Democracy, We Need to Vote by Mail

      For many Americans, vote-by-mail will be a matter of life and death come November.

    • Russia has yet to set a date for its upcoming constitutional plebiscite, but that hasn’t stopped regional officials from spending in preparation

      April 22 came and went without Russians visiting the polls to participate in a nationwide vote on constitutional amendments (including changes that could extend Vladimir Putin’s presidency to 2036). The quarantine restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic forced the authorities to postpone the vote indefinitely, and while rumors about potential dates are swirling in the media, an official rescheduling has yet to be announced. In the meantime, regional officials and election commissions are continuing to prepare for the occasion, primarily by spending lots of money, the BBC Russian Service reports.

    • As Republicans Face November Disaster, Efforts to Undermine Social Security Mount

      Attacks on Social Security are coming thick and fast. It’s time for Americans of all ages who aren’t independently wealthy and don’t need to worry about a serious, career halting disability or surviving in old age to rally and fight back.

    • The New New Cold War is Pretty Much the Old New Cold War

      Remember when the Russians were coming? It seems like just last week Vladimir Putin was whistling the Soviet National Anthem just around every corner of main street. After the colossal clusterfuck of Hillary 2016, you couldn’t swing a dead cat in a news room without hitting another crafty Kremlin conspiracy. Those shifty almond-eyed bastards were the secret sauce behind everything that gave neoliberals heartburn; MAGA, Black Lives Matter, Wikileaks, Bernie Bros, Jill Stein, Sasquatch, Tulsi Gabbard, Colin Kaepernick, the female orgasm. They were behind it all! Putin was everywhere, like Elvis Presley in a Mojo Nixon song, and he was always up to something new, some dastardly new conspiracy to corrupt our precious bodily fluids that only Rachel Maddow and six permanently anonymous intelligence experts could save us from. Donald Trump was constantly on the brink of impeachment for pissing on a Russian prostitute dressed as Abe Lincoln and wrapped in the Constitution or some such noise. It made sense in the moment, I swear it did! It was a new day in Imperial America, a whole new Cold War was upon us, and Adam Schiff would lead us to the promise land like a liberal Joe McCarthy on a gallant white stead.

    • Newsweek Publishes Facts Optional, Wronger Than Wrong, Piece About Section 230

      It’s getting absurd to have to do this every few weeks, but the media keeps publishing blatantly wrong things about Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. You would think that after the NY Times had to roll back its own ridiculous headline blaming “hate speech” on the internet on Section 230, only to have to say “oops, actually, it’s the 1st Amendment,” that other publications would take the time to get things straight and recognize that nearly everything they’re complaining about is actually the 1st Amendment, not Section 230. Section 230 merely protects the 1st Amendment, by making it easier to get out of SLAPPish lawsuits earlier in the process.

    • The Other Side of Covid-19

      United States, United Kingdom and India are known as the world’s most important democracies with elected leaders in power. At present, the three democracies, their people and their leaders are caught in similar crises. Of course, Covid-19 is taking its toll in most parts of the world, but it is strange that people are suffering the most in countries, which are hailed as major “democracies.” Government heads, President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prime Minister Narendra Modi seem to be giving the same impression of their taking just the right measures to ride over not just this pandemic but also economic crises affecting their respective countries.

    • The Proliferation of Conspiracy Theories & the Crisis of Science

      We’re all familiar with what a “conspiracy theory” is: a narrative of social control in which shadowy groups are secretly rigging events to increase their own power and profit. An apt personification is “the man behind the curtain” in “The Wizard of Oz.”

    • Donald Trump can Learn Something from Mao Zedong’s Mistakes

      Between 1959 and 1961, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) underwent the Great Chinese Famine, one of the country’s darkest times. Frank Dikötter, a Dutch historian and author of Mao’s Great Famine: The History of China’s Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-1962, estimates the number of deaths in at least 45 million. Other estimates are even higher. It was one of the greatest tragedies in human history.

    • Moral calculus under Putin: Joshua Yaffa talks about his new book, ‘Between Two Fires’

      This week’s guest is Joshua Yaffa, The New Yorker’s Moscow correspondent and the author of the new book “Between Two Fires: Truth, Ambition, and Compromise in Putin’s Russia,” which offers a look at Putin’s Russia without focusing on Putin, studying a handful of individual case studies and the moral choices of various individuals who have played unique or interesting roles in contemporary Russia.

    • If Nancy Pelosi Is So Great, How Come Donald Trump Still Isn’t Dead in the Water?

      To hear Democratic Party propagandists and anti-Trump Republicans on the cable networks tell it, Nancy Pelosi is the shrewdest, most politically savvy Democrat in living memory. MSNBC is the worst, and Rachel Maddow is the worst of the worst, but, in effect, they all speak with one voice, and they all agree that the woman is a genius.

    • The Man Who Cried Wolf

      When it comes to the Big Lie, one must turn to the master, Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda chief who theorized…

    • What Stanford University and Fox News Have in Common

      On April 21, Fox News’s Laura Ingraham, one of Donald Trump’s most vociferous supporters, spoke to Stanford University physician-professor John Ioannidis about COVID-19. She prefaced the interview with reference to the pandemic as a nothing-burger:

    • The Feds Gave a Former White House Official $3 Million to Supply Masks to Navajo Hospitals. Some May Not Work.

      A former White House aide won a $3 million federal contract to supply respirator masks to Navajo Nation hospitals in New Mexico and Arizona 11 days after he created a company to sell personal protective equipment in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

      Zach Fuentes, President Donald Trump’s former deputy chief of staff, secured the deal with the Indian Health Service with limited competitive bidding and no prior federal contracting experience.

    • Trump’s Food Aid Program Gives Little Funding to the Northeast, Where Coronavirus Hit Hardest

      President Donald Trump’s signature food aid program is sending less relief to New York and New England than other parts of the country, even though the Northeast has the most coronavirus cases. Some states — Maine and Alaska at least — have been left out completely so far.

      The regional imbalances are an unintended side effect of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s strategy in hiring private contractors to distribute food, the agency said. It is now looking for ways to reach areas that were passed over.

    • Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service lashes out at television channel ‘France 24’ over its coverage of Siberian prison riot

      Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service in the Irkutsk region has accused French television channel France 24 of provocations, over its coverage of the April 9th riot at Penal Colony No.15 in the Siberian city of Angarsk. 

    • No Bernie, Delegates Won’t “Turn Down the Volume”!

      Ever since Bernie Sanders suspended his 2020 campaign to endorse Joe Biden, millions of supporters have grappled with questions about the best way forward for the “political revolution” against the billionaires. The Democratic Party’s relentless hostility to this project and Biden’s severe weaknesses as a pro-corporate candidate have spurred debate amongst Sanders supporters over whether to support Biden in November—a debate that the Democratic Party is desperate to curtail. Unfortunately Sanders’ campaign has fallen in line, and is now urging supporters to fall behind a false show of unity with the same corporate establishment that has sought to demonize, disenfranchise, and demobilize our movement.

    • How Obama Could Find Some Redemption

      History, literature, film, and scripture are loaded with stories and examples of redemption. Buddhism gives us the story of Aṅgulimāla, a pathological mass-murderer who became a follower of the Buddha and went on to be enshrined as a “patron saint” of childbirth in South and Southeast Asia.

    • Why Russiagate Still Matters

      A thought experiment with a purpose is to ask: if a group of former Directors of the CIA, NSA and FBI put forward a story about a malevolent foreign power acting against the U.S. without providing evidence that their story is true, who would believe them? While this wasn’t precisely the setup for Russiagate, all of the former Directors came forward as former Directors of intelligence agencies, not as private citizens. And the information they presented was compiled as opposition research for a political campaign. It might have (did) provided a basis for further inquiry, but it wasn’t evidence as it was presented.

    • ‘A Misbegotten, Warped Freedom Obsession Is Killing Us’: Video of Trumpian Anti-Mask Jerks Goes Viral

      “Freedom is wasted on people who think coughing on people is freedom.”

    • ‘This Is No Joke’: Michigan AG Calls Trump ‘A Petulant Child’ for Refusing to Wear Mask During Ford Visit

      “I think the message he sent is the same message since he first took office in 2017, which is, ‘I don’t care about you.’”

    • Trump Condemned for Praising Noted Anti-Semite Henry Ford’s “Good Bloodlines”

      President Donald Trump, while touring a Ford Motor facility in Ypsilanti, Michigan, on Thursday, offered controversial praise for the company’s anti-Semitic founder.

    • Trump Is Brazenly Interfering With the 2020 Election

      It’s a crime to try to withhold funds appropriated by Congress in order to interfere with voting. The effort to expand access to mail-in voting is an obviously reasonable response that’s designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while also allowing the most people to exercise their right to vote. Ideally, this wouldn’t be a partisan matter. Yet Trump is threatening to withhold federal funds from these states because he contends that sending out absentee-ballot applications will benefit Democrats.

    • “There Will Be No Election If Things Keep Going the Way They’re Going”: After Predicting 2016, Michael Moore Fears Trump Will Mess With 2020

      Legal experts say Trump doesn’t have the authority to delay or cancel the election, but Biden has predicted he may try. Son-in-law Jared Kushner only helped fuel speculation last week that there could be some kind of election holdup, and on the morning after we spoke, Trump threatened to to withhold federal funding to to Michigan and Nevada over their plans for mail-in ballots. Even if the election does happen in November, Moore isn’t convinced that Biden will be on the Democratic ticket. “This has been a crazy year, a crazy election year, a crazy year on so many levels. Anything you would have predicted back in December or January is out the window. The year we thought we were going to have on any level is out the window. So if it’s all out the window, what else is out the window?” Moore said. “Nothing is lined up right this year. Just because he’s got the most delegates and everybody’s conceded, it doesn’t mean he’s going to be the nominee. They’re not even going to have a real convention. Anything can happen.”

    • Oscar winner Michael Moore predicts Trump will tamper with 2020: “There will be no Nov. 3 election”

      The president doesn’t have the authority to delay or cancel an election, but Joe Biden has warned that Trump might try — although Moore isn’t certain voters will be deciding between the GOP incumbent and former vice president.

    • White House, State Dept. fail to turn over documents related to firing of watchdog

      A House Foreign Affairs Committee aide familiar with the probe told NBC News on Friday that no documents have been received by either committee.

      “The White House and State Department failed to provide an adequate response to Saturday’s records request,” the aide said. “But pressure is building and the truth will come out.”

      Congressional oversight officials investigating the matter believe the firing was direct retaliation for Linick pursuing an investigation into whether Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a staffer walk his dog, pick up his dry cleaning and make dinner reservations for Pompeo and his wife, among other personal errands.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Episode 85 – ATL Recommendations: What to Watch, Read, and Listen Too in Quarantine – Along The Line Podcast
    • Why Content Moderation Codes Are More Guidelines Than Rules

      Also, following on my last post: since the First Amendment protects site moderation and curation decisions, why all the calls to get rid of CDA 230’s content moderation immunity?

    • UFO Subreddit Was Subject to Systemic Censorship

      This censorship has led to infighting on the subreddit. /r/UFO moderator axolotl_peyotl cried foul when he noticed other moderators culling posts with the word “Brazil” days after people filmed a UFO above Magé. “A huge number of people saw lights in the sky [of] Magé, and nobody is talking about it now. Yesterday, it was even on the Trending Topics, but now, it seems like everyone forgot,” redditor monaizin asked.

      The moderators were aggressively culling posts about the incident. “I see a lot of stupidity in this thread, so let me just make it absolutely clear: mods here do not censor. If a post is stupid or offensive it will be removed. If it is a hoax, we’ll remove it,” a moderator said in the thread.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • A Memoir of Time and Place: Margaret Randal’s “I Never Left Home”

      In her new memoir Margaret Randall details her life as an activist, revolutionary and poet during the turbulant years of the 60s, 70s and 80s in Latin America. I Never Left Home (subtitled Poet,  Feminist, Revolutionary) includes a collective of experiences layered with childhood memories, class upbringing, history, and poetry. She gives special attention to her family and the many frienships she made and honors them in her book.

    • Rethinking Public Safety: Trust vs. Force

      “Guns aren’t just a danger in and of themselves,” writes Noah Berlatsky at Quartz. “They enable a policing philosophy built on violence and forced compliance, rather than one founded on respect, trust and consent. That philosophy affects every police interaction, even those that don’t involve actual shooting.”

    • The Long March of the Locked-Down Migrants

      I had to write this song because the world is facing a difficult and turbulent time. At the very hour that some of us implemented the lockdown and bolted ourselves in our houses, we hardly expected hundreds, thousands, lakhs of people to start walking to their faraway homes. This made me extremely sad and agonised. In our highly developed nation, a very great nation, in the nation where we claim to be pioneers in many fields, crores of people were walking long distances – just for a place to stay, to be at home with their families. It made me very sad.

    • Picketing for the police A ‘people’s gathering’ pressures Russian investigators to release three arrested detectives who apprehended and maybe beat up an apparent child molester

      More than a year ago, three police detectives in a town outside Novgorod apprehended a suspected child molester. Earlier this month, the officers were themselves arrested for allegedly beating that man up while he was in custody. The case against the detectives prompted a public campaign in their defense, organized by one of the molested children’s fathers, who’d helped the officers catch the suspect in the first place. After roughly 100 demonstrators assembled outside the Investigative Committee’s local office, and following intervention by federal officials from Moscow, the detectives were released. Meduza reached out to the different sides of this controversy to find out who claims what.

    • Moscow regional courts are sentencing residents to compulsory labor at hospitals for violating quarantine

      Courts in the Moscow region have sentenced several local residents who violated self-isolation restrictions to compulsory labor at hospitals, reports the head of the Main Directorate for Regional Security, Roman Karataev.

    • Corona Carpenter

      Cameron Carpenter, the irrepressibly brilliant American organist, is not one to stay still. To watch him in the cockpit of his International Touring Organ, a two-million dollar technological marvel contrived not by Lockheed Martin but by the digital organ building firm of Marshall & Ogletree, is to witness energy so explosive that you expect Carpenter to lift off the bench at any moment. An eighteenth-century eye-witness to J. S. Bach’s callisthenic organ pedaling thought his feet were winged like Mercury’s, but Cameron’s appendages appear rocket-powered, and he pilots his musical space ship to planets old Johann didn’t even know existed. Carpenter must be among his generation’s most-travelled virtuosos, and he boldly goes where no man has gone before.

    • ‘Victims of the Russian Napoleon’ Young woman who survived relationship with St. Petersburg historian who murdered his graduate student girlfriend speaks out in new documentary

      The Russian streaming platform “Premier” has released a documentary film about St. Petersburg historian Oleg Sokolov, who killed his former graduate student, Anastasia Yeshchenko, on the night of November 8, 2019. The film, titled Invitation to the Ball: Victims of the Russian Napoleon, features another victim’s first ever interview, in which she explains how her own relationship with Sokolov nearly cost her her life, and why she thinks it’s so important to speak out. Meduza summarizes the key points from the 40-minute documentary.

    • ‘Yet Another Dogwhistle to White Nationalists”: Jewish Advocacy Group Denounces ‘Good Bloodline’ Remark by Trump

      “Make no mistake, President Trump knew exactly what he was doing.”

    • The Criminalization of Blackness Itself: Let the Smearing Begin
    • Don’t Be Black in America

      The musical ‘West Side Story’ was produced over sixty years ago, and the lyrics by Stephen Sondheim still strike a chord, most notably in the song ‘America’ in which Puerto Ricans look at both social sides of their New York district. One outstanding scene is when the female chorus sings “Life is all right in America”, to which the males riposte is “If you’re a White in America” — and so it has been for many non-whites since the slaves began to arrive before the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

    • A Simple Solution for the Coronavirus Crisis in Prisons

      Releasing low-risk inmates would ease the risk that sky-high prison infection rates pose to all of us.

    • A Simple Solution for the Coronavirus Crisis in Prisons

      If you’ve ever had a parent or loved one incarcerated, you know how scary it can be. There’s so much that can go wrong in prison, and neither you nor your loved one have much control over it.

    • Guatemalan Leader Blasts Trump Admin’s “Contaminated” Deportation Flights as Rights Groups Say Expulsions Show “Reckless Disregard” for Rights and Health

      “Guatemala is an ally to the United States, the United States is not an ally to Guatemala,” said President Alejandro Giammattei.

    • Will Things Fall Apart Now or in November?

      Bill Maher has been asking this question for a long time now: “How will we get Trump out of office even if he loses the election?” We now inhabit a country permeated with the feeling that the “we” here is no longer the Constitution’s “We the People” but a fragmented “we” that cannot even unite to accept the results of an election.

    • We Can’t Afford to Be Bystanders During a Pandemic, Says Activist Linda Sarsour

      Linda Sarsour has become one of the most celebrated intersectional movement leaders to disrupt the economic, political and racist paradigms in the United States. Her memoir, released in March 2020, profiles how a young Palestinian American Brooklynite would later become the co-chair of the 2017 Women’s March on Washington and executive director of the Arab American Association of New York.

    • Chicago Passed Police Torture Reparations 5 Years Ago. Were They Implemented?

      This month, the movement against Chicago police violence celebrated the fifth anniversary of the passing of the historic reparations ordinance. Born out of more than three decades of legal and political struggle waged by an intergenerational and interracial movement comprised of torture survivors, their families and lawyers, activists and their organizations, and a handful of progressive journalists and politicians, the reparations package provided:

    • Brothers charged for alleged honor killing of sister in South Sulawesi

      The police have arrested two brothers in Bantaeng regency, South Sulawesi, and named them suspects for allegedly killing their own 18-year-old sister over “shameful acts” committed by the victim that they said had brought dishonor upon their family.

      The girl was found dead with stab wounds at her home in Pattaneteang village, Tompobulu district, Bantaeng, on Saturday.

    • Suicides in Colorado dropped 40% during first 2 months of coronavirus pandemic — but calls to crisis line spiked

      Colorado recorded a 40% decrease in suicides in March and April as social-distancing policies aimed at slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus kept residents home, according to provisional death-certificate data from the state health department.

      The data helps paint a complex picture of the mental and emotional toll of the COVID-19 pandemic. While suicides are down from 2019 levels, Colorado Crisis Services saw an almost 48% increase calls in March and April compared to last year, with most callers seeking help for anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation.

      And experts are concerned that the fear and uncertainty brought on by the pandemic and subsequent economic collapse will exacerbate an already existing public health crisis by leading to an increase in suicides and mental health issues nationally in the coming months.

      “People’s lives have been disrupted in a severe way,” said Tony Wood, chair of the board at the American Association of Suicidology. “Many people have lost their jobs. There’s no clear way forward for a lot of people.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • New Study Tries, Fails, To Claim Community Broadband Is An Inevitable Boondoggle

      For years a growing number of US towns and cities have been forced into the broadband business thanks to US telecom market failure. Frustrated by high prices, lack of competition, spotty coverage, and terrible customer service, some 750 US towns and cities have explored some kind of community broadband option. And while the telecom industry routinely likes to insist these efforts always end in disaster, that’s never actually been true. While there certainly are bad business plans and bad leaders, studies routinely show that such services not only see the kind of customer satisfaction scores that are alien to large private ISPs, they frequently offer better service at lower, more transparent pricing than many private providers.

    • EFF to Appeals Court: Reverse Legal Gotchas on Ordinary Internet Activities

      In the Internet age, copyright decisions can have enormous consequences for all kinds of activities, because almost everything we do on the Internet involves making copies. And when courts make a mistake, they may create all sorts of unexpected legal risks. As we explained to the Eleventh Circuit yesterday, a recent ruling from the district court in MidlevelU v. ACI Information Group did just that not once, but twice.

      ACI runs Newstex, a news aggregation service that collects and curates blog posts, press releases, and articles on various topics. Like most online news aggregators, it uses Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds to gather titles, abstracts, and sometimes the full text of articles from other websites. RSS is ubiquitous on the Internet—it’s the protocol that makes “blogrolls” and other news feeds work—and many people use it without even knowing it. You may have found this very post through an RSS reader like Feedly or a website that subscribes to EFF’s RSS feed. RSS is also an open protocol, like most of the Internet’s most important protocols. It’s been around a long time, and its meaning is well understood: it promotes “syndication,” or re-publishing, of posts and articles.

    • Hearing Tuesday: EFF Urges California Lawmakers to Pass Fiber Broadband for All Bill To Ensure Full Internet Access For Everyone During the Pandemic and Beyond

      Sacramento, California—On Tuesday, May 26, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will ask California senators to approve a measure that will transition the state’s outdated communications network to fiber, bringing affordable high-speed broadband service, essential during the pandemic and beyond, to all residents.EFF Senior Legislative Counsel Ernesto Falcon will testify Tuesday afternoon at a California Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee hearing, where lawmakers will consider SB 1130. Co-sponsored by EFF, the bill will raise minimum standards for telecommunications companies providing broadband service to communities, requiring that any broadband network funded by the state must be high-capacity fiber and open access.The COVID-19 outbreak has made it clear that high-speed access to broadband is indispensable, and the more than one million Californians without it are facing serious ongoing harm and risks. Because of the state’s failure to act, far too many people are forced to rely on a 1990s-era DSL line in their community or, worse, have no Internet access at all.

  • Monopolies

    • Damages for Noneconomic Harm in Intellectual Property Law, by Thomas F. Cotter. Forthcoming with Hastings Law Journal. A Brief Review.

      Noneconomic harm, so Professor Cotter, includes (among other things) pain and suffering, emotional harm and distress, and loss of reputation. While it is difficult to quantify such harm, it is not impossible to do so. Particularly, if the plaintiff is a corporation which was confronted with the infringement of its intellectual property rights. In such circumstances one can illustrate loss of earnings caused by the infringement with reference to the firm’s financial statements. Often balance sheets of companies are used for illustrative purposes in such circumstances and the scenario one looks at is how corporate performance was affected by the noneconomic harm.

      If however the injured party is not a company, but an individual, the situation is bit more complicated. How can one quantify the emotional distress of a writer who saw her work demolished?

      In this article Thomas Cotter is less interested in offering a ‘cooking recipe’ how to calculate damages for such noneconomic harm, but more in discussing the overarching principles guiding damage awards for noneconomic harm.

    • Let domain registries offset brands’ enforcement costs: lawyers

      In-house counsel mull whether a loser-pays model would ease the cost for brand owners, but officials highlight practical difficulties with such a system

    • Health bodies push for COVID patent pool to fight ‘IP hoarding’

      Panellists from the WHO, Unitaid, MPP and other bodies explain why IP pooling is essential to ensuring global access to COVID-19 innovations

    • PTAB polarises in-house survey respondents

      There’s no clear consensus on the PTAB, but three quarters of respondents say USPTO director Iancu is doing a good job, in the finale of our in-house survey

    • Patents

      • Importance and Benefits of Artificial intelligence for Patent Searching

        Every year with the growth in new technologies and inventions there have been an astounding growth in volume of intellectual property literature. Internationally, this data has to be gathered, stored, and classified in multiple formats and languages so that it can be used as and when required. However, data alone does not create a competitive advantage, extracting significant and actionable information from this data deluge represents a major challenge and an opportunity at the same time. Analysing patent documents from the pile of data manually is getting out of question day by day as it demands extensive time and resources. So, the examiners and patent analyst need all available tools at their disposal to perform this tedious task. One of the tools with a tremendous potential is Artificial Intelligence (AI). At its core, artificial intelligence is a computer that has been programmed to mimic the natural intelligence of human beings by learning, reasoning and making decisions.

        From the days of fully constructed Boolean searches, search and analytics have evolved, thanks to AI-based semantic search algorithms to provide more efficient and accurate search result than ever before. A major advantage of artificial intelligence is its ability to provide repeated results as these systems are not hindered by inexperience or fatigue. Artificial intelligence tools have potential to significantly streamline and automate the patent search process and the increase the quality and speed of theobtaining results by reducing the amount of time examiners and analyst spend researching, for example,a prior art research project that can runs into days and weeks, can be performed by an AI tool in a matter of hours. Some existing tools, that are really advanced, also incorporate natural language based input that permitsa searcher to include natural language terms that can be comprehended by the backend artificial intelligence engine, which recovers comparable documents available in different languages.

      • Opposition Case Studies

        With an increasing number of European patents being granted year on year, freedom to operate for third parties has never been so important. When a patent application is filed at the European Patent Office (EPO), upon grant it becomes a bundle of national patents and subject to national patent laws. For third parties looking to clear the way, this can prove very complicated. Different countries may have differences in national laws and invalidation procedures which may lead to different outcomes.

        The EPO offers an efficient and cost effective post grant opposition procedure, whereby within nine months of grant a third party can centrally challenge the European patent. If successful, the patent is then revoked (or amended) across all countries in which it is in force. Oppositions can therefore avoid the potential inconsistency of challenging patents nationally and at a fraction of the price. The official fee for filing an EPO opposition is currently 815 EUR, with attorney fees typically in the tens of thousands of EUR, as opposed to hundreds of thousands or even millions for national litigation.

        The statistics on opposition outcomes at the EPO are also generally favourable to the challenger, with just over two thirds of patents opposed either being revoked or amended.

      • This week in IP – INTA goes virtual, in-person hearings halted, Walmart and Alibaba make patent gains

        The organisation said it will reduce its registration fees to $850 for standard members and $750 for early birds. Registration will open in early July.

        In a press release on May 20, INTA CEO Etienne Sanz de Acedo said: “While the path here has come with a heavy heart, we believe this forward-looking approach is the safest option right now and keeps registrants’ best interests in mind.

        “Moreover, we are excited about the prospect of not only bringing our community together again, but doing so in a new and innovative way, on a secure and engaging platform. The meeting aligns with our digital transformation and pioneers a future that incorporates virtual offerings into our in-person events.”

      • Important IP Updates Covid-19 | 18.05.2020

        European Patent Office (EPO) – All oral proceedings in opposition scheduled until 14 September 2020, which have not already been confirmed to take place by videoconference, are postponed until further notice. More info.

        European Union Intellectual Property Institute (EUIPO) – Deadlines between May 1 and May 17, 2020, postponed until May 18, 2020. More info.

      • European Patent Office (EPO) COVID-19 provisions – as at 5 May 2020

        The EPO has now issued a further guidance notice regarding its deadlines in light of the ongoing coronavirus situation, which replaces the previous notice dated 16 April 2020 and which will be published in the EPO’s May Official Journal. The EPO has also issued further information regarding oral proceedings before examination and opposition divisions. This article summarises all of the EPO’s COVID-19 related notices, information and decisions to date.

        [...]

        The EPO has changed their practice by a Decision of the EPO President so that, as a rule, from 2 April 2020 oral proceedings before examining divisions will be held by videoconference. Equally, interviews in examination will be held by videoconference as a matter of course.

      • Developments at Patent Courts in Europe in light of the health emergency (UK, Germany, France, Italy & the EPO)

        In response to the health emergency caused by COVID-19, the courts of England and Wales have put in place new measures to ensure that court work continues as much as possible. Overall, the judiciary is committed to continuing the work of the courts as a vital public service, although the message is to do what can be done safely.

        [...]

        In an effort to maintain the dates in the diary, the HM Courts & Tribunals Service published guidance on telephone and video hearings, available here. It appears that the main platform being used by the court for video hearings is Skype for Business, which has been activated on all staff and judicial laptops. Microsoft Teams is also being used in some cases.

        How a hearing is conducted is a matter for the judge, and the guidance states: “In considering the suitability of video/audio, judges will consider issues such as the nature of the matters at stake during the hearing; any issues the use of video/audio technology may present for participants in the hearing; any issues around public access to or participation in the hearing.”

        The Senior judiciary also issued a new protocol regarding remote hearings in March 2020. The protocol emphasises that the objective is to undertake as many hearings as possible remotely so as to minimise the risk of transmission of COVID-19. It should be noted that the court may arrange a short remote CMC to discuss arrangements in advance, and also that the parties are not allowed to record any part of the proceedings.

      • Measures Being Taken by EPO, EUIPO, WIPO and UK IPO in Relation to COVID-19 Pandemic

        The European Patent Office (EPO), the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO), the International Bureau (IB) of WIPO and other intellectual property offices are taking measures in view of the world-wide COVID-19 pandemic.

      • Art.53(b) EPC exception to patentability broadened by the Enlarged Board of Appeal

        G 0003/19, better known as Pepper, concerns the patentability of a pepper plant as claimed in Sygenta’s EP2753168 application, and is the sixth case relating to the interpretation of Art. 53(b) EPC to reach the EBA. Art. 53(b) provides an exclusion from patentability under the EPC, stating that European patents shall not be granted in respect of “plant or animal varieties or essentially biological processes for the production of plants or animals; this provision shall not apply to microbiological processes or the products thereof”.

        The main question in respect of Art. 53(b) has long been whether its wording excludes from patentability not only essentially biological processes (i.e. process claims), but also the products of essentially biological processes (i.e. product and product-by-process claims). This is a matter of considerable importance to the European agritech industry, which has relied upon the narrower interpretation of the exclusion to enable it to patent the products it produces, even if the processes themselves are excluded from patentability.

        Within the EU, the extent to which biotechnological inventions are patentable is set out in Directive 98/44/EC (“Biotech Directive”), which has subsequently been implemented into national law by the Member States, and which led to the introduction of Art. 53(b) EPC. The Biotech Directive states at Art. 4(1) that “[t]he following shall not be patentable: […] essentially biological processes for the production of plants or animals”, hence the language of Art. 53(b) EPC.

      • European Patent Office denies patentability of plants and animals obtained by essentially biological processes (G 3/19 “Pepper”)

        Düsseldorf, 15.05.2020 – On May 14, 2020, the European Patent Office (EPO) fundamentally changed its position on the patentability of plants and animals produced exclusively by biological processes: The EPO’s Enlarged Board of Appeal, in an express divergence from its previous case law, rejected patentability of such plants and animals. The decision comes at the end of a long dispute between various interest groups and represents a setback for the patent protection of agritech research and development, especially for agricultural companies that have opted for conventionally bred plants in view of the European debate on genetically engineered plants.

        Background: The European Patent Convention (EPC) stipulates in Article 53(b) that plant or animal varieties or essentially biological processes for the production of plants or animals are not eligible for patent protection. In its landmark decisions G 2/07 “Broccoli I” and G 1/08 “Tomato I”, the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the EPO clarified in 2010 that the exclusion from patentability of “essentially biological processes for the production of plants or animals” also covers those which use artificially introduced genetic markers for selection. Five years later, the Enlarged Board of Appeal clarified in the follow-up decisions G 2/12 “Tomato II” and G 2/13 “Broccoli II” that plants and animals as such can still be patented, even if they originate from a biological process that itself is excluded from patent protection.

        [...]

        This was now reviewed and finally rejected in yesterday’s decision G 3/19 “Pepper” of the Enlarged Board of Appeal, which is responsive to a referral of the President of the EPO. In its new decision G 3/19, the Enlarged Board of Appeal declares its previous decisions, G 2/12 and G 2/13 (Broccoli II/Tomato II), from 2015 to no longer be applicable. In doing so, it has now aligned its jurisprudence with the now applicable EU Directive. The Enlarged Board of Appeal argues that a certain interpretation of a legal provision can never be considered as “carved in stone”, since the meaning of the provision may change or develop over time. However, as a protective measure, the amendment of the case law will have no retroactive effect on European patents granted before July 1, 2017, or on pending European patent applications which were filed before that date.

      • Using AI to invent therapeutics: should artificial intelligence be recognised for inventive activity?

        Two patent applications naming artificial intelligence as the sole inventor were refused by the European Patent Office following oral proceedings on the grounds that an inventor must be a human being. Is a machine capable of truly inventive activity? If so, what are the implications for the protection of the resulting technology?

        Artificial intelligence (AI) can be broadly defined as the concept of a machine performing a task that is normally accepted as requiring human intelligence. AI algorithms ‘learn’ from data, information and even from their own decisions, and are capable of extracting concepts and relationships at high speed. AI is increasingly being incorporated into drug discovery pipelines.

        The most common applications use deep-learning algorithms – similar to those used in face and image recognition – which are ‘trained’ using experimental results or information on the 3D structure and binding properties of small molecules to recognise target specificities with much greater accuracy than what was previously thought possible. Use of AI in the initial stage of drug development can increase the speed, accuracy and predictability of candidate selection. A slight increase in the reliability of predictions can potentially save vast amounts of money.

      • A Dynamic Reversal by the EPO’s Enlarged Board of Appeal

        Plants and animals exclusively obtained by essentially biological processes are excluded from patentability, according to the Enlarged Board of Appeal (“EBA”) of the European Patent Office (“EPO”). This reversal of the EBA’s previous rulings was issued late last week in the eagerly anticipated opinion in referral G 3/19 (“Pepper”).

        To recap, after the Broccoli-II and Tomato-II decisions (G 2/12 and G 2/13) affirmed the patentability of products derived from essentially biological processes, the European Commission issued a Notice indicating that the Biotech Directive should have been interpreted to exclude such products from patentability (see our June 2015 Commentary, “Clarifying or Confirming the Extent of Process Exclusion under Art. 53(b) EPC?” and our December 2016 Alert, “Clarifying or Confusing? The European Commission Chews on Tomatoes and Broccoli”). In order to comply with the Notice, the EPO Administrative Council introduced Rule 28(2) EPC in July 2017 (see our July 2017 Commentary, “Clarifying or Conforming? The EPO Bows to the European Commission”).

        The latest referral to the EBA was triggered by an alleged legal uncertainty that occurred after a Technical Board of Appeal found the amendment to Rule 28 EPC de facto void and followed the interpretation of Article 53(b) EPC given in G 2/12 and G 2/13 (case T 1063/18).

        According to the EPO press release announcing the opinion in G 3/19, the EBA “found that a particular interpretation which has been given to a legal provision can never be taken as carved in stone, because the meaning of the provision may change or evolve over time. This meant that decisions G 2/12 and G 2/13 did not settle the meaning of Article 53(b) EPC once and for all.

        “Taking account of the Administrative Council’s decision to introduce Rule 28(2) EPC, the preparatory work on this provision and the circumstances of its adoption, as well as legislative developments in the EPC contracting states, the Enlarged Board concluded that new Rule 28(2) EPC allowed and indeed called for a dynamic interpretation of Article 53(b) EPC.”

      • Pepper trumps Broccoli: EPO finds products produced by essentially biological processes are not patentable

        Responding to a question referred to it by the EPO’s President, the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office has issued its opinion in relation to what was perhaps the most controversial referral of 2019. In a complete reversal of its opinion of just five years ago, the EPO has held that plants and animal products produced by essentially biological (natural) processes are not patentable.

        Background

        In 2015, the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the EPO held that although non-microbiological processes for the production of plants which are “essentially biological” cannot be patented (Art 53 EPC), the products derived from using essentially biological processes could be patentable (G2/12; G2/13, also referred to as Broccoli/ Tomatoes II).

        Following these decisions, the European Parliament asked the European Commission to review the patentability of plants and animals derived from essentially biological processes. This resulted in a European Commission Notice dated 8 November 2016 clarifying that the EU legislator had intended to exclude such plants and animals (either in whole or in part) from patentability when adopting the EU Directive on biotechnological inventions (Directive 98/44/EC). The Administrative Council of the EPO therefore amended Rule 28(2) EPC to state that, from 1 July 2017, the EPO will no longer grant patents for plants and animals exclusively obtained by means of an “essentially biological process”. Further background and the legal framework regarding patents for plants and animals exclusively obtained by means of an “essentially biological process” is set out in our previous update, here.

      • Software Patents

        • Mapping natural language text input to elements of a social-graph database: non-technical

          In this decision, the European Patent Office did not grant a patent on a system for structured queries in social networks, particularly for mapping natural language text input to elements of a social-graph database. Here are the practical takeaways of the decision T 1089/17 (Ambiguous queries on online social networks/FACEBOOK) of 7.2.2020 of Technical Board of Appeal 3.5.07…

    • Trademarks

    • Copyrights

      • US Copyright Office’s Proposed DMCA Fine-Tuning Could Be Bad News for Pirates

        The US Copyright Office has published its long-awaited review of the DMCA’s safe harbor provisions. The report proposes several tweaks to the law, including one that could make it much easier to go after online pirates. At the same time, the Copyright Office stresses that more research is needed on the effects of upload filters and pirate site blocking.

      • YouTube Faces Permanent ISP Blocking in Repeat Copyright Infringer Lawsuit

        A company that develops personnel assessment tests for companies to vet prospective employees has filed a lawsuit against YouTube demanding that the platform is permanently blocked by ISPs in the country. OnTarget says that the video platform has not responded to previous orders to remove its content so must now be considered a repeat infringer under Russia’s anti-piracy laws.

      • Why “Taking On” Google and Facebook Isn’t the Cure for the Media Sector’s Ills

        Canadian media organizations face difficult challenges in an age of virtually unlimited Internet competition, a dramatic shift toward digital advertising, and an unprecedented global economic and health crisis. That has led media groups to urge the federal government to “take on” Google and Facebook by requiring them to fund local media. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has thus far declined to do so. That may spark criticism in some quarters but claims that government-mandated payments from Internet companies will solve the sector’s ills are unconvincing.

      • In Memory of Muid Latif

        Muid was the Project Lead of CC Malaysia and was an extremely talented digital artist and designer who released his work openly. He believed passionately in the ideals of the CC community—openness, access, and collaboration. He was especially interested in how open approaches to creation and distribution could benefit artists (and the world generally).

      • Does The US Copyright Office Not Know That Copyright Policy’s Main Stakeholders Are The Public?

        More than four years ago, the Copyright Office kicked off a project to do a big “study” on Section 512 of the DMCA, better known as either the “notice-and-takedown” section of copyright law, or the “safe harbors” section for websites. The Office took comments, held a few, somewhat bizarre “roundtables” (that we participated in)… and then… silence. Years of silence. Until yesterday when it finally released the report. It’s 250 pages and there’s a lot in there — and we’re likely to have a few more posts on it as we dig into the details, but to kick it off, I wanted to highlight just how bizarre a report it is, in that the authors don’t seem to realize or ever acknowledge that the purpose of copyright law (and even this section) is to create the best possible services for the public.

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  14. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, November 21, 2020

    IRC logs for Saturday, November 21, 2020



  15. [Meme] Good Advice From the FSF, So It's Time to #DeleteGitHub

    A good gift for the FSF would be git; not GitHub, but git



  16. Go Distributed, Go Encrypted, Go Secure, Transparency Still Possible

    Earlier today we enhanced access to our (sometimes anonymised) IRC logs by issuing text (ASCII) versions, which will from now onwards be a nightly/daily occurrence; we're also making everything we publish accessible from a large number of IPFS nodes (akin to P2P)



  17. IAM Celebrating and Glorifying Illegal Patents With Fake 'Awards' and Bogus 'Endorsements'

    IAM's fake 'awards' are nothing more than business and agenda-steering lies; it's time to call out again the real corruption that's driving IAM (which is itself supporting and advocating corruption)



  18. Been There, Done That: Team UPC's 'October' Becomes 'Early November' and Now Late November

    The self-serving litigation fanatics who mislead their customers are still at it; Bristows says that UPC has no issues other than “delay”



  19. The Only Real Dialogue the 'European' Patent Office is Having... is With Litigation Parasites, Even Foreign Ones

    The EPO's mask falls off again, revealing a ruthless herd immunity-like mentality that welcomes patent trolls, threatens/condemns actual scientists, harms Europe and basically does a disservice to everybody



  20. Inside the EPO During Corona: SUEPO (EPO Staff Union) and the Central Staff Committee Blast the Office for Illegal Practices and Threaten Legal Action

    The Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) and the Central Staff Committee (CSC) are escalating their tone; the management of the Office and the Organisation is running out of time as staff loses its patience and its tolerance for the repeated abuses by the administration



  21. IRC Proceedings: Friday, November 20, 2020

    IRC logs for Friday, November 20, 2020



  22. Links 21/11/2020: Coreboot 4.13, EasyOS 2.5, Wine 5.22, Gmusicbrowser 1.1.16

    Links for the day



  23. Links 20/11/2020: Xfce 4.16pre2 and Qt Releases

    Links for the day



  24. Open Letter to Mogzagain (No Worries)

    figosdev responds to a concerned reader of Techrights, who wants Free software to succeed



  25. Better Privacy Than Pretty Good Privacy

    We're getting into distributed-as-in-decentralised and encryption-enabled page distribution; we're also likely to be adopting Sequoia-PGP over time



  26. Inside the EPO During Corona: The EPO is Violating Workers'/Stakeholders' Privacy and Breaking Data Protection Law (Again)

    There's no respect for the law or for the dignity/privacy of EPO staff; whenever the subject is being brought up there's nothing but stonewalling and the Data Protection Officer is a friend of the offender, who would be reluctant to oversee anything



  27. Conduct of EPO Management Lacks “Basis in Legality” According to EPO Staff Representatives

    The ongoing assault on staff of the EPO isn't going unnoticed and for the impression of consent (acceptance of this assault) a survey is being imposed on workers (with pressure put by line managers to participate); Europe as a whole is under assault from the EPO, whose decision-making groups are entirely infiltrated by special interests (to give an impression of professional consultation)



  28. Inside the EPO During Corona: Managers Don't Think of the Children, Cut Their Budget for First Time in Half a Century

    The systematic attack on staff's rights and welfare shows no signs of stopping; the so-called 'president', who isn't even showing up for meetings with staff, has turned Europe's second-largest institution from cash cow into a cash laundering apparatus that eats its own workers



  29. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, November 19, 2020

    IRC logs for Thursday, November 19, 2020



  30. Links 20/11/2020: Mir 2.2, Istio Releases, Linux 5.9.9

    Links for the day


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