02.23.21

Links 23/2/2021: Gemini (and Gopher) on the Rise Again, Systemd 248 Reaches RC1

Posted in News Roundup at 12:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • NASA’s Martian helicopter runs Linux

      The semi-autonomous Ingenuity drone copter that will launch soon from NASA’s Perseverance rover runs open source Linux on a Snapdragon 801 along with components from Sparkfun.

      Like other NASA rovers, the Perseverance rover that successfully landed last week on Mars’ Jezero Crater runs on Wind River’s VxWorks RTOS. Yet tucked underneath the SUV-sized rover is an autonomous mini-helicopter called Ingenuity that runs Linux. The debut of Linux on Mars was revealed on Feb. 17 by Tim Canham, Mars Helicopter Operations Lead at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in an interview with IEEE Spectrum.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • 214: Customizing Your Linux Desktop With GNOME, KDE Plasma & More – Destination Linux

        This week on Destination Linux, we’re going to have some fun with customizing your Linux desktop. We’ll tell you about how each of us customize our Linux computers and give you ideas on how you can modify your own systems. Later in the show, we’re also covering the latest release of the Linux kernel with Linux 5.11 and KDE’s new release of the Plasma desktop with Plasma 5.21. Plus we’ve also got our famous tips, tricks and software picks. All of this and so much more this week on Destination Linux. So whether you’re brand new to Linux and open source or a guru of sudo. This is the podcast for you.

      • Big Web Vs Small Web: Gemini, Gopher, HTTP

        Recently I’ve heard people talking about web protocols like gemini and gopher and using terms like big web and small web to describe their relationship with things like HTTP and HTML, however, I’ve not seen anyone define these terms…

    • Kernel Space

      • systemd 248 RC1 Released With New “System Extension Images” Concept

        The first release candidate of systemd 248 is now available with a number of improvements ranging from a new “system extensions images” concept to the out-of-memory daemon (OOMD) being declared stable.

      • RDMA Changes For Linux 5.12 Add DMA-BUF Support For Peer-To-Peer Transfers With GPUs – Phoronix

        The changes within the remote direct memory access (RDMA) subsystem for Linux 5.12 are deemed “quite small” but there is one interesting addition courtesy of Intel.

        Covered last year on Phoronix was the Intel-led work on DMA-BUF support for RDMA for supporting peer-to-peer transactions over PCI Express between RDMA-enabled NICs and other PCIe devices, such as graphics cards. That peer-to-peer support via DMA-BUF with a focus on GPU support is what’s coming in Linux 5.12.

      • Graphics Stack

        • Mesa 21.0.0-rc5 Is Released

          The Mesa 21 release-cycle got derailed after a strong rc4 on February 5th. It is now back on track with what will likely be the last release-candidate before the final Mesa 21.0 release. Mesa 21 will offer a ton of new features to AMD graphics card users, many performance improvements for Intel iGPUs and there’s also early pieces of code for ray-tracing on Intels upcoming Xe HPG gaming GPUs.

        • ZLUDA v2 Released For Drop-In CUDA On Intel Graphics – Phoronix

          One of many interesting and original open-source projects to be started in 2020 was ZLUDA, an open-spurce drop-in CUDA implementation for Intel graphics. ZLUDA – developed independent of Intel and NVIDIA – is built atop Intel’s oneAPI Level Zero interface (hence the name, ZLUDA) and allows for unmodified CUDA applications to run on Intel UHD/Xe Graphics hardware with near-native performance. Well, that’s the goal at least but with the initial ZLUDA release were a number of support limitations.

          Out today is ZLUDA Version 2 that has been focused on ensuring it works well with the Geekbench CUDA test cases as an interesting stressor for CUDA on Intel graphics. Additionally, the Microsoft Windows support for ZLUDA has been improved while continuing to provide first-rate Linux support.

    • Applications

      • The 5 best command-line based password managers for Linux

        You might ask, what is the necessity of a password manager? To answer this question, we have to breakdown the attributes of a good and secure password. These attributes are not related to the password we compose at a moment’s notice. You do not need a password manager or a password wallet for passwords related to your pet’s name, dream city to visit, or even your favorite pronounceable noun or verb.

        While you have the right to use these kinds of passwords, we cannot confidently characterize them as secure under the Linux domain. Secure passwords are not easy to memorize, and that is why you need a password manager. First, let us consider the rules of a secure password.

      • Jamming with Sonobus

        Before last week, I’d never heard of SonoBus. While on holiday I’d packaged up Spot – a Gtk Spotify client, which I wrote about recently. The next day I made a snap of SonoBus too! I did this because while there were binary builds for Windows and Mac, there was no binary release for Linux, other than in the Arch User Repository.

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • Linux 101: What is the SUID permission? – TechRepublic

        If you’re new to Linux administration, you’ve probably already started learning about file permissions. If I said “drwxrwxr-x,” you’d know what that meant. It’s simple: A directory with owner and group read, write, execute permissions, but only read and execute permissions for everyone else.

        That’s not the be-all, end all for permissions. There are actually three more permissions, one of which I’m going to teach you about right now. Said permission is called SUID, which stands for Set owner User ID. This is a special permission that applies to scripts or applications. If the SUID bit is set, when the command is run, it’s effective UID becomes that of the owner of the file, instead of the user running it.

      • What is the Vim Editor in linux?

        If you are working in the command line mode, you may need to become familiar with a text editor that will be operating in a Linux console. The vim editor is the original editor that Unix uses. It makes use of the console graphics mode for the emulation of a text-editing window, which allows you to see different lines of the file, move around across the files, and edit, insert or replace a piece of text. The vim editor works well with the data that is in a memory buffer. You have to type vim and the name of the file that you have to edit to open the editor with the desired file.

        If the editor is started without a filename being supplied, it opens but with no file. The vim editor detects the session’s terminal type and uses full-screen mode so the console window can use the editor area. The initial window will show the file contents and a message line at the bottom of the window. If the contents don’t take up the entire screen, a tilde is placed on the lines excluded from the file. The vim editor has two operational modes — normal and INSERT mode. When you open a file for editing, vim goes into normal mode, and certain keystrokes are interpreted as commands.

      • How to Schedule File Backups to Google Drive in Linux – Putorius

        Google Drive is a cloud storage service that allows us to backup the files and access them securely from any device. In Linux, you can easily mount the Google drive using the Gnome online accounts utility. After mounting the Google drive, you can upload any data you want to backup to your Google Drive storage. But what if you want to automatically backup certain data to online cloud storage service at regular intervals so that you have an up to date backup at all times? With Gnome online accounts and Deja-dup, you can easily schedule file backups to Google Drive in just 6 steps.

      • How to Set Package, PPA, Apt Repository Priority in Ubuntu | UbuntuHandbook

        This is a simple tutorial shows how to set the priority of a certain package and/or apt repository in Ubuntu, Debian, Linux Mint.

        In Ubuntu, we install software packages from different sources, including Ubuntu universe repositories (using Ubuntu Software), Ubuntu PPAs (e.g., LibreOffice, Kodi, GIMP, and more), apps’ own apt repositories (e.g, Chrome, VirtualBox, Opera, and more).

        We can even install apps from other Linux Distributions. For instance, installing Linux Mint’s IPTV player, Web App Mananger, and Chromium Browser (in deb format) in Ubuntu is possible.

      • How to use the open-source Spotify client on Linux

        Are you using the Spotify music service on your Linux PC? Do you feel like the official Spotify app isn’t very good? Check out the Spot app! It’s an open-source Spotify client (based on librespot) that gives a fresh, Linux-native look. Here’s how to use it on your system.

        Note: To use the Spot client, you must have a premium Spotify account. The Spot app does not work with free Spotify accounts, and developers have no plans to add support for free accounts.

      • Copy file from one directory to another in Ubuntu Linux [Guide]

        Are you using Ubuntu and want to know how to copy a file from one directory to another? We’ve got you covered! Follow along as we go over the many ways you can copy files in Ubuntu Linux!

      • How to Set Up and Use SSH in Linux – Make Tech Easier

        If you’ve been using Linux for any amount of time, you undoubtedly have heard about a tool known as SSH. SSH (or secure shell) is an encrypted networking tool designed to allow users to log in securely to various different types of computers remotely over a network. In this article, we show you how to set up and use SSH in Linux.

      • How to create and modify a Parameter Group for an RDS instance on AWS

        A Parameter Group contains configuration to be used by the DB instances on AWS. Every DB instance we create has a default Parameter group attached to it with default values. This default parameter group can not be edited, hence it is necessary to create a new parameter group with the required configuration. So, if you want to change the values of parameters, you first create a new Parameter group and attach it to the DB instance.

        Note that improperly configuring parameters can have adverse effects, and may result in degraded performance and system instability. So, you need to be very careful while changing the values of parameters on Production DB instances. You can also first try experimenting with changes on the test DB.

      • How to Select the Right ERP System for your Business?

        ERP software stands short for Enterprise Resource Planning software. It is a powerful data management tool that integrates all business workflows, streamlines and automates data-driven processes by imposing innovative data viewing and sharing techniques. All of this is aimed at improving their performance.

        Every business – be it SMEs or a large-scale enterprise, can reap great benefits from ERP software, especially if it’s flexible and scalable.

        But with so many ERP software tools flooding the market, choosing your right ERP software can be a tough nut to crack!

      • How to Install and Use Snap Package Manager on Ubuntu 20.04

        Snap also know as Snappy is an alternative package management tool and program package format developed by Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu Linux. Snap has been introduced in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) and is part of any Ubuntu version since then, it can be used across all Linux distributions. Snap packages can be installed via command line or can be downloaded from websites as .snap files. Snap package manager creates a separate folder for each package and does not interfere with the rest of the system.

        In this tutorial, we will show you how to install and use the Snap package on Ubuntu 20.04.

      • How to install Friday Night Funkin on a Chromebook – the Windows version

        Today we are looking at how to install Friday Night Funkin, the 32 bit Windows version, on a Chromebook. Please follow the video/audio guide as a tutorial where we explain the process step by step and use the commands below.

      • Lukas “lzap” Zapletal: What is waking my HDD up in Linux

        When my disks wake up during the day, I am angry. I want silence, so I started investigating which process makes them to do that. I suspect that something is browsing Samba share, but to confirm I created this simple SystemTap script…

    • Games

      • Valheim tops 500,000 simultaneous players, beating four more records

        Valheim is on a trajectory like nothing we’ve ever seen. The Viking-themed indie survival game has been shooting up the Steam charts, selling 3 million copies in an unheard-of 17 days. And people aren’t just buying it on a whim; they’re actively playing it, too. On Sunday, the game reached 500,000 simultaneous players, according to SteamDB, leaving the charred remains of four other all-time Steam player count records in its wake.

    • Distributions

      • BSD

        • Port of the week: catgirl irc client

          Catgirl has the following features: tab completion, split scrolling, URL detection, nick coloring, ignores filter. On the other hand, it doesn’t support non-TLS networks, CCTP, multi networks or dynamic configuration. If you want to use catgirl with multiples networks, you have to run it once per network.

          Catgirl will be available as a package in OpenBSD starting with version 6.9.

      • Screenshots/Screencasts

        • Netrunner OS 21.01

          Today we are looking at Netrunner OS 21.01. It comes with Linux Kernel 5.10, KDE Plasma 5.14, and uses about 1GB of ram when idling. Enjoy!

        • Netrunner OS 21.01 Run Through

          In this video, we are looking at Netrunner OS 21.01.

      • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva/OpenMandriva Family

        • ABF build system and mirrors down problem resolved

          This should not have been a problem for OpenMandriva users on channels 4.2, Rock, Rolling and Cooker, as the mirror redirector continued to redirect them to the nearest mirrors.

          It was still possible to install packages available on the mirrors, however it was not possible at that moment to offer new packages nor updates.

      • SUSE/OpenSUSE

        • openSUSE-Based GeckoLinux Gets New ISO Release with KDE Plasma 5.21 and Xfce 4.16

          The GeckoLinux ROLLING 999.210221 update is now available to download for all spins, generated directly from the openSUSE Tumbleweed and Packman repositories without any alterations. This release comes three months after the previous ROLLING update with important updates to the pre-installed desktop environments.

          The biggest change in this release and the thing I want to share with my readers is the inclusion of the latest KDE Plasma 5.21 and Xfce 4.16 desktop environments. So, if you want to use an openSUSE Tumbleweed-based distro, and you want to give Plasma 5.21 and Xfce 4.16 a try, you can download the new GeckoLinux ROLLING spins.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Ubuntu Fridge | Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 671

          Welcome to the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter, Issue 671 for the week of February 14 – 20, 2021.

        • Best VPN for Ubuntu in 2021: Privacy for Penguins
        • Building and running FIPS containers on Ubuntu Pro FIPS | Ubuntu

          Canonical provides customers Ubuntu Pro images AWS Marketplace. Ubuntu Pro for AWS is a premium AMI designed by Canonical to provide additional coverage for production environments running in the cloud. It includes security and compliance services, enabled by default, in a form suitable for small to large-scale Linux enterprise operations — with no contract needed. Key features include live kernel patching, which provides instant security and longer uptimes, security patching of major open source workloads for production use, and certified components for FedRAMP, HIPAA, PCI and ISO use cases. Ubuntu Pro is backed by a 10-year maintenance commitment by Canonical.

          One of the challenges early adopters of Pro faced was enabling FIPS modules for their deployments. While Canonical provided support for the same, they also wanted to make the customers have a better experience. Hence Canonical launched Ubuntu Pro with a pre-enabled FIPS module available for Ubuntu FIPS 18.04 and Ubuntu FIPS 16.04. It contains all the features of Ubuntu Pro, but is now FIPS enabled at launch!

          In a containerized world, it is not enough to just launch an EC2 instance with a FIPS enabled Ubuntu. Customers are increasingly looking to build and run FIPS containers on Ubuntu Pro FIPS. This blog contains instructions to do the same. We have used the example of 18.04, but it is applicable for 16.04.

        • Dynatrace : Private Synthetic Monitoring locations now also supported on Ubuntu 20

          As is standard, automatic installation of Synthetic-enabled ActiveGates is now also supported on Ubuntu 20. In fact, the installation procedure for Ubuntu 20 looks exactly the same as it does for Ubuntu 16 and 18.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Nextcloud 21 arrives with ten times better performance | ZDNet

        I’ve been using and recommending Nextcloud as a great open-source, private Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud for years now. I run it myself both on a server in my office and on my TMDHosting remote server. Besides just providing a great cloud-based file server, Nextcloud has been adding more features. These include built-in video-conferencing and group meeting services. Nextcloud Talk and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) version of the LibreOffice office suite, Collabora, and integration with third-party services such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, Jira, GitHub, and Twitter. Now, returning to basics, the latest version, Nextcloud 21, features a new, optional Rust-based high-performance backend for files, which reduces server load from desktop clients and web interface polling by 90% while delivering instant notifications and file changes to users.

      • FSF

        • GNU Projects

          • Dima Kogan: feedgnuplot: labelled bar charts and a guide

            I just released feedgnuplot 1.57, which includes two new pieces that I’ve long thought about adding…

            [...]

            I’ve thought about adding these for a while, but had no specific need for them. Finally, somebody asked for it, and I wrote the code. Now that I can, I will probably use these all the time. The new capability can override the usual numerical tic labels on the x axis, and instead use text from a column in the data stream.

          • libredwg-0.12.2 released
      • Programming/Development

        • Dirk Eddelbuettel: pkgKitten 0.2.1: Now with roxygen2 support

          new release 0.2.1 of pkgKitten hit CRAN earlier today, and has been uploaded to Debian as well. pkgKitten makes it simple to create new R packages via a simple function invocation. A wrapper kitten.r exists in the littler package to make it even easier.

          This release builds on the support for tinytest we added in release 0.2.0 by adding more optional support, this time for roxygen2. It also corrects a minor documentation snafu, and updates the CI use.

        • Cache busting in Node.js dynamic ESM imports

          I’m porting JSDB to EcmaScript Modules (ESM) and one of the issues I had to look into was module cache invalidation.

        • Python

          • Python For Loop | Linuxize

            Loops are one of the fundamental concepts of programming languages. Loops are used to perform repeated tasks until a certain condition is met.

            There are two main looping constructs in Python that allow you to repeat a block of code repeatedly, the for and the while loops.

            In this article, we will cover the basics of the for loops in Python. We will also show you how to use the range type to generate a sequence of numbers, and else, break and continue statements to alter the flow of a loop.

        • Shell/Bash/Zsh/Ksh

          • How to use a key-value dictionary in bash

            While bash is not a general-purpose programming language, a recent version of bash (starting from version 4) has started to support dictionaries or associative arrays natively. In this tutorial, I demonstrate how you can use a key-value dictionary in bash. To help you understand better, I illustrate detailed usages of a dictionary using shell script examples.

    • Leftovers

      • Education

        • Digi launches code of practice on disinformation; Reset Australia rejects as ‘pointless’

          The Digital Industry Group (Digi) representing Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, Redbubble, and TikTok in Australia today published its Australian Code of Practice on Disinformation and Misinformation [PDF] as its response to the Commonwealth Government’s request for a voluntary code.

          “Voluntary” means it is up to operators to opt in to the code. There seems to be no limit on the amount of time operators can take to respond to complaints, and the code does not require operators to delete or prevent access to material determined to be misleading, deceptive or fake.

          So perhaps it is not surprising that Reset Australia – the local affiliate of the global initiative working to counter digital threats to democracy – describes the code as “pointless”.

      • Health/Nutrition

        • Lipid nanoparticles: The antivax “toxins gambit” reborn for COVID-19 vaccines

          When it comes to the antivaccine movement, there is nothing new under the sun and that none of its propaganda and disinformation about COVID-19 vaccines is new. It’s the same old antivaccine misinformation, tropes, misrepresentations of science, and propaganda, just repackaged for COVID-19 vaccines. I’ve already written about a number of examples. The most frequently used example thus far has been to weaponize anecdotes of death after the vaccine that likely had nothing to do with the vaccine, much as, pre-pandemic, antivaxxers had weaponized anecdotes of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) after vaccination (and during the pandemic SIDS rates fell because of fewer well child visits and vaccines), all to demonize vaccines. Other examples include claiming that vaccines cause female infertility; that they “damage” or “alter” your DNA, or that COVID-19 is not dangerous (or isn’t even real at all). These are all basically the same tropes that antivaxxers used to use to claim that measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases aren’t dangerous (the implication being that vaccines are unnecessary). Then, of course, there is the ever-popular strategy of fear mongering about reports made to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) database, implying that they indicate causation. All techniques antivaxxers used extensively pre-pandemic. So it should be no surprise that antivaxxers are also using a variant of a longtime favorite trope, the “toxins gambit“, the claim that vaccines are loaded with horrible “toxins“, a variant being the claim that vaccines have “fetal cells” or “fetal DNA” in them and are thus horrifically contaminated. Heck, that last one has even been used by antivaxxers about COVID-19 vaccines! This background brings me to lipid nanoparticles, which appear to be the new mercury in vaccines to antivaxxers.

        • Traffic Noise Is a Silent Killer

          Exposure to loud noise has long been linked with hearing loss. But the ruckus of planes and cars takes a toll beyond the ears: Traffic noise has been flagged as a major urban environmental stressor, second only to air pollution. In the last decade, a growing body of research more directly links air and road-traffic noise to heightened risks for a number of cardiovascular ailments—and scientists are starting to pinpoint the mechanisms at play.

          Evidence of noise’s physiological effects—whether on cells and organs or entire populations—“is really coming together and painting a picture of the problem,” says Mathias Basner, a psychiatrist and epidemiologist at the University of Pennsylvania and president of the International Commission on the Biological Effects of Noise. Yet, he adds, few people are aware of the severity of what his colleagues call a “silent killer.”

        • 500,000 dead Americans: One year of COVID exposes the rot of GOP ideology

          The U.S. is expected to cross a grim milestone on Monday that was unimagined by even the worst projections from the beginning of the pandemic nearly one year ago: Half a million dead from COVID-19. And those are just the direct deaths from recorded instances of the disease. Excess mortality rates show that for every two official COVID-19 deaths, there’s another excess death, likely due to myriad related causes, from increased rates of poverty to strains on the health care system to undiagnosed cases. What is clear, however, is that the past year has exposed the rot of GOP ideology that led to such excess death and despair.

        • Roadmap out of lockdown: Almost all restrictions could be lifted by June 21, PM announces

          Ministers will check if England can pass four “tests” before allowing restrictions to lift.

          Consideration will be given to the success of the vaccine rollout, the effectiveness of vaccines, the impact of infection rates on hospital pressures, and whether emergence of new variants increases risk.

          There will be five weeks between each restriction being lifted, with four weeks set aside to assess new data, and one week notice given to industries to prepare for a reopening.

          Mr Johnson warned the Covid-19 threat “remains substantial”, but said he was able to plan for a lifting of restrictions due to the “extraordinary success” of the vaccine rollout.

          However, even with every adult set to have been offered a jab by July, Mr Johnson said: “No vaccine can ever be 100 per cent effective, nor will everyone take them up.”

          He added: “We cannot escape the fact that lifting lockdown will result in more cases, more hospitalisations and sadly more deaths.

      • Integrity/Availability

        • Proprietary

          • Google Fires AI Ethics Lead Margaret Mitchell

            Close on the heels of the departure of its AI ethics researcher Timnit Gebru, Google has now fired Margaret Mitchell, the founder and former co-lead of the company’s ethical AI team.

            Mitchell announced the news on Twitter.

            Both Gebru and Mitchell had called for more diversity and inclusion among research staff. “Firing [Gebru] created a domino effect of trauma for me and the rest of the team, and I believe we are being increasingly punished for that trauma,” Mitchell tweeted on the same day.

          • Pseudo-Open Source

          • Security

            • 30K Macs are infected with ‘Silver Sparrow’ virus and no one knows why

              Apple has since revoked the developer certificates that allowed the virus to propagate and says new machines can no longer be infected. Apple’s own research echoed Red Canary’s findings and uncovered no evidence that the malware has delivered a malicious payload to any of the infected machines.

            • Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt/Fear-mongering/Dramatisation

            • Privacy/Surveillance

              • WhatsApp will eventually delete your account if you don’t accept new privacy policy

                The controversial privacy policy will see the phone number and location of WhatsApp users shared with Facebook and used for ad targeting purposes. When the privacy policy was first announced, a flurry of users migrated from WhatsApp to other end-to-end encrypted messaging apps such as Signal and Telegram. There was a general fear that WhatsApp would have access to the end-to-end encrypted messages that billions of users send each other on the app every day. WhatsApp has sought to clear that misconception up, team members told Reuters:

              • Second case of NSA exploits being used before Brokers’ leak comes to light

                A second case of NSA exploits being customised and used for attacks, before they were leaked on the Web by a group known as the Shadow Brokers in 2017, has come to light, this time following research by the Israel-based cyber security firm Check Point Research.

              • Kroger warns pharmacy customers’ personal data may have been stolen in [attack]

                Compromised information could include “names, email addresses, phone numbers, home addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers,” a spokeswoman told the AP. The company said it is informing anyone who may have been affected and offering them free credit monitoring. No stores’ IT or grocery store systems are believed to have been accessed.

              • Kroger: Some pharmacy customer data impacted in vendor [crack]

                Kroger Co. says personal data, including Social Security numbers of some of its pharmacy and clinic customers, may have been stolen in the [crack] of a third-party vendor’s file-transfer service.

                The Cincinnati-based grocery and pharmacy chain said in a statement Friday that it believes less than 1% of its customers were affected — specifically some using its Health and Money Services — as well as some current and former employees because a number of personnel records were apparently viewed.

      • Defence/Aggression

        • Thousands dead but no prosecutions – why Liberia has not acted

          Tales of atrocities dominate accounts of Liberia’s years of civil war but not a single person has been tried for war crimes in the country’s courts.

          This is despite the estimated 250,000 dead – amounting to around 8% of the population at the time – and survivors willing to testify about the conflicts from 1989 to 1997 and 1999 to 2003.

          On Tuesday, in an unprecedented move, a war crimes case is due to be heard in the capital, Monrovia. But this will be a Finnish court holding a special session, not part of the Liberian judicial process.

        • 4 Aid Workers Are Shot Dead in Pakistan

          Gunmen killed four aid workers in an ambush in the northwestern Pakistani district of North Waziristan on Monday, police officials said, an attack that could signal a revival of insurgency in the region bordering Afghanistan that was once a stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban.

          A vehicle carrying the aid workers, who were all Pakistanis and who were affiliated with a program for developing household skills for women, was fired upon by unidentified attackers in the town of Mir Ali, the police said.

          The four aid workers, all women, were killed and the male driver was wounded. A fifth aid worker, also a woman, survived the attack by taking refuge in a nearby house, the police statement said. The attackers fled into the nearby mountains.

        • Khamenei Says Iran Could Enrich Uranium to 60%

          He said Iran’s uranium enrichment level will not be limited to 20%.

          Under the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers, Iran is limited to refining uranium to 3.67%. However, Iran has been in breach of the agreement since the United States withdrew from the pact during the Trump administration and has resumed enriching uranium to 20%.

      • Environment

        • Extinction: Freshwater fish in ‘catastrophic’ decline

          According to the WWF, much of the decline is driven by the poor state of rivers, mostly as a result of pollution, dams and sewage.

        • Energy

          • No Heat or Water, Overflowing Toilets, Disgusting Food: Texas Prisons Went “from Bad to Dire” in Storm

            As winter storms overwhelmed Texas, many incarcerated people in the state went days without heat and water, making already grim conditions behind bars even more intolerable for thousands of people. Officials say 33 prisons across the state lost power and 20 had water shortages after the state’s electrical grid failed. Staff shortages compounded the problems, and some incarcerated people report not being provided with blankets to keep warm in their freezing cells and being served inedible food. “Texas prison conditions have gone from bad to dire,” says Marshall Project reporter Keri Blakinger. “Prisons didn’t really have the sort of infrastructure going into all of this that many people do in the free world.”

          • “Power Companies Get Exactly What They Want”: How Texas Repeatedly Failed to Protect Its Power Grid Against Extreme Weather

            In January 2014, power plants owned by Texas’ largest electricity producer buckled under frigid temperatures. Its generators failed more than a dozen times in 12 hours, helping to bring the state’s electric grid to the brink of collapse.

            The incident was the second in three years for North Texas-based Luminant, whose equipment malfunctions during a more severe storm in 2011 resulted in a $750,000 fine from state energy regulators for failing to deliver promised power to the grid.

          • Fossil Fuel Shock Doctrine: Naomi Klein on Deadly Deregulation & Why Texas Needs the Green New Deal

            Millions of Texans are still suffering after severe winter weather devastated the state’s energy and water systems. About 8 million Texans remain under orders to boil water, and 30,000 homes still have no power. Around 70 deaths have now been linked to the winter storms, including at least 12 people who died inside their homes after losing heat. Republican lawmakers in Texas are facing increasing criticism for their handling of the crisis, their decades-long push to deregulate the state’s energy system, and their unfounded attacks on renewable energy and the Green New Deal. Naomi Klein, senior correspondent at The Intercept and a professor at Rutgers University, says Republicans’ reaction is “because of panic” over their own culpability. “The Green New Deal is a plan that could solve so many of Texas’s problems and the problems across the country, and Republicans have absolutely nothing to offer except for more deregulation, more privatization, more austerity.” Klein also discusses the Biden administration’s early policies on the climate crisis, the dangers of continued fossil fuel development, and her new book, “How to Change Everything.”

          • This Is What Deregulation Looks Like: Some Texans Face $10K+ in Electric Bills, Others Still in Dark

            When millions of Texans lost power during extreme winter weather, some who were fortunate enough to keep the lights on now face astronomically high energy bills, with people being charged thousands of dollars for just a few days of energy use. The skyrocketing bills are a result of the state’s years-long push to deregulate its energy market, says Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program. “We are seeing in these deregulated environments unscrupulous companies preying on their assumption that households will not understand or read the fine print,” says Slocum. We also speak with Texas resident Akilah Scott-Amos, who saw her electricity bill jump to over $11,000 during the storm. “I have no problems with paying my fair share. But this is not fair,” says Scott-Amos.

          • An 11-year-old boy died after his mobile home lost power. His family is suing Texas utility companies for $100M.

            The lawsuit, which was first reported by the Houston Chronicle, accuses the power providers of gross negligence and alleges they “put profits over the welfare of people” by ignoring recommendations to winterize the power grid and misleading customers about how long rolling blackouts would last.

            “Despite having knowledge of the dire weather forecast for at least a week in advance, and the knowledge that the system was not prepared for more than a decade, ERCOT and Entergy failed to take any preemptory action that could have averted the crisis and were wholly unprepared to deal with the crisis at hand,” the lawsuit states.

          • U.N. Climate Change Conferences Are Influenced by Fossil Fuel Industry

            But scraps will not save us. The Conference of the Parties will not save us. Market-based policies designed to serve fossil fuel interests will not save us. We have placed faith in world leaders for 26 years, sat patiently by as they passed inadequate policies such as the Kyoto Protocol, and have been ignored when we’ve demanded concrete change. Throughout its 25 iterations, COP has produced 25 failures, but has not once shifted decision-making power from polluters to marginalized people. Continuing to participate in this conference while hoping for a different outcome is not climate policy, it is insanity. The sole means of progress is a departure from COP in favor of real, radical change that prioritizes people from the regions most affected by the climate crisis.

      • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

        • Zuckerberg feared Facebook’s conservative users, so they received special treatment

          Facebook has long shown its preference for right-wing content, but a new report has made it clearer than ever.

          On Sunday, BuzzFeed News published a piece featuring comments from former policy employees at Facebook. In it, they detailed how Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg would often personally get involved with policy decisions involving prominent conservative pundits and publishers. The Facebook head would overrule previously established policy in order to specifically land on more lenient outcomes for those right wing personalities.

          Many of these decisions, some of which have been reported on earlier, concern banning prolific users, such as Alex Jones, from the Facebook platform.

          However, we now have additional insight into Zuckerberg’s involvement in making sure conservative personalities succeeded on Facebook in order to avoid blowback from the right.

        • A Second Internet is Needed for American Survival | Opinion

          For more than a decade, big tech has been fashioning addictive echo chambers to sort us into easily marketable cohorts, corroding our relationships with friends and families in the process. Rather than enlighten users and facilitate mutual understanding, it weakened our ability to reason by appealing to tribal instincts with sophisticated and difficult-to-resist techniques. Our social media feeds only let us see what suits us, what comports with our preconceived notions, what makes our brains feel good. And we never stop gorging.

          Addict and divide—that was big tech’s first move. Then it began, in both overt and devilishly subtle ways, to shut down open and honest dialogue—one of the hallmarks of American democracy, and of all genuinely free countries. Now big tech has revealed its ultimate plan: to remove from public discussion every single person who challenges its authority, holds alternative beliefs or thinks even a bit differently. Under the auspices of simply opting to not do business with certain users, they are starving individuals, companies and organizations of the fundamental means required to make a living.

      • Censorship/Free Speech

        • Australian News Sites Shocked & Upset To Learn They Don’t Need To Rely On Facebook For Traffic!

          I am still perplexed and confounded at how many people seem to think that Facebook is the one at fault for blocking links to news in Australia. Again, the law (that was about to be approved by the Australian Parliament despite Facebook warning them months ago that it would be forced to block news links if it went forward in its current form) would have been a disaster for the open web. And that’s even if you believe that Facebook itself has been a disaster for the open web. You can say that Facebook is the worst company in the world… and still recognize that this was the right move.

        • Microsoft, EU publishers seek Australia-style news payments

          Microsoft is teaming up with European publishers to push for a system to make big tech platforms pay for news, raising the stakes in the brewing battle led by Australia to get Google and Facebook to pay for journalism.

          The U.S. tech giant and four big European Union news industry groups unveiled their plan Monday to work together on a solution to “mandate payments” for use of news content from online “gatekeepers with dominant market power.”

      • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

        • Biden looks to recalibrate relationship with Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

          As a candidate, Joe Biden branded Saudi Arabia a “pariah” state which must be punished for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the killing of civilians in airstrikes in Yemen.

          “They’re murdering innocent people and they have to be held accountable,” he said in November 2019. “There is very little social redeeming value in the present government in Saudi Arabia.”

        • Court Tosses Devin Nunes’ Silly SLAPP Lawsuit Against CNN

          As you may recall, Rep. Devin Nunes has spent the last few years suing all sorts of critics and journalists, in a vexatious bout of abusing the courts to try to stifle criticism. Most famously, Nunes sued a satirical cow on Twitter (that case is still ongoing). But in December of 2019 he sued CNN. As we noted at the time — despite a weird column by a media critic at the Washington Post saying that this case was “halfway decent” — the case seemed like the dumbest Nunes’ suit we’d seen so far.

        • Guardian Columnist’s Firing Over Israel Joke Highlights Paper’s Rightward Drift

          The Guardian has fired one of its columnists for its US edition, Nathan Robinson, because Robinson jokingly tweeted about US military aid to Israel. The Guardian’s US editor-in-chief, John Mulholland, charged Robinson with spreading “fake news.” Worse, Mulholland suggested that his columnist was promoting antisemitic tropes about Israel’s influence on the US government.

      • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

        • ‘Net Neutrality Hurt Internet Infrastructure Investment’ Is The Bad Faith Lie That Simply Won’t Die

          Since the very beginning of the net neutrality debate, ISPs have repeatedly (and falsely) proclaimed that net neutrality rules (read: stopgap rules crafted in the absence of competition to stop giant monopolies from abusing their power) utterly demolished broadband sector investment. It was a primary talking point during the battle over the flimsy 2010 rules, utilized extensively during the 2015 passage of slightly tougher rules, and was foundational in the Trump FCC’s arguments justifying their hugely unpopular and fraud prone repeal of those rules.

      • Monopolies

        • Patents

          • Agency Action and Issue Preclusion

            In a split-decision, the majority has sided with the patentee and vacated a PTAB inter partes reexamination decision cancelling the claims of SynQor’s U.S. Patent No. 7,072,190. Judge Hughes wrote the majority decision that was joined by Judge Clevenger focusing on the procedural issues of collateral estoppel and mootness. Judge Dyk wrote in dissent — arguing that reexamination decisions do not create issue preclusion — they are “examination” and “inquisitorial” rather than “adjudicatory.” Citing B & B Hardware, Inc. v. Hargis Industries, Inc., 575 U.S. 138 (2015).

            Issue Preclusion: Issue preclusion always involves a tribunal decision in a first case followed by a second case where the same issue is raised. When the stars align, the first decision finally settles the issue between the parties and precludes the party who lost on the issue in the first case from relitigating the same issue in the second case.

            The tricky aspects of the “cases” here is that they are inter partes reexamination proceedings. Back in 2011, Vicor petitioned for pre-AIA inter partes reexamination of three closely-related SynQor patents. First Case: Two of the reexaminations reached the PTAB first — and the PTAB sided with the patentee by holding that the asserted prior art could not be combined because of “incompatibilities in the frequency.” In its decision, the PTAB noted that both sides had presented evidence regarding the issue and expressly concluded that the patentee’s evidence was more credible than that presented by the patent challenger. The Federal Circuit then affirmed that decision on appeal, although the Federal Circuit was not asked to address the particular incompatibility issue. Second Case: When the third reexamination reached the PTAB, the Board changed course — now holding that the two references were not incompatible.

            [...]

            The patentee had added some claims during the reexamination, and the PTAB found them unpatentable.

          • Cert Denied Feb 2021

            The adidas decision confused me a bit – the court has held over other cases on the same question awaiting the outcome in Arthrex that is set for Oral arguments on March 1, 2021. Nike’s patents are challenged. U.S. Patent No. 7,814,598 and No. 8,266,749. The claims appear to be broadly directed to making a shoe-upper from cloth made in a circular knitting machine.

          • Court of Appeal overturns Vodafone’s Crown use defence in IPCom dispute

            Standard essential patent EP 25 79 666 B1 is part of IPCom’s 100 patent family and protects a method for access rights in telecommunication networks, which can impact emergency call functions. In first-instance proceedings, the UK High Court found that Vodafone had partially infringed the patent. However, IPCom did not obtain a conviction, since Vodafone had invoked the so-called Crown use privilege. The patent expired in February 2020.

            Both parties appealed the High Court judgment. Last Friday, the Court of Appeal upheld IPCom’s contention that Crown use does not cover Vodafone’s use of the SEP. On the other hand, the Court of Appeal agreed with the High Court that Vodafone’s use of the technology in unrestricted networks did not constitute infringement. In the judgment, this is referred to as ‘set up to send.’

            Vodafone will seek permission to appeal directly to the Supreme Court. According to JUVE Patent sources, if the sides do not reach a settlement, Vodafone might have to pay damages to IPCom.

            Furthermore, oppositions against EP 666 are still pending at the European Patent Office. There is still a chance that the patent could be revoked.

            [...]

            As in previous proceedings, Bristows partner Myles Jelf represented IPCom, in a relationship ongoing since 2008. The UK boutique also worked closely with IPCom’s in-house team, led by recently-appointed managing director, Pio Suh.

            The UK government’s in-house legal team, the Government Legal Department, instructed two solicitors from Hogarth and Monkton chambers respectively. In the UK, Bird & Bird in a team led by partner Richard Vary have also acted for Nokia in interventions related to the case.

          • FOSS Patents: Sisvel v. Haier II: no patent ambush defense against acquirer of standard-essential patent, Germany’s Federal Court of Justice holds

            The bad news is already in the headline: if you get sued in Germany over a standard-essential patent (SEP) and the original patent holder engaged in patent ambush (thereby defrauding the standard-setting process), but the party asserting the patent against you now acquired the patent subsequently to standardization, you don’t have a patent ambush-based defense in Germany.

            The good news–for me personally–is that the Federal Court of Justice of Germany has published a decision that validates something I wrote about two years ago.

            In March 2019, Judge Dr. Thomas Kuehnen (“Kühnen” in German) of the Dusseldorf Higher Regional Court ruled on appeal brought by Huawei in the German part of its dispute with Unwired Planet, further to a hearing in which he had already lashed out the practice of privateering (operating companies assigning patents to trolls). In that March 2019 ruling, the Dusseldorf appeals court held that the ND (non-discrimination) part of FRAND precluded the acquirer of a patent from seeking royalties at a rate inconsistent with the licensing practices of a previous owner of that patent. In my commentary, I welcomed the result, but crticized the derivation very harshly as “legislat[ing] from the bench as if patent law were a parallel universe.” I said so because Judge Kuehnen’s theory involved the notion that the FRAND promise and all that goes with it attached itself to a patent just like “in rem” rights in connection real estate, where a right of way may allow neighbors to lay telephone lines on your property–as opposed to an inter partes agreement, which wouldn’t give a future acquirer any rights.

            [...]

            The Federal Court of Justice has now clarified that, other than Art. 15(3) Patent Act on licenses surviving patent transfers, the acquirer of a patent is not responsible in any way for what a prior owner of that patent did.

            If a given SEP was previously licensed at a lower rate than the one an acquirer is demanding now, that may very well be taken into consideration by a court. The terms of comparable license agreements matter, and if a license deal involves the same patent and a similarly-situated licensee, it may be particularly comparable and, therefore, a court may afford it a lot of weight in the FRAND analysis. Nevertheless, an acquirer of a patent doesn’t engage in discriminatory treatment of licensees only because an inconsistency between the terms it is seeking now and the ones on which a prior owner of the same patent granted someone a license.

            If an implementer of a standard has a patent ambush defense, it may just have to bring that one as an antitrust damages claim against the original patent owner who participated in the standard-setting process. And if a prior holder of the patent contented itself with substantially lower royalties than its acquirer, that may inform the FRAND analysis, but does not all by itself constitute discrimination.

          • Software Patents

            • JustService patent determined to be likely invalid

              On February 18, 2021, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) instituted trial on all challenged claims of U.S. Patent 10,476,868, owned and asserted by JustService.net, LLC, an NPE. The ’868 patent is related to cloud and data-storage technology and is currently being asserted against Dropbox.

              In the decision, the Board analyzed real party in interest and Fintiv trial-date discretionary denials, and found that neither were a bar to institution; on Fintiv, the Board found that the petition was filed early enough that the Western District trial schedule presented no conflict with the proceeding before the Board.

            • $1,500 for StratosAudio ’081 prior art — Unified Patents

              On February 3, 2021, Unified Patents added a new PATROLL contest, with a $1,500 cash prize, seeking prior art on at least claims 9-11 of U.S. Patent 8,166,081. The patent is owned by StratosAudio, an NPE. The ’081 patent generally relates to media advertising and in particular to systems and methods for associating an advertising media signal with another media signal. It is currently being asserted against Volvo, Hyundai, Subaru, Volkswagen, and Mazda.

        • Copyrights

          • U.S. Copyright Groups Praise UAE’s Enforcement Against ‘Illegal’ VPN and Tor Use

            The IIPA, which represents the MPA, RIAA, and other entertainment industry groups, is pleased with the United Arab Emirates’ strict enforcement against the use of VPNs and Tor to access pirate sites. The industry group, however, urges the UAE authorities to go a step further and require VPNs to actively ban copyright-infringing activity.

          • Kim Dotcom, United States & NZ Supreme Court All Agree to Court of Appeal Referral

            Following a rare moment of agreement, requests from Kim Dotcom and the United States government to refer the extradition case back to the Court of Appeal have been approved by the Supreme Court. The decision marks a split among the Megaupload defendants, after a request from Mathias Ortmann, Finn Batato, and Bram van der Kolk to have the matter heard by a faster route was denied.

          • Karma: Twitch Replaces Live Metallica Concert With 8-Bit Music To Avoid Copyright Madness

            Long time copyright watchers know that Metallica sullied its reputation with tons of fans when it was the first band to sue the file sharing upstart Napster back in 2000 (and also sued three universities for “not blocking Napster”). The band’s drummer, Lars Ulrich, became an outspoken critic of file sharing and the internet, the early face of super wealthy musicians whining about the internet changing the way they did things, leading to the classic Money Good! Napster Bad! meme.

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