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Links 22/4/2020: Linux Lite, Debian GNU/Linux Removing Old Drivers

  • GNU/Linux

    • Desktop/Laptop

      • Raspberry Pi 4: Chronicling the Desktop Experience – Firefox Revisited – Week 26

          This is a weekly blog about the Raspberry Pi 4 (“RPI4”), the latest product in the popular Raspberry Pi range of computers.

        I’ve previously examined web browsing on the RPI4 on two occasions. In Week 4, I recommended Chromium and Vivaldi as the web browsers that offer the best surfing experience on this tiny machine. Chromium has the big draw of official Raspbian support and it’s published under an open source license. Vivaldi is no-charge proprietary software, but still a competent alternative. Firefox couldn’t be recommended as the Raspbian repositories hosted a horribly outdated version.

        I re-examined the position in Week 18, as the Raspbian repositories then offered a significant upgrade to Firefox. I still wasn’t able to recommend Firefox. It wasn’t stable on my system.

        But when it comes to Firefox, I’m like a dog with a bone. In the past month, there’s been a couple of further version updates released to the Raspbian repositories. I couldn’t resist devoting a further week’s blog to the latest Raspbian package, which offers version 68.7.0esr.

      • Arm Development For The Office: Unboxing an Ampere eMag Workstation

        Avantek offers the system with three optional graphics cards: AMD FirePro W2100, a Radeon Pro WX 5100, and the NVIDIA Quadro GV100. OS options are variants of Linux: Ubuntu, CentOS, SUSE SLES, and openSUSE

    • Server

      • AWS rolls out 'Linux 2 Ready' scheme to lure penguins into using its homegrown distro

          It was introduced in December 2017 and is currently an LTS (Long Term Support) release, with support until June 30 2023. There is provision for “rapidly evolving technologies” too, but these come via an extras channel that is not covered by LTS.

        The company is a little mysterious about the source code for Amazon Linux 2. “Currently we do not have any public repos for Amazon Linux Kernel code. But you can get it from the source rpm,” said an Amazon employee. So it is possible to get the kernel source, but the AWS approach is not a collaborative one. The operating system seems to be based on Red Hat CentOS 7. The FAQ states that the “yumdownloader --source tool in Amazon Linux 2 provides source code access for many components,” – "many," note, but not all. AWS offers several varieties of Linux 2 machine images, optimised for different purposes.

      • Linux housekeeping: Virtual machine storage sprawl

        In this final entry of my three-part mini-series focusing on Linux housekeeping, I cover virtual machine storage sprawl. Upon first glance, you might believe that virtual machine storage sprawl is the same problem as virtual machine sprawl, but it isn't. Sure, it's related, but there are key differences. Virtual machine (VM) sprawl is the problem of creating virtual machines and then never decommissioning them. They're created for whatever reason and then left to linger for undetermined amounts of time until an angry sysadmin decides to burn everyone's eyes with a white-hot email describing the issue in painful detail. VM storage sprawl is the copying, storing, and ignoring of VM disk images on shared spaces such as public drives or random network shares. Now it's a housekeeping problem. And, specifically, a Linux sysadmin problem.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • mintCast 333 – Half of the Beast

        First up, in our Wanderings, I fiddle with audio equipment, Tony Hughes reinstalls Mint, Moss fights with a giant pickup truck, Tony Watts streams live-ish, Bo makes sense of OPNsense, and Joe blends with Blender.

      • Focal Focus | LINUX Unplugged 350

        The latest Ubuntu LTS is here, but does it live up to the hype? And how practical are the new ZFS features? We dig into the performance, security, and stability of Focal Fossa.

        Plus our thoughts on the new KWin fork, if Bleachbit is safe, and a quick Fedora update.

      • This Week in Linux 100: Inkscape, KWinFT Fork, PulseAudio + Bluetooth, Pop!_OS Beta, Umix OS & More!

        On this episode of This Week in Linux, we have a lot of interesting news to cover including some Application News from Inkscape and a command-line search tool called “fd”. We’ve also got some Distro News from Ubuntu, PopOS, and Umix OS. We’ll cover a really cool tip that was shared on the r/linux subreddit this week related to Bluetooth and PulseAudio. We’ve also got a really interesting new fork in the KDE world because theres a new project that is a fork of KWin. Oh yea, I almost forgot to mention . . . this episode 100! of This Week in Linux! and so as a special bonus . . . I recorded this episode LIVE on YouTube! All that and much more on Your Weekly Source for Linux GNews!

      • How to Get More Comfortable with Linux than Windows or Mac
      • My favorite Krita keyboard shortcuts

        And here is a new video where I'm sharing eight keyboard shortcuts from my favorites; some of them are set by default, some other require the user to assign them manually. I'm showing how to setup them and speak why they became important for my workflow. This video exists to show to other user the flexibility of the custom keyboard shortcut and give them idea to visit this part of the software.

      • tryexceptpass: Episode 8 - Microservices Cheat-Sheet: Answers to 8 Common Questions

        The majority of enterprises are either running in a microservices environment or studying how to do so. The concept has been around for a while, but used a lot like an industry term that means different things to different people. We’ll try to define the concept and some of the terminology used along with it.

    • Kernel Space

      • Dell XPS 7390 Intel Ice Lake Performance Hit Hard By A Linux Kernel Regression

        At the beginning of the month I wrote about the Dell XPS with Core i7 1065G7 Ice Lake running much slower when upgrading to the development release of Ubuntu 20.04 LTS from 19.10. It turns out the performance hit is due to an upstream kernel regression that's thrashing the performance.

      • What’s new for NFS in Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel Release 6?

        UEK R6 is based on the upstream long-term stable Linux kernel v5.4, and introduces many new features compared to the previous version UEK R5, which is based on the upstream stable Linux kernel v4.14.

        In this blog, we look at what has been improved in the UEK R6 NFS client & server implementations.

        Server-side Copy (NFSv4.2 clients & servers) UEK R6 adds initial experimental support for parts of the NFSv4.2 server-side copy (SSC) mechanism.

      • Practical usage of timer counters in Linux, illustrated on Microchip platforms

        Virtually all micro-controllers and micro-processors provide some form of timer counters. In the context of Linux, they are always used for kernel timers, but they can also sometimes be used for PWMs, or input capture devices able to measure external signals such as rotary encoders. In this blog post, we would like to illustrate how Linux can take advantage of such timer counters, by taking the example of the Microchip Timer Counter Block, and depict how its various features fit into existing Linux kernel subsystems.

      • Yocto Project 3.1 LTS (Dunfell 23.0.0)

        We are pleased to announce the Yocto Project 3.1 (dunfell-23.0.0) LTS Release and is now available for download.

        A gpg signed version of the release notes is available at:

        Full Test Report:

        Thank you for everyone's contributions to this release.

    • Applications

      • OnlyOffice 5.5 Released with Multi-Window Support, Other Misc Improvements

          OnlyOffice Desktop Editors 5.5 also features a bunch of not-quite-so-cool sounding tweaks, like the ability to set mirror/gutter margins, add captions to images, tables, etc in the document editor; add shapes and placeholder images in the presentation tool; and use custom sorting options in the spreadsheet application.

        List options (e.g., bullet, ordered) are expanded across all three apps. You can now control bullet size and colour, set different bullet shapes/characters, and organise multi-level lists.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Valve’s Proton Continues To Increase The Number Of Titles That Can Be Played On Linux

        A society grows great when they plant trees whose shade they’ll never enjoy, or something to that effect. I’m a bit out of date on my navel-gazing quotes from centuries past, but the general idea is very much there: do things for everyone and you’re set, right?

        That seems to be the general idea behind Valve’s Proton which has grown in leaps and bounds in 2019, and the markings continue to climb as more and more titles become fully playable thanks to Valve’s Proton, with help from various other development firms such as Google.

        The idea is generally that titles are primarily made for Windows, locking them into a type of PC exclusivity platform. This isn’t necessarily because Windows is a fantastic environment (far from it, all things considered) but because they were first on the scene when computing was just taking off. Now we get to sit through more software as a service (SaaS) as our operating systems now require a new purchase everytime you shift components within your PC.

      • Linux gaming has a chance! - Valve's Proton project brings 6,500 playable games to Linux OS

        When you think of PC gaming, Microsoft Windows is the number 1 contender. Pretty much every PC game ever created runs on Windows OS, Mac is a bit trickier but some games are compatible on MacOS systems. But the kind of black sheep at the moment is Linux, whilst it is certainly a popular operating system, it’s also the one that requires a lot more work and effort to try and get games not native to Linux running in a stable way.

        2 years ago Valve released their Proton project, a functionality set within their Steam Play feature, that essentially acted as a modified version of Wine and allowed the compatibility of games on Linux operating systems.

        When it comes to gaming on Linux operating systems, if a title isn’t native to Linux then there’s usually some work that needs to be done in order to get the game running. Since it requires a bit more technical work, compatibility is split into tiers: Borked means the game either won’t start or is unplayable, Bronze means that there are often crashes or issues that prevent you from having a comfortable gaming experience, Silver means it runs with minor issues and is generally playable, Gold means it runs perfectly fine after some tweaks, and finally Platinum means it runs perfectly out of the box (no tweaks are necessary).

      • Gaming On Linux: Over 6,000 Windows Games Work Perfectly, Thanks To Proton
        Gaming is one of the genres that has been significantly attracting more userbase and Windows users for a long time. Even though Linux is so far behind in the race, it has picked up pace in the last few years. Special thanks to Proton, which has completely changed the scenario of gaming on Linux by bringing out-of-the-box support for Windows games.

        If you don’t know, Proton is Valve’s combined solution forked out from Wine with additional patches and libraries like DXVK (implementation of DirectX Over Vulkan). Proton provides easy-to-setup and run Microsoft’s Windows compatible software on a Linux-based operating system. Speaking of games, Proton has brought about 6000 games to Linux in the last two years, as per the latest blog by the Boiling Steam.

      • Steam Proton has opened the gaming floodgates for Linux users
        The Linux (or GNU/Linux) operating system has always been promoted not only as a free (of monetary costs) alternative to the likes of Windows or macOS, it is also praised for its security, privacy, and adaptability to all kinds of devices and use cases. Despite those strengths, it retains an almost fractional slice of the consumer desktop market for various reasons. One of the most cited reason is having no access to the most popular PC games in the market. Almost two years ago, Valve released its Proton tool for Steam and it has had a tremendous though mostly unpublicized effect on the Linux gaming market.

    • Distributions

      • New Releases

        • Ubuntu 20.04-based Linux Lite 5.0 RC1 is here to replace Windows on your PC
          Windows 7 and Windows 10 aren't bad operating systems. In fact, they are both quite good. Unfortunately, since Windows 7 is no longer supported, some of its users are stuck in a conundrum. They have to decide whether to use an unsupported Windows 7 or upgrade to Windows 10 that is full of telemetry and other "spying" that passes their information to Microsoft's servers.

          Well, I am happy to say there is another option -- switch to Linux. Yes, modern Linux-based operating systems will be supported (unlike Windows 7) and most will run great on aging hardware (unlike Windows 10). Linux Lite is one of the best Linux distributions for Windows-switchers, as it is lightweight, modern, and familiar. Today, the first release candidate of Linux Lite 5.0 becomes available, and it is based on the bleeding-edge Ubuntu 20.04. It even comes with modern software, such as Linux kernel 5.4.0, Gimp 2.10.18, Thunderbird 68.7.0, Firefox 75.0, and VLC 3.0.9.

        • Linux Lite 5.0 Promises UEFI Support, Will Be Based on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS

            Based on the soon-to-be-released Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (Focal Fossa) operating system, Linux Lite 5.0’s biggest new feature is out-of-the-box support for UEFI computers.

          This means you can now run Linux Lite on Secure Boot PCs. However, the developer recommends you disable Secure Boot before installing the distribution because “it’s a huge hassle to have it enabled.”

          This release also brings a new Integrity Check feature that will ensure your computer is in good state. The checking is done during boot and can be canceled using the Crtl+C keyboard shortcut.

          Moreover, the GUFW firewall app was replaced with FireWallD, which looks to be more configurable. Also replaced is the Leafpad app, as Mousepad is now the default text editor.

      • SUSE/OpenSUSE

        • Staying connected during COVID-19 – A note to our SUSE Manager community

          Within a few weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic drastically affected businesses around the world. With IT workforces working from home, it has put businesses in front of big challenges. Now more than ever, remote management of your IT infrastructure is paramount to ensure business continuity. In order to continue your business as smoothly as possible, SUSE helps your IT administration teams by ensuring stability of SUSE Manager environments facing the end of life as well as by providing you with free evaluation subscriptions and easy to access documentation if you want to implement SUSE Manager to re-gain control over your IT infrastructure while working from home.

        • Managing Linux in the Cloud with SUSE Manager 4

          Cloud environments grow organically and often include a dizzying combination of virtual, bare metal and container-based systems. If cloud computing is part of your Linux landscape, you’ll save time and money with a single tool for managing all your Linux resources. SUSE€® Manager 4 is a versatile Linux management tool built for the cloud.

        • VMware ESXi 6.7 + SUSE Enterprise Storage = Certified
        • Highlights of YaST Development Sprint 97

          Once most of the features that were planned for SUSE 15 SP2 and openSUSE 15.2 are ready, the team is shifting its focus to SP3 and 15.3. Of course, we are still polishing the releases around the corner, so in the summary of this sprint, you can find a mixture of bug fixes, small features, and preparation for the future work.

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • Initial Benchmarks Of Fedora 32 Linux Performance

            Fedora 32 isn't making it out this week due to last minute blocker bugs but should hopefully surface next week. In any case, here are some initial benchmarks looking at the performance of Fedora 32 in its effectively final state compared to Fedora 31 for seeing how the performance has shifted with its plethora of updates.

          For this first round of Fedora 32 benchmarking are tests compared to Fedora 31 -- both out-of-the-box on a clean install and then again with all available updates applied considering Fedora more liberally ships kernel updates and other packages bumping versions than other more conservative distributions like Ubuntu.

        • Supporting Red Hat partners in a changing world

          With the reimagined Red Hat Summit Virtual Experience next week, we have created new ways for partners to connect with Red Hatters and each other, tune into keynotes and experience product demonstrations - all in a free virtual environment. That includes the North America Partner Experience, formerly known as the North America Partner Conference, which provides an opportunity for our partners to connect with each other, network with industry thought leaders and learn about the latest updates from Red Hat.

          I joined Red Hat last month, in part, because of its commitment to the open source way, built on a foundation of collaboration and engagement. It was immediately evident to me that this is especially true within our partner ecosystem. Our partners are uniquely positioned to support customers in new and impactful ways today and well into the future. Red Hat is here to help, and to support our partner ecosystem right now, we’re offering some new tools and resources.

        • Red Hat Delivers Force Multiplier for Enterprise IT with Enhanced Intelligent Monitoring, Unveils Latest Version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8

          Red Hat, Inc., the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, announced the general availability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.2, the latest version of the world’s leading enterprise Linux platform and the foundation for Red Hat’s hybrid cloud portfolio. To help better address the IT challenges presented by shifting global dynamics, Red Hat believes that the operating system should do more than “just work;” it should help stabilize operations today with the capacity to support and embrace innovation later.

          “Building servers that are tuned, ready-to-go and more secure from day one is a key need for our IT organization. Red Hat Enterprise Linux with Red Hat Insights gives us this capacity, enabling us to deploy servers that are immediately usable and meet our specific needs as they go live” Steve Shortplatforms manager, UNIX, Kingfisher PLC

        • Optimizing RHEL 8 to run the Java implementation of the Minecraft server

          As we all find ourselves at home these days many of our kids have requested help with gaming. Minecraft is a common game, loved by millions, played by kids of all ages, and a good teaching tool for how one can optimize the Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) platform for hosting.

          For those who are not familiar with it, Minecraft is a client-server game, meaning clients can connect to a Minecraft server to share the experience with other gamers.

          This post will go through a number of performance optimizations you can configure in RHEL to make your Minecraft Server experience the best it can be. There are a few architectural flavors of Minecraft; I will focus on the Java implementation of the Minecraft server on RHEL 8. Note that this is only compatible with the Minecraft: Java Edition client.

          I will break down the performance optimizations into five key areas: Operating system, disk I/O, memory, Java and Kernel security mitigations.

      • Debian Family

        • Debian’s Decision to Drop Old Drivers has Upset Vintage Hardware Users
          It is always a tough decision to drop support for older hardware for the latest Linux distribution releases. Just like Ubuntu decided to drop support for 32-bit systems, Debian’s X Strike Force (XFS) team decided to drop a list of input and video drivers.

        • Debian GNU/Linux Removing Old Drivers: End Of Vintage Hardware?

            The headline may look like clickbait but don’t judge me before reading the whole article. Earlier this month, the Debian team named “X Strike Force” (it maintains packages for the X Window System) decided to pull out a number of old drivers from the Debian repository.

          For instance, the r128 driver for more than 20 years old ATI Rage video cards. Among the other drivers are those for Mach 64, Savage, Silicon Motion, SiS, Trident, and input drivers for Elo touchscreens, MuTouch. As per the mailing list, the reasons for dropping the old input and video drivers were either “unmaintained upstream or of no value to the distribution.”

        • This Raspberry Pi OS is a nostalgic throwback to Windows XP

          If you're missing the grassy fields and blue skies of Windows XP, you can put an operating system onto your Raspberry Pi 4 inspired by the classic Windows operating system (OS). The OS is called Linux Raspbian XP Professional, and it has a working Start Menu, search bar, and menus and icons inspired by Windows XP (via Tom's Hardware). The Raspberry Pi 4 is the only Raspberry Pi model powerful enough to run the OS.

          The OS is an XP overlay, so it can't run Windows XP applications natively, but there are several emulators that let you use Windows apps on Raspbian. Linux Raspbian XP Professional has some emulation platforms preloaded, including BOX86.

        • Give your Raspberry Pi a retro Windows makeover with Linux RaspbianXP Professional and Linux Raspbian95


          For its size and price, the Raspberry Pi 4 is a pretty powerful computer. Sure, it’s not quite the complete desktop alternative the Raspberry Pi Foundation suggested it was at launch, but then it does only cost $35 and will handle most of what you can throw at it, provided you don’t set your sights too high.

          If you’ve ever wished the Pi could run an older version of Windows, such as XP, or even Windows 95, then we’ve got some great news for you.

        • SparkyLinux 2020.03 - Strike that flint real good

          SparkyLinux 2020.03 isn't much different from its 2013 sibling, my last encounter with the distro. The same good points and woes apply. The distro is perfectly functional, but it's also boring, listless and rife with small problems all over the place, including a dejectedly unappealing default looks. It's stable and super-fast and battery life is phenomenal. Strong selling points. The basics also work.

          Then, you need to work hard to have a presentable system that goes beyond these basics. In the end, you can accomplish the tasks, but you need to do things in a convoluted way. Like APTus. Or the whole missing fonts, icons thingie. It's like going to a restaurant, and then the chef asks you to stir the pot a little, and do the last 17 minutes of the dish preparation yourself. Sounds like an unnecessarily strenuous activity. I would say SparkyLinux is an okay distro, but could be great if it took pride and care. Just like seven years ago, and what worries me is that this won't ever really change. On its own 5.5/10 or so, but it could be much higher. Worth testing, but there are livelier Debian-based offerings out there.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • 2004 to 20.04 LTS: 16 years of Ubuntu mascots

            Creating a new release of Ubuntu is always a complex undertaking. At Canonical, delivering Ubuntu is our core mission, and each new version represents the culmination of months of effort from colleagues throughout our organisation – not to mention the contributions from our wider, open source community. And as our Bionic Beavers and Trusty Tahrs race towards their release dates, one of the final steps is to bring them to life with a mascot.

          Each release is given an alliterative, animal codename – such as Dapper Drake, Precise Pangolin, and Maverick Meerkat. With Ubuntu 20.04 LTS imminent and Focal Fossa ready to be released, we caught up with Marcus Haslam, Head of Brand, to learn how he and his team consistently transform these unusual codenames into iconic Ubuntu mascots.

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

        • Ubuntu 20.04 LTS Focal Fossa Release Time[Local Times]

          Ubuntu 19.10 Release Time: We all are well aware of the date of the release of the upcoming Long Term Support Ubuntu, the Ubuntu 20.04 code named Focal Fossa. The date is set to April 23, 2020. The day has arrived but wondering about the time of release? Check out the following information. Usually, there will be a gathering party by the members of the Canonical, and they release the latest ones during the party. With Eoan Ermine(Ubuntu 19.10)Ubuntu UK(members of Canonical) hosted a Release Party in London that evening from 6.00 pm to 11.00 pm BST(British Standard Time). However, due to the Pandemic situation, we are not sure how Canonical is setting up the release of Ubuntu 20.04, but we are expecting that it will be different from the usual releases and it is not sure.

          The following are the Local Time zone information of the release of Ubuntu 20.04 in various countries. However, due to the unforeseen situations, the information provided is tentative!

        • The Fridge: Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 627

          Welcome to the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter, Issue 627 for the week of April 12 – 18, 2020. The full version of this issue is available here.

        • Kubernetes: a secure, flexible and automated edge for IoT developers

          Cloud native software such as containers and Kubernetes and IoT/edge are playing a prominent role in the digital transformation of enterprise organisations. They are particularly critical to DevOps teams that are focused on faster software releases and more efficient IT operations through collaboration and automation. Most cloud native software is open source which broadens the developer pool contributing and customising the software. This has led to streamlined versions of Kubernetes with low footprints which are suited for IoT/edge workloads.

        • A guide to a successful OpenStack adoption and deployment

          OpenStack is one of the most active open source projects in the world. It is an essential component of private cloud infrastructure for countless businesses, and over the last few years, it has evolved to become the de-facto standard for implementing cloud computing platforms. Yet despite its popularity, many organisations still struggle with their OpenStack implementations.

          Lack of resources, knowledge, experience, or tools can all stand in the way of a successful OpenStack deployment — but businesses can overcome these challenges by following a proven adoption process. Canonical provides consulting and tools to assist organisations at each stage of implementation and operation, taking all the complexity out of OpenStack deployment.

        • Mark Shuttleworth in 2016: 'Ubuntu keeps GNU/Linux relevant'

          Back in April of 2016 I held a short email interview with the founder and head honcho of Canonical, Mark Shuttleworth. I am re-publishing it here, at The Lunduke Journal, as… well… I find the answers… interesting. And worth preserving. This is certainly not a hard-hitting, no-holds-barred sort of interview. Just a casual chat to hear about Ubuntu from the guy that started it and hopefully, in the process, let us all get to know him a little better.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Saving the planet with open source

          Our dear ole' Earth is breathing a heavy sigh as of late, and April 22 is the day we humans have designated for celebrating our home on the planet.

        Let's talk about ways we can observe, conserve, reuse, and repurpose with open source. And, let's end with two stories about refreshing an older system and saving energy at home with low-tech solutions.

      • Web Browsers

        • Chromium

          • Vivaldi 3.0 Released with Built-in Tracker Blocker, Status Bar Clock + More
            Vivaldi 3.0 for Windows, Mac and Linux systems introduces new tracker blocking tech. The feature is built in partnership with the DuckDuckGo search engine and is utilises the company’s Tracker Radar to populate and maintain a block-list of especially egregious web-habit voyeurs.

            “Now more than ever, humanity needs an internet that’s well-functioning and open but also private and secure. With the new Vivaldi, users can browse with its wealth of features freely and efficiently without being tracked online,” says Jon von Tetzchner, CEO and co-founder, Vivaldi.

          • Vivaldi for Android Hits Stable, Works on Chromebooks Too
          • Vivaldi 3.0 Brings New Tracker and Ad Blockers, Faster Navigation and a Clock


            While Vivaldi is still not open source, it’s getting better and better with each release, convincing more and more users to switch from Firefox or Google Chrome.

            With Vivaldi 3.0, Vivaldi Technologies have doubled down on browser’s functionally, which already offered a lot of options and features for power users, by bringing more useful features.

            These include new built-in tracker and ad blockers that promise to protect users while surfing the Internet, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic.

          • Opera 68 is here with built-in Instagram in the sidebar

            Hello out there,

            I’m writing this blog post to let you know about a cool new feature in Opera 68. Today we are releasing the newest version of our browser with built-in Instagram and some further improvements. As you might know, Opera already has several built-in messengers in the sidebar, like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram and VKontakte.

            Recently, for obvious reasons, many of us have been staying at home as much as possible and relying more on social media to stay in touch with our friends and loved ones. This is also visible in the growing use of Opera’s built-in messengers as more people switch to desktop for both work and entertainment. Use of Opera’s built-in WhatsApp, for example, has grown 50% and the use of Facebook Messenger 48% in the past two months.

          • Opera 68 Released with Built-in Instagram Support

            Opera 68 was released today as the new stable version of the popular web browser. The new release features built-in messenger Instagram support.

        • Mozilla

          • The Mozilla Blog: Privacy Norms and the Pandemic

            The gut reaction worries are obvious: tracking everyone (or the bulk of people) with a smartphone to monitor COVID exposure could go wrong in myriad ways if done poorly or if the data falls into the wrong hands. And, on top of it, many have called into question whether this kind of tracking is even effective at stopping the spread of the virus. There is a legitimate worry that we could quickly find ourselves inside a huge mass surveillance experiment that has limited or no return in terms of public health and safety. Questions about efficacy and privacy are step one in considering whether or not to roll out contact tracing. While it’s far from universal, a fair number of governments are digging into these questions in earnest.

      • Productivity Software

      • Programming/Development

        • Wouter Verhelst: Extrepo GitLab update

          Earlier this month, GitLab B.V.'s package signing key expired, requiring them to rotate their key. This means that anyone who uses one of their packages needs to jump through a number of manual hoops to update their apt key configuration, which is an annoying manual process that also requires people to download random files from the Internet -- something extrepo was written to prevent. At least they're served over https, but still.

        • Google-backed Go programming language: Developers reveal its top missing features

          The project behind Go, an open-source programming language developed within Google, has surveyed thousands of software developers to uncover what technology they're using and the pain points of using the language.

          Go – which Google built for big distributed computing and released just over a decade ago – has become one of the tech world's most popular languages to use, currently ranking 14th in RedMonk's list of top languages.

        • Getting started with JavaScript application development

          For many developers who have never built a JavaScript web application before, the first steps can be daunting. Our development team has the opportunity to interact with both students that are just getting started and developers with lengthy experience building out complex applications. Even seasoned back-end developers often ask where they can get started with JavaScript. Our response is invariably, “Don’t just read. You need to start building things, play with the language to see what it can do.”

        • How COBOL brings value to the modern enterprise pipeline

          This thought crossed our minds as we were working on a client issue earlier today, reviewing articles that talked about COBOL as if it were some outdated language stuck in the Triassic period of computing ages. However, if that were true we wouldn’t be working with our client today on a COBOL application that parses JSON, would we?

          The origins of COBOL date back to the 1960s and JSON the early 2000s. Technologies that old would have likely gone extinct long ago — that’s like 200 million years in computer time. Surprise! COBOL is still alive, relevant, modern, and continues to incorporate current technologies. Why? Because it remains at the heart of enterprise computing. People around the world expect that when they swipe their credit cards, the computers will do their thing and approve their transactions. That’s COBOL in action.


          As developers, we know that any programming language can be built for any given instruction set (i.e. hardware) if a compiler is made to do the translation between the two. Take a look at GnuCOBOL if you’d like to learn a bit about COBOL from the comfort of your PC. Our buddy JJ even got it working in Kubernetes in this code pattern, and we think that’s really cool. It’s not the IBM Enterprise COBOL that runs on IBM Z, but they both share the common underpinnings of COBOL syntax.

        • Doing more with less time: critical skills for productive programmers

          This article was written during abnormal circumstances, with much of the planet under lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Parents with children at home have far less time, and pretty much everyone is feeling stressed and distracted.

          Under more normal circumstances there are only so many hours in the day to do your job; now it’s even worse. And yet work needs to get done: code needs to get written, features need to be shipped, bugs need to be fixed.

        • Python

          • Python Bytes: #178 Build a PyPI package from a Jupyter notebook
          • PyLadies Auction 2020 Cancelled

            With the in person cancellation of PyCon US 2020, the PyLadies Auction as we know, could not possibly have happened. Upon further investigation, we are deeply sad to announce we have decided to forgo the PyLadies Auction in its entirety for 2020.

            This decision has been a difficult one. We began the PyLadies Auction at PyCon US 2013 in Santa Clara and have held it annually since. To not be able to celebrate PyLadies in our annual tradition together is a deep loss.

          • Build a website with Python tools

            Not every website is a blog, where the main feature is a list of posts, each with a specific timestamp that indicates how "fresh" it is. Sometimes, you just want a website.

            Maybe you are an amateur (or professional!) cook and want to show off your recipes. Maybe you are a poet and want a site to publish all your poems. Maybe you have strong opinions and want a place to store your rants, each in its timeless perfection. Here's where Sphinx comes in.

          • Tips to Become a Confident & Successful Python Programmer

            Python is one of the most used programming languages today. Its well-designed framework, procedure-oriented and object-oriented programming compatibility, simple syntax and readability, support for class concept and multiple inheritance, extensive libraries etc., are only some of the aspects that make Python the language of choice for beginners as well as established programmers. It is consistently being revised and modified with integrated futuristic features to expand the feasibility in the world of software development.

          • New VCS Features in PyCharm 2020.1

            The Version Control System support in PyCharm has been revamped with a new and improved commit workflow as well as an interactive rebasing option. This means, that it gives you more control over the way you commit your changes.

  • Leftovers

    • Health/Nutrition

      • Russian pharmaceutical companies warn that they may stop producing some key medications

        Seven Russian pharmaceutical companies have informed the Industry and Trade Ministry (Minpromtorg) that they may stop production of more than 50 medicines on the government’s list of vital and key medications.€ 

      • American Carnage: How Donald Trump Is Killing Us

        Arrogance and chaos define the federal response to the pandemic.€ 

      • I Take Hydroxychloroquine, Please Don't Hoard It

        The best birthday present I got this year was a refill of my medication. Ordinarily, that wouldn’t be much to celebrate, but the coronavirus has upended the ordinary.

      • The Next Pandemic

        Congress is already thinking about how to prevent the next pandemic.

      • The head of the Russian Orthodox Church asks to defer utility bills

        Patriarch Kirill has asked Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin to defer utility payments for church institutions, RBC reports. RBC cites a copy of a letter from the head of the Russian Orthodox Church to the Prime Minister as its source.

      • Warning of 'Hammer Blow' From Pandemic, UN Food Agencies Say Coronavirus Could Double Global Levels of Acute Hunger

        A new report states 265 million people could face food insecurity by the end of 2020, up from 130 million last year.€ 

      • A View From a Pandemic: New York During COVID-19

        Living in New York City the past month has become a grim game of simply hoping that rock bottom has at least been hit. The haunting daily tolls continue to fill the local press. The first death from COVID-19 occurred on March 15. By March 31 there were around 1100 deaths. By April 7: 3485. April 13: 6898. On April 14 the city’s Health Department added 3700 deaths to the total to account for those who perished at home or in hospitals without being tested, bringing the count to over 10,000. The medical examiner’s office estimates that 200 a day are dying at home, compared to 20-25 people before the pandemic.

      • Russia needs to strengthen its COVID-19 response Epidemiologists are barely making models of Russia’s pandemic post-shutdown, so we made our own. The country could see one million deaths unless it does a lot more than it’s doing.

        Predicting what the COVID-19 pandemic will do to Russia and when it will give way to a new normal is unusually hard. The only way to make predictions on that scale is to use models that expand on highly incomplete data, and those models are typically the territory of epidemiological researchers. Western researchers, however, appear to be somewhat uninterested in figuring out Russia’s coronavirus prognosis, and Russian researchers (with extremely rare exceptions) either don’t work on models at all or don’t publish their results. Still, thanks to the efforts of infectious disease scholars worldwide, a number of open-source epidemiological models and improved data sources have become available in recent weeks. We used those tools to create our own, journalist-made model of how Russia’s pandemic may develop. The result: since Russian regions began introducing self-isolation rules in March, COVID-19 has spread through the country more slowly, but even that decrease won’t be anywhere near enough to mitigate the pandemic in many Russian regions unless even more quarantine regulations are added.

      • 'Listen... And Take Action': In Front of White House, Nurses Read Names of Colleagues Who Have Died From Covid-19

        "We are here because our colleagues are dying. I think that right now people think of us as heroes, but we're feeling like martyrs. We're feeling like we're being left on the battlefield with nothing."

      • Moscow Mayor orders all city residents with respiratory infections to self-isolate at home

        Moscow residents with symptoms of acute respiratory illnesses should practice complete self-isolation at home, just like COVID-19 patients, says a new order signed by Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin on April 21.€ 

      • 'Enough Is Enough': In Largest Strike Yet, Amazon Workers Call In Sick Over Unsafe Working Conditions

        "No worker should be subjected to unsafe conditions at work. And no worker should be retaliated against for standing up for their rights."

      • Locked Down with Cancer on Mumbai's Footpaths

        “I survived on bananas which I had stocked up in my bag,” Surendra Ram told me on the phone, about how he got through the ‘Janata Curfew’ of March 22. That day, when most of the shops and businesses in Mumbai shut down and those who could stay indoors locked themselves in, Surendra sat on the footpath near the Tata Memorial Hospital in Parel.

      • Notes on Viral Separation

        It’s lurking. It’s salivating. It’s€ breathless, waiting in the pandemic quiet. And at first opportunity, it will step out, roaring, spitting fire, devouring free will yet again as it commands you, you, you, and you to consume, consume, consume. All in the name of “returning to normal.”

      • In the Face of COVID, Let's Reorganize Society Around the Needs of the Poor

        My mom contracted polio when she was 14. She survived and learned to walk again, but my life was deeply affected by that virus. Today, as our larger society attempts to self-distance and self-isolate, my family has texted about the polio quarantine my mom was put under: how my grandma fearfully checked my aunt’s temperature every night because she shared a bedroom with my mom; how they had to put a sign on the front door of the house that read “quarantine” so that no one would visit.

      • Kentucky Sees Highest Single-Day Increase in COVID-19 Cases Days After Protests

        Protests against stay-in-place measures have occurred in a number of states across the nation, in spite of the fact that some health experts are saying such demonstrations could themselves lead to an increase in the spread of COVID-19.

      • Regulatory Responses to N95 Respirator Shortages

        Our recent posts have highlighted shortages in three COVID-19-related knowledge goods: testing, drugs (such as those needed to put patients on ventilators), and clinical trial information about effective treatments. This week we focus on the role of legal regulators in another critical shortage: N95 respirators, one of the key forms of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers. We explain how N95 regulation, like COVID-19 testing, presented an interagency coordination problem. The FDA has successfully removed key regulatory hurdles—though the problem should have been anticipated earlier, and much more needs to be done to ensure an adequate supply.


        N95s’ origin as industrial respirators helps explain the strange double regulation of the respirators. They’re principally regulated by the National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory, which is part of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), which is part of the CDC. (As a side note, it’s interesting that although NIOSH is a National Institute studying health, it’s not part of the National Institutes of Health, and although it does research on occupational safety and health, it’s not part of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Such are the vagaries of federal bureaucracy.) However, while NIOSH regulates all N95 respirators, those intended for use in medical settings are also regulated by the FDA as medical devices. The two agencies started coordinating more closely on this in 2018 with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the agencies so that normal N95s used in construction and industrial jobs are evaluated by NIOSH and exempt from the FDA’s 510(k) premarket clearance process, and N95s for healthcare settings (including ones for a particular disease, or with antimicrobial function) go through 510(k).

        All of this, of course, is domestic; N95 masks are regulated around the globe by different regulators in different countries, which set slightly different standards. 3M has a helpful comparison chart. Given that the basic product is the same, it is unfortunate in retrospect that the slightly different standards have led to a more fragmented supply chain; without regulatory action, for instance, N95 masks approved for use in South Korea were not automatically approved for use in the United States. Regulators, however, have been acting to reduce these barriers.

      • Coronavirus Pandemic Exacerbating Global Threats to Press Freedom: Watchdog Group

        "Press freedom in the United States continued to suffer during President Donald Trump's third year in office," RSF added in its annual Press Freedom Index.

      • Instead of reopening hair salons, Ramzan Kadyrov is urging fellow Chechens to shave their heads — and he's leading by example

        Ramzan Kadyrov, that loveable ruler of Chechnya who famously misplaces cats and regularly dismisses allegations of widespread human rights violations, has shaved his head. We know he shaved his head because he shared a video of his new appearance with the Grozny state television network, which promptly published the footage on Instagram.

      • How the Nicaraguan Opposition Distorted the Government's Response to COVID-19
      • Is There Any Better Time Than Now For a General Strike?

        The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into stark relief the inequalities baked into the U.S.’s capitalist system—one that deems nurses and grocery workers “essential,” but leaves them with just as few rights and privileges as they had before the crisis struck. The scenario before us, where society depends more than ever on the bottom rung of the working class, offers a perfect storm for these “essential workers” to use their leverage and demand better protections for themselves now and in the future. This perfect storm may well unfold on May 1—a day with historic roots in the U.S., marked by workers all around the world to demand their labor rights.

      • Solidarity Is Not What Europe Needs

        As the COVID-19 outbreak in Europe worsened, the leaders of nine eurozone countries called for the issuance of “coronabonds” to help spread more evenly the additional debt governments would incur as they struggled to replace disappearing private incomes. But while the idea is sound, it was doomed by its proponents' justification.

      • Trump Says He's Aiming to Shield Corporations From Legal Liability for Workers Who Contract Covid-19 on the Job

        "Businesses are asking for the right to expose their workers to fatal risks with no consequences. It's bad economics and bad policy."

      • Inequality and the Coronavirus

        Or how to destroy American society from the top down.

      • Leaked Recordings Reveal Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot Firmly in Charge and City Alderman Left Largely on the Sidelines

        No one questioned that Mayor Lori Lightfoot has been firmly in charge of Chicago’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. But during a briefing Lightfoot had with the city’s aldermen on March 30, she made it clear anyway.

        Each alderman was given an opportunity to ask a question, and when it was his turn, Andre Vasquez brought up the city’s growing housing crisis. Vasquez is a first-term alderman from the 40th Ward on the North Side. Like many new members of the City Council, he campaigned last year on a progressive agenda similar to Lightfoot’s that included promises to expand affordable housing. In the briefing, he reminded Lightfoot that, for many people, rent and mortgage payments would be due in the coming days. Could the mayor’s office provide aldermen with regular or even daily updates on proposals to help residents thrown out of work during the outbreak?

      • To Understand the Medical Supply Shortage, It Helps to Know How the U.S. Lost the Lithium Ion Battery to China

        With so many critical health care products now made offshore that supplies could not meet surging demand as the coronavirus overwhelmed hospitals, America’s attention has again turned to the atrophied state of domestic manufacturing.

        As imports from Chinese manufacturers vaporized and other countries clamped down on exports, health care workers improvised with homemade face masks while American factories retooled in a desperate race to make ventilators and protective equipment. It’s a pattern, it seemed, in which devices invented in the U.S. end up being produced overseas.

      • Beyond Prisons: COVID-19 Dispatch From California Prison

        Brian Sonenstein interviews a woman who we’re calling “Alice” to protect her and her husband from retaliation by California prison officials.

        Alice organizes with other family members as part of a group known as Unite Against CDCR. Her husband is incarcerated in Soledad, California at the Correctional Training Facility (CTF)—one of the prisons where Gladiator Fights have taken place over the last few years.

      • NYC Mayor and Health Officials Misled Public About Plans to Move COVID-19 Patients Into Nursing Home, Advocates Say

        New York City public health officials are moving patients suffering from COVID-19 into beds within a nursing home on Roosevelt Island that cares for hundreds of residents with a wide range of severe medical conditions, including dementia and other age-related ailments, paralysis, traumatic brain injury and profound developmental disabilities.

        The move comes after Mayor Bill de Blasio and city officials made a series of inaccurate and contradictory statements about their intention to use the facility to house COVID-19 patients and about their ability to protect the medically vulnerable residents of the Coler Rehabilitation and Nursing Care Center.

      • With 5,642 new cases in the past day, Russia's official coronavirus count hits 52,763 patients

        On the morning of April 21, Russian officials announced that the country recorded 5,642 new coronavirus infections in the past day, bringing the nation’s total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases to 52,763 patients. A day earlier, health officials reported 4,268 new cases.

      • Coronavirus Entered My Father’s Nursing Home and Nobody Warned Me. I Did Not Get the Chance to Save Him.

        The call came around 9 a.m. on March 25. It was my father.

        “I’m not doing too good,” he said in between gasps for air. I asked him what was wrong. “I’m coughing up blood,” he said, adding that the medical staff at the nursing home in the Bronx where he lived wanted to send him to a nearby hospital.

      • Covid-19 severity ‘linked to higher air pollution’

        This story is a part of Covering Climate Now’s week of coverage focused on Climate Solutions, to mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Covering Climate Now is a global journalism collaboration committed to strengthening coverage of the climate story.

      • More Deaths, No Benefit from Malaria Drug in VA Virus Study

        A malaria drug widely touted by President Donald Trump for treating the new coronavirus showed no benefit in a large analysis of its use in U.S. veterans hospitals. There were more deaths among those given hydroxychloroquine versus standard care, researchers reported.

      • Coronavirus: World risks 'biblical' famines due to pandemic - UN

        The fourth annual Global Report on Food Crises highlights Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Nigeria and Haiti.

        In South Sudan, 61% of the population was affected by food crisis last year, the report says.

        Even before the pandemic hit, parts of East Africa and South Asia were already facing severe food shortages caused by drought and the worst locust infestations for decades.

      • The Hidden Flaw in Sweden’s Anti-Lockdown Strategy

        Brinkemo described the challenges involved in trying to inform immigrants in Malmo about the Swedish welfare state. When he arranged public seminars at a community center, hardly anyone attended, despite written advertisements—until he and his colleagues personally called people to invite them, after which the seminars were full. “I was baffled, but my Somali colleagues weren’t surprised. They explained that they come from a society with a strong oral tradition, that they have little experience of interacting with public agencies in their home country, and tend to trust information that comes directly from a known source,” he said. “By contrast, here in Sweden, we are accustomed to written communication. We generally trust that official information is correct, and we’re used to interpreting authorities’ instructions and know how to act on it.”

      • States smuggle COVID-19 medical supplies to avoid federal seizures as House probes Jared Kushner

        States have been forced to resort to smuggling shipments of personal protective equipment (PPE) after federal officials seized supplies ordered by hospitals without informing officials.

        Governors have long complained that the Trump administration has left them to bid against each other on the open market for critical supplies for health workers. However, numerous officials recently claimed that the federal government had seized supplies ordered by the states. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, told CNN that the state bought 500 ventilators before they were "swept up" by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, said the Trump administration "confiscated" its order of 3 million masks.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Pseudo-Open Source

          • Privatisation/Privateering

            • Linux Foundation

              • Automotive Grade Linux Releases UCB 9.0 Software Platform

                Automotive Grade Linux (AGL), an open source project developing a shared software platform for in-vehicle technology, today announced the latest code release of the AGL platform, UCB 9.0, also known under the codename “Itchy Icefish.”

                Developed through a joint effort by dozens of member companies, the AGL Unified Code Base (UCB) is an open source software platform that can serve as the de facto industry standard for infotainment, telematics and instrument cluster applications.

              • Linux Foundation Fosters Laminas Community

                The Laminas Project, formerly known as the Zend Framework, is among the latest projects to be hosted at the Linux Foundation. With the community’s desire to evolve its PHP tooling for the next generation of web services and APIs, now is a natural time to tailor an open governance structure for the Project that can sustain the community for decades to come.

                The Laminas Project already has incredible support with 1.2 million commits, hundreds of releases every year and thousands of lifetime contributors. The Project has 400 million lifetime installs across e-commerce, entertainment, embedded and healthcare environments, among others, with more than 140 million added every year. It warrants a neutral forum with an open governance structure that supports this level of adoption and innovation and its intentional focus on tooling for new web services and APIs.

        • Security

          • Security updates for Wednesday

            Security updates have been issued by Oracle (java-1.7.0-openjdk and java-1.8.0-openjdk), Red Hat (git, java-1.8.0-openjdk, java-11-openjdk, and kernel), Scientific Linux (kernel), Slackware (git), SUSE (openssl-1_1 and puppet), and Ubuntu (binutils and thunderbird).

          • Five best practices for administering remote systems

            The first step to managing a remote system is... well, being able to manage it! Remote access protocols, such as SSH (and in rare cases, remote desktop), enable you to configure and manage your systems from anywhere. But you don't want your remote management strategy to turn into a security risk inadvertently. You should always take the time to understand the remote management protocol or system that you are using and secure it accordingly.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Technical Deep-Dive: Winding Down the STARTTLS Policy List

              This is a technical guide for administrators affected by the STARTTLS Everywhere project. Check out our overview post of the project!

              The STARTTLS policy list started off as a mechanism for mailservers to learn TLS information about other servers from EFF’s perspective. Since MTA-STS was launched, it has evolved into a mechanism to secure the initial MTA-STS lookup so that email operators can know when particular providers insist on secure delivery. Although we have had lots of success getting individual mailserver operators to improve their security by advertising their TLS information on the list, there appear to be few mailservers using the list to validate others.

            • Winding Down the STARTTLS Everywhere Project, and the Future of Secure Email

              This is an overview of the STARTTLS Everywhere project. If your mailserver is affected by these changes, check out our technical deep-dive to securing your mailserver!

              EFF started our STARTTLS Everywhere project in 2014, in a post-Snowden moment when the technology community banded together to push transport encryption as a crucial necessity.

            • ICE Has Access to DACA Recipients’ Personal Information Despite Promises Suggesting Otherwise, Internal Emails Show

              When undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as minors applied for deportation protections and work permits, the forms included a promise: The information would not be shared with immigration enforcement agents.

              The pledge was first made by the Obama administration, when it created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, eight years ago. It continued under President Donald Trump. Even after Trump announced that he was ending DACA, his administration assured immigrants that the information on their applications generally wouldn’t be sent to Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

            • Stripe is Silently Recording Your Movements On its Customers' Websites

              Among startups and tech companies, Stripe seems to be the near-universal favorite for payment processing. When I needed paid subscription functionality for my new web app, Stripe felt like the natural choice. After integration, however, I discovered that Stripe’s official JavaScript library records all browsing activity on my site and reports it back to Stripe. This data includes:

              1. Every URL the user visits on my site, including pages that never display Stripe payment forms

              2. Telemetry about how the user moves their mouse cursor while browsing my site

              3. Unique identifiers that allow Stripe to correlate visitors to my site against other sites that accept payment via Stripe

              This post shares what I found, who else it affects, and how you can limit Stripe’s data collection in your web applications.

            • Facebook to Invest $5.7 Billion in Ambani’s Jio Platforms

              The U.S. company will buy about 10% of Jio Platforms, becoming the largest minority shareholder, Reliance Industries Ltd. said in a statement Wednesday. Separately, Facebook said the deal would bring together JioMart, an ecommerce venture of Mukesh Ambani and its WhatsApp platform to enable people to connect with businesses.

            • Peter Thiel’s controversial Palantir is helping build a coronavirus tracking tool for the Trump admin

              The tool, which is reportedly called HHS Protect Now, is already up and running as of April 10th and it helps officials compile reports on the coronavirus’ spread through the US by collecting data from state and local governments, healthcare institutions, and colleges. It is unclear what exactly this data is, where it comes from, or how it’s being used. It’s also unclear if Palantir is the sole technology provider of the tool, or if other partners are involved.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • A federal troop encampment is visible from the highway in northern Chechnya

        On April 20, federal troops were reportedly deployed to the Nadterechny District in northern Chechnya, which borders Ingushetia, North Ossetia, and the Stavropol Territory. The newspaper Novaya Gazeta published an eyewitness video showing a small encampment and a cluster of military vehicles along the highway outside the villages of Bratskoe, Beno-Yurt, and Znamenskoye.

      • Trump Supporters Are Brandishing Automatic Weapons at Anti-Shutdown Protests

        We get an update from Democracy Now! co-host Juan González about his mother and wife, who were infected with COVID-19, and discuss how right-wing Trump supporters are brandishing automatic weapons at protests to demand an end to coronavirus shutdowns and are being egged on by the president. “We should make no mistake, that this country is edging closer and closer to neo-fascist authoritarianism,” says González, expressing concern these actions will become normalized in the lead-up to a bitter national election in November.

      • Journalists publish new evidence of Russian mercenaries torturing and killing a Syrian deserter in 2017

        The newspaper Novaya Gazeta has published two new videos corroborating the brutal torture and murder of a man in Syria. Mercenaries from the “Wagner” Russian private military company allegedly carried out the killing in June 2017.€ € 

      • Texas Attorney General's Office Says It Can Toss People In Jail For Suggesting Coronavirus Fears Are A Legit Reason To Vote From Home

        Just when we need our elected representatives to step up and get their collective shit together, they seem to be disintegrating as quickly as possible. I understand a pandemic isn't on the list of "Things I Expected To Deal With During My Tenure," but this is why we give them so much power and the trust that's implicitly packaged with it.

      • Coronavirus and Rightwing Rebellion: Retreading a Tired Narrative

        Significant national media attention has focused in the last week on a slew of right-wing protests, in states like Ohio, Idaho, and Michigan (among others), demanding that the country reopen in the midst of the worst pandemic in modern history. But we should understand what forces are driving these protests, and how they differ radically from demonstrations organized by individuals on the front-lines of the Covid-19 crisis who are engaged in their own progressive rebellion against corporate power and neoliberal politics.

      • Breaking with a policy that's repeated since the mid-90s, Russia won't amnesty prisoners for Victory Day this year

        Federal lawmakers are not planning to adopt legislation to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the USSR’s victory over Nazi Germany with a general amnesty of certain prisoners, Pavel Krasheninnikov, who chairs the Duma’s State Building and Legislative Committee, told the news agency TASS on Tuesday.€ 

      • Nobel laureate Luc Montagnier embraces the conspiracy theory that SARS-CoV-2 was made in a Wuhan lab

        I’ve written about what I like to refer to as the “Nobel disease,” defined as the tendency of Nobel Laureates to turn into cranks. Whether Nobel Laureates turn into cranks at a higher rate than scientists in general or even the population in general is not known. While it is plausible that all the praise and their high stature might contribute to a higher degree of Dunning-Kruger effect when they wander out of their area of expertise, who knows if they do “go crank” more frequently than average. What is undeniable, however, is that when Nobel Laureates “go crank,” it’s far more damaging to science than when just a run-of-the-mill scientist goes rogue, because of stature Nobel Laureates enjoy. That’s why Luc Montagnier, who was a Nobel Prize in 2008 as co-discoverer of HIV as the cause of AIDS. Given how much damage French “brave maverick scientist” Didier Raoult has caused with his bad science and premature hyping of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin for COVID-19 has done to public health, imagine how much damage Luc Montagnier could do if he decided to “go crank” over COVID-19. Well, I’ve learned that he just did, endorsing the conspiracy theory that SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, was engineered in a laboratory. Fortunately, because Montagnier is French, and few accounts of his endorsement of the “engineered coronavirus” conspiracy theory exist in English. This is the interview in which he made these claims:

      • Coronavirus live updates: Senate passes $484 billion relief bill as U.S. cases top 800,000

        Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey facilitated the noise permit after the community requested the service. The Council on American-Islamic Relations paid for the audio equipment for the broadcasts from a mosque.

      • How Trump and Putin Weakened U.N. Bid for a Global Cease-Fire

        Kelly Knight Craft, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, spoke warmly of Guterres’s call for a “global cease-fire” in a Thursday morning interview with NPR, citing it as evidence that the United Nations has been active for months in trying to respond to the crisis. She said she hoped that negotiations over the French-drafted resolution—which she said would support a pause in fighting—could be finished by the end of the week, or early next week.

      • Conspiracy theorists who claim 5G linked to coronavirus believed to burn cell towers in Europe

        Social media posts among conspiracy theorists have encouraged attacks on the structures, with one user sharing a picture of a burned phone mast in an anti-vaccine Facebook group with the caption “Nobody wants cancer & covid19. Stop trying to make it happen or every pole and mobile store will end up like this one,” according to the AP.

      • Conspiracy theorists burn 5G towers claiming link to virus

        Some 50 fires targeting cell towers and other equipment have been reported in Britain this month, leading to three arrests. Telecom engineers have been abused on the job 80 times, according to trade group Mobile UK, making the U.K. the nucleus of the attacks. Photos and videos documenting the attacks are often overlaid with false commentary about COVID-19. Some 16 have been torched in the Netherlands, with attacks also reported in Ireland, Cyprus, and Belgium.

        Posts threatening to attack phone masts were receiving likes on Facebook. One post in an anti-vaccine group on April 12 shared a photo of a burned phone mast with the quote, “Nobody wants cancer & covid19. Stop trying to make it happen or every pole and mobile store will end up like this one.”

    • Environment

      • A 72-hour live stream is bringing Earth Day online

        Connecting digital spaces to the physical planet, Pruden and others started the week of online events with a “land acknowledgement,” a practice that pays respects to indigenous nations and tribes and their traditional homeland. “If I didn’t do this land acknowledgement I kind of liken it to me walking into your house [and] not acknowledging that I’m in your house,” Pruden explained, speaking from the ancestral territory of the Coast Salish peoples, which is now Vancouver. In this case, the land he acknowledged wasn’t just for his current home, but for the entire world.

        The fact that each of the 500 or so people tuning in were scattered across the world in their own houses made the poignant moment a little surreal, highlighting the unusual circumstances of this new, digital Earth Day.

      • Op-Ed: Big Insurance Is Climate’s Quiet Killer

        Big Oil, Big Money, and Big Insurance form an unholy alliance that prop up the fossil fuel economy. For too long, insurance companies have hidden behind charismatic cartoon logos and funny campaigns to escape the scrutiny they deserve for acting as central players in facilitating fossil fuel expansion. We call bullshit. And we aren’t the only ones. A rapidly growing international movement is rising to hold insurance companies accountable, and in the U.S. our first clear target is Liberty Mutual.

        Liberty Mutual is providing essential insurance to fossil fuel infrastructure giant TC Energy to enable construction of the dangerous Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline, which would carry extracted tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada to the U.S. Already, Liberty Mutual has provided a $15.6 million bond to cover the risks related to the construction of KXL through South Dakota.

      • 10 Simple Things to Do to Celebrate Earth Day

        It's Earth Day, and while every day is technically a day to be kind to the planet, this is a day to show appreciation and get into new habits if needed. There are so many little things you can do to celebrate and help save the Earth, and we’ve got 10 super easy ideas below!

      • This Earth Day, Stop the Money Pipeline

        And it’s a more complex moment for another reason. You can filter carbon monoxide easily. It’s a trace gas, a tiny percentage of what comes from a power plant. But carbon dioxide is the exact opposite. It’s most of what comes pouring out when you burn coal or gas or oil. There’s no catalytic converter for CO2, which means you have to take down the fossil fuel industry.

        That in turn means you have to take on not just the oil companies but also the banks, asset managers, and insurance companies that invest in them (and may even own them, in the wake of the current economic crash). You have to take on, that is, the heart of global capital.

      • Milan's Plan to Limit Cars After COVID-19 Lockdown Lauded as 'Excellent Example of #BuildBackBetter'

        "Of course, we want to reopen the economy, but we think we should do it on a different basis from before."

      • Energy

        • Why the OPEC+ Deal is a Many-Splendored Thing

          A perfect deal is where all protagonists get something out of it. All oil-producing countries stand to gain if the oil price rebounds. In bare bones, the OPEC+ group led by Saudi Arabia and Russia finalized, in a nail-biting photo finish on April 12, an agreement to steeply cut oil production by a combined 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd) for May and June to rebalance the supply and demand in the world market and nudge the prices to go up amid the coronavirus pandemic.

        • US Oil "Technically Worthless," and Coal Plants Shuttered, as a Tidal Wave of Bankruptcies Looms

          The oil companies are likely looking at multi-billion-dollar tort lawsuits because they hid the dangers of the climate emergency and even actively muddied the waters by funding denialism.

        • The Day Petroleum Was Less Than Worthless

          April 20, 2020, may not be remembered as the day when marijuana briefly became a more valuable commodity than petroleum. It happened, though, right smack dab in the middle of the country’s unofficial 4/20 weed holiday. Some ironies require no enhancement, and a Hollywood script with this plot twist would get laughed out of the room, but it happened all the same.

        • This Earth Day, Stop the Money Pipeline

          Nineteen-seventy was a simpler time. (February was a simpler time too, but for a moment let’s think outside the pandemic€ bubble.)

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • The Carnage of Wolf Trapping in Idaho

          A new public records request to Idaho Department of Fish and Game reveals that Idaho wolf trappers are capturing nearly as many non-target species as they are capturing wolves. 47% of the species captured between the 2012/2013 to 2018/2019 trapping seasons,€ including rare fishers, wolverine, eagle, and lynx were non-target species. Of the non-target species captured, 57% of those were killed. During the period covered by the public records response, wolf trappers killed 813 wolves, caught 620 non-target species of which 269 were released alive and 351 were killed. It is likely that a percentage of those animals that were released alive eventually died from injuries sustained from the traps that either killed them outright or made it difficult for them to find food.

        • Halve the farmland, save nature, feed the world

          This story is a part of Covering Climate Now’s week of coverage focused on Climate Solutions, to mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Covering Climate Now is a global journalism collaboration committed to strengthening coverage of the climate story.

    • Finance

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • When Solidarity Mattered: the Seattle General Strike

        This is a special book, bearing an almost sacred topic for all those interested in the history of the American labor and the Left. The vibrant, pre-1920 Socialist Party, waxing strong and confident until struck down for its resistance to the US entry into the First World War, stood for a larger and more diverse radicalism. including Wobblies, quasi-wobblies. labor and cultural radicals of no certain description and of several generations. They had in common the sense that dramatic change in society was possible, perhaps inevitable. Despite the repression that grew rapidly with war mobilization—unionization also spread with the shortage of labor— the sensibility flourished and the general strike in Seattle was arguably its strongest point. Now that piquant moment has found its historian.

      • Cowardly Congress Chooses to be AWOL: Shouldn’t Our Elected Representatives be on the Job Providing Essential Services?

        In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic a careening, confused President is fibbing, flailing, breaking laws, and mishandling money. As the domino effect of this crisis mounts, the public is asking: “Where is the Congress?” Our Senators and Representatives have been home since March 20 and won’t be back until May 4th, not on the job inside the Capitol. Shameful!

      • Another Republican "Grassroots" Movement Hijacks the Media

        Protests against COVID-19 restrictions, like the Tea Party protests, are corporate fronts.

      • Trump Reportedly Plans to Extort States Into Reopening by Holding Up Relief

        Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushed back on Democratic calls to provide aid to states in the upcoming coronavirus relief bill amid reports that President Donald Trump plans to use the funds to pressure states into reopening.

      • Post-COVID-19: Yet Another Era to Evolve or Perish

        We are in a confusing period. But we have gone through many gloomy periods similar to or different from what we are compelled to face today. Sooner than later, this will eventually lose the media scrutiny. But ground reality will not change in the near future. As a general saying goes, “If you’re going through hell, keep going”. Isn’t it the grim reality placed before us?

      • US Deaths Could Surpass the 60,000 Projected If States Open Now, Experts Warn

        Sources close to the coronavirus task force are speaking out against proposals to end stay-in-place orders by several governors across the United States, arguing that such moves are likely to result in higher death counts when all is said and done.

      • Orchestrated Amnesia

        Remember when the NYT kept track of the lies told by Rump? The Joker has proven to lie at such breakneck speed that efforts to establish a public record have ceased, thus creating ideal conditions for orchestrated amnesia.

      • Warnings of 'Suspension of Democracy' in New York as State Officials Weigh Removing Sanders From Primary Ballot

        "We think this is a power play on the part of the governor."

      • WATCH: Bernie Sanders Holds Virtual Town Hall With Postal Union Leaders on How to Save USPS

        "The Post Office will likely run out of money sometime between July and September of this year. If they run out of money, then the people lose the service."

      • Will America’s Corruption End on a Ventilator or in a Mushroom Cloud?

        A political system that is structurally incapable of acting for the common good, even when millions of lives are at stake, is not just failing to solve our problems. It is the problem.

      • Who’s Behind the “Reopen” Domain Surge?

        Many of the domains are still dormant, leading to parked pages and registration records obscured behind privacy protection services. But a review of other details about these domains suggests a majority of them are tied to various gun rights groups, state Republican Party organizations, and conservative think tanks, religious and advocacy groups.


        More importantly, the same code shows up on a number of other anti-gun control sites registered by the Dorr Brothers, real-life brothers who have created nonprofits (in name only) across dozens of states that are so extreme in their stance they make the National Rifle Association look like a liberal group by comparison.

      • Conservative activist family behind 'grassroots' anti-quarantine Facebook events

        The pages are just part of the more than 100 state-specific Facebook groups that have been created in the last two weeks to protest the stay-at-home orders, according to an unpublished analysis by First Draft, an organization that researches disinformation. The pages have organized at least 49 different events. Most of the groups are similarly named, and they have attracted more than 900,000 members in total.


        The Dorrs' network of pages uses a strategy of data harvesting common in activist circles.

      • Live from Planet Television, Donald Trump – Every Night!

        Deprived of rallies to inflate his ego, the president muscles in on sickness and death.

      • Media Fail to Identify Xenophobia as Biden Says Trump ‘Rolled Over for Chinese’

        As Covid-19 and its economic effects clearly dominate all else politically, ads for the Trump campaign are ramping up the anti-China rhetoric in an effort to deflect blame. The first attack ad Donald Trump launched since Joe Biden became the presumptive Democratic nominee was titled “Biden Stands Up for China” (4/9/20), while a pro-Trump super PAC is airing multiple ads (4/16/20, 4/16/20) painting Biden as cozy with China. One ad warned China is “killing our jobs, stealing technology and putting us in danger with Covid-19”; the other concluded, “Now more than ever, America must stop China. And to stop China, you have to stop Joe Biden.”

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Disgraced Former NASCAR Boss, Brian France, Uses SLAPP Suit To Silence Parody Twitter Account

        Brian Z. France ran NASCAR for many years, though as a pretty obvious nepotism hire. His grandfather and father ran NASCAR before him. In 2018, France was arrest for driving while intoxicated and criminal possession of a controlled substance, causing him to take an "indefinite leave of absence," that became more permanent once he pleaded guilty to the DWI, and has an agreement that if he completes 100 hours of community service and doesn't get into any more legal trouble, the misdemeanor charges will be reduced to a "non-criminal infraction" later this year. France's time at the head of NASCAR came with some controversy regarding his leadership style -- so it was not that surprising that someone set up a parody Twitter account for him @DrunkBrianF.

      • Chinese Embassy Gets Briefly Suspended From Twitter; Insists 'Free Speech Must Be Honored' On Platform Banned Across China

        Content moderation at scale is impossible to do well. By now we've established that pretty firmly. However, there's something deeply amusing to see that when the Chinese embassy in Sri Lanka was temporarily banned from Twitter over what Twitter later claimed was a "systematic mistake," that the embassy then chose to go on a little righteous rant about free speech needing to be honored.

      • Banned comfort women art on display in Taipei

        The museum said that the exhibition originated from a controversial incident in 2012 when Japanese multinational Nikon canceled Korean photographer Ahn Sehong's (安世鴻) exhibition themed around comfort women, or women and girls who were forced into sexual service for Japanese soldiers before and during World War II. Three years later, supporters of Sehong hosted the first edition of the "Non-Freedom of Expression Exhibition" to display the forbidden works, said MOCA.

      • Russia launches 'genocide' probe into Karelian WW2 camps

        "This is part of a process that is linked to the strengthening of powers in conjunction with the recent constitutional changes. It goes with Putin’s move to seek another term in office. In general it is linked to the current political situation in Russia: there is a rewriting of history going on right now."

        At the start of the millennium it was still possible to conduct critical historical research in Russia.

        "During the Boris Yeltsin era historical research was open and there was cooperation with Finnish researchers too," said Laine. "Now the starting point is that the red army didn’t do anything wrong in the Great Patriotic War. That is a sacrosanct in modern Russia."

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • Covering Corona: Manufacturing Panic, Generating Junk News and More

        These days, citizen journalists are almost everywhere reporting on the ebb and flow of the virus, from Seattle and€ San Francisco to Chicago and New York. It’s hard not to receive the news in some shape or form, and, while some of the€ reports are more insightful than others, what seems to link all of them is that they heat up the conversation. That’s what€ mass media has always done, at least in modern times. Italian novelist and theorist, Umberto Eco, once described the media€ as a furnace. “Grazie, Umberto. Lavoratori del mondo, unitevi.”

      • Taiwan ranks No.43 on global press freedom list

        Out of 180 countries surveyed, China ranked at No.177, while South Korea finished just one spot ahead of Taiwan at No.42, with Japan listed at No.66 and Hong Kong at No.80.

        In the report about Taiwan titled “Media independence on hold,” Paris-based RSF said local journalists were part of “a very polarized media environment dominated by sensationalism and the pursuit of profit.”

      • Assange baby, fiancee's mum were spied on

        Court documents indicate Julian Assange was spied on in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

        A Spanish security firm tailed the mother of Julian Assange's fiancee and illegally recorded hours of footage of their baby son, court documents show.

        Stella Moris revealed her identity as the WikiLeaks founder's fiancee on April 11, three days before a London court could lift a non-publication order on her name.

        The 37-year-old and Assange had two children while he was seeking asylum and staying in the Ecuadorian embassy in London between 2012 and 2019.

        A jailed Assange is now battling in a London court to avoid extradition to the US to face charges of violating spy laws and computer intrusion.

      • Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe temporary prison release extended as coronavirus pandemic continues

        Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s temporary release from an Iranian jail has been extended by one month.

        The British-Iranian mother was among about 85,000 prisoners released by Iran last month in efforts to stop coronavirus spreading between inmates.

        She was allowed to leave Evin prison in Tehran on 17 March for an initial two weeks, before her release was later extended for another fortnight. Her scheduled return to prison has now been pushed back again until 20 May, according to her husband.

        “I’m very happy to hear from Richard Ratcliffe that Nazanin’s furlough has been extended for a month – in line with other prisoners in Iran,” Labour’s Tulip Siddiq said on Tuesday.

      • RSF Index 2020: UK ranking declines following the murder of journalist Lyra McKee

        The UK has dropped two places to 35th out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF’s) 2020 World Press Freedom Index, published today. Although the UK government played a key role in promoting media freedom globally, its efforts were undermined by domestic developments, including the murder of Lyra McKee and active threats to the safety of journalists in Northern Ireland, and the detention of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who faces possible extradition to the US.


        “With coronavirus and other converging crises presenting unprecedented threats to press freedom globally, it is more important than ever for democratic states to lead by example. The UK should be performing better on the World Press Freedom Index, and must address these domestic concerns as a matter of priority. Concrete steps should be taken to ensure the safety of journalists in the wake of Lyra McKee’s murder, and Julian Assange should be released - and certainly not extradited to the US”, said RSF UK Bureau Director Rebecca Vincent.

        RSF also noted concern over problematic provisions of counter-terrorism and crime legislation adopted in 2019, as well as the pursuit by the London Metropolitan Police of the publication of leaked information from diplomatic cables as a criminal matter.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Intimations of Barbarism

        Most definitions of barbaric behavior would include such descriptors as “savage,” “crude,” “cruel,” and the like. We have actually seen plenty of this sort of behavior on the part of American government leaders, both state and federal, over the life of the country. Thus, I don’t want to suggest that the recent episodes of barbarism are something new. However, the past fifty or so years has also seen the growth of human and civil rights as they apply to race, gender and issues of sexual preference. Thus, you would think U.S. politicians had learned the value of ethical behavior. And, while some few have, as a generalization this expectation is just too naive. There is very little uncontested “progress” when it comes to the ethical behavior of governments; often it is one step forward and two steps back.

      • House to Vote on Allowing Members to Use Proxies, Opening Door for Full Remote Voting

        "We ought to use this time as an opportunity to prepare for Congress to be able to work according to its full capabilities even with social and physical distancing guidelines in place."

      • Pepper-Sprayed, Otay Mesa Detainees Demand Release as COVID-19 Spreads Inside
      • New York's Governor Hands Down A Mask Mandate While The State's Anti-Mask Law Remains On The Books

        The spread of the coronavirus throughout the nation is turning some old laws into new ridiculousness. One of the hardest hit areas in the US is New York, which has nearly 30% of the nation's total cases. This has led to lockdown orders and spread deterrent efforts more severe than seen elsewhere in the country.

      • Trump Tweets Plan to Suspend All Immigration to US

        President Donald Trump declared in a tweet late Monday night that he intends to sign an executive order “temporarily” banning all immigration to the U.S. amid the Covid-19 outbreak, an announcement rights groups condemned as a shameful attempt to scapegoat immigrants that will do nothing to safeguard either Americans’ health or jobs.

      • Coronavirus Has Made Incarceration a Potential Death Sentence

        Prisons should be a priority for supplies, for tests, and for early release of as many inmates as possible, particularly the elderly and the vulnerable.

      • Despite COVID-19 Risks, Justice Department Opposes Compassionate Release For Reality Winner

        The Justice Department opposes the release of NSA whistleblower Reality Winner from Federal Medical Center Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas. She requested compassionate release from prison on April 10.

        U.S. Attorney Bobby Christine argues [PDF] Winner has not alleged a medical condition that qualifies her for compassionate release.

      • States Must Step Up to Help Immigrants Left Out of the COVID-19 Recovery

        Nearly 1.5 million people who work in farming, delivery, trucking and other food supply professions — jobs that can’t be done from home — are undocumented immigrants or members of mixed-status families. Many of these workers lack access to affordable health care. They file taxes but can’t receive any benefits because of “public charge” and other rules that prohibit undocumented people from accessing welfare services.

      • 'Exploiting Coronavirus to Continue Their Nativist Agenda': Trump Tweets Plan to Suspend All Immigration to US

        "This isn't about coronavirus or jobs. This is about this administration's hate for immigrants."

      • Coders Who Survived Human Trafficking Rewrite Their Identities

        At a Bay Area nonprofit, former abuse victims learn to code and level up their futures. A photographer and an artist weave together their stories.

      • Abolish Silicon Valley

        Here is an interesting interview with Wendy Liu about the problems of the technology industry described in her book, Abolish Silicon Valley. These problems aren't really all that new, but as software has become a bigger part of the economy and everyday life it has just become more obvious that capitalism mediated through and amplified by software technologies is something grotesque and often anti-human, not even meeting many real human needs.

        One point raised is that we should democratize the creation of technology, and this is really what Free Software has been about since the 1980s. When I'm developing some Free Software there is no boss belittling me or telling me I'm not allowed to do it, and systems created within that paradigm can be a lot more focused on what people really want or need out of software.

        But Free Software hasn't been without its own problems. It emerged from the ivy league US universities and hence much of its history has reflected the sorts of upper middle class interests which people who attend those institutions are accustomed to, which are typically not exactly the same as the general population. Many of the problems we now see are really classism amplified and enforced through technology, and in its current formulation the Free Software movement doesn't have solutions for this. One really obvious indicator of the underlying divide is that most people who develop Free Software can't afford to fly to conferences in arbitrary locations on the globe at least once per year, and this tends to mean that only certain middle class narratives are told and become integrated into the lore of hackerdom. On rare occasions grants might be made available to try to increase diversity, but nobody wants to become someone else's charity case.

        What I think is needed is something like Free Software, but with enough of a surrounding organization to it that the value it generates can't easily be captured by large corporations such as Google. We definitely also need standards making organizations which are not just corporate consortia, as W3C is.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • Telecom's Latest Dumb Claim: The Internet Only Works During A Pandemic Because We Killed Net Neutrality

        A few weeks ago, a new talking point popped up among telecom policy pundits opposed to net neutrality. They began claiming that the only reason the internet hasn't buckled during the pandemic was thanks to the FCC's controversial and unpopular net neutrality repeal. That repeal, you'll recall, not only killed net neutrality, but much of the FCC's ability to hold ISPs accountable for pretty much anything, including outright billing fraud.

    • Digital Restrictions (DRM)

      • Netflix adds 15 million subscribers as people stream more than ever, but warns about tough road ahead

        Netflix is far ahead of its competitors, according to HarrisX, a market research and consulting company that specializes in online polling and data analytics. Netflix took up 72 percent of streaming time in homes, according to a new research report from MoffettNathanson in partnership with HarrisX, “while overall streaming penetration reached 74 percent, implying very healthy subscriber growth in the quarter.”

    • Monopolies

      • The global web of investment agreements could undermine actions to fight COVID-19

        The government actions will put unprecedented pressure on already strained public budgets, particularly those of Global South countries. However, less well known is that they could also prompt a wave of lawsuits by multinational corporations and investment lawyers for the emergency measures taken right now to protect citizens. These claims could be made under a mechanism known as Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), found in the fineprint of almost every investment agreement worldwide. This grants corporations special rights to sue States for laws, regulations and governments’ measures that potentially affect their business – even if they were taken in the face of the biggest emergency health crisis the world has ever faced. Perversely, these potential lawsuits and the financial compensation they seek will only add to the already immense financial burden on many States.


        While claims by corporations against States may seem extraordinary and politically risky, it would not be without precedent. In fact, transnational corporations, backed by investment lawyers and third-party funders, have a history of using international investment agreements to scavenge for profits by suing countries in crisis.

        Argentina’s experience is relevant here. Despite a crisis that shrunk the economy by 28% and pushed half the population below the poverty line, foreign investors were not put off by initiating lawsuits against the embattled government. 42 corporations launched lawsuits, claiming a total of 16 billion dollars.

        Indeed investment lawyers are already readying their corporate clients for the opportunities. On 26 March 2020, international arbitration law firm Aceris Law told its clients “While the future remains uncertain, the response to the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to violate various protections provided in bilateral investment treaties (“BITs”) and may bring rise to claims in the future by foreign investors”. Several other elite law firms released warnings to investors.1

        The Peruvian government has already been warned that the suspension of the collection of toll fees for the country's road network -a measure the government took in the context of COVID crisis- could result in several ICSID claims.

      • With new restrictions on standard-essential patent (SEP) injunctions against connected cars and other IoT products, Japan may leave Old Europe behind

        The Nikki article explains in its first paragraph that the JPO is working on a legislative initiative to deny SEP holders access to injunctive relief in cases in which their patents make only a minor contribution to IoT-related devices, which (as the Nikkei article clarifies) also includes connected cars and medical devices. It's hard to imagine a SEP that would not make only a minor contribution to an IoT product. Most SEPs are extremely underwhelming as they cover simple protocols of the "Hello, how are you? -- Thanks, I'm fine, how about you?" kind as opposed to rocket science. Even the few SEPs that are better than that merely constitute parts of standards with respect to which thousands of patents have been declared essential, and for every SEP there would have been numerous--often virtually infinite--numbers of viable alternatives at the time of standardization.

        Japan wants its high-tech sector to be among the world leaders in IoT. You hear the same elsewhere, especially in the European Union, where one generation of politicians after the other states the ambition to make the economy more innovative while that continent is falling behind the U.S. and East Asia at a worrying pace. By contrast, Japanese policy makers appear to be prepared to not only talk the talk, but to walk the walk. According to Nikkei, the JPO's IoT-related proposal is envisioned to pass into law in 2021.

        A JPO committee has outlined several cornerstones of a 2021 patent reform bill. Patent injunction reform has been discussed internally many times.

        Not only is the JPO working on patent injunction reform but Japan's Ministry of Industry and Economy (METI) is drafting recommendations regarding SEP royalty rates.

      • Patents

        • Federal Circuit: No Fee Award Following Voluntary Dismissal

          The Federal Circuit this morning handed down a short precedential opinion in O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc. v. Timney Triggers, LLC. The opinion is by Judge Hughes, joined by Judges Lourie and Reyna. The basic facts are as follows. The patent owner filed suit against the defendant in 2012. The defendant responded by filing a petition for reexamination with the USPTO, after which the district court stayed the action. Eventually, the PTAB concluded that the challenged claims were invalid, and the plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the district court action pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41. The district court entered an order dismissing the action without prejudice. The defendant then filed a motion for attorneys' fees, which was denied.

        • Broad Reply No. 2 to CVC's Opposition No. 2 to Broad's Motion No 2 to Substitute the Count

          On March 23rd Senior Party The Broad Institute, Harvard University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (collectively, "Broad") filed its Reply to Junior Party the University of California/Berkeley, the University of Vienna, and Emmanuelle Charpentier (collectively, "CVC") Motion No. 2 in Opposition to Broad's Substantive Motion No. 2 to Substitute the Count.


          Broad also argues that CVC's allegation that Proposed Count 2 is broader than the claims in interference is "based on its erroneous interpretation" of the Proposed Count, which is that the Count does not require tracr RNA (which Broad asserts it does).

          With regard to Broad's burden in being granted the relief requested by the PTAB, Broad argues that CVC's challenge regarding Broad's "best proofs" corresponding better to Proposed Count 2 than the current Count are "legally and factually incorrect." Broad supports this allegation by returning to its earlier argument that CVC was wrong in asserting that Broad's earliest eukaryotic application of CRISPR technology was performed with single-molecule guide RNA (calling it "meritless").

        • Software Patents

          • Alice Step 1 — an issue of law based on underlying facts

            The decision the other day in Cardionet, LLC et al. v. Infobionic, Inc. is significant. The decision solidifies that the Alice Step 1 inquiry is an issue of law based on underlying facts. Just as the Berkheimer case did a few years ago — stating that Alice Step 2 is an issue of law based on underlying facts — the Cardionet decision should breathe a little bit of sanity into future patent eligibility decisions by the Federal Circuit, district courts, and the Patent Office.

            The appeal in Cardionet stems from a ruling by a district court judge on a 12(b)(6) motion. Apparently, the district court judge ruled that the claims were abstract ideas and granted the motion. The majority in Cardionet looked to the intrinsic evidence of the written description of the patent-at-issue to determine if there were any asserted advantages provided by the claimed invention. In doing so, the panel found several advantages recited in that patent’s written description. Normally, one would consider a patent’s written description to be intrinsic evidence in a case. The Cardionet majority also cited Visual Memory v. Nvidia for drawing factual inferences from a patent’s written description (specification): “Weighing ‘all factual inferences drawn from the specification . . . in favor of Visual Memory, the non-moving party,’ we reversed the district court’s decision that the claims were ineligible.” Slip Opinion at 15.

          • Will Dismissal on the Pleadings for Section 101 Eligibility Become Rare?

            Should district courts consider eligibility of patent claims under 35 U.S.C. €§ 101 in a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6)? The Western District of Texas seems to think this analysis should wait, and only rarely should Section 101 eligibility be decided on the pleadings. Scanning Technologies Innovations, LLC v. Brightpearl, Inc., 6-20-cv-00114 (W.D. Tex. Apr. 11, 2020, Order). Defendant Brightpearl filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff Scanning Technologies Innovations’ complaint for patent infringement under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The motion was filed on April 10, 2020, a Friday. The next day, Saturday, April 11, the Court issued a text order denying the motion.


            It is striking to see a court claim that resolving Section 101 eligibility on a Rule 12(b) motion should be rare when courts regularly invalidate claims at the pleadings stage. Indeed, prior to the Federal Circuit’s decision in Berkheimer, dismissal seemed to be common. There is a trend for courts to delay patent eligibility decisions past the pleadings stage as plaintiffs have started alleging more facts to survive Rule 12(b) dismissal, but it’s not clear yet whether this is the new normal.

          • Extrinsic Evidence and Abstract Ideas in Patent-Eligibility: CardioNet, LLC v. InfoBionic, Inc.

            In CardioNet, LLC v. InfoBionic, Inc., No. 2019-1149 (Fed. Cir. April 17, 2020), a three-judge panel (Judges Stoll, Plager, and Dyk) reversed the district court’s grant of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion because claims of U.S. Patent No. 7,941,207 “are directed to a patent-eligible improvement to cardiac monitoring technology and are not directed to an abstract idea.” The panel unanimously agreed that the ‘207patent’s claims were patent-eligible – and that a remand was not needed for a “review of the prior art or facts outside of the intrinsic record regarding the state of the art at the time of the invention.” Judge Dyk nonetheless vigorously dissented from what he characterized as dicta in Judge Stoll’s majority opinion suggesting that review of “extrinsic evidence to establish that a practice is longstanding” can be limited.

          • Attorney Fees Following PTAB Invalidation

            After being Dragon sued DISH for patent infringement back in 2013, DISH collaterally attacked the patent with an inter partes review (IPR) proceeding against the asserted US5930444. The district court partially stayed the litigation — stayed as to DISH and another IPR filer (SXM), but continued the litigation proceedings as to eight other defendants.

            Things didn’t go so well for Dragon. Following a claim construction, the district court entered judgment of non-infringement in favor of all defendants (April 2016). Then, the PTAB came back cancelling all of the asserted claims (June 2016). On appeal, the Federal Circuit affirmed the PTAB cancellation and dismissed the district court appeal as moot. On remand, the district court then vacated its prior non-infringement decision and also dismissed the case as moot under US Bancorp and Munsingwear. “A party who seeks review of the merits of an adverse ruling, but is frustrated by the vagaries of circumstance, ought not in fairness be forced to acquiesce in the judgment” U.S. Bancorp Mortg. Co. v. Bonner Mall P’ship, 513 U.S. 18, 25 (1994).

            Following the dismissal for mootness, DISH and SXM requested attorney fees under 35 U.S.C. €§ 285 as the prevailing parties. The district court denied the motion — finding that the parties won the case, but don’t actually count as “prevailing parties” as required by the statute.


            For precedent here the court cites and follows B.E. Tech., L.L.C. v. Facebook, Inc., 940 F.3d 675 (Fed. Cir. 2019). B.E.Tech. has very similar facts with an infringement lawsuit being rendered moot based upon an unpatentability finding during an IPR. One difference is that in B.E.Tech, the defendant was seeking costs under Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(d)(1) rather than attorney fees under 35 U.S.C. €§ 285. However, since both provisions require a “prevailing party,” the court found that the the same rule should apply to both situations.

      • Trademarks

        • New Balance Bags $1.5 Million Win in Chinese Court in Latest Fight Over its “N” Trademark

          Two decades ago, an array of native Chinese companies began offering up sneakers that looked familiar. With their silhouettes that mirror a certain cult “dad” trainer to the appearance of the letter “N” on the side of the shoes, the shoes were dead-ringers for New Balance’s offerings, including, its 31-year old “574” sneaker. The similarities go beyond the shoes, themselves, though, and extend to the companies’ names – from New Boom, New Barlun, New Bunren, etc. – which have a Chinese pronunciation that is “highly similar” to New Balance’s and when written using Chinese character is “identical” to the Chinese spelling of “New Balance,” and their use of a certain stylized letter “N.”

          In the midst of an aggressive fight against an array of these Chinese footwear companies, New Balance has landed a $1.5 million win. In a decision issued on Thursday, the Pudong New Area People’s Court in Shanghai held that New Barlun engaged in “unfair competition,” pointing to the markedly similar “N” logo that appears on its shoes, which “could cause customers to be confused” as to the source of the sneakers and/or their potential connection to or affiliation with New Balance.

        • TTABlog Test: Is SPIKE Merely Descriptive of Clothing and Leather Goods?

          The USPTO refused to register the mark ROCKSTUD SPIKE for various clothing items and leather goods, absent a disclaimer of the word SPIKE. Applicant Valentino contained that the ornamentation on its products did not meet the definition of "spike," it pointed to 19 issued registrations for marks containing the word SPIKE without disclaimer, and it also argued that its mark is unitary and therefore no disclaimer is required. How do you think this appeal came out? In re Valentino S.P.A., Serial No. 79228160 (April 15, 2020) [not precedential] (Opinion by Judge Jyll Taylor).


          Valentino asserted that its goods do not include "long" pieces of metal that are sharply pointed, but that argument fell flat. The Board noted that the ornamentation on applicant's goods have metal pieces that "taper to a point or edge and have an elongated shape in relation to the flat surface on which they are attached," which satisfies the definition of long ("having a greater length than breadth: ELONGATED") and sharp ("[t]apering to a point or edge").

        • Pay A Little More, Hurt A Little Less - Sale Of Counterfeit Goods Highlighted By Social Activist

          First we have to ask ourselves what problems the sale of counterfeit goods are. Abramjee outlined the social issues but these are a knock-on effect of other underlying catalysts. An article by Williams (2018) provides a useful summation in this regard, citing that, loss of economic activity and revenue of a country and worldwide, supporting the illicit market, that genuine and legitimate employment is lost, that innovation is discouraged and that foreign investment is lost.

          Statistics surrounding sale of counterfeit goods vary across different sources. A very reliable source perhaps is the World Trademark Review, which drew its numbers from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and the European Union Intellectual Property Office and their respective reports on the matter done in 2013 and 2016 respectively. Their statistics relate to trades made across borders globally (as opposed to nationally, which represent higher figures such as the R100 billion of which Abramjee describes) and the figures provided are projections forecasted for 2022.

      • Copyrights

        • Your “Tiger King” Intellectual Property Questions Answered by Ross Broudy

          Did the popular Netflix show Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness leave you with questions surrounding Joe Exotic’s legal battles with Carole Baskin and Big Cat Rescue Corporation?

          You may recall that episode four of the series detailed Joe Exotic’s use of logos and photographs owned by Carole Baskin and her company, Big Cat Rescue. Ultimately, Carole Baskin and Big Cat Rescue prevailed in a trio of intellectual property lawsuits, which contributed to Joe Exotic’s “financial downfall.”

          But how did Joe Exotic’s use of a logo and photographs result in liability of over $1 million? The documentary did not delve into much detail concerning the lawsuits and viewers have been asking questions. Accordingly, we took a stab at answering your “Tiger King” IP-related questions.

          What exactly was Exotic liable for?

          Three separate lawsuits were filed by Carole Baskin and Big Cat Rescue against Joe Exotic and his company Big Cat Rescue Entertainment (BCR Entertainment). One lawsuit involved trademark claims alleging infringement of the Big Cat Rescue logo; another lawsuit involved copyright claims alleging infringement of a photo with three bunnies (as depicted in the show); and yet another involved copyright claims alleging infringement of several other photos. In each lawsuit, the court found Exotic/BCR Entertainment liable for the alleged claims. Consequently, the court ordered Exotic/BCR Entertainment to pay Big Cat Rescue $953,000 in the trademark lawsuit, $50,000 in the copyright lawsuit involving the bunnies photo, and $25,000 in the other copyright lawsuit. (Because the copyright lawsuit that involves other photos was not discussed on the show and involved similar claims, this blog does not discuss that suit.)

          What happened in the trademark lawsuit?

          The trademark lawsuit centered around Joe Exotic’s alleged use of the Big Cat Rescue logo on a BCR Entertainment business card. The logo and business card can be found on pages four and six of the complaint in the trademark suit.

          Joe Exotic created a company called Big Cat Rescue Entertainment (BCR Entertainment) to sound like Carole Baskin’s company Big Cat Rescue. Baskin alleged that BCR Entertainment created its business card to cause confusion between the two companies.

          To establish its claim for trademark infringement, Baskin’s Big Cat Rescue argued the BCR Entertainment name was confusingly similar to her Big Cat Rescue name by showing that the BCR Entertainment business card imitated the Big Cat Rescue logo’s stylized text, copied the snow leopard image from the Big Cat Rescue website, and displayed a Florida phone number in the bottom right corner to trick consumers into believing BCR Entertainment was actually Baskin’s Big Cat Rescue.

          The court agreed that BCR Entertainment’s business card constituted trademark infringement because it caused consumer confusion between the two companies. Accordingly, the judge ordered BCR Entertainment/Joe Exotic to pay $953,000 to Baskin’s Big Cat Rescue and issued an injunction to prevent further use of the infringing logo.

          What happened in the $50,000 copyright lawsuit?

        • CovEducation, Copyright and Fair Use in India

          The coronavirus pandemic and the consequent lockdowns across the globe has completely turned our everyday lives upside down. Social distancing, work from home and online classes are the current norm. While we adjust to this new normal, issues surrounding the uncertainty of how copyright law applies to online education have cropped up. This post analyzes the position of Indian law on the copyright related questions that have arisen in other jurisdictions in the wake of online teaching and the scope of educational fair use provisions under the law.


          Second, digital libraries are very much becoming a part of our higher educational infrastructure. Copyright law must be amended to comprehensively deal with the digital environment as the law relating to traditional libraries is quite inadequate in its application to digital spaces. Questions surrounding multiple users accessing the same resource, availability of the copyrighted work on the internet through digital libraries etc., cannot be analogically addressed using the present law.

          Third, the fact that copyright issues are still a consideration during a pandemic shows that the law and policy haven’t really contemplated extraordinary situations. While one wouldn’t necessarily make the immediate connection between copyright law and national emergencies, the need to restore normalcy right now largely depends on our ability to carry on those activities that we can, within our spatial confinements – and education is definitely the most important one among these. Issues of digital access apart, making available academic resources to students through the internet, at least in the same manner that physical resources would have been offered (library borrowing, copying etc.) is imperative. For instance, the fair use provisions can be expanded during situations of emergencies, to allow schools and universities to shift their library catalogues to digital databases or online repositories, share course-packs and lecture recordings etc., without having to wait for licensing or permission from copyright owners.

        • Copyright Evidence Wiki April 2020 Round-Up

          Sims’ (2019) literature review of students’ knowledge of copyright concludes that “kids these days… may know more about copyright than you”. The study shows that students regularly think about copying, sharing, permissions and accreditation, which may be due to an immersion in e.g. social media. Because of this, students are more willing to engage with the realities and assessment of everyday infringement. Younger students also demonstrate the ability to assess questionable content (e.g. on YouTube) more quickly and efficiently than older generations.

        • Linkvertise Threatens to Sue Universal Bypass over Copyright Infringement

          Universal Bypass is a popular browser extension that circumvents annoying URL shorteners and trackers. While this is a blessing for the public at large, the outfits behind URL shorteners and the people who use them to make money are not happy. Linkvertise made this very clear to the Universal Bypass developer, threatening him with a copyright infringement lawsuit.

        • Author Wins Piracy Case After Accepting Just $9,000 in Damages

          Author John Van Stry has won his copyright infringement lawsuit against former Pirate Party of Canada leader Travis McCrea and his long-defunct eBook download platform After a year of stressful litigation, the court asked the author to consider reducing his $180,000 damages claim to $9,000 to avoid a full trial. Van Stry accepted but with McCrea now claiming to be broke, it remains to be seen whether the amount will ever be recovered.

        • Why Sharing Academic Publications Under “No Derivatives” Licenses is Misguided

          Academic fraud, whether in the guise of cheating, copying, plagiarism€ or using the services of essay mills, is no doubt a serious issue for the academic community the world over. This age-old problem has been happening since long before digital technologies and open licenses (such as CC Licenses) were on the scene, however. Clearly, OA is neither to blame for academic fraud nor does it invite it or make it worse.€ 

        • Copyright and Crisis: Filters Are Not the Answer

          It’s been a joke for years now, from the days when Facebook was just a website where you said you were eating a sandwich and Instagram was just where you posted photos of said sandwich, but, right now, we really are living our everyday lives online. Teachers are trying to teach classes online, librarians are trying to host digital readings, and trainers are trying to offer home classes.

          With more people entering the online world, more people are encountering the barriers created by copyright. Now is no time to make those barriers higher, but a new petition directed at tech companies does exactly that, and in the process tries to do for the US what Article 17 of last's year's European Copyright Directive is doing for Europe—create a rule requiring online service providers to send everything we post to the Internet to black-box machine learning filters that will block anything that the filters classify as "copyright infringement."

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