The EPO Bundestagate — Part 4: Parroting the GDPR-Compliance Myth

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 7:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Series index:

  1. The EPO Bundestagate — Part 1: How the Bundestag Was (and Continues to be) Misled About EPO Affairs
  2. The EPO Bundestagate — Part 2: Lack of Parliamentary Oversight, Many Questions and Few Answers…
  3. The EPO Bundestagate — Part 3: A “Minor Interpellation” in the German Bundestag
  4. You are here ☞ Parroting the GDPR-Compliance Myth

EPO's GDPR-Compliance Myth
What could possibly have led the German government to parrot the EPO’s bogus and self-serving claims about GDPR-compliance?

Summary: The EPO had been in violation of GDPR (EU) for years, both under Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos; but the lies persisted

Back in October 2019, the FDP submitted another “minor interpellation” entitled “Data protection in relation to cooperation with the EPO” (“Datenschutz bei EPA-Zusammenarbeit”Bundestag Printed Paper [PDF] no. 19/14490).

This interpellation contained a series of questions relating to the EPO’s data protection framework, in particular in the context of data exchanges with national authorities such as the German Patent & Trademark Office.

“This interpellation contained a series of questions relating to the EPO’s data protection framework, in particular in the context of data exchanges with national authorities such as the German Patent & Trademark Office.”Under point 7. of the interpellation, the FDP explicitly raised the issue of the compliance of the EPO’s data protection framework with the GDPR (which had entered into force over a year previously in May 2018).

The relevant passage of the interpellation reads as follows (in translation):

According to the knowledge of the Federal Government, is data processing at the EPO compliant with the provisions of the GDPR, or does it have any indications that would suggest a deviation from GDPR regulations?

The response of the Federal Government was published on 12 November 2019 (Bundestag Printed Paper [PDF] no. 19/15072).

The passage of the response which addresses point 7. of the FDP’s interpellation reads as follows (in translation):

The Federal Government has no indication that the EPO does not comply with the provisions of the European data protection standards. The Board of Auditors of the European Patent Organisation, which is appointed by the Administrative Council under Article 49(1) EPC and carries out its activities in accordance with Articles 49 and 50 EPC and its Rules of Procedure and professional auditing standards, stated the following in its audit report for the financial year 2018 (document CA/20/19) (warning: epo.org link). Although the EPO, as an international organization, is not directly subject to EU rules, the basic principles of the GDPR have nevertheless been implemented, as data of European citizens are processed at the EPO. In addition, it was noted that for the sake of transparency, the EPO has already established a data protection register in the past to record all processing of personal data. Upon request, the information can be made available (publicly) to the data subject, thus ensuring the right to information.

The government’s response is another classic piece of hand-waving and obfuscation about the atrociously deficient state of the EPO’s data protection framework.

It is however worth looking at this response more closely because it seems to have come straight from the EPO’s internal “echo chamber”. There is very little evidence of any independent thought or research on the part of those responsible for drafting the government’s statement of its position.

“It seems that the reader is supposed to accept these assertions on “blind faith”.”What is particularly noteworthy is the fact that the German government appears to rely solely on the EPO’s internal audit report for the financial year 2018 (CA/20/19) (warning: epo.org link) as the basis for its “considered opinion” that the EPO’s data protection framework is GDPR-compliant.

There’s just one small problem here.

Neither CA/20/19 nor any other internal “audit report” from the EPO contains a meaningful substantive assessment of the organisation’s data protection framework and its purported compliance with GDPR standards.

The available audit reports from the EPO (CA/20/18, CA/20/19, CA/20/20) (warning: all are epo.org links) only contain cursory self-serving assertions to the effect that the organisation’s data protection framework is “relatively closely aligned” with EU data processing regulations – whatever that is supposed to mean.

What is conspicuously absent is a credible independent audit of the EPO’s data protection framework that could be considered to substantiate the self-serving assertions emanating from the EPO’s senior management.

It seems that the reader is supposed to accept these assertions on “blind faith”.

“For this reason it’s a bit disconcerting to see the Federal Government of Germany still parroting the EPO’s manifestly bogus and self-serving assertions about GDPR-compliance in such a naïve and uncritical manner in November 2019.”However, this becomes difficult when it is recalled that back in 2016 the EPO staff union (SUEPO) commissioned a report about various aspects of EPO governance from external legal experts.

This report dated 31 May 2016 – which is publicly available – found that the EPO’s data protection framework was not compliant with EU data protection standards and that it was in urgent need of a radical overhaul.

Nothing of substance has changed since May 2016.

For this reason it’s a bit disconcerting to see the Federal Government of Germany still parroting the EPO’s manifestly bogus and self-serving assertions about GDPR-compliance in such a naïve and uncritical manner in November 2019.

In the next part we will consider how this curious state of affairs came about.

The Message of RMS That Monopolies Dislike Isn’t Political

Posted in FSF, GPL, Videos at 7:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Speeches such as this one are the real reason IBM, Microsoft, Google and so on still try very, very hard to ‘cancel’ the person and his message

Transcript added below.


I have been fighting for freedom for a long time.

22 years now, I announced the beginning of the free software movement, a social movement for freedom for computer users.

Specifically, the freedom to cooperate and the freedom to control your own computer, the freedom for users to work together in a community controlling the software that they use

This was


impossible in 1983 because computers don’t do anything without an operating system it’s just a piece of metal and silicon that’s totally useless.

But all the operating systems 22 years ago were proprietary software, software that keeps users divided and helpless. So, I was determined not to have to live that way when using computers I don’t want to be helpless and I don’t want to be forbidden to share with you.


So I decided I would do something about it. What could I do? I had no political party behind me. I couldn’t expect to convince governments or corporations to change any of their policies, but I did know how to write software. So I said I’m going to develop another operating system with the help of whoever will join in and together we will make it free software. We will respect your freedom and you will be able


then to use computers in freedom with this operating system. What does this freedom mean? There are four essential freedoms that make the definition of free software. And, they are: freedom 0, the freedom to run the program however you wish. Freedom 1, the freedom to help yourself. That’s the freedom to study the source code and change it to do what you wish. Then there’s


freedom 2, the freedom to help your neighbor. That’s the freedom to copy the program and distribute the copies to others when you wish. And freedom 3 is the freedom to help your community. That’s the freedom to publish or distribute a modified version when you wish. With all four freedoms, the program is free software. But these freedoms should not be strange to you. At least not if you cook. Because people who cook enjoy the same


four freedoms in using recipes. The freedom to cook the recipe when you want. That’s freedom 0. The freedom to study the ingredients and how it’s done and then change it. That’s freedom 1. Cooks frequently change recipes. And then the freedom to copy it and hand copies to your friends. That’s freedom 2. And then there’s freedom 3 [which] is less frequently exercised because it’s more work but if you cook your version of the recipe for a dinner for your friends and a


friend says, “that was great, could I have the recipe?”, you can write down your version of the recipe and make a copy for your friend. The same four freedoms, and this is no coincidence, because programs like recipes are works that you use for practical work. You’re using them to do something. And when you use a work to do something, if you’re not in control of it, you’re not in control of your life and if you can’t share


with other people you’re forbidden to be part of a community. Imagine how angry everyone who cooks would be if some day the government says, “from now on if you share or change a recipe we’re going to call you a pirate. We’re going to compare you with people who attack ships. And we’re going to put you in prison for years, because that’s forbidden cooperation.” Imagine the anger that there would be. That anger is at the basis of the Free


Software Movement too. We want to have freedom in using our computers. So we developed the GNU operating system throughout the 1980s and in 1992 the last missing piece was put in place. That last missing piece is a kernel called Linux. So Linux is not an operating system it is one essential component of the system which is the GNU system plus Linux the GNU / Linux system. And that system now


is used on tens of millions of computers. Jon Hall estimated a 100 million a year or two ago. No one really knows because you see we are all free. Nobody can keep track of what we’re doing that’s part of freedom that nobody knows what’s going on because you don’t have to tell anybody. So today it’s possible to use a computer in freedom. But that doesn’t mean freedom is safe forever. Freedom is


never safe forever. There’s always a danger that you’ll get somebody like George Bush who wants to take it away. Even in the countries like the US which says freedom is what we’re all about that can be turned into mere lip service. Freedoms can be crushed. So for people to have freedom we have to be prepared to defend freedom. And in order to defend our freedom we have to recognize what it means.


That’s the first step. So that’s why I’m here today talking to you about Free Software and the freedoms that it represents freedoms for you. Because that way you will know what your freedom means. And then maybe next year or next decade you will help use defend these freedoms and they may continue. Many people focus on encouraging more users to switch to Free Software. Well, that’s a useful thing to do,


but that alone is not going to bring us to freedoms that endure. If we gave everybody in the world Free Software today but we failed to teach them about the four freedoms then five years from now would they still have Free Software? Probably not, because if they don’t recognize their freedoms, they’ll let their freedoms fall, they’ll let their freedoms slip through their fingers because they won’t bother to close their hands but


they don’t know why. So along with developing Free Software, along with distributing, teaching people to use it, encouraging people to try and switch to it, we have to be constantly teaching these same people why it matters. That it’s not just about how to get powerful convenient software and how to get it as cheap as possible, it’s about how you can live in freedom and be a good neighbor.

So how does this relate to the issue of development? Is Free Software better for development? Well that’s an understatement. Free Software is the only software whose use constitutes development. Because the use of a non-free program is not development, it is electronic colonization. What does it mean if your society increases the use of


non-Free software? Well that software which nobody in your city unless you happen to live in just the right place in the world nobody in you city is in a position to understand it maintain it adapt it extend it or do anything with it. It’s just like the old colonial system where the colonial power had all the industry, they made all the technology and the people in the


colony, they just had to buy it and weren’t supposed to understand anything or make anything they hardly even knew how to fix it. Imagine if you were buying cars and they came from the US and any time they broke you had to ship them back to the US because it’s a secret how they work inside and nobody in your country is allowed to learn how to fix them. That’s what proprietary software is like so this is not sustainable


development. It’s not appropriate technology, this is the technology of dependence. And dependence is exactly what that system is all about. It’s keeping people helpless. Another feature of the old, colonial system was divide and rule. Set people against each other don’t allow them to cooperate because that makes it easier to keep all of them in subjection. Now dividing

people and subjugating them is not just a minor side aspect of proprietary software it is what makes it proprietary software. The license says you are forbidden to share it with anyone, and you can’t get the source code so you don’t know what’s inside it so you can’t control it. Divided and subjugated. That’s the nature of proprietary software. Of course the system comes out looking like the colonial system. Another feature you might remember from the colonial system was that the colonial power would recruit a local elite, a few local people, like maybe the nobles or whoever and pit one tribe against another or they would create tribes if there weren’t tribes so they can massacre each other decades later. So the local elite, they would get certain privileges and in return they would help keep everybody else


down. Well you can see that today, some proprietary software companies actively recruit local elites. They set up a software development center in your country and the people who work there who are part of the local elite or they do some favors for local politicians secretly or for the government openly but it doesn’t make any difference which one either way they are buying influence in the government, converting that government


from a sovereign state into their local overseer of their empire whose job is to make sure everybody else becomes dependent on the same non-Free software. They say to schools, “we will help you by giving you these gratis copies of our non-Free software, so that you can turn your students into addicts of our software”. Why do I use the term addicts because


they develop a dependency on this software and then after they graduate you can be sure they are not going to be offered these gratis copies any more. Because it’s only the first dose that’s gratis. Once you’re addicted then you’re supposed to pay and also of course these companies whose graduates work for , those companies are not going to be offered gratis copies. So what essentially these developers, these software companies are doing is they are recruiting the schools


into agents to lead people into permanent, life-long dependency. These are things that the Open Source movement usually doesn’t talk about, that’s why I don’t support Open Source. Open Source is a way of promoting software that usually is Free but without mentioning these ideals. These issues of freedom. They’re left in the background. Open Source people usually talk only


about practical value, how do you get powerful convenient software and how much will it cost. Well Free Software probably allows you to save money too if you’re not being forced to pay for permission to use it you can probably save money. But I think that’s a secondary issue. Even in poor countries, freedom is important. We should never start saying well they’re so poor freedom doesn’t matter all they need is bread and circuses. Which they


had here once upon a time. And then they shouldn’t even think about being free. I think freedom is important in every country and every society whether it is rich or poor. Nonetheless, people who support Open Source often contribute to extending the Free Software community. Many of them develop Free Software. Those are useful contributions. I am not saying what they do is bad. I am saying that by itself it is not enough,


because it’s weak. You see, when you say the goal is to have powerful, reliable, convenient software and get it cheaply then it becomes possible for the representatives of proprietary software to say, “well we claim that we’ll deliver you more powerful, reliable software. We claimed that our total cost of ownership will be cheaper.” And I think they’re usually bullshit. When Microsoft says this it’s based on distorted facts.


But it’s weak. But when we say the goal is to live in freedom and to be allowed to cooperated with other people in a community, they can’t say they’re going to offer us more of that cheaper. Because they don’t offer that at all. They’re not even competing with us. They’re out of the running. Once you decide you want to live in freedom, they are out of the running. So, we are trying to help you reach


freedom in a community. They are trying to subjugate you, but they’ll say they’ll get you there faster. And maybe they would. …

Links 3/4/2021: GodotCon Coming and Early Look at Ubuntu 21.04 Beta

Posted in News Roundup at 6:42 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Desktop/Laptop

      • What should the FOSS desktop systems feel like?

        It’s always tempting to look outside at what people say about what you create. Beyond KDE’s community, the Linux community is diverse and, more noticeably, surrounded with loud voices who observe what we create and comment on it. This is a good thing, it means that we are making relevant things and that people care. It also means that there needs to be a shared understanding of what is at stake.

        It’s a bit of a meme how any change breaks your workflow and, while there is a certain amount of truth about it, it might pose a challenge. In this blog post I’d like to explain some aspects of what it looks like from the creator point of view.

    • Server

      • Unlocking the mysteries of science with Linux containers — GCN

        From COVID-19 to national security challenges and space exploration, high-performance computing (HPC) is being leveraged to solve some of our nation’s most pressing issues. In combination with modern application development, HPC is advancing the science and understanding needed to address these challenges.

        In a traditional HPC environment, computational scientists set up clusters and run workloads. Quite often, these workloads must be rebuilt for each machine. This makes sharing and reuse of applications difficult. Running cloud-based applications alongside HPC jobs is a better option, but it makes little sense to expend precious HPC compute cycles on jobs that aren’t computationally intensive.

      • Most Reliable Hosting Company Sites in March 2021 [Ed: GNU/Linux times 9, plus one FreeBSD. Most reliable.]

        In March 2021 GoDaddy had the most reliable hosting company site, with no failed requests and the fastest average connection time amongst the top 10 of 6ms. GoDaddy provides services that allow customers to build their own web presence, which include hosting solutions, domain registration, and a website builder focused on ease of use. In February, GoDaddy acquired Poynt to accelerate its strategy to provide a complete suite of commerce and payment services.


        Whilst Linux continues to dominate the top 10, FreeBSD makes an appearance in March with NYI in fifth place.

      • How Does Linux Make Money + Everything Else You Need To Know
    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • LHS Episode #404: The Weekender LXIX

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

    • Kernel Space

      • VCN Load Balancing, LTTPR, More Aldebaran + Other Changes For Radeon In Linux 5.13 – Phoronix

        Another round of AMDGPU kernel driver updates were sent out on Thursday to DRM-Next ahead of the Linux 5.13 merge window opening in a few weeks.

        Given the timing, this might be the last feature pull of new AMD Radeon graphics driver material for the 5.13 cycle. There have already been earlier DRM-Next pulls for 5.13 on the AMD side that included Aldebaran GPU support, FreeSync HDMI, Display ASSR, and more.

      • Graphics Stack

        • Zink Lands Threaded Context Support For A Big Speed Boost With OpenGL Over Vulkan – Phoronix

          Mesa 21.1 is looking to be another exciting release to be introduced later this quarter while going into feature freeze around mid-April. The latest work to land is threaded context support for Zink, which means faster performance for this OpenGL-over-Vulkan implementation.

          Gallium3D threaded context support is now wired up for Zink including async buffer mapping/replacement, async queue submission, and the async Gallium3D flush handing.

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • Upgrading Homelab Kubernetes Cluster from 1.19 to 1.20

        Calico 3.18 has been released with support for Kuberneter 1.20, therefore it’s time to upgrade!

      • 10 Practical Examples of the Linux Grep Command

        The grep command provides access to the grep utility, a powerful file processing tool used to find patterns in text files. It has many practical use cases and is certainly one of the most used Linux commands. This guide illustrates some simple yet useful Linux grep commands that have real-world uses.

      • How to install Parsec on a Chromebook

        Today we are looking at how to install Parsec 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.

      • How to install ncdu on Linux / Unix to see disk usage

        The du (disk usage) command summarizes directory trees’ sizes, including all of their contents and individual files’ sizes on Linux and Unix-like systems such as macOS. It helps track down space hogs. In other words, we can list directories and files that consume large amounts of space on a hard disk drive. Let us see the ncdu command, a curses-based version of the well-known du command.

        Over the years, ncdu recommend to me by many nixCraft readers. Ncdu is a disk usage analyzer with an ncurses interface. Still, I never tried an alternative for finding the sizes of files and directory trees when using a text-based graphical user interface (TUI). However, in this post, I will explain how to install ncdu on Linux or Unix and see if it is worth installing it on production systems.

      • How to try Elementary OS 6 early build on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS or Linux Mint

        Do you want to try the new Pantheon Desktop without waiting for elementary OS 6 (Odin)? Then here is the solution to do that by installing it on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS or Linux Mint.

        Elementary OS 6 is the up coming version from the developers of this operating system, however, even it will be based on Ubuntu 20.4, still taking quite some time to get released. In such a scenario if you don’t want to wait, we can access its early builds to install on some existing Ubuntu 20.04 LTS or Linux mint.

        Well, as we know current Elementary OS is based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and the upcoming will be on Ubuntu 20.04. So, in layman’s terms, we can say that Elementary OS is nothing but Ubuntu with some special repositories that provide Pantheon and other applications. Just like we have Linux Mint. This gives us the ability to perform all tasks we can do on Ubuntu including the integration of the PPA repository and that is the thing which going to help us to install the latest Pantheon Desktop without waiting for elementary OS 6.

      • Getting Started With Ubuntu Server: A Step-by-Step Guide

        Ubuntu server has many accolades to its name, and its popularity continues to touch the pinnacles of success, given its composition of containers and compatibility with the cloud. This simple, yet detailed guide, will cover everything a beginner needs to know about installing an Ubuntu server on their machine.

        Read on to find out why the server is important, how you can use it, and much more.

      • How to Find the Public IP Address on a Linux System

        IP addresses form the backbone of how the internet works. There are two basic types of IP addresses: Public and Private. Public IP addresses are used to connect to external networks, while private IPs are used to identify devices connected to your local network.

        You can get your public IP address in Linux using several methods. In this article, we will be discussing in brief how you can use the host command, the dig command, and some external services to find your system’s public IP address.

      • SQL Outer Join Tutorial – With Example Syntax
      • How to Set Up Continuous Integration for a Monorepo Using Buildkite

        A monorepo is a single repository that holds all the code and multiple projects in a single Git repository.

      • Setting up PyQt5 in PyCharm 2020.3.5 on Fedora 33 Server

        Following below is a brief description to enable PyCharm 2020.3.5 to execute python scripts been written with PyQT5 bindings involved.

        PyQt5 is a comprehensive set of Python bindings for Qt v5. It is implemented as more than 35 extension modules and enables Python to be used as an alternative application development language to C++ on all supported platforms including iOS and Android.

    • Games

      • Linux Market Share On Steam Remained Below 1% In March 2021

        The GNU/Linux operating system, including all variants of it such as Ubuntu, Manjaro and Arch Linux, is still struggling to gain more than one percent of the total market share on the proprietary Steam game store/launcher. The overall GNU/Linux market share is, according to data from NetMarketShare, slightly below two percent as of March 2021.

        NetMarketShare measures market share by the number of people who browser select websites they monitor with given web browser user-agents. Their data had GNU/Linux market share moving up from 1.36% in March 2020 to 3.61% in June 2020. It quickly plummeted down to 1.17% when the joy of summer was fading away that year. Their latest data points to a GNU/Linux market share of 1.92% in March 2021.


        Linux market share on Steam has never managed to crush the illusive 1% barrier. It was as close as it has ever been at 0.94% in September 2020. It has since remained steady at around 0.9% with a dip down to 0.78% in December 2020 and another dip to 0.81% in February 2021.

      • Godot Engine – Online GodotCon July 2021 – Call for participation

        We are happy to announce that another Godot Conference (GodotCon) is coming!

        At the beginning of this year we held a Godot Conference completely online for the first time.

        We have been thrilled to see many interesting talks held by a group of competent and talented speakers and we’ve been very happy with the positive reception of the event. You can watch all those talks in replay on YouTube.

      • FOSS Gaming Has Come So Far

        …few people on stream mentioned Veloren to me, I had no idea what it was and then I saw a bit of MentalOutlaw’s video and I knew I had to play, I remember being excited for Cube World back when that first got announced but this is a FOSS project that seems to have come so much further.

    • Distributions

      • Screenshots/Screencasts

        • Ubuntu 21.04 Beta Run Through

          In this video, we are looking at Ubuntu 21.04 Beta.

        • Ubuntu 21.04 Beta

          Today we are looking at Ubuntu 21.04 Beta. It comes with Linux Kernel 5.11, Gnome 3.38.5, and uses about 1.3GB of ram when idling. Enjoy!

      • Gentoo Family

      • Arch Family

        • FOSS Activities in March 2021

          Another month has passed which means another status update.

          The python2 removal has been steady and several packages has been removed this month. Currently a query for python2 on archweb returns 139 matches. At the start of the month it was around 160-170. Progress!

          I have suggested we remove checkdepends on python2 packages to ease the cleanup of dependency cycles. The response has been lukewarm at best so we’ll see how that progresses. Hopefully more is being removed in the upcoming months.

          Support for debug in Arch Linux is in large parts written and under review. The dbscripts patches, which is how we administer packages to our repositories, has all the needed patches and a passing test suite! But it is currently missing a review from the current maintainer. I have also shaped up the infrastructure part so we can provide debuginfod. The general goal is to start providing debug packages through debuginfod and at a later date decide if we want to distribute the packages to some or all mirrors.

          Hopefully it’s just a few weeks left until we can provide this to our users!

          Arch recent got a new RFC process which is intended to create more structure around changes to the distribution. This is a neat change and there have already been 3 RFCs up for discussion this month from Allan.

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • Design event-driven integrations with Kamelets and Camel K

          The Kamelet is a concept introduced near the end of 2020 by Camel K to simplify the design of complex system integrations. If you’re familiar with the Camel ecosystem, you know that Camel offers many components for integrating existing systems. An integration’s granularity is related to its low-level components, however. With Kamelets you can reason at a higher level of abstraction than with Camel alone.

          A Kamelet is a document specifying an integration flow. A Kamelet uses Camel components and enterprise integration patterns (EIPs) to describe a system’s behavior. You can reuse a Kamelet abstraction in any integration on top of a Kubernetes cluster. You can use any of Camel’s domain-specific languages (DSLs) to write a Kamelet, but the most natural choice is the YAML DSL. The YAML DSL is designed to specify input and output formats, so any integration developer knows beforehand what kind of data to expect.

          A Kamelet also serves as a source or sink of events, making Kamelets the building blocks of an event-driven architecture. Later in the article, I will introduce the concept of source and sink events and how to use them in an event-driven architecture with Kamelets.

        • Save the date: Fedora Linux 34 Release Party!

          On the tail of the release of Fedora Linux 34 Beta, I am excited to announce that we will be celebrating the final release of Fedora Linux 34 with a virtual Release Party! Join us April 30th & May 1st for a series of sessions on the new features in F34 as well as some of the latest news and developments in Fedora. Make sure to save the dates and register on Hopin to party with Fedora!

        • Community Blog: Friday’s Fedora Facts: 2021-13

          Here’s your weekly Fedora report. Read what happened this week and what’s coming up. Your contributions are welcome (see the end of the post)! The Final freeze begins Tuesday.

          I have weekly office hours on Wednesdays in the morning and afternoon (US/Eastern time) in #fedora-meeting-1. Drop by if you have any questions or comments about the schedule, Changes, elections, or anything else. See the upcoming meetings for more information.

      • Debian Family

        • Sparky news 2021/03

          Many thanks to all of you for supporting our open-source projects, specially in this difficult days. Your donations help keeping them and us alive.

        • Challenging times for Freexian (4/4)

          I’m very excited by the perspective that I outlined in this document. It really resonates with my own mission statement as a Debian developer (written a long time ago)…


          The easiest changes to implement are technical (such as improvements to distro-tracker) and require little interaction. This work is used to recharge me by offering me an immediate reward for my efforts.

          Finally, and this is a substantive effort, I want to create in the project working conditions that allow all contributors to give their best. It starts with developing a common vision …

    • Devices/Embedded

      • Edge AI gateway combines Raspberry Pi CM4 with Coral Edge TPU

        Techbase’s “iModGATE-AI” gateway for predictive maintenance is built around the RPi CM4 and a Coral Edge TPU AI module and offers up to 24-bit analog inputs and an advanced 9-axis IMU.

        Techbase has announced an iModGATE-AI edge AI gateway that combines the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 or earlier RPi CM3+ with Google’s M.2 Accelerator equipped with its Coral Edge TPU. This is the same up to 4-TOPS at 0.5W, 2-TOPS per Watt AI chip found on the Coral Dev Board, Coral Dev Board Mini, LGA-based Coral Accelerator Module, and other Coral products.

      • Compact DIN-railer with 10GbE runs Ubuntu on quad -A72 SoC

        IEI’s fanless, rugged “DRPC-330-A7K” embedded computer runs Ubuntu on a Marvell Armada 7040 and offers 10GbE SFP+, 2x GbE, 4x isolated serial, 2x USB, and 3x M.2 connections.

        IEI announced a networking-oriented embedded computer called the DRPC-330-A7K that runs Ubuntu 18.10 on Marvell’s Armada 7040 (88F7040). The DIN-rail form-factor system has a -20 to 60°C range with air flow with 10%~95% non-condensing humidity tolerance. It offers 5G shock resistance per IEC68-2-27 and vibration resistance compliant with MIL-STD-810G 514.6C-1.

      • AMD Ryzen 5 4500U Mini PC offers triple 4K display support, 2.5GbE

        AMD Ryzen 4000-U series 15W processors were announced in January 2020, and by the end of the year, we covered some mini PCs with Ryzen 3/5/7 processors from the new family with products such as ASRock Mars 4000U and ASROCK 4X4 BOX-4800U.

        MINISFORUM has now announced its own Ryzen 4000-U series mini PC with MINIXFORUM HM50 mini PC powered by an AMD Ryzen 5 4500U hexa-core processor that offers three 4K display output ports (HDMI, DP, and USB-C), as well a 2.5GbE and Gigabit Ethernet ports, six USB 3.0/3.1 ports and more.

      • Open Hardware/Modding

        • Experiment with neurostimulation using NeuroStimDuino Arduino shield (Crowdfunding)

          Neuralaxy’s NeuroStimDuino is an open-source Arduino shield that allows students, researchers, and hobbyists to study the effects of neurostimulation on muscle contraction easily and cheaply.

          What is Neurostimulation exactly? It works by applying short electrical pulses to the surface of the skin for the purpose of stimulating the underlying nerves and muscles. Neurostimulation has several uses including a treatment called Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) therapy to help restore mobility in the paralyzed limb muscles of stroke victims and those who have suffered spinal cord injuries, and studies are being carried out to better understand how it can be leveraged for pain reduction and sensory feedback.

        • How to Install Cores via Board Manager in Arduino IDE 2.0 -

          Arduino IDE is a popular software framework for embedded developers. Its compatibility with various devices using the Boards Manager makes it a useful and dynamic software for users. The recent launch of the Arduino IDE 2.0 has made it even better, featuring a range of new functionality, like live debugging.

        • This futuristic-looking device actively discourages you from touching your face | Arduino Blog

          For a variety of reasons, including potential virus transmission, it’s a bad idea to touch your face too often. If you need a little “help” to break this habit, then you might consider the STOP Face Touching Device by DesignMaker.

          The system takes the form of a very sci-fi-looking helmet, which monitors the area around the user’s face with four IR sensors. An Arduino Nano is used for control of the device, and when you do touch your face, it responds by smacking your forehead with a motor/spring device. It also increases the number of touches on an OLED display.

      • Mobile Systems/Mobile Applications

        • Stephen Michael Kellat: Catching Up Driving

          Android Auto is certainly different and something I will need to get used to. Fortunately we live in a time of change. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the idea of having VLC available to me on the car dashboard.

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • FSF

        • FSF Doubles Down on Stallman Reinstatement, WordPress Does Not Support His Return to the Board

          The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is hemorrhaging board members and management following the reinstatement of Richard Stallman. The GPL author and founder of the FSF announced last week that he had rejoined the board and is not planning to resign a second time. An open letter signed by more than 3,000 people called for the removal of Stallman from all leadership positions, including the GNU project, and removal of the entire Board of the FSF. So far it has gained support from Red hat, Mozilla, Outreachy, the Software Conservancy project, and many other high profile organizations.

          “We are long past the point where we can pretend that the most important thing about software freedom is the software,” Mozilla Engineering Community Manager Michael Hoye said in signing support for the open letter. “We cannot demand better from the internet if we do not demand better from our leaders, our colleagues and ourselves.”

        • More resignations at FSF over Stallman returning to board [Ed: Sam Varghese is still attacking the FSF and by extension software freedom; The Bully De Blanc-led mob still doesn't care about the actual facts. FSF is becoming more aligned with its goals at the moment. The monopolies don't like that.]
      • Public Services/Government

        • Free software becomes a standard in Dortmund, Germany

          LibreOffice is free and open source software, which means that it’s much more than zero-cost. Anyone can study how it works, modify it, and share those modifications with other users. (So the “free” is more about freedom than price.)

          There are many other well-known free software projects, such as the GNU/Linux operating system, Firefox web browser, and Thunderbird email client. Free software helps companies, organisations and governments to reduce costs, improve reliability and free themselves from dependence on a single vendor.

          Now, the Council of the German city of Dortmund has announced that it’s moving to free and open source software, where possible.

      • Programming/Development

        • How to Build Better APIs in Express with OpenAPI

          In this article, I will share how to build robust REST APIs in Express. First, I will present some of the challenges of building REST APIs and then propose a solution using open standards.

          This article won’t be an introduction to Node.js, Express.js, or REST APIs. Make sure to check out the links before diving deeper if you need a refresher.

        • Perl/Raku

          • Perl Weekly Challenge 106: Maximum Gap and Decimal String

            These are some answers to the Week 106 of the Perl Weekly Challenge organized by Mohammad S. Anwar.

          • raku:34 python:19 extreme math

            Coming off the excellent raku weekly news, my curiosity was piqued by a tweet about big-endian smells that referenced a blog about “extreme math”. After getting my fill of COBOL mainframe nostalgia, the example of Muller’s Recurrence got me thinking.

            The simple claim made in the tweet thread was:

            Near the end it [the blog] states that no modern language has fixed point, but Raku (formerly Perl6) has a built in rational type which is quite an interesting comparison. It keeps two integers for the numerator and the denominator and no loss of precision occurs.

            I have also covered some of the benefits of the raku approach to math in a previous blog Machine Math and Raku, often the example given is 0.1 + 0.2 =>0.3 which trips up a lot of languages. I like this example, but I am not entirely convinced by it – sure it can be odd when a programming newbie sees a slightly different result caused by floating point conversions – but it is too mickey mouse to be a serious concern.


            PS. And to reflect the harsh reality of life, Victor Ejikhout’s comment can have the final word: so know your own limits!

        • Python

          • How to Solve Leetcode Problems With Python One-Liners

            Python is one of the most powerful programming languages. It gives us various unique features and functionalities that make it easy for us to write code.

            In this article we’ll solve Leetcode array problems in one line using one of Python’s most interesting features – List Comprehension.

        • Rust

          • Niko Matsakis: My “shiny future”

            Scaling the governance of the project to keep up with its growing popularity has been a constant theme. The first step was when we created a core team (initially pcwalton, brson, and I) to make decisions. We needed some kind of clear decision makers, but we didn’t want to set up a single person as “BDFL”. We also wanted a mechanism that would allow us to include non-Mozilla employees as equals.2

            Having a core team helped us move faster for a time, but we soon found that the range of RFCs being considered was too much for one team. We needed a way to expand the set of decision makers to include focused expertise from each area. To address these problems, aturon and I created RFC 1068, which expanded from a single “core team” into many Rust teams, each focused on accepting RFCs and managing a particular area.

            As written, RFC 1068 described a central technical role for the core team3, but it quickly became clear that this wasn’t necessary. In fact, it was a kind of hindrance, since it introduced unnecessary bottlenecks. In practice, the Rust teams operated quite independently from one another. This independence enabled us to move rapidly on improving Rust; the RFC process – which we had introduced in 20144 – provided the “checks and balances” that kept teams on track.5 As the project grew further, new teams like the release team were created to address dedicated needs.

            The teams were scaling well, but there was still a bottleneck: most people who contributed to Rust were still doing so as volunteers, which ultimately limits the amount of time people can put in. This was a hard nut to crack6, but we’ve finally seen progress this year, as more and more companies have been employing people to contribute to Rust. Many of them are forming entire teams for that purpose – including AWS, where I am working now. And of course I would be remiss not to mention the launch of the Rust Foundation itself, which gives Rust a legal entity of its own and creates a forum where companies can pool resources to help Rust grow.

  • Leftovers

    • Science

      • The problem with the Internet of Things

        You may think I’m an imagination-less oldster who cannot immerse themselves in the new and innovative. Wrong. There are lot of new technologies out there, which definitely have amazing potential and use cases. Just to give you my perspective, say AR/VR. Lots of buzzwords, but this is actually something cool. AR/VR will solve real problems in hazardous environment work, healthcare. AR/VR will provide significant benefits to disabled people or those with learning difficulties. AI/ML may have some actual value, if we actually ever get to understand how the engines self-optimize.

        IoT? Don’t know. It may have value in the industry space, but in the consumer space? Ah. This is where I don’t see any practical application of smart devices. Not because they aren’t smart or (potentially) practical – because humans are stupid, impractical and random. And because, after several thousand years of careful tweaking and optimization, we have pretty much nailed down the analog way of doing things. Anything else that requires the human to give control over to machines implies inefficiency. Replacing analog with digital isn’t the solution. That’s just refactoring. Furthermore, finding new, real needs in the consumer space is going to be hard. If people use it, the need has already been met, or if there’s a need, something has or will have been made to satisfy it. Which is why IoT is a hammer looking for a nail to beat. Well, if someone has a good answer, I’d love to hear it. For the time being, I shall do my cynical, skeptical thing.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Security

          • AMD Publishes Security Analysis Of Zen 3 “PSF” That Could Possibly Lead To A Side-Channel Attack

            AMD published a security whitepaper this week looking at their Predictive Store Forwarding (PSF) feature that is new to Zen 3 series processors. AMD is going to allow customers to disable this performance feature as they think it may be vulnerable to a Spectre-like attack.

            Zen 3′s Predictive Store Forwarding aims to enhance performance by trying to predict dependencies between loads and stores. PSF can speculatively execute instructions based on what it thinks the result of the load will be and while the predictions should be largely accurate, there is the possibility of incorrect CPU speculation.


            AMD’s whitepaper says they have proposed Linux patches that would allow disabling of Predictive Store Forwarding using the Zen 3 “PSFD” bit as well as new kernel command line options of psfd/nopsfd. However, as of writing those patches do not appear to be public.

    • Monopolies

      • Patents

        • Get it Done This Week: Weekday Patent Filing [Ed: Most patents go to large corporations (monopolies) whose workers work 9-5; it's not a system for individuals but for corporations]
        • Software Patents

          • When Does “Without Ads” Mean “With Ads”? When You Want To Abuse A Patent

            Funimation is a successful anime streaming company. It has a monthly subscription tier, which is ad-free, and a free tier, which includes advertisement. This week, failed company Firtiva filed a lawsuit against Funimation. The lawsuit asserts that Funimation violates Firtiva’s patent, U.S. 10,116,999, titled “Method for advertisers to sponsor broadcasts without commercials.”

            “Without commercials” apparently means “with commercials” when you’re trying to force a successful company to pay you money.

            The ‘999 Patent

            Derived from an application filed back in 2001, the ‘999 patent is about a system where the time viewers spend watching any given broadcast is monitored. That time is associated with a sponsor, and based on that association, the viewer is later offered some kind of ‘enticement’ by the sponsor.

            Now, in large part this seems like exactly what the Nielsen “People Meter” system did—the meter would monitor how long viewers spent watching and record that data. They receive a gift for that—an enticement to participate. And all ads are functionally enticements to purchase something, meaning that the idea of enticement as a reward for viewing is as old as broadcast advertising.

            It isn’t tied to a particular sponsor, but advertisers sponsoring a given segment of content is as old as radio, much less TV. Even making that sponsorship commercial-free isn’t novel—Schindler’s List was famously broadcast in 1997 without commercial interruption, with the viewers being shown a Ford ad after the movie ended.

            So even if no one had yet come up with the idea of having sponsor information tied to a given segment of media, measuring that viewing, and providing an enticement is all well within the realm of what a person of ordinary skill in the art would have been able to do back in 2001.

            But the Patent Office still issued a patent for it.

Links 2/4/2021: GCC 10.3 Release Candidate and Holiday

Posted in News Roundup at 1:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Linux Release Roundup #21.14: AlmaLinux OS, Linux Lite 5.4, Ubuntu 21.04 and More New Releases

      After months of testing, the stable version of AlmaLinux has been released.

      If you are not familiar with the operating system, it is a fork of the popular Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system that aims to be a no strings attached alternative to it with regular community-driven updates on offer.

    • Applications

      • Excellent Utilities: scrcpy – display and control Android devices

        This is a series highlighting best-of-breed utilities. We cover a wide range of utilities including tools that boost your productivity, help you manage your workflow, and lots more besides.

        We’ve recently relaunched our coverage of Android apps. We recommend the best free Android apps with a very strict eligibility criteria. We’ve received praise from many people but also ruffled a few feathers). This article recommends software that’s useful for Android users, but it’s native Linux software.

        scrcpy is a free and open source screen mirroring application that lets you control an Android device from your desktop computer. The screen content is streamed as H.264 video, which the software then decodes and displays on the computer. The software pushes keyboard and mouse input to the Android device over the server.

      • Best Linux Terminal Emulator Apps with Better Looks & Extra Features

        All Linux distributions come with a default terminal application or terminal emulator. This terminal emulator is actually bundled with the Linux desktop environment and looks and feels different in different desktop environments. But there are many more Linux terminal emulator apps, regardless of your desktop environment or distribution.

        These alternative terminal emulators for Linux offer unique features that either improve functionality or aesthetics. So here’s a list of 5 of the best terminal emulator apps for Linux. You can even test different Linux distros online without installing them by following our guide on the topic.

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • How to Delete All Lines of a File in Vim [Quick Tip]

        You can delete a line in Vim with dd i.e. pressing the d key twice. But what if you want to delete all the lines in Vim?

        You cannot do Ctrl+A and use Del key like you do in a regular text editor. That’s not how Vim works.

        There is no straightforward keyboard shortcut for this. However, you can use the dG keys if you are at the beginning of the file.

      • How to Fix an Unresponsive Linux System With the SysRq Key Combination

        You’ve been working on your Linux system for a couple of hours and everything is okay. Then, you click on another link, open another web app, and everything freezes. If you spend any time running web applications on your older laptop, there’s a chance that you might have run into this problem before.

        What if there was a way to solve these situations quickly, without having to shut down your system? Well, the SysRq key combination is there to help you out. Let’s take a closer look at how you can utilize this key combination to prevent thrashing on your computer.

      • How to Install and Configure Fail2ban on Debian 10 – TecAdmin

        You’ve been working on your Linux system for a couple of hours and everything is okay. Then, you click on another link, open another web app, and everything freezes. If you spend any time running web applications on your older laptop, there’s a chance that you might have run into this problem before.

        What if there was a way to solve these situations quickly, without having to shut down your system? Well, the SysRq key combination is there to help you out. Let’s take a closer look at how you can utilize this key combination to prevent thrashing on your computer.

      • Install and Usage of Nmap Port Scanner – LateWeb.Info

        Nmap Port Scanner (“Network Mapper”) is a free and open source (license) utility for network discovery and security auditing. Many systems and network administrators also find it useful for tasks such as network inventory, managing service upgrade schedules, and monitoring host or service uptime.

        Nmap uses raw IP packets in novel ways to determine what hosts are available on the network, what services (application name and version) those hosts are offering, what operating systems (and OS versions) they are running, what type of packet filters/firewalls are in use, and dozens of other characteristics.

        It was designed to rapidly scan large networks, but works fine against single hosts. Nmap runs on all major computer operating systems, and official binary packages are available for Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X. In addition to the classic command-line Nmap executable, the Nmap suite includes an advanced GUI and results viewer (Zenmap), a flexible data transfer, redirection, and debugging tool (Ncat), a utility for comparing scan results (Ndiff), and a packet generation and response analysis tool (Nping).

      • How To Install CodeIgniter on Debian 10 – idroot

        In this tutorial, we will show you how to install CodeIgniter on Debian 10. For those of you who didn’t know, CodeIgniter is an open-source Application Development Framework for building websites using PHP. It is a very powerful framework that allows you to easily create full-featured web applications. CodeIgniter provides a set of useful libraries used for performing various operations like sending emails, uploading files, managing sessions, and more. Lightweight but powerful, CodeIgniter enables developers to write their applications much more quickly.

        This article assumes you have at least basic knowledge of Linux, know how to use the shell, and most importantly, you host your site on your own VPS. The installation is quite simple and assumes you are running in the root account, if not you may need to add ‘sudo‘ to the commands to get root privileges. I will show you through the step-by-step installation of the CodeIgniter on a Debian 10 (Buster).

      • Install and Review eDEX-UI Terminal Emulator on Ubuntu – LateWeb.Info

        eDEX-UI Terminal is a fullscreen, cross-platform terminal emulator and system monitor that looks and feels like a sci-fi computer interface.

        Heavily inspired from the TRON Legacy movie effects (especially the Board Room sequence), the eDEX-UI project was originally meant to be “DEX-UI with less « art » and more « distributable software »”. While keeping a futuristic look and feel, it strives to maintain a certain level of functionality and to be usable in real-life scenarios, with the larger goal of bringing science-fiction UXs to the mainstream.

      • Installing and configuring Jenkins in Linux | Enable Sysadmin

        Jenkins provides CI/CD functionality, making sysadmin and developer lives easier. See how to install and set up this useful service.

    • Games

      • Free game Friday – grab a permanent free copy of Steel Rats

        In need of a new game for the weekend? Here’s our quick tip for you! You’re in luck as Tate Multimedia have made their 2.5D action arcade motorbike combat game Steel Rats completely free to claim and keep. This is not a Free Weekend like Steam usually has, instead it’s a 100% discount so you can keep it. This offer only lasts until April 4 at 10AM UTC so be sure to grab it before then.

      • Get ready for more art of rally with the Kenya update releasing Summer 2021 | GamingOnLinux

        art of rally, easily one of the best games from 2020 is getting another big free update with the Kenya expansion that’s confirmed to be releasing Summer 2021. See also: some thoughts on the game.

        We’re getting quite a bit with this one with 4 new cards, 6 new tracks and there’s going to be an addition free-roam area to drive around in and chill. This is in addition to the updates already released late last year adding in more cars, ghost cars to race against and more. Awesome to see even more coming as it’s such a gem.

      • Go Easter Egg hunting in the Lucy Dreaming demo, get a chance to appear in the game | GamingOnLinux

        Tall Story Games have announced a fun little Easter Egg hunt in the demo for their upcoming point & click adventure game Luxy Dreaming. It gives you the chance to appear in the game! Quite a fun idea giving players a chance that’s practically once-in-a-lifetime to be immortalised in pixel-art.

        If you do manage to find the Easter Egg you will be entered into the prize draw to become an NPC. The developer said you will not only get a pixel-art representation but you will also become an integral part of the game’s story and gameplay. You will also get a free digital copy of the full game, a high-resolution digital artwork of their character and a mention in the game’s credits to boot.

      • Midnight Protocol, a tactical narrative-driven hacking RPG releases Summer 2021

        LuGus Studios have announced their hacking themed tactical narrative-driven hacking RPG, Midnight Protocol, will be releasing this Summer and they have a new trailer.

        “Midnight Protocol is a tactical narrative-driven RPG set in a near-future filled with labor automation, big data, controversial AI applications, legal grey zones, and the nebulous nature of online identity. You assume the mantle of a prominent hacktivist, ‘Data’, who recently got doxxed and has been targeted for blackmail by a shadowy branch of government.”

        Not only have they announced the Summer 2021 release window, they also announced that they’ve teamed up with Iceberg Interactive as publisher to help with QA, marketing and so on so they can focus more on development.

      • Theme park builder ‘Parkitect’ gets a Beta for cross-platform multiplayer | GamingOnLinux

        This is wonderful! Texel Raptor, developer of the absolutely fantastic theme park building game Parkitect have announced a new Beta is available that brings in cross-platform online multiplayer.

        In the current stable release, the online multiplayer which is relatively new is locked per-platform but they did say since it was added they would be exploring how to get it all synced up across Linux, macOS and Windows. This fresh Beta was released yesterday April 1 (it’s not an April Fools), which any owners on Steam can opt into and test it out.

    • Distributions

      • Screenshots/Screencasts

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • Software company sues IBM and Red Hat, claiming they ‘conspired’ to ‘crush’ competitors – Charlotte Business Journal
        • AlmaLinux Foundation Delivers on CentOS Promise

          A nonprofit organization launched this week to oversee future development of AlmaLinux, a distribution of Linux based on code originally contributed to the open source CentOS project.
          At the same time, CloudLinux, which created AlmaLinux in response to a decision by Red Hat to pull financial support for CentOS, announced that a stable version of the operating system is now available. CentOS itself was based on the Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) distribution that is made available via a subscription.
          Jack Aboutboul, community manager of AlmaLinux, said AlmaLinux is the result of the $1 million that CloudLinux committed toward creating a distribution of Linux based on a CentOS project used by hosting providers, such as CloudLinux, to run RHEL-compatible applications at a lower cost. AlmaLinux OS is a binary compatible fork of RHEL 8, which the foundation pledged to update to maintain that compatibility.

      • Debian Family

        • MX Linux 19.4 Comes With The Latest Debian 4.19 Kernel

          MX Linux 19.4 is the fourth refresh of the MX Linux 19 release, consisting of bugfixes and application updates.

          MX Linux is a popular and fast Linux distribution based on Debian stable release. It popularity growing every day. MX Linux comes with the XFCE desktop environment as standard. One of the best things about MX Linux is the variety of custom tools that have been built to make the life of the user easier.

          MX Linux 19.4 brings the latest Debian 4.19 Linux Kernel for both 32 bit and 64-bit packages.

          The AHS (Advanced Hardware Support) build now features the 5.10.24 kernel, as well as a new updated firmware and mesa package. The KDE ISO has also been updated, and being based on AHS, also has the 5.10.24 kernel and updated firmware and mesa packages.

        • deepin 20.2 Released with Download Links, Mirrors, and Torrents

          Second update to deepin OS Twenty released on March 31 highlighted as Beautiful and Wonderful. This article is a collection to all of its download links, several countries’ mirrors, torrents and checksums so you and friends can quickly grab it and test it out on your computer. Simply click a link between links below and enjoy. Happy downloading!

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Ubuntu 21.04 “Hirsute Hippo” Beta Released

          Ubuntu 21.04 final beta was officially released. Features images for the Ubuntu Desktop, Server, and Cloud products, and also the Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Ubuntu Budgie, UbuntuKylin, Ubuntu MATE, Ubuntu Studio, and Xubuntu flavors.

          Ubuntu 21.04 code name “Hirsute Hippo”. As a non-LTS release, it has only 9-month support.

        • Enable Light Mode Menus (System Menu, Notifications) in Ubuntu 21.04

          Prefer the light mode appearance? Here’s how to change the system tray menu, date & time menu, notifications, and other top panel drop-down menus from dark to light in Ubuntu 21.04.

          Different to previous Ubuntu releases, Ubuntu 21.04 now has top-panel menus in dark mode. It’s good for those prefer the dark themes. However, light mode fans need to change the Gnome Shell theme to get better experience.

        • What’s New in Ubuntu 21.04 – Download Beta Now!

          Finally, Ubuntu 21.04 Beta, which goes with the codename ‘Hirsute Hippo’, is out and available for the masses. It is the latest interim release after Ubuntu 20.10 (Groovy Gorilla), released on October 22, 2020.

          For users not familiar with the Ubuntu lifecycle and release cadence – Canonical (the company behind Ubuntu projects’ development) publishes new releases of Ubuntu regularly, enabling its users, the business community, and developers to plan for upgrades and access to more recent packages. Ubuntu version numbers are also based on the Year and Month (YY.MM) of release. For example, Ubuntu 20.10 was released in the year 2020 October (20.10). Ubuntu comes in two major releases…

        • Ubuntu Studio 21.04 Beta (Hirsute Hippo) Released

          The Ubuntu Studio team is pleased to announce the beta release of Ubuntu Studio 21.04, codenamed Hirsute Hippo.

          While this beta is reasonably free of any showstopper DVD build or installer bugs, you may find some bugs within. This image is, however, reasonably representative of what you will find when Ubuntu Studio 20.10 is released on October 22, 2020.

        • Ubuntu 21.04 Beta is Now Available to Download

          Ubuntu 21.04 beta is available for public testing. It may not be the most exciting release, but it’s interesting with the goodness of hippos.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Web Browsers

        • If You Care About Privacy, It’s Time to Try a New Web Browser

          By the end of this column, I hope to persuade you to at least try something else: a new type of [Internet] navigator called a private browser. This kind of browser, from less-known brands like DuckDuckGo and Brave, has emerged over the last three years. What stands out is that they minimize the data gathered about us by blocking the technologies used to track us.

        • Mozilla

          • Cameron Kaiser: TenFourFox FPR32b1 available

            I decided not to post this on April Fools Day since a lot of people were hoping the last post was a mistimed April Fools prank, and it wasn’t. For one thing, I’ve never worked that hard on an April Fools joke, even the time when I changed the printer READY messages all over campus to say INSERT FIVE CENTS.

            Anyway, the beta for the final TenFourFox Feature Parity Release, FPR32, is now available (downloads, hashes, release notes). This release adds another special preference dialogue for auto reader view, allowing you to automatically jump to reader view for subpages or all pages of domains you enter. I also updated Readability, the underlying Reader View library, to the current tip and also refreshed the ATSUI font blocklist. It will become final on or about April 20 parallel to Firefox 88.

            I received lots of kind messages which I have been replying to. Many people appreciated that they could use their hardware for longer, even if they themselves are no longer using their Power Macs, and I even heard about a iMac G4 that is currently a TenFourFox-powered kiosk. I’m willing to bet there are actually a number of these systems hauled out of the closet easily serving such purposes by displaying a ticker or dashboard that can be tweaked to render quickly.

          • SeaMonkey 2.53.7 compiled for EasyOS Dunfell x86_64

            Planning to release EasyOS 2.6.2 Dunfell series soon, which will have this SM.

      • Productivity Software/LibreOffice/Calligra

        • The Brazilian Community launches the LibreOffice 7.0 Getting Started Guide in Portuguese

          The guide is intended for Portuguese speaking users who wants to begin their first contact with LibreOffice and needs a manual that expounds all the software’s features and allows them to immediately start some sophisticated tasks.

          The Getting Started Guide describes the important concepts that guided the development of LibreOffice and presents each of its modules: spreadsheets (Calc), presentations (Impress), vector drawings (Draw), texts (Writer), equations (Math), and databases (Base). In addition to these modules, there are several chapters describing important concepts common to all modules such as styles, printing, electronic signature, macros, exporting in various formats, redacting, and document classification.

      • FSF

        • Stallman…

          I found this on the Internet and I consider it an important reflection. An important read. And a departing point for discussions.

          Trying to Understand the Lynching of Stallman: for an Uncompromising Defense of Free/Libre Software

          Some people taking part in the mob lynching RMS for sure hate his guts. Because he is “weird” and they think he is “creepy”, because he doesn’t obey to any of the social conventions of our times, because he isn’t considerate towards them, etc. anti-conformists, anarchists and neuro-divergent people often face this kind of hate.

          Some take part because they want to get the social credit of being on the side of “justice”.

          Maybe they fear that such lynching could happen to them as well, so they hope they are buying their place in “paradise” by encouraging and fueling the mob. (Historical examples may actually prove otherwise…)But most importantly, what many of the lynchers hate is Richard’s uncompromising way of defending Free/Libre software, therefore his way of pointing out their own contradictions.

          What Richard shows by his lifestyle and speaks loudly about -without filters- is the compromises that they are making by using, nurturing and promoting technology that is actually harmful to basic human rights and basic dignity.

        • Fedora Magazine: Fedora Council statement on Richard Stallman rejoining FSF Board

          Along with many in the free and open source software world, the Fedora Council was taken aback that the Free Software Foundation (FSF) has allowed Richard Stallman to rejoin their Board of Directors given his history of abuse and harassment. The Fedora Council does not normally involve itself with the governance of other projects. However, this is an exceptional case due to the FSF’s stewardship of the GPL family of licenses, which are critical for the work we do.

          In keeping with our values, we will stop providing funding or attendance to any FSF-sponsored events and any events at which Richard Stallman is a featured speaker or exhibitor. This also applies to any organization where he has a leadership role.

        • The Free Software Foundation’s leadership crisis worsens

          RMS has been kicked off the GCC Steering Committee while FSF management team members are resigning

        • The Power Of Knowledge — And The Leaders Who Spread It

          Jimmy Wales: Wikipedia


          During grad school, he learned about Richard Stallman’s Emacs Manifesto promoting free software and a sharing economy and had seen successes of the open-source movement. Believing that knowledge is our most important resource, he was as intrigued by the motivations of people to volunteer their time and knowledge as by the opportunity to reach massive populations.

      • Programming/Development

        • Read and write files with Groovy | Opensource.com

          Two common tasks that new programmers need to learn are how to read from and write to files stored on a computer. Some examples are when data and configuration files created in one application need to be read by another application, or when a third application needs to write info, warnings, and errors to a log file or to save its results for someone else to use.

        • A practical guide to using the git stash command

          Version control is an inseparable part of software developers’ daily lives. It’s hard to imagine any team developing software without using a version control tool. It’s equally difficult to envision any developer who hasn’t worked with (or at least heard of) Git. In the 2018 Stackoverflow Developer Survey, 87.2% of the 74,298 participants use Git for version control.

          Linus Torvalds created git in 2005 for developing the Linux kernel. This article walks through the git stash command and explores some useful options for stashing changes. It assumes you have basic familiarity with Git concepts and a good understanding of the working tree, staging area, and associated commands.

        • Will 2021 Be the Year of GitOps?
        • Why an Open Source GitOps Model Is the Future of DevOps

          At its most basic level, GitOps is a development approach that uses a code version control system, often Git, as the basis for defining and controlling a DevOps workflow and synchronization across systems.

        • GCC 10.3 Release Candidate Arrives For Testing – Phoronix

          While GCC 11 is seeing its first stable release in the form of GCC 11.1 in just a few short weeks, GCC 10.3 is imminent as the latest point release for those on the current GCC 10 stable series.

          GCC 10.3 is a bug-fix release to last year’s GCC 10 feature release. GCC 10.3 delivers on a half-year worth of bug fixes to this free software compiler. The GCC point releases tend to be mostly mundane but there are some back-ports worth mentioning like the AMD Zen 3 (znver3) tuning work and other hardware-specific target work but for the most part is largely just genuine compiler bug/regression fixes.

        • This popular code library is causing problems for hundreds of thousands of devs

          A license incompatibility in an extensively used open source library has led to breaking the popular web development framework Ruby on Rails (RoR).

          A developer pointed out his GPLv2 licensed code was being improperly used inside a MIT licensed Ruby library called mimemagic. The issue was quickly sorted by re-releasing mimemagic as GPLv2. To prevent further misuse mimemagic’s developer also yanked the older MIT licensed releases of the library.

        • Steinar H. Gunderson: plocate 1.1.6 released

          I’ve released version 1.1.6 of plocate with some minor fixes; changelog follows.

        • Some opinionated thoughts on SQL databases

          These opinions are derived from years of using and/or running SQL and other databases primarily as backends for web apps or web APIs. My experience is largely with these kinds of applications, which tend to have relatively predictable data access patterns, and care about low latency, high throughput, and some degree of high availability. I acknowledge that this is not the only purpose that SQL engines are used for, but it’s the one I have experience with and it’s a very common one these days.

        • How I Beat the Berlin Rental Market With a Python Script

          I was able to do so because I was keenly aware of the specific characteristics of the neighborhood, because the house had changed price twice already (-7% first, and another -6% after that) and was unlikely to change the price again, and because it was very likely to be rented soon. I knew all of this thanks to a couple of predictive models and a few weekends of scraping real estate data.

          This is how I did it.

        • npm init using
        • Site.js starter template for vite + svelte
        • Fortran newsletter: April 2021

          Welcome to the April 2021 edition of the monthly Fortran newsletter. The newsletter comes out at the beginning of every month and details Fortran news from the previous month.

        • How to Create Your First React Hook from Start to Finish

          You can use custom React hooks to solve many different real-world problems in your React projects.

        • The Apache News Round-up: week ending 2 April 2021
  • Leftovers

    • Leonora Carrington’s Irreverent Dreamscapes

      The life of the Surrealist painter and writer Leonora Carrington has, through time, shrunken into a myth. She was born in Lancashire, England, the daughter of a wealthy mill owner, and expelled from two Roman Catholic boarding schools as a child. In 1935, she was presented as a debutante at Buckingham Palace and, two years later, she met the Surrealist painter Max Ernst in London, and ran away with him to Paris. After the outbreak of the Second World War, Ernst was arrested by the French gendarmerie and imprisoned; Carrington fled to Spain, had a mental breakdown, and was sent to an asylum. She then escaped to America and embedded with Surrealist expats in New York, where, among other things, she took a shower fully clothed in the presence of Luis Buñuel and covered her feet with mustard in front of André Breton. She moved to Mexico City in 1942 and lived there for over half a century—dying in 2011 at the age of 94.

      Plotted this way, the typical sketch of Carrington’s biography tends to service two rather emaciated themes: rebellion and mental illness. The trouble is that neither says much about her life or work.

    • Six Moody Reflections on America in Spring 2021

      My answer to Forrest Palmer:

      Collapse is only inevitable by choice, and only if civilization is defined as being the present Western-Capitalist paradigm. There are no PHYSICAL limitations to fashioning a comfortable, equitable, intelligent, culturally rich, and ecologically harmonious (which is more than merely sustainable) world civilization. All the barriers are literally mental, and literally failures of personal moral character.

    • It’s Important I Remember That There’s a Difference Between a Human Being and a Person—

      which comes to mind each time

      I see them kiss a dog on the mouth.

    • Spike Lee, George C. Wolfe Named to Vimeo Board Ahead of IAC Spinoff

      The video software company Vimeo has named its slate of board of directors ahead of its planned spinoff from IAC.

      Among the board members: Film directors Spike Lee (Da 5 Bloods) and George C. Wolfe (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), who will join a board that also includes multiple IAC executives, technology investors, and finance executives. IAC CEO Joey Levin will be the chairman of Vimeo’s board.

      IAC announced its intention to spin off the Vimeo business late last year, valuing it at $2.75 billion. The company says it expects to complete the spinoff in the second quarter of 2021.

    • 20 ways to be more productive and respect yourself

      The need to be productive is ingrained in who we are as human beings on some level. We oftentimes have to do yoga and meditate and breathe deeply in order to consciously slow down our minds and bodies, but when we do it helps us focus and be more productive when the time comes. Instead of constantly moving and doing, we should take periods of thoughtful breaks… or veg out in front of the TV or a sunset. And sleep at night! Then, when we’re ready again, we can tackle that to-do list. Rinse and repeat.

    • Science

      • Politicizing Science

        Check out all installments in the OppArt series.

      • Turing Award Goes to Creators of Computer Programming Building Blocks

        On Wednesday, the Association for Computing Machinery, the world’s largest society of computing professionals, said Dr. Aho and Dr. Ullman would receive this year’s Turing Award for their work on the fundamental concepts that underpin computer programming languages. Given since 1966 and often called the Nobel Prize of computing, the Turing Award comes with a $1 million prize, which the two academics and longtime friends will split.

        Dr. Aho and Dr. Ullman helped refine one of the key components of a computer: the “compiler” that takes in software programs written by humans and turns them into something computers can understand.

    • Education

      • South Carolina Bill Would Require Teaching Based on Trump’s Ahistorical 1776 Report

        “This kind of legislation… introduces more problems and more politics,” said one historian critic. “It is telling people how to think, not to think.”

        Republican state legislators in South Carolina on Wednesday introduced a bill that would require public school students to receive conservative historical education consistent with the “principles and concepts” of former President Donald Trump’s 1776 Commission Report, a move that ignores the widespread rebuke of historians and progressive activists that accompanied its initial release.

      • Sebastian Gorka Is Still in His Trump-Appointed Education Post. Why?

        Sebastian Lukács Gorka, the infamous Nazi pin-wearing former Trump “deputy assistant for strategy” turned right-wing talk radio host who hawks fish-oil pills, was appointed to a post at the National Security Education Board by former President Donald Trump. That wasn’t especially surprising. But it’s difficult to explain why, after 60-plus days in power, the Joe Biden White House has yet to toss Gorka out or replace him, although it has clearly attempted to hose out Trump leftovers.

      • Dr. Seuss’s Mistakes Are the Least of Our Troubles

        However, of all the racist, sexist, classist things children are exposed to, decades-old children’s books seem pretty low on the list. Consider our de facto segregated public schools and neighborhoods, our crumbling de facto segregated public housing, our shocking rates of child poverty, ill health, and low literacy, and the shocking violence of everyday life to which so many children are exposed. Given these serious—and growing—problems, it’s not whataboutism to wonder why these old books get so much attention. Is it because attacking old books is easier than making the social and economic changes that would improve the actual lives of real children and their parents? It doesn’t cost money to take a few volumes out of the classroom. But to provide schools with real libraries, with professional librarians and adequate budgets—let alone school nurses, counselors, art teachers, music teachers, and all the other things children need—will require billions we collectively decided some decades ago to spend on tax cuts for the rich, unnecessary war planes, and ourselves.

    • Hardware

      • Intel should beware of becoming a national champion

        Intel’s move also marks the start of a new era of public funding for chipmaking in America that could dangerously distort the market. The industry is lobbying for $50bn of federal support over the next decade, which it says is necessary to spur construction of 19 new fabs, requiring $280bn of private investment. Mr Gelsinger’s bet puts Intel in the vanguard of America’s mission to strengthen its position as a semiconductor superpower. But if it does not play its cards carefully, it could be the first Silicon Valley firm to suffer the curse of being a national champion.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • COVID-19 Light Therapy: Old quackery repurposed

        [ Orac note: Orac regrets that there hasn’t been a new bit of Insolence, either Respectful or not-so-Respectful, in nearly a week. The universe got in the way. Fortunately, to get started again, Orac has found a tasty bit of woo called COVID Light Therapy. He also hopes to get back on a more regular posting schedule (or even more frequent than what has been the norm the last few weeks) beginning on Monday, right after the Easter holiday.]

      • Why the U.S. and Its Allies Are Stupid to Turn COVID-19 Vaccination Into a Geopolitical Power Play

        The U.S. belief in its exceptionalism isolates it from the rest of the world on the issue of vaccines. Firstly, its self-declared goal is to reserve its vaccine supply for itself till it has vaccinated its population and only then provide vaccines to other countries. This is similar to the famous—or infamous—analogy of putting on oxygen masks in the depressurized cabin of an aircraft: “You put on your own first, and then… help others.” So exports of the mRNA vaccines—produced by Moderna and Pfizer—from the U.S. to other countries for the next six months are unlikely, except for some amounts going to its close European allies and Israel. Secondly, the ultra-cold chain requirement and the high cost of the vaccine precludes these mRNA vaccines from being used by most of Asia, Africa and even Latin America. Thirdly, the U.S. and other rich countries refuse to consider allowing dilution of the profits that companies obtain through their intellectual property rights over the vaccines. Even if vaccine production is idling in many countries, they cannot produce the successful vaccines, as proprietary knowledge to produce these vaccines will not be shared by the companies.

        Vaccine production is not just about patents but also other forms of intellectual property, such as trade secrets. Reverse engineering the whole vaccine technology during a raging epidemic is not a worthwhile option. That is why South Africa and India, supported by a large number of countries and civil society groups, have asked for a temporary waiver of certain TRIPS obligations on copyrights and related rights, industrial designs and patents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Predictably, it has been opposed by the rich countries: the U.S., the UK, the European Union, Japan and Australia. Profits for Big Pharma trump human liveseven during a global epidemic.

      • False Barriers: These Things Should Not Prevent You From Getting a COVID Vaccine

        As the United States seeks to end its coronavirus crisis and outrun variants, public health officials recognize it is essential for as many people as possible to get vaccinated. Making that easy is a major part of the plan. According to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, the vaccine is supposed to be free to everyone, whether they’re insured or not. And the Biden administration has directed all vaccination sites to accept undocumented immigrants as a “ moral and public health imperative.” But this promise has not always been fulfilled, ProPublica has found.

        At vaccination sites around the country, people have been turned away after being asked for documentation that they shouldn’t need to provide, or asked to pay when they owed nothing.

      • ‘Shocking’ April Fools’ Day Study Shows ‘When Hungry People Obtained More Food, They Were Less Hungry’

        “It turns out that people are actually in poverty mostly because they are not paid enough for their work to be able to afford rent, food, and other necessities of living.”

        “So many people over decades have told me that the causes of—and solutions to—hunger need to be studied endlessly before we can determine what needs to be done. So, I was gobsmacked to learn that ending hunger was really as simple as making sure hungry people could afford enough food. Who knew?”

      • A Strong Economy Needs Strong Care Workers

        But the labor of caregiving — as essential as it is — is severely undervalued and carried out by some of the nation’s most vulnerable workers.

        Ninety-two percent of domestic workers are women, and more than half are women of color. The typical domestic worker is paid just $12 per hour, including overtime, tips, and commissions — nearly 40 percent less than the typical non-domestic worker.

      • Brazil in Crisis: COVID Deaths Soar & Hospitals Overflow Amid Unprecedented Political Upheaval

        Brazil now accounts for about a quarter of all COVID-19 daily deaths worldwide, more than any other country, and its overall death toll of more than 310,000 is surpassed only by the United States. Far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro faces intense pressure to abandon his opposition to vaccinations, lockdowns and mask-wearing. Dr. Miguel Nicolelis, professor of neurobiology at Duke University and former coordinator of the largest scientific COVID-19 task force in Brazil, says Bolsonaro “has played on the side of the virus” by opposing any efforts to control the outbreak. “Since the beginning, he downplayed the severity of the pandemic.”

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Unidentified persons booked for malware attack on MIDC servers

          Mumbai Police on Wednesday booked unidentified persons for allegedly launching a “malware attack” on the information technology system of the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) which had impacted its database servers, police said. The “ransomware attack” was detected on March 21 after the MIDC’s applications went down at 02300 hrs, as per the complaint.

        • Security

          • Security updates for Friday

            Security updates have been issued by Debian (busybox, ldb, openjpeg2, spamassassin, and underscore), Fedora (kernel, kernel-headers, and kernel-tools), Mageia (privoxy, python and python3, and rpm), openSUSE (ovmf, tar, and tomcat), SUSE (curl, firefox, OpenIPMI, and tomcat), and Ubuntu (openexr).

          • Spectre Mitigation Performance Impact For Intel’s Rocket Lake – Phoronix

            For those wondering about the state of speculative execution vulnerabilities and what software-based mitigations are required for Intel’s new Rocket Lake processors, here is the rundown along with benchmarks when disabling those present Linux kernel mitigations.

          • Reproducible Builds (diffoscope): diffoscope 172 released

            The diffoscope maintainers are pleased to announce the release of diffoscope version 172. This version includes the following changes:

            * If zipinfo(1) shows a difference but we cannot uncover a difference within
              the underlying .zip or .apk file, add a comment and show the binary
              comparison. (Closes: reproducible-builds/diffoscope#246)
            * Make "error extracting X, falling back to binary comparison E" error
              message nicer.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • NSA Director Says More Domestic Surveillance Might Stop Foreign Hacking; Fails To Explain Why NSA Isn’t Stopping Much Foreign Hacking

              Never let a good crisis go to waste. The federal government is always on the lookout for expansion opportunities and a bad actor known colloquially as “Current Events” keeps handing the government what it’s looking for.

            • How workplace surveillance is entering our homes and driving through our streets

              Where initially employees working at home might be asked to leave on their webcams so that supervisors could check on what they were up to, or to log every absence from their home desk, there is now a move to use AI. Facial recognition is applied to check who is at the desk, and activity is monitored for “breaches” such as unauthorized absence, or the use of a mobile phone. If the AI detects a breach, it takes a photo and sends it to a human manager for further action.

            • Supreme Court says Facebook text alerts aren’t illegal robocalls

              The Supreme Court has unanimously decided that Facebook text message alerts don’t violate laws against unwanted auto-dialed calls. The court ruled that a lower court defined illegal “robocalls” too broadly and that the term should only apply to systems that generate lists of numbers and call them indiscriminately, not a system that simply stores numbers and automatically calls them.

              The lawsuit involves text messages that notify Facebook users of an attempted login. Its plaintiff, Noah Duguid, sued after receiving unwanted, erroneous notifications despite not having a Facebook account. Duguid argued that Facebook was violating the 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). An appeals court agreed, but the Supreme Court interpreted the law’s definitions differently.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • “Being the Good Guys”: SOUTHCOM’s Monroe Doctrine

        Given this context, the general thrust of Admiral Faller’s testimony is unsurprising: the US is under attack, and SOUTHCOM is defending it valiantly, but will need even more money to keep doing so. “The very democratic principles and values that bind us together,” he argues in the written version of his testimony, “are being actively undermined by violent transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) and [China] and Russia.” Iran also aims to “take advantage of the nascent, fragile democracies in the region and look to exploit the region’s resources and proximity to the United States.” Finally, “malign regional actors” are “opening the door” to foreign influence and criminal organizations. However, Faller offered little evidence that these threats are really as dire as he made them out to be.

        Despite describing Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela as “malign regional actors,” and Iran as one of several “threats,” these four countries take up just 2 of the 22 pages in Faller’s written testimony, filled mostly with details like an Iranian-run Spanish-language news channel in the region (the US runs one as well). Of the seven sentences in the Venezuela section, six describe the country’s humanitarian crisis and don’t even attempt to portray it as a threat. Though US-Venezuela sanctions policy relies on the White House officially describing Venezuela as “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States,” SOUTHCOM apparently has little to share about how this could be true.

      • We Need Diplomacy, Not War. Time to Ramp Up the Pressure on Biden.

        Two tidbits of note regarding the United States and its well-fed war machine, the first regarding a familiar problem child: the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Coming in at an overall and still-growing project cost of $1.7 trillion, the F-35 was intended to be a kind of flying junk drawer, filled to bursting with neat technological tools to solve any dilemma a hypersonic weapon of mass destruction may encounter.

      • Lawmakers Have Filed an Unprecedented 108 Laws to Restrict Voting Since February

        As retaliation against Democrats taking control of Congress and the White House in the 2020 election, lawmakers in 47 states are filing record-shattering numbers of bills to restrict voting access across the country. Since mid-February, the Brennan Center for Justice reported on Thursday, lawmakers have introduced 108 bills restricting voting on top of the 253 bills they had already filed at the Brennan Center’s last count.

      • ‘Potential imminent crisis’ Russian military exercises near Ukraine’s borders provoke concern from Kyiv and Washington as tensions escalate in Donbas

        The war in eastern Ukraine, which is now in its seventh year, saw its deadliest incident of 2021 last Friday when four Ukrainian servicemen were killed. This latest escalation comes amid a gradual erosion of the ceasefire that’s been in place since last July. Both Kyiv and Moscow have acknowledged that tensions are on the rise in the region, though the Kremlin continues to shift any and all blame on to Ukraine. Meanwhile, Kyiv and Washington’s top brass are sounding the alarm over the apparent build up of Russian troops along Ukraine’s borders. Moscow maintains that these are routine military movements that “should not concern anyone.”

      • Opinion | It’s Time to End the Insanity of Colossal Military Spending and Reallocate Funds to Basic Economic and Social Needs

        Imagine what could be achieved if just a portion of the money spent on military expenditures were pooled into a global fund, and redirected towards ending hunger and massively investing in public health systems.

        If nations had a referendum, asking the public if they want their taxes to go to military weapons that are more efficient in killing than the ones we currently have, or if they would prefer the money to be invested in medical care, social services, education and other critical public needs, what would the response be? 

      • Opinion | Chinese and American Leaders Are Playing a Game of Chicken That Couldn’t Be More Dangerous

        Could the U.S. and China face an unintended blowup in the western Pacific in the Biden years?

        The leaders of China and the United States certainly don’t seek a war with each another. Both the Biden administration and the regime of Chinese President Xi Jinping view economic renewal and growth as their principal objectives. Both are aware that any conflict arising between them, even if restricted to Asia and conducted with non-nuclear weapons—no sure bet—would produce catastrophic regional damage and potentially bring the global economy to its knees. So, neither group has any intention of deliberately starting a war. Each, however, is fully determined to prove its willingness to go to war if provoked and so is willing to play a game of military chicken in the waters (and air space) off China’s coast. In the process, each is making the outbreak of war, however unintended, increasingly likely.

      • Opinion | Can Biden End the Endless Wars and Learn to Wage Peace?

        Militarism is embedded in the infrastructure of the nation state.

        Will Joe Biden end the endless wars or won’t he?

      • Biden’s Plan for Central America Is a Smokescreen

        Joe Biden entered the White House with some inspiring yet contradictory positions on immigration and Central America. He promised to reverse Donald Trump’s draconian anti-immigrant policies while, through his “ Plan to Build Security and Prosperity in Partnership with the People of Central America,” restoring “U.S. leadership in the region” that he claimed Trump had abandoned. For Central Americans, though, such “leadership” has an ominous ring.

        Although the second half of his plan’s name does, in fact, echo that of left-wing, grassroots organizations like the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador ( CISPES), its content highlights a version of security and prosperity in that region that’s more Cold War–like than CISPES-like. Instead of solidarity (or even partnership) with Central America, Biden’s plan actually promotes an old economic development model that has long benefited US corporations. It also aims to impose a distinctly militarized version of “security” on the people of that region. In addition, it focuses on enlisting Central American governments and, in particular, their militaries to contain migration through the use of repression.

      • Outraged Bystanders Describe Witnessing George Floyd Death During Chauvin Trial

        Jurors in Minneapolis heard another series of dramatic testimonies during the third day of the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for killing George Floyd. A teenage clerk named Christopher Martin at the Minneapolis convenience store outside which Floyd was killed told jurors during questioning that he felt guilty for reporting the fake $20 bill to his manager, who called the police on George Floyd. Jurors also heard a recording of Charles McMillian, who witnessed George Floyd’s death last year, approaching Chauvin to say, “I don’t respect what you did,” as Floyd’s body was being loaded into an ambulance. We air dramatic excerpts from witness testimony on the third day of the murder trial in Minneapolis.

      • “Check His Pulse”: In Derek Chauvin Trial, Outraged Bystanders Describe Witnessing George Floyd Death

        Jurors in Minneapolis heard another series of dramatic testimonies during the third day of the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for killing George Floyd. A teenage clerk named Christopher Martin at the Minneapolis convenience store outside which Floyd was killed told jurors during questioning that he felt guilty for reporting the fake $20 bill to his manager, who called the police on George Floyd. Jurors also heard a recording of Charles McMillian, who witnessed George Floyd’s death last year, approaching Chauvin to say, “I don’t respect what you did,” as Floyd’s body was being loaded into an ambulance. We air dramatic excerpts from witness testimony on the third day of the murder trial in Minneapolis.

      • Headlines April 01, 2021

        Jurors in Minneapolis have heard another day of testimony in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, who is on trial for killing George Floyd last May by kneeling on his neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds. One of the most dramatic moments of the trial on Wednesday occurred when Charles McMillian, who witnessed George Floyd’s death last year, rewatched a police bodycam clip of George Floyd begging for his life after he was handcuffed by police. McMillian broke down in tears and was unable to speak for several moments. Jurors were also shown police bodycam footage of the bystanders who attempted to save George Floyd’s life as officer Chauvin kneeled on his neck.

      • “The System of Policing Is on Trial”: Derek Chauvin Murder Case Is About More Than Just George Floyd

        After the third dramatic day in the murder trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis, we speak with Mel Reeves, who has been following the case as community editor at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, the oldest Black-owned newspaper in the state. Reeves discusses the testimony heard so far, and juror selection, and says more is at stake than just what happened to George Floyd. “It is political. The system of policing is on trial,” says Reeves. “You can see now how the police operate when they run into Black people.” We also speak with Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change, who says the defense is following a familiar strategy of blaming the victim. “This is what they do in trial after trial, is work to put the community and work to put the victim on trial, to make the victim someone who deserved to be killed.” Robinson also describes the influence of police unions on preventing police accountability.

      • Facing 50 Years in Prison, Whistleblower Daniel Hale Pleads Guilty

        Hale disclosed documents shedding new light on the U.S.’s secret remote assassination program, including how the Obama administration decided who to place on its “kill lists,” internal criticisms of the program, and accounts of civilian casualties.

      • Survivors From Mozambique Attack Stream Into Pemba Safe Haven

        More than a week after jihadis staged a deadly raid on the northern Mozambican town of Palma, survivors streamed Thursday into the port of Pemba, the capital of gas-rich Cabo Delgado province.

        Scores of relatives huddled outside the port, straining to spot family members disembarking from boats arriving from Palma, about 200 kilometers (120 miles) away.

      • UN: Crippling Debt Keeps Developing Countries Mired in Poverty

        The study finds 120 low- and middle-income economies will owe more than $1 trillion in debt service payments this year. It reports 72 countries, classified as vulnerable, are responsible for more than half that accumulated debt.

        UNDP administrator Achim Steiner says these 72 countries are facing sovereignty or liquidity challenges that will crowd out important socioeconomic expenditures crucial for the well-being of their people.

    • Environment

      • UK court urged to respect 1.5°C climate limit

        The UK faces growing pressure not to expand Heathrow airport but to respect the 1.5°C limit agreed on global heating.

      • UK Court Urged to Respect 1.5C Climate Limit

        In a significant challenge to the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court, several leading climate scientists have said a recent ruling it made on the expansion of London’s main airport, Heathrow, will cause serious damage to the global environment, urging it to rule that the government must respect the 1.5C limit internationally agreed to rein in  global heating.

      • Lawmakers and Groups Demand ‘Urgent Action’ by Fed to Protect Economy From Climate Risks

        “The Federal Reserve must do its job, steering the economy away from disaster by ending fossil fuel finance.”

        Dozens of green groups and 25 progressives in Congress sent a pair of letters Thursday to Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell calling for much bolder efforts to protect U.S. financial institutions and the economy from risks posed by the climate crisis.

      • Forget 2030 or 2040, Says Greta Thunberg, World Must ‘Reduce Our Emissions Right Now’

        The world needs “to stop focusing on dates and numbers” and recognize that taking immediate action is what must be done, says the 18-year-old Swedish climate leader.

        Global climate leader Greta Thunberg in a new interview published Wednesday expressed frustration with inadequate future climate targets by world governments that fail to address the urgency of the climate crisis.

      • Energy

        • People Worldwide Said ‘Build Back Better.’ IEA Chief Says ‘Just the Opposite’ Is Happening

          “As long as countries do not put the right energy policies in place, the economic rebound will see emissions significantly increase in 2021. We will make the job of reaching net zero harder.”

          For the past year, climate campaigners and experts have urged heads of state around the world to “build back better” in the wake of the economic devastation wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic.

        • Indigenous Youth Take to DC Streets With Demands to #ShutDownDAPL and #StopLine3

          “Climate chaos is here. We cannot wait.”

          A group of Indigenous youth activists rallied in the nation’s capital on Thursday to demand President Joe Biden reject fossil fuel pipelines including Line 3 and the Dakota Access Pipeline.

        • Blinken to Germany: Stop Nord Stream II!

          Blinken told Dana Bash on CNN that the U.S. must work with its allies—a jab at Trump who supposedly didn’t do so. Especially its closest NATO allies, with whom it must coordinate to “confront China” as Beijing’s GDP comes to equal the U.S. figure. He added that the Nord Stream II project was just one issue on which allies can disagree. It is a virtual admission of defeat.

          Why does the U.S. oppose Nord Stream II? It was opposed by the Trump administration too. Trump, whose soul (Marx would say) is the “soul of capital,” argued that the Germans should buy (more expensive) U.S. gas to help pay back America after ripping off its taxpayers for decades. Blinken’s approach is different. He trashes the agreement because it helps the sanctions-strapped Russia by expanding the market for its prime trade good, and reduces German dependence on U.S. for its energy supply.

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • How Domestic Sheep Threaten the West’s Wild Bighorns

          Bighorn sheep acquired their name for the large circular horns of the mature rams. They are strongly associated with mountain terrain, particularly steep hills and cliffs, which protect them against predators. They graze upon grasses and other plants. In general, bighorns are associated with drier parts of the West where they can obtain their forage, even in winter.

          Bighorns tend to be found in regions with limited snowfall like deserts or places where snow does not accumulate like windy ridges. For instance, bighorn sheep in Montana’s Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness and Wyoming’s Absaroka Range, and the Wind River Range all winter at 10,000-12,000 feet. At these elevations, they survive on south-facing slopes and wind-blown mountain tops.

        • The Forest Service’s Logging Program is Undercutting Grizzly Bear Recovery

          The Trump administration’s vastly inflated timber production targets still drive U.S. Forest Service projects, which include adding and opening more logging roads in areas crucial for grizzly bear recovery. The targets also include logging in Roadless Areas and places where trees are hundreds of years old. In fact, the agency plans to cut whole swaths of forests to create “openings” that look pretty much like clearcuts from decades long past.

          Opening abandoned roads in Roadless Areas undermines the very purposes of their protection, which includes providing strongholds for threatened and endangered species. Roadless Areas near and along the Idaho/Montana border provide essential stepping stones for wandering grizzlies leaving the official recovery zones within the Cabinet-Yaak and North Continental Divide Ecosystems. Without safe passage, grizzly bears cannot find new territory or new mates, furthering genetic isolation. Instead of improving Roadless Areas and increasing habitat security for grizzlies, the Forest Service continues to push damaging projects that impede connectivity and recovery.

      • Overpopulation

        • Falling sperm counts could threaten the human race

          What’s happening: In 2017, Mt. Sinai Medical School epidemiologist Shanna Swan co-authored a sweeping meta-analysis that came to a startling conclusion: Total sperm count in the Western world had fallen 59% between 1973 and 2011.

          Together with falling testosterone levels and growing rates of testicular cancer and erectile dysfunction, that translated into a 1% increase per year of adverse reproductive changes for men, according to Swan.

    • Finance

      • STEP Act: The Critical First Blow to Millionaire Income Tax Avoidance

        The system is working splendidly for taxing workers. For taxing wealth gains, not so much.

        University of Southern California law professor Ed McCaffery uses three words to describe how America’s wealthy avoid income tax: Buy – Borrow – Die.

      • IMF Calls for Taxing World’s Richest to Curb Inequality, Stave Off Social Unrest

        “Governments need to provide everyone with a fair shot—enabling all individuals to reach their potential.”

        If governments don’t close the gap between society’s richest and poorest members—which was growing before and has exploded during the coronavirus crisis—by raising wages for low-income workers, taxing wealthy households, and using the increased revenue to improve social welfare, they should expect diminished trust in government and increased social polarization and unrest.

      • Biden May Be Exploring $50K Student Loan Cancellation, Hints His Chief of Staff

        President Joe Biden is exploring the possibility of canceling student loan debt of up to $50,000 per debtor, his chief of staff Ron Klain said on Thursday. Biden has asked Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to compile a memo detailing how he could legally do so as president.

      • ‘We Need Full Abolition,’ Advocates Say as Biden Reviews Authority to Cancel Student Debt

        The president has signaled he supports forgiving $10,000 per borrower but Democrats and activists are pressing him to make it $50,000 or more.

        As a key White House official revealed Thursday that President Joe Biden has requested information on his authority to cancel federal student loan debt, progressive lawmakers and activists doubled down on their calls for the administration to go far beyond the $10,000 per borrower plan that he has previously floated.

      • Biden’s $100 Billion Broadband Plan Hailed as Crucial Effort to Close ‘Digital Divide’

        “President Biden’s $100 billion infrastructure plan acknowledges an important fact about broadband today—it is an essential service, like water and electricity, and our public policy should reflect that fact.”

        President Joe Biden’s newly unveiled infrastructure plan includes $100 billion to boost broadband access across the nation—a provision that drew strong praise from digital rights advocates.

      • Complaining About Corporate Tax Hike, McConnell Admits GOP Won’t Support Biden Infrastructure Plan

        The Kentucky Republican vowed to fight the president’s proposal “every step of the way.”

        Objecting specifically to the plan’s call for a corporate tax increase, Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that no members of his caucus will support President Joe Biden’s newly released infrastructure package.

      • How Tax Haven States Enable Billionaires to Hide Trillions

        As he prepared to take office, President Joe Biden called out corporate corruption as a threat to national security. “I will lead efforts internationally to bring transparency to the global financial system, go after illicit tax havens, seize stolen assets, and make it more difficult for leaders who steal from their people to hide behind anonymous front companies,” Biden wrote in Foreign Policy.

        But if he intends to crack down, he should start with a long look in the mirror. The United States has now become the global center for money hiding and illicit wealth storage. And Delaware, the state Biden represented in the Senate for 36 years, is the go-to destination for plutocratic tax dodgers and criminal money launderers.

      • Biden’s ‘Transformative’ Plan Redefines Infrastructure to Include Caregiving

        President Biden’s $2 trillion American Jobs Plan proposes a credible down payment on meeting the nation’s long-neglected physical infrastructure needs—$621 billion for roads, bridges, public transit, rail, ports, waterways, airports, and electric vehicles—and it nods in some meaningful ways to the climate concerns raised by campaigners for a more ambitious Green New Deal. The plan, which the president outlined Wednesday, also seeks vital investments in clean drinking water, housing, and high-speed broadband Internet services. But the boldest component of the president’s agenda is its $400 billion commitment to fund the care infrastructure of a just and humane society.

        “This plan is historic, transformative,” says Ai-jen Poo, the cofounder and executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, who for years has been working to convince policy-makers that improving the circumstance of caregivers for the elderly and people with disabilities must be seen as a critical infrastructure investment.

      • With ‘Planetary Crisis on Our Hands,’ Says AOC, ‘We Can Do $10 Trillion’ on Infrastructure

        “That may be an eye-popping figure for some people,” said the New York Democrat, but “we’re the wealthiest nation in the history of the world.”

        Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus made clear Wednesday that while President Joe Biden’s roughly $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal is a welcome start, they believe the final package must be far more ambitious if it is to truly transform America’s fossil fuel-dominated energy system and bring the country into line with crucial climate targets.

      • ‘We Need to Tax the Rich’: Global Billionaires Have Grown $4 Trillion Wealthier During Pandemic

        “Unless we tax the world’s billionaires, the legacy of the pandemic will be accelerated concentrations of wealth and power.”

        A new analysis out Thursday morning shows that the world’s 2,365 billionaires have seen their collective fortunes grow by $4 trillion during the coronavirus pandemic, a staggering windfall that prompted demands for a global wealth tax aimed at curbing inequality and funding key priorities such as the lagging international vaccination effort.

      • Opinion | Global Billionaire Wealth Increases to $4 Trillion During Pandemic

        The cost of vaccinating the world is estimated at $141.2 billion.

        As over 2.8 million people have died globally from Covid-19 in the past year, the wealth of the world’s billionaires has surged.

      • Opinion | America’s Military-Industrial Complex Squanders $1.7 Trillion on a Lame Fighter Jet While the President Begs for Infrastructure Cash

        Isn’t there a better way?

        A Ferrari is surely a wonderful sports car, but let’s be honest: Most of us couldn’t afford the day-to-day maintenance, let alone the sticker price, and these beautiful creatures are hard to drive on America’s pothole-plagued streets, and a massive pain in the butt to repair when they break down. So you can imagine the raised eyebrows earlier this year when a top U.S. Air Force general compared the F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter jet—decades and hundreds of billions of dollars into a lifetime that will cost taxpayers $1.7 trillion—to that Italian dream machine.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Three Fundamentalisms Are Driving the Resurgence of Fascist Politics in the US

        A right-wing extremist ideology has taken hold of the Republican Party, and the United States has become a locus for the revitalization of white supremacy, the normalization of state violence, the reproduction of the carceral state and staggering forms of economic inequality.

      • ‘Threat to Democracy’: Brazil’s Bolsonaro Faces Growing Calls to Resign

        “We have a president who is trying to pressure the armed forces into serving his coup-mongering, authoritarian delusions,” said one elder statesman as lawmakers pursue impeachment. 

        Beset by political, public health, and environmental crises amid an emerging progressive consensus for his impeachment, historic Cabinet turnover, and soaring Covid-19 deaths, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday faced a chorus of calls to resign. 

      • GOP Attack on Democracy Surges as Texas Voter Suppression Bill Passes Senate

        “It’s clear that the Republican Party believes the only way they can win future elections is to keep millions of Americans from casting their ballots.”

        As Republican lawmakers in nearly every U.S. state introduce hundreds of voting restriction bills, Texas took center stage Thursday after its Senate approved a measure opponents say disproportionately targets minority and urban voters by limiting when, where, and how people can vote.

      • ‘What Are They Waiting For?’ With Voting Rights Under Threat, Dems Pressured to Nuke Filibuster Now

        “Democrats have a mandate from voters to move forward on their own… Delay carries enormous risk, just as it did in 2009.”

        With dozens of Republican-authored voter suppression measures advancing through state legislatures across the country, progressive advocacy groups are imploring Democratic lawmakers to stop dragging their feet and immediately abolish the Senate rule that is obstructing an ambitious plan to shield the franchise from the GOP’s onslaught.

      • Coca-Cola and Delta Only Opposed Georgia Election Bill After Public Backlash

        This week, both Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines released statements condemning the recently passed Georgia law that makes it harder to vote and potentially suppresses votes that are cast. The strongly worded statements released by the companies gained them headline after headline about their supposed opposition to the bill.

      • Georgia’s New Voting Law Is Rife With Hidden Horrors

        When we first reported that handing a slice of pizza to a voter waiting three hours in a line is now a felony in Georgia, other media quickly picked up the story, highlighting the cruelty of Georgia Republicans making predominantly Black voters suffer from hunger and thirst in lines the GOP deliberately made long by closing polling stations in majority-Black precincts.

      • Everything You Need to Know About Georgia’s New Anti-Voting Law

        Covering the Rev. Raphael Warnock’s and Jon Ossoff’s Georgia Senate runoff campaigns early this year, I witnessed Democrats running not two but three races, the third being the frantic, multifront effort to beat back GOP attempts at voter suppression. Out-of-state conservative activists tried (and mostly failed) to disqualify hundreds of thousands of absentee ballot requests. Officials in a majority of Georgia counties also tried (and mostly failed) to erect new voting obstacles. Democrats like Atlanta Representative Bee Nguyen were running around helping to fix absentee ballots with problems (like a signature in the wrong place).

        And Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who’d otherwise mostly acted fairly from November through January, insisted he’d prosecute anyone who provided food or drink to voters on long lines (an activity known as “line warming”) on that cold January election day, under state rules prohibiting offering “gifts or bribes” to voters. “I’ve got tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of pizza and scarves and hot chocolate and water,” New Georgia Project director Nsé Ufot told me. “We are going to get those things to Georgians—we’re preparing for a showdown.”

      • Peoples Coalition Helps Elect New Orleans Progressive Prosecutor

        The Peoples DA Coalition, made up of over 30 local justice organizations, worked for over a year to “create a District Attorney’s office that is ethical, equitable, compassionate, and accountable to all of its constituents so that we may end the era of mass incarceration in New Orleans.”

        Immediately upon taking office, New Orleans District Attorney Jason Williams showed why he is on the way to becoming a progressive prosecutor. He established a vigorous civil rights unit to review questionable convictions, began to reduce the instances where the prosecution required cash bail, quit using Louisiana’s habitual offender law, mostly stopped prosecuting juveniles in adult court, dismissed hundreds of low level drug cases, and granted new trials to dozens of people convicted by non-unanimous juries. More changes are coming.

      • Texas Senate blocks social media platforms from banning users based on politics

        The bill bans platforms from censoring a “user, a user’s expression, or a user’s ability to receive the expression of another person” based on their viewpoints or geographical location, according to its text. The measure also requires social media companies to publicly disclose information regarding their practices around how they target content for users, promote content and services and moderate content.

      • Texas Senate approves bill to stop social media companies from banning Texans for political views

        The Texas Senate early Thursday approved a bill that would prohibit social media companies with at least 100 million monthly users from blocking, banning, demonetizing or discriminating against a user based on their viewpoint or their location within Texas.

        Senate Bill 12, sponsored by Republican state Sen. Bryan Hughes of Mineola, was approved after 2 a.m. Thursday. The measure, which would apply to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, among others, would also require the companies to disclose their content moderation policies, publish regular reports about the content they remove and create an appeals process for user content that has been taken down.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Facebook Removes Lara Trump Video, Saying All Content in Trump’s Voice Is Banned

        An interview on Facebook of former President Donald Trump, conducted by his daughter-in-law Lara Trump (who also posted the video to her page), was removed by the company for promoting the “voice” of the former chief executive, who was banned from the social media site earlier this year over fears of him inciting violence.

      • Content Moderation Is A Losing Battle. Infrastructure Companies Should Refuse to Join the Fight

        Inconsistent Policies Harm Speech in Ways That Are Exacerbated the Further Along the Stack You Go

        Facebook has been swearing for many months that it will do a better job of rooting out “dangerous content.” But a new report from the Tech Transparency Project demonstrates that it is failing miserably. Last August, Facebook banned some militant groups and other extremist movements tied to violence in the U.S. Now, Facebook is still helping expand the groups’ reach by automatically creating new pages for them and directing people who “like” certain militia pages to check out others, effectively helping these movements recruit and radicalize new members. 

        These groups often share images of guns and violence, misinformation about the pandemic, and racist memes targeting Black Lives Matter activists. QAnon pages also remain live despite Facebook’s claim to have taken them down last fall. Meanwhile, a new leak of Facebook’s internal guidelines shows how much it struggles to come up with consistent rules for users living under repressive governments. For example, the company forbids “dangerous organizations”—including, but not limited to, designated terrorist organizations—but allows users in certain countries to praise mass murderers and “violent non-state actors” (designated militant groups engaged that do not target civilians) unless their posts contain an explicit reference to violence.

      • Judge voids Trump campaign non-disclosure agreement he used to silence employees

        A federal judge on Tuesday voided a Trump campaign non-disclosure agreement, ruling that it was too vague to be legally enforceable.

        U.S. District Court Judge Paul Gardephe, a George W. Bush appointee, ruled that the Trump campaign cannot enforce its overly broad NDA against Jessica Denson, a former Hispanic outreach director who was ordered to pay nearly $50,000 after she filed a sexual discrimination and harassment lawsuit against the campaign in 2017 and criticized Trump on social media. Though the ruling only applies to Denson, her attorneys argued that it invalidates every campaign NDA.

      • Myanmar’s Military Is Killing People for Telling Stories Like This One

        Last month it did. Since then, a population that had grown accustomed to some democratic norms has faced the horror of isolation (limited internet has been restored, but Facebook, Twitter, and other sites have been blocked) and persecution. What began with a crackdown on peaceful protests has led to a campaign of terror in which the military has begun to systemically massacre its own people, including children as young as five. “We are being brutalized,” says Darko C., an indie-rock musician whose work bringing out the vote in the past election has now forced him into hiding in Myanmar. When Darko (not his real name, but the one under which he performs) reached out to Rolling Stone, he was desperate for the world to know what was really happening in his country. “I want people to be aware of this, because I believe in people. I don’t believe in institutions or organizations, but I have hope in people to intervene in this madness.”

      • Justin Welby: “What I learnt from Covid, the threat of cancel culture and the truth on Harry & Meghan’s wedding”

        “On the statues, what we were looking at was whether we had memorials and statues where the language on them was so abusive that there was no way of putting it in context. I’m very kind to say that we’ve reviewed all the statutes, for instance, here at Canterbury, and that there was nothing that needed changing. Around the Church of England, I think there’s been one or two that were really terrible. They’ll go into a museum and there’ll be an explanation on why we now disagree with this person who 200 years ago had a statue put up there. But we cannot cancel history. We cannot cancel differences of opinion. Particularly in universities, it seems to me very, very dangerous because you start with cancelling some views that you dislike and very quickly, you are cancelling everyone who disagrees. It’s a very dangerous process.”

        About the case of Batley Grammar School and the protests after a teacher showed prophet Mohammad’s cartoons in his classroom…what do you think about the way things have been handled? Is there a conflict about freedom of speech?

        “I don’t know the details about that case. In this country we abolished the blasphemy laws not long ago, in the past twenty years, and the Church of England was one of those who supported the abolition of the blasphemy laws. Because we feel that blasphemy is, I believe, a morally bad choice, in the sense of denigrating other people’s faith in a bad way, but it should not be a criminal matter.”

        “Yes, there can be a conflict in-between and in some parts of the world, you have to be very careful what you say because people feel very, very strongly. But in this country, I think, we have to hold on to freedom of speech. We have very good relationships with Muslim leaders across the country. Many of them are very upset by the cartoons that were shown but also many of them have said no violence, no threats, make it clear that you disagree strongly, but no violence, no threats. In other words, exercise your freedom of speech, but don’t prevent other people exercising their freedom of speech.”

        “I think shutting down freedom of expression of religion, which is happening in various parts of Europe at the moment, is entirely wrong as well. We have to speak freely. I’m much more towards the US end of the spectrum on freedom of speech than I am elsewhere towards the other end. I think we have to be open to hearing things we really dislike. There was someone the other day who was saying “the Archbishop of Canterbury who believes in fairies at the bottom of the garden”. Well, obviously, I entirely disagree with his assessment of the Christian faith, or the person of Jesus Christ. But I’m very glad that he feels able to say that, and I don’t want to threaten them for saying it. I don’t think he should be threatened.”

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • New York City Council Passes Police Reforms That Includes Ending Qualified Immunity For NYPD Officers

        Qualified immunity is pure judicial cancer. This fact cannot be ignored. What began as a limited defense for decisions made in the heat of the moment has become the de facto response to civil rights lawsuits. The Supreme Court — which conjured this new Section 1983 ejection seat out of thin air — has only made it worse over the past few decades.

      • ‘It’s like I drew a door and disappeared through it’ Meduza correspondent Irina Kravtsova asks Russia’s homeless population what it’s really like living on the street — and what’s keeping them from returning to ‘normal life’

        Homeless people in Russia have their own terms for things — people who aren’t homeless are “domestic” people, while they themselves are “street” people, or simply “bums.” Meduza’s special correspondent Irina Kravtsova spent several days with homeless people in St. Petersburg, asking them the most obvious questions “domestic” people usually have: Why can’t they just update their documents, get a job, and rent a place to live? According to Igor Antonov, who’s worked with homeless people for years, questions like these underestimate the extent to which life on the street can transform a person. When it comes down to it, returning to a “normal life” is easier said than done.

      • The Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism

        Confronted with the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism (JDA), published on March 25, 2021, it is tempting—especially for Jews at this time of year—to ask: Why is this definition of anti-Semitism different from all other definitions?

        Actually, the question to ask is more specific. In 2016, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), an intergovernmental body, produced its “working definition of antisemitism.” The IHRA definition has been endorsed by the secretary general of the United Nations and adopted by governments, political parties, public agencies, universities, and other bodies (including numerous Jewish organizations) in countries around the world. The European Parliament has called upon all member states to adopt the definition. The JDA is written, in large part, as a response to the IHRA text. So, a better question might be: How is the JDA different and why does the difference matter? In short: Why the JDA?

      • The Jury’s In: The Magic of Small Lit Presses Lives On
      • The PRO Act: Labor’s Catalyst or Political Stunt?

        “The Employee Free Choice Act will pass by the end of the year” – Vice President Biden at Pittsburg Labor Day rally, 2009

        If President Biden and his Democrat-controlled Congress pass the Protect the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act), Biden could confidently brag about being the most pro-labor President since FDR.

      • Will Biden’s Central American Plan Slow Migration (or Speed It Up)?

        Although the second half of his plan’s name does, in fact, echo that of left-wing, grassroots organizations like the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador ( CISPES), its content highlights a version of security and prosperity in that region that’s more Cold War-like than CISPES-like. Instead of solidarity (or even partnership) with Central America, Biden’s plan actually promotes an old economic development model that has long benefited U.S. corporations. It also aims to impose a distinctly militarized version of “security” on the people of that region. In addition, it focuses on enlisting Central American governments and, in particular, their militaries to contain migration through the use of repression.

        Linking Immigration and Foreign Policy

      • The Real Immigration Scandal

        It’s an old story. The US government consistently avoids any kind of honest analysis of issues like this. Because we’re top o’ the world and want to stay that way, the rule is, concede nothing. Plus, anything in today’s virtual and legalistic world can be made so damned confusing that getting anything done become impossible. Thus, it becomes a military problem. Last Friday, Bill Maher had a libertarian editor of  Reason magazine on his show. Maher made a bald statement that the issue with refugees at our southern border had to do with one thing: “Drugs.” The libertarian interrupted him: “No! It’s  The Drug War!” A famous weed smoker, Maher agreed wholeheartedly.

        Here’s the bottom line: One cannot make sense out of the influx of poor refugees north to the US border without significantly factoring in imperial/military involvement between the United States and the tiny, poor nations of Central America. It all started with the notorious 1954 coup in Guatemala, during which the CIA did a number of things to bamboozle the citizens of Guatemala in a classic coup that removed a duly-elected progressive reform president, replacing him with a ruthless military general. The government ushered in quickly established itself as a cruel military machine that has ruled Guatemala ever since with an iron hand covered by a weak fig leaf of democracy. In the 1970s and ‘80s, hundreds of thousands of Mayan Guatemalan peasants were slaughtered in upland Guatemala; for the victims, it was a  holocaust that led to the creation of a peasant liberation army.

      • Tenth Circuit Misses Opportunity to Affirm the First Amendment Right to Record the Police

        EFF had filed an amicus brief in the case, Frasier v. Evans, asking the court to affirm the existence of the right to record the police in the states under the court’s jurisdiction (Colorado, Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Utah, and those portions of the Yellowstone National Park extending into Montana and Idaho).

        Frasier had used his tablet to record Denver police officers engaging in what he believed to be excessive force: the officers repeatedly punched a suspect in the face to get drugs out of his mouth as his head bounced off the pavement, and they tripped his pregnant girlfriend. Frasier filed a First Amendment retaliation claim against the officers for detaining and questioning him, searching his tablet, and attempting to delete the video.

        In addition to refusing to affirmatively recognize the First Amendment right to record the police, the Tenth Circuit held that even if such a right did exist today, the police officers who sought to intimidate Frasier could not be held liable for violating his constitutional right because they had “ qualified immunity”—that is, because the right to record the police wasn’t clearly established in the Tenth Circuit at the time of the incident in August 2014.

      • Virginia’s Top Court Says Charlottesville’s Confederate Statues Can Be Removed

        The Virginia Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the city of Charlottesville can legally remove statues of Confederate Civil War generals, overturning a lower court ruling.

      • “No Good Choices”: HHS Is Cutting Safety Corners to Move Migrant Kids Out of Overcrowded Facilities

        The startling images have appeared in one news report after another: children packed into overcrowded, unsafe Border Patrol facilities because there was nowhere else to put them. As of March 30, over 5,000 children were being held in Border Patrol custody, including more than 600 in each of two units in Donna, Texas, that were supposed to hold no more than 32 apiece under COVID-19 protocols.

        But as the Biden administration’s Department of Health and Human Services scrambles to open “emergency” temporary facilities at military bases, work camps and convention centers to house up to 15,000 additional children, it’s cutting corners on health and safety standards, which raises new concerns about its ability to protect children, according to congressional sources and legal observers. And even its permanent shelter network includes some facilities whose grants were renewed this year despite a record of complaints about the physical or sexual abuse of children.

      • Months After Violent NYPD Responses To Protests Resulted In Hundreds Of Complaints, Only Two Officers Are Facing Serious Discipline

        The repeal of a law that shielded New York police misconduct records from public view has prompted a delayed deluge of records — one temporarily slowed by the expected litigation from police and police reps who wished to put this transparency genie back in the bottle.

      • Moscow prosecutors launch inquiry into Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation for ‘extremist activity’

        Moscow prosecutors are looking into Alexey Navalny’s non-profit, the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), for alleged extremist activity. This was reported by FBK director Ivan Zhdanov during live broadcast on the YouTube channel “Navalny Live” on Thursday, April 1.

      • Alexey Navalny lost eight kilograms in prison before his hunger strike began

        Since he’s been imprisoned in Pokrov’s Penal Colony No. 2, Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny has lost eight kilograms (about 17.6 pounds). This was reported on his Telegram channel on Thursday, April 1 — the day after he declared a hunger strike.  

      • Kremlin spokesman declines to comment on Navalny’s hunger strike

        Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov has declined to comment on opposition politician Alexey Navalny going on hunger strike to protest the conditions of his imprisonment.

      • Prison monitors refuse to visit jailed father of top Navalny aide

        Rostov-on-Don’s Public Monitoring Commission (ONK), the local watchdog group tasked with monitoring the observance of prisoners’ rights, has refused to visit 66-year-old Yuri Zhdanov in pre-trial detention.

      • Opinion | The Liberal Contempt for Martin Luther King’s Final Year

        Mainstream media today pretend that King’s anti-militarism pronouncements were never uttered, but that was not the case in 1967. Condemnation was swift, emphatic and widespread.

        The anniversary of his assassination always brings a flood of tributes to Martin Luther King Jr., and this Sunday will surely be no exception. But those tributes—including from countless organizations calling themselves progressive—are routinely evasive about the anti-militarist ideals that King passionately expressed during the final year of his life.

      • Undeletable Coercive Loan Apps First Hobble Then Shut Down Your Smartphone If You Fall Behind On Repayments

        The modern smartphone is a technological wonder, cramming into its compact form factor multiple functions — phone, pager, computer, camera, calculator, diary, multimedia player, radio, TV, clock, maps, GPS, voice recorder, eBook reader, gaming device, WiFi hotspot, flashlight etc. etc. — that required over a dozen separate devices a couple of decades ago. No wonder, then, that most people want one, and would like to buy a model that offers all these features. However, in many parts of the world, the price of a good smartphone represents a big chunk of their annual wages. The obvious solution is to take out a loan, but that typically requires a credit rating, and many people in those countries lack a credit history, and may not have a bank account. To get around that problem, companies have come up with a new kind of smart loan for the “unbanked”, as they are known. A fascinating article on the Rest of the World site, about the Indian Datacultr app, explains how the system works:

      • Amateur Online Detectives Have Apparently Decided Facial Recognition Tech Is Good As Long As They’re The Ones Using It

        The exponential growth of facial recognition tech over the past decade is cause for concern. The tech is unproven and caters to pre-existing biases. The biggest beneficiaries of the tech explosion are the usual suspects: white guys over the age of 35. Cops claim it’s a godsend — a tool that gives them what they need to close cases, even when it’s usually just doing what they’ve always done: deciding any minority “fits the description.”

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • T-Mobile Kills Live TV Service Just A Few Months After Launch

        You might recall that pre-merger T-Mobile used to make fun of the wireless sector’s repeated failures in the TV space, such as Verizon’s massive Go90 face plant. Of course, at the same time, T-Mobile was busy planning its own streaming TV efforts. Launched just last fall, T-Mobile’s TVision TV service was supposed to truly disrupt the stodgy TV sector (something already happening at the hands of countless platforms). T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert explained it like this last October:

      • Dying to get home: Lada Malova became a teenage Internet celebrity by broadcasting her drug use, but Russia’s prison system may be what kills her in the end

        Lada Malova has spent the first four years of her 20s behind bars, and she’s only halfway through her eight-year sentence. Before prison, when she was still a teenager, Malova became an online celebrity in the “Dvach” community by broadcasting her life as a user. Since being locked up for supposed drug possession and attempted dealing, she’s developed multiple serious illnesses. Malova’s mother and lawyers now say the young woman could die in prison, but the authorities have refused, so far, to consider her release. Meduza takes a closer look at her story.

      • The FCC Wants Your Broadband Horror Stories: You Know What to Do

        Traditionally, the FCC credulously relied on monopolistic ISPs to self-report coverage and service, which allowed these giant businesses to paint a deceptive , deeply flawed portrait of broadband service where everything was generally just fine. It was not fine. It is not fine. The pandemic demonstrated how millions are left behind  or stuck with second-rate service, in a digital age where every aspect of a thriving, prosperous life turns on the quality of your broadband. Just look at the filings from Frontier’s recent bankruptcy and see how mismanagement, misconduct, and poor service are standard industry practice. It’s not just Frontier, either: recurring horror stories of ISPs n ot delivering upon their basic promise of service by upload throttling customers or even harassing customers seeking to cancel service demonstrate that ISPs don’t think of us as customers, but rather as captives to their monopolies .

        Last Wednesday, the White House announced a plan to invest $100 billion in building and improving high-speed broadband infrastructure . It’s overdue. Last February, Consumer Reports released a survey which found that 75% of Americans say they rely on the internet to carry out their daily activities seven days a week . EFF has  long advocated for broadband for all , and today we are part of a mass movement demanding universal and affordable access for all people so that they may be full participants in twenty-first century society.

        Trump’s FCC, under the chairmanship of former Verizon executive Ajit Pai, threw away citizen comments opposing the 2017 net neutrality repeal. It’s taken years to learn what was in those comments.

      • FCC Wants To Hear Your Thoughts On Crappy US Broadband

        One consistent point of pride for the Trump FCC, like many Trump agencies, was its active disdain for real world data. It didn’t matter how much data showed that US broadband was expensive and spotty due to monopolization (and there’s a lot of data clearly proving that point), the Trump FCC didn’t care. It didn’t matter that surveys showed that net neutrality was popular among consumers. Guys like Ajit Pai believed that the US broadband sector was perfectly healthy and competitive and you make things even more wonderful by gutting already fairly feckless regulatory oversight even further.

      • Reaction To Biden’s Broadband Plan A Mix Of Praise, Caution And Criticism

        In response to President Joe Biden’s new infrastructure “American Jobs Plan,” including $100 billion for broadband projects, many in the broadband industry are applauding the administration’s effort to bridge the digital divide, but with some caution and criticism as well.

      • Biden calls for $100 billion to expand U.S. broadband access

        A group of U.S. senators earlier this month said in a letter to the White House that the current high-speed standard of 25 megabits per second and upload speeds of up to 3 megabits is insufficient, urging support for a goal of 100 megabits per second.

      • Joe Biden unveils America’s most ambitious infrastructure plan in generations

        Unlike the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9trn covid-relief bill that Democrats waved through Congress, this legislation will spark fights. Conservative Democrats dislike the prospect of cutting Republicans out of the negotiations and adding to the national debt, currently 130% of GDP. Hence the decision to raise corporate taxes to pay for the building boom. The jobs plan seems designed to sway wavering moderates—chiefly Democrats who could easily torpedo the president’s ambitions, but perhaps even a tempted Republican. The bill lavishes funds on traditionally bipartisan concerns such as broadband expansion and worker retraining. (He will introduce the second half of the package, focusing on “social infrastructure”, later in April.)

    • Monopolies

      • Copyrights

        • Movie Companies Ask Court to Freeze PayPal Assets of VPN Company

          A group of movie companies is continuing to put pressure on the Popcorn Time app and VPN.ht. After filing a copyright infringement lawsuit earlier this month, they are now asking the court to freeze the VPN provider’s PayPal funds. In addition, the movie outfits want the Popcorntime.app domain locked, to prevent it from being transferred.

        • Valorant & Destiny 2 Cheat Maker Agrees To Pay $2m Copyright Settlement

          In January, Riot Games and Bungie sued the operator of GatorCheats in a US court, claiming that the cheat maker provided copyright-infringing tools designed to disrupt the gaming environments of Valorant and Destiny 2. According to a new filing in the case, the parties have agreed to settle, with GatorCheats required to pay $2 million and abide by the terms of an injunction.

        • Registration for Extension: My Submission to the Copyright Term Extension Consultation

          6.    The proposed accompanying measures in the consultation document are an inadequate response to the harm posed by term extension. Measures that result in new licensing systems for works that would otherwise remain the public domain under the Berne Convention standard or that involve narrowly tailored exceptions that are not widely available to all Canadians are certainly insufficient and potentially harmful.

A BIT Worrying Where the EPO is Going…

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: Clowns running the show at the EPO, which cannot get the very basics right on the face of it

DUE to an epidemic of nepotism, today’s EPO is run by cheap politicians like Benoît Battistelli‘s friends and former colleagues of António Campinos, a politician’s son. The institution is run by clueless people who can’t tell how software works (no wonder they push European software patents, having never bothered listening to actual software professionals).

“Granting lots and lots patents isn’t really the goal of patent offices.”There’s growing concern that the EPO is going down the drain due to lack of proper leadership or management. Granting lots and lots patents isn’t really the goal of patent offices. If many are improperly being granted (invalid or bogus or fake patents), stakeholders will walk way, in due course. False ‘trophies’ are too expensive to be worth it.

The video above deals with a document we published this morning. It has struck a nerve; people who name-drop buzzwords and lack an actual understanding of what they’re entrusted to govern ultimately doom everything. They seed destruction.

Government of Germany Relays Talking Points Directly From the Mouths of EPO Management

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 5:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: The German government seems unwilling and uninterested in tackling EPO abuses; judging by the responses, which are discussed above, it feels like the EPO speaks ‘on behalf’ of the government

THE EPO has barely changed for half a decade. Corruption carries on as usual, but the media (which in general is dying) does not write about it as much as it used to. So it may seem to a lot of people like António Campinos is a big improvement over Benoît Battistelli.

“The German authorities are hopelessly blind to corruption and one might therefore say that German authorities are complicit.”The German authorities have been misled into this false notion that things are OK in EPOnia and everything is generally improving. It morever seems like the German government is nowadays just relaying talking points from EPO management. There’s not even a sense of oversight, let alone someone in charge of such oversight.

The video above goes through some translations of exchanges, some from 2015 and some from last year. The German authorities are hopelessly blind to corruption and one might therefore say that German authorities are complicit. There’s a financial incentive to play along. This is the subject of an ongoing series, with the latest part published hours ago (it’s the one about the texts above).

EPO is a Zombie Institution Where Managers Have “Repeatedly Used Buzzwords and Catchphrases Like “Digital Transformation”, “Artificial Intelligence” and “Upskilling”, to Name a Few.”

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Jorge Campinos
Entirely clueless management is a recipe for disaster

Summary: The Staff Representation at Europe’s second-largest institution cautions that the management, by its very own admission, is thoroughly dysfunctional and incapable of running the institution

The Central Staff Committee of the EPO published an interesting report at the end of last month. A reader sent us a copy, highlighting the fact that António Campinos with his maladministration continues the tradition of Benoît Battistelli, whose faulty system cost a fortune and was then canned (223 million Euros down the drain).

“The EPO is going down the drain, but some firms profit from that demise, e.g. Microsoft.”“In this publication,” says the Central Staff Committee , “we explain how the reorganisation of BIT, more than 100 ambitious projects and the removal of experienced staff mean that the ‘spaghetti structure’ is on the verge of collapse, despite massive budgets for the IT Roadmap.”

Putting aside illegal granting of European software patents, watch how they mismanage software in-house. Didn’t “HEY HI” (AI) magically fix everything?

Zentraler Personalausschuss
Central Staff Committee
Le Comité Central du Personnel


BIT and the mystery of the spaghetti structure

Leading by example rather than pointing the finger at others

It is both disturbing and frustrating to read the note in which VP1 and VP4 complain about the tremendous responsibility they had to assume with regards to the “complexity of our IT systems with its ‘spaghetti structure‘ [sic]”. It took them more than two years to realise this, whilst this complexity is hardly a surprise to EPO staff who deal with operating processes.

Towards the end of their note, in total contrast to the statement above, VP1 and VP4 suggest that they take no responsibility at all – and you are directly exposed to the unmitigated consequences of their failed management.

The role of BIT and previous investments
BIT is supposed to be a support service, especially for thousands of examiners at the EPO and in national offices and to make sure that the EPO can fulfil its mission as the focal point for data in the patent world.

How is it possible that the EPO finds itself in a situation today in which BIT senior management claim that they “will do [their] utmost to restore [the systems] as fast as possible” when what we see is that the same systems break down? Rather than being on top of things and making sure that this cannot happen?

Where did all the money go that was put into the IT Roadmap? At the end of the previous President’s term, we were getting green-flag messages: the new IT tools were 90% ready, just a lick of paint before it all could be launched.

Furthermore, according to the Audit on Automation by BCG, published at the beginning of 2019 by the current President and VP4, none of the now apparent problems have been detected to this extent.

And now we are told that the ‘spaghetti structure’ is on the verge of collapse?

Who is doing what in BIT
Numerous changes took place within the EPO’s IT landscape in the last two years. In parallel with the launch of BIT, yet another reorganisation took place in May 2019. As a result, almost all key positions in BIT senior management were filled by newcomers, often without substantial experience in the patent world and unfamiliar with the complexity of its processes and requirements.

At the same time, a systematic crowding out of experienced managers and staff took place1. No less than eighteen directors were removed from their management positions and declared
directors “ad personam”. It is difficult to imagine that a proper knowledge transfer or handover was ensured. Colleagues inside and outside of BIT were struggling to follow the rhythm of reassignments and to keep up to date with the mapping of areas of responsibilities.

Early warnings in vain
In June 2020, Staff Representation stated in their intervention2 during the Administrative Council that “[t]he EPO’s application landscape is immensely complex, and misconceptions about the complexity caused by overly ambitious projects can easily lead to software disasters that cause even greater stress.”

These concerns were not taken seriously enough by EPO senior management. Instead, they were confident enough to launch more than 100 ambitious projects3, almost all heavily dependent on BIT resources. Who hasn’t seen some management presentations which repeatedly used buzzwords and catchphrases like “Digital Transformation”, “Artificial Intelligence” and “Upskilling”, to name a few.

Conclusion – don’t point at others
In the end, it boils down to this: We are now seeing the consequences of a one-sided recruitment policy, oversimplification and over-ambitions which were neither backed with sufficient experience nor awareness of the complexity of the patent world. Nor was senior management willing to listen to those who had experience and made their voice heard.

Being a manager is more than just a formal role. It is about accountability and responsibility, as well as acting in a sustainable way. And not leaving a pile of shambles while pointing the finger at others.

This is what the Organisation, the staff and the users have a right to expect.

1 New BIT organisation and staff changes, 02.05.2019
2 Minutes of the 163rd meeting of the Administrative Council, CA/PV 163, paragraph 50
3 Putting the SP into action, 10.03.2021

This was posted ahead of the first of April, but clearly this was no joke. The EPO is going down the drain, but some firms profit from that demise, e.g. Microsoft.

IRC Proceedings: Thursday, April 01, 2021

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:23 am by Needs Sunlight

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