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03.29.20

The Fall of the UPC – Part IX: Campinos Opens His Mouth One Week Later (and It’s That Hilarious Delusion Again)

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 8:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The funny thing? Even Team UPC isn’t buying the spiel of António Campinos, deputy clown of wannabe UPC chief.

Reichstag in Berlin

Summary: Team Campinos said nothing whatsoever about the decision of the FCC until one week later, whereupon Campinos leveraged some words from Christine Lambrecht to mislead everybody in the EPO’s official “news” section

THE European Patent Office (EPO) is definitely and undoubtedly a constant source of fury but also an occasional, part-time source of entertainment and amusement because amid all the scandals there are cover-up attempts and hollow face-saving ambitions that verge on black comedy. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but humour is the best medicine when corruption is neither pretty nor funny.

In the previous part (part 8) we covered Team UPC’s shameless spin. It painted the UPC’s death as “life” and bad news (to them) as “actually good news in disguise” or something along those lines. Psychologists and psychiatrists leverage if not ‘prescribe’ such methods.

“Psychologists and psychiatrists leverage if not ‘prescribe’ such methods.”Over at Bristows, the latest blog post is Gregory Bacon’s spin that says: “Although the complaint regarding the Bundestag majority was held to be admissible, that was only by the narrowest majority of the Senate’s eight Justices, i.e. five votes to three.”

Like athletes who say, “I lost only by two seconds.”

Courts don’t work that way. The decision doesn’t come with a “score”.

“Yeah, Johnny, I lost the case, but some people in the jury liked me… see you when I get out of prison!”

It is definitely worth noting that the EPO (management, President, Vice Presidents) waited silently for whole week and abstained from saying anything at all about this blow in the FCC (Team UPC keeps breaking the law) until some lying politician opened the mouth and was possible to quote selectively. EPO management never looked this desperate.

“It is definitely worth noting that the EPO (management, President, Vice Presidents) waited silently for whole week and abstained from saying anything at all about this blow in the FCC…”For those who missed it (this did not receive much publicity), in the German language Christine Lambrecht wrote this little page and the EPO jumped all over it, tweeting the sheer spin of Campinos (warning: epo.org link) as though it is “news”. To quote:

The European Patent Office (EPO) strongly welcomes the announcement of the German government to continue its support for the introduction of the Unitary Patent system in Europe.

In a statement made yesterday on the country’s ratification of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Agreement, German Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection Christine Lambrecht expressed her intention to “carefully evaluate the decision of the Federal Constitutional Court and examine possibilities to remedy the identified lack of form still in the current legislative period.”

The EPO’s official “news” section has increasingly become a platform of propaganda. For a whole week nothing at all was said about the FCC’s decision. And now this from Christine Lambrecht?

They don’t even pretend to be objective. The above is a bunch of nonsense (quotes) from Campinos. He’s ‘pulling a Battistelli’ again. He’s neither honest nor good. He’s a charlatan and a fraud.

Even biased lawyers who run IP Kat (not the old site called IP Kat; it changed) have just reiterated the nature of this decision, saying “this decision will set the UPC back 5 years!”

“They don’t even pretend to be objective.”Magdaleen Jooste wrote: “The German constitutional court upholds complaint against UPC Agreement and implementing act! Read the decision here. It is reported that this decision will set the UPC back 5 years! The main reason for the decision was that the act by which Germany was to ratify the UPC Agreement, was not passed with the required parliamentary majority. Léon Dijkman provided a detailed analysis of the decision by the German constitutional court.”

We probably won’t quote many comments from that blog anymore; IP Kat censors many comments, ‘sanitising’ views it does not agree with because they don’t share the agenda of today’s IP Kat editors.

Anyway, the above “news” from the EPO site makes it rather clear that the “clean” EPO management (Campinos and his mates from EUIPO) is still looking to break the law and violate countless constitutions. It cherry-picks polticians that it selectively cites like a one-party military-turned-state North Korea.

If this does not repulse patent examiners, we wonder what will…

My friend Benjamin Henrion translated Lambrecht as saying: “I will continue to work to ensure that we can provide the European innovative industry with a single European patent with a European patent court.”

You cannot.

“Anyway, Lambrecht may wear something that says “Europe” on her lapel or sleeve. She might also wave a bunch of yellow-blue flags, but clearly Lambrecht misses the point. What Europe needs is a lot more than shallow rhetoric — the type of thing EPO staff has grown tired of.”“Well, Chinese and American industries as well,” Henrion remarked, for “2/3 of patents in Europe are given to them…”

“Most of their “clients” aren’t European. It’s a class (monopoly) thing, not a regional thing,” I told him

Just because the “E” in EPO says “European” doesn’t mean it works for Europe and for Europeans. It employs many, sure, but whose agenda does their work serve? Usually very rich people’s. No, not rich Europeans. Just rich people. Corporations. Multinationals. Monsanto, Exxon, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon…

Huawei untrustworthy? Serving the Chinese military? Danger to Europe? Guess who receives the most European Patents…

Anyway, Lambrecht may wear something that says “Europe” on her lapel or sleeve. She might also wave a bunch of yellow-blue flags, but clearly Lambrecht misses the point. What Europe needs is a lot more than shallow rhetoric — the type of thing EPO staff has grown tired of. Trampling on workers — and on all people — in the name of “unity” won’t make people more united; it might unite them against those who misuse those shiny labels in the service of goals that crush human rights.

Team UPC megaphones absolutely adore Lambrecht for what she said. JUVE is among them. JUVE reinvented itself as lying propaganda and we’ll say a lot more about JUVE’s role in UPC lobbying later in this ongoing series. As Henrion put it: “German Ministry of Justice keeps pushing for the UPC, JUVE interprets it as “Bundestag will vote again” https://www.bmjv.de/SharedDocs/Pressemitteilungen/DE/2020/032620_Patentreform.html … https://www.juve-patent.com/news-and-stories/legal-commentary/german-government-announces-intention-to-move-forward-with-upc/ … This is not possible as Rules of Procedure are not made by parliament(s).”

“We’ll have a lot more to say about JUVE’s poor coverage later in this series.”True, it is not possible. If anything, this serves to show that the German Ministry of Justice does not understand the law. Yes, the irony. One might expect this from Donald Trump’s USDOJ, not Germany’s Ministry of Justice.

JUVE’s editor tweeted: “UPC latest: just six days after the judgment of the German Constitutional Court, the German government announces its intention to move forward with the Unified Patent Court.”

Did you fact-check, JUVE?

We’ll have a lot more to say about JUVE’s poor coverage later in this series.

What’s being suggested here is illegal and there would be further complaints against overt corruption. This, we might add, might be expected from Donald Trump. Are his grandfather’s relatives still in Germany and getting involved in such reckless politics based upon will and dogma rather than underlying laws and a constitution? Does the FCC have its authority diminished to mere “advisory”?

It’s not only us pointing this out by the way; “Kluwer Patent blogger” (oftentimes Bristows) published “Despite FCC ruling, Germany wants to push ahead with Unitary Patent system” and tweeted this bunch of nonsense only to be blasted in the comments, as usual. Immediately one person wrote: “And don’t forget the Rules of Procedure made by an administrative committee, which is contrary to the caselaw of the FCC, and caselaw of the ECHR on art6.”

“Even Team UPC boosters don’t quite buy the laughable spiel of Campinos and Christine Lambrecht; nor should they if they choose to become grown-ups and realistic rather than jingoistic self-serving liars.”“Concerned observer” wrote: “From the Ministry that brought you the late night shenanigans that ultimately killed the law approving the UPCA we are now served up a new strategy that has all the makings of another farce.

“Why prolong the agony and uncertainty? Why not state the obvious and acknowledge that, at the very least, the first step that will need to be taken is renegotiation and amendment of the UPCA? What is to be gained by not admitting that it will take more than just another vote in the Bundestag?

“Deeply disappointing.”

A vocal UPC booster in Munich quoted: “So a simple re-run of the previous approval law with the same UPCA text will not work. It would most probably also be contrary to EU law if Germany were to ratify an agreement that transfers sovereign rights (part of its jurisdiction)to an international court that is currently/2 https://twitter.com/kluwerblogger/status/1243477267629641728 [] partly located outside the EU and in a state which has explicitly declared that it is not minded to follow EU law and does not want to be subject to the jurisdiction of the CJEU.“

Even Team UPC boosters don’t quite buy the laughable spiel of Campinos and Christine Lambrecht; nor should they if they choose to become grown-ups and realistic rather than jingoistic self-serving liars. No, UPC isn’t for “SMEs” and it was never designed for them, either. The exact opposite is true.

Pretending EPO Corruption Stopped Under António Campinos When It is in Fact a Lot Worse in Several Respects/Aspects (Than It Was Under Benoît Battistelli)

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 6:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Focus on presidential composure/temper misses the point when about 85% of workers want to go on strike

Berlin Alexanderplatz

Summary: Germany’s eagerness to keep Europe’s central patent office in Munich (and to a lesser degree in Berlin) means that politicians in the capital and in Bavaria turn a blind eye to abuses, corruption and even serious crimes; this won’t help Germany’s image in the long run

THE European Patent Office’s (EPO) corruption under António Campinos has been documented here since 2018 and as recently as this month. There’s no concrete reason to believe — only shallow PR ploys to swallow — that he’s better than Battistelli. He’s a continuation of Battistelli and further regression along the very same lines. The agenda or the goal is the same; it has nothing whatsoever to do with innovation or competitiveness.

“The agenda or the goal is the same; it has nothing whatsoever to do with innovation or competitiveness.”In our next post we’ll highlight the latest nonsense from Campinos. It’s about the UPC. SUEPO cited only The Register rather than some law firms on this matter. Rightly so! SUEPO has also, as it promised it would, produced these two English translations [PDF] of German Bundestag discussions [PDF]. We’d like to reprint these in HTML form below (the English version; there’s also French and the originals are both in German). From the document with the questions:

German Bundestag
19th Legislative Period

Printing Material 19/17383
02/25/2020

Brief Inquiry

of members of parliament Roman Müller-Böhm, Stephan Thomae, Grigorios Aggelidis, Renata Alt, Nicole Bauer, Jens Beeck, Dr. Jens Brandenburg (Rhein-Neckar), Sandra Bubendorfer-Licht, Dr. Marco Buschmann, Britta Katharina Dassler, Hartmut Ebbing, Dr. Marcus Faber, Daniel Föst, Otto Fricke, Thomas Hacker, Peter Heidt, Katrin Helling-Plahr, Markus Herbrand, Torsten Herbst, Katja Hessel, Manuel Höferlin, Reinhard Houben, Ulla Ihnen, Olaf in der Beek, Dr. Marcel Klinge, Daniela Kluckert, Pascal Kober, Carina Konrad, Konstantin Kuhle, Ulrich Lechte, Dr. Martin Neumann, Dr. Wieland Schinnenburg, Matthias Seestern-Pauly, Frank Sitta, Dr. Hermann Otto Solms, Bettina Stark-Watzinger, Katja Suding, Michael Theurer, Dr. Florian Toncar, Gerald Ullrich, Sandra Weeser, Nicole Westig, Katharina Willkomm, and the parliamentary party FDP

Position and Procedure of the European Parliament

[Material omitted which the reply reproduced]

We ask the federal government…

[Questions omitted which the reply below quoted]

Berlin, 30th January 2020

Christian Lindner and parliamentary party

Berlin, 30 th January 2020

Christian Lindner and parliamentary party

____
General Production: H. Heenemann GmbH & Co. KG, Printing and Offset Office, Bessemerstraße 83–91, 12103 Berlin,
www.heenemann-druck.de

Distribution: Bundesanzeiger Verlag GmbH, PO Box 10 05 34, 50445 Cologne, Telephone (02 21) 97 66 83 40, Fax (02 21) 97 66 83 44, www.betrifft-gesetze.de
ISSN 0722-8333

To avoid repetition we’ve cut out the introduction and questions above, leaving them in tact below, instead.

The responses (to the questions listed below) are really quite the extraordinary ‘coverup’ with ridiculous excuses and dismissive revisionism. Here it goes:

German Bundestag
19th Legislative Period

Printing Material 19/17809
03/11/2020

Reply
of the federal government

regarding the brief inquiry of member of parliament Roman Müller-Böhm, Stephan Thomae, Grigorios Aggelidis, other members of parliament, and parliamentary party FDP

– Printing Material 19/17383 –

Position and Procedure of the European Parliament

Preliminary Note of the Inquirer

The European Patent Office (EPO) is the executive body of the European Patent Organization (EPOrg) with headquarters in Munich and has the function to check patent applications and to grant European patents. The EPO was created by international agreement and is a multinational institution with the status of a legal entity (https://www.epo.org/ about-us/foundation_de.html). It was agreed that the EPO will have legal immunity and that only the special rights created by the member countries is legally binding for the EPO (cf. Article 8 of the European Patent Agreement). The competence for legally binding decisions rests with the member countries of the organization in the course of a corresponding conference (https://www.epo.org/about-us/governance_de.html).

In the recent past, the EPO was confronted with widespread criticism. This varied from the announced use of financial means, to the quality standards of patents, to the treatment of employees, and to insufficient independence of the complaint’s offices (https://suepo.org/public/ex18052cdp.pdf, p. 4 and 5). A group of 924 employees criticized that the accelerated procedure during the evaluation of patents would be performed at the expense of quality. In their opinion, this is due to the requirements regarding productivity of the employees of the old management. Correspondingly, the international union within the EPO, the Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO), especially criticized that the introduced scoring system would incentivize the examiners to produce masses of patents with low quality (https://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/Europaeisches-Patentamt-Patentpruefer-rebellieren-gegen-Qualitaetsverluste-3997082.html).

Besides that, the Federal Audit Office last year criticized the decision by the EPO that the assets of the office are supposed to be used in a financially speculative way (https://www.wiwo.de/politik/europa/rechnungshof-scharfe-kritik-an-finanzgebaren-des-europaeischen-patentamts/22722052.html). In the view of the Federal Audit Office, this is not necessary and may entail higher risks. Additionally, it is objected that through the investment transactions of the EPO, a “shadow budget” is managed in an international agency with public funds that is not covered by the international constitutive act of the member countries and violates democratic principles
______

The reply was transmitted on behalf of the federal government by writing through the federal ministry of justice and consumer protection dated 10th of March 2020.
Additionally, the printing material contains – in small font – the question text.


(Petra Sorge, Die unheimliche Wette, WirtschaftsWoche vom 22. Juni 2018, S. 35). This continues in a general criticism regarding the state of labor and the legal controls of the EPO (http://www.deutschlandfunk.de/europaeisches-patentamt-deutsches-arbeitsrecht-gilt-hier.724.de.html/?dram:article_id=347579).

Moreover, employee policy was criticized for some time. Employees of the EPO mostly appeared anonymously towards the press, according to their own statements due to fear of sanctions (Petra Sorge, Die unheimliche Wette, WirtschaftsWoche vom 22. Juni 2018, S. 36). Besides that, the right to strike for employees were limited by internal regulations and sick employees were ordered to stay home. Furthermore, measures against critical employees were introduced, such as key logger. There is also talk about an EPO internal investigation unit for employee matters (Petra Sorge, Wo kein Richter …, Cicero vom 3. Mai 2018). The former judge at the Federal Constitutional Court, Dr. Siegfried Broß, says that there are substantial deficits concerning the employment status of the employees. There are employee representatives, but they do not have any constitutive participation rights. Instead, they could only issue recommendations to which the president is not bound (https://www.deutschlandfunk.de/europaeisches-patentamt-deutsches-arbeitsrecht-gilt-hier.724.de.html?dram:article_id=347579).

The Federal Republic of Germany, as member country of the EPO, has a joint responsibility for the EPOrg. With the changed conditions caused by the change within management as of 1st July 2018 (https://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/Europaeisches-Patentamt-Chef-Battistelli-tritt-ab-Campinos-tritt-an-3857253.html) and in light of the previous events regarding the EPOrg, according to the inquirer, the question arises, whether and to what extent from the perspective of the federal government, the situation at the EPOrg has changed with the new management.

1. Did the federal government have knowledge about the published accusation in the press of a loss in quality during the patent application examination and the granting of patents as compared to the previous management of the EPO, and how does the federal government assess it?

For the federal government, the quality of the patent assessment by the European Patent Office (EPO) is an important issue. Quality management and quality control must be secured sustainably within the workflow of the EPO. The federal government therefore welcomes the goals, the new president of the EPO has set himself in his strategy plan for 2019 to 2023. The achievement of these goals will be evaluated by the federal government on the basis of annual quality reports performed by the president of the EPO.

2. Did the federal government have knowledge about the published accusations in the press of the “shadow budget” and the financial risk management as compared to the former management of the EPO, and how does the federal government evaluate it?

The cited press reports are known to the federal government. The EPO issues a budget annually, in which also financial investments are considered and explained transparently. A so-called shadow budget does not exist. An appropriate risk management is in place.

Germany had voted against the new investment guideline for the management of cash funds during the 156th meeting of the supervisory board dated 27th/28th of July 2018 on the basis of the statement issued by the Federal Audit Office.


3. According to the federal government, are there deficits in terms of financial management and the treatment of employees at the EPO?

a) If so, what measures would the federal government assume then?
b) If no and from the point of view of the federal government, are the existing rules at the EPO regarding financial management and treatment of employees sufficient?

According to the federal government, there are no deficits as regards financial management at the EPO. The federal government welcomes that the new president of the EPO wants to improve the social climate and treatment of employees, and has introduced initial measures in the course of the strategy plan 2019 to 2023.

4. Did the federal government have knowledge about the published accusation in the press of a violation of rights of employees caused by surveillance and curtailing of labor laws as compared to the former management of the EPO, and how does the federal government assess this?

5. According to the federal government, were there any complaints filed with police with respect to the EPO?

6. Did the federal government have knowledge about the published accusation in the press of employee surveillance by internal investigation groups of the former EPO management, and how does the federal government assess this?

7. Did the federal government have knowledge about the published accusation in the press of a curtailing outsourcing of the complaint’s office under the former EPO management (Petra Sorge, Wo kein Richter …, Cicero vom 3. Mai 2018), and how does the federal government assess this?

Questions 4 to 7 are answered together.

The questions involve confidential disciplinary procedures to which the federal government does not take position. This also applies to the procedures before the internal complaint’s offices.

8. In the view of the federal government, is there a “legal” control that was itself instituted by the EPO, (Petra Sorge, Wo kein Richter …, Cicero vom 3. Mai 2018) which itself ensures an effective legal protection?

9. In the view of the federal government, is the current of the complaint’s offices task as an authority, without being bound to restrictions, sufficiently met?


10. In the view of the federal government, is there a necessity to change the “legal” control system at the EPO?

a) If so, how should it be restructured in the view of the federal government?
b) If no, is it the opinion of the federal government that a legal control at the EPA is sufficient?

Questions 8 to 10 will be answered together.

It is the view of the federal government that an effective legal protection exists against decisions by the EPO. The federal government does not see any need for reform at the moment.

The European Patent Organization (EPOrg) was granted immunity by the national jurisdictions of the member countries as an international organization in the course of its official activity. This corresponds to a normal approach in all international organizations. Consequently, international organizations are not bound to national jurisdictions.

The EPO is a body of the EPOrg (cf. Article 4, Section 2a) of the European Patent Agreement (EPA). The employees of the EPO have the right for an appropriate legal protection before international courts (Administrative court of the International Labor Organization (ILOAT)) (cf. Article 13, Section 1 EPA).

For disputes that affect patent decisions of the EPO, the independent complaint’s offices are responsible. The employees of the complaint’s offices are not bound to instructions during their decision making and are only subjected to the European Patent Agreement (cf. Article 23, Section 3 EPA).

At the 148th meeting of the supervisory body of the European Patent Organization dated 29th/30th of June 2016, the supervisory body approved a comprehensive reform of the complaint’s offices, which further strengthened the autonomy of the complaint’s offices. The reform is effective as of 1st of July 2016.

11. How does the federal government assess the impact of the legal independence of the EPO from national and European law as regards the collaboration of the EPO with the EU member states to solve the criticism towards the EPO?

The immunity granted to the EPA complies with the normal approach at international organizations. It influences the objective collaboration between the EPA and their member states just as little as with other international organizations.

12. Is the federal government in dialogue with the EPO regarding the accusation or several accusations, and if so, how?

a) If so, what results have been achieved so far?
b) If so, what goals does the federal government pursue with a dialogue?

The federal government is in a continuing dialogue with the EPO as regards different issues. Important issues for the federal government are especially patent quality, social climate, and long-term financial stability.


13. In view of the federal government, has the situation as regards the accusation or several accusations improved with the new management?

The federal government especially welcomes the measure that the new EPO president took to improve social climate. This also includes discussions with individual employees as well as regular dialogues with stakeholders. The federal government also supports the intended measures for a further improvement in all other areas as outlined in the strategy plan for 2019 to 2023 by the EPO president.

14. Does the federal government plan to take political as well as legal actions, should the accusations against the EPO continue under the new management, and if so, what?

The federal government has no reason to believe that the accusations against the EPO will continue under the new management.

______

General Production: H. Heenemann GmbH & Co. KG, Printing and Offset Office, Bessemerstraße 83–91, 12103 Berlin, www.heenemann-druck.de

Distribution: Bundesanzeiger Verlag GmbH, PO Box 10 05 34, 50445 Cologne, Telephone (02 21) 97 66 83 40, Fax (02 21) 97 66 83 44, www.betrifft-gesetze.de
ISSN 0722-8333

We don’t plan to — as we lack time for it at this moment — examine each and every fallacy in the reply. There’s a load of whitewashing lies and embellishments. But let’s consider just the past few days’ EPO abuses, highlighting the fact that nothing is really changing and nothing has changed. They want us to believe that a little presidential shuffle — with the previous president’s mate put in power — solved everything.

Let’s focus on technical abuses and deviation from (i.e. violation of) the underlying laws. This is a topic we had covered for a number of years before we started focusing on big EPO scandals (in the middle of 2014). I’ve observed these issues for nearly 20 years, primarily as a coder.

“I’ve observed these issues for nearly 20 years, primarily as a coder.”As recently as days ago the EPO started advertising this thing called “DigitalisationIndex”. Earlier this past they started misusing terms like “digital technologies” quite a lot; we took note of that several times. They’re looking to justify granting illegal software patents (European Patents on algorithms) under the guise of “Digitalisation”.

Their apparently first tweet on this said: “#Digitalisation is triggering patenting growth. What regions do patent applications in this field come from? Check out this analysis of our latest patent statistics to find out: https://bit.ly/DigitalisationIndex … ”

“Hey hi” (AI) and “4IR” are among the latest buzzwords EPO uses to grant illegal patents on abstract ideas (“ICT” and “CII” are considered too old and not sufficiently exciting). The EPO is run by a bunch of people who choose buzzwords over substance, partly because — as their professional background reveals — they’re simply not technical. It corrodes the image of the EU as some of these people come from EU jobs, notably EUIPO, and the EU actively participates in this promotion of patents on algorithms. In other words, EU officials too are increasingly playing a role in the violation of the EPC. German government officials don’t seem to mind as long as that generates activities on German soil. But that’s a problem. Is lawfulness being compromised for raw profits that are temporary and ruinous to one’s credibility? Also, at whose expense does this activity take place? Europe has far more to it than a bunch of patent litigation lawyers. Earlier today I chatted with somebody about the devastating effect of this patent regime on the European automobile industry. That somebody writes many blog posts on this subject and he’s German.

“Is lawfulness being compromised for raw profits that are temporary and ruinous to one’s credibility? Also, at whose expense does this activity take place?”The corresponding new page (warning: epo.org link) is tied to the so-called 'results' and it provides excuses for lowering the bar, notably buzzwords: “As the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) materialises, it’s not just our factories that are getting smarter – it’s our hospitals, homes, appliances, cars, and wearable devices too. In 2019, digital communication became the new leading field of patent applications at the EPO while computer technology was the second fastest growing. These two technical fields are enabling 4IR by providing the tools for turning technical applications in other fields into smart devices. They are also powering further developments in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI) and 5G.”

Who wrote this? A technical person or a marketing professional? Likely the latter.

Speaking of marketing, check out this truly shallow EPO ‘news’ from Friday (warning: epo.org link), accompanied by a tweet with the hashtag #EarthHour (greenwashing).

“You only do this because COVID-19 shut you down,” I responded. “Quit the greenwashing…”

“A lot of actual EPO news gets lost in a sea of puff pieces.”Maybe this “news” was designed to distract from the other “news” published on the same day. It was a Campinos lie, which we’ll deal with in our next post.

A lot of actual EPO news gets lost in a sea of puff pieces. Even 3 weeks later some sites are still reprinting EPO press releases as though they’re “news” or “reporting”. The EPO posted this new page (warning: epo.org link) on the same day (“Notice concerning the electronic authentication of decisions and other documents relevant to the decision-making process”) and promoted it in Twitter, in effect overwhelming the site with enough distraction and obfuscation — a subject we shall deal with in our next post.

The EPO’s “decision-making process” is notoriously bad and it is the subject of several ongoing complaints in the German constitutional court. Not only is oversight lacking; judges and examiners are moreover being bullied, so they cannot uphold the EPC (which was supposed to strictly govern the Office).

“…the EPO is making it harder to appeal. It’s going to get vastly more expensive.”And speaking of decision-making process deficit, Emma Foster (Marks & Clerk) reminds us that, effective next week, the EPO is making it harder to appeal. It’s going to get vastly more expensive. This is what she published just before the weekend: “The European Patent Office (EPO) usually reviews its fee structure every two years. In line with this, the EPO has announced that fees will increase from 1 April 2020. We have summarised the fee increases for many frequently paid fees in the table below, most of which are in the region of 4%.

“However, the appeal fee has increased substantially from €2255 to €2705, which equates to an increase of around 20%. The EPO will continue to offer a reduced appeal fee to a) small and medium-sized enterprises; (b) natural persons; and (c) non-profit organisations, universities or public research organisations (i.e. appellants as defined in Rule 6(4) and (5) EPC). The appeal fee for these appellants will soon be €1955, which represents around a 4% increase to the current fee.”

“Even if the EPO committed mass murder in broad daylight, the government would likely help the Office come up with excuses for it.”Before Campinos raised the costs Battistelli had done the same, especially when it comes to ‘transactions’ (Battistelli might call them “products”) that challenge the Office and can serve to expose the collapse of patent quality.

Sadly, judging by the replies at the top, this doesn’t concern or bother the ruling politicians in Germany. Even if the EPO committed mass murder in broad daylight, the government would likely help the Office come up with excuses for it. Heck, in this age of Coronavirus they might even send complainants to 'quarantine' in Haar. Messengers of truth are “poison kitchen” to the EPO’s management.

IRC Proceedings: Saturday, March 28, 2020

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:03 am by Needs Sunlight

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#boycottnovell-social log

#techbytes log

Enter the IRC channels now

03.28.20

Links 28/3/2020: Wine 5.5 Released, EasyPup 2.2.14, WordPress 5.4 RC5 and End of Truthdig

Posted in News Roundup at 11:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • SMLR 321: Stay 127.0.0.1

        Tony Bemus, Tom Lawrence, Phil Porada and Jay LaCroix

      • 2020-03-27 | Linux Headlines

        Ardour and Ubuntu Flavors call for testing of their upcoming major releases, Google aims to ease the burden of developing for ARM on x86, and Blender gains a new Corporate Gold-level sponsor.

    • Kernel Space

      • Some Of The Features To Look Forward To With Linux 5.7

        With the Linux 5.7 cycle kicking off in April with its merge window opening upon the release of Linux 5.6, here is a look at some of the changes and new features that have been on our radar for this next version of the Linux kernel.

      • Graphics Stack

        • Collabora & Microsoft to Bring OpenCL 1.2 and OpenGL 3.3 to DirectX 12 enabled Windows Devices

          But the company has also been working with Microsoft in order to provide an OpenCL 1.2 & OpenGL 3.3 translation layer for Windows devices compatible with DirectX 12.

        • AMDVLK 2020.Q1.4 Vulkan Driver Brings Direct Display Improvements

          AMDVLK 2020.Q1.4 is out today as the fourth and last open-source AMD Radeon Vulkan driver code drop of the quarter.

          AMDVLK 2020.Q1.4 simply notes that the immediate and mailbox modes have been enabled for the Vulkan direct display functionality. AMD has supported the VK_EXT_direct_mode_display direct mode display extension back to 2018. Vulkan’s direct display mode is for taking exclusive control of display(s) and geared for VR HMD use-cases. What’s new now is supporting the immediate and mailbox swapchain presentation modes under the direct display functionality.

    • Applications

      • Best Video Editor for Ubuntu

        The recent growth of the Internet has completely revolutionized the world, and to such an extent its influence has increased that it has even crept into our day to day lives. This rapid evolution has led to it becoming one of the key drivers behind the changes taking place in technology and has brought forward the development of so many important tools, that have impacted our daily lives greatly.This, in turn, has led to Mass Media becoming a key figure in modern culture which has become deeply embedded into our lives, changing the way we perceive the world. With the influence of media becoming widespread, it has thus led to an emergence of competitors in the industry.

        To keep on staying relevant and being ahead of others, one thus needs to be aware of the best video editors out there that can significantly improve the quality of the work being done. So, today we’ll be comparing some of the best video editors out there that are available for Ubuntu and how they mainly differentiate from one another.

      • Development update: 6.0-pre1 now ready for testing

        Well folks, we’ve done it. After two and a half years of development that has both excluded a few hoped-for features and also expanded to include many things not originally envisaged, we’re ready for people to start testing version 6.0-pre1. Please note: this is NOT the release of 6.0 – we’re now entering a testing phase that will continue through several “-preN” versions until we’re confident that it’s ready for release.

        The nightly version is now (as ever) available at nightly.ardour.org. If you’re a subscriber (or paid US$45 or more for a pre-built version of 5.x), you can download the fully functional version. Others can get the free/demo version which periodically goes silent. Obviously, since this is a nightly version, it will be updated most days to reflect any new development work and fixes as we move towards the actual release of 6.0.

      • Ardour 6.0 Digital Audio Workstation Sees First Pre-Release

        Following two and a half years of development, the first pre-release of the forthcoming Ardour 6.0 digital audio workstation is now available for testing.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

      • Wine 5.5 Released With Expanded UCRTBase C Runtime Usage, Usual Assortment Of Fixes

        Wine 5.5 is out as the latest bi-weekly Wine development snapshot for running your favorite Windows games and applications on Linux and other platforms.

      • Wine Announcement
        The Wine development release 5.5 is now available.
        
        What's new in this release (see below for details):
          - Builtin libraries use the new UCRTBase C runtime.
          - Compatibility mode used when reporting Windows version.
          - Better support for debug information in PE files.
          - Support for linguistic case mappings.
          - More attributes supported in WebServices.
          - Various bug fixes.
        
        The source is available from the following locations:
        
        https://dl.winehq.org/wine/source/5.x/wine-5.5.tar.xz
        
        
        http://mirrors.ibiblio.org/wine/source/5.x/wine-5.5.tar.xz
        
        Binary packages for various distributions will be available from:
        
        https://www.winehq.org/download
        
        You will find documentation on https://www.winehq.org/documentation
        
        You can also get the current source directly from the git
        repository. Check https://www.winehq.org/git for details.
        
        Wine is available thanks to the work of many people. See the file
        AUTHORS in the distribution for the complete list.
        
      • Wine 5.5 development release out with new features and fixes

        As expected on their biweekly development cycle, the Wine hackers released the latest development version with Wine 5.5 out now with new features and fixes.

        Quick reminder: Wine is the software that can help run Windows games and applications on Linux.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • Plasma BigScreen — A Brand New Free Linux Desktop For Smart TVs

          one are the days when televisions were only used for broadcasting programs by third parties. Now, anyone can turn their normal TV screen into a smart TV, running web applications or streaming videos — thanks to various TV software that ease the task along with voice command support.

          In addition to the same, KDE has launched Plasma Bigscreen — a new free and open-source desktop environment for big TV screens. The Plasma BigScreen is powered by KDE Plasma and Mycroft AI’s voice assistant technology to enhance the user experience on smart TV platforms.

        • Plasma Bigscreen: KDE Announced Plasma for TV

          Plasma Bigscreen is KDE’s interface for big TV screens which is announced based on KDE Neon image. Plasma Bigscreen is suitable for single board computers and large TV screens. KDE says that Plasma Bigscreen will provide media-rich applications suitable for TV and also the traditional KDE Plasma desktop applications.

    • Distributions

      • BSD

        • It’s Official But Sad: TrueOS Is Over As Once The Best Desktop BSD OS

          It’s been on life support for a while but to much sadness, TrueOS indeed is no longer being maintained as the once very promising downstream of FreeBSD that for a while offered arguably the best out-of-the-box BSD desktop experience.

          TrueOS, formerly known as PC-BSD, is dead. Kris Moore, the VP of Engineering at iXsystems, confirmed earlier this month on their forums that work has ceased on the operating system.

        • OpenBSD -current – Frequent asked questions

          Hello, as there are so many questions about OpenBSD -current on IRC, Mastodon or reddit I’m writing this FAQ in hope it will help people.

          The official FAQ already contains answers about -current like Following -current and using snapshots and Building the system from sources.

      • SUSE/OpenSUSE

        • Reasons to Give openSUSE a Try

          For some reason, all the light goes these days toward distributions like Ubuntu, Mint, Manjaro, Solus… And the other similar ones. But despite being an excellent Linux distribution in itself, openSUSE rarely receives attention in the Linux press and its userbase doesn’t sound to be comparable to other famous Linux distributions.

          This perhaps could be because people don’t know about the features of openSUSE? Or they fear trying it because of some reason. In any case, we’ll introduce you to the distribution and its features, and why you should give it a try.

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • RHEL9 Likely To Drop Older x86_64 CPUs, Fedora Can Better Prepare With “Enterprise Linux Next”

          Red Hat Enterprise Linux 9 will likely see support for older x86_64 CPUs eliminated to focus on more modern x86_64 Intel/AMD families. With that, Red Hat developers working on Fedora have been working on an “Enterprise Linux Next” proposal to not only vet such x86_64 build changes but also to provide a feedback workflow for other changes.

          Brought up last month already was an extra buildroot for testing x86_64 microarchitecture updates on Fedora. Currently, Fedora and RHEL support x86_64 CPUs going back to the original AMD K8 CPUs but with RHEL9 some middle-ground will likely be pursued of aiming to support more recent x86_64 families and newer instruction set extensions by default while still supporting a diverse enough range of hardware to be in production use-cases during RHEL9′s life-cycle.

      • Debian Family

        • Call for testing: 4.5~rc1

          Tails 4.5, scheduled for April 7, will be the first version of Tails to support Secure Boot.

          You can help Tails by testing the release candidate for Tails 4.5 now.

        • Debian To Take On COVID-19 With A Biohackathon

          Debian developers are wanting to do their part to take on the global coronavirus pandemic by hosting a COVID-19 Biohackathon.

          This virtual event organized by Debian developers is taking place from 5 to 11 April. Their hope with this biohackathon is to “improve biomedical FOSS and the tools/libraries that support those projects.”

          Among the work they hope to see realized from this hackathon are addressing various bugs, contributing to upstream biomedical open-source software, and related work.

        • EasyPup 2.2.14 released

          Hot on the heals of EasyOS 2.2.14, EasyPup is released, for those who want a more traditional puppy. The apps and user interface is pretty much the same as EasyOS, but the underlying infrastructure is different.

        • antiX-19.2 (Hannie Schaft) bug-fix/upgrade isos available

          All new isos are bug-fix/upgrades/improvements of antiX-19 sysvinit series.

          BONUS: We now offer versions running the runit init system as well.

          No need to download if using antiX-19(.x).

          antiX-19.2 (Hannie Schaft) is based on Debian Buster and is fully systemd-free.

          As usual we offer the following systemd-free flavours for both 32 and 64 bit architecture, running sysvinit or runit.

          antiX-full (c1.1GB) – 4 windows managers – IceWM (default), fluxbox, jwm and herbstluftwm plus full libreoffice suite.

          antiX-base (c700MB so fits on a cd) – 4 windows managers – IceWM (default), fluxbox, jwm and herbstluftwm.

          antiX-core (c350MB) – no X, cli-installer without UEFI support nor encryption, but should support most wireless.

          antiX-net (c140MB)- no X, cli-installer without UEFI support nor encryption. Just enough to get you connected (wired) and ready to build.

          The 32 bit version uses a non-pae kernel.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Linux Mint vs. Ubuntu – which is best for you?

          Which is the best Linux distro for you? In this article, we will present to you key differences between the two most popular Linux distros and let you decide. Ubuntu is released and maintained by a company called Canonical, while Linux Mint is community-driven. Which model will sustain? Read on to find more.

          When you come into the Linux world, there are hundreds of options. Although, two names come up for every beginner and in the mind of every experienced person – Ubuntu and Linux Mint.

          The conundrum is that which one among them? The best solution is to try both of them out, and then choose whatever seems to work the best for your needs. But here, we’re giving you some distinctions between the both that might make it easier for you to make a choice.

        • Official Ubuntu Flavors Urges Devs To Join ‘Ubuntu Testing Week’

          A large family of Ubuntu Linux desktops is ready to join Ubuntu testing week starting on April 02, 2020. On this occasion, all seven Ubuntu flavors will release their beta version for public testing before the official final stable release.

          In the wake of this event, Ubuntu flavors has requested the community to participate and help them find any bugs. With all the help, they would be able to fix all possible issues in the upcoming week before the final release.

          [...]

          Ubuntu releases the ISO image every day which you can find from the daily build repository here. Though Ubuntu testing week will officially begin next week, you can start testing and reporting bugs today.

          If you don’t know where to start, join the Ubuntu community and follow the ISO tracker where you can find test cases for all variants.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Contribute to open source healthcare projects for COVID-19

        Many of those that are familiar with the maker movement, including me, believe there is a significant opportunity to apply open source design principles and mass-scale collaborative distributed manufacturing technologies (like open source 3D printing) to at least partially overcome medical supply shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic. Already, an Italian hospital saved COVID-19 patients’ lives by 3D printing valves for reanimation devices.

        However, those designs were not open source, and hospitals still need to file paperwork to get to the STLs, needlessly wasting time, restricting the number of volunteers that could print the valves, and perhaps leading to unnecessary deaths. Far more beneficial would be a free source of vetted digital designs that anyone with access to equipment could fabricate for their local hospitals. Ideally, these designs would follow good open source design procedures. We are well aware of risks and shortcomings to this approach, and that those used to the standard model may not understand how fast technological development is in the open source community.

      • Open source fights against COVID-19, Google’s new security tool written in Python, and more open source news

        When COVID-19 started its march around the world, open source stepped up to try to help stop it. That includes using open data to create tracking dashboards and apps, designing ventilators, and developing protective gear.

        Scientists at the University of Waterloo in Canada have teamed with artificial intelligence firm DarwinAI to create an open source tool “to identify signs of Covid-19 in chest x-rays.” Called COVID-Net, it’s neural network “that is particularly good at recognizing images.” The dataset the researchers are using is available on GitHub, which includes a link the software.

      • Web Browsers

        • Mozilla

          • What If C++ Abandoned Backward Compatibility?

            Some C++ luminaries have submitted an intriguing paper to the C++ standards committee. The paper presents an ambitious vision to evolve C++ in the direction of safety and simplicity. To achieve this, the authors believe it is worthwhile to give up backwards source and binary compatibility, and focus on reducing the cost of migration (e.g. by investing in tool support), while accepting that the cost of each migration will be nonzero. They’re also willing to give up the standard linking model and require whole-toolchain upgrades for each new version of C++.

            I think this paper reveals a split in the C++ community. I think the proposal makes very good sense for organizations like Google with large legacy C++ codebases that they intend to continue investing in heavily for a long period of time. (I would include Mozilla in that set of organizations.) The long-term gains from improving C++ incompatibly will eventually outweigh the ongoing migration costs, especially because they’re already adept at large-scale systematic changes to their code (e.g. thanks to gargantuan monorepo, massive-scale static and dynamic checking, and risk-mitigating deployment systems). Lots of existing C++ software really needs those safety improvements.

          • Kiwi TCMS: Kiwi TCMS is Open Source Seed Award winner

            Kiwi TCMS is the proud winner of a $10,000 award from Mozilla, Indeed, Open Collective, Ford Foundation & Simply Secure. Read below for the full story!

            At the end of January Zahari alerted our team about the Open Source Speed Dating FOSDEM 2020 event and Alex was very swift in filing the application form. Just as we landed in Brussels, ready to host Testing and Automation devroom and the Open Source Test Management stand, we got the news – Kiwi TCMS has been selected as a participant.

            What followed was a very hasty day of preparing a 5 min pitch and rehearsing it as much as possible so we can be ready to present our project. Alex prepared the pitch and made final review and polishing together with Anton. For the record everything was written down on paper, including important facts about the project and schedule – when and where is our slot, how is Alex going to get there, when does he need to leave to be on time, etc. We believe that preparation was key here and that’s why our team always tries to be prepared when we participate at events! It was as good as it can get, no more changes!

      • Productivity Software/LibreOffice/Calligra

        • New integration test framework in Collabora Online.

          At Collabora, we invest a lot of hard work to make LibreOffice’s features available in an online environment. Recently we greatly improved the Collabora Online mobile UI, so it’s more smooth to use it from a mobile device. While putting more and more work into the software, trying to support more and more different platforms, we need also to spend time improving the test frameworks we use for automatic testing. These test frameworks make sure that while we enrich the software with new features, the software remains stable during the continuous development process.

      • CMS

        • WordPress 5.4 RC5

          The fifth release candidate for WordPress 5.4 is live!

          WordPress 5.4 is currently scheduled to land on March 31 2020, and we need your help to get there—if you haven’t tried 5.4 yet, now is the time!

          You can test the WordPress 5.4 release candidate in two ways:

        • Best Performance WordPress with Google Cloud CDN and Load Balancing

          Best Performance WordPress with Google Cloud CDN and Load Balancing. Learn how to setup your WordPress application to handle high traffic with auto-scaling capabilities on Google Cloud Platform using HTTP(S) Layer 7 Load Balancing.

          In this guide you will install WordPress, configure your website to use Google Cloud Storage for media files, setup instance template, auto-scaling group to manage live traffic. You will also configure Google Cloud CDN for your website.

      • Funding

        • Intel Ramping Up Their Investment In Blender Open-Source 3D Modeling Software

          Intel Software has increased their developer funding provided to Blender, the leading open-source, cross-platform 3D modeling software.

          Intel now joins the likes of Ubisoft, Tangent Labs, and others as being a Corporate Gold sponsor to Blender. The Corporate Gold level means Intel’s software division is now contributing at least €30K per year to fund the Blender open-source development.

      • FSF

        • GNU Projects

        • Licensing/Legal

          • Cyber Warranties: Market Fix or Marketing Trick?

            Theoretical work suggests both the breadth of the warranty and the price of a product determine whether the warranty functions as a quality signal. Our analysis has not touched upon the price of these products. It could be that firms with ineffective products pass the cost of the warranty on to buyers via higher prices. Future studies could analyze warranties and price together to probe this issue.

            In conclusion, cyber warranties—particularly cyber-product warranties—do not transfer enough risk to be a market fix as imagined in Woods.5 But this does not mean they are pure marketing tricks either. The most valuable feature of warranties is in preventing vendors from exaggerating what their products can do. Consumers who read the fine print can place greater trust in marketing claims so long as the functionality is covered by a cyber-incident warranty.

      • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

        • Open Access/Content

          • Dr. Lucie Guibault on What Scientists Should Know About Open Access

            These actions are not surprising given the urgency of the current situation. In our previous post, “Now Is the Time for Open Access Policies—Here’s Why” we explain that rapid and unrestricted access to scientific research and educational materials is necessary to overcome this crisis. However, while we applaud the recent moves by organizations, publishers, and governments to open access to scientific research related to COVID-19, we believe the same level of sharing should be applied to all scientific research. Not only for the public good but also for the good of science. Science can only function properly if results, data, and insights are made openly available. “Universality is a fundamental principle of science,” explains the open access consortium cOAlition S, “only results that can be discussed, challenged, and, where appropriate, tested and reproduced by others qualify as scientific.”

      • Programming/Development

        • OpenBSD’s ‘spinning’ CPU time category

          Unix systems have long had a basic breakdown of what your CPU (or CPUs) was spending its time doing. The traditional division is user time, system time, idle time, and ‘nice’ time (which is user time for tasks that have their scheduling priority lowered through nice(1) or the equivalent), and then often ‘interrupt’ time, for how much time the system spent in interrupt handling. Some Unixes have added ‘iowait’, which is traditionally defined as ‘the system was idle but one or more processes were waiting for IO to complete’. OpenBSD doesn’t have iowait, but current versions have a new time category, ‘spinning’.

        • FOSDEM 2020 Conference Recap

          For the third year in a row, I attended FOSDEM, an amazing open source conference in Brussels, Belgium. Taking place, February 1-2, the event is a totally volunteer run conference geared towards promoting the widespread use of free and open source software. The Foundation has sponsored and organized a FreeBSD table there for a few years now.

        • POCL 1.5-RC1 Released As The Portable OpenCL Implementation For CPUs + Other Targets

          POCL 1.5 is on the way for release in April as the first feature update to this Portable OpenCL implementation since the previous release last September.

          POCL for those that don’t know about it is a portable OpenCL implementation that can be run on CPUs of various architectures. Beyond that, this OpenCL 1.2~2.0 implementation has also gained support for running OpenCL on NVIDIA GPUs over CUDA, on AMD GPUs via HSA, and other accelerator targets thanks to building off LLVM’s Clang.

        • Python

    • Standards/Consortia

      • Antitrust Regulators Turn Attention to Standards Organizations

        It’s well recognized by courts and regulators in many countries that standard setting among competitors can be procompetitive and good for consumers. As noted by the 5th Circuit Court in 1988, “it has long been recognized that the establishment and monitoring of trade standards is a legitimate and beneficial function of trade associations . . . [and] a trade association is not by its nature a ‘walking conspiracy’, its every denial of some benefit amounting to an unreasonable restraint of trade.”(1)

        But regulatory sands can shift, and especially at a time when broad and dramatic changes (political and otherwise) seem to be the rule rather than the exception, it makes sense for collaborative organizations to keep vigilant, and to review their policies and procedures on a regular basis to help ensure antitrust compliance.

        In my recent blog regarding Antitrust Laws and Open Collaboration, I briefly mentioned recent U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations into standards organizations. There were two, in particular, both focusing on internal policies and the importance of avoiding rules that might potentially disadvantage consumers or competitors. In this blog entry, we’ll take a deeper look at the specific types of conduct that concerned the regulators, and how the standards organizations under examination were eventually able to address those concerns.

  • Leftovers

    • Somebody Else’s World: An Interview with Kelly Reichardt

      Kelly Reichardt has slowly been building a reputation in American independent cinema as one of the most rigorous and profound working filmmakers in a rapidly receding artistic landscape. Her first film, River of Grass (1994), starring her producer and horror director Larry Fessenden, is a crafty and incisive feminist subversion of the “Lovers on the Run” subgenre. While Grass went fairly unnoticed in the indie glut of the mid-90s, Reichardt’s second film Old Joy (2006), an exploration of masculine anxiety, was a critical hit landing on many year-end “best of” lists. Since then, Reichardt has been working consistently, often collaborating with writer Jonathan Raymond and operating completely free of the studio system. Her films tend to be minimal in dialogue and action, yet these quiet moments contain volumes about what it means to live in the margins of America. Her new film, First Cow, is another collaboration with Raymond from his novel The Half Life and will be released in March, 2020 by A24. When she isn’t directing, Reichardt teaches film at Bard College in New York.

    • Education

      • When the State Shifted to E-learning, This Rural School Superintendent Shifted to the Copy Machine

        The Sunday afternoon before he sent the 850 students in his sprawling rural school district home because of the coronavirus outbreak, Superintendent Larry Lovel shared a picture on Twitter of a decade-old copy machine printing out enough worksheets to help keep them occupied for the expected two-week shutdown.

        But now the state’s school closures are expected to extend much longer, perhaps to the end of the school year, and that creates an ongoing dilemma for Trico District 176 and its families, one that reflects a much larger issue of equity that has been magnified by the coronavirus crisis.

      • Not All Schools Can #KeepLearning

        To encourage learning while schools are shut down, Illinois education officials have gathered online tools for educators and promoted the hashtag #keeplearning.

        Some students in Illinois, however, won’t be able to watch their teacher conduct live science experiments or download a story time video. They don’t have a computer or high-speed internet at home, or a cellphone data plan that would support it.

      • Half of academics leaving UK are EU citizens

        The figures, for the year to December 2018, show that more than 1,000 EU citizens working as academics left a UK university to go abroad, 550 of whom went to work in an institution in another country.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • An Age of Intoxication: Pick Your Poison

        Humans have been getting pissed, pilled or puffed with intoxicants for ages. You could argue that Eve got the ball rolling, and that the forbidden fruit was Dad’s stash, and, hell, if you pushed it, you could see how all of history is her hallucination.  We’ve all had our ‘altar-ed’ moments of holy sees on hooch or hash, all alone or at a ‘college’ bash. No one sums up the venal virtues of imbibing better than Ray Milland in The Lost Weekend: C’mere, he says, and you’d better.

      • The Covid-19 Opportunity

        As I write this we are into the second week of social distancing, in reaction to the pandemic, as is almost everyone I know. We are all worried about family, friends, and community. Where I live, in upstate New York, my local hospital is bracing to accommodate an expected wave of infected patients, and our local businesses are pulling back, when they are not closing. Nothing this disruptive has happened, at least since World War II.

      • The Propaganda Virus: Is Anyone Immune?

        I haven’t eaten fast food chicken since 2001, or a fast food burger since 1995. Giving these things up was part of an ongoing process of cleaning up my diet in terms of both health and ethics, and I haven’t missed either of them. Yet regularly, when I catch a whiff of KFC or McDonalds, I’ll experience a momentary pang of desire, even though I’m sure I’d get sick if I actually consumed any of that crap at this point. The reason for this is simple: many aromas released by fast food restaurants are scientifically developed in laboratories for the purpose of triggering physiological responses.

      • Why the Coronavirus Pandemic Poses Fundamental Challenges to All Societies

        The COVID-19 pandemic is now moving at a speed that the world had not anticipated a few weeks back. It reached its first 100,000 infected in 67 days, then doubled to 200,000 within the next 11 days, and now it has doubled again, reaching 400,000 by March 24. Europe, particularly the core European Union countries—Italy, Spain, France, and Germany—is the new epicenter of the COVID-19 epidemic. China, followed by South Korea, managed to contain their outbreaks; the European countries did not.

      • To Survive the Coronavirus, Americans Should Learn From Mexicans

        During the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis in the U.S. (and beyond), it behooves Americans to learn from individuals of Mexican origin in el norte about the art of survival in a time of crisis. (For this short essay, I’ll refer to individuals of Mexican origin in the U.S.—citizens, residents, immigrants, etc.—as “Mexicans in el norte.”)

      • Gaza Has Been Under Siege for Years. Covid-19 Could Be Catastrophic

        When people began posting the following note on their Facebook wall, I immediately felt an intense sense of unease.

        [...]

        For the past few weeks we have been inundated with information about the preparedness of health care systems and how they affect mortality rates. Giving South Korea as an example, experts suggest that testing for Covid-19 is essential for saving lives, comparing that country favorably with Italy and Spain. Yet in Gaza, there are currently very few test kits (about 200), and, according to Ghada Majadli of Physicians for Human Rights, Israel, as of March 23, only 99 people have been tested.

      • COVID-19, the Exponential Function and Human the Survival

        It’s time for us all to understand the Exponential Function.

      • The Coronavirus and the Real Threats to American Safety and Freedom

        Americans are facing “A Spring Unlike Any Before.” So warned a front-page headline in the March 13th New York Times.

      • Letter From Catalonia: Alarming Measures

        I’m in a small city in Catalonia called Olot, not far from the Pyrenees. I came here because I knew the coronavirus lockdown would be much rougher in Barcelona. Still, people walk around with masks and keep social distances, barely going out. There are three of us in a two-bedroom apartment. We read the news with a sort of automatic horror and try – using social networks and videochats – to keep our social contacts, our work, and even our militancy going. It’s an uphill path, and we are surely slipping. 

      • A second US Dust Bowl would hit world food stocks

        When the US Great Plains are hit again by sustained drought, the world’s food stocks will feel the heat.

      • Fear and Loathing in Coronaville Volume 1: Dispatches From a Terrified Heartland

        Being a certifiable agoraphobic basket case, you would think someone like me would be almost preternaturally suited for the stone blind isolation of fever fucked pandamania. And you would be completely fucking wrong. I spent six years in self-imposed isolation as a twenty-something shut in. I spent another six desperately clawing my way out of that hole and slowly building what has only just begun to resemble a life, and in less than six days, covid-19 has torn this intricately constructed matrix of groups, volunteer jobs and therapy down to the ground and reduced me to the shambled debris of ground zero. I’m a little bit pissed, but mostly I’m just fucking scared. If I’m going to write about something like this, I’m going to write about it with the naked ferocity that defines my writing. A strange, vaguely haunted cobweb of Gonzo muckraking and navel-gazing confessionals that I’ve come to refer to as Emo-Gonzo. I am the genderfucked bastard bitch of Hunter Thompson and Sylvia Plath, humped together in the dizzy oven of some bored press junket cafeteria, and today, this is my story. George Romero eat your heart out.

      • In the Grip of Disease

        Even more than war, the corona virus pandemic is causing chaos. It is threatening the people of the United Kingdom as well as human beings all over the world. The virus is invisible. It can be everywhere and nowhere.

      • A New Threat to California’s Rivers:  Will the Rush to Develop Our Newest Water Source Destroy More Streams?

        The first plans implementing California’s landmark groundwater law, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act or SGMA, have been submitted to the California Department of Water Resources.  They are for portions of the state where groundwater is “critically over-drafted,” a situation the plans are supposed to reverse. Some of the plans call for diverting flood and seasonally high streamflows to groundwater storage as a means to comply with SGMA while allowing the maximum amount of irrigated and animal agriculture to continue.

      • Wash Your Hands…If You Have Water

        In 2014, the Detroit Water and Sewage Department began what the ACLU called “the largest residential water shutoff in U.S. history,” cutting off more than 20,000 residents it claimed hadn’t paid their bills — although many of them had, according to the ACLU.

        Payment or not, there’s no excuse for shutting off the water. The United Nations declared that Detroit was violating human rights by turning the water off without a care for health needs.

        Now, six years later, Detroiters may finally be getting some relief. Local organizers have been fighting the city’s aggressive shutoff program this entire time, but their demands became even more urgent in the face of coronavirus.

        The People’s Water Board, a coalition of groups in Detroit advocating for the protection, access, and conservation of water, petitioned Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer to declare a moratorium on shutoffs, pointing out that the state had particular reason to fear the pandemic thanks to lack of water access.

        “It should not take an outbreak to realize that lack of water and sanitation poses a danger to the public health of those impacted by shutoffs, and everyone in our state,” they wrote.

        After these appeals, Detroit announced the Coronavirus Water Restart Plan to reconnect thousands of Detroit households without water, or facing a potential shutoff, for $25 a month for the duration of the crisis.

      • Mary Grant on Water & Covid-19, David Cay Johnston on the Last Bailout

        This week on CounterSpin: No directive has been more repeated during the Covid-19 pandemic than “wash your hands”—a simple act, but a powerful intervention to stop the spread of disease. But: What if you can’t? That’s the reality faced by millions of Americans who have their water shut off because they’re not able to pay for it. Along with many other things, Covid-19 has underscored the individual and communal harms of a water affordability crisis in this country that usually remains hidden. We’ll hear about the problem and responses to it from Mary Grant, Public Water for All campaign director at Food & Water Watch.

      • Could the Death of the National Security State be a Silver Lining of COVID-19?

        Could something good come from the catastrophe of COVID-19? Might the epic insecurity of a plague teach us something about national security?

      • Russian health agency says one in five Russians infected with coronavirus caught it through community spread

        Twenty percent of SARS-CoV-2 infections in Russia occurred because somebody already in the country passed the novel coronavirus on to somebody else, said Dr. Anna Popova, who leads Russia’s Federal Service for Consumer Rights Protection and Human Welfare (Rospotrebnadzor).

      • “I Will Not Kill My Mother for Your Stock Portfolio”
      • Life and Death in the Epicenter

        When it comes to warding off COVID-19, I’ve been ahead of the curve. Last October, after a bout with acute bronchitis that lasted most of the month, I resolved never to go through such an ordeal again. I started using hand sanitizer and avoided touching my face. Like my glaucoma, it is a geriatric illness. When I checked the New York Times archives for tips on dealing with bronchitis, I was shocked to discover how many well-known and powerful geezers came down with it: Konrad Adenauer, Boris Yeltsin, Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Paul Robeson. None died from bronchitis, but around half were hospitalized, a routine treatment for powerful heads of state (except for Robeson.)

      • The Trump Administration Is Leaving the Nation’s Emergency Backup Hospital System on the Sidelines

        The Trump administration is leaving untapped reinforcements and supplies from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, even as many hospitals are struggling with a crush of coronavirus patients.

        The VA serves 9 million veterans through 170 hospitals and more than 1,000 clinics, but it’s also legally designated as the country’s backup health system in an emergency. As part of the National Disaster Medical System, the VA has deployed doctors and equipment to disasters and emergencies in recent instances such as Hurricane Maria and the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida. The VA system has 13,000 acute care beds, including 1,800 intensive care unit beds.

      • This VA Hospital Cited “Misleading” Data to Restrict Mask Use for Health Care Workers

        Hospital employees across the country have been blocked from wearing surgical masks in certain situations to protect against infection by the new coronavirus — including those they bring to work themselves.

        Workers at the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, have been told not to wear face masks unless they have lingering respiratory symptoms after an illness, are under surveillance following COVID-19 exposure or are treating patients showing signs of COVID-19.

      • Russia’s Karelia shuts down all public transport as Grozny stops letting in travelers without residency papers

        The government of Karelia, the federal subject that makes up Russia’s northwest corner, has ordered a stop to all public transport due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Artur Parfenchikov announced the shutdown in a video message to the republic’s population. From March 29 through April 4, only taxis will be available in Karelia, the governor said, emphasizing that this is an unprecedented measure.

      • Lutz Alone

        Most musical instruments can be grabbed and taken along in the retreat into self-isolation—from the kazoo in the pocket to the violin slung over the shoulder. Others are more unwieldy. The tuba hardly counts as hand luggage. But none is more unwieldy than the organ.

      • Russia’s ‘non-business days’ next week to fight coronavirus don’t apply to people who can work from home, says the Kremlin

        Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Friday that Russians able to work from home should do so next week, when Vladimir Putin has declared a “non-work week” to curb the spread of coronavirus.

      • Russia’s number of confirmed COVID-19 cases passes 1,000

        As of March 27, Russia now has 1,036 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Doctors recorded another 196 cases in the past day, including 157 infections in Moscow, where 703 people have been diagnosed with the disease. For the first time, coronavirus has also spread to the Russian regions of Mordovia and Dagestan.

      • Russians book up Black Sea hotels following Putin’s paid leave announcement, prompting regional governor to forbid checking in

        Krasnodar Krai Governor Veniamin Kondratyev has ordered all hotel room reservations and check-ins to be suspended from March 28 to April 5. The temporary ban also applies to resorts and sanitoriums, according to a document published on the website of the governor’s administration.

      • Prezdemic: Lines written in Quarantine

        My interest in staying home is not you but me
        You are a possible contagion source and an end to me
        But I can also easily see you back at work for the economy
        Covid-19 erased with a sagacious presidential word
        Don’t mind that Fauci behind the screen out of camera range
        He’s of the same scientist fold that clamors about climate change
        And you on bus or subway to work to expand my dividend?
        Remember you took this risk thinking of me and not your end
        What a small price to be paid by The Old beginning that day
        April 12th chosen by our president prophesying it beautiful
        So perfect when the market returns to its patriotic bullish play
        So what if our Leader at center stage repeats absurdities
        Spewing from gut to mouth sure signs of his instabilities
        He polls high as our champion in this pandemic
        A regular old flu he declares causes no more than a slight emetic
        All the missteps, delays, and failures he can again offer Obama to blame

      • 340,000 coronavirus test kits sold to Spain by China defective

        As China seeks to position itself as the savior of the world during the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, using verbs such as “supplied” and “delivered” to give the impression that the totalitarian regime donated testing kits and medical supplies, another report has surfaced of a country dealing with defective Chinese products.

        The Spanish Society of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology (SEIMC) on its website announced that nose swab kits produced by Shenzhen Bioeasy Biotechnology are accurate just 30 percent of the time, in contrast to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) standard of 80 percent.

      • ‘God Knows How Many People We Infected’: New Rules Aim to Get Exposed Passengers Home

        Four people died on the Zandaam cruise ship after it was turned away in Chile. The United States is easing protocols to help speed cruise passengers home. But can that be done safely?

      • They Didn’t Have Coronavirus Symptoms Until After They Gave Birth. Then They Tested Positive.

        The 38-year-old mother had experienced a complicated pregnancy, made riskier by Type 2 diabetes and a liver condition that causes bile to build up in the blood. On March 19, in her 37th week, she went to Columbia University Medical Center in New York City to be induced. Neither she nor her husband reported any of the worrisome symptoms that health care providers are watching for to screen for COVID-19, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath or sore throat. In fact, the woman’s temperature was slightly below normal, at 98.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

        Then, while the woman was in labor, her temperature climbed to 101.3. Suspecting that she had developed a potentially dangerous bacterial infection called chorioamnionitis, her care team gave her antibiotics and acetaminophen, which seemed to stabilize her. But labor was progressing slowly, and doctors decided to perform a cesarean section. As they were stitching up their patient, she began to hemorrhage uncontrollably. The team raced to intubate her, but her breathing rapidly worsened. When doctors finally had her condition under control, they decided to evaluate her for COVID-19. She tested positive.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Malicious JavaScript Dropping Payload in the Registry

          When we speak about “fileless” malware, it means that the malware does not use the standard filesystem to store temporary files or payloads. But they need to write data somewhere in the system for persistence or during the infection phase. If the filesystem is not used, the classic way to store data is to use the registry. Here is an example of a malicious JavaScript code that uses a temporary registry key to drop its payload (but it also drops files in a classic way).

          The malware was delivered via a Microsoft Word document [...]

        • Experts see over 600 percent spike in malicious emails during coronavirus crisis

          The researchers saw a 667 percent increase in malicious phishing emails that were using the coronavirus. These types of emails try to lure individuals to click on dangerous links or download attachments that typically include computer viruses.

        • Pseudo-Open Source

          • Privatisation/Privateering

            • How much power and influence do Open Source foundations have?

              “I finally switched over to Linux full time. Yay! How much power and influence do open source foundations have and how much does it affect me as a consumer of open source software?” – Evan First off, welcome to Club Linux, Evan! You’ll find the waters here to be, overall, warm and relaxing. As for the question of how much influence various foundations actually have in the Open Source, Free Software, and Linux world… well… that’s a tricky question that will take us, meandering, through the wilderness.

          • Entrapment (Microsoft GitHub)

            • The Warren Campaign Is Gone—but Its Tech May Live On [Ed: Warren chose Microsoft as staffers for her campaign, so no wonder all her work is now being outsourced to a proprietary prison of Microsoft (GitHub)]

              BEFORE IT ENDED earlier this month, Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign developed a reputation for two things: detailed plans to solve concrete problems and a robust ground game. Those attributes came together on the campaign’s tech team, which built a grassroots organizing machine on the backend. That wasn’t enough to win Warren the nomination, but veterans from the team are trying to make sure their work wasn’t all for naught. They’re making seven in-house software projects available to everyone for free on GitHub, the most popular destination for open-source software on the web, in the hope that other Democratic campaigns can build on what they developed during the campaign.

              “We believe we’ll be the biggest open-sourcing of political tech that has happened,” said Mike Conlow, who was the campaign’s chief technology strategist. Few political campaigns are big and well-funded enough to develop their own software. Fewer still make that software open source.

              The tools themselves are not exactly revolutionary; they’re more in the vein of filling in gaps in commercially available political tech. In its early days, the campaign relied on off-the-shelf software. But as the tech team grew to nearly 20 people, it was able to take on software projects of its own. “We were focused on choosing projects where we didn’t think there was an adequate vendor tool out there on the market,” Conlow added. Campaign organizers noticed, for example, that the onboarding process for new volunteers could use more of a personal touch than the system they were using provided. When a new volunteer signed up, they would only receive an automated message. So the team built a tool, which they called Switchboard, that made it easy for organizers to personally reach out to volunteers as soon as they signed up.

        • Security

          • The Keyring Concept in Ubuntu: What is It and How to Use it?

            It keeps on popping up several times before disappearing if you keep on clicking cancel. You may wonder why do you keep seeing this keyring message all the time?

            Let me tell you something. It’s not an error. It’s a security feature.

          • This developer is working to improve bitcoin’s build system in a bid to stop ‘rampant’ phishing attacks
          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • How Much Data Does Clearview Gather On People? The Answer (Sadly) Will Not Surprise You.

              Clearview’s facial recognition app links to a database of 4 billion pictures. And those photos are linked to all the data that got scraped up with them, culled (without permission) from sites like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn… pretty much anywhere people post photos and personal information.

            • EFF Asks California AG to Close Loopholes, Respect “Do Not Track” With Regulations

              Today, EFF once again joined a coalition of privacy advocates filing comments with the California Attorney General (AG) on the latest proposed regulations for the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). The CCPA was passed in June 2018 and took effect on January 1, 2020. Later this year, the AG will finalize regulations that dictate how exactly the law will be enforced.

              While the first set of proposed regulations were (as we wrote at the time) a “good step forward” that could have gone further, the first revision to those regulations—published earlier this year—was largely a step backwards for privacy. Two weeks ago, the AG released a second set of revisions to the draft regulations, available here. [.pdf] With the enforcement deadline approaching, the public is running out of chances to weigh in on the rulemaking process. Some of the worst features of the regulations have been cut, but this round of modifications still falls short of a user-friendly implementation of CCPA. In fact, some new provisions added this round threaten to undermine the intent of the law.

            • EFF, ACLU & CDT Argue Five Months of Warrantless Covert 24/7 Video Surveillance Violates Fourth Amendment

              Should the fact that your neighbors can see the outside of your house mean the police can use a camera to record everything that happens there for more than five months? We don’t think so either. That’s why we joined ACLU, ACLU of Massachusetts, and the Center for Democracy & Technology in filing an amicus brief last week in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court arguing the Fourth Amendment and Massachusetts’s state equivalent protect us from warrantless video surveillance of our homes.

              In Commonwealth v. Mora, Massachusetts State Police secretly installed several cameras high up on utility poles in front of Nelson Mora and Randy Suarez’s homes. These “pole cameras” allowed officers to watch video feeds of the two homes (and by extension everyone going in and out of the homes) in real time, remotely control angle and zoom functions, and zoom in close enough to read license plates. Officers recorded the footage over a period of several months, which allowed them to go back, search through, and review footage at their convenience. They never got a warrant to install the cameras, and the extended surveillance was not subject to any court oversight.  

            • Taiwan is using a phone location “electronic fence” to help police track quarantined individuals

              The government in Taiwan has rolled out an “electronic fence” to keep quarantined individuals in their homes. The “electronic fence” uses mobile phone data to notify police if the cell phones of any people under mandatory quarantine leave their home areas. Travelers returning from abroad are subject to a mandatory quarantine so the electronic fence is being used on both Taiwanese citizens and non-citizens. If caught, quarantine dodgers are subject to a 1,000,000 NTD fine, which equates to around $33,000 USD – such a fine has already been levied at least once. Jyan Hong-wei, the head of Taiwan’s Department of Cyber Security, explained to Reuters:

            • Telecoms across Europe are sharing phone location data with governments as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic

              A telecommunications lobbying group, the GSMA, has confirmed that several telecom companies in Europe are providing mobile phone location data with the European Union as a way to track the spread of COVID-19. According to Reuters and other media sources, these are the telecommunications companies that are working with the European Union to provide “anonymized” data sets:

            • Detecting Privacy Badger’s Canvas FP detection

              Privacy badger injects fingerprinting.js, along with several other context scripts, as specified in its manifest.json, to all the frames (“all_frames“: true) of all the pages (“matches”: [ “” ]) visited by the user, before any other script in the page has executed (“run_at“: “document_start“).

              Content script have access to their frame DOM, but a separate JavaScript context. Because the goal of the script requires to monitors things that happen in the page JS context (canvas manipulation and serialization), this content script injects another, self removing script into the frame DOM, which executes in its JS context.

              This script hooks into several canvas related APIs, including fillText (manipulation) and toDataURL (serialization). I wrote about JS hooking before, in the context of spoofing viewabiliy measurements. Whenever once of these APIs gets called, Privacy Badger hook is figuring out the caller script URL form within the call stack.

            • Zoom iOS app quietly sending data to Facebook, even if you have no account [Update: Fixed]

              The Zoom iOS app is sharing data with Facebook, without declaring it in the privacy policy. This happens whether or not you have a Facebook account.

              Data shared with Facebook includes your iPhone or iPad model, your time-zone, city, phone carrier and a unique identifier which can be used for ad-targeting …

            • Zoom iOS App Sends Data to Facebook Even if You Don’t Have a Facebook Account

              As people work and socialize from home, video conferencing software Zoom has exploded in popularity. What the company and its privacy policy don’t make clear is that the iOS version of the Zoom app is sending some analytics data to Facebook, even if Zoom users don’t have a Facebook account, according to a Motherboard analysis of the app.

              This sort of data transfer is not uncommon, especially for Facebook; plenty of apps use Facebook’s software development kits (SDK) as a means to implement features into their apps more easily, which also has the effect of sending information to Facebook. But Zoom users may not be aware it is happening, nor understand that when they use one product, they may be providing data to another service altogether.

            • Snowden warns: The surveillance states we’re creating now will outlast the coronavirus

              Supporters of the draconian measures argue that normal rules are not enough during a pandemic and that the long-term risks can be addressed once the outbreak is contained. But a brief suspension of civil liberties can quickly be extended.

              Security services will soon find new uses for the tech. And when the crisis passes, governments can impose new laws that make the emergency rules permanent and exploit them to crack down on dissent and political opposition.

            • Business in the time of COVID-19: US Cybersecurity and Privacy Issues for You to Consider

              The CDC is working with Palantir and Google, among others, to model the spread of the virus using data scraped from public social media. A task force has also been developed that is working in conjunction with the government, and includes several companies from the technology sector.

              Data analytics company Palantir is working with the CDC to track COVID-19 through the use of data mapping and integration. The CDC previously worked with Palantir during the 2010 cholera outbreak in Haiti to monitor communications within the populace and track the spread of the disease. Similarly, the facial-recognition firm Clearview AI may potentially collaborate with state authorities to use facial-recognition technology to track infected individuals. Clearview reportedly developed its facial recognition algorithm using approximately 3 billion images scraped without permission from various websites. The company hopes to contribute to a greater understanding of “contact tracing”, the term given to the practice of identifying individuals that infected individuals may have been in contact with.

              The government is also in active talks with technology companies about using location data gleaned from cell phones to track the proliferation of the virus and to track whether Americans are adhering to social distancing protocols. As currently developed, the plan would involve the technology companies sending collected anonymous and aggregated geolocation and facial recognition data from their apps to the federal government as a means to map the presence of the virus. At this time, Google has indicated that the plan would not involve sharing an individual’s movement or individual location. The data could be used to demonstrate the impact of social distancing and spread of COVID-19, similar to the way Google is able to show store traffic or traffic patterns. The assumption is that the spikes in aggregated geolocation data could help the government track COVID-19, while detecting, disrupting, and discouraging gatherings that could result in a dramatic transmission of the virus between infected and non-infected populations.

            • Court appearing through WhatsApp

              A day later, that is today, the person’s conditional freedom plea was heard by a magistrate of the District Court of Black River (Bambous), through WhatsApp and the decision to allow bail was given through same. While court cases heard through video conferencing is not a new thing in Mauritius, it is definitely a first that a common online messaging tool such as WhatsApp has been used to hear a court plea.

    • Defence/Aggression

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • We Just Barely Averted a Gigantic Pandemic Grift by Big Pharma

        The first reports on Monday of Gilead receiving orphan status were neutral. Politico reported simply that “Gilead’s antiviral gets a rare disease nod ensuring 7 years of market exclusivity,” with no editorialization. The Washington Post said gently that it might “seem inappropriate given the rapidly expanding threat of the outbreak” but then quoted an analyst calling it “pretty standard.”

        A separate article in US News and World Report reveals that the analyst quoted in the Washington Post is a financial analyst at an investment bank and asset management firm called Piper Sandler. In that article, the Wall Street analyst further defended Gilead’s procurement of orphan drug status: “It says nothing about profiting off of the pandemic, but it does provide protection if remdesivir turns into a business in subsequent years.”

        The media coverage of the orphan drug classification was neutral or at most lightly critical — until Lerner and Fang’s article was published on Monday evening in the Intercept. Outrage on social media soon followed. On Tuesday, several more critical news stories followed in the left and mainstream press.

      • Truthdig staff laid off amid work stoppage

        Readers of the progressive news site Truthdig may have seen a cheerless message posted to the homepage this week. “Truthdig is going on a hiatus,” the website states. “Our archives of 15 years of award-winning independent journalism are available for free. Be well, stay safe and look out for each other.”

        What a “hiatus” means is unclear, even to the news site’s former employees. On Wednesday, letters of termination arrived in the inboxes of the site’s small staff amid a work stoppage and global pandemic. [Editor's note: Salon occasionally reprints articles from Truthdig through an informal republishing agreement.]

      • Statement From Striking Truthdig Workers

        On Wednesday night, amid reports that much of the country was going into quarantine indefinitely, Truthdig’s staff received an email with the subject line “Re: Truthdig.” The email was to inform us that Truthdig LLC was being dissolved and that our positions at the publication had been terminated. Chris Hedges, the site’s most widely read columnist, was among those fired, despite the fact that he raised grant money to cover his own salary.

      • Letter from Truthdig’s Editor-in-Chief Robert Scheer to the Publisher Zuade Kaufman

        I want to register my strongest possible disagreement with your unilateral decisions to bar me from the Truthdig site, close the site, and discharge Truthdig’s employees. Each of your actions represents a violation of Truthdig’s Operating Agreement, which requires that you and I agree on actions such as those you have taken on your own. To make myself clear, you have not consulted me, and I disagree.

        Although you claim that your actions have been required by Truthdig’s shaky financial situation, it appears that you have not taken into account funds that have been raised from third parties to support Truthdig. My understanding is that those funds are sufficient to continue Truthdig’s operations, although perhaps at a reduced level. I do not understand how you believe that you can unilaterally determine how those funds should be used going forward. Likewise, I am sure you understand that the Senate agreed today on a financial bailout package that could provide funding to maintain Truthdig’s operations at some level. The combination of potential funding and the need for Truthdig’s voice at this critical time in our nation’s history makes your actions incomprehensible and indefensible.

        Additionally, I am very concerned that you have given Truthdig’s employees powerful ammunition to use against Truthdig. They will be able to argue that you both closed the site and terminated them from employment in retaliation for their protected collective activities in going on strike and for filing complaints with the National Labor Relations Board and State Labor Commissioner. Your actions have greatly contributed to the potential success of their claims with the NLRB and with the Labor Commissioner.

    • Environment

      • Citing virus, EPA has stopped enforcing environmental laws

        The move was the latest, and one of the broadest, regulation-easing moves by the EPA, which is seeking to roll back dozens of regulations as part of President Donald Trump’s purge of rules that the administration sees as unfriendly to business. Civil and criminal enforcement of polluters under the administration has fallen sharply.

        Former Obama-era EPA chief Gina McCarthy, now president of the Natural Resources Defence Council, called the announcement “an open license to pollute.”

      • Citing Coronavirus, EPA Suspends Environmental Rules Indefinitely

        The Environmental Protection Agency, headed by former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, announced on Thursday a sweeping and indefinite suspension of environmental rules amid the worsening coronavirus pandemic, a move green groups warned gives the fossil fuel industry a “green light to pollute with impunity.”

      • 2 800 soldiers deployed for coronavirus lockdown

        President Cyril Ramaphosa has authorised the deployment of 2 820 members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to help contain the COVID-19 coronavirus.

        This is according to a letter sent by President Cyril Ramaphosa to the speaker of the National Assembly on Wednesday, informing Parliament of the deployment of the SANDF, who are assisting the police in enforcing the 21-day lockdown effective midnight Thursday.

      • Coronavirus Spring

        It’s Spring, and nature is blooming. Coronavirus has done (temporarily, at least) what no Paris Agreement, Green New Deal, man, woman or even that scrappy teen, Greta Thunberg (who may have also contracted COVID-19), could do. It has shut down a huge amount of the industrial, transportation and pollution-belching business activity that is destroying life on earth.

      • Energy

        • Yet Another Study Confirms: Electric Cars Reduce Climate Pollution

          The team of European researchers behind the new study build on recent similar findings by the research group Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) and the Union of Concerned Scientists. Each of these studies have taken a worldwide look at the life cycle emissions from EVs that are charged by a variety of forms of electricity generation, from the cleanest to the dirtiest of grids. The new study again dispels the myth that electric cars are more polluting than gas-powered cars because they are charged by coal-fired electricity.

        • Exxon May Crush Bailout Hopes for Suffering Fracking Companies

          But that’s not the same message across the entire oil and gas industry.

        • Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Prevails as Federal Judge Strikes Down DAPL Permits

          A federal court today granted a request by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to strike down federal permits for the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline.

          The Court found the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated the National Environmental Policy Act when it affirmed federal permits for the pipeline originally issued in 2016. Specifically, the Court found significant unresolved concerns about the potential impacts of oil spills and the likelihood that one could take place.

        • Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Wins a Victory in Dakota Access Pipeline Case

          The ruling by United States District Judge James E. Boasberg found that the pipeline’s “effects on the quality of the human environment are likely to be highly controversial” and that the federal government had not done an adequate job of studying the risks of a major spill or whether the pipeline’s leak detection system was adequate.

          He ordered the United States Army Corps of Engineers, which granted the permits for the pipeline, to conduct a more extensive environmental impact statement.

        • Judge Orders Environmental Review Of Controversial Dakota Access Pipeline

          Nearly three years after crude oil started to flow through the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, a federal judge has ordered the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a full environmental review.

          It’s a major victory for the Native American tribes and environmental groups who have been fighting against the project for years.

          U.S. District Judge James Boasberg has not decided whether oil can still flow in the meantime. But his opinion Wednesday requests that the two sides submit briefings next month for and against keeping the oil moving, potentially opening the door for the judge to shut it down.

        • Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Prevails as Federal Judge Strikes Down DAPL Permits

          The Court ordered the Corps to prepare a full environmental impact statement on the pipeline, something that the Tribe has sought from the beginning of this controversy. The Court asked the parties to submit additional briefing on the question of whether to shut down the pipeline in the interim.

          “After years of commitment to defending our water and earth, we welcome this news of a significant legal win,” said Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Mike Faith. “It’s humbling to see how actions we took four years ago to defend our ancestral homeland continue to inspire national conversations about how our choices ultimately affect this planet. Perhaps in the wake of this court ruling the federal government will begin to catch on, too, starting by actually listening to us when we voice our concerns.”

          “This validates everything the Tribe has been saying all along about the risk of oil spills to the people of Standing Rock,” said Earthjustice attorney Jan Hasselman. “The Obama administration had it right when it moved to deny the permits in 2016, and this is the second time the Court has ruled that the government ran afoul of environmental laws when it permitted this pipeline. We will continue to see this through until DAPL has finally been shut down.”

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • A Message For America from Brazil’s First Indigenous Congresswoman

          Last year, we all watched in horror as the Amazon rainforest burned at an unprecedented rate. We cannot afford to lose it, especially amid a climate emergency. It’s vast greenery releases oxygen and stores carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping gas that causes of global warming. The death of the Amazon would mean the end of life on Earth.

      • Overpopulation

        • Hong Kong epidemiologist warns pandemic’s end may not be straightforward

          The number of new cases of the coronavirus has been falling in countries such as China and South Korea that experienced the outbreak early on. Still, epidemiologists are worried about second — and even third — waves of COVID-19.

          Dr. Gabriel Leung is an infectious disease epidemiologist and the dean of medicine at The University of Hong Kong. He’s also the founding director of the WHO’s Collaborating Center for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Control. He spoke to The World’s host Marco Werman about how the pandemic might end.

        • Trumped: pandemic to cost America $5 trillion … or more

          We need the government to act or we could fall into a depression rivalling the 1930s.

          An 18-month crisis is widely expected. The Trump administration plan is for 18 months. That implies $5 trillion based on my calculations.

          The ultimate cost of this novel virus is likely to be north of $7 trillion, assuming this pandemic endures for two years, as German public health officials warn.

        • Africa’s population will double by 2050

          As a result, some doomsayers are dusting off the theories of Thomas Malthus, who argued in 1798 that a growing human population would starve because it would outstrip the supply of food. Among these is Malcolm Potts, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who argued in a paper in 2013 that “the Sahel could become the first part of planet Earth that suffers large-scale starvation and escalating conflict as a growing human population outruns diminishing natural resources.”

          Yet demographic forecasts of coming decades diverge in a way that could be crucial. The UN expects Africa’s population to double again between 2050 and 2100, to 4.3bn people, or 39% of the world’s total and that fertility rates (the average number of children that women will have over their lives) will fall slowly. It reckons that the rate, which has dropped to about 4.4 from 6.7 in 1980, will take another 30 years to fall below three. But that underestimates the impact of a big jump in the number of girls who are now going to school across large parts of the continent, argues Wolfgang Lutz, a demographer at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis near Vienna. It also highlights the urgency of getting even more of them into school.

        • The disconcerting association between overpopulation and the COVID-19 crisis

          We all have a clear notion of how the present coronavirus epidemic unfolded and its proximate causes. The zoonotic nature of the virus is widely accepted. The social mechanisms of the illness’s rapid transmission also are well understood. But it seems that we have not really apprehended the role that overcrowding and population density play as critical indirect drivers in the pandemic pathology. There are two main factors at play.

          [...]

          The second way growing population density drives the coronavirus pandemic involves the way the virus is transmitted. Epidemiologists have long relied on the reproduction number — or in technical jargon: R0 – (R naught) to design strategies for confronting infectious disease. R0 is defined as the number of cases, on average, an infected person causes during their infectious period. If that number falls below 1, the epidemic wanes. A disease with a high R0 spreads quickly.

          Measles is a particularly contagious illness — with an R0 of 12 to 18. Estimates for the infectiousness of COVID-19 are lower and have been reported to span 1.4 -3.8. It is well to consider the reasons behind these broad ranges.

          Many factors determining R0 are beyond our control. These include the infectiousness of the agent; its incubation period; and mode of transmission. One critical factor, however, is not built-in biologically: population density. When people live in dispersed rural environments, there is less human interaction and lower transmission.

        • Letter to the editor: Covid-19 & overpopulation

          Overpopulation results in polluted water, air pollution, deforestation, rising crime rates, loss of wildlife leading to mass extinctions, widespread food shortages, vanishing fish in the oceans, regional conflicts and war, and proliferation of infectious diseases, super bugs and airborne diseases, along with diminishing capacity to treat them, and overwhelmed hospitals.

    • Finance

      • Instead of COVID-19 Hazard Pay, Spectrum Is Giving Its Repair Techs $25 Gift Cards To Closed Restaurants

        Despite its obvious reputational problems, Comcast has actually been stepping up for its workers during the COVID-19 crisis, paying its employees hazard pay, allowing unnecessary personnel to work at home, and closing at least some of its retail locations.

      • What 9/11 Can Teach Us About Responding to COVID-19

        On the morning of September 11, 2001, my colleagues and I handed out water on Lower Broadway. We were lawyers who served some of the poorest communities in New York, but quenching the thirst of stunned victims proved to be the best thing we could do at the time.

        [...]

        In the wake of 9/11, millions of generous Americans supported the September 11th Fund, which was administered by the New York Community Trust and the United Way of New York City. Not only did that fund assist families who had lost loved ones, but also individuals who were left in economic ruin that day.

        A similar philanthropic effort, coordinated by charities across the country, will be needed in the current pandemic, and we should get a fundraising initiative underway immediately. Prominent philanthropies like the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations could provide critical infrastructure support to local foundations that are closer to the need.

        Third, nonprofits are going to get hammered, twice. They are going to face increased need for their services, while losing support from donors precisely when those services are needed most. Across the country, nonprofits are already having to cancel and postpone fundraising events.

        Emergency relief for frontline non-profit organizations responding to community needs must begin to flow immediately, before it is too late. Anyone making regular gifts to nonprofits should continue for as long as possible. And any philanthropic effort to support the direct victims of the virus should also provide financial support to the non-profits that will serve them.

        Finally, we need to cooperate across sectors. One of the most important successes of the 9/11 response was that the government, non-profit, philanthropic, and private sectors all worked together.

        Survivors were able to go to centers to meet with a wide range of service providers from public and nonprofit entities. Volunteers from private sector businesses provided critical assistance as well, and foundations supported such efforts. This kind of cooperation will again be critical, though such “centers” will have to be virtual.

        The full impacts of the pandemic can’t be known yet — but we’ve been here before in some ways.

      • Coronavirus and the Collapse of Our Imaginations

        Right now, millions of people throughout North America and Europe are living through an unprecedented situation and making unprecedented demands. Formerly meek white-collar workers content to schlep to and from the office every day are demanding the right to telecommute. Blue-collar workers told they are essential are demanding raises- here in Washington, our grocery workers just secured two dollars an hour through their union. And workers across trades and professions and political persuasions, finding themselves laid off, are demanding the right to a living, whether or not the economy currently requires their services. To say we have arrived at a revolutionary moment is perhaps an understatement.

      • Seven Rules for the Boeing Bailout

        Call it the “Boeing bailout.” As the world struggles with the pandemic, Boeing should be seen as the vector for a parallel epidemic. It’s Patient Zero in an epidemic of corporate failure. As we change the way we live our lives, corporations like Boeing should change the way they are run. Corporate mismanagement made this crisis worse and, if it doesn’t change, will make the recovery more difficult.

      • Governments Say “Stay at Home,” But Thousands Don’t Have a Home

        In December, she moved into The Sophia Way, an all-women’s homeless shelter in Bellevue, Washington, near Seattle and roughly 6 miles from the suburban nursing home that was the site of the first known COVID-19 outbreak in the country.

      • Corona in Germany: Hording and Authoritarianism

        By 26 March 2020, what the world calls “Coronavirus” and the USA calls “Covid-19” had affected 197 countries and territories with almost 20,000 deaths globally. While 20,000 looks like rather an insignificant number given the 7.8 billion people on planet earth, a highly reputable source – worldometer – noted on that day the ranking of deaths as follows: Italy: 7,500; Spain: 3,700; China: 3,300; Iran: 2,100; France 3,00; USA 950; UK 470; the Netherlands: 360; and Germany: 210. Despite being known to have authoritarian personalities, follow their government supposedly based on strict toilet training as infants and a seemingly uncontrollable urge to inspect their own bowl movements, Germans were showing some very common European behaviors during the corona virus crisis. While Bavaria has closed its borders, Germany’s most populated state of North Rhine-Westphalia has started to fine people. Meeting more than two other people in public incurs a fine of € 200.-; having a public BBQ: € 200.- and any gathering of more then ten people: a fine or up to five years imprisonment.

      • COVID-19: Health or Wealth?

        Can the pandemic be separated from the economy? As the pandemic continues in Europe and the United States but seems to be subsiding in Asia, more and more questions are being raised about how to relaunch the economy. The importance of public health is being opposed to opening for business. The battle in the U.S. Senate over how trillions will be spent is indicative of two economic problems: Should businesses function in spite of the virus? How should money be spent to relaunch – from the top down or bottom up?

      • The Covid-19 Bailout: Another Failed Opportunity at Structural Change

        The Covid-19 bailout is yet another opportunity at a structural transformation of the American state, economy, and society that will be lost.  Instead, it will be another short-term patch that will fail to alter the trajectory of Neo-liberal capitalism in America, if not across the globe.

      • Trump White House Objects to $1 Billion Price Tag for 80,000 Ventilators

        President Donald Trump is expected as early as the end of this week to sign legislation that would establish a $4.5 trillion bailout fund for large corporations, but the prospect of spending around a billion dollars for the production of tens of thousands of much-needed ventilators amid the coronavirus crisis is apparently a bridge too far for the White House.

      • The End of the Parasite Paradigm

        Politicians like Lindsey Graham have been worried that some individuals might get a few cents extra during this crisis if the relief bills are too “generous”. The concern does not extend to corporations that bloat and have essentially no stipulations put upon them from the trough of taxpayer largess. This is the clearest indication that our present-day system is nothing but a false social construct in place simply to ensure a modern- day feudalism. It’s never been about any kind of fiscal responsibility; it’s about making sure there are those who are desperate and scared –so they will keep offering themselves up to a system that chews them up daily (even before COVID19). This, all to ensure those at the top don’t even have to do one honest day of work. It’s also the societal normalization of a lack of empathy.

      • Stimulus Bill Allows Federal Reserve to Conduct Meetings in Secret; Gives Fed $454 Billion Slush Fund for Wall Street Bailouts

        The U.S. Senate voted 96-0 late yesterday on a massive bailout of Wall Street banks versus a short-term survival plan for American workers thrown out of their jobs – and potentially their homes. The text of the final bill was breathtaking in the breadth of new powers it bestowed on the Federal Reserve, including the Fed’s ability to conduct secret meetings with no minutes provided to the American people. The House of Representatives has yet to vote on the bill.

      • Bailouts for the Rich, the Virus for the Rest of Us

        For the second time in a generation, the President and Congress are creating an economy under the guise of ‘saving the economy.’ Through bailouts for the executives of corporations and institutions whose coffers have been emptied for their own personal enrichment, a corporate kleptocracy is having its class power secured. And through token payments and pandemic profiteering for the masses, the American precariat is being deepened and broadened to solidify its place as desperate and expendable.

      • How to Beat Coronavirus Capitalism
      • How the Rich and Powerful Profit From Crises Like Coronavirus

        The “Trump, Inc.” podcast has long explored how people have tried to benefit through their proximity to the Oval Office. Our podcast with WNYC is going to continue digging into that as the Trump administration is tasked with rolling out more than $2 trillion in bailout money.

        We spoke to two people this week to help us understand the stakes. “Some policymakers sitting in the Treasury Department or some other government agency have this awesome power to say, ‘You get the money, you go out of business,’” said Neil Barofsky, who served as the government’s watchdog for the 2008 bank bailout. “One of the most important things we can do is make sure that power is exercised fairly, consistently and, most importantly, consistent with the policy goals that underlie this extraordinary outpouring of taxpayer money.”

      • How Corporate Media ‘Factchecked’ Biden’s Calls for Social Security Cuts Into Oblivion

        Throughout this election cycle, FAIR has documented how corporate media view it as their mission to protect the status quo and corporate profits by lauding centrist and right-wing Democrats like Joe Biden, as well as serving as an anti-Bernie Sanders attack machine. It seems the latest tactic in corporate media’s  crusade to undermine the Sanders campaign—and the progressive movement supporting him—is to bleed them dry with disingenuous “factchecks,” serving as a form of death by a thousand nuances.

      • [Old] Strategy Letter V

        A complement is a product that you usually buy together with another product. Gas and cars are complements. Computer hardware is a classic complement of computer operating systems. And babysitters are a complement of dinner at fine restaurants. In a small town, when the local five star restaurant has a two-for-one Valentine’s day special, the local babysitters double their rates. (Actually, the nine-year-olds get roped into early service.)

        All else being equal, demand for a product increases when the prices of its complements decrease.

        Let me repeat that because you might have dozed off, and it’s important. Demand for a product increases when the prices of its complements decrease. For example, if flights to Miami become cheaper, demand for hotel rooms in Miami goes up — because more people are flying to Miami and need a room. When computers become cheaper, more people buy them, and they all need operating systems, so demand for operating systems goes up, which means the price of operating systems can go up.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • The Sobering Realities of the American Dystopia

        I write this update to you against the sobering realities of the coronavirus crisis, a profound U.S. leadership crisis and the reality that 2020 is closing down early across our society.

      • DOJ Seeks to Exploit Coronavirus Emergency to Detain People Indefinitely

        Throughout U.S. history, presidents have exploited national emergencies to exceed their constitutional powers. Abraham Lincoln illegally suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War. Franklin D. Roosevelt confined people of Japanese descent in internment camps during World War II. And George W. Bush used his post-9/11 “war on terror” to launch two illegal wars, mount a program of torture, conduct extensive unlawful surveillance and illegally detain people.

      • Fireside Chatterer Andrew Cuomo for President

        Prompted by Donald Trump’s shamefully bombastic behavior and attitude during all his press conferences, and especially during his recent COVID-19 White House press conferences, and their juxtaposition to NY Governor Andrew Cuomo’s honest, calm, and painfully truthful yet reassuring press conferences, last week I told a former colleague and neighbor “I wish I were old enough to have heard FDR’s ‘fireside chats.’”

      • The Only Oxygen Cylinder Factory in Europe is Shut down and Macron Refuses to Nationalize It

        Although no information is circulating about the stock of oxygen cylinders in France, which are very useful in these times of acute health crisis and which Italy cruelly lacks, the only factory capable of producing them in Europe remains closed. The employees of Luxfer’s oxygen cylinder factory in Gerzat (a town located in the northern suburbs of Clermont-Ferrand in France) are calling for the “total and definitive” nationalization of the factory and the immediate restart of production in order to deal with the current health crisis and to be able to alleviate the demands in France and other countries. After years of neoliberal decadence that mistreated the public hospital, resulting in the exhaustion of staff, reduced budgets, a decrease in the number of hospital beds, a decrease in the stock of masks and, ultimately, catastrophic management of the current crisis, will the French government persist in not intervening to regain control of this factory, which is essential for curing patients suffering from covid19?

      • Rep. Omar Blasts Trump’s “American Exceptionalism” as US Leads in COVID-19 Cases

        As much of the United States is under lockdown, the House votes today on a $2 trillion emergency relief package to address the economic crisis caused by the pandemic. It will generate payments to most Americans and includes protections for workers, but it is also a massive bailout for a number of industries and corporations, and the vote comes as a record 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits. We speak with Congressmember Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, the first Somali American elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and one of the first Muslim women in Congress, about the bill, Trump’s response to the pandemic, how she has joined calls for student debt relief and to release immigrants and prisoners facing infection, and the challenges African countries face in responding to the coronavirus.

      • The Pope is Wrong on Argentina

        When Jorge Mario Bergoglio became the new Pope after the resignation of his German predecessor, a wave of euphoria shook Argentina. He was not only the first Latin American Pope but also a beloved member of the Argentine Catholic Church. Bergoglio was well-known and respected because of his work as cardinal. At present, however, his indirect participation in Argentina’s politics has tarnished his image to some extent.

      • Politics, Pandemics and Trumpism

        In typical “free market” fashion, Trump told us that he was working with the private sector to solve the problem. While this might be somewhat comprehensible in terms of speedy distribution, given the already existing infrastructure of corporations like Google and Walgreens, it turns out that this is not even true. Meanwhile, many residents act as if the apocalypse is upon us as they ravage grocery stores, hoarding everything from beans to the aforementioned toilet paper. The selfish American is represented by the nation’s president and his supporters, throwing common sense that demands solidarity and helpfulness into the dump.

      • Russia-gate: the Dead But Undead

        Attention all Russia-gaters! Under the cover of pandemic, the US finally dropped charges against those dastardly Russian meme-bombers!

      • We Need Universal Mail-In Ballots for the 2020 Election

        We’re all now party to the most critical election protection debate in U.S. history, one that has entered the proposed Senate coronavirus stimulus package to the tune of $400 million, which may be just a fraction of what’s really needed.

      • Don’t Just Blame Trump for the COVID-19 Crisis: the U.S. Has Been Becoming a Failed State for Some Time

        The prologue of our book, United States of Distraction, begins with that epigraph, and it is quite fitting for our times. Much like we argued then about understanding Donald Trump’s electoral victory, the only proper way to comprehend and address the complexities of the COVID-19 pandemic is to look at how we got here—through a spate of neoliberal policies that put profits over people for decades. No doubt, we are sickened by the fear and suffering this current pandemic has wrought. However, where commentators and critics are invested in a short-term blame game, we are more concerned with developing solutions to the current challenges we face, and to build on those systemically, making it less likely we have to confront such a crisis in the future. Part of that requires assessing our historical responsibilities, where we must address the failure of the neoliberal experiment over the past half century that has brought us to where we are today.

      • God’s Vengeance: the Christian Right and the Coronavirus

        Steven Andrew is pastor of the USA Christian Church in San Jose (CA) who warns, “Obeying God protects the USA from diseases, such as the coronavirus.” He goes on, Bible thumping, “Our safety is at stake since national disobedience of God’s laws brings danger and diseases, such as coronavirus, but obeying God brings covenant protection. … God protects the USA from danger as the country repents of LGBT, false gods, abortion and other sins.”

      • Neither Biden Nor Trump: Imagine Cuomo

        The Trump presidency is mainly about enriching and glorifying Donald Trump. To that end, and in accord with his attitudes and dispositions, he has set about making America hate again – or, more precisely, a whole lot more than in the recent past. Thus, he has taken to calling the global pandemic caused by the covid-19 virus “the “Chinese flu.”

      • Misinformation and the Coronavirus: On the Dangers of Depoliticization and Social Media

        Bill Gates created the coronavirus. China secretly developed it in a lab as a biological weapon. A cure exists and the government controls it, but won’t release it to the public. The virus is no more dangerous than the seasonal flu. Coronavirus is a “fake news” hoax manufactured by the news. You can use hand dryers to kill the virus, vitamin C, or lemon juice. The country is going to be quarantined under martial law, and the government will shut down all grocery stores so that no one can buy food. All of these claims are examples of conspiracies associated with coronavirus that have been perpetrated by social media.

      • What’s going to be open in Moscow next week, at a glance
      • COVID-19 vs. the Constitution Kremlin sources explain how the coronavirus pandemic is throwing off Putin’s political strategy for 2020 and what his team is doing about it

        The coronavirus pandemic has hit the pause button on most political processes in Russia. The presidential administration’s domestic politics team has suspended its campaign to shape the national vote on Vladimir Putin’s proposed constitutional amendments, switching gears to focus entirely on fighting COVID-19. While Putin’s chances at two more terms hang in the balance as a result, gubernatorial appointments are also up in the air. The Kremlin had been planning to put several regional governors who are up for election to the test by watching their performance in the constitutional referendum. Now that Putin has postponed the plebiscite, which was scheduled for April 22, the Kremlin may have weeks or months to wait before tailoring its regional political strategy. Andrey Pertsev surveyed the effects of the new coronavirus on Russian politics so far.

      • US Government Sites Give Bad Security Advice

        The text I have a beef with is the bit on the right, beneath the “This site is secure” statement. Specifically, it says, “The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website….”

        Here’s the deal: The https:// part of an address (also called “Secure Sockets Layer” or SSL) merely signifies the data being transmitted back and forth between your browser and the site is encrypted and cannot be read by third parties.

        However, the presence of “https://” or a padlock in the browser address bar does not mean the site is legitimate, nor is it any proof the site has been security-hardened against intrusion from hackers.

      • U.N. Security Council Paralyzed as Contagion Rages

        The United Nations Security Council is watching the greatest global health crisis in a century unfold from the sidelines, quarreling over the wisdom of working online, batting down proposals to help organize the response to the pandemic, and largely ignoring the U.N. secretary-general’s appeal for a global cease-fire.

        The paralysis comes at a time when the United States is pressing the 15-nation council to adopt a resolution that would largely blame China for unleashing the pathogen on the world. The initiative—which appears to be part of a broader U.S. strategy to deflect responsibility for its own sluggish response to the spread of the virus—is certain to be blocked by China, which wields veto power.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Someone Convinced Google To Delist Our Entire Right To Be Forgotten Tag In The EU For Searches On Their Name

        We received notification this week that Google has delisted our entire right to be forgotten tag page, based on (of course) a right to be forgotten request under the GDPR in the EU. To be clear, this only applies when someone searches the name in question — which was not shared with us. I am… perplexed about this. I understand that some people may not want us talking about their ongoing efforts to rewrite history and hide their past. However, you would think that if these articles don’t actually talk about their historical scams that are very much a part of the public record, and instead focus on their very current and ongoing abuse of the “right to be forgotten” process, they should be allowed to remain up.

      • Anti-Vaxxer Sues Facebook, In The Middle Of A Pandemic, For ‘In Excess’ Of $5 Billion For Shutting Down His Account

        When I write about this new lawsuit, filed on behalf of “retired MMA fighter” Nick Catone, against Facebook for removing his account over his anti-vaccine posts, you may expect that it was filed pro se. However, somewhat shockingly, there’s an actual lawyer, James Mermigis, who filed this dumpster fire of an awful complaint. Mermigis does not appear to have any experience in internet law, and boy does it show. His various profiles online list his experience in divorce law, real estate law, and personal injury law. His own Twitter feed is basically all just wacky anti-vax nonsense, and, late last year, he was quoted as representing people trying to block a NY law removing a religious exemption for vaccines. We’ve gone over this many times before, but spewing junk science and angry rants that are literally putting tons of people in danger is no way to go through life, and it’s certainly no way to file a lawsuit. Especially not in the midst of a pandemic where a vaccine sure would be nice.

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • Judge Allows PEN America’s Lawsuit Against Donald Trump Over Retaliation Against The Media To Proceed

        We’ve written a few times about the White House’s unconstitutional retaliation against journalists it did not like, such as Jim Acosta and Brian Karem. PEN America, a key group fighting for free speech rights for journalists and writers, has now been allowed to proceed in its lawsuit against the President over his campaign of retaliation against journalists. PEN America had sued back in 2018, asking for declaratory and injunctive relief (basically the court telling the Trump White House to knock it off) against a variety of forms of retaliation he had done or threatened against the press.

      • Dissenter Weekly: Judge Keeps Assange Jailed As COVID-19 Pandemic Intensifies—Plus, Amazon Workers Speak Out

        On this edition of the “Dissenter Weekly,” host and Shadowproof editor Kevin Gosztola highlights a British magistrate court judge’s decision to deny WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange bail during the coronavirus pandemic.

        Assange’s attorneys applied for bail because they believe he faces “imminent danger.” He suffers from a chronic lung condition, which makes him especially vulnerable to a virus that severely affects anyone with respiratory ailments.

      • Iraqi security forces seize journalist’s belongings for allegedly violating COVID-19 curfew

        “Since Kirkuk was seized by the Iraqi Army in October 2017, it has become very difficult to work here as a Kurdish journalist. We are constantly harassed and, unlike Arabic outlets, we are not invited to cover government events,” Shakur told CPJ.

      • Truth Matters: Why Journalists Need Encryption Now More Than Ever

        In a period that has seen various governments and law enforcement representatives propose laws that would weaken it, the pandemic is an important reminder of the role encryption plays to protect both journalists, their sources, and general news integrity.

        End-to-end (E2E) encryption is a tool that keeps digital communications private by scrambling content so that only the sender and receiver have the keys to unscramble and read it.

        This is crucial for journalists.

      • Kurdish journalists demand release of their colleagues

        Journalist Seyit Evren reminded that almost none of the hostage journalists had any other “crime” than reporting. “The aim of these journalists was to inform the society correctly, to tell the truth and to expose the lies. Although some of them were arrested several times, they did not stop writing or telling the truth. For this reason, they were thrown into prisons even without an indictment being prepared. Despite the danger of the virus outbreak, the government is determined to keep journalists in prisons. In fact, the AKP seems to be using this epidemic as an opportunity to get rid of journalists. Erdogan and AKP are afraid of journalists who are telling the truth. As a journalist, I want my journalist friends to be released immediately. Therefore, I invite the whole society to be sensitive and to demand their freedom.”

        Journalist Vedat Kurşun reminded that Turkey under the AKP has become the biggest prison in the world for journalists. “This shows how frightened the AKP is of journalists. Political prisoners and journalists must be released immediately and unconditionally. We call on people to put pressure on Turkey to ensure the release of journalists.”

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • “Shelter in Place” Is Putting Domestic Violence Survivors in a Dire Situation

        As schools shut, public spaces close, and all but essential workers are ordered to stay indoors under shelter-in-place orders across the U.S. and globe, domestic violence services are scrambling to help vulnerable people navigate home lives that they say are increasingly unsafe during the pandemic. What happens when you’re trapped at home with your abuser? “This is really a dire situation for a lot of victims across the country,” says Katie Ray-Jones, chief executive officer of the National Domestic Violence Hotline and loveisrespect.

      • Incarcerated Anti-Fascists Report Targeted Beatings by Guards

        The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is targeting Eric King, an unapologetically vocal anti-fascist, yogi and poet who has been incarcerated since September 2014, for his political beliefs. King was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison after being charged with attempting to set fire to a government official’s empty office building in support of the Ferguson, Missouri, uprising in 2014.

      • In a 10-Day Span, ICE Flew This Detainee Across the Country — Nine Times

        Less than two weeks ago, the Trump administration urged Americans to avoid nonessential travel to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Major airlines slashed their routes. All the while, Sirous Asgari took nine different flights around the country.

        None of them was by choice.

      • Episode 73: The Biggest Marijuana Dispensary with Vanessa Martinez – Along The Line Podcast

        Along the Line, is a member of the Demcast network, brought to you by the Media Freedom Foundation. On today’s episode hosts Nicholas Baham III (Dr. Dreadlocks), Janice Domingo,  and Nolan Higdon discuss marijuana from the biggest dispensary in the world. ATL’s  Creative Director is Dylan Lazaga.  Mickey Huff is ATL’s producer. ATL’s engineer is Janice Domingo. Adam Armstrong is ATL’s webmaster.

      • People With Intellectual Disabilities May Be Denied Lifesaving Care Under These Plans as Coronavirus Spreads

        Advocates for people with intellectual disabilities are concerned that those with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism and other such conditions will be denied access to lifesaving medical treatment as the COVID-19 outbreak spreads across the country.

        Several disability advocacy organizations filed complaints this week with the civil rights division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, asking the federal government to clarify provisions of the disaster preparedness plans for the states of Washington and Alabama.

      • Now More Than Ever, Prisoners Should Have Some Access to Social Media

        COVID-19 has trapped many of us in our homes, isolating us from family and friends and limiting our movements. But there are few people who feel the isolating impacts of COVID-19 more acutely than those who are actually incarcerated in jails and prisons across the country. As Jerry Metcalf, an inmate in Michigan, wrote for the Marshall Project’s “Life on the Inside” series:

        Metcalf’s is an important perspective to have, but, unfortunately, it is increasingly difficult to hear from inmates like him. That’s because prison systems are making it harder for the public to hear from incarcerated people through excessive restrictions on the ways prisoners can express themselves over the Internet.

      • “I’m going against my doctor’s orders”: The story behind your coronavirus-era takeaways

        But their working conditions are putting them in a difficult – and potentially dangerous – position. Most are classed as contractors rather than employees, which means they receive fewer rights from the companies they work for.

        “For food delivery, almost universally, these couriers are not classed as employees so that means they’re not entitled to statutory sick pay,” says Dr Jason Moyer-Lee, general secretary of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain, which represents such workers. This union is legally challenging the government to extend statutory sick pay to such workers, and raise its level to full pay.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • Verizon Is The Only US Wireless Carrier Charging Extra For 5G

        By now we’ve established that while fifth-generation (5G) wireless will result in faster, more resilient networks, the technology has been over-hyped to an almost comical degree. Yes, faster, lower latency networks are a good thing, but 5G is not as paradigm-rattling as most wireless carriers and hardware vendors have led many in the press to believe. 5G is more of a useful evolution than a revolution, but it has become the equivalent of magic pixie dust in tech policy circles, wherein if you simply say “it will lead to faster deployment of 5G!” you’ll immediately add gravitas to your otherwise underwhelming K Street policy pitch.

      • Members of Congress Once Again Urge ICANN to Save Dot Org

        As the proposed sale of the .ORG domain registry to private equity firm Ethos Capital plays out, we see more and more why this sale was rushed through: the longer we have to look at it, the more questions we all have, and the fewer answers we get. For the second time, some of the people questioning the wisdom of this sale are members of the U.S. Congress.

        On March 18, Senators Elizabeth Warren, Ron Wyden, Richard Blumenthal, Edward Markey, and Representative Anna Eshoo sent a new letter [.pdf]  to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), urging, for the second time, that ICANN reject the “private equity takeover of the .ORG registry.”

      • Can the Internet survive covid-19? Will we start having outages?

        “Can the Internet survive covid-19? Will we start having outages? As fragile as the Internet is, it wouldn’t surprise me.” – Logen This is an outstanding question. Let’s sit back, just for a moment, and consider how the Internet really operates. Starting at our home and working… outward. In my home, I have a computer. Which requires fairly infrequent (but not non-existent) levels of maintencence to keep running.

      • Internet Stability in Times of Corona

        Now, in the last few weeks the world has changed quite a bit: a large part of the world is in social quarantine, works from home or is even in complete lockdown due to the Corona pandemic. We are interested to see effects of this in the data collected by RIS. The specific signal that we looked at shows re-configuration activities such as: IP prefixes announcements, withdrawals or changes in origin. One might think that network operators would make fewer changes to their networks or that they have restricted access to data centers which would reduce the number of networks where we see any re-configuration activities.

        To my surprise there is no such signal visible as of writing of this post. The red line in Figure 1 below shows the number of networks (ASes) for which we see any kind of changes in terms of the IPv4 prefixes they announce. In Figure 2 this signal is split out in networks that have specific types of changes (prefixes added, prefixes removed, and origins changed). In both these graphs there is no visible decrease in the number of networks with these types of changes on the right-end of the graph. These were the weeks where more and more countries took social distancing measures to combat Corona spread.

      • It Isn’t Just You: The Internet Is Actually Super-Slow Lately

        According to a new report by Broadband Now, a consumer advocate website that compares U.S. [Internet] service providers (ISPs), many cities are experiencing [Internet] slowdowns during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

        Out of the country’s 200 most populous cities, 88 “have experienced some degree of network degradation over the past week compared to the 10 weeks prior,” according to the report. Three cities “experienced significant degradations, falling out of their ten-week range by more than 40 percent.” Most cities, however, didn’t find their speeds deviate by more than 20 percent.

    • Monopolies

      • Copyrights

        • Please Don’t Sue LeVar Burton for Reading Soothing Stories to Scared Children

          LeVar Burton, the iconic host of the 80′s PBS show for 23 seasons, is trying to figure out how to start a live-streaming storytime online, for children (and adults) stuck inside during the coronavirus isolation and quarantine. To do that, however, he needs to find stories that he won’t get sued for reading.

          On Wednesday, Burton tweeted that he’s considering doing a live-streamed reading of his podcast, LeVar Burton Reads, where he narrates short stories. “I figured that during this difficult time I could contribute by reading aloud to folks who could use some diversion for themselves and their families,” he wrote.

          But he said he’s running into some difficulty finding works he’s even allowed to read. Copyright law is vague about whether reading works live, online, is allowed or not.

        • Anti-Piracy Campaign Against YouTube-Rippers Has Very Little Effect

          In recent months the RIAA has tried its best to remove YouTube-rippers from Google’s search results. While the search engine has deleted thousands of URLs, these actions have very little effect. The targeted sites remain the top results for the top keywords while traffic to the sites, including that from search engines, remains stable as well.

        • Bad Boys For Life Leads Wave of Early Movie Releases Flooding Pirate Sites

          As cinemas around the globe continue their shutdowns in response to the coronavirus pandemic, a number of movies are now enjoying early digital releases. Of course, many of these are also hitting pirate sites, with Bad Boys For Life, Bloodshot and The Gentlemen currently proving most popular with downloaders.

        • Copyright Is Broken: COVID-19 Pandemic Revealing Just How Messed Up Our Permission-Based Culture Is

          Like large parts of the world right now, I’m stuck at home these days, and figuring out how to work and be a distance learning proctor to children. A week and a half into this forced educational experiment, my kid’s kindergarten teacher decided to post a (private) video of her reading a children’s book to the students. Why did it take so long before reading time arrived to distance learning? Copyright, of course. She needed to wait for permission from Random House, apparently, and that also meant that in posting the video to the distance learning platform the school is using, she noted in both text, and prior to reading, “with permission from Random House.”

IRC Proceedings: Friday, March 27, 2020

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:56 am by Needs Sunlight

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#boycottnovell-social log

#techbytes log

Enter the IRC channels now

03.27.20

The Fall of the UPC – Part VIII: Team UPC Celebrates Death, Not Life

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 5:04 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Any dying wish? UPC by next year? Not gonna happen, buddy

Summary: Team UPC plays psychological games now; it is trying to twist or spin its defeat as good news and something to be almost celebrated; it is really as illogical (and pathetic) as that sounds

TEAM UPC is beyond insane. It’s clinically insane. It’s devoid of sanity and reality. That’s the impression one can get by looking at responses to the FCC’s decision, which was handed down last Friday.

In this part we wish to tackle one particular pattern we’ve come across and may come across again in days or weeks to come.

Team UPC didn’t take the decision too well and ad hominem tactics are adopted again, as we’ll note in future parts. It’s not even the first time.

“The UPC itself was a blow to Europe. Team UPC had to lie and cheat a lot to get it as far as it has gotten.”Despite much evidence that European businesses do not want the UPC (lawyers have lied on ‘their behalf’) days ago we saw this is a Big Lie from LexisNexis (in an upcoming ‘webinar’): “How the Collapse of the UPC is a damaging blow to Europe”

No. It is not. The UPC itself was a blow to Europe. Team UPC had to lie and cheat a lot to get it as far as it has gotten. Then, judges (or Justices) assessed the evidence of the lying and cheating, whereupon they did the right thing.

LexisNexis may be a bunch of self-serving liars, but as noted in past years "Reed Tech (a LexisNexis company) ... is the government contractor that carries out the printing of US patents."

It’s just part of the patent ‘printing machine’, even literally.

But that’s just where the ‘fun’ begins…

Move over, LexisNexis, Christian Liedtke over at Watchtroll does necrophilia. “Death at a Funeral – or Birth? Why the German Court’s Decision on the UPC May Not be the End” (say what?)

This was the headline.

Wishful thinking again.

“Team UPC spins the death of something it has long lobbied for as a good thing.”Christian Liedtke says “the coffin to be far from shut. Instead, the UPC may have been given a second lease on life…”

Oh…

OK.

So when something dies it is actually “given a second lease on life…”

Interesting spin you got there, Mr. Liedtke.

I see.

So when something dies it actually comes to life. What are you, a karma or zombie enthusiast?

Team UPC spins the death of something it has long lobbied for — at very great and considerable expense — as a good thing.

If it is, indeed, a “lease on life,” then why are you all bemoaning last week’s decision?

“So even the negative (to them) is suddenly a positive?”After all… “lease on life,” you know?

That’s like a mother saying, “good riddance to my dead kid” because “now I’m going to get pregnant again…”

But Mr. Liedtke wasn’t alone. Oh no…

Charlotte Kilpatrick has just just published “UPC: defeat could be opportunity for growth” (so now they’ll go about flaunting and bragging about how their defeat is actually a Good Thing™).

“Recent setbacks from the UK and Germany could be a starting point for needed reforms, according to in-house counsel,” the summary says.

So even the negative (to them) is suddenly a positive? Make up your minds, will you?

That’s like a failing presidential candidate saying, “it is good that I lost because I learned some lessons and next time I can do better…”

Or, “it’s good at I failed at the sporting event because it gives me something to strive for.”

“Team UPC, please do not bring booze to the funeral. You’re obviously too drunk already.”This infantile kind of thinking is just so typical of Team UPC.

To quote these delusional ones: “Those who have gone into full mourning over this decision, calling it the death knell of the UPC, may find the coffin to be far from shut. Instead, the UPC may have been given a second lease on life, and those with substantive concerns about the UPC may end up wearing the black ribbon in the long run.”

What? No further comment needed. Team UPC, please do not bring booze to the funeral. You’re obviously too drunk already.

Links 27/3/2020: GNU/Linux Versus COVID-19 and Release of GNU Guile 3.0.2

Posted in News Roundup at 4:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Desktop/Laptop

      • Coronavirus: Linux laptops and long hours helped this team switch 4,000 staff to home working

        The laptops were all installed with Linux, a much lighter weight OS. “This worked really well,” says Miller. “The team turned the refresh around in a matter of a few days and were able to get the devices issued by the end of the week. It was an example of local government working at the speed of light.”

        In parallel, the team worked to set up colleagues with remote working tools, while constantly monitoring the system to make sure that it was holding up under the burden of 4,000 employees suddenly logging in remotely. HackIT started figuring out how to bring key services online, such as support forms for residents with COVID-19 or emergency phone lines.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • Linux Drivers Explained

        Linux Drivers Tutorial Let’s go over all the ways Linux drivers get installed in Linux. I will be talking about both the DKMS package and linux-firmware in this tutorial.

      • Brunch with Brent: Aleix Pol | Jupiter Extras 66

        Brent sits down with Aleix Pol, president of KDE e.V., KDE software developer, co-founder of Linux App Summit and Barcelona Free Software. We discuss his longstanding collaborations within the KDE community, developer sponsorships in open source business models, and more.

      • Well, Actually | User Error 88

        The details that make a great distro, things that make us wince, smug people online, great photos, imposter syndrome, and more.

    • Benchmarks

      • A Curious Look At Eight Core Server CPU Performance From Intel Xeon Haswell To AMD EPYC Rome

        When it comes to the AMD EPYC 7002 “Rome” processors we have looked at the various higher-end SKUs since their launch last August up to and including the EPYC 7742 with its 64 cores / 128 threads per socket. But for those wondering about the EPYC 7002 series performance at the bottom end of the spectrum, here are some fun benchmarks of the EPYC 7232P and EPYC 7262 on the near-final Ubuntu 20.04 LTS state compared to various vintages of Intel Xeon CPUs — most notably, a curiosity driven look at the 8 core / 16 thread Intel Haswell Xeon performance.

        The EPYC 7232P comes in at the bottom end of the EPYC spectrum at around $500~509 USD for the retail price as an 8 core / 16 thread Zen 2 server processor. The EPYC 7232P has a 3.1GHz base clock and 3.2GHz boost clock while having a 32MB L3 cache and a 120 Watt TDP. Common EPYC Rome features like the eight channels of DDR4-3200 remain supported with this low-priced EPYC processor.

    • Applications

      • Filelight is an open source disk space analyzer for Linux and Windows

        What do you do when you’re running low on storage space? I run disk cleanup to clear the updates and system files, purge the browser data, and if that doesn’t help I use a program like SpaceSniffer or WizTree.

        That’s on Windows of course. For a cross-platform solution, you can use something like Filelight; this is a KDE application that was officially ported to Windows. The start screen of Filelight displays a circle for each hard drive and partition. The colored part of the ring shows the used space and the white areas indicates the free space on the drive. Mouse over the colors to view the storage information in Gigabytes.

      • 13 Nifty Free Image Viewers

        One of our favorite adages is “A picture is worth a thousand words”. It refers to the notion that a still image can convey a complex idea. Images can portray a lot of information quickly and more efficiently than text. They capture memories, and never let you forget something you want to remember, and refresh it in your memory.

        Images are part of every day internet usage, and are particularly important for social media engagement. A good image viewer is an essential part of any operating system.

        Linux offers a vast collection of open source small utilities that perform functions ranging from the obvious to the bizarre. It is the quality and selection of these tools that help Linux stand out as a productive environment. This is particularly true when it comes to image viewers. There are so many image viewers that are available for Linux that it can make selection difficult.

        From our detailed investigations, we strongly recommend feh if you’re looking for a command-line based viewer. If you insist on a graphical user interface, plump for gThumb and/or QuickViewer. There’s other good free and open source image viewers which we’ve also compared.

      • Get Unsplash Wallpapers on Linux with Fondo Wallpaper App

        Some people change wallpapers on their desktops, phones or other devices more frequently than they change clothes. Finding new wallpapers on the internet is not that difficult. However, you do start to see the same images over and over the more you look. And then it starts to get a little difficult. That’s when many people flock over to Unsplash. Unsplash is a royalty-free photography site, not remotely aimed at providing wallpapers. However, it is a very popular source of wallpapers for many users. Fondo wallpaper app is a new app for Linux that makes it much easier to find and apply wallpapers from Unsplash.

        To be fair, browsing images on Unsplash is by no means a remotely difficult task or a hassle. Similarly, setting an image from your browser as your wallpaper is not that difficult either. But having an app just makes it all so much more fun and cohesive. It’s one of the reasons why wallpaper apps are so popular on smartphones. While on a desktop, browsing the internet and finding wallpapers is not as difficult as on a small phone, an app still provides a much better experience. In case you also use a Windows PC, you should also try these best wallpaper apps for Windows 10.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • A new stable Steam Client update is out with plenty of Linux fixes

        Valve continue to polish the Steam Client with a bunch of recent changes that have been in Beta for a little while now pushed out for everyone. Here’s what’s new.

        On the Linux side, it’s had a lot of cleaning up done. Valve disabled CEF keyring integration by default, which was annoying plenty of people. An issue that caused some Proton enabled games to redownload was solved, Big Picture Mode’s on-screen keyboard should now actually pop up when clicking on text fields with Touch Screen Mode enabled, Steam Overlay should now work for titles that use XInput2 and a client crash was solved while iterating directories.

        We had a few little updates too for the Linux Steam Runtime as it now includes the latest version of libvulkan, Valve has added exports for more WSI functions for Proton and they improved the runtime diagnostic tools.

      • AI War 2: The Spire Rises is a huge expansion to the space RTS out now, plus a big update for everyone

        Arcen Games are continuing to improve and update their massive grand-scale real-time strategy game, AI War 2, with a huge expansion name The Spire Rises out now.

        In addition to some new things to capture, turrets, and other ships that are available in any game once this expansion is installed, there are two major new factions. The Scourge is your greatest foe, the smartest and most dangerous sub-group of the AI. The Fallen Spire is your greatest ally, providing you with unprecedented firepower. You get to mix and match too, having both or neither or even make the Scourge your ally with new customization options.

      • Ant colony sim game ‘Empires of the Undergrowth’ has a huge update and still makes my skin crawl

        Empires of the Undergrowth is a game that makes me freak out, it makes me feel like my skin is crawling with little bugs and all sorts and yet I can’t tear myself away from it whenever I load it up. A game all about managing a colony of ants, in a real-time strategy type of setting with some great visuals.

        It’s been quite a long time since the last major update but Slug Disco Studios have been crazy-busy. They’ve actually been pushing out Beta updates for months with it all coming together in the 0.21 update out now for everyone. One of the biggest behind-the-scenes changes is the movement code, which they said will increase performance a lot allowing more and bigger creatures and the same for maps.

      • Dark narrative RPG ‘Vagrus – The Riven Realms’ has a massive new update with an open-world

        Vagrus – The Riven Realms is one of the most promising game in-development right now, a dark narrative RPG with a supreme style and fantastic writing that continues expanding.

        Currently doing the hybrid Early Access/Crowdfunding ‘Open Access’ model on Fig, so you pledge funds on their campaign and get access right away. I’ve written about it a few times, mainly out of excitement after playing plenty of it and being massively impressed by it.

      • Project Heartbeat is a brand new community-driven rhythm game out in Early Access

        With fast beats and quick finger work needed to hit all the notes, the community-driven rhythm game ‘Project Heartbeat’ is now available with Linux support in Early Access.

      • Sono is a beautiful and relaxing free exploration game now available on Linux

        It’s Friday, things are terrible everywhere so how about a nice casual and relaxing free game? Sono is what you need. Released earlier in March, the developer added a Linux build recently too.

        Quite a relaxing and almost meditative experience, and one that requires very little effort. You control a tiny little organism that you guide through an abstract microcosm collecting lost fragments of sound.

      • Unbeatable is a rhythm-adventure about siblings, creative blocks, and rocking out coming to Linux

        Unbeatable from developer D-Cell Games is an upcoming rhythm-adventure where music summons dangerous monsters and it looks really quite sweet.

        According to the developer it’s a “rhythm-adventure about siblings, creative blocks, and rocking out in a world where music summons dangerous monsters”. You talk your way out of trouble as you explore and fight through arcade-styled rhythm-game action with an original soundtrack by Peak Divide.

      • Soldat 2 returns with a demo available now and it’s just as nuts as I remember

        Soldat 2 was announced recently, as a return to the classic side-scrolling multiplayer shooter currently in development by Transhuman Design and a demo is out now.

      • Valve have a new Beta installer for the Linux Steam Client for the brave tester

        Valve continue to push Linux gaming forward and today they have a new Beta installer available to try for the Steam Client. Currently, it’s aimed at Debian and derivatives (Ubuntu and so on).

        What’s new? It includes “improved distribution compatibility, updated first start dependency checks, updated udev rules..” as mentioned to us on Twitter (original tweet was removed due to wrong link) by Valve contractor Timothee Besset. All of that is quite important of course, especially things like the udev rules to ensure various hardware works with Steam like the Steam Controller, DualShock 4, VR headsets and so on.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • Kubuntu 20.04 Testing Week

          The Kubuntu team is delighted to announce an ‘Ubuntu Testing Week’ from April 2nd to April 8th with other flavors in the Ubuntu family. April 2nd is the beta release of what will become Kubuntu 20.04 and during this week, there will be a freeze on changes to features, the user interface and documentation. Between April 2nd and final release on April 23rd, the Kubuntu team and community will focus on ISO testing, bug reporting, and fixing bugs. Please join the community by downloading the daily ISO image and trying it out, even beginning today.

        • KDE Working On “Plasma Bigscreen” As TV Interface With AI Voice Assistant

          Plasma Bigscreen is a new KDE project aiming to provide a user interface for television screens

          Besides having an UI adapted for TV use, Plasma Bigscreen also incorporates the Mycroft AI voice assistant in aiming to be a robust Smart TV platform. KDE Plasma Bigscreen aims to be innovative, support full voice control, and easy to expand with new “skills” capabilities.

        • KDE Announces a Smart TV Platform That Can Run on Raspberry Pi

          KDE has just announced Plasma Bigscreen, a new project that brings its very own user interface to smart TVs with all the typical bells and whistles that such a device requires, including media-rich apps.

        • KDE Plasma Bigscreen for TVs and TV Boxes Offers a Linux Alternative to Android TV

          KDE Plasma is a desktop environment initially developed for Linux Desktop PC or SBCs, but that’s also available on Linux phones with Plasma Mobile (previously known as Plasma Active).

          The developers have now decided to work on a version for the big screens with Plasma Bigscreen suitable for TVs and TV boxes and offering an open-source, Linux-based alternative o Android TV.

        • Krita Weeky #13 | 4.2.9 released

          So one of the toughest Krita releases is up today. Tough not in the sense there were a lot of regressions to solve but the mountain of build issues faced by the team. The credit of course goes to the new Python release and just like every other hurdle we face, Apple.

          The beta was released a couple of weeks ago and as artists reported it was rock solid. David was upset cause he was unable to crash it even after 20 hours of usage. It brings a ton of bug fixes and a bunch of new stuff, to pick some of them…

      • GNOME Desktop/GTK

        • Meet the GNOMEies: Regina Nkemchor Adejo

          Well, My full name is Regina Nkemchor Adejo, I am a Nigerian. I am a technology enthusiast who transitioned into sciences from an arts background. I currently work as a database and application specialist in a tax organization. I am a YouTube content creator, I create technical videos related to database and Linux administration.

          Most importantly, I love computers! I spend most of my time on them.

    • Distributions

      • Cartesi launches Layer-2 Linux infrastructure for developing blockchain DApps

        The approach taken by Cartesi, is to bring all the tools and capabilities available in a modern operating system (Linux) to the decentralised web. The Cartesi solution provides a legitimate and fully-fledged Linux OS that:

        Enhances the capabilities of decentralised applications
        avoids compromising on the security guarantees of blockchain.

      • Reviews

        • MintBox 3 Review

          This is a very subjective review of the MintBox 3. I say “very subjective” because not only do we get 5% of each sale (that in itself wouldn’t matter all that much), but we absolutely love this unit, the very long partnership we’ve had with Compulab and the fact that this amazing computer is running our software and wears our name.

          No computer is perfect though, we’ll make some criticism, but as an introduction I’d rather warn you. This is by far the best computer we’ve ever played with, it runs Mint and it has our logo on it. It’s hard not to feel any bias.

      • Screenshots/Screencasts

      • SUSE/OpenSUSE

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • Fedora 32 Upgrade Test Day 2020-04-02

          Thursday 2020-04-02 through Monday 2020-04-06, is the Fedora 32 Upgrade Test Day(s)! As part of the preparation for Fedora 32, we need your help to test if everything runs smoothly!

        • Pulling podman images from a container repository

          There are many new changes and additions that have happened to the pull functionality in the podman build command. As of Podman version 1.7.0, which was released in January 2020, the ways that you can pull and how you pull container images during podman build have been changed and added to. Let’s dive in.

        • The 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge takes on COVID-19

          From its inception, Call for Code has tackled society’s most pressing issues. More than a month ago, IBM participated in a health hackathon, and the ideas generated there addressed many of the most pressing needs we face today – from testing kits to drug discovery and supply chain. We were inspired to see what developers could create in just one weekend to help respond to COVID-19. We realized we can and should do more through the amazing ecosystem and infrastructure we’ve created through Call for Code.

          Just last week we announced that the Call for Code Global Challenge would expand to address both climate change and COVID-19, and we’re already receiving overwhelming support and some exciting early ideas. In a single day, we received over 1,000 registrations from developers. First responders, at-risk individuals, and coders are reaching out to us to share their experiences and brainstorm solutions. Together with Creator David Clark Cause and in partnership with United Nations Human Rights and the Linux Foundation, we’re asking developers, data scientists, and problem solvers to answer the Call.

          [...]

          We’ve also published the 2020 Call for Code Challenge climate change starter kits (see here). To help define the specific situations caused by climate change where your innovations could be most helpful, a few weeks ago IBM partnered with the world’s leading humanitarian experts for our kickoff event in Geneva at the historic Palais Wilson, Headquarters of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Together with UN humanitarian experts, and eminent technologists from Red Hat, JP Morgan Chase, Persistent Systems, Unity Technologies, NearForm, and Johnson & Johnson, we collaborated to create our three climate change starter kits.

          Each kit focuses on a key topic — water sustainability, energy sustainability, and disaster resiliency — essential to halting and reversing climate change, and grounded in real-world needs defined by the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. These are the areas where you can have the greatest impact:

        • Red Hat XML language server becomes LemMinX, bringing new release and updated VS Code XML extension

          A new era has begun for Red Hat’s XML language server, which was migrated to the Eclipse Foundation under a new project name: Eclipse LemMinX (a reference to the Lemmings video game). The Eclipse LemMinX project is arguably the most feature-rich XML language server available. Its migration opens more doors for future development and utilization. In addition, shortly after its migration, the Eclipse LemMinX project and Red Hat also released updates: Eclipse LemMinX version 0.11.1 and the Red Hat VS Code XML extension.

        • Building a clear path for maintainers in open source projects

          Nearly everyone who is working on an open source project likely has motives beyond helping others. It can be as straightforward as a personal “I need something to help me do X, and I am willing to work with others to help me achieve that goal.” Or perhaps a company is heavily using the project’s software and the contributor needs to be active as part of their job.

          Regardless of how a person comes to the open source table, it’s very possible that they will find themselves wanting to do more. Again, this could be to help their company make a bigger impact in the project, or something desired out of a sense of personal gain. As community organizers, it’s very important to recognize these needs and foster them, lest you lose a potentially fantastic contributor to your project.

          One path projects can provide to those who want to do more is enabling contributor/commiter permissions, ultimately with an eye towards giving that person more say into the direction of the project through the contributions of others as a maintainer. Setting up a path to maintainership can be very important as a community onboarding best practice, because it says to contributors, this is a goal you can achieve in our community, should you wish to go in this direction.

          A clear maintainer path is a mutual benefit to the other maintainers of the project as well, since a broader distribution of maintainer tasks can help balance workload, reduce the chance of burnout, and introduce greater diversity into the decision-making process. It’s also important to the health of a project long-term. A project that isn’t growing new contributors, committers and maintainers is in danger when its existing maintainers and committers find themselves too busy, changing jobs, or otherwise unable to drive the project with the same commitment they have today.

        • AI/ML A Top Emerging Workload For Red Hat OpenShift

          More organizations are said to be using Red Hat OpenShift as the foundation for building artificial intelligence (AI) and machine-learning (ML) data science workflows and AI-powered intelligent applications.

      • Debian Family

        • Linux Mint releases Linux Mint 4 Debian Edition

          The popular Linux distribution Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu but the developers are maintaining a side-project that bases the Linux distribution on Debian instead.

          There are several reasons for that: first, because it provides them with an option if Ubuntu would no longer be maintained, disappear, or be turned into a commercial application. Second, because it provides Linux Mint developers with an opportunity to test Linux Mint software designed specifically for the distribution using another Linux distribution that is not based on Ubuntu.

          The developers of Linux Mint have released LMDE 4, Linux Mint Debian Edition 4, last week.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • PHP 7.4 Lands For Ubuntu 20.04 LTS

          It shouldn’t come as a big surprise but PHP 7.4 has now landed in Ubuntu 20.04 LTS to replace the existing PHP 7.3 support within the “Focal Fossa” package archive.

          PHP 7.4 released back in November with support for accessing C functions / structs / variables using FFI, Opcache preload functionality, and a variety of other improvements as the annual big update to PHP7.

        • Learn snapcraft by example – multi-app client-server snap

          Over the past few months, we published a number of articles showing how to snap desktop applications written in different languages – Rust, Java, C/C++, and others. In each one of these zero-to-hero guides, we went through a representative snapcraft.yaml file and highlighted the specific bits and pieces developers need to successfully build a snap.

          Today, we want to diverge from this journey and focus on the server side of things. We will give you an overview of a snapcraft.yaml with two interesting components: a) it will have more than one application; typically, snaps come with one application inside b) it will have a simple background service, to which other applications can connect. Let’s have a look.

        • Full Circle Magazine: Full Circle Magazine #155

          This month:
          * Command & Conquer
          * How-To : Python, Ubuntu & Security, and Rawtherapee [NEW!]
          * Graphics : Inkscape
          * Graphics : Krita for Old Photos
          * Linux Loopback: nomadBSD
          * Everyday Ubuntu
          * Review : QNAP NAS
          * Ubuntu Games : Asciiker
          plus: News, My Opinion, The Daily Waddle, Q&A, and more.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • How open source software is fighting COVID-19

        Work is hard right now. COVID-19 makes it a challenge to stay focused and motivated. But it was cathartic for me to do some research into how the open source community is responding to the global pandemic.

        Since the end of January, the community has contributed to thousands of open source repositories that mention coronavirus or COVID-19. These repositories consist of datasets, models, visualizations, web and mobile applications, and more, and the majority are written in JavaScript and Python.

      • This open source ventilator hackathon could help fight the coronavirus

        Infineon engineers developed a 3D printed lung ventilator to help address the shortage of ventilators due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

        The German federal government held a hackathon called #WirvsVirus (“We against the virus”) where 42,000 people met to find solutions to challenges from the coronavirus. Infineon engineers, led by Mahmoud Ismail who has a doctorate in lung mechanics, submitted a 3D print design and a design for the electronics and algorithms to develop and open-source lung ventilator.

      • open source tools to combat pandemic

        Starting April 1st, the Decentralized AI Alliance and partners SingularityNET and Ocean Protocol plan to host an online, not-for-profit hackathon called COVIDathon.

        The goal is to bring together the decentralized artificial intelligence community in an effort to help find solutions to combat the COVID-19 outbreak.

      • 6 Best Self-hosted Open Source Video Conferencing Solutions for Companies And Remote Teams

        Nowadays at the time of the outbreak, many companies adapt to working from home in several countries as a measure to reduce the rate of infection.”Working from home” is the new trend here, Companies like Amazon initiated this strategy for their employees which turned out to be effective.

        Video conferences are essential solutions for companies, especially, with remote employees and companies which taken “Work-from-home” measures.

        Video conferencing is used in several sectors like software development, consultation, digital media, healthcare, logistics and more.

      • 12 Leading Open Source Data Tools

        For any number of reasons, open source software is embraced by data analytics researchers and professionals. This might be because many top researchers work in the education sector, and the emphasis is on cutting costs – hence the attractiveness of an open source free download. Or might be because the same mindset required for the deep exploration of data is similar to the love of software development common among many open source developers. Whatever the case, the data tools on this list are open source leaders as data analytics becomes ever more important.

      • [Older] Top 5 Free and Open Source Inventory Management Systems for Small and Medium-sized Businesses

        Inventory Management Software is a computerized system to manage and keep track of the number of stored goods, serial numbers, barcodes, costs, location…etc

        Inventory management solutions keep track of the goods while moving through the process or stored in the warehouses. This can help in decreasing costs and enhance customer support service.

        In the following list, we take a look at the top free and open source solutions which are suitable for small and medium-sized companies.

      • [Older] 8 Open-source/ Free Text Mining and Text Analysis solutions

        Ever wanted to analyze text documents for documents or articles? There are several tools, web services that provide such services but what about desktop programs?

        So here in this article, we have collected several tools to help you achieve that, and even more, they are free and open-source as well. We will try to list the specific and unique features per item to make it easy for our readers to pick what they need.

      • FSF

        • FSFE

          • FSFE in times of Corona: How a virus affects us

            Among all the serious diseases and deaths it causes, the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its accompanying COVID-19 disease also keep the FSFE and the whole Free Software community in suspense. For our community and other charitable organisations we would share our experiences and lessons learnt from the Corona crisis.

            First of all, we are glad that we can fall back on years of experience with remote collaboration crossing borders and continents. Since its foundation, the FSFE has had its roots in all over Europe, working together with people and organisations in various time zones. Luckily, we are trained to use asynchronous communication tools. But the FSFE as an organisation and community still has to deal with new challenges and serious drawbacks that make our work for Free Software much harder. Your help is needed to balance these!

        • GNU Projects

          • GNU Guile 3.0.2 released

            We are pleased to announce GNU Guile 3.0.2, the second bug-fix release of the new 3.0 stable series! This release represents 22 commits by 8 people since version 3.0.1.

            Among other things, this release fixes a heap corruption bug that could lead to random crashes and a rare garbage collection issue in multi-threaded programs.

          • GCC’s New Static Analysis Capabilities Are Getting Into Shape For GCC 10

            One of many new features in the GCC 10 code compiler releasing in about one month’s time is finally having a built-in static analyzer. This static analyzer can be enabled with the -fanalyzer switch and has been maturing nicely for its initial capabilities in the GNU Compiler Collection 10.

            The static analyzer was added to GCC 10 just back in January with an initial focus on C code. This static analyzer for GCC was spearheaded by GCC’s David Malcolm and was available in patch form a few months prior. This static analyzer isn’t as mature or robust as what’s been built into the likes of LLVM Clang for a while now, but it’s getting there.

        • Licensing/Legal

          • Business Source License Adoption

            The summary is that, many well-known databases that were previously Open Source have either moved to an Open-Core Model and/or changed to Source Available licensing. There are various reasons behind this including refinement of business models and protecting investment in intellectual property. I won’t debate the motivations or merits of such approaches in this article, there are already many other articles out there which do! Instead I will look briefly at one such Source Available license, the Business Source License, and whom has adopted it and how.

      • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

        • Open Data

          • Dutch share decentralised data exchange as open source

            Nuts, an open source, decentralised data exchange solution offering a large-scale trusted chain of custody, is inviting healthcare organisations to join. The project is being tested by hospitals, general practitioners and companies involved in healthcare, and hopes to launch the first version this summer.

      • Programming/Development

        • It’s just a matter of selecting the right search terms

          Once more, I wanted to push a small change to a Git repository to which the owner gave me write access. This repo is currently the only one for me, for which I need to use https as transport protocol and therefore have to enter username and password for each and every push.

          On the other hand, I keep all my valuable credentials in Pass: The Standard Unix Password Manager for a couple of years now. It stores them with strong GPG encryption on my disk, is nicely integrated into Firefox by a plugin and there is also a KDE plasma widget available, created by my fellow KDE developer Daniel Vrátil. So why can’t Git read (I was about to use pull here, but that might be confusing in the context of Git) the credentials from my password store? There must be a way!

          Next, I started reading the documentation about git-credentials which seems to provide all that is needed. Just that pass was not on the list of helpers. Reading the specs, I expected it to be pretty easy to write a small wrapper that solves the issue. But: this sounds like a problem too obvious and to be solved already. So the search began.

          Using all kinds of combinations of git-credentials, pass, password-store and some more I don’t remember, I always ended up on some general Git documentation, but no sign of what I was looking for. So maybe, it really does not exist (oh, I have not consulted the yellow pages) and I have to develop and provide it to the internet community myself.

        • New QML language features in Qt 5.15

          While big changes are on their way for Qt 6.0, QML got some new language features already in 5.15. Read on to to learn about required properties, inline components and nullish coalescing.

        • 6 tricks for developing a work from home schedule

          When you start working from home, one of the first things you might have noticed is that there almost no outside influences on your schedule.

          You probably have meetings—some over team chat and others over video— that you have to attend, but otherwise, there’s nothing requiring you to do anything at any specific time. What you find out pretty quickly, though, is that there’s an invisible influence that sneaks up on you: deadlines.

          This lack of structure fosters procrastination, sometimes willful and other times aimless, followed by frantic sprints to get something done. Learning to mitigate that, along with all the distractions working from home might offer, is often the hardest part of your home-based work.

          Here are a few ways to build in that structure for yourself do you don’t end up feeling like you are falling behind.

        • Booting from an FFS2 filesystem

          Developer Otto Moerbeek (otto@) has been working on support to boot from FFS2. He writes in with the below article, to give us a little insight into the challenges he faced while working on this.

        • Perl/Raku

        • Python

          • mypy: how to use it in my project? Part 3: kick-ass tools that leverage type annotations

            Type annotations are a formalized way to add some extra information about types to your project. Once you get through adding mypy to your project and annotate your code (remember you can do it automatically, at least to some extent) you will find yourself at the ocean of possibilities.

            Interested in good code and even better tests? Check out my upcoming book on the architecture – Implementing the Clean Architecture.
            This post will show the most impressive libraries that leverage type hints that I know.

          • How long did it take you to learn Python?

            Beginners seem to ask this question when they are feeling daunted by the challenge before them. Maybe they are hoping for a helpful answer, but it seems like most answers will just be a jumping off point for feeling bad about their own progress.

            Everyone learns differently. They learn from different sources, at different paces. Suppose you ask this question and someone answers “one month”? Will you feel bad about yourself because you’ve been at it for six weeks? Suppose they say, “ten years”? Now what do you think?

            The question doesn’t even make sense in a way. What do we mean by “learn”? If you can write a number guessing game in Python, have you learned Python? Are we talking about basic familiarity, or deep memorization? Does something have to be second nature, or is it OK if you are still looking through the docs for details? “Learned” is not a binary state. There isn’t a moment where you don’t know Python, and then suddenly you do.

          • Test and Code: 107: Property Based Testing in Python with Hypothesis – Alexander Hultnér

            Hypothesis is the Python tool used for property based testing.
            Hypothesis claims to combine “human understanding of your problem domain with machine intelligence to improve the quality of your testing process while spending less time writing tests.”

            In this episode Alexander Hultnér introduces us to property based testing in Python with Hypothesis.

          • Hidden Markov Model – Implemented from scratch

            The Internet is full of good articles that explain the theory behind the Hidden Markov Model (HMM) well (e.g. 1, 2, 3 and 4) . However, many of these works contain a fair amount of rather advanced mathematical equations. While equations are necessary if one wants to explain the theory, we decided to take it to the next level and create a gentle step by step practical implementation to complement the good work of others.

            In this short series of two articles, we will focus on translating all of the complicated mathematics into code. Our starting point is the document written by Mark Stamp. We will use this paper to define our code (this article) and then use a somewhat peculiar example of “Morning Insanity” to demonstrate its performance in practice.

  • Leftovers

    • Globetrotters legend Fred ‘Curly’ Neal dies at 77

      Neal played in more than 6,000 games in 97 countries for the barnstorming Globetrotters from 1963 to 1985, when the team appeared in numerous televised specials, talk shows, television shows and even cartoons that included the team’s own animated series.

    • Science

    • Education

    • Health/Nutrition

      • As coronavirus spreads, the Russian Orthodox Church stays open and flouts Moscow’s calls to avoid religious sites

        The Russian Orthodox Church says it will not close cathedrals and churches next week in Moscow, during the national holiday called yesterday by President Putin to curb the spread of coronavirus. The church issued this statement in defiance of Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin, who has asked Muscovites to refrain from visiting religious sites next week.

      • The Shit Has Hit the Fan: Shut the Country Down to Save Lives

        Fear the immigrant, Muslims, foreignness, black people protesting, black athletes kneeling during the Anthem, germs, foreign travel to non-Western countries, terrorism, etc., etc. Before 9/11, as a teen in the late 1990s, it was fear of marijuana, public welfare abuse and, as always, inclement weather.

        There is a clear economic driver to sensationalizing fear in the mass media: viewership and advertisement revenue will increase as more of the public watch to ‘learn’ what to fear and how to keep ‘safe’. In this sense, the American public are like people anywhere, albeit, with a different system conditioning them.

        From an evolutionary perspective, reflexive fear may help an animal survive. But acting like a prey animal, with eyes on either side of head to detect approaching predators, is no way to live. For a cornered, frightened rat will do anything their master says to not be crushed underfoot.

      • Amidst Coronavirus, It’s Time to Heal the U.S.’s Domestic and International Reputation

        It is in times of crisis, like the growing coronavirus pandemic, that deep structural inequities and the U.S. government’s mismanagement of funds are starkly revealed. Half of all Americans live paycheck to paycheck. Half a million Americans sleep out on the streets. Thirty million Americans don’t have health insurance. Forty-five million are burdened with $1.6 trillion of student loan debt. I could go on, but the point of these stats is to highlight the fragility of our society and its uncertain ability to weather the human health and economic impacts of crises like the coronavirus.

      • “Our Goal Should Be to Crush the Curve”

        In January 1976, flu broke out among Army recruits training at Fort Dix, New Jersey. Most of the flu, tests revealed, was of a common strain, A-Victoria, but four cases (one of them fatal) proved to be swine flu, similar to the strain that caused the 1918 pandemic that killed half a million people in this country and 50 million worldwide. Swine flu had, in 1976, not been seen in humans for more than a half century, so immunity was almost nonexistent. Further testing at Fort Dix turned up some alarming results — an additional nine cases with as many as 500 recruits who had been exposed to the virus but were asymptomatic. While a vaccine had been developed for A-Victoria and many other flu strains, none existed for swine flu. Public health authorities, led by the Centers for Disease Control, quickly became alarmed.

        The CDC recommended in March that a swine flu vaccine be developed on a crash basis and that every American be vaccinated by fall. President Gerald Ford concurred, and implementation of the plan moved into high gear, with Congress appropriating money for the vaccine and later effectively indemnifying vaccine manufacturers.

      • The Virus Is Our Teacher

        Self-protection means doing what we can to protect—and understand—everyone.

      • The Truth on COVID-19 is Ugly and the Lies are Deadly

        On March 19th, the gutless depravity of failed leadership found a new poster-boy. Republican Senator Richard Burr was found to have sold off his stock in what he knew would be losing value (hotels, travel industry) before the stock market started crashing from the pandemic COVID-19 while simultaneously toeing Donald Trump’s line that everything was fine. He provided warning to his rich constituents, but set the rest of the public up.

      • Desperate Hospitals May Put Two Patients on One Ventilator. That’s Risky.

        Gunshot victims with massive blood loss and failing lungs packed the emergency room of Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas late on the night of Oct. 1, 2017. A man had opened fire on a music festival from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel, spraying more than a thousand rounds of ammunition into the crowd, wounding hundreds.

        The hospital soon ran out of ventilators, machines that breathe for patients who can’t. Dr. Kevin Menes, a critical care physician, had several patients in respiratory failure. Menes remembered that a colleague from his medical residency had studied how to connect multiple people to a single ventilator. When a respiratory therapist said to Menes, “‘We don’t have any more ventilators,’ I said, ‘It’s fine,’” he later recalled. He asked for tubing and began splitting one machine’s oxygen flow into two patients, saving their lives.

      • Big Ag Switching to Vaccines to Woo Meat Eaters Wary of Antibiotics

        The global animal vaccine market is now worth an estimated $7.2 billion, which reflects a rise of $1.7 billion since 2010. One of its leaders is Merck, which currently advertises forty-nine vaccines for poultry—to prevent everything from fowl pox and turkey coryza to salmonella and E. coli—and twenty-five vaccines for cattle. Although vaccines to prevent salmonella, for example, may seem like a positive development, as Rosenberg noted, many vaccines are produced from GMO spores, which a 2018 study in Veterinary Research flagged as cause for “environmental concerns” because the spores have “the potential to survive indefinitely in the environment,” posing “biological containment” problems that the study described as “crucial.”

      • The Kremlin explains why Putin hasn’t declared a state of emergency over coronavirus
      • Russia diagnoses another 182 people with COVID-19, bringing total number of confirmed cases to 840

        In the past day, Russia recorded 182 new coronavirus infections. Health officials have now diagnosed 840 cases across 56 regions of the country. The lion’s share of the new cases (136 patients) was reported in Moscow, bringing the city’s total number of infections to 546. A federal task force has acknowledged two deaths caused by the illness. Both of these patients were senior citizens. 

      • Because Working People ‘Deserve a Rent Holiday as Much as the Cheesecake Factory,’ Demand for Relief Grows

        “We must add a 90-day grace period for those impacted by COVID-19 for rent payments before April 1.”

      • An Often Overlooked Region of India is a Beacon to the World for Taking on the Coronavirus

        K.K. Shailaja is the health minister in the Left Democratic Front government in Kerala, the state in the southwest of India that has a population of 35 million people. On January 25, 2020, she convened a high-level meeting to discuss the outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China. What had particularly worried her is that there were many students from Kerala studying in that province of China. Shailaja had won widespread praise for the swift and efficient way she had steered her department through the Nipah virus that hit Kerala in 2018. She recognized that there was no time to be lost if the virus spread from Wuhan; the government had to set up mechanisms for identifying possibly infected persons, and then for testing, mitigation, and treatment. On January 26, 2020, her department set up a control room to coordinate the work.

      • Black Rock Profits in a Time of Crisis

        With little government support and corporate accountability, humanitarian aid workers are scrambling to address the refugee crisis in the wake of the global pandemic, COVID-19 (coronavirus).

      • A Triage Crisis is Coming, and It’s Personal

        I’m sitting here self-quarantined with my family in our 1738 stone farmhouse just north of Philadelphia. It’s an ancient building that I’m sure has known its share of epidemics over the centuries, including typhus and the deadly 1918 Spanish Flu.

      • As Trump Snubs Restrictions to Contain Coronavirus, New Poll Shows 3 in 4 Americans Back a National Lockdown

        The Morning Consult/Politico poll comes as a top Trump administration health official says of the outbreak, “You don’t make the timeline, the virus makes the timeline.”

      • “In a Week We Will Be Italy,” Says New York ER Doctor About COVID-19 in the US
      • Internal Emails Show How Chaos at the CDC Slowed the Early Response to Coronavirus

        On Feb. 13, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent out an email with what the author described as an “URGENT” call for help.

        The agency was struggling with one of its most important duties: keeping track of Americans suspected of having the novel coronavirus. It had “an ongoing issue” with organizing — and sometimes flat-out losing — forms sent by local agencies about people thought to be infected. The email listed job postings for people who could track or retrieve this paperwork.

      • Cease and Desist

        As Trump’s coronavirus lies and boasts and potentially deadly fictions mount, so does the urge to shut him up. As of Thursday evening, the U.S. had 82,404 cases, the most in the world – a number representing a 22% jump in what his foul administration insists should be called the “Wuhan” virus but which in all historical accuracy should be renamed the Trump Virus, given that, at this rate, there will be 250,000 cases by Easter, when he wants to see all those beautiful, packed, virulently toxic churches. Right now, our mortality rate is 1.4%, but there is virtual consensus among health experts it will get much worse. Still, the lies keep flowing: “The mortality rate, in my opinion, is way down,” “America continues to gain ground,” “nobody knew there’d be a pandemic,” chloroquine will be “available almost immediately” and it won’t kill you, the “LameStream media wants to keep our country closed” to mess with “my election success” but “the real people want to get back to work ASAP,” except for the 75% who say that’s insane, “We have done one hell of a job,” and, “No one has done the job that we have done.” (Well, that one might be true.)

      • During The Outbreak: All Sports Are eSports Now

        The COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the world, and in many cases shutting it down, has become so pervasive so as to even dominate the headlines here at Techdirt. To say the outbreak has altered our way of life would be a massive understatement. Social distancing, shutdown states, stuck in our homes, jobs reduced and gone; this whole thing has become a nightmare.

      • Coronavirus Hospitalization Numbers Are Spotty. Journalists, Help Us Fill in the Gaps.

        Each morning when New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo briefs the media and the public about the status of the coronavirus pandemic in his state, he pays particular attention to two numbers: How many patients with COVID-19 are in the hospital and how many require intensive care.

        “That is the number we watch because that’s the number that are flowing into the health care system,” Cuomo said on March 18, adding that 549 patients were in the hospital as of that morning.

      • Republican Billionaire’s Group Pushes Unproven COVID-19 Treatment Trump Promoted

        A conservative business group founded by a prolific Republican political donor is pressuring the White House to greenlight an unproven COVID-19 treatment, saying in an online petition that the country has plants in the U.S. ready to produce a drug but can’t because of “red tape, regulation, and a dysfunctional healthcare supply chain.”

        In recent days, Home Depot co-founder Bernard Marcus’ Job Creators Network has placed Facebook ads and texted supporters to sign a petition urging President Donald Trump to “CUT RED TAPE” and make an anti-malarial drug called hydroxychloroquine available for treating those sickened with the virus, one such message obtained by ProPublica reads.

      • ‘We Need Medicare for All’: Massive Coronavirus Job Losses Expose Obvious Failure of Employer-Based Insurance

        “3.3 million people just lost their ‘if you like your employer benefits you can keep them’ benefits. Healthcare can never again be tied to employment.”

      • State Governments Step In as Trump Makes Lethal Mistakes in COVID-19 Response

        National and local leaders are responding in dramatically different ways to the current global pandemic, which, if left uncontrolled, could reach a severity not seen since the Spanish Flu of 1918-1919.

      • Truth or Consequences

        As calls ramp up for the nation’s leaders to deal with the coronavirus pandemic as if we were at war, it’s worth remembering the advice Aeschylus, the Greek tragedy playwright, gave nearly 2,500 years ago: “In war, truth is the first casualty.”

      • Do the Deuteronomy
      • Medical Workers Treating Coronavirus Are Resorting to Homemade Masks

        Bryan White leaned in to greet his wife with a kiss on the forehead when she arrived home from a 12-hour shift at Salem Health, an Oregon hospital that’s had 19 confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

        “Nope, you don’t want that,” his wife told him as she rebuffed his kiss.

      • What’s It Like on One of the Only University Campuses Still Open in the U.S.?

        Three Liberty University students, a young man and two women, sat eating lunch on Wednesday afternoon at a small table in the common dining area of the student union on the sprawling campus perched high above Lynchburg, Virginia. They compared notes on the suntans and burns they’d gotten on beaches during spring break last week. They joked about what it would be like to take the college’s gun-range classes remotely. A fourth student with a backpack strolled up to the table to chat with them for a few minutes.

        The young man seated at the table mentioned that he was thinking of going to a Starbucks off campus but wasn’t sure it was safe to do so given the coronavirus raging across the country, which has sickened at least 65,000 people nationwide, more than 400 of them in Virginia and a few of them in Lynchburg.

      • Top CDC Official: Staggering Spike in New York ‘Just a Preview’ of What’s Coming Elsewhere

        “I think what we’re seeing in New York City and New York state right now is a real warning to other areas about what may happen or what may already be starting to happen.”

      • Judgment Day for the National Security State

        The coronavirus and the real threats to American safety and freedom.

      • A Humanist Response, as a Self-Conscious Philosophy, to Pandemics

        On March 13, the Government of India announced that it would cancel all visas until April 15 in an attempt to restrict international travel. The federal government did, however, make exceptions for those with diplomatic passports, work visas, and emergency visas.

      • How Austerity and Anti-Immigrant Politics Left Italy Exposed

        As the viral blitzkrieg rolls across one European border after another, it seems to have a particular enmity for Italy. The country’s death toll has passed China’s, and scenes from its hospitals look like something out of Dante’s imagination.

      • “In a Week We Will Be Italy”: NYC ER Doctor Says the U.S. Pandemic Will Only Get Worse
      • Trump’s State of Denial, Not the Deep State, Kept Us Unprepared for the COVID-19 Pandemic

        President Donald Trump prides himself on being optimistic no matter how dire the situation. That is not necessarily a bad trait; it helps to get by in hard times. But deniability of past or repeated behavior when it results in harm to yourself or others, is not a positive trait. In fact, as president of the USA, it endangers everyone. Trump’s State of Denial has led us to the current horrendous situation of not being as prepared as we could have been for the coronavirus, i.e. COVID-19.

      • What the Government Must Do Now About Coronavirus

        Americans don’t expect much from their government. But even by the standards of a nation with one of the flimsiest social safety nets in the Western world, the inability and unwillingness of both major political parties to manage and solve the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic is shocking.

      • German cathedral dusts off relics of St Corona, patron of epidemics

        Germany’s Aachen Cathedral has dug out the relics of little-known Saint Corona, patron saint of resisting epidemics, from its treasure chamber and is polishing up her elaborate shrine to go on show once the coronavirus pandemic has passed.

        The pandemic, confirmed to have infected nearly half a million people worldwide, including more than 30,000 in Germany, has boosted public interest in the Christian martyr, believed to have been killed by the Romans around 1,800 years ago.

      • Coronavirus: First UK prison Covid-19 death confirmed

        An 84-year-old man has become the first British prisoner to die after contracting coronavirus.

        Edwin Hillier, an inmate at HMP Littlehey – a category C male sex offenders’ prison in Cambridgeshire, died in hospital on Sunday.

        Hillier, a convicted paedophile, reportedly had health issues.

        A second serving UK prisoner, a 66-year-old male inmate at HMP Manchester, died in hospital on Thursday after contracting coronavirus.

        Former school caretaker Hillier, from Hemel Hempstead, was jailed at St Albans Crown Court in 2016 for sexually abusing two girls in the 1970s.

      • 19 inmates from 10 UK prisons test positive for coronavirus

        Nineteen inmates across 10 UK prisons have tested positive for coronavirus, the Ministry of Justice has confirmed.

        It comes after it was announced yesterday that prisons across England and Wales would be shutting down jail visits in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

        A number of prisons have already confirmed cases of COVID-19 as cases soar across the UK and Boris Johnson orders Britons to stay inside.

        However anxiety inside jails over coronavirus continues to grow due to the close proximity of prisoners and fears staff will go off sick with the disease.

        Yesterday the Ministry of Justice confirmed that visitors would no longer be allowed to enter the establishments in an effort to keep staff, inmates and families safe and protect the NHS’s ability to cope with the surge in coronavirus cases.

      • ‘We discuss food banks at school gates like it’s normal’

        Six months after ex-Chancellor Sajid Javid announced an end to austerity, many families still rely on food banks to survive. The BBC’s Chris Vallance has been spending time at a food bank in Oxford, hearing the stories of those who come seeking help.
        She sits in a red plastic chair, at a table covered in a blue and white cloth and she cries. There are freshly cut daffodils in the window, fresh groceries in rows beside her and she is distraught. For 20 minutes, a volunteer at the Community Emergency Foodbank in Oxford listens to her story, takes some of the weight of it from her shoulders, and brings heavy sacks of groceries to carry home to her family.
        In the food bank’s little kitchen I speak to Mary, the volunteer who helped her. “It’s a different story from every person but it’s a similar sort of thing,” she says. “Parents struggling to feed their families, teenagers that are always hungry, looking for food that isn’t there. Sometimes you hear stories that they’ve been living on bread for a few days. They say, ‘I feel a failure, a failure that I can’t feed my children.’”
        Short presentational grey line
        Every Tuesday and Friday between noon and 2pm the food bank sign is wheeled out, outside St Francis church in east Oxford, and people who cannot afford food walk in.
        Sometimes they wait by the door, at other times they walk back and forth while they summon up the courage to enter. They are entitled to three visits a year but the food bank rarely turns people away. Sometimes it’s the job centre or social services that gives them the necessary little blue referral form. Sometimes they are referred by a doctor who can tell they are not eating.
        I have been visiting the food bank since mid-January, on and off, listening to people’s stories.

      • Health minister Hancock tests positive for coronavirus

        Health minister Matt Hancock said on Twitter on Friday he has tested positive for coronavirus and is self-isolating at home with mild symptoms.

        Less than two hours earlier, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that he too had tested positive for the virus.

      • President Trump Is So Upset About This Ad Showing His Failed Handling Of COVID-19 That He’s Demanding It Be Taken Down

        Has no one explained to Donald Trump how the Streisand Effect works yet? His campaign has apparently been sending laughably ridiculous threat letters to various TV stations that have been airing an advertisement put together by a group called Priorities USA, criticizing the President’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. The ad highlights Trump’s repeated statements playing down the virus and insisting that he had things under control, even as the numbers of infected started to rise exponentially. It’s a pretty effective ad. You can see it here.

      • Our Leaders are Terrified. Not of the Virus – of Us

        You can almost smell the fear-laden sweat oozing from the pores of television broadcasts and social media posts as it finally dawns on our political and media establishments what the coronavirus actually means. And I am not talking about the threat posed to our health.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Pseudo-Open Source

          • Privatisation/Privateering

        • Security

          • Security updates for Friday

            Security updates have been issued by Debian (bluez and php5), Fedora (chromium, kernel, and PyYAML), Gentoo (adobe-flash, libvpx, php, qtcore, and unzip), openSUSE (chromium, kernel, and mcpp), Oracle (ipmitool and libvncserver), Red Hat (ipmitool and rh-postgresql10-postgresql), Slackware (kernel), and SUSE (ldns and tomcat6).

          • Unpatched bug in iOS 13.3.1 and later stops VPNs from encrypting all connections

            An ongoing security vulnerability in iPhones and iPads is keeping VPN applications from doing their job. For iOS versions 13.3.1 and later, this bug remains unpatched and has been rated with a 5.3 CVSS v3.1 base score. When a VPN connection is initiated on iOS, all existing internet connections by the operating system and other applications are supposed to be terminated and then restarted inside the VPN app’s encrypted tunnel as a proxy so no third parties are able to see your IP address. The VPN bypass bug in iOS 13.3.1 and later causes some internet connections to continue with their original, unencrypted connection – which is a security and privacy concern. This means that people on the same network could snoop on the unencrypted data stream and the endpoint of the unprotected connections are still able to see your device’s IP address.

          • Microsoft Issues Windows 10 Update Warning

            Picked up by the always-excellent Bleeping Computer and Windows Latest, Microsoft has announced that both its big March 2020 update and a new patch issued to fix buggy antivirus scans within Windows 10 have severe side-effects which users need to know about.

          • FSCRYPT Inline Encryption Revised For Better Encryption Performance On Modern SoCs

            It remains to be seen if it will make it for the upcoming Linux 5.7 kernel merge window, but the FSCRYPT inline encryption functionality has now made it up to its ninth revision for offering better file-system encryption performance on modern mobile SoCs.

            FSCRYPT inline encryption came out at the end of last summer and compared to the existing FSCRYPT file-system encryption/decryption where the work is left to the file-system and Linux’s crypto API, this inline encryption/description shifts the work off to the block layer as part of the bio.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Coronavirus delays the passage of the world’s most important new privacy law

              For obvious and justified reasons, the coronavirus pandemic dominates the news currently. One of the latest developments is that India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has put his entire country on lockdown. Ordering 1.35 billion people to stay indoors is a pretty dramatic move. A side-effect of that lockdown is that one of the most important pieces of privacy legislation, the Personal Data Protection Bill 2019, has been delayed in its passage through the Indian parliament.

            • Can ProctorU Be Trusted With Students’ Personal Data?

              One of the hard lessons that I have learned over my years of practice is that, although some lawyers believe that they can increase the in terrorem effect of a complaint or a demand letter by piling on claims, the net effect of adding silly assertions can be to make things worse for your own client and not better. That may be true as well of the demand letter recently sent by David Vance Lucas of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings on behalf of their client, ProctorU.

            • A Backdoor Is a Backdoor Is a Backdoor

              No matter what you call it, a backdoor is a backdoor. Any method that gives a third-party access to encrypted data creates a major vulnerability that weakens the security of law-abiding citizens and the Internet at large.

              Encryption is essential to security online.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Business as Usual: Coronavirus, Iran and US Sanctions

        Never discount the importance of venality in international relations.  While pandemics should provide the glue for a unified front in response – we keep being told of fighting this horrendous “invisible enemy” – it’s business as usual in other respects.  The United States, with a disparate, confused medical system that risks being overwhelmed, remains committed against that other country floundering in efforts to combat COVID-19: Iran.  Instead of binding the nations, the virus, as with everything else, has served as a political obstacle.

      • As Coronavirus Infections Spread, So Have Clashes Between ICE Detainees and Guards

        As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, so have confrontations between detainees and guards at Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facilities across the country, the latest in Louisiana and Texas.

        The battles come as four people — two correctional officers and two detainees — tested positive for COVID-19 at New Jersey detention facilities.

      • ‘Another Attempted Coup’: US Rebuked for ‘Absurd’ Drug Trafficking Charges Against Venezuela’s Maduro

        “An absurd demonstration of Washington’s gangsterism.”

      • Appeals Court Says No Immunity For Cops Who Shot A Man Standing Motionless With His Hands In The Air

        Federal judges continue to trip over themselves in their hurry to extend qualified immunity to law enforcement officers. No matter how egregious the violation — and how simply wrong it appears to reasonable human beings — cops can usually escape judgment by violating rights in new ways, ensuring there’s no precedent that would make them aware they shouldn’t do things like destroy someone’s house after they’ve been given permission (and a key!) to enter.

      • Norway extradites Islamist preacher to Italy

        Norway announced Thursday that it had extradited a fundamentalist Islamic preacher to Italy, despite the ongoing coronavirus epidemic, where he has been sentenced to jail for leading a jihadist network.

      • Man Who Planned to Bomb Hospital Amid Pandemic Dies in Incident With FBI

        The news comes at a time when counterterrorism experts have warned neo-Nazi extremists adhering to ‘accelerationism’—a hyper violent doctrine among the far-right seeking to hasten the collapse of society through terrorist acts—have discussed using the global coronavirus pandemic to spur the disintegration of vulnerable governments dealing with the crisis.

      • Man Suspected of Planning Attack on Missouri Hospital Is Killed, Officials Say

        Last week, Belton’s mayor issued a stay-at-home order for its residents. Authorities said Mr. Wilson said he felt compelled to act because of the mayor’s order and intended to use a car bomb to cause mass casualties at the hospital.

        The F.B.I. is reviewing the shooting, as is standard anytime agents are involved in shootings.

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • KUOW statement on live White House Coronavirus Task Force briefings

        KUOW weighs each decision about preempting regular programming individually, based on perceived news value in the moment and whether a preemption is of the highest value to our local audience.

        After airing the White House briefings live for two weeks, a pattern of false information and exaggeration increasingly had many at KUOW questioning whether these briefings were in the best service of our mission—to create and serve a more informed public. Of even greater concern was the potential impact of false information on the health and safety of our community.

    • Environment

      • Fast pandemic response could tackle climate crisis

        Societies worldwide are changing overnight to meet the coronavirus threat. The climate crisis should match the rapid pandemic response.

      • Are We Prepared for a Climate Crisis in the Middle of a Pandemic?

        With the need for social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to be discussing how we will handle displaced peoples and limited resources should a climate disaster occur. It is not a matter of if this will occur, but when.

      • Wildlife/Nature

      • Overpopulation

        • The Coronavirus Is Trump’s Latest Excuse to Militarize the Border

          Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has requested the assistance of over 1,500 US military personnel for border enforcement, citing immigrants’ “potential to spread infectious disease,” according to an internal Department of Homeland Security memo obtained exclusively by The Nation.

        • Experts: Trump’s plan to lift coronavirus restrictions by Easter would kill hundreds of thousands

          President Donald Trump’s plan to lift coronavirus restrictions by Easter against the advice of medical experts would result in hundreds of thousands of additional deaths from the new coronavirus, according to a model epidemiologists built for The New York Times.

          Though individual states will make their own calls, Trump says that he wants to ease restrictions intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus and see “packed churches all over our country” on Easter Sunday. But the scientific modeling shows that waiting and continuing closures and restrictions just two additional weeks would save hundreds of thousands of lives. Likewise, keeping restrictions in place for two months could prevent 1 million deaths.

    • Finance

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Government Officials, Corporate Media Spur Fears of “Chaos” in 2020 Election

        Although the joint statement acknowledged that “no evidence of a compromise or disruption to election infrastructure” existed at the time, politicians, pundits, and news outlets have been quick and consistent in pointing fingers towards a broad list of typical foreign threats, as Whitney Webb reported for MintPress News.

      • How China Built a Twitter Propaganda Machine Then Let It Loose on Coronavirus

        Kalen Keegan, a college student at the University of Nebraska Omaha, immediately noticed when her Twitter account unleashed a torrent of posts in Chinese. “My other account got hacked👍🏽,” the soccer player posted on a replacement account. The new author tweeting as @Kalenkayyy had strong views on geopolitics — all aligned with the Chinese Communist Party. It was obsessed with the protests in Hong Kong, offered uncritical praise of the Hong Kong police and accused demonstrators of fomenting a “color revolution” backed by an “anti-Chinese American conspiracy.”

        As the coronavirus outbreak led to a lockdown of Wuhan and its surrounding cities in late January, the Hong Kong posts were suddenly deleted. The account continued to post relentlessly in Chinese, but it now focused on the burgeoning epidemic. About a month later, her Twitter profile began to change in other ways. The reference to her college disappeared and her headshot was replaced by a generic photo of two people kissing. By the end of the week, her Twitter transformation was complete. @Kalenkayyy was now a Chinese propaganda-posting zombie account belonging to someone purportedly named Kalun Tang.

      • Bernie Sanders in the Age of Coronavirus: We Need Him Now More Than Ever

        Does anyone here seriously believe we’d be hearing a loud call for party unity if it were Bernie Sanders leading in the delegate count?

      • Never in Our Lifetimes Has There Been a Call for Compassion Like This

        The time is now for the G20 to help save millions of lives and kick-start the future that humanity needs to hope again. Only a compassionate and collective global response will do.

      • ‘World Leaders Seem in Denial’: Demands for Radical Global Action on Coronavirus as Virtual G20 Summit Ends With Vague Promises

        “Only the most radical reset, akin to a post-world war overhaul of the international economy, will allow us to rebuild the international economy in a way which means we can tackle future pandemics.”

      • Facebook Names Former Treasury Official to Key Board Role

        The social media company and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg have been criticized for Facebook’s corporate structure, in which Zuckerberg has a controlling stake in the company thanks to a special class of super-voting shares. His dominance has been a point of contention for investors who believe Facebook has been irresponsible in the handling users’ personal data, and that Zuckerberg has not been held accountable.

        The board’s lead independent director is supposed to provide oversight of Facebook and Zuckerberg for shareholders.

      • Germany: “Hate-Postings Day”

        Despite the decrease in cases, German authorities nevertheless decided to have not just one, but two action days this year. The first took place on June 6, when German authorities launched coordinated police raids in 13 federal states against suspects who had allegedly posted hate speech online. In a total of 38 cases, homes were searched and suspects interrogated, the Federal Criminal Police Office reported.

      • A staff member in Russia’s government cabinet has reportedly tested positive for COVID-19

        A staff member in Russia’s government cabinet has reportedly tested positive for COVID-19, a source close to the government told Meduza. Another source in the cabinet also confirmed that someone working for the government’s staff is suspected of having contracted coronavirus. 

      • Some Russians are resisting Putin’s power grab

        The spectacle of a “people’s approval” is likely to stretch over several days, requires no minimum turnout or independent verification and will include home and electronic voting. “Putin was too scared to hold a proper referendum so he came up with this fake procedure,” says Mr Navalny. “The Kremlin is desperate to draw us into it, count us up and then declare victory,” he adds. He has refused to participate in it. On March 15th a group of 350 lawyers, intellectuals and journalists signed an open letter warning of a constitutional coup that threatens to plunge the country into a national conflict. Three days later the number of signatures had swelled to 30,000.

      • 80% of coronavirus test kits ‘gifted’ to Czechs by China faulty

        On March 18, as is the case with many of its other quasi charitable acts, Chinese state-run mouthpieces used the verbs “supplied” and “delivered” to give the impression that the communist regime was donating 150,000 portable, rapid COVID-19 test kits to the Czech Republic. In fact, the central European nation’s Health Ministry paid some 14 million crowns (US$546,000) for 100,000 test kits, while the country’s Interior Ministry footed the bill for another 50,000, reported Expats.cz.

        However, Czech news site iROZHLAS on Monday revealed that local healthcare workers have discovered that up to 80 percent of the Chinese kits give false results. During a crisis staff meeting held for the Moravian-Silesian Region by regional hygienist Pavla Svrcinova, the error rate for the test kits was found to be 80 percent, prompting officials to suggest they only be used for those persons who are nearing the end of their quarantine and never previously tested positive.

      • Coronavirus Will Change the World Permanently. Here’s How.

        A crisis on this scale can reorder society in dramatic ways, for better or worse. Here are 34 big thinkers’ predictions for what’s to come.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • Federal health agencies block journalists’ access to COVID-19 experts & information

        The history of restrictions on reporters trying to cover the National Institutes of Health, the FDA, the CDC, the EPA and other federal health agencies has not been researched thoroughly enough, and thus, it’s a story not told often enough or well enough. That’s the opinion of a longtime Washington observer and journalist.

        [...]

        Foxhall is not only critical of restrictive federal policies, but also of journalists and news organizations that are often silent about what’s happening.”I don’t think anything can be more dangerous than something the press will not talk about or does not understand as a danger,” she says. “It’s not ethical journalism to take information in a controlled setting and publish it without telling the public that this information control is going on. You are at high risk of being harmful to public welfare.”

      • Assange denied bail in UK amid pandemic

        WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been denied bail after arguing that his release from a UK prison would mitigate his “high risk” of catching coronavirus.

        The Australian made the application in the Westminster Magistrates Court on Wednesday, with less than 15 people in attendance due to the coronavirus lockdown.

        District Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled that Assange had absconded before and said that Belmarsh prison is following government guidelines to protect detainees with no confirmed virus cases there yet.

      • Campaigners slam ‘dangerous and cruel judgement’ to expose Julian Assange to the coronavirus

        Judge Vanessa Baraitser brushed aside the advice about coronavirus from both of the Prison Officers Association and the Prison Advisory Service and told Julian Assange he would not be bailed on fears that he would contract the virus.

        Assange’s lawyers argued that the virus can spread rapidly in Britain’s overcrowded prisons and that there are already 100 staff off sick with coronavirus symptoms at HMP Belmarsh, the high security prison where Assange is held.

        Yet despite Assange’s already weakened medical condition, including a previously reported lung complaint, the Judge refused to accept that there were fresh grounds for granting bail, even though the Justice Minister is currently reviewing whether remand prisoners like Julian Assange should be released.

        Citing Assange’s previous asylum in the Ecuadorean Embassy as a reason for not granting bail the Judge refused to accept the offer of house arrest and electronic tagging made by the Assange’s QC, Edward Fitzgerald.

        HMP Belmarsh could not even arrange for Assange to be connected by video link for the whole hearing. He was removed to his cell while the proceedings went on without him.

        ‘This is a dangerous and cruel decision’, said WikiLeaks Ambassador Joseph Farrell. ‘Coronavirus will spread in Belmarsh. With 100 Belmarsh staff off ill Julian is already at risk. Visits have been cancelled. He will have no access to friends and family and his time with his legal team will be reduced further. How is anyone supposed to prepare a defence in such conditions’

      • Wikileaks founder Julian Assange denied bail amid coronavirus fears

        Assange had argued that his release from a UK prison while on remand would mitigate the risk of him catching coronavirus.

      • UK: Assange bail application highlights COVID-19 risk to many vulnerable detainees and prisoners

        Ahead of today’s application by Julian Assange’s lawyers calling for bail on the grounds that he is in imminent danger from COVID-19 spreading through the prison population, Massimo Moratti, Amnesty International’s Europe Deputy Director of Research, said

        “In light of the COVID-19 crisis, UK authorities should urgently consider releasing some people who are currently in detention or prison, especially those who are more at risk from the virus. Julian’s Assange’s claim of being vulnerable to COVID-19 must be rigorously examined.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Russia’s government cabinet asks Parliament for the power to declare a national emergency in an epidemic

        The Russian government has drafted legislation that would empower Prime Minister Mikhail Misustin’s cabinet to put the nation on high alert and declare a national emergency in the event of an epidemic. The document is now published on the State Duma’s website.

      • Stay in Your Home—And Stay Angry

        The economy’s turned upside down, people are dying, and we’re all cooped up because the people who are supposed to keep us safe didn’t.

      • The System: Who Rigged It, How We Fix It

        The real divide is between democracy and oligarchy.

      • Release Prisoners Now to Slow Coronavirus’ Spread

        This peril is immediate and pressing. There are 2.2 million Americans locked up at any one time, but over 11 million go through prison or jail gates in any one year.

      • In a Pandemic, Workers Need Sick Leave…Now

        Breathing hurts. The mound of tissues next to the groove you hollow into the couch grows faster than seems possible. Sound and light crash against your skull like hammers, so even binge-watching and reading become painful.

      • Organizing in the Time of Social Distancing

        Now more than ever, we need to make our digital campaigns meaningful.

      • Anti-Abortion Groups Are Using the COVID-19 Outbreak to Stop Abortions

        Officials from anti-abortion organizations asked the Trump administration on Tuesday to take steps to halt abortion access as part of the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.

      • EU Parliament Told Predictive Policing Software Relies On Dirty Data Generated By Corrupt Cops

        Predictive policing efforts continue to expand around the world. Fortunately, so has the criticism. The data witchcraft that expects a bunch of crap data created by biased policing to coalesce into actionable info continues to be touted by those least likely to be negatively affected by it: namely, law enforcement agencies and the government officials that love them.

      • Trump Labor Board Assaults Workers’ Rights

        The NLRB—which consists of unelected political appointees—have the power to postpone such hearings any time they find “good cause.” After a two-week waiting period for a hearing, the scope of the bargaining unit and the eligibility of individual employees to vote in a certification election is subject to litigation. The impact of these new changes puts unions at a major disadvantage since employers now have more time to inundate workers with anti-union propaganda in the lead up to an election.

      • Kolkata man brutally beaten to death by police after he goes out to buy milk amid coronavirus lockdown

        The state police thrashed the man in West Bengal’s Banipur Rajgung area of Howrah district after he went out to buy milk during the 21-day lockdown. He later passed away after the beating. His family has alleged he died of the injuries.

      • Saudi man, 2 Yemeni women arrested for mocking Islamic rites

        A spokesman for police in the holy region of Mecca, Brig Mohammad Al Ghamdi, said authorities had identified those involved in “this criminal act”.

      • No Soap. Broken Sinks. We Will All Pay for Coronavirus Ravaging Prisons

        Make no mistake: These conditions do not affect only those who are incarcerated. The correctional officers and many others who work inside jails and prisons, from medical personnel to maintenance workers, are also at immediate risk. Every night, they go home to their families and communities, where they can transfer the virus. What’s more, many of the over 10.5 million people who enter U.S. jails each year spend only a few days behind bars—before re-entering society.

        The deprivation of basic health and hygiene to anyone who is in the custody of the government is a disturbing violation of human dignity any time. But in a pandemic, violating the practices that are pivotal to “flattening the curve” creates a massive and unjustified burden to the public at large.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • AT&T, Verizon Will Waive Wireless Overage Fees During Pandemic. But You’ll Have To Ask.

        Earlier this month, the biggest U.S. broadband providers announced they’d be dropping usage caps and overage fees during the pandemic in order to provide a little financial relief to home-bound Americans trying to slow the virus’ spread. That’s good, since telecom CEOs, engineers, and leaked documents have all made it clear caps and overage fees on fixed-line networks are little more than the price gouging of captive customers in uncompetitive U.S. broadband markets, and do absolutely nothing to help manage congestion in the age of intelligent networks that can prioritize or deprioritize entire traffic types on the fly.

      • Homebound Workers Are Close to Overwhelming Internet Junctions

        But don’t panic yet: Operators can sidestep major jams and outages by upgrading equipment and adding components at these bottlenecks, according to the company, which likened it to a supermarket hiring more cashiers for busy times.

        “They can add more capacity, which is easily done,” Nokia said. “Networks are handling traffic well — so far.”

        Nokia’s analytics service, dubbed Deepfield, also found a 300% surge in remote-conferencing programs like Zoom and Skype in the U.S. compared with the previous week. Video games, meanwhile, soared 400%.

    • Monopolies

      • Divisional filings at USPTO and EPO ‘legal but evil’

        Generics companies say innovators abuse divisional filing systems to prolong patent life and frustrate their competitors’ freedom to launch

      • 67 Years Ago Today: Jonas Salk Announced The Polio Vaccine… And Did NOT Patent It

        It seems worth noting a historical milestone today. 67 years ago today, March 26, 1953, Dr. Jonas Salk announced the vaccine for polio, and saved millions of lives. And this is notable given the current COVID-19 pandemic we’re all living with. However, at a time when we’re having to be vigilant for giant pharmaceutical companies sneakily trying to game the system to get extra exclusivity, and patent maximalists pushing for extended patent terms as an “incentive” to come up with a vaccine, it’s worth noting the simple fact that he did not patent the vaccine. Indeed, in a TV interview with Edward Murrow, Salk famously said “could you patent the sun?”

      • ‘Big Win’: Caving to Pressure Campaign, Gilead Sciences Relinquishes Monopoly Claim for Promising Coronavirus Treatment

        “There’s no doubt that the prospect of an enormous public backlash is what made the difference.”

      • ‘There’s Never Been More Attention on the Ills of Profit-Motivated Pharmaceutical Production’
      • Coronavirus and IP – Is it time for a reflection about the patent system? Or about the life science first? [Ed: Calling it "life science" means they make up new excuses for having patents on life and nature]

        During my recent attendance at the MIP – Managing Intellectual Property, International Patent Forum 2020 in London early this month, which Daniel Law sponsored, I had the privilege of attending to a session in which the Hon. Mr. Justice Birss, judge of the High Court of Justice for England and Wales, spoke about “Comparison of international IP enforcement”.

      • Patents

        • [Older] China scientists want to patent Gilead drug to treat coronavirus patients

          Scientists in the city at the center of China’s virus outbreak have applied to patent a drug made by U.S. company Gilead Science Inc. to treat the disease, possibly fueling conflict over technology policy that helped trigger Washington’s tariff war with Beijing.

          The government-run Wuhan Institute of Virology said this week it applied for the patent in January along with a military laboratory. An institute statement acknowledged there are “intellectual property barriers” but said it acted to “protect national interests.”

          Granting its own scientists a patent might give the Chinese government leverage in negotiations over paying for the drug. But it also might fuel complaints Beijing abuses its regulatory system to pressure foreign companies to hand over valuable technology.

        • [Older] China Applies for Patent for Drug That Could Fight Coronavirus

          China has applied for a new patent on an experimental Gilead Sciences Inc. drug that its scientists believe might fight the coronavirus.

          It has applied for a patent for the use of the drug, know as remdesivir, to treat the novel coronavirus. The move is a sign that China views Gilead’s therapy as one of the most promising candidates to fight the outbreak that has now claimed almost 500 lives. A patent battle may affect Gilead’s control over the drug in China.

          Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter by clicking on this link, and please send any tips, leads, and stories to virus@time.com.

          While Gilead’s experimental drug isn’t licensed or approved anywhere in the world, it is being rushed into human trials in China on coronavirus patients after showing early signs of being highly effective.

        • Asking AI to explain itself – a problem of sufficiency

          However, development of any market-leading advantage should be done with an awareness of how to protect that investment and retain the advantage. So, can you get a monopoly on your AI’s lucrative invention? This article considers potential hurdles to patent protection and some suggested solutions.

          The IP frameworks are already being tested with respect to AI inventions. At the intergovernmental level, WIPO, on December 13 2019, published an issues paper in calling for submissions on the interaction between AI and IP. At the industry and academic level, the application to the EPO in August 2019 (rejected on December 20) for patents in the name of DABUS, an AI tool relying on a system of deep neural networks.

          Much of the industry and academic (and now patent office) focus has been on whether the patent framework is capable of allowing for an inventor which is not a legal person. Currently, the answer from the EPO, the USPTO, the UKIPO and others is no, but it seems that at some stage, inventorship, or a path to ownership at least, could potentially be solved by granting of limited legal personhood to AI if the policy arguments in favour of AI inventions win out.

        • Why the Western District of Texas could be America’s next top forum

          Managing IP asks in-house and private practice counsel why an increasing number of patent litigators are filing in Alan Albright’s court rather than in the Eastern District of Texas

        • East v west: how to pick your patent battles in Texas [Ed: Patrick Wingrove as cheerleader for patent trolls in Texas]

          In-house and private practice counsel say the Western District of Texas’s promises of efficiency are alluring, but that the breadth of case law in the Eastern District makes it more predictable

        • KEI Letter to Speaker Pelosi Regarding Use of “Other Transaction Authority” (OTA) in Coronavirus Bill to Escape Bayh-Dole Public Interest Safeguards

          On March 23, 2020, Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi regarding a provision in the current draft of the Senate version of the coronavirus funding bill (H.R. 748) that would eliminate accountability in government research and development (R&D) agreements. The draft bill proposes to expand the authority of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to use “Other Transaction Authority” (OTA) for R&D funding agreements. Agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services have asserted that OTA agreements are not subject to the Bayh-Dole Act, and expanding OTA would take away safeguards that are critical to protecting to the public’s investments in biomedical R&D.

        • Gilead’s remdesivir wins orphan drug status for coronavirus

          As expected , the FDA designates Gilead Sciences’ (NASDAQ:GILD) remdesivir an Orphan Drug for the treatment of COVID-19. Among the benefits of Orphan Drug status in the U.S. is a seven-year period of market exclusivity for the indication, if approved.

        • CORONAVIRUS TREATMENT DEVELOPED BY GILEAD SCIENCES GRANTED “RARE DISEASE” STATUS, POTENTIALLY LIMITING AFFORDABILITY

          ON MONDAY AFTERNOON, the Food and Drug Administration granted Gilead Sciences “orphan” drug status for its antiviral drug, remdesivir. The designation allows the pharmaceutical company to profit exclusively for seven years from the product, which is one of dozens being tested as a possible treatment for Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

          Experts warn that the designation, reserved for treating “rare diseases,” could block supplies of the antiviral medication from generic drug manufacturers and provide a lucrative windfall for Gilead Sciences, which maintains close ties with President Donald Trump’s task force for controlling the coronavirus crisis. Joe Grogan, who serves on the White House coronavirus task force, lobbied for Gilead from 2011 to 2017 on issues including the pricing of pharmaceuticals.

        • Software Patents

          • Supreme Court Rejects 3 Alice Patent Appeals

            The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected three appeals calling for more clarification on what is and isn’t eligible for patents under the high court’s Alice ruling, despite warnings that refusing to resolve the uncertainty will lead to “staggering consequences.”

            A few months after denying numerous cases that sought to provide more clarity concerning patent eligibility standards, the justices turned down a new batch of appeals on the same issue.

            Here is a look at some of the cases the high court turned down.

            Reese v. Sprint

      • Copyrights

        • ‘Hellboy’ Must Explain Calculation For the $270,000 Piracy Damages Claim

          The makers of the movie ‘Hellboy’ recently asked for $270,000 in piracy damages against the operator of the now-defunct torrent site MKVCage. While the accused man didn’t put up a defense, U.S. Magistrate Judge Kenneth Mansfield recommended denying the request, as it’s unclear how the movie company ended up at this figure. As a result, Hellboy must go back to the drawing board.

        • Anti-Piracy Chief: Pirated Content is Now Harder to Find in Search Engines

          An anti-piracy memorandum aimed at removing allegedly-infringing content from search engines is beginning to have an effect in Russia. That’s according to the chief of the Internet Video Association, an anti-piracy group representing the interests of numerous licensed online video distribution platforms.

        • RIAA Realizes It Sued Charter Over A Bunch Of Songs It Doesn’t Hold The Copyrights For

          It’s been a year since the RIAA sued Charter Communications, using the same strategy it had used against smaller ISPs Cox and Grande Communications — that the DMCA actually requires internet access providers to completely kick users off upon the receipt of multiple (unproven) claims of copyright infringement. The RIAA has been plotting out this strategy for the better part of a decade.

When Your ‘Business’ is Just ‘Patent Portfolio’

Posted in Patents at 8:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Can't think of a business model... But I'll figure something out

Summary: Hoarding loads of patents may seem impressive, but eating them to survive is impossible if not impermissible

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