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Links 24/3/2021: Krita 4.4.3, GNOME 40, and Stable Kernels

  • GNU/Linux

    • Kernel Space

      • Linux 5.11.9
        I'm announcing the release of the 5.11.9 kernel.

        All users of the 5.11 kernel series must upgrade.

        The updated 5.11.y git tree can be found at: git:// linux-5.11.y and can be browsed at the normal git web browser:


        greg k-h
      • Linux 5.4.108
      • Linux 4.19.183
      • Linux 4.14.227
      • Linux 4.9.263
      • Linux 4.4.263
      • Microsoft Surface "DTX" Driver Slated For Linux 5.13

        While Microsoft often likes to proclaim their "love" for Linux, it's been independent open-source developer Maximilian Luz that has been spearheading improvements for Microsoft Surface devices on Linux. With Linux 5.13 his latest work on better handling Microsoft Surface device detachment handling should land.

        Queued into the x86 platform driver area's for-next code is this Microsoft Surface DTX driver written by Luz.

    • Applications

      • Best Free and Open Source Alternatives to Google Calendar

        Google has a firm grip with their products and services ubiquitous on the desktop. Don’t get us wrong, we’re long-standing admirers of many of Google’s products and services. They are often high quality, easy to use, and ‘free’, but there can be downsides of over-reliance on a specific company. For example, there can be questions about their privacy policies, business practices, and an almost insatiable desire to control all of our data, all of the time.

        What if you are looking to move away from Google and embark on a new world of online freedom, where you are not constantly tracked, monetised and attached to Google’s ecosystem.

        In this series, we’ll explore how you can migrate from Google without missing out on anything. We’ll recommend open source solutions.

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • mosquitto: upgrade from 1.x to 2.x requires configuration changes to keep working

        Conclusions: it seems that mosquitto is now dropping privs before writing the PID file and before reading the certificate and password files.

      • SSH Keygen: a 2021 update

        Not long after the previous article on ssh-keygen, OpenSSH released a whole new version of SSH and related tools. This version came with many changes, the most notable one being the support of FIDO/U2F keys. In this post we summarize these changes, and try to explain some of the inner workings. We’ll focus on ssh-keygen here, and mention other tools when necessary.

      • History of ZFS: Part 1: The Birth of ZFS and How it All Started

        ZFS (or the Zettabyte File System) is approaching its 15th birthday, and over a decade since integration into FreeBSD. Originally created by Sun Microsystems, ZFS grew in popularity because of its advanced features. Today we will take a look at its history.

      • The 5-hour CDN

        The term "CDN" ("content delivery network") conjures Google-scale companies managing huge racks of hardware, wrangling hundreds of gigabits per second. But CDNs are just web applications. That's not how we tend to think of them, but that's all they are. You can build a functional CDN on an 8-year-old laptop while you're sitting at a coffee shop. I'm going to talk about what you might come up with if you spend the next five hours building a CDN.

        It's useful to define exactly what a CDN does. A CDN hoovers up files from a central repository (called an origin) and stores copies close to users. Back in the dark ages, the origin was a CDN's FTP server. These days, origins are just web apps and the CDN functions as a proxy server. So that's what we're building: a distributed caching proxy.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • Krita 4.4.3 Released with Stability and Performance Improvements, Bug Fixes

          Krita Foundation has kicked off development of the next major release of their widely used digital painting software, Krita 5, so they’re only focusing their efforts on making the Krita 4.4 series more stable and reliable.

          As such, the Krita 4.4.3 point release, the third in the series, is here to address address various crashes that occurred when reapplying a filter with reprompting or when painting on a filter mask that was created from a vector selection, as well as in the halftone filter, due to access to an invalid pointer.

        • Krita 4.4.3 Released

          Today, we’re releasing Krita 4.4.3. This is strictly a bugfix release. We spend two beta’s worth of testing trying to make this a really stable release, because from now on, we’re focusing on Krita 5!

          This will also be the last Krita release for 32 bits Windows; further releases will be 64 bits only.

      • GNOME Desktop/GTK

        • GNOME 40 released

          The GNOME Project is proud to announce the release of GNOME 40.

          This release is the first to follow our new versioning scheme.

          It brings new design for the Activities overview and improved support for input with Compose sequences and keyboard shortcuts, among many other things.

          Improvements to core GNOME applications include a redesigned Weather application, information popups in Maps, better tabs in Web, and many more.

        • GNOME 40 Released With Many Improvements
        • GNOME 40 Released with Redesigned Overview, Touchpad Gestures + More

          Six months of fastidious development has gone into making the latest release of the GNOME desktop the best one yet. In all, GNOME 40 is composed of a colossal 24,571 commits from more roughly 822 contributors.

          GNOME 40 features include a new design for the overview screen, a horizontal workspace switcher, and new features in a crop of apps, including the Nautilus file manager.

        • GNOME 40 Desktop Environment Officially Released, This Is What’s New

          Six months in the work, GNOME 40 ends the GNOME 3.x series of the open-source Linux desktop environment as a massive milestone adding numerous new features and improvements. The biggest change, however, you already know about from my previous articles, the redesign of the Activities Overview.

          In GNOME 40, the Activities Overview will be the first thing you see after login. It comes with better overview spatial organization with horizontal navigation and dock, improved touchpad navigation using gestures, more engaging app browsing and launching, and also contributes to a better boot performance of your Linux distro.

        • GNOME 40 Released with Major Design Change. Here’s What’s New.

          The GNOME team announced the release of the GNOME 40 desktop environment with major design changes and many new features.

    • Distributions

      • New Releases

        • Manjaro 21.0 'Ornara' is out now with Xfce, KDE and GNOME upgrades

          Prefer Manjaro as your favourite Linux distribution or want to try it out? Now looks to be a good time, with the Manjaro 21.0 'Ornara' release now available.

          Coming in hot with GNOME 3.38, KDE Plasma 5.21, Xfce 4.16, Kernel 5.10 LTS and a 5.4 LTS-Kernel minimal-ISO for those who need older hardware support. Manjaro is not quite as bleeding-edge as Arch itself but they stick reasonably close. Manjaro is supposed to be for those who want up to date systems with at least some stability.

          Even just going by major upgrades to each desktop environment, it's a big release with each of them bringing in major changes to their UI and upgraded applications.

      • SUSE/OpenSUSE

        • Installing OpenSUSE Leap 15

          This is my experience on installing openSUSE, the green chameleon operating system, Leap Edition version 15.2 to my computer. It is a family of GNU/Linux hence a distant sibling to Ubuntu with a distinct feature called YaST, the green tapir control panel, on top of its RPM software package basis. I installed it on a virtual machine in normal method as I used on Ubuntu. However, this can be used for actual installation to the real hardware directly including in dualboot mode. Thus, I share this with you by wishing it to be useful. Let's go!

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • Fedora Linux 34 Beta Is Now Available For Download
          Fedora Linux 34 Beta version is now available for download. Fedora 34 Workstation Beta includes GNOME 40 and is powered by Linux Kernel 5.11. Fedora Linux 34 Beta enables transparent compression for more disk space. Fedora Linux 34 Beta will use PipeWire to mix and manage audio streams. The KDE Plasma desktop now uses the Wayland display server by default.

        • Fedora 34 Beta Arrives With Awesome GNOME 40 (Unlike Ubuntu 21.04)

          Fedora 34 beta is finally available to download for public beta testing. There’s still plenty of time for the final release, but it is interesting to see some exciting changes that come with Fedora 34.

          Let me highlight a few things about Fedora 34 along with the links to download it.


          Of course, GNOME 40 is a major highlight for Fedora 34 release. To get your hands on the latest GNOME 40, you will have to wait for the final release of Fedora 34.

          You may go ahead to test the beta build, but I wouldn’t recommend doing that for your production systems.

          GNOME 40 should be an exciting change considering the addition of a horizontal dock, revamped activities overview, and more. You should get a stock experience of GNOME 40 with Fedora 34, so it should be a refreshing experience.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Canonical Releases Another Ubuntu Linux Kernel Security Update to Fix 6 Flaws

          The new Linux kernel security update comes just a week after the last kernel update and is available for Ubuntu 20.10 (Groovy Gorilla), Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (Focal Fossa), and Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) operating system series running Linux kernel 5.8 (Ubuntu 20.10) and Linux kernel 5.4 LTS (Ubuntu 20.04 and Ubuntu 18.04).

          The update fixes CVE-2021-27363, CVE-2021-27364, and CVE-2021-27365, three flaws discovered by Adam Nichols in Linux kernel’s iSCSI subsystem, which could allow a local attacker to cause a denial of service (system crash) or possibly execute arbitrary code.

        • Ubuntu 20.10 Wallpaper is Revealed – And It’s Hairy!

          Yes, we’re already at that point of the Ubuntu release cycle. Ubuntu’s design bods have come up with a hypnotic new drape that holds firm to Ubuntu’s history of shipping a new desktop hoarding in each new release.

          Here, in all its compressed glory, is Ubuntu’s headstrong new mascot: the Hirsute Hippo...

        • Hurrah! Ubuntu 21.04 Fixes a Glaring Deficiency

          Ever since upstream GNOME jettisoned the ability to put icons on the desktop — it has its reasons — Ubuntu has opted to ship with a GNOME Shell extension that reimplements the functionality.

          Well, soft of reimplements.

          The simple ‘Desktop Icons’ extension it uses (and has used since Ubuntu 18.04 LTS) is barebones. Oh sure: it shows icons on the desktop …but that’s kind of it as you can’t do anything with ’em!

          Drag and drop from the file manager to the desktop? Doesn’t work. Drag and drop from an app to the desktop? Doesn’t work. Drag and drop a file from the desktop to the file manager? You get the idea.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Productivity Software/LibreOffice/Calligra

        • Bibliography improvements in LibreOffice Writer

          The bibliography feature in Writer allows authors of e.g. scientific papers to track sources: first you can insert bibliography entry fields, then at the end you can generate a bibliography table automatically.

          Writer now has two improvements in this area: more information about these entries in the form of a mouse tooltip and clickable URLs in the table.

          First, thanks TUBITAK ULAKBIM who made this work by Collabora possible.

      • FSF

        • My Thoughts On Richard Stallman’s Return To the FSF Board
        • In Defense of Richard Stallman
        • Why Richard Stallman should step away from the FSF

          If Richard Stallman placed the interests of free software foremost, and his own personal issues second, then he would step down from the board position that he assumed last week, during the annual LibrePlanet conference organised by the Free Software Foundation.

        • Open Source Advocates Want to Remove Not Only Stallman but the Entire FSF Board

          Over 800 open source advocates from GNOME, Debian, Ubuntu, System76, Red Hat and more such organizations have called from immediate removal of RMS and the entire Free Software Foundation board.

        • Richard Stallman returns to the Free Software Foundation amid calls for FSF resignations
          Back in 2019, Richard Stallman (RMS) resigned from the Free Software Foundation and MIT but it appears Stallman has returned and many are not happy about this.

          When Stallman originally resigned, he cited doing it due to "pressure on MIT and me over a series of misunderstandings and mischaracterizations". Stallman announced the return during a livestream for the FSF project LibrePlanet where he explained he will not be resigning for a second time. Stallman is now once again listed on the official FSF board.

        • Making our Community Safe: the FSF and rms
          I felt disgust and horror when I learned yesterday that rms had returned to the FSF board. When rms resigned back in September of 2019, I was Debian Project Leader. At that time, I felt two things. First, I was happy that the community was finally taking a stand in favor of inclusion, respect, and creating a safe, welcoming place to do our work. It was long past time for rms to move on. But I also felt thankful that rms was not my problem to solve. In significant part because of rms, I had never personally been that involved in the FSF. I considered drafting a statement as Debian Project Leader. I could have talked about how through our Diversity Statement and Code of Conduct we had taken a stand in favor of inclusion and respect. I could have talked about how rms's actions displayed a lack of understanding and empathy and how this created a community that was neither welcoming nor respectful. I didn't. I guess I didn't want to deal with confirming I had sufficient support in the project. I wanted to focus on internal goals, and I was healing and learning from some mistakes I made earlier in the year. It looked like other people were saying what needed to be said and my voice was not required. Silence was a mistake.

        • FOSS developers launch petition to push out Stallman, FSF board

          A number of people associated with free and open source software have written an open letter calling for Richard Stallman, the founder of the Free Software Foundation, to be removed from his position on the board, along with the entire FSF board.

        • Statement on Richard Stallman rejoining the FSF board

          One crucial factor in making our community more inclusive is to recognise and reflect when other people are offended or harmed by our own actions and consider this feedback in future actions. The way Richard Stallman announced his return to the board unfortunately lacks any acknowledgement of this kind of thought process, and we are deeply disappointed that the FSF board did not address these concerns before electing him a board member again. Overall, we feel the current step sends the wrong signal to existing and future community members.

      • Programming/Development

        • Portability has ongoing costs for code that's changing

          Some proponents of alternate architectures like to maintain that portability is free, or at least a one time cost (that can be paid by outside contributors in the form of a good patch to 'add support' for something). It would be nice if our programming languages, habits, and techniques made that so, but they don't. The reality is that maintaining portability to alternate environments is an ongoing cost.

        • Getting Drunk with Datalog

          See, I don’t have a very comprehensive liquor collection. I’ve got the basics, sure, and over the course of quarantining I’ve acquired a few fancier ingredients. But fancy ingredients usually aren’t very versatile: I bought a bottle of Amaro Nonino once to mix a Paper Plane. But it turns out I don’t like really Paper Planes. So now I just have, like, 97.1% of a bottle of Amaro Nonino, and nothing to do with it.1

          That was not very efficient purchase. We can do better.

          So I wrote a little program to tell me: given what I have in my bar right now, what should I add that will enable me to make the maximum number of new cocktails. Or in other words, what is my most efficient purchase – what is the ingredient that I am most “blocked on.”

        • [Old] Exotic Programming Ideas: Part 4 (Datalog)

          Datalog is executed by a query processor that given these two inputs, finds all instance of facts implied by both the databased and rules. For our examples we’re going to be coding our examples in the Souffle language. The namesake of the language is an acronym for the Systematic, Ontological, Undiscovered Fact Finding Logic Engine. It can be installed simply on many Linux systems with the command: [...]

  • Leftovers

    • I'm SO Sorry
    • Opinion | Ethnic Studies Redux: Professor Rudy Acuña Still Has Work to Do

      An interview with renowned 88-year-old historian and Chicana/Chicano Studies founder

    • ‘Why didn’t you show me the lion?’ The forgotten story of Vera Chaplina — the Moscow zookeeper who raised a lion in her communal apartment

      From the time Vera Chaplina was a child, she cared for all kinds of animals. She started gaining wider attention in 1935, however, when people began seeing her around Moscow with a lion cub she called Kinuli. In 1933, she created the famous “Cubs’ Playground,” where bear cubs, dingo pups, piglets, lion cubs, and baby goats all grew up together. Meduza special correspondent Kristina Safonova describes how Vera Chaplina became famous, helped animals, and wrote popular books about them before she was largely forgotten. A small group of people today is working to restore her memory.

    • White House Eyes Funding Free Community College With Tax Increase on the Rich
    • A New Portal for the Decentralized Web and its Guiding Principles

      For a long time, we’ve felt that the growing, diverse, global community interested in building the decentralized Web needed an entry point. A portal into the events, concepts, voices, and resources critical to moving the Decentralized Web forward.

      This is why we created,, to serve as a portal, a welcoming entry point for people to learn and share strategies, analysis, and tools around how to build a decentralized Web.

    • Education

    • Hardware

      • Spectre attacks against websites still a serious threat, Google warns

        Three years after the infamous Spectre vulnerability was discovered, [attackers] can still exploit the security flaw in order to force web browsers to leak information, Google’s security team warns.

        The problem has arisen despite extensive efforts by browser developers to harden their software against Spectre-style attacks.

        The results of the research was published on the Google Security Blog on Friday (March 12) and include a proof-of-concept exploit written in JavaScript that still works against several browsers, operating systems, and processors.

        The key lesson from the research is that Spectre still haunts the industry – so developers need to deploy application-level mitigation measures in order to guard against potential attacks.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • Kremlin spokesman comments on why Putin will receive coronavirus vaccine off camera

        Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to receive his first dose of a coronavirus vaccine on Tuesday, March 23, but the Kremlin has no plans to disclose which one. Putin’s immunization will also be taking place off camera, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Tuesday.

      • Four Ways to Support Latinas/os during the Pandemic and Beyond

        In the state of California, Latinas/os comprise about 40 percent of the population in 2019, representing a significant part of its low-wage and service workforce. This includes the formal and informal economy. According to the state’s official COVID-19 website, “COVID-19 disproportionately affects California’s low income, Latino, Black, and Pacific Islander communities, as well as essential workers such as those in health care, grocery, and cleaning services.”

        In terms of the County of Los Angeles, where Latinas/os represent the largest racialized/ethnic group (48.6% in 2019), similar to the City of Los Angeles (48.5% in 2019), we’ve been hit hard with COVID-19 related infections, hospitalizations and deaths. According to an article by NBC News (Jan. 17, 2021), Latinas/os are dying at higher rates from COVID-19 compared to Whites: “Death rates among Latinos in L.A. are twice as high as in the rest of the population, according to Los Angeles County public health officials. And Latinos, who are about half of all county residents, are hospitalized three times more often than white people.”

      • Bernie Sanders Introduces Bills to Lower Prescription Drug Costs
      • To Fight Pharma Greed That Costs 'Human Lives,' Sanders Unveils Bills to Slash Drug Prices

        "The time is now to stand up to the pharmaceutical industry and say enough is enough."

      • WHO Chief Blasts 'Grotesque' Vaccine Inequality as Rich Nations Block Speedy End of Global Pandemic

        "We have the means to avert this failure but it's shocking how little has been done to avert it."

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Yet another Windows ransomware strain appears on the scene [iophk: Windows TCO]

          The global security firm Sophos said in a blog post that it had begun noticing the new Windows ransomware on 18 March as it took aim at Exchange boxes that still had not been patched to fix the ProxyLogon vulnerabilities disclosed by Microsoft on 3 March.

          Mark Loman, a director of Engineering for Next-Gen Technologies at Sophos, said the new ransomware did not have the most sophisticated of payloads.

        • Oil and gas company Shell suffers Accellion-related data breach

          Multinational oil and gas company Royal Dutch Shell plc is the latest victim of a data breach related to a vulnerability in software from Accellion Inc.

          In a statement last week, Shell said that the data security incident involved Accellion’s File Transfer Appliance that it uses to transfer large data files securely. The data accessed, during a “limited window of time” according to Shell, included some personal data along with data from Shell companies and some of their stakeholders. Shell noted that there is no evidence of any impact on their core information technology systems, since the fire transfer service is isolated from the rest of the company’s infrastructure.

        • Mimecast confirms [attackers] behind SolarWinds supply chain attack accessed limited amount of customer information
        • Continued Worsening of Ransomware [iophk: Windows TCO]

          Is there no solution? A means of detecting the patterns left by this kind of malware?

        • The Worsening State of Ransomware [iophk: Windows TCO]

          The problem is growing worse, despite the development of new and more advanced ways to battle it, including the use of behavioral analytics and artificial intelligence (AI). "Cybergangs use different cryptographic algorithms and they distribute software that is remarkably sophisticated and difficult to detect," Hinkley says. "Today, there is almost no barrier to entry and the damage that's inflicted is enormous."

        • Security

          • Phish Leads to Breach at Calif. State Controller

            A phishing attack last week gave attackers access to email and files at the California State Controller’s Office (SCO), an agency responsible for handling more than $100 billion in public funds each year. The phishers had access for more than 24 hours, and sources tell KrebsOnSecurity the intruders used that time to steal Social Security numbers and sensitive files on thousands of state workers, and to send targeted phishing messages to at least 9,000 other workers and their contacts.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Amnesty International: Facebook Plan To Target Children "Incompatible With Human Rights"

              Facebook has let slip that it is launching an Instagram service for children under 13 years old, who are currently legally barred from using the platform. On Thursday, Instagram’s vice president of product told employees in a leaked communication that this was indeed the plan. Instagram’s boss, Adam Mosseri, confirmed the leak’s veracity to Buzzfeed News, telling them that his goal was to create a transparent and kid-friendly version of the popular photo-sharing app for children and pre-teens.

            • Shamir's Password Store

              The core of my idea is that most people own multiple devices. I own a phone, several laptops, and have access to a number of servers. I need to access the password manager on at least the laptops and phone. I would like to self-host the password manager – so why not form a distributed hosting between these devices I own?

              The passwords themselves would be encrypted as with Unix Pass, so they can be stored in full on each device. Only the decryption key is of concern.

              The decryption key would need to be split using Shamir's secret sharing. Let's assume I have five devices, and at least three parts are needed to recover the decryption key. When we need to access a password, our device makes contact with at least two others to collaborate.

            • TikTok and Douyin Explained

              On March 22, 2021 the Citizen Lab published a comparative analysis of security, privacy, and censorship issues in TikTok and Douyin. In this explainer, we discuss the findings with Pellaeon Lin, the report’s lead author.

            • TikTok vs Douyin: A Security and Privacy Analysis

              Despite not exhibiting overtly malicious behavior, Douyin contains features that raise privacy and security concerns, such as dynamic code loading and server-side search censorship. TikTok does not contain these features.

              TikTok and Douyin’s Android apps share many parts of their source code. We postulate that ByteDance develops TikTok and Douyin starting out from a common code base and applies different customizations according to market needs. We observed that some of these customizations can be turned on or off by different server-returned configuration values. We are concerned but could not confirm that this capability may be used to turn on privacy-violating hidden features.

            • Facebook Is Building An Instagram For Kids Under The Age Of 13

              Executives at Instagram are planning to build a version of the popular photo-sharing app that can be used by children under the age of 13, according to an internal company post obtained by BuzzFeed News.

            • Zuck Slowly Shrinks and Transforms Into a Corncob Ahead of Apple's Looming Privacy Updates

              Facebook hasn’t been too keen on that idea given that roughly 98% of its revenue stream depends on targeted ads, which are built around monitoring a person’s browsing habits. The company launched a campaign to convince folks that personalized ads are good, actually, which has so far involved taking out full-page ads in several leading newspapers to condemn Apple and running a video ad claiming that Apple’s privacy updates are killing small businesses by not giving Facebook and other apps free rein to hoover up your data.

            • Apple says its big privacy change is coming in 'early spring' as conflict with Facebook heats up

              To target mobile ads and measure how effective they are, app developers and other industry players currently often use Apple's (IDFA), or a string of letters and numbers that's different on every Apple device. But once this update rolls out, app makers will be forced to ask permission to access a user's IDFA through a prompt. A significant portion of users are expected to say no, reducing the effectiveness of targeted ads.

              Apple first announced the change last summer, giving advertisers and app makers ample time to prepare. But it's become a major point of contention for ad-supported companies, who could lose revenue from the change.

              Facebook in particular argues that the change will hurt the availability of free content on the open web and the ability of small business to place personalized ads. On Facebook's Q4 2020 earnings call Wednesday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg slammed the change, calling Apple one of its biggest competitors and claiming that the change "threatens the personalized ads that millions of small businesses rely on to find and reach customers."

            • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg criticizes Apple on Clubhouse

              Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has made it clear before he isn't happy with Apple's upcoming privacy update that will prompt users to give apps, including the social network he co-founded, permission to track their activity across other apps and the web. Apple, on the other hand, has said the change is meant to give users more control over their data. Apple is expected to roll out the change in early spring.

    • Defence/Aggression

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Environment

      • Methane Spewing Mines Are as Bad For The Climate as Their Coal

        New coal mines are leaking methane gases that are in some cases just as destructive to the environment as the pollution released from burning the coal itself, according to a new study.

        Methane, a greenhouse gas 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide in its first two decades, leaking out of some mines could be having as much of an impact on global warming as burning the coal they produce, researchers with Global Energy Monitor, a San Francisco-based non-profit group, said in the study. The amount of methane that would leak from new coal mines currently being proposed globally would do as much damage as all of the coal power plants in the U.S. combined.

      • The factories turning West Africa’s fish into powder

        The results were alarming. The water contained double the amount of arsenic and 40 times the amount of phosphates and nitrates deemed safe. The following spring, he wrote a letter to Gambia’s environmental minister, calling the death of the lagoon “an absolute disaster”. Pollution at these levels, Manjang concluded, could only have one source: illegally dumped waste from a Chinese fish-processing plant called Golden Lead, which operates on the edge of the reserve. Gambian environmental authorities fined the company $25,000 (€£18,000), an amount that Manjang described as “paltry and offensive".

        Golden Lead is one outpost of an ambitious Chinese economic and geopolitical agenda known as the Belt and Road Initiative, which the Chinese government has said is meant to build goodwill abroad, boost economic cooperation, and provide otherwise inaccessible development opportunities to poorer nations. As part of the initiative, China has become the largest foreign financier of infrastructure development in Africa, cornering the market on most of the continent’s road, pipeline, power plant and port projects.

      • Energy

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • Declining English wetland ‘is poor advert for UK’

          A declining English wetland will embarrass the UK government at November’s UN climate conference, campaigners say.

        • Protecting 30% of Our Lands by 2030: Are National Forests "Protected"?

          On January 27, 2021, President Biden signed the Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad. [1] One aspect of that Order directed the Interior Department to formulate steps to achieve the President’s commitment to conserve at least 30% each of our lands and waters by 2030. The Interior Department issued a press release describing this process in more detail and referenced a U.S. Geological Survey report that only 12% of lands in the continental U.S. are permanently protected. [2] [3] Even those given the highest status of current protection such as wilderness areas and national parks are still subject to activities that degrade them from being truly protected. For example, livestock grazing continues in over a quarter of the 52 million acres of wilderness areas in the lower forty-eight states in the U.S. [4]

          Our National Forests are further down the list and remain far from protected, being in the third of four levels of protection, the fourth level being no protection at all. According to the Executive Order, the Secretary of the Interior shall submit a report within 90 days proposing guidelines for determining whether lands and waters qualify for conservation. The USGS report stresses analyzing and setting aside migration corridors for species to prevent their extinction from the effects of climate change.

        • Another Dead Wolf in Arizona

          Every illegal killing is a theft from all of us, but this wolf’s story adds insult to injury. She was a young female, number 1887, cross-fostered into the Hoodoo Pack in Arizona just last spring. Cross-fostering is the only way that Arizona Game and Fish Department is allowing new wolves to be released in Arizona right now, and it’s a critically important tool for improving the genetic diversity of the struggling population. Cross-fostering is tricky business, requiring wild dens to welcome captive-born pups as their own and raise them up in the wild. Hoodoo 1887 was one who had apparently made it through the crucial first year.

          Look, we’ve been saying this for a while, but the death of Hoodoo 1887 before she was able to breed underscores the point: relying on cross-fostering alone isn’t going to save this species. We need well-bonded adult and family pack releases into the wild, and we need them yesterday.

    • Finance

      • Biden Eyes Tax Hikes for Rich, Ending Fossil Fuel Subsidies to Fund Infrastructure

        "It's time for the rich and corporations to pay their fair share in taxes."

      • Walmart, Amazon and the Colonial Deindustrialisation of India

        The deal would lead to Walmart and Amazon dominating India’s e-retail sector. These two US companies would also own India’s key consumer and other economic data, making them the country’s digital overlords, joining the ranks of Google and Facebook.

        JACAFRE was formed to resist the entry of foreign corporations like Walmart and Amazon into India’s e-commerce market. Its members represent more than 100 national groups, including major trade, workers and farmers organisations.

      • American Philanthropy: the Wealthier the Donor, the Bigger the Taxpayer Subsidy
      • Where Is My Tax Refund?

        So, you’ve figured out your deductions or credits, calculated how much you owed in taxes, and successfully filed your return (for free, hopefully). If you’re sitting around wondering where your money is, you’re not alone. Lucky for you, the IRS offers several ways to track your tax return.

        Once you have filed, there are three options for tracking your refund:

      • Corporate Coalition Calls on Congress to Approve Paid Family Leave

        "Lack of a national paid leave policy makes all of us more vulnerable during this pandemic and for future public health emergencies, while putting the financial stability of businesses on the line."

      • In Thumbs-Down to Sinema, Survey Finds Majority of Arizona Voters Favor $15 Minimum Wage

        "The verdict is clear—in Arizona, voting to raise the minimum wage is the smartest political move."

      • 1 Percent Owes Billions in Unpaid Taxes. IRS Must Reclaim It for Infrastructure.
      • Opinion | Are Debt Whiners Fools or Just Liars?

        The national debt is a meaningless number.

      • On Eve of Equal Pay Day, Report Reveals Subminimum Wage 'Keeps Incomes Low and Harassment High'

        One Fair Wage found that over 70% of women in the restaurant industry have been sexually harassed while working at least once.

      • DeJoy to Unveil Plan to Slash Post Office Hours, Hike Postage Prices

        "Fire the entire Post Office board. Then fire this corrupt man before he destroys the entire USPS for good."

      • Democrats Warn DeJoy's New 10-Year Plan Guarantees 'Death Spiral' for US Postal Service

        "This so-called plan from Louis DeJoy should itself be a dead letter. This is a blueprint for the Post Office's continued decay and destruction."

      • Amazon Intimidates Workers Amid Historic Union Vote in Alabama as Jeff Bezos Makes $7 Million an Hour

        Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama, are in the final days of voting on whether to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union and become the first unionized Amazon warehouse in the United States. Ballots have been sent to nearly 6,000 workers, most of whom are Black, in one of the most closely watched union elections in decades. Amazon has fought off labor organizing at the company for decades, but workers in Baltimore, New Orleans, Portland, Denver and Southern California are now also reportedly considering union drives. “Amazon is trying to intimidate workers. They want them to be afraid,” says Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. We also go to Bessemer to speak with Michael Foster, an RWDSU member-organizer leading the union drive at Amazon’s warehouse, who says casting a ballot in the union election, amid Amazon’s attempts to discourage warehouse workers from supporting the union drive, is “the only way that we can allow our voices to be heard.” We also discuss how this week marks the 110th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, the deadliest workplace accident in New York City’s history and a seminal moment for American labor.

      • Substack's UI and 1Password just cost me $2,023

        The penny drops. When I've clicked my card details in 1Password, it's entered my expiry year in the hidden, custom subscription amount box (I'm not sure why - is this a 1Password bug? *). Because this box has now changed value, the Substack UI has automatically selected this option. I've then hit "Subscribe" before I had time to notice and 💸 $2,023.

      • [Old] Facebook Libra is Architecturally Unsound

        I won’t pretend to have an objective opinion about Facebook as a company. Few people in tech view the company in a positive light anymore. Reading through the publications released, it is clear there is a fundamental deception in the stated goal and implementation of the project. Put concisely, this project will not empower anyone. It is a pivot from a company whose advertising business is so embroiled in scandal and corruption that it has no choice but to try to diversify into payments and credit scoring to survive. The clear long term goal is to act as a data broker and mediate consumers access to credit based on their private social media data. This is such an utterly terrifying and dystopian story that should cause more alarm than it does.

        The only saving grace of this story is the artifact they open sourced is so hilariously unsuited for the task they set out to do it can only be regarded as an act of hubris. There are several core architectural errors in this project: [...]

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • ‘The organizers decided to politicize it’ Russian book fair sparks controversy over cancellation of Navalny spokeswoman’s novel presentation

        Kira Yarmysh, best known as the spokeswoman for imprisoned opposition politician Alexey Navalny, was set to see her debut novel presented at the Non/Fiction international book fair in Moscow this week. Then, the event’s organizers canceled the presentation at the last minute in an alleged attempt “to save the fair at any cost.” The decision has sparked controversy among the festival’s participants, many of whom consider it politically motivated — especially in light of the fact that Yarmysh is currently under house arrest. Now, some Russian literary figures have opted to boycott Non/Fiction altogether, while others are urging their colleagues not only to attend but also to make Yarmysh’s exclusion the main topic of discussion at all of the book fair’s events.

      • EpiVacCorona’s race to the finish line Meduza speaks to the developer and manufacturer about concerns surrounding Russia’s latest coronavirus vaccine

        The “EpiVacCorona” coronavirus vaccine, developed by the Novosibirsk-based Vector Institute, is now rolling out in regions across Russia, and roughly half a million doses should be distributed by the end of the month. Scientists first registered EpiVacCorona back in October 2020. In early March 2021, Russia’s consumer protection agency Rospotrebnadzor approved the vaccine for persons older than 60, though the drug was made available sooner to many people, even before the end of clinical trials (just as health officials allowed with “Sputnik V,” the country’s first registered coronavirus vaccine). To learn more about Russia’s latest weapon against COVID-19, Meduza journalists Svetlana Reiter and Alexander Ershov spoke to EpiVacCorona developer Alexander Ryzhikov and Vector Institute deputy general director Tatiana Nepomnyashchikh. Why have participants in the drug’s clinical trials tested so low in antibodies? And what’s the evidence that the vaccine actually works?

      • Biden and the Pot Heads: The Return of the Drug Moralists

        The consequence of this change, noted Psaki on Twitter, was that “more people will serve who would not have had in the past with the same level of recent drug use.€  The bottom line is this: of the hundreds of people hired, only five people who had started working in the White House are no longer employed as a result of this policy.”€  What she did not detail was the primary reason why these changes had been brought in the first place.€  With so many actual and potential staffers having taken of the weed, filling posts would have been a problem.€  Accordingly, the current White House purportedly allows for up to 15 past uses in a year among staffers while the Office of Personnel Management argues that previous marijuana use should not render a person unfit.

        In a report by The Daily Beast, a rather different picture emerged, one streaked with callousness and inconsistency.€  Certain staffers were allegedly told that previous marijuana use would not be taken into consideration.€  That turned out to be rather loose with the hard verity: dozens were asked to resign, suffer suspension or told to work remotely.€  The administration had also been vague about how much usage was deemed acceptable or otherwise.€  Nor did it matter that the staffers in question came from any one of the 14 states where marijuana use is legal.

      • Navalny’s associates launch new campaign calling for his release

        Alexey Navalny’s supporters have announced the start of a new “Freedom for Navalny!” campaign, which includes plans to hold another rally calling for his release from prison.

      • Progressives Say Biden's Infrastructure Plan Falls Short
      • Opinion | The Urgent Need for a Biden-Putin Summit

        "Do you want to reduce the chances of nuclear war?" Assuming the answer is yes, any opposition to such a summit is illogical at best.

      • Opinion | The Border-Industrial Complex in the Post-Trump Era

        The greater the disaster, the greater the profits.

      • Powell Legal Defense: “Reasonable People” Wouldn’t Believe Election Fraud Claims
      • A Small Story of Scottish Justice

        A story you will not have heard unless you read the Oban Times or are one of the 146 people who live on the island of Lismore, gives a profound insight into the abuse of state power in Scotland today.

      • Facebook Failed to Prevent Billions of Views of Pages Sharing False Information
    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Facebook Treats Punk Rockers Like Crazy Conspiracy Theorists, Kicks Them Offline

        Members of an Oakland-based punk rock band called Adrenochrome were taken completely by surprise when Facebook disabled their band page, along with all three of their personal accounts, as well as a page for a booking business run by the band’s singer, Gina Marie, and drummer Brianne.

        Marie had no reason to think that Facebook’s content moderation battle with QAnon would affect her. The strange word (which refers to oxidized adrenaline) was popularized by Hunter Thompson in two books from the 1970s. Marie and her bandmates, who didn’t even know about QAnon when they named their band years ago, picked the name as a shout-out to a song by a British band from the 80’s, Sisters of Mercy. They were surprised as anyone that in the past few years, QAnon followers copied Hunter Thompson’s (fictional) idea that adrenochrome is an intoxicating substance, and gave this obscure chemical a central place in their ideology.

        The four Adrenochrome band members had nothing to do with the QAnon conspiracy theory and didn’t discuss it online, other than receiving occasional (unsolicited and unwanted) Facebook messages from QAnon followers confused about their band name.

      • Russia’s federal censor says Twitter is removing banned content too slowly

        Following the Russian state censor, Roskomnadzor (RKN), moving to throttle Twitter traffic in Russia, the social network has started work on removing banned content. According to a statement from Roskomnadzor, however, the process is happening at an “unsatisfactory pace.”

      • Senator Mark Warner Doesn't Seem To Understand Even The Very Basic Fundamentals Of Section 230 As He Seeks To Destroy It

        On Monday morning, Protocol hosted an interesting discussion on Reimagining Section 230 with two of its reporters, Emily Birnbaum and Issie Lapowsky. It started with those two reporters interviewing Senator Mark Warner about his SAFE TECH Act, which I've explained is one of the worst 230 bills I've seen and would effectively end the open internet. For what it's worth, since posting that I've heard from a few people that Senator Warner's staffers are now completely making up lies about me to discredit my analysis, while refusing to engage on the substance, so that's nice. Either way I was curious to see what Warner had to say.

      • What Are the ‘Kill the Bill’ Protests in Britain All About?

        That has been the refrain echoing in streets across Britain in recent weeks as protesters demand a rethinking of a sweeping crime bill that would give the police more power to deal with nonviolent demonstrations.

        In recent months, a series of issues have galvanized mass protests across Europe: Black Lives Matter demonstrations in cities last summer, protests against security laws across France last fall, and anti-lockdown rallies seemingly everywhere.

        How the police should handle these mass demonstrations has become a topic of heated debate, especially as officers have been accused in some cases of over-aggressive responses. Coronavirus restrictions have added another layer to questions about the right balance between the rule of law and protecting civil liberties.

        In Britain, that discussion has zeroed in on the new police bill.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Border Invasion? Mexican MAGA Influencers Push “Damaging” Conspiracy Theories About Asylum Seekers

        As thousands of asylum seekers continue to wait in Mexico for a chance to enter the United States, investigative journalist Jean Guerrero says Mexican social media influencers connected to right-wing U.S. media outlets and political figures are whipping up “hysteria” about the southern border. She says they are spreading false conspiracy theories about an orchestrated “invasion” and “child trafficking” funded by Democrats that are endangering vulnerable people. “It’s been incredibly damaging,” says Guerrero.

      • US Consumer Agency Investigates Tesla Whistleblower’s Complaint Involving Solar Systems Catching Fire

        The following article was made possible by subscribers of The Dissenter Newsletter.Steven Henkes was a field quality manager for SolarCity, which was acquired by Tesla in August 2017. He learned “thousands of residential and commercial systems” installed were “defective and dangerous” and could start fires. But according to his whistleblower complaint, Tesla ignored his concerns, mounted an “orchestrated campaign of retaliation,” and fired him. € The complaint was filed in Alameda County, California, in November 2020. He also submitted a complaint with the United States Consumer Protections Safety Commission (CPSC) in April 2019.CNBC reported on March 22 that CPSC will investigate the allegations from Henkes and interviewed him for the investigation.Henkes provided evidence that included “failure analysis reports from a third-party engineering firm,” “internal meeting minutes, reports, and emails,” “customer notification examples,” “photos of thermal events [fires] linked to customer houses,” and “meeting minutes and presentations pertaining to a supplier named Amphenol and Tesla.”After Walmart sued Tesla in New York state court in August 2019, it became widely known that SolarCity’s solar power systems had defects. However, prior to Walmart’s suit, Henkes claims he “forcefully advocated for the health and safety of Tesla’s customers” in his role as a field quality manager.Henkes’ job was to ensure Tesla promptly and safely reported, notified, and shut down any solar systems that were using Amphenol H4 Connectors—the part responsible for fire risks. He insists he recommended Tesla inform all customers immediately of the risks posed by continuing to use the “defective solar systems.” Tesla had at least 60,000 residential customers in addition to 500 government and commercial accounts.

        The complaint filed [PDF] in Alameda County states, “Henkes’ belief that the public was not adequately notified and protected was borne out by the many fires nationwide across Tesla’s customer base. [He] was quite outspoken about his desire to protect public health and openly shared his concerns with many Tesla employees.”

      • The Truth about Filibusters:€ They Don’t Protect Minority Rights, They Don’t Promote Legislating

        Central to the argument for preserving the filibuster are two assertions. One is that it is needed to protect minority rights. Two, the filibuster encourages compromise. The reality is, neither of these claims are true and in fact its repeal may promote both goals better than retaining it.

        The filibuster rule is a product of slavery politics, as was true of the electoral college. If the electoral college’s goal was to protect the slave states from being outvoted in presidential selection by the free states, purpose of the filibuster was to do the same. The Senate with its equal representation already gave the South a bonus in representation. But what the filibuster did was to allow one senator the effective ability to shut down the action of the chamber to prevent it from passing legislation hostile to the South. John C. Calhoun, a Senator from South Carolina in the antebellum South, used the tool effectively to block critical legislation. But he is also famous for his role in the nullification crisis where he asserted states had a right to veto or nullify federal legislation. His book A Disquisition on Government, advocated a theory of concurrent majority which would only permit legislation to pass if all classes, interests, groups, or states which had an interest in it supported it.€  Effectively, the filibuster went hand-in-hand with his theory of government to support states’ rights and protect a slave holding minority against majority rule.

      • North Carolina Legislators Push Bill That Would Prevent Cops, Prosecutors From Charging Six-Year-Olds For Picking Flowers

        This is today's law enforcement. While there are multiple societal and criminal problems that deserve full-time attention, our tax dollars are paying cops to turn our children into criminals. We don't have the luxury of pretending this isn't happening. Schools have welcomed cops into their confines, turning routine disciplinary problems into police matters.

      • Opinion | The PRO Act Would Transform the Playing Field for Labor

        Labor unions reduce inequality, promote cross-racial solidarity, and boost democratic participation.

      • Connecticut Legislature Offers Up Bill That Would Make Prison Phone Calls Free

        A lot of rights just vanish into the ether once you're incarcerated. Some of this makes sense. You have almost no privacy rights when being housed by the state. Your cell can be searched and your First Amendment right to freedom of association can be curtailed in order to prevent criminal conspiracies from being implemented behind bars.

      • Khachaturyan sisters recognized as victims in sexual abuse case against their late father

        Sisters Maria, Angelina, and Krestina Khachaturyan have been recognized as victims in a sexual abuse case launched against their late father, Mikhail, whom they killed in July 2018, arguing that they acted in self-defense. They are still suspects in their father’s murder case.€ 

      • Attacks on Asian Women Are Fueled by Criminalization, War and Economic Injustice
      • Immigrant Rights Advocates Urge Biden to Stop Detaining Children
      • As Biden Restricts Media Access, Photos Show Children in Crowded 'Border Jails'

        "Photos of children packed into makeshift detention centers highlight the need for press access to such centers so people can see the 'inhumanity' in U.S. immigration policy."

      • “Shameful”: Amid Border Emergency, Immigrant Rights Advocates Urge Biden to Stop Detaining Children

        There are now over 15,000 unaccompanied migrant children in U.S. custody as the number of people seeking asylum at the southern border shows no sign of slowing down. The Biden administration has sharpened its rhetoric in recent weeks, insisting that the “border is closed” and pushing Mexico and Guatemala to stem the flow of migrants. The Biden administration has also maintained one of the most controversial Trump policies, which allows the U.S. to deny almost all asylum seekers on public health grounds. “What is happening at the southern border is shameful,” says Luz Lopez, a lawyer with the Southern Poverty Law Center focused on immigration. “We as a country should remain vigilant and hold any administration accountable, regardless of political party, with respect to our treatment of children seeking refuge, who are fleeing countries that are in turmoil, largely because of our geopolitical policies over the past several decades.”

      • Opinion | DeSantis Wants to Silence, Jail His Opponents—Don't Let Him

        Giving those in power the ability to quash dissent is perilous, extremely unwise, and profoundly un-American.€ 

      • If Abbie, Why Not Trump?

        The trial centered on the so-called conspirators’s “intentions” leading up to their trip to Chicago to lead the protests against the Viet Nam war and the political travesty at the DNC. (LBJ had dropped out of the presidential race, RFK got murdered, and the DNC pushed Hubert Humphrey, who got nominated without any critical appraisal or negotiated platform, meaning university-aged citizens outside could still be drafted to fight in Nam but could not vote). The conspirators weren’t all Yippies, as is sometimes supposed, but also members of the Black Panthers, SDS, and MOBE.€  An interesting fact, often left out of MSM reporting about the 1968 Chicago events, is that 8 Chicago police officers were also charged with beating up protesters, and a later internal government investigation determined that the cops had started the rioting.

        During the trial, it was revealed that undercover cops had infiltrated the group of “conspirators’ and were put on the stand to help establish the mindset (i.e.,intentions) of the defendants. Eventually, after much drama, and not a little hijinks from Hoffman and Jerry Rubin at the trial, the Chicago 7’s “thoughts” were acquitted.

      • Opinion | We Must Confront the Ugly Plague of Racism and Hate Crimes

        The pandemic and the poisonous rhetoric of Donald Trump have exposed once more the hard work that must be done to bring together an inclusive society.

      • Citi declares 'Zoom-Free' Fridays amid pandemic work fatigue

        Citi will institute "Zoom-Free Fridays" and establish an employee day-off in May as firms seek to restore work-life balance amid the pandemic, the bank's new chief executive announced Tuesday.

        Jane Fraser, who took over the top job at Citi earlier this month, said in a note to employees she wants to "reset" life at work in light of complaints of non-stop work days during the pandemic when employees labor at home and participate in non-stop digital meetings.

      • This is the EU’s chance to stop racism in artificial intelligence

        The use of data-driven systems to surveil us and to provide a logic to discrimination is not novel. The use of biometric data collection systems such as fingerprinting have their origins in colonial systems of control. The use of biometric markers to experiment, discriminate and exterminate was also a feature of the Nazi regime. To this day in the EU, we have seen a number of similar, worrying practices, including the use of pseudo-scientific ‘lie detection’ technology piloted on migrants in the course of the visa application process. This is just one example where governments, institutions and companies are extracting data from people in extremely precarious situations. Many of the most harmful AI applications rely on large datasets of biometric data as a basis for identification, decision making and predictions.

        What is new in Europe, however, is that such undemocratic projects could be legitimised by a policy agenda “promoting the uptake of artificial intelligence” in all areas of public life. The EU policy debate on AI, while recognising some ‘risks’ associated with the technology, has overwhelmingly focused on the purported widespread “benefits” of AI. If this means shying away from clear legal limits in the name of promoting “innovation”, Europe’s people of colour will be the first to pay the price. Soon, MEPs will need to take a position on the European Commission’s legislative proposal on AI. While EU leaders such as Executive Vice-President Vestager and Vice President Jourová have each spoken on the need to ensure AI systems do not amplify racism, the Commission has been under pressure from tech companies like Google to avoid “over-regulation”.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • Yet More Studies Show That 5G Isn't Hurting You

        On the one hand, you have a wireless industry falsely claiming that 5G is a near mystical revolution in communications, something that's never been true (especially in the US). Then on the other hand you have oodles of internet crackpots who think 5G is causing COVID or killing people on the daily, something that has also never been true. In reality, most claims of 5G health harms are based on a false 20 year old graph, and an overwhelming majority of scientists have made it clear that 5G is not killing you (in fact several incarnations are less powerful than 4G).

    • Monopolies

      • Progressives Demand Biden Break From Obama's 'Failed Leadership' on Antitrust

        "With a new wave of Big Tech antitrust investigations today, it's time to stop appointing industry allies to top regulatory jobs."

      • What I Hope Tech CEOs Will Tell Congress: 'We're Not Neutral'

        The CEOs of Facebook, Google, and Twitter will once again testify before Congress this Thursday, this time on disinformation. Here’s what I hope they will say:

      • Patents

        • Enforceability of Clauses Requiring Arbitration of Malpractice Claims: Plummer v. McSweeney

          In Plummer v. McSweeney, the plaintiff, Plummer, sued a law firm for legal malpractice. The firm moved to compel arbitration. The district court denied that motion because, among other things, the clause required that the client pay a pro rata share of the arbitration fees and that rendered it substantively unconscionable since she could not afford it and that amount plainly exceeded the ordinary filing costs of a lawsuit. It also held that the firm’s post-dispute offer to pay her costs did not change that result. The firm appealed.

          The Eighth Circuit reversed. It held that under D.C. law the post-dispute offer to pay mooted the substantive unconscionability. It also rejected procedural unconscionability because she could have chosen another firm and the agreement made clear its terms were negotiable.

        • EPO continues oral proceedings by videoconference in examination and opposition during pendency of referral G 1/21 [Ed: EPO trying to distract from corruption and illegal appointment of judges]

          With its decision of 12 March 2021, a Technical Board of Appeal of the EPO has made a referral to the Enlarged Board of Appeal seeking to clarify whether, in view of Article 116(1) EPC, oral proceedings may be conducted by videoconference (VICO) without all parties' consent. The referral concerns appeal proceedings, but also extends to oral proceedings by VICO before examining and opposition divisions.

          Following a careful weighing up of the impact for legal certainty and access to justice, the President of the EPO has decided that during pendency of the referral oral proceedings before examining and opposition divisions will continue to be held by VICO as under current practice, i.e. without requiring explicit agreement of the parties.

        • TracFone: Mandamus All Over Again [Ed: Texas is killing patent law by discrediting the whole patent system in the US. This coverage is sponsored by litigation profiteers.]

          NOW: TracFone has filed a new petition for writ of mandamus seeking an order compelling Judge Albright to transfer the case to the Southern District of Florida, TracFone’s home court. The Federal Circuit immediately ordered Precis to respond within 7 days. Although not clear from the docket, I suspect that this petition will be passed to the same trio judges who handled the last one – Judges Reyna, Chen, and Hughes.

          In my post on the case, I noted troubles with Judge Albright’s venue decision, and the mandamus petition picks up on those — arguing that “the district court here abused its discretion by accepting as true the venue allegations in the complaint where those allegations were directly contradicted by TracFone’s declarations, declarations not rebutted by any declarations of plaintiff.” [TracFone Second Mandamus Petition].

          In his opinion, the district court accepted the complaint’s allegations as true and concluded that the plaintiff “has plead sufficient venue facts to establish venue in WDTX.” The district court did not appear consider TracFone’s evidence that it submitted via declaration — that it did not own the store and that the store was closed “well before” the action was filed. Typically, in this situation, courts consider affidavit evidence presented by defendants, and that was not done here.

        • French competitor acquires NovumIP from Paragon Partners [Ed: JUVE became "SPAM" site, posting marketing junk in the form of 'articles'; it used to be a real site]

          IP firm Novagraaf also offers a full range of prosecution, filing and portfolio management services for patents, trademarks and designs. It has a total of 18 offices in Europe and overseas. In addition to headquarters in the Netherlands and branches in France, Belgium, the UK, Denmark and Switzerland, the firm also has offices in the US, China and Japan.

          Last year, subsidiary Pavis Payment received approval from the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority to operate as a regulated payment institution. As such, Pavis Payment is also part of the deal. Paragon Fund II also supported the ‘buy-and-build’ strategy.

          Paris-based IP service provider Questel is taking over NovumIP. Questel offers, among other things, software for searching, analysing and managing inventions and IP assets. Investment companies Eurazeo, IK Investment Partners and Raise back Questel, which recently invested in Munich-based IP manager Brandstock and London patent manager RenewalsDesk. At the beginning of 2021, Munich-based software company Innosabi’s shareholders also sold a majority stake to Questel.

          According to industry magazine Private Equity Wire, Eurazeo and the IK IX Fund are participating in the latest expansion. They also continue to hold a majority stake in Questel, while Paragon Fund III is simultaneously directly involved in Questel with a minority stake.


          According to market sources, KPMG was responsible for the tax aspects of the sales process. KPMG has supported Paragon in deals for several years, Pavis Payment hired firm Annerton for the approval procedure, in order to become a regulated payment institution.

        • Neurim and Flynn v Mylan – Who is the real winner?

          Although the case relates to treatments for insomnia, we suspect that the latest episode in the ongoing saga between Neurim and Mylan might result in a few sleepless nights for patent litigators. Somewhat unconventionally, the latest instalment saw Marcus Smith J vary a costs order so as to award costs to the losing party in proceedings before the English Patents Court (the “UK proceedings”) as a result of a near simultaneous (and conflicting) decision at the EPO.

          On 12 March 2021, Marcus Smith J handed down a formidable 42 page judgment on consequential matters (the “Consequentials Judgment”, a copy of which can be found here). This follows his 4 December 2020 judgment in Neurim Pharmaceuticals (1991) Limited & Flynn Pharma Limited v Generics UK Limited (t/a Mylan) & Mylan UK Healthcare Limited [2020] EWHC 3270 (Pat) (the “Judgment”). A detailed look at the Judgment can also be found here. Readers may also recall Marcus Smith J’s earlier decision in these proceedings to refuse Neurim’s application for a preliminary injunction (as reported here), which was subsequently upheld by the Court of Appeal (as reported here). It is fair to say that this case has an unusual fact pattern on many levels.


          One can speculate on other variations of the fact pattern and what, if any, impact this would have on Marcus Smith J’s decision to vary the costs order. For example, would it have made a difference if Mylan was not a party to the opposition proceedings before the EPO? What if Neurim had been granted a preliminary injunction? Would that have taken the possibility of adjournment off the table and, if so, what difference would that have made?

          From a practical perspective, it is clear from the decision that Marcus Smith J considered that the court should have been made aware of the timing of the TBA hearing, despite the expedited trial date having already been set. Although there are legitimate reasons not to seek an adjournment (for example, it is often the case that it is unclear to the parties whether a given TBA hearing would result in a final decision), this decision certainly highlights the importance of keeping the court informed or risk implicitly accepting otherwise unexpected adverse costs orders.

          In the short term, it seems very likely (if not inevitable) that Neurim will attempt to appeal the costs order and we (like many patent litigators in the UK) will be keeping a close eye on any developments in this regard.

        • Software Patents

          • Patent troll IP is more powerful than Apple's (permalink)

            I was 12 years into my Locus Magazine column when I published the piece I'm most proud of, "IP," from September 2020. It came after an epiphany, one that has profoundly shaped the way I talk and think about the issues I campaign on.


            That revelation was about the meaning of the term "IP," which had been the center of this tedious linguistic cold war for decades. People who advocate for free and open technology and culture hate the term "IP" because of its ideological loading and imprecision.

            Ideology first: Before "IP" came into wide parlance – when lobbyists for multinational corporations convinced the UN to turn their World Intellectual Property Organization into a specialized agency, we used other terms like "author's monopolies" and "regulatory monopolies."

      • Trademarks

      • Copyrights

        • New Year, Same You: Twitch Releases Tools To Help Creators Avoid Copyright Strikes, Can't Properly Police Abuse

          Readers here will remember that the last quarter of 2020 was a very, very bad time for streaming platform Twitch. It all started when the RIAA came calling on the Amazon-owned platform, issuing a slew of DMCA takedown notices over all sorts of music included in the recorded streams of creators. Instead of simply taking the content down and issuing a notice to creators, Twitch simply perma-deleted the content in question, with no recourse for a counternotice given to creators as an option. After an explosive backlash, Twitch apologized, but still didn't offer any clarity or tools for creators to understand what might be infringing content and what was being targeted. Instead, during its remote convention, Twitch only promised more information and tools in the coming months.

        • Appeals Court Affirms Retired Police Officer's $47,777 Win Against Copyright Troll

          The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the victory of a retired police officer against Strike 3 Holdings. The man, who was incorrectly accused of downloading porn videos, is one of the few defendants who fought back. The Court also affirmed the attorneys' fees and costs award of $47,777, dismissing Strike 3's objections.

        • DanishBits: Authorities Extradite 'Pirate Mastermind' From Morocco

          After being arrested and jailed in Morocco last October, the alleged "mastermind" behind private torrent tracker DanishBits has now been extradited to Denmark. Following a hearing at the Copenhagen City Court last week, the man was remanded in custody for 25 days.

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Links for the day
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news
Links 27/11/2023: Underwater Data Centres and Gemini, BSD Style!
Links for the day
[Meme] Leaning Towards the Big Corporate CoC
Or leaning to "the green" (money)
Software Freedom Conservancy Inc in 2022: Almost Half a Million Bucks for Three People Who Attack Richard Stallman and Defame Linus Torvalds
Follow the money
[Meme] Identity Theft and Forgery
Coming soon...
Microsoft Has Less Than 1,000 Mail (MX) Servers Left, It's Virtually Dead in That Area (0.19% of the Market)
Exim at 254,000 servers, Postfix at 150,774, Microsoft down to 824
The Web is Dying, Sites Must Evolve or Die Too
Nowadays when things become "Web-based" it sometimes means more hostile and less open than before
Still Growing, Still Getting Faster
Articles got considerably longer too (on average)
In India, the One Percent is Microsoft and Mozilla
India is where a lot of software innovations and development happen, so this kind of matters a lot
Feeding False Information Using Sockpuppet Accounts and Imposters
online militants try every trick in the book, even illegal stuff
What News Industry???
Marketing, spam, and chatbots
IRC Proceedings: Sunday, November 26, 2023
IRC logs for Sunday, November 26, 2023
The Software Freedom Law Center's Eben Moglen Explains That We Already Had Free Software Almost Everywhere Before (Half a Century Ago)
how code was shared in the 1970s and 80s