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07.05.20

Links 5/7/2020: Slackel 7.3 Mate Beta and GNOME Gingerblue

Posted in News Roundup at 11:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • Leftovers

    • Education

      • Student communication shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all

        As much as possible, advisers, faculty members, counsellors, and student services staff need to assess students’ needs and reach out with customised messages to individual students or more granular student segments. Part-time students have different concerns to full-time scholarship students. Science students have different concerns to business students. Many students need mental health counselling or other services.

    • Hardware

    • Health/Nutrition

      • Scotland could eliminate the coronavirus – if it weren’t for England

        On 29 June, Scotland reported just 5 new cases, out of 815 for the UK as a whole, and announced no new covid-19-related deaths for the fourth day in a row. The nation could soon have days with no new confirmed cases. “Scotland’s weeks away from that,” says Sridhar. “England’s months away.”

        Yet in practice, Scotland is unlikely to achieve full elimination in the near future, because it has a 154-kilometre border with England. “Many people cross that border every day,” says Sridhar. “I think we will probably never get, without England’s cooperation, to full elimination.”

      • Australia Has a Flesh-Eating-Bacteria Problem

        If COVID-19 has shown us anything, it’s how quickly international travelers can carry a disease from one side of the world to the other. Potential treatments can travel quickly too, but that journey takes concerted action. When I spoke with Asiedu, who now works at the WHO’s Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases, he told me that the new research in Australia could be beneficial to Africans, even if they were not its original focus. Thanks in part to Australian doctors’ experience with antibiotic treatment regimes, and following a successful clinical trial in Africa, the WHO will soon be recommending oral—rather than injectable—antibiotics, reducing the need for hospital stays in both Australia and Africa. Researchers at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization are also developing a new environmental test for Buruli ulcer that is based on RNA, which breaks down more rapidly in the environment than DNA. This makes it better suited for identifying places where the bacteria is alive and being actively transmitted.

      • Price Gouging Weekly Round Up – June 2020 #5 | Proskauer Rose LLP

        On June 22, 2020, a bipartisan house bill—Make Medications Affordable by Preventing Pandemic Pricegouging Act (MMAPPP)—was introduced. Sponsored by Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Francis Rooney (R-FL), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and Peter DeFazio (D-OR), the bill would prohibit excessive pricing of drugs used to treat any disease that causes a public health emergency by waiving exclusive licenses and compensating patent holders with a reasonable royalty. Additional provisions of the bill include: (1) prohibiting exclusive licensing of new, taxpayer-funded drugs that are used to diagnose, mitigate, prevent, or treat COVID-19 in order to ensure universal access to these drugs; (2) requiring the federal government to mandate reasonable, affordable pricing of any new, taxpayer-funded drug used to diagnose, mitigate, prevent, or treat COVID-19; and (3) ensuring transparency by requiring manufacturers to publicly report a specific breakdown of total expenditures on any drug used to diagnose, mitigate, prevent, or treat COVID-19, including what percentage of those expenditures were derived from federal funds. According to the release by Representative Schakowsky’s office, “[l]ower drug prices should not be a partisan issue. Our proposed reforms are long overdue, and drug price gouging is certainly not exclusive to COVID-19. It will take all of us—Democrats and Republicans—to stop drug manufacturers’ profiteering once and for all. The time for action is now.”

      • Price Gouging Weekly Round Up: June 29, 2020

        In recent weeks, consumers have started seeing a surcharge at local businesses. For example, at one Montgomery County, Maryland restaurant, diners found a disclaimer stating “[t]o help offset restrictions on our business resulting from the COVID 19 crisis, a 4% surcharge has been added to all guest checks.” The disclaimer also stated that “[i]f you would like this removed, please let us know.” According to the President and CEO of the Restaurant Association of Maryland, “[s]ome businesses and restaurants have started utilizing a ‘COVID-19 Fee’ as they navigate operations during this precarious time. . . We understand operators may need to consider how they absorb the additional costs necessary to reopen as many have been struggling and will continue to struggle to keep their doors open.” Maryland’s price gouging law, which applies to, among others, food and beverages, prohibits price increases of more than 10%, though some of the COVID fees in excess of that amount may be permissible to the extent they reflect actual cost increases.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Security

          • What a TLS self signed certificate is at a mechanical level

            To simplify a lot, a TLS certificate is a bundle of attributes wrapped around a public key. All TLS certificates are signed by someone; we call this the issuer. The issuer for a certificate is identified by their X.509 Subject Name, and also at least implicitly by the keypair used to sign the certificate (since only an issuer TLS certificate with the right public key can validate the signature).

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Under Siege After Facebook Scrutiny

              A group of scientists funded by CZI wrote an open letter to the billionaire last month expressing concern over Facebook’s propagation of misinformation. The letter was just the beginning, organizers say, and the charity’s employees continued the discussion on ways they might push their boss to fix his social network’s hate speech problem.

              “There’s a long history of misinformation at Facebook that has had a negative impact on democracy and society, not only in the U.S., but around the world,” said Martin Kampmann, a CZI-funded scientist who helped organize the letter to Zuckerberg, which now has 277 signees, including several of the charity’s employees.

            • JioMeet clones Zoom app; data-sharing policy raise concerns

              But netizens have pointed out the data-sharing clause in JioMeet T&Cs, which has raised concerns and questions. If you’re a privacy advocate, these clauses might seem worrisome. JioMeet’s privacy policy clearly states that using the free app will grant Jio permission to use both personal and non-personal information with Reliance Jio. From accessing location to SD card contents, phone statistics, conferencing logs and history.

              Jio also noted that it is open to sharing personal data with third parties for display advertising and promotional services and even allow external organizations in the following cases:

            • Gardaí to get ‘electronic key’ to intercept criminal gangs’ encrypted messages

              Laws are being drafted to give State agencies legal powers to intercept encrypted communications.

              The Department of Justice told the Irish Examiner that the proposals “are being prepared” for the Minister for Justice and the Government.

              Gardaí have been calling for powers to intercept and access encrypted devices in recent years. And in July 2019 a top judge told the Government that agencies reported that the current laws were “considerably out of date”.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Taiwan fended off China’s cyber attacks on eve of presidential inauguration

        A spike in cyber attacks from China was detected on May 19, targeting computer systems of the state-run oil refiner CPC Corp. Such activities are traditionally expected around the day of Taiwan’s presidential inauguration, which is intended to cause disruption to society through compromising government agencies, infrastructure facilities, and financial institutions.

        The incident triggered an emergency response from Taiwan’s cybersecurity entities on the Cabinet level, leading to a series of self-defense measures. The counter-effort was spearheaded by the National Center for Cyber Security Technology, with IT experts from the private sector.

      • Iran Has Triggered Nuclear Accord Dispute Mechanism, EU Says

        The European Union’s top diplomat disclosed Friday that he has received a letter from Iran’s foreign minister that triggers a dispute mechanism in the 2015 nuclear agreement, complaining that Britain, France and Germany are not living up to their side of the deal.

        The accord, which Iran signed with the U.S., Britain, Germany, France, China and Russia, has been unraveling since President Donald Trump pulled Washington out in 2018, unleashing sanctions designed to cripple the Islamic Republic’s economy.

        EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that in the letter Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif seeks redress under “the dispute resolution mechanism, as set out in paragraph 36 of the agreement.”

      • The Boogaloo Tipping Point

        The boogaloo movement originally grew from the weapons discussion section (“/k/”) of the anarchic anonymous message board 4chan over the past several years. By 2019, its culture had disseminated across social media into a mix of online groups and chat servers where users shared libertarian political memes. In the past six months, this all began to manifest in real life, as users from the groups emerged at protests in what became their signature uniform: aloha shirts and combat gear. As nationwide unrest intensified at the start of the summer, many boogaloo adherents interpreted this as a cue to realize the group’s central fantasy—armed revolt against the U.S. government.

        In Colorado earlier in May, then in Nevada in June, police arrested several other heavily armed self-identified boogaloo members, who the authorities claimed were on their way to demonstrations to incite violence. Disturbingly, the boogaloo movement is at least the third example of a mass of memes escaping from 4chan to become a real-life radical political movement, the first being the leftist-libertarian hacktivist collective Anonymous, which emerged in 2008; the second was the far-right fascist group of angry young men called the alt-right, which formed in 2015. (The conspiracy theory QAnon might be considered a fourth, but it is more than a political movement.)

        At first glance, armed right-wing militants dressed in floral shirts may seem like another baffling grotesquerie in the parade of calamities that is 2020. However, their arrival can be explained by tracing their online origins. Similar to other right-leaning extremist movements, they are the product of an unhappy generation of men who compare their lot in life with that of men in previous decades and see their prospects diminishing. And with a mix of ignorance and simplicity, they view their discontent through the most distorted lens imaginable: internet memes.

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • In lockdown with a conspiracy theorist

        Mary found some comfort in a Reddit group called QAnonCasualties, a support group for people whose loved ones believe in the conspiracy theory. It had nearly 4,000 members by June, nearly eight times the number three months earlier, when lockdowns were beginning around the world. One woman from New Jersey was planning to divorce her husband who she suspects became convinced of the conspiracy while at Alcoholics Anonymous – she reckons he swapped one addiction for another. Others talk about their baby-boomer parents whose belief in QAnon follows decades of devotion to other conspiracies. Finding the community has been helpful to Mary: “I’m not the only one dealing with a family member that is acting like this, who is pushing their family away without even realising it.”

    • Environment

      • Radical warming in Siberia threatens destruction

        The Arctic is feverish and on fire, or at least parts of it are, and that’s got scientists worried about what it means for the rest of the world.

        The thermometer hit a record of 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit) in the Russian Arctic town of Verkhoyansk on 20th of June, a temperature that would be a fever for a person but this is Siberia, known for being frozen. The World Meteorological Organization said that it’s looking to verify the temperature reading, which would be unprecedented for the region north of the Arctic Circle.

      • Energy

        • Who’s Insuring the Trans Mountain Pipeline?

          A new campaign is demanding these companies respect Indigenous rights and drop their coverage

        • Flooding below China’s Three Gorges raises questions about dam

          Massive flooding seen above and below the Three Gorges Dam is putting its purpose and stability into question.

          In addition to generating electricity, one of the major stated purposes of the Three Gorges Dam was to help put a stop to the endless cycle of flooding seen along the Yangtze River for centuries. However, out of fears that this summer’s floods upstream would overwhelm the mammoth showpiece project, its reservoir has been kept low by allegedly unleashing the sluicegates on lower reaches of the river, resulting in tremendous flooding below.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • With New Infections Soaring, The Trumps Host a July 4th Pandemic Party at the White House

        The White House is preparing to change its messaging on the coronavirus, to tell Americans it simply has to be lived with.

      • We Must Understand the Sordid History of Voter Suppression to End Its Use

        Below is an exclusive excerpt of the upcoming graphic novel Unrig: How to Fix Our Broken Democracy, published by First Second of Macmillan publishing and available July 7. Unrig, written by Daniel G. Newman with illustrations by George O’Connor, outlines key problems in U.S. democracy, proven solutions and stories of activists working to effect change. It documents the influence of money in politics, gerrymandering, voter suppression, the failings of the Electoral College, our current voting methods and more. The chapter below focuses on the history of voting rights in the United States and how to fight back against voter suppression.

      • Tech billionaire Peter Thiel may ditch Trump because he thinks Trump will lose

        Thiel was a vocal supporter of the president in 2016, speaking at the Republican National Convention in 2016 and donating $1.25 million that year to his campaign and other adjacent political groups and causes. Thiel, who earned his fortune co-founding PayPal before becoming one of the earliest Facebook investors, has no plans on donating any money to Trump’s campaign this year, the report says.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • University apologises for Black Lives Matter ‘censorship’ email

        Liverpool John Moores University has apologised for asking staff to check with its communications team before using institutional social media accounts to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

        The email, sent by head of corporate communications Ben Jones to LJMU social media account holders, urged “caution” when it came to liking, sharing or retweeting when attempting to engage with or show support for issues related to Black Lives Matter and slavery commemorations.

      • Conservatives are flocking to a new ‘free speech’ social media app that has started banning liberal [sic] users

        Many others followed suit. Parler, founded in August 2018, touts itself as an “unbiased” social media platform focused on “real user experiences and engagement.” In recent weeks, it has become a destination for conservatives who have voiced their disapproval of how mainstream platforms such as Facebook and Twitter moderate content.

        But as with every other platform on the [I]nternet, Parler’s free speech stance goes only so far. The platform has been banning many people who joined and trolled conservatives.

      • Hong Kong libraries pull books by territory’s pro-democracy activists in wake of China security law

        Wong said he believed the removal of the books was sparked by the security law.

        “White terror continues to spread, the national security law is fundamentally a tool to incriminate speech,” he wrote on Facebook, using a phrase that refers to political persecution.

        Searches on the public library website showed at least three titles by Wong, Chan and local scholar Chin Wan are no longer available for lending at any of dozens of outlets across the territory.

        An AFP reporter was unable to find the titles at a public library in the district of Wong Tai Sin on Saturday afternoon.

        Hong Kong’s Leisure and Cultural Services Department, which runs libraries, said books had been removed while it is determined whether they violate the national security law.

      • Weaponised censorship: The final demise of free expression in Egypt’s media

        In what was described by free speech advocates as part of an ongoing assault on press freedom in Egypt, the Supreme Council for Media Regulation (SCMR) recently banned journalists and social media users from reporting on sensitive political and economics topics.

        According to the regulator, print, online and TV media outlets, as well as social media platforms, will only be allowed to quote formal statements released by official bodies about the conflict in Libya, Sinai, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and the coronavirus pandemic.

        Known for allegedly being controlled by the security authorities and the government, the council presents itself as an independent entity that monitors media performance in Egypt.

      • Pregnant Women Have Received False Results From This DNA Paternity Test

        I know those last two names all too well. Almost a decade ago, while working for New Scientist magazine, I published an investigation into HGC’s prenatal paternity test. I spoke to women whose lives were upended by incorrect results and spent months dissecting the test’s serious scientific flaws. Shortly after my article was published in December 2010, HGC and its CEO, Yuri Melekhovets, sued for libel, setting up a long legal battle that finally came to an end in April this year.

        In December 2018, I was vindicated in a ruling from a Canadian court. “No matter how damaging or disparaging it may be to the plaintiffs, the truth can never be actionable,” the judge wrote, concluding that the criticisms made in my original article were justified.

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • Jamal Khashoggi murder: Turkey puts 20 Saudis on trial in absentia

        The Saudi trial was dismissed as “the antithesis of justice” by a UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard, who concluded that Khashoggi was “the victim of a deliberate, premeditated execution” for which the Saudi state was responsible.

      • When will they come for journalists?: Hong Kong press freedom under the new national security law

        The survey found 98 per cent of those who responded flatly opposed the law. 87 per cent believed that freedom of the press would be “severely affected.” 90 per cent said journalists’ safety would be threatened, 93 per cent said that they feared media outlets would be punished for covering sensitive subjects, and 63 per cent said they were “very pessimistic” about the future of press freedom in Hong Kong.

        Now that the text of the national security law has been released, the fears of the Hong Kong press corps have been proven right. While large portions of the law deal with the offences and penalties for secession, subversion, terrorist activities, collusion with foreign governments and external elements that all endanger national security, the text also has numerous areas that can be seen as enabling constraints on the free press.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Monopolies

      • Patents

        • Latest Federal Court Cases – June 2020 #3

          This week’s case of the week deals with issues relating to obviousness and standing in a consolidated appeal of two final written decisions issued in inter partes review (“IPR”) proceedings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”). The IPRs were brought by adidas, challenging two Nike patents directed to methods of manufacturing an article of footwear with a textile upper, both of which cover Nike’s Flyknit products. The PTAB held that adidas did not demonstrate the challenged claims were unpatentable as obvious, and adidas appealed. On appeal, the Federal Circuit found that adidas has standing and affirmed the PTAB’s decisions that adidas had failed to meet its burden of proof on obviousness.

          First, as to standing, Nike argued that adidas lacked standing to appeal because adidas could not establish the requisite “injury in fact” since Nike had not threatened to sue adidas for infringement of the patents at issue. The Court disagreed, explaining that an appellant need not face a specific threat of infringement to establish the required injury. Rather, adidas’s risk of infringement is concrete and substantial, and thus injury was established, because (1) adidas and Nike are direct competitors, (2) Nike previously accused adidas of infringing a different Flyknit patent, (3) Nike asserted one of the two patents at issue against a third-party product similar to adidas’s product, and (4) Nike had refused to grant adidas a covenant not to sue. The Court therefore found that adidas had standing to appeal the PTAB’s final written decisions.

          Next, as to obviousness, in the IPRs, adidas challenged the claims of Nike’s patents as obvious in view of two prior art combinations. The PTAB held that adidas had failed to demonstrate that a person of ordinary skill in the art would have been motivated to combine the references. Certain challenged claims, called the Base Claims, are directed to a method of “mechanically-manipulating a yarn with a circular knitting machine … to form a cylindrical textile structure.” The method claimed by the Base Claims involves removing a textile element from the textile structure and incorporating it into an upper of the article of footwear. The PTAB construed the Base Claims as “encompass[ing] methods related to both pre-seamed and unseamed garments and garment sections.” Certain other challenged claims, called the Unitary Construction Claims, limited the Base Claims by requiring the textile element to be a single material element wherein portions of it have different textures and are not joined together by seams or other connections.

          As to the first prior art combination, the PTAB found that adidas failed to show a motivation to combine because the “unitary construction” limitation excluded the type of seams taught by the primary reference, known as “pre-seaming.” As such, combining the two references would require altering the principles of operation of the primary reference, or would render it inoperable for its intended purpose. On appeal, adidas argued that substantial evidence did not support the PTAB’s findings because both references discuss knitting in multiple layers and a skilled artisan would have been motivated to combine the references to reduce waste. adidas further argued that the pre-seaming differences between the two references are irrelevant in view of the PTAB’s construction of the Base Claims. That is, in view of the PTAB’s construction of the Base Claims as including both pre-seamed and unseamed garments, adidas argued that all that was necessary was evidence of a suggestion to extend the teachings of the primary reference. The Court disagreed, explaining that the obviousness inquiry asks more than whether a skilled artisan could combine references, but instead asks whether they would have been motivated to do so. Because of the fundamental differences between the two references, the Court concluded that substantial evidence supports the PTAB’s finding that a person skilled in the art would not have been motivated to combine them.

        • European Commission circling above–and still failing to help resolve–patent licensing dispute over automotive components

          Last week, MLex published a report by Khushita Vsant (not paywalled, though most MLex reports are available only to subscribers, which is why I rarely have the chance to link to them) on a “third round of questions” the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition (DG COMP) expects automotive suppliers to answer sometime this week.

          MLex says the questionnaire “also asks carmakers about ‘have-made’ rights in Nokia’s license offers.” An academic paper recently discussed the shortcomings of such “have-made rights”, and I commented on it. The Bundeskartellamt (Federal Cartel Office of Germany) summarized the parties’ positions, including Nokia’s offer to grant “have-made rights,” in its submission to the courts hearing Nokia’s German patent infringement complaints against Daimler, but clearly wasn’t persuaded that the availability of “have-made rights” would obviate the need for judicial clarification on the availability of a full component-level license affording suppliers freedom to operate.

          On the one hand, it’s a positive sign that Daimler’s and its suppliers’ antitrust complaints against Nokia are still being preliminarily investigated by DG COMP. On the other hand, the Commission’s hesitance to launch formal investigations is in stark contrast to a variety of cases involving American companies (you name them).

      • Trademarks

      • Copyrights

        • Neil Young opposes use of his music at Trump Mt Rushmore event: ‘I stand in solidarity with the Lakota Sioux’

          “Nothing stands as a greater reminder to the Great Sioux Nation of a country that cannot keep a promise or treaty than the faces carved into our sacred land on what the United States calls Mount Rushmore,” Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Chairman Harold Frazier said in a statement condemning Mount Rushmore and the Trump event.

          Young has spoken out against Trump and the use of his songs at rallies in the past, writing an open letter earlier this year critiquing Trump’s presidency and throwing support behind former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

        • Pirate Streaming Site Uses Associated Press For Promo Campaign

          Pirate sites generally operate in secrecy but, in order to get noticed, they need some kind of promotional outreach. Streaming site YolaMovies has rediscovered a rather old fashioned but effective way to do so. Instead of going through social media, the site is using the Associated Press to issue several press releases which, with help from Google, result in plenty of eyeballs.

        • Illegal Streaming Business Models to be Investigated By Royal United Services Institute

          The Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies says it will conduct an investigation into the financial business models of organized crime groups involved in illicit streaming. The project is being funded by the UK Intellectual Property Office, the MPA, and the Premier League, among others.

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