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Links 18/12/2020: SolarWinds/Microsoft Nightmare, Raspberry Pi Targets Industrial Customers

  • GNU/Linux

    • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Applications

      • Best Free Tools to Find and Delete Duplicate Files

        Even though the cost of storage per GB continues to fall, it’s common for users to need to find and remove duplicates files. Duplicates can stem from any file stored on your computer, be it images, software, music, video or what not. The process of finding and removing duplicates is time-consuming. Considering the volume of duplicate files, this is easier said than done. Fortunately, there are a number of tools that are designed to remove the laborious nature of finding duplicates by scanning and detecting your system for duplicate files in every format.

        Duplicate files are a real annoyance. Aside from using disk space, these files do nothing but clutter up your drive, make your PC run slower, and increase the difficulty level significantly when it comes to finding the right version of a specific file: is it the one I just updated, or the other one?

        Good duplicate finding software compares more than just a filename – including the file size – so it doesn’t remove files which are different to each other. You need reliable software. But always make sure you are making regular backups. And test the backups actually work.

      • espanso – smart and efficient text expander

        Linux offers a vast collection of open source small utilities that perform functions ranging from the obvious to the bizarre. It’s the quality and selection of these tools that help Linux stand out as a productive environment. A good utility cooperates with other applications, integrating seamlessly.

        It has often been said that information confers power, and that the most important currency in our culture today is information. Keeping track of bits and pieces of information is a minefield.

        In part, this is because of passable short term memory, coupled with what can only be described as ‘brain fog’. To combat this, we arm myself with open source software that helps us efficiently capture a lot of information. We generally prefer to keep our information local and cloud-free, primarily for security reasons. And we primarily advance software which doesn’t tie itself to any specific company or service, whether it’s Evernote, Google, or Microsoft.

        espanso is a text expander, software that detects when you type a specific keyword and replaces it with something else. espanso is free and open source written in Rust.

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • OpenBSD on TECLAST F7 Plus

        I got myself a TECLAST F7 Plus laptop. It comes preinstalled with Windows 10 but I planned to use it as my daily driver. So I installed OpenBSD 6.8 on it.

      • How to edit a text in Linux using Nano – A beginner’s guide

        Many new Linux users feel intimidated by the classical Linux text editors, i.e. mainly VIM and EMACS since they require a prior knowledge of basic shortcuts and some Linux basics knowhow. Fortunately for beginners there is a simple yet powerful newbie friendly text editor called NANO. NANO comes pre-installed with Ubuntu and other similar distros. It is a versatile and reliable text editor that offers all the basic functionalities a user would expect like editing operations (search, replace, cut and paste), syntax highlighting as well as spell checking and many more features. In this article we will take you through the steps of using the NANO text editor. Let’s get started.

      • Using the Linux arping command to ping local systems | Network World

        The arping command is one of the lesser known commands that works much like the ping command.

        The name stands for “arp ping” and it’s a tool that allows you to perform limited ping requests in that it collects information on local systems only. The reason for this is that it uses a Layer 2 network protocol and is, therefore, non-routable. The arping command is used for discovering and probing hosts on your local network.

      • How To Install GIMP on Linux Mint 20 - idroot

        In this tutorial, we will show you how to install GIMP on Linux Mint 20. For those of you who didn’t know, GIMP is a free and open-source image editor used for retouching and editing images. From retouching to restoring to creative composites, the only limit is your imagination. GIMP is used for producing icons, graphical design elements, and art for user interface components and mockups. GIMP provides top-notch color management features to ensure high-fidelity color reproduction across digital and printed media.

        This article assumes you have at least basic knowledge of Linux, know how to use the shell, and most importantly, you host your site on your own VPS. The installation is quite simple and assumes you are running in the root account, if not you may need to add ‘sudo‘ to the commands to get root privileges. I will show you through the step by step installation of the GIMP image editor on a Linux Mint 20 (Ulyana).

      • How To Install Chromium on Linux Mint 20 - idroot

        In this tutorial, we will show you how to install Chromium on Linux Mint 20. For those of you who didn’t know, The Chromium project covers two utilities such as Chromium and Chromium OS, which are the open-source projects of the Google Chrome browser and Google Chrome OS. Chromium has been developed as an open-source browser project whose critical mission is to offer a more secure, faster, and more stable way to navigate the web where threats are constant at every minute.

        This article assumes you have at least basic knowledge of Linux, know how to use the shell, and most importantly, you host your site on your own VPS. The installation is quite simple and assumes you are running in the root account, if not you may need to add ‘sudo‘ to the commands to get root privileges. I will show you through the step by step installation of Chromium web browser on a Linux Mint 20 (Ulyana).

      • How To Upgrade From Linux Mint 19.3 To Mint 20

        Are you a Linux Mint user who's been putting off upgrading to Mint 20?

        Upgrading can be fraught with issues, from bugs to losing files and reconfiguring settings. Fortunately, the Mint team provides a handy tool for upgrading without having to completely reinstall Mint.

        Many of the bugs and glitches inevitable with any new release have been fixed in Mint 20, and its speed and efficiency are greater than ever.

      • FreeBSD send e-mail with attachments from command line or shell prompt
      • How to Install Zabbix 5 on Raspberry Pi 4? – Linux Hint

        Zabbix is an open-source monitoring tool, and with it, you can monitor your servers, virtual machines, networks, cloud services, and many more. It is a very useful tool for small, medium, and large IT organizations.

        In this article, I will show you how to install Zabbix 5 on Raspberry Pi 4. So, let’s get started!

      • How to convert MP4 to MP3 in Linux | FOSS Linux

        MPEG-4 video file format, commonly known as MP4, is one of the most common media formats used for video files. It’s a highly versatile video extension that supports audio, images, and subtitles all together in one file.

        Once in a while, you might want to convert your MP4 video files to MP3 audio files. MP3, which stands for “MPEG Audio Layer-3,” is one of the most common audio formats used for music playback.

      • How to install Spotify client on Kali Linux - Linux Shout

        Spotify is the popular medium to listen to various songs and podcasts using an internet connection. We can use the client applications provided by Spotify to stream music on all major platforms such as Windows, Linux, macOS, Android, and iOS.

        So, if you are a Kali Linux user and want to install Spotify on it so that besides working on stressful full network security and penetration testing you can enjoy your favorite music as well.

        Spotify is available in the form of Debian and SNAP packages, thus we can use both to install the client of this music streaming service. However, the easiest one is the repo.

      • bpytop - Awesome Linux, macOS and FreeBSD resource monitor - nixCraft

        The bashtop is an impressive Linux resource monitor that shows usage and stats for processor, memory, disks, and network. However, it suffers from bash itself, and cross-platform support is a nightmare. Now we have the Python port of bashtop. We can use a resource monitor that shows usage and stats for CPU, RAM, SSD (hard disk), network, and processes information in a lovely format.

      • chmod Command in Linux (Managing File Permissions) – TecAdmin

        Linux chmod command is used to change access permissions of files and directories. In this article, you will learn how to change permissions of any file or directory with chmod command. We have already described the Linux file permissions.

      • What IP - A Network Information Tool for Linux

        What IP is a graphical-based simple network information tool which provides information about IP address and listening ports. It is written in Python and GTK3. It is released under GPL3 license and the source code is available in GitLab.

      • Bash Get Current Directory

        In Linux, all tasks done through the command line require users to access adequate directories. There are different types of directories in a computer system with Linux or Ubuntu OS. Users can access each directory through the terminal, and interact with them. There are multiple options, and each time users interact with the command prompt of the current directory they are working.

        The Linux system responds by providing information against each input request. The achieved output is standard and printed to the shell prompt. In this tutorial, we will dig deep into the ways of accessing the current working directory and how users can switch from one directory or location to another, followed by relevant examples. The command used for accessing the current working directory will help them access any location in their system anytime, as per their requirements.

      • How to manage systemd on Linux

        systemd is the initialization system for Linux that replaced the aging collection of startup scripts, often called System V. Those individual scripts were responsible for starting various functions for the system and were controlled by a “superscript.” One of the biggest problems with this init system is that if the init daemon couldn’t start, none of the necessary processes could then be initialized, which stopped a system at the kernel panic stage.

      • How to prepare for Linux system administrator certification exams | Enable Sysadmin

        How you can get the most out of your study time as you approach the Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA) and Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) exams.

      • 23 Fundamental apt-get and apt-cache Commands You Need to Manage Your System – Linux Hint

        The “apt-get” and “apt-cache” commands are very frequently used commands in the Linux environment. The former command mainly allows you to install, update, and remove packages, whereas the latter lets you search for packages and their related information. Both of these commands have their specific use cases, however, most of the users are not aware of their exact capabilities except for their basic usage. Therefore, today we have decided to share with you the twenty-three different examples where you can use “apt-get” and “apt-cache” commands to manage your system.

      • Using Pod’s with Podman on Fedora

        This article shows the reader how easy it is to get started using pods with Podman on Fedora. But what is Podman? Well, we will start by saying that Podman is a container engine developed by Red Hat, and yes, if you thought about Docker when reading container engine, you are on the right track. A whole new revolution of containerization started with Docker, and Kubernetes added the concept of pods in the area of container orchestration when dealing with containers that share some common resources. But hold on! Do you really think it is worth sticking with Docker alone by assuming it’s the only effective way of containerization? Podman can also manage pods on Fedora as well as the containers used in those pods.

      • Understanding systemd-resolved, Split DNS, and VPN Configuration – Michael Catanzaro's Blog

        So, systemd-resolved is enabled by default in Fedora 33. Most users won’t notice the difference, but if you use VPNs — or depend on DNSSEC, more on that at the bottom of this post — then systemd-resolved might be big deal for you. When testing Fedora 33, we found one bug report where a user discovered that systemd-resolved broke his VPN configuration. After this bug was fixed, and nobody reported any further issues, I was pretty confident that migration to systemd-resolved would go smoothly. Then Fedora 33 was released, and I noticed a significant number of users on Ask Fedora and Reddit asking for help with broken VPNs, problems that Fedora 33 beta testers had failed to detect. This was especially surprising to me because Ubuntu has enabled systemd-resolved by default since Ubuntu 16.10, so we were four full years behind Ubuntu here, which should have been plenty of time for any problems to be ironed out. So what went wrong?

        First, let’s talk about how things worked before systemd-resolved, so we can see what was wrong and why we needed change. We’ll see how split DNS with systemd-resolved is different than traditional DNS. Finally, we’ll learn how custom VPN software must configure systemd-resolved to avoid problems that result in broken DNS.

        I want to note that, although I wrote the Fedora change proposal and have done some evangelism on behalf of systemd-resolved, I’m not a systemd developer and haven’t contributed any code to systemd-resolved.

      • DNS for Beginners: How DNS Works, Types of DNS Records, & How to Examine DNS Using Dig? – Linux Hint

        Domain Name Systems, or DNS, is an essential part of configuring networks, websites, and servers. When you learn how DNS works and how you can apply its use to real-life networks, diagnosing network problems becomes a breeze. Moreover, mastering the ins and outs of working with DNS will also give you a deep understanding of what goes on behind the scenes of DNS lookup and validations.

        This tutorial will help you learn fundamental DNS concepts that will help you get started with DNS configuration. After reading this guide, you should be able to modify DNS on your local system or even set up a personal DNS server.

        Before we dive into how to setup DNS servers and resolve domains, let’s go over some basic DNS concepts that’ll help you understand what DNS is and how it works.

      • How to Install and setup Selenium with Firefox on Ubuntu

        Selenium is an automated web testing framework. Using this, we can automate the browser functioning for testing any web application.

        Using selenium, you can run predefined code to navigate multiple pages and test applications with predefined rules.

        In this guide will see how to install and set up selenium with Firefox on Ubuntu and Other Debian-based systems.

        You need to follow this guide step by step and make sure not to skip any step.

      • How to Install GNOME Desktop in Arch Linux [Complete Guide]

        This guide explains the steps you need to install GNOME Desktop in Arch Linux. This guide has two parts. The first part deals with installing the base Arch system. The second part is installing the complete GNOME desktop environment on top of Arch Linux.

    • Games

      • The Humble Winter Indie Mix Bundle is live with Deponia, Butcher, Armello | GamingOnLinux

        The latest bundle full of games from Humble and various indie teams, with a few good picks that have Linux builds too. Here's a look at what to expect from it. Games that have Linux builds are highlighted as usual to make it easy for you.

      • Wasteland 3 now available on Linux from inXile Entertainment | GamingOnLinux

        inXile Entertainment have today officially released Wasteland 3 for Linux (and macOS), following on from their successful Fig campaign in 2016 and Windows release in August 2020.

        Acting as a sequel to their 2014 hit, Wasteland 3 is a squad-based RPG with challenging tactical turn-based combat and a deep, reactive story full of twists, turns, and brutal ethical decisions. You get to create and customize a squad of up to six Rangers, plus you get a powerful customizable truck too which you can equip with some fun weapons.

        From the brief release announcement, "We greatly appreciate your patience as we worked to bring the game to these OS’, and we’re happy to have it playable for you before the end of the year. We hope you enjoy exploring post-apocalyptic Colorado during your holiday break.".

      • The renaissance and evolution of indie games

        It’s important to mention the role of the game engines in this. In recent years, many of the tools and engines have been striving to make their features more and more accessible to noncoders and young people, thus bringing new communities and talent into the indie space, as young people who try it out are getting further and carrying it on.

        As a consequence of being more accessible, we’ve seen the adoption of game design by teachers into high school curricula, to support the learning of computing, problem-solving, and creativity; and colleges using game engines in the teaching of art. This has helped to attract many more young people into games, causing a huge influx of young people with game design experience and fantastic creative energy who are looking to bring their own ingenuity to the indie game making process.

      • AWS are now funding Blender development for three years

        Not long after Facebook joined in, we now have AWS (Amazon Web Services) funding Blender at a Patron Member meaning they will give the Blender Foundation at least €120K a year and they've commited themselves to three years. This funding is going towards improving Blender's character animation tools development.

      • AWS joins the Blender Development Fund

        Today Blender Foundation announced that AWS has joined the Blender Development Fund as a Patron Member to support continued core development and innovation for Blender. AWS committed to a period of three years, specifically to support character animation tools development.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • Qt Design Studio 2.0 released

          Qt Design Studio is a UI design and development tool that enables designers and developers to rapidly prototype and create beautiful experiences. Both designers and developers use Qt Design Studio and this makes collaboration between the two a lot simpler and more streamlined.


          Qt Design Studio 2.0 comes with a crash reporter based on Google Crashpad. Crashpad is a mechanism for capturing, storing, and transmitting postmortem crash reports from an application to an upstream collection server. We use Sentry as the backend service. By default, Crashpad does not upload the generated crash reports, since it captures arbitrary contents from the crashed Qt Design Studio process memory. Therefore the dump could contain confidential information like e.g. project names. Therefore we must ask for consent and Crashpad has to be explicitly enabled, to upload the generated crash reports. Users are also able to share the locally generated crash reports manually with the Qt Support team.

          The rationale behind this is that it is an unfortunate truth that any large piece of complex software will contain bugs that will cause it to occasionally crash. Even in the absence of bugs, drivers and incompatibilities can cause Qt Design Studio to crash.

    • Distributions

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • Delivering osinfo-db updates automatically for Flatpak users – Felipe Borges

          If you are familiar with GNOME Boxes internals you are aware that our secret sauce is libosinfo. It does the OS image detection and provides us with a database of devices, preferences, and compatibility for the operating systems we support.

          In the world of traditional package management tools, osinfo-db is the package responsible for delivering updates about new operating system’s releases, fixes, and improvements that Boxes will consume. So whenever you wonder why the newest EndlessOS or the newest Debian release isn’t listed in the Boxes download section, it is likely that osinfo-db is outdated.


          For this reason, Flatpak users of GNOME Boxes will now benefit from the OsinfoDb Flatpak extension. It allows us to deliver osinfo-db updates direclty to users without updating the entire Boxes Flatpak. If you are receiving automatic updates in GNOME Software, the osinfo-db update is seamlessly.

        • F33-20201215 updated isos Released | Jbwillia's Weblog

          The Fedora Respins SIG is pleased to announce the latest release of Updated F33-20201215-Live ISOs, carrying the 5.9.13-200 kernel.

          This set of updated isos will save considerable amounts of updates after install. ((for new installs.)(New installs of Workstation have about 800MB+ of updates)).

        • Fedora program update: 2020-51 – Fedora Community Blog

          Here’s your report of what has happened in Fedora this week. System-Wide Change proposals for Fedora 34 or Changes that require a mass rebuild are due by Tuesday 29 December.

          This is the last Fedora program update for 2020! There will be no FPgM office hours until Wednesday, 9 January 2021.

        • Implementing storage: Approaches for stateful financial services applications on Kubernetes configurations

          Financial institutions face technical and compliance challenges when implementing storage on Kubernetes platforms. We outlined some of the regulatory overlays affecting financial institutions and technology solutions that can help with compliance in a previous post. In this post, we describe the considerations possible from an architectural viewpoint.

        • Interview with Red Hat's Mike McGrath About CentOS Stream
      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • UBports Announces Ubuntu Touch OTA-15 With F(x)tec Phone Support
          After Ubuntu Touch OTA-12, OTA-13, and OTA-14 this year, the UBports team has now announced the release of its fifteenth stable Over-The-Air (OTA) update called Ubuntu Touch OTA-15.

          As usual, the new OTA means Ubuntu Touch OS will support for more new mobile devices and brings number of improvements. Let’s see what it has to offer...

        • Linux Mint 20.1 Beta has Been Released

          The first beta of Linux Mint, Ulyssa, is now available for downloading.

          Fans of Linux Mint are everywhere, and they’re vocal about their love for the distribution. So it should come as no surprise that their Christmas has come a bit early this year, thanks to the release of the beta version of Linux Mint 20.1, Ulyssa.

          Linux Mint 20.1 is based on the latest Long Term Support release of Ubuntu Linux (20.04). And, like always, Linux Mint (even in its beta form) is available to install with one of three outstanding desktop environments: Cinnamon, MATE, and Xfce.

          Along with all of the goodness that comes with Ubuntu 20.04, Linux Mint Ulyssa has gained a few new features of its own, including two new color schemes (pink and aqua), a new tool for sharing encrypted files over a network (called Warpinator), a new Web App Manager, which can turn any website into a panel-pinnable “app” that behaves like a normal desktop application, and of course the new Hypnotix IPTV client, which allows you to watch television shows within the app.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Contributing to Open Source For Dummies

        Many users of open source software may feel the need of giving something back to the community that gave them all of these benefits they are enjoying, but my face an obstacle of being unexperienced. Average users may not know how to code or design, and hence, may just give up on contributing anything back since they do not have the necessary skills.

        But that’s not true.

        Today we’ll see some ways in which the average users of open source software can contribute to these projects, even if they have no experience at all. No designing, no programming… No issue, you can still contribute to open source.

      • SaaS/Back End/Databases

      • FSF

        • Share this holiday fairy tale to teach your loved ones about free software

          Computer programs can do all sorts of magical things with the tap of a finger: carry messages across the planet in seconds, bring thousands of people together at online events, or smooth flaws off of photographed faces. Software is an incredibly useful tool, and your computer or cell phone drop all of this magic right into your lap or the palm of your hand.

          But, like any powerful spell, you can easily become entangled by a dark side to software: the people who created that spell can use it as a means to control you. In this video, we see how the makers of a very useful tool cleverly ensnare Wendell the Elf by offering him a tool to make his life easier – but the ShoeTool is actually a trap, meant to force him to make only the shoes the tool's manufacturer approves.

      • Programming/Development

        • Dirk Eddelbuettel: RcppEigen New upstream

          A new release of RcppEigen arrived on CRAN today (and just went to Debian too) bringing support for Eigen 3.3.9 to R. Eigen is a C++ template library for linear algebra: matrices, vectors, numerical solvers, and related algorithms.

          The release started with a gentle nudge from the Stan team to package Eigen 3.3.8. And once I got around to it and sat down, Eigen 3.3.9 had just been released the previous day. The freshly prepared release was then announced on Twitter (and the rcpp-devel mailing list) along with a request for testing alongside the usual extended reverse dependency checking we do (just like CRAN asks us to). And it turns out that Eigen 3.3.9 required an update to StanHeaders, a CRAN package that is itself quite widely used. This took a couple of days and its round of testing, but Ben Goodrich shipped it to CRAN last night, so we were able to ship RcppEigen in turn today.

        • Perl/Raku

          • Day 18: Typed Raku, Part 1: Taming State – Raku Advent Calendar

            When I started learning Raku a couple years back, one of the first features that stuck out to me was its type system. This is one I feel gets overlooked at times. I found this to be rather difficult to wrap my head around at first, but I found that relying on strict typing can lead to simpler, more robust code that can better cope with changes as time goes on. I’ll be using chess to demonstrate this, but there are some fundamentals to cover first.

        • Shell/Bash/Zsh/Ksh

        • PHP

          • Use of basename() in PHP

            The basename() function is a built-in function of PHP that retrieves the filename from a given path. It can be used to print only the name of the file from a filename or file path. This function can also be used to print the existing script name. The main purpose of this function is to find out the filename or current script name for any programming purposes. How the basename() function can be used in PHP is shown in this tutorial.

          • Use of fread() in PHP

            PHP has many built-in functions to read the content of any file. Some of them are fread(), readfile(), fgets(), fscanf(), file(), etc. Some functions need to open the file before reading, and some can read the file content without opening it. fread() function reads the content of the file after opening. This function works with another built-in function named fopen(). How the content of the file can be read in PHP by using the fread() function is shown in this tutorial.

          • Return Multiple Values From the Function in PHP

            The function can return value to the caller by using the return statement in any programming language. This statement can also be used in PHP to return single and multiple values from the function. Array and object variables are used to store multiple values. Multiple values can be returned from the PHP function by using these types of variables. This tutorial shows the ways to return multiple values from the function using PHP script.

          • Use of cURL Functions in PHP

            cURL is a library to transfer information by using different types of protocols. The full form of cURL is the Client for URL. Two types of libraries exist for cURL. One library is curl that is a command-line tool, and it is used to send or receive files using URL. HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, FTPS, TELNET, FILE, etc., protocols are supported by curl. Another library is libcurl that is introduced by Daniel Stenberg in 1997. It is used to connect and communicate with different types of servers by using different types of protocols. All protocols of curl are supported by libcurl also. Without these protocols, libcurl supports HTTP POST, HTTP PUT, HTTPS certificates, FTP uploading, HTTP based upload, HTTP proxy tunnelling, authentication, etc. The article shows the uses of curl functions of the cURL library using PHP script.

          • Use of $_ GET and $_ POST in PHP

            $_GET, and $_POST are array variables of PHP which are used to read submitted data by HTML form using the get and post method accordingly. Two main differences exist between these two variables. The values of the $_GET array are visible in the URL after submitting the HTML form, but the values of the $_POST array are not visible. $_GET array is used for working with unsecure data, and $_POST array is used for working with secure and large amounts of data. How these two array variables can be used in PHP to read data from the form has shown in this tutorial.

  • Leftovers

    • Education

      • Countries with Advanced Digital Skills and Safety Nets Doing Better in Pandemic, Report Says

        In this year’s Global Competitiveness Report, the World Economic Forum measures the ability of countries to weather and recover from the devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

        Because of the pandemic and the inability to collect necessary data, country rankings in the report have been suspended. Instead, it examines the factors that help economies better manage and recover from the pandemic.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • Did Trump Deliberately Pursue Genocide via His "Herd Immunity" Strategy?
      • “No Reason to Let Up” on Masks as U.S. COVID-19 Deaths & Infections Skyrocket During Vaccine Rollout

        As the “very exciting” rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution gets underway in the United States, Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, says the country is still experiencing “astronomical” numbers of new infections and deaths. “We’ve just had a federal government that has given up on any efforts to try and control the pandemic,” he says. “What we have to do is get through the next few months with basic public health measures until vaccines become widely available and widely adopted. Until that time, there is no reason to let up whatsoever.”

      • As Wealthy Countries Hoard Vaccine Supply, Pandemic Could Rage in Poor Countries Until 2024

        Health experts are raising concerns that wealthy countries have reserved enough coronavirus vaccine doses to immunize their populations multiple times over, while poorer countries may only have enough to vaccinate about 20%. Reuters reports the World Health Organization’s global plan for delivering COVID-19 vaccines to 91 poor and middle-income countries faces a “very high” risk of failure and could leave billions of people with no access to vaccines until 2024. “What we see is that something like 90% of all the vaccine doses that have been purchased have actually been done directly by countries, mostly middle-income and high-income countries,” says Dr. Krishna Udayakumar, founding director of the Duke Global Health Innovation Center, who has been tracking COVID-19 vaccine purchases around the world. “What we are seeing is a lot of side deals, in essence, where people are trying to also ensure that they are hedging their bets to make this work.”

      • Warm and fuzzy Russia The highlights from Putin’s annual press conference, in a nutshell

        On Thursday, December 17, Russian President Vladimir Putin held his sixteenth annual marathon press conference — albeit via video link. He answered questions from journalists for nearly five hours straight, covering everything from Russia’s “Sputnik V” coronavirus vaccine, to the latest allegations about opposition figure Alexey Navalny’s poisoning, and New Year’s benefits for families. Here are the highlights, in a nutshell.

      • Palestinians Left to Wait—and Die—as Israel Prepares to Vaccinate Against Covid-19

        "Israel has the legal, moral, and humanitarian responsibility to vaccinate the Palestinian population, which lives in distress under its control," wrote the editors of one leading Tel-Aviv paper.€ 

      • US COVID-19 Deaths and Infections Shatter Records During Vaccine Rollout
      • Frontline Warehouse Workers Are Worried They'll Be Passed Over for COVID Vaccine
      • Detection and analysis of cancer improved by collaboration through an Open Source project

        So the researchers decided to “bring the algorithms and processing tools to the data, not the other way around”, as project leader Klaus Maier-Hein said. In the first phase of the development of the JIP, a uniform processing infrastructure is created at all participating sites. From there, the image analysis algorithms can be executed, trained and developed in a standardised manner. This makes the easy exchange and comparison of methods and results across sites possible.

        JIP is made possible through the use of the Open Source toolkit for state of the art platform provisioning in the field of medical data analysis Kaapana. Kaapana is specifically built for AI-based workflows and federated learning scenarios in radiological and radiotherapeutic imaging. As the software is federated, the actual analysis is run locally in the sites and only the distributed method development itself is shared.

      • Swedish King Says Nation’s Controversial Covid Plan Failed

        Prime Minister Stefan Lofven also voiced his displeasure.

        “The King observes, as we and many others have, that the fact that so many people have died cannot be seen as anything else than a failure,” Lofven told reporters in Stockholm on Thursday.

      • AIIMS, IICT rule in pesticides for Eluru mysterious disease

        Pesticides could be a reason for outbreak of the mysterious disease in Eluru. This emerged during a video conference Chief Minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy had with experts from various fields. Incidentally, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) and other reputed institutions have confirmed that residues of pesticides could be the reason for such an outbreak.

      • Jacob Rees Mogg says Unicef should be 'ashamed' for feeding Britain's hungry kids

        Tory millionaire Jacob Rees-Mogg went to war with Unicef after the UN agency stepped in to feed hungry British children.

        The Commons Leader launched a blistering attack on its decision to grant €£25,000 so kids could be fed in South London.

        Unicef - which is known for providing disaster relief in some of the world's poorest countries - said it would help feed 1,800 needy children over Christmas for the first time in its 70-year history.

      • California hospitals buckle as virus cases surge

        Hospitals across California have all but run out of intensive care beds for COVID-19 patients, ambulances are backing up outside emergency rooms, and tents for triaging the sick are going up as the nation’s most populous state emerges as the latest epicenter of the U.S. outbreak.

        On Thursday, California reported a staggering 52,000 new cases in a single day — equal to what the entire U.S. was averaging in mid-October — and a one-day record of 379 deaths. More than 16,000 people are in the hospital with the coronavirus across the state, more than triple the number a month ago.

      • Alabama GOP congressman becomes 4th House member in a week to disclose Covid-19 diagnosis - CNNPolitics

        Republican Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama wrote on Twitter Thursday that he tested positive for Covid-19 and was experiencing mild symptoms, the fourth member of Congress in the past week to announce a positive test for the coronavirus.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Russia-Linked SolarWinds [Attack] Ensnares Widening List of Victims [iophk: Windows TCO]

          Bloomberg News reported that at least three state governments were [cracked]. That was followed by reports of other breaches: the city network in Austin, Texas, and the U.S. nuclear weapons agency. Late in the day software giant Microsoft Corp. said its systems were exposed.

        • Microsoft Says Its Systems Were Exposed to SolarWinds [Attack] [iophk: Windows TCO]

          Reuters reported earlier that Microsoft was [cracked] and that its systems were used to attack other entities, citing people familiar with the matter.

        • Microsoft president sounds alarm on ‘ongoing’ SolarWinds [attack], identifies 40 more precise targets [iophk: Windows TCO]

          Microsoft president Brad Smith warned that the wide-ranging [crack] of the SolarWinds’ Orion IT software is “ongoing,” and that investigations reveal “an attack that is remarkable for its scope, sophistication and impact.” The breach targeted several US government agencies and is believed to have been carried out by Russian nation-state [attackers].

          Smith characterized the [attack] as “a moment of reckoning” and laid out in no uncertain terms just how large and how dangerous Microsoft believes the [attack] to be. It “represents an act of recklessness that created a serious technological vulnerability for the United States and the world,” Smith argues.

        • Federal government finds evidence [attackers] used multiple methods to access agency networks [iophk: Windows TCO]

          The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Agency (CISA) put out an alert detailing the attack, widely reported to be carried out by a Russian military [cracking] group, on IT company SolarWinds.

          By infiltrating a vulnerability in the company’s Orion software, the group was able to access federal networks, with DHS, the Commerce, State and Treasury departments, and branches of the Pentagon among the agencies reportedly breached, with the [attackers] potentially having had access to the networks since March.

        • Biden vows to make cybersecurity 'imperative' following massive [attack]

          Earlier this week, it was revealed that foreign [crackers] breached a Texas-based third-party IT provider, SolarWinds, which has various clients across government and the private sector. The [attackers] are said to have breached some government agencies, including the Treasury, Homeland Security and Commerce departments.

        • US, Biden Voice New Alarm About Cyberattack [iophk: Windows TCO]

          New reports Thursday said the U.S. Department of Energy and Microsoft were among places affected by the [attack]. The U.S. Treasury and Commerce departments were the first to be identified.

        • US nuke agency hit, Microsoft denies it was victim in cyber attacks

          Software behemoth Microsoft has been compromised in the ongoing cyber attacks, Reuters reports. US Government departments, including the Energy Department and the National Nuclear Security Administration, were also reportedly attacked.

        • A dying man, a therapist and the ransom raid that shook the world

          In October, news broke that Vastaamo’s internal systems had been accessed and the data of its 400 employees and approximately 40,000 patients stolen. Addresses, contact details, and unique, government-issued Finnish identity numbers were taken in the breach – leaving victims exposed to fraud and identity theft. The tranche of stolen data also included therapy notes and diagnoses.

          The data had been accessed through a security flaw in Vastaamo’s bespoke IT systems, which the company's co-founder and CEO, Ville Tapio, a trained product developer with an education in marketing, commissioned a team of in-house software developers to create.

        • I Was the Homeland Security Adviser to Trump. We’re Being [Cracked].

          The attackers gained access to SolarWinds software before updates of that software were made available to its customers. Unsuspecting customers then downloaded a corrupted version of the software, which included a hidden back door that gave hackers access to the victim’s network.

          This is what is called a supply-chain attack, meaning the pathway into the target networks relies on access to a supplier. Supply-chain attacks require significant resources and sometimes years to execute. They are almost always the product of a nation-state. Evidence in the SolarWinds attack points to the Russian intelligence agency known as the S.V.R., whose tradecraft is among the most advanced in the world.

          According to SolarWinds S.E.C. filings, the malware was on the software from March to June. The number of organizations that downloaded the corrupted update could be as many as 18,000, which includes most federal government unclassified networks and more than 425 Fortune 500 companies.

        • Security

          • Cryptomining Worm Now Targets Web Apps, IoT Devices [Ed: Microsoft GitHub issue spun as something else entirely (sometimes blaming "Linux")]

            A previously documented cryptomining worm dubbed Gitpaste-12 has returned with a wide-ranging series of attacks targeting web applications and IoT devices that exploit at least 31 vulnerabilities, according to a Juniper Threat Labs.

          • Intel Key Locker Support For The Linux Kernel Being Prepared

            For the past several months we've seen Intel Key Locker support being worked on for Linux as a new feature coming to future processors for better securing AES keys. That initial Key Locker support was initially focused on the open-source compilers with the new instructions while now the Linux kernel patches have been published in preliminary form.

            Intel Key Locker is for Tiger Lake and beyond to allow encrypting/decrypting data without the raw AES key but instead relying on a key handle that is in place until revoked by the system. The key when loaded is effectively sealed and then accessed by new Intel Key Locker instructions (AESENC128KL, AESENCWIDE128KL, AESDEC128KL, AESDECWIDE128KL, AESENC256KL, AESENCWIDE256KL, AESDEC256KL, and AESDECWIDE256KL) to reference the handle to that key. Intel Key Locker aims to protect AES keys by keeping the raw keys exposed for a minimal amount of time to reduce the chances they are compromised by rogue attackers.

          • Josh Bressers: Episode 243 – Door 18: Don’t roll your own crypto or auth

            Josh and Kurt talk about why it’s a horrible idea to roll your own crypto or auth

          • FireEye says killswitch to stop Orion malware identified

            American cyber security company FireEye says it has identified a killswitch which will stop malware that was planted in the Orion network monitoring software, made by the Texas firm SolarWinds, from operating under certain conditions.

          • Tried: BlockArch Linux as a Comprehensive Navigation Test Toolkit

            Half a year after the last major update, Arch Linux released BlackArch Linux in early December. All the basic components of the proud 15GB live system were brought to the level of Arch Linux installation media 2020.12.01.

            Updated kernel for everyday Linux applications and especially newer program versions is a small thing in the case of BlackArch. In addition to its minimalist window manager with indispensable hacker aesthetics, the delivery also features a set of tools provided to support security professionals and ambitious security hobbies looking for infiltration tests and vulnerabilities. During the upgrade, it was significantly expanded again: more than 100 new tools have been added, now there are a total of 2621.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Facebook and Apple are in a fight. Your browsing history is in the middle.

              Facebook on Thursday ran its second full-page newspaper advertisement in as many days, attacking Apple's plans to tell iPhone and iPad users when apps are tracking them online.

            • EU Internet Society Chapters Call on European Commission to Follow the Path of Strong Encryption. Here’s Why You Should Too.

              Representing digital security experts who share the Internet Society’s mission for a bigger and stronger Internet, several EU chapters issued statements expressing concern about the danger of the Commission’s request for backdoor access to encrypted communications in its Counter Terrorism Agenda. It was announced the same week the European Medicines Agency was victim to a major data breach when cyber attackers unlawfully accessed sensitive documents about COVID-19 vaccines.

              End-to-end encryption is crucial to the security of European citizens, its economy, and the national security of its Member States. It is our strongest digital security tool online because it keeps data and communications private between the sender and receiver. Even the European Commission relies on Signal, an end-to-end encrypted messaging app, to secure its communications.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • It's Almost Twenty Years Since 9/11: Can We Finally Stop Marching to Disaster?

        After two decades, can we finally ask whether trying to prop up a dying empire actually makes us—or indeed the world—any safer.

      • Guantánamo Defense Attorney Implores Biden to Stop Cycle of Impunity by Holding Trump Accountable for His Crimes

        "The only way to demonstrate that America believes in the rule of law, and to achieve eventual unity, is to hold people accountable," argues Alka Pradhan. "Otherwise, a 'more perfect union' will forever be out of reach."

      • Germany: Problems with another drone project

        The LUNA is one of the most widely used drones in the Bundeswehr, and it is also the oldest. The contractor for a much more powerful successor system has now declared insolvency.

      • German prosecutors question Navalny at the request of the Russian authorities

        On Thursday, December 17, Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny reported that he had spent the day being questioned by German prosecutors at the request of the Russian authorities. Navalny reported this on Twitter, without specifying what he was asked during the interrogation.€ 

      • Rand Paul and Newt Gingrich openly fret people voting will “affect the outcome” of Georgia runoffs

        Paul, who has falsely claimed the election was "stolen" from President Donald Trump without any evidence, warned that increased voter turnout in Georgia could cost Republicans the Senate majority and urged Republican state officials to stop encouraging people to vote.

      • Early voting changes in Georgia counties are suppressing turnout, advocates warn

        “During the first couple of days of early voting, the data has shown that the harm to voters remains severe, Cobb County has had extremely long lines — in some cases as long as two hours. At the same time, the overall turnout in Cobb has gone down,” Michael Pernick, an attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund (LDF), said in an interview Thursday. He added that some counties without big cuts to early voting, including Fulton County, had seen an uptick in early voting compared to the same period in the general election.

        In the letter to Cobb County officials, several civil rights groups joined the LDF and the ACLU of Georgia to say that cuts to early voting locations were driving two-hour lines and depressing turnout.

      • Nigeria school attack: Hundreds of boys freed, local authorities say

        A spokesman for the governor of Katsina state said 344 had been freed and were all in a good condition.

        However, other reports suggest some remain in the hands of their captors.

        The attack was claimed by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, which hours earlier released a video apparently showing some of the boys.

      • 6 men indicted in alleged plot to kidnap Michigan governor

        The six were arrested in early October following an FBI investigation into an alleged plot to kidnap the Democratic governor at her vacation home in northern Michigan.

      • Six Men Indicted in Alleged Plot to Kidnap Michigan Governor

        Six men were charged Thursday with conspiring to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in an alleged plot by right-wing extremists who were angry over her coronavirus containment policies.

        A federal grand jury levied a conspiracy indictment against Michigan residents Adam Fox, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Michael-Ray Caserta, and Barry Croft Jr. of Delaware.

      • America, We Have a Problem

        Viewing recent events through a Trump prism may be too restrictive to capture the economic, social and cultural turmoil that has grown more corrosive in recent years.

        On Oct. 30, a group of 15 eminent scholars (several of whom I also got a chance to talk to) published an essay — “Political Sectarianism in America” — arguing that the antagonism between left and right has become so intense that words and phrases like “affective polarization” and “tribalism” were no longer sufficient to capture the level of partisan hostility.

      • Political sectarianism in America [PDF]

        As political sectarianism grows more extreme, pushing strong partisans deeper into congenial media enclaves that reinforce their narratives of moral righteousness, it may also become self-reinforcing, rendering mitigation efforts more difficult. Scholars have long argued that a shared threat can bring people together; indeed, some suggest that rising sectarianism in America is due in part to the loss of the Soviet Union as a unifying arch-nemesis. But such threats may do the opposite when sectarianism is extreme. COVID-19 offered a test case (SM). By the summer of 2020, 77% of Americans believed that the nation had grown more divided since the pandemic arrived that winter, a response 2.8 standard deviations higher than the mean of the 13 other nations in the study and 1.6 standard deviations higher than the second-highest nation (Spain). Such findings underscore the urgent need to counteract sectarianism before it grows more poisonous.

        Political sectarianism cripples a nation’s ability to confront challenges. Bolstering the emphasis on political ideas rather than political adversaries is not a sufficient solution, but it is likely to be a major step in the right direction. The interventions proposed above offer some promising leads, but any serious effort will require multifaceted efforts to change leadership, media, and democratic systems in ways that are sensitive to human psychology. There are no silver bullets.

      • 6 men indicted on federal charges in plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

        Six men involved in an alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer were indicted Wednesday on a federal kidnapping conspiracy charge.

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • Bellingcat Can Say What U.S. Intelligence Can’t

        Unlike intelligence agencies which often rely on anonymous sources for sensitive investigations, Bellingcat and their Russian partners The Insider base their work on cell-phone metadata and flight records which are readily available in Russia’s thriving black market of stolen data.

        And unlike most major media organizations that are willing to accept leaked data but draw the line at buying information, Bellingcat and their partners have proven willing to go a step further and pay for information from data merchants which often originates from low-level employees in banks, telecoms companies, and government agencies looking to make a quick buck.

    • Environment

      • For a Path Forward on Climate, Let’s Learn From the Original New Deal

        A broad, progressive coalition came together in the 1930s to bring the United States out of the Great Depression. It can be done again in the face of COVID and climate change.

      • Energy

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • In Historic Pick, Biden Selects New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland for Interior Secretary

          In this new role, Haaland hopes to reverse some of the damage done by the Trump administration. Under Trump’s leadership, the US has shrunk its national parks by historic amounts, ignored the climate change crisis, and harmed relationships with Native American tribes. “It would be an honor to move the Biden-Harris climate agenda forward, help repair the government to government relationship with Tribes that the Trump Administration has ruined, and serve as the first Native American cabinet secretary in our nation’s history,” Haaland said in a statement in November.

        • Biden taps Deb Haaland as first Native American interior secretary

          Haaland was picked for the role, in part, because she is someone who has "spent her career fighting for all Americans, including tribal nations, rural communities, and communities of color," according to a person familiar with the decision.

          The US Department of the Interior conserves and manages the nation's natural resources and cultural heritage, as well as oversees the federal government's relationships with Native American tribes.

    • Finance

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • AOC Is Right About Pelosi and Schumer

        Under Pelosi and Schumer, the party has catered to conservative and moderate members while alienating its rising progressive flank, and Ocasio-Cortez’s specific criticisms of Pelosi are certainly informed by ideology.

      • Loeffler Won't Say If She Backs Challenge to Electoral College Certification
      • How a Chicago Political Hangout Went From Bustling to Boarded-Up — Even After the City Promised Help

        Not so long ago, the boarded-up building at 2800 W. Madison St. was one of the most popular restaurants and political hangouts on Chicago’s West Side.

        Bill Clinton dropped by Wallace’s Catfish Corner when he was in town. Barack Obama made campaign stops there when he was running for the U.S. Senate and then for president. U.S. Rep. Danny Davis’ office was on the next block, and when aides couldn’t find him, they went looking at Catfish Corner.

      • Putin’s former son-in-law comments on recent investigation into his business dealings

        In conversation with RBC, Putin’s alleged former son-in-law, billionaire Kirill Shamalov, commented on a recent journalistic investigation alleging that he acquired hundreds of millions of dollars in shares in Russia’s largest petrochemical company (Sibur) for just $100.€ 

      • Iran sentences British-Iranian researcher to 9 years prison for 'subversive' work

        The anthropologist and social researcher was convicted of conducting "subversive" research work. He was also fined €600,000 ($727,000), which, according to Iranian authorities, is the amount he allegedly received for his research by institutions accused of trying to toppled the Iranian regime.

      • Here's Your Islamophobia: Imam Says His Congregation Has Been Called Rude Names

        But the Yorkshire Evening Post article also makes a point it did not intend to make. Qari Asim is trying to show how bad Muslims have it in Britain, and all he can come up with are unkind words and unsupported claims that women have had their hijabs snatched off. Contrast that with the stories of Islamic jihad activity that we post here regularly. Which is more serious? Yet which gets more establishment media attention?

        The problem here is that the word “Islamophobia” is used not just to refer to attacks of innocent Muslims, which are never justified, but also to honest and accurate analysis of how Islamic jihadis use the texts and teachings of Islam to justify violence. Is Qari Asim trying to silence such analysis by conflating it with the rude things his congregants have been called? Are insults really comparable to beheadings, suicide bombings, and the like?

        Yet all reporting on the latter is called “Islamophobia” as much as the insults are. Qari Asim has unwittingly demonstrated that Muslims are not actually suffering in Britain any more than anyone else who has ever been called a rude name on the street or online. But actual vigilante attacks against innocent Muslims are so thin on the ground that this will have to do, and in any case it serves to further the Leftist/Islamic war against the freedom of speech.

      • Pence to Head Overseas Jan. 6 Hours After Formally Declaring Biden the Presidential Victor

        Pence will travel overseas hours after formally declaring that Biden beat Trump in November’s presidential election.

      • You can now bid on the chance to demolish President Trump's former defunct Atlantic City, NJ casino - CNN

        Atlantic City is offering critics of President Donald Trump the chance to celebrate his departure with a literal bang.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • A Decade After the Arab Spring, Platforms Have Turned Their Backs on Critical Voices in the Middle East and North Africa

        This year is the tenth anniversary of€ what became known as the€ "Arab Spring", in€ which activists and citizens across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) used social media to document the conditions in which they lived, to push for political change and social justice, and to draw the world's attention to their movement. For many, it was the first time they had seen how€ the Internet€ could have a role to play in pushing for€ human rights across the world. Emerging social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube all basked in the reflected glory of press coverage that centered their part in the protests: often to the exclusion of those who were actually on the streets. The years after€ the uprisings failed to live up to the optimism of the time. Offline, the authoritarian backlash against the democratic protests has meant that many of those who fought for justice a decade ago, are still fighting now. And rather than help that fight, the platform policies and content moderation procedures of the tech giants now too often led to the silencing and erasure of critical voices from across the region. Arbitrary and non-transparent account suspension and removal of political and dissenting speech has become so frequent and systematic in the area that it cannot be dismissed as isolated incidents or the result of transitory errors in automated decision-making. Along with dozens of other organizations, today EFF has signed an open letter to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube demanding the companies stop silencing critical voices in the MENA region. The letter asks for several concrete measures to€ ensure that users across the region are treated fairly and are able to express themselves freely:

        Content moderation policies are not only critical to ensuring robust political debate. They are key to expanding and protecting human rights.€  Ten years out from those powerful protests, it's clear that authoritarian and repressive regimes will do everything in their power to stop free and open expression. Platforms have an obligation to note and act on the effects content moderation has on oppressed communities, in MENA and elsewhere.

        In 2012, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and Founder of Facebook, wrote

      • Like It Or Not, Keira Bell Has Opened Up a Real Conversation About Gender Dysphoria

        The precedent that The Age sets is a damaging one. As this case shows, terms such as “harm” have become so misused in this debate that they now have become meaningless. Indeed, applying similarly vague definitions and apocalyptic rhetoric, one could equally discredit any published opinion, on any controversial subject—as all arguments, to some extent, are intended to support one side of an issue and argue down (or “harm”) another.

      • 'God Has Heard Our Cry': Christian Man Acquitted of Blasphemy and Released from Life Sentence in Pakistan

        A Christian man in Pakistan has been acquitted of blasphemy and released from prison after serving 10 years of a life sentence.

        International Christian Concern (ICC) reports the Lahore High Court has acquitted Imran Ghafur Masih, a Christian sentenced to life in prison under Pakistan's blasphemy laws.

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • Iran's Rouhani defends execution of captured dissident journalist; UN rights chief 'appalled'

        Iranian President Hassan Rouhani defended Saturday's execution of a prominent dissident journalist based in France and captured by Iran last year, saying the death sentence passed on Ruhollah Zam was carried out lawfully.

      • High-level probe ordered into Kerala journalist’s death

        A high-level probe has been ordered into the tragic death of S V Pradeep, a Thiruvananthapuram based journalist, who was killed in a road accident on Monday.

        The 44-year-old journalist who was working with an online portal, died after a mini lorry hit his scooter from behind resulting in fatal injuries. The journalist's family and opposition parties have demanded a high level probe suspecting foul play behind the accident.

        Pradeep's mother and sister alleged that he was facing threats on social media.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • [Old] Senators criticize AT&T for not counting HBO Max toward data caps

        Senators Ed Markey (D-MA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CO) have written a letter to AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson criticizing the company’s decision to exempt HBO Max streaming data from counting toward AT&T mobile customers’ data caps. The practice is known as zero-rating, and it’s been a contentious issue in the telecom industry for years. The letter follows AT&T’s recent confirmation to The Verge that HBO Max data wouldn’t count toward AT&T’s mobile data caps.

      • [Old] Dems Diss AT&T Over Zero Rating HBO Max

        Some prominent Democratic senators are pressing AT&T on reports that it is not counting its owned HBO Max streaming against its customers data caps, a practice dubbed zero rating.

        By contrast, Netflix, Hulu and Disney Plus is not exempted from data usage limits.

        That came in a letter to AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson from Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).

      • [Old] AT&T Will Zero-Rate HBO Max, Undermining Competition

        With the streaming wars intensifying this year, every service provider is looking for any advantage it can get in order to earn a piece of your monthly entertainment budget. Many years ago, telecommunications giants dreamed up the idea of sponsored data, where a company offering some online service could pay for the underlying data used to access that service. The practice is also called zero-rating, and it has garnered considerable criticism over the years for undermining net neutrality and competition more broadly.

        That's exactly what AT&T (NYSE:T) is planning to do with HBO Max, the successor to HBO Now that launched last week.

      • [Old] In net neutrality violation, HBO Max to be zero rated on AT&T in the US: Report

        In a net neutrality violation, AT&T will not count HBO Max against wireless internet users’ data caps, The Verge reported. A company executive told The Verge that the HBO’s streaming service, which AT&T owns, will be a part of the Sponsored Data program, where content providers pay on users’ behalf when the latter consume data from partnered content providers. We have reached out to AT&T for comment.

        Since AT&T is essentially sponsoring its own data, this creates an unlevel playing field between HBO Max and other streaming services. Given that the US’s wireless internet is among the world’s costliest, exemptions to data caps can be a significant advantage for content providers. That competitive problem becomes more worrying when the content provider in question is owned by the carrier.

      • [Old] AT&T Will Zero-Rate HBO Max, Undermining Competition

        With the streaming wars intensifying this year, every service provider is looking for any advantage it can get in order to earn a piece of your monthly entertainment budget. Many years ago, telecommunications giants dreamed up the idea of sponsored data, where a company offering some online service could pay for the underlying data used to access that service. The practice is also called zero-rating, and it has garnered considerable criticism over the years for undermining net neutrality and competition more broadly.

        That's exactly what AT&T (NYSE: T) is planning to do with HBO Max, the successor to HBO Now that launched last week.

    • Digital Restrictions (DRM)

      • Liz Gateley to Transition to Consultant Role At Spotify

        At the time of Gateley's hiring, Spotify was just beginning to invest heavily in podcasting as it looked to broaden its content offering beyond music streaming. The company had acquired studio Gimlet Media and would soon announce the additional purchases of Parcast and The Ringer.

    • Monopolies

      • Google hit with another antitrust lawsuit by states

        The lawsuit — filed by 35 states and Washington, D.C., Guam and Puerto Rico — alleges Google illegally maintains monopoly power over search engines and search advertising markets through a series of anticompetitive contracts and conduct.

      • Google rejects news media code, says it is 'unworkable'

        Search giant Google has rejected the Australian news media code which was introduced into Parliament on 9 December, saying it "remains unworkable, but there is a way forward".

      • Google accused of search manipulation in third major antitrust lawsuit

        According to a press release from the New York attorney general’s office, the states are asking the court to stop Google’s illegal conduct and “restore a competitive marketplace.” They are also seeking to “counter any advantages that Google gained as a result of its anticompetitive conduct,” including possible divestitures.

      • Patents

        • German Federal Council approves law required for UPC ratification [Ed: Constitutional complaints coming through]

          If there are no further delays and the German legislation comes into force early next year, Germany will be able to ratify the PPA. Two other countries must also ratify (or otherwise consent to) the PPA for the provisional application phase to come into force, and it is understood that two countries are in a position to do so at relatively short notice. Therefore the provisional application phase could start in the first quarter of 2021, allowing final preparations for the Court’s opening (including the recruitment of judges) to take place. As this phase is likely to last at least six months, the Court may open late 2021 or, perhaps more likely, on 1 January 2022.

        • 2020 revisited: six stories that could reshape IP

          We couldn't compile this list without mentioning Brexit, even if technically it takes effect on January 1 2021.

          The UK will finally split from the EU after four-and-a-half (long) years of debate and division. Beyond the political, economic and emotional upheaval, there will be (and have already been) many implications for IP.

        • Podcast: Managing IP 2020 review – 12 months in 40 minutes

          Managing editor Ed Conlon was joined by Americas editor Patrick Wingrove, senior reporter Max Walters and Europe reporter Charlotte Kilpatrick to discuss COVID litigation, exoskeletons, Brexit and much more.

        • Drug makers on why public funds not enough for vaccines [Ed: Charlotte Kilpatrick amplifies propaganda of Big Pharma grifters, who look for excuses to loot taxpayers and then monopolise cures for diseases to rip of the taxpayers]

          Counsel from BMS and Oxford say COVID has shown why collaboration between public institutions and pharma companies is essential for drug development

        • ‘No useful policy justification’ for PTAB presumption change | Managing Intellectual Property

          Counsel from Salesforce, Intel, Unified Patents and elsewhere speak up about the USPTO’s recently published final rule and what it means for them

        • Pharma innovators warm to unitary SPCs [Ed: UPC does not even exist, but Charlotte Kilpatrick the lying UPC booster already speaks of "a ‘logical extension’ of the unitary patent" ]

          IP lawyers call unitary SPCs a ‘logical extension’ of the unitary patent, and say that a virtual office would be the best granting authority

        • Samsung Electronics : UK Supreme Court Holds That UK Courts May Set Global FRAND Terms

          The UK's highest court provided guidance on how English courts will analyze license disputes involving standard essential patents (SEPs). The court relied on the policies of a standard setting organization (SSO) to decide fair, reasonable, and non‑discriminatory (FRAND) terms on a global scale. The court provided flexibility to allow SEP owners to offer different licensing terms to subsequent licensees. And the court confirmed that an injunction may be an appropriate remedy for SEP owners when implementers do not negotiate a FRAND license agreement in good faith.

          The United Kingdom's highest court recently issued a decision with significant consequences for both standard essential patent (SEP) holders and implementers of standardized technology. In particular, the UK Supreme Court analyzed several important issues relating to the type of relief available to SEP holders as well as the determination of fair, reasonable, and non‑discriminatory (FRAND) rates for a worldwide SEP portfolio.

        • Where will a UP have effect? [Ed: Amazing spin. Herbert Smith Freehills LLP pretending that UPC is a reality rather than a zombie and a likely dead horse.]

          26 EU Member States participated in the enhanced cooperation procedure to establish the unitary patent (including the UK which has now withdrawn). However unless these states have also ratified the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA) then the unitary patent (UP) will not be effective in their jurisdictions. Poland has participated in the UP but has not signed the UPCA and so the UP will not have effect there, nor will it apply to Croatia or Spain which have still not signed the UPCA or participated in the UP. Now the UK is not in the UPC system nor the EU, UPs will not have effect in the UK either.

      • Copyrights

        • YouTube-DL Dispute Helps Enhance Lawsuit Against RIAA

          The RIAA recently caused outrage by filing a copyright complaint that took down YouTube-ripping tool youtube-dl from Github. In a pre-emptive move, YouTube-ripping platform filed a lawsuit against the RIAA, demanding that its service be declared legal. In an amended complaint, Yout now appears to be using the youtube-dl case for additional leverage.

        • Join the Freedom to Share European Citizens' Initiative

          To legalise sharing – via digital networks, for personal use and non-profit purposes – of files containing works and other material protected by copyright, related rights and sui generis database rights, with a view to striking a balance between the rights of authors and other rightholders and the universal right to science and culture.

          Our initiative calls for the adoption of a legislative act providing for a waiver of copyright, related rights, and sui generis database rights for natural persons sharing files via digital networks for personal use and non-profit purposes.

        • Freedom to share

          This initiative calls for citizens to be allowed to share files directly via peer-to-peer networks in order for them to have access to science and culture without being subject to checks and profiling. EU legislation enabling this would be perfectly compatible with international law if rightholders were given fair compensation.

          People and fundamental rights should be placed at the heart of political and legislative decisions. It is therefore necessary to change the current rules governing the sharing of files containing works and other material protected by copyright, related rights and sui generis database rights in order to enable the potential for freedom and social, cultural and economic development offered by digital networks.

        • Pirates support new “Freedom to Share” European Citizens Initiative launched today

          The initiative was launched by citizens from eight different EU countries. The initiative is now working on collecting one million signatures. Only after that, the European Commission will have to take a position on the initiative.

        • “Freedom to Share” Launches EU Citizens’ Initiative to Legalize File-Sharing

          The campaign is a European Citizens’ Initiative. This is a form of direct democracy that allows the public to take part in the development of EU law and policies. With enough support across various EU member states and at least one million signatures, the EU Commission will have to officially consider the proposal.

          This is certainly not the first time that activists have called for the legalization of file-sharing. However, this campaign has substantial backing. It has support from the Italian Wikimedia Foundation, for example, and various Pirate parties are taking part as well.

          Current EU law restricts the freedom of access to science and culture, according to the organizers. It is overly restrictive as the interests of major rightsholders are often put before those of regular people.

        • Africa IP highlights 2020 #3: The patent and designs fields - The IPKat [Ed: The copyright lawyers and maximalsists intentionally conflate monopoly with creativity and innovation]

          The series is the result of collaboration between myself and several IP practitioners and researchers across Africa (in alphabetical order): Caroline Wanjiru (Centre for IP and IT Law, Strathmore University, Kenya); Chinasa Uwanna and Ekene Chuks-Okeke (Banwo & Ighodalo, Nigeria); Marius Schneider and Nora Ho Tu Nam (IPvocate Africa, Mauritius); Vanessa Ferguson (Ferguson Attorneys, South Africa).


          It hasn’t been all doom and gloom. Africans have never been challenged to innovate as they have been in 2020! For instance, in Kenya, what followed after the country confirmed its first case of Covid-19 in March, was a raft of control measures including closure of institutions of learning, imposed travel restrictions etc. In an unfortunate turn, the country experienced. Some innovative responses from Kenyans in response to shortage of medical supplies including personal protective equipment (PPEs) and testing facilities for Covid-19 are by students from Kenyatta and Jomo Kenyatta Universities who separately invented ventilators; Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) converted a machine used for testing other viruses e.g. tuberculosis and HIV, to detect the coronavirus boosting the country’s testing capacity. Also, two young entrepreneurs fabricated hospital beds by welding. Notable about these innovations is that they are open and involve a collaborative effort between the parties.

          GuestKat Léon Dijkman’s review of Amaka Vanni’s Patent Games in the Global South in November shows that the national histories of patent (and other IP) laws and their application (including agenda-setting for reforms) can tell us so much about what needs to change. As Léon points out: “far from being insulated from these perverse relations of power, intellectual property [IP] laws can be tools for perpetuating colonial dominance at the expense of local populations”. Patent Games in the Global South focuses on Brazil, India and Nigeria and examines how “each country managed to – or missed opportunities to – exploit flexibilities in the TRIPs agreement to safeguard its population's access to health rights”.

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