Links 2/7/2019: Microsoft ‘Azurising’ GNU/Linux and Whonix 15 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 12:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


  • A Microsoft engineer says that the use of Linux has overtaken Windows on its own Microsoft Azure cloud
  • Linux’s success in servers could pose problems for the Linux desktop

    The cat is out of the bag and Steve Ballmer’s worst nightmare has just come true. Microsoft, once the most outspoken enemy of Linux and open source software, not only loves it but may have just become dependent on it. Its cloud computing platform Azure has long offered customers the choice between Linux and Windows virtual machines.

    Now a Microsoft engineer has just admitted that Azure customers have preferred using Linux instead of Windows servers. But what is a clear win for Linux in this market could also negatively affect other aspects of the operating system, most especially “The Linux Desktop” everyone loves talking about.


    This is just the latest in a string of wins for Linux, though. All around the world, governments and institutions are switching to Linux due to the steep licensing fees Microsoft demands from customers.

    More than just saving on money, which is always an important consideration for this class of users, the situation has also caused the to reevaluate their use of proprietary software that often leaves them locked out when a vendor like Microsoft decides to discontinue certain versions or ask them to pay more.

  • Linux is more popular on Azure than Windows Server

    It seems that to anybody’s surprise, Linux is now more used on Azure than Windows Server. Despite Microsoft winning the OS battle a long time ago, Linux found its spot on the server side of the computing world.

  • Linux is now more popular than Windows Server on Azure
  • Linux usage share surpasses usage share of Windows Server on Azure

    Usage of Linux on Microsoft Azure has grown exponentially over the past few years, and finally, it has managed to beat the usage share of Windows Server on the Cloud platform. Microsoft Linux developer confirmed saying, “The Linux usage on our cloud has surpassed Windows[Server].”

    This didn’t happen overnight. “One in four [Azure] instances are Linux,” said Azure CTO Mark Russinovich back in 2016. Which means roughly 25 percent instances were Linux and grew to nearly 50 percent back in 2018.

  • Here’s why Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL2) is great for developers
  • Server

    • New OpenShift on OpenStack Reference Architecture

      Large IT organizations are increasingly looking to develop innovative software applications in hybrid and multi clouds architectures. A lot of these applications have to be developed and deployed in an on-premises private cloud for various reasons (e.g. security and compliance, data affinity, performance, etc.). This private cloud should be simple, agile, flexible, secure, cost efficient, and a key part of their overall Hybrid and Multi cloud architecture.

    • CWS : Complete guide to install CentOS Web Panel

      Centos Web Panel is a free web hosting tool that provides a GUI for quick & easy management of the of servers, both VPS & Dedicated, with minimum efforts. Its available to install & use on RPM based distributions, like CentOS, RHEL etc.

      Centos Web Panel comes with lots for features & services, it automatically installs LAMP stack along wth varnish cache. Some other features & services are ,

    • Introduction to cloud-native application environment architecture

      Cloud-native environment architecture can be challenging to understand. To help make sense of it for application developers and software/system architects, I will attempt to explain the various parts and how they work together. Toward this end, I find it helpful to think about the architecture in four separate layers: application software development, service scaling, application network, and container orchestration platform.

      In this article, I will describe the first technology layer: application software development. I drew the following diagram to make these concepts easier to visualize.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Gabbing About Go | Coder Radio 364

      Mike and Wes burrow into the concurrent world of Go and debate where it makes sense and where it may not.

      Plus gradual typing for Ruby, a new solution for Python packaging, and the real story behind Jony Ive’s exit.

  • Kernel Space

    • Graphics Stack

      • AMD Radeon Pro WX 3200 Announced As A Small Form Factor $199 USD Workstation Card

        For those looking for a small form factor workstation-oriented graphics card or just a budget workstation GPU in general, AMD today announced the Radeon Pro WX 3200.

        This single-slot graphics card for $199 USD is based on AMD’s Polaris architecture and not the newer Vega or Navi architecture. The WX 3200 has 10 compute units, 1.66 TFLOPS performance for compute, support for 4K/8K displays, and 4GB of GDDR5 video memory.

      • AMD “GFX8″ Hardware Now Has Expanded DCC Support With RADV Vulkan Driver

        The latest work by Valve open-source Linux graphics driver contributor Samuel Pitoiset is on offering Delta Color Compression (DCC) support for layers with the Vulkan RADV driver.

        On top of the Delta Color Compression support already within RADV, this Mesa Radeon Vulkan driver now has DCC support for Vulkan layers.

      • Mir 1.3 Released With Wayland Improvements, New AL Features

        Mir 1.3 was released today as the newest version of Canonical’s project making it easier to write desktop shells with Wayland support.

        Mir 1.3 has Wayland improvements around more eagerly sending buffer release events, more punctually executing work on the Wayland thread, and renaming of their zxdg_output_v1 protocol to zxdg_output_manager_v1.

      • NVIDIA 418.52.14 Linux Driver Brings Full-Screen Exclusive & Calibrated Timestamps

        The NVIDIA 418.52.14 Linux driver adds support for VK_EXT_calibrated_timestamps, VK_EXT_full_screen_exclusive, VK_EXT_shader_demote_to_helper_invocation, and VK_EXT_texel_buffer_alignment. The two later extensions are for new bits added with Vulkan 1.1.113 while the full-screen exclusive and calibrated timestamps are excited to finally see exposed in full by the NVIDIA Vulkan driver. VK_EXT_full_screen_exclusive has the potential of helping to improve performance by bypassing system composition (the compositor) during full-screen gaming, but of course does require games/engines to make use of this extension.

      • NVIDIA Announces GeForce RTX 2060 / 2070 / 2080 SUPER GPUs
      • It’s A Last Call For Speakers At X.Org’s XDC2019 Event

        The 2019 X.Org Developers Conference for “all-things open-source graphics” is coming up at the start of October. But if you’ve been wanting to talk about something related to the Linux kernel, Mesa, Wayland, or related components, this week is your last chance to apply.

    • Benchmarks

      • An Initial Look At The IBM POWER9 4-Core / 16-Thread CPU Performance On The Blackbird

        few weeks ago we received a POWER9 Raptor Blackbird for testing that features an IBM POWER9 4-core (16 thread) processor clocked at 3.80GHz. For those curious about the performance potential for low-end POWER9 parts compared to the more common high-core/thread count POWER processors we have benchmarked before like in the Talos II server, here are some initial tests of that petite POWER9 processor.

        The Blackbird configuration we have been testing features the single POWER9 4c/16t CPU with Blackbird motherboard, 128GB of RAM, 1TB Samsung NVMe SSD, and onboard ASpeed display (dGPU testing to come). I ran some benchmarks of this POWER9 processor against a few other low and higher-end Intel Core and AMD Ryzen processors for reference perspective.

        The 4-core POWER9 CPU has a 3.2GHz base frequency with 3.8GHz turbo, 90 Watt TDP, 32KB L1 cache, 512KB L2 cache/core, and 10MB L3 cache/core. This CP9M01 processor is manufactured on a 14nm FinFET process. Raptor Computing Systems sells the 4-core processor for $375 USD.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Xfce 4.14pre2 released!

      As scheduled, the team has released the second pre-release for Xfce 4.14, which is due later this summer, yesterday evening. As this release was mostly focused on bugfixing there are not that many highlights, but as with Xfce 4.14pre1 I’ll try to point out a few – as before, not completely unbiased.

    • Xfce 4.14 “Pre2″ Brings Bug Fixes, GLX Compositing Improvements & More

      The second preview release of the long-awaited Xfce 4.14 is now available for testing ahead of its official debut later this summer.

      Xfce 4.14pre2 has arrived as planned to succeed the pre-release from back in May. Developers plan to aim for officially releasing the Xfce 4.14 desktop around mid-August or even the end of July should no further preview releases be warranted.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KaOS Linux Gets July Release with KDE Plasma 5.16 Desktop, Linux Kernel 5.1

        The KaOS Linux operating system received July 2019′s snapshot release with all the latest updates and security fixes published in the main repositories since the previous ISO milestone.

        Packed with all the latest and greatest GNU/Linux technologies and Open Source software, KaOS 2019.07 is now available for download and comes with the KDE Plamsa 5.16.2 desktop environment accompanied by the KDE Applications 19.04.2 and KDE Frameworks 5.59.0 software suites, all build against the Qt 5.13.0 application framework.

        It also ships with the LibreOffice 6.2 office suite featuring native support for the Qt5/KF5 toolkit, replacing Calligra as the default Office app for KaOS. Other updated components include Linux kernel 5.1.15, X.Org Server 1.20.5, Glib2 2.60.4, ICU 64.2, 1.69.0, NetworkManager 1.18.1, GStreamer 1.16.0, iptables 1.8.3, GNU nano 4.3, Krb5 1.17, Proj 6.0.0, and Poppler 0.78.0.

      • Linux Used More than Windows on Azure, Debian Asks for Help Testing Buster, Red Hat Announces Packit-as-a-Service, KaOS 2019.07 Released and Kernel 5.2-rc7 Is Out

        KaOS 2019.07 was released today. This rolling distro includes the latest packages for the Plasma Desktop (Frameworks 5.59.0, Plasma 5.16.2 and KDE Applications 19.04.2), all built on Qt 5.13.0. See the Download Page for installation instructions.

      • 0.4.2 Release of Elisa

        I am happy to announce the release of 0.4.2 version of the Elisa music player.

      • Does Your KDE Plasma Desktop Look This Good? It Can if You Follow This

        I find myself pining after the KDE Plasma desktop a lot of late, a feeling that the following YouTube video (a link to which landed in my inbox over the weekend) has made 10x worse!

        I use GNOME Shell because, by and large, I’m a defaults kinda guy. It’s what Ubuntu offers so I lap it up. But the recent Plasma 5.16 release (in particular) has really whet my appetite for DEs dished up elsewhere.

        Sam, the guy who keeps this site ticking over, isn’t helping matters. He switched to the Plasma desktop on his Arch machine a few months back and has done nothing but sing its praises since!

        But me? I know GNOME Shell. I know how it works. I know what it can be made to look. Plasma? I’m far less versed in Plasma’s proficiencies and possibilities, settings and style.

      • The KDE ISO Image Writer is Coming to Windows

        Windows users will soon have another way to create a live, bootable USB drive of their fave Linux distribution.

        A KDE ISO writer tool for Windows desktops is being developed as part of the Google Summer of Code (GSoC).

        The app uses the same look and layout as the Linux version, which is available in the ‘development’ repos of the KDE Neon Linux distro.

        “KDE ISO Image Writer on Windows to allow people that want to install KDE Neon to easily write the ISO image onto a USB flash drive,” explains Farid Boudedja in a blog post update.

      • Usability & Productivity Sprint 2019

        I [partially, only 2 days out of the 7] attended the Usability & Productivity Sprint 2019 in Valencia two weekends ago.

        I was very happy to meet quite some new developer blood, which is something we had been struggling a bit to get lately, so we’re starting to get on the right track again :) And I can only imagine it’ll get better and better due to the “Onboarding” goal :)

        During the sprint we had an interesting discussion about how to get more people to know about usability, and the outcome is that probably we’ll try to get some training to members of KDE to increase the knowledge of usability amongst us. Sounds like a good idea to me :)

      • Multiple Datasets: Tutorial

        This post is a step by step tutorial for adding multiple datasets to an activity in Gcompris.
        The procedure of adding multiple datasets to an activity is fairly simple in Gcompris. The steps for it are given below.
        Note: In these steps we’ll refer the activity in consideration as current_activity. Also we assume that we plan to add 3 datasets to current_activity.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Another Attempt At Reducing GNOME’s Mutter Input Latency

        Prolific GNOME contributor Daniel Van Vugt of Canonical working to optimize the desktop stack for Ubuntu continues his great upstream-focused work on enhancing the performance of various key components. This past week he posted a new merge request that seeks to lower the input latency further for the Mutter compositor / window manager.

        Mutter MR #661 is Van Vugt’s latest input latency reduction work for Mutter. This is designed as a replacement to his nearly one-year-old unmerged patches for delivering input events sooner when possible but ended up having technical limitations.

      • Network and Disk sources

        Sysprof has gained network and disk device statistics. You can use the combined graphs for a quick overview, or view them individually.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • NuTyX 11.1 available

        The base of NuTyX comes with the new kernel LTS 4.19.56 (4.9.183 for the 32 bits version) and the very new kernel 5.1.15 (in 64 bits only).

        The gnu compiler is now the gcc 9.1.0.

        The graphical server is now in xorg-server 1.20.5, the mesa lib in 18.3.6, gtk3 3.24.9, qt 5.12.4.

        The python 3.7.3 and 2.7.16 are updated as well

      • Backbox Linux Releases Update To Version 6.0

        While I was away last month I got an interesting email/request by Backbox Linux Community Staff to release an article covering the release of their latest version; upgraded to version 6.0. Before getting into that however, for those of you whom might be unfamiliar with the product, Backbox Linux is an increasingly popular ethical hacking and penetration testing Linux distro – complete with all of the most modern tools and programs utilized by professionals working in these fields. In fact, Backbox Linux made Rogue Security Labs list of the most popular/widely used hacking-based Operating Systems earlier this year after receiving a review of it from “Al1ne3737” – formerly of “Pryzraky.”

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • Mageia 7 Linux OS Released with Linux 5.1 Kernel, KDE Plasma 5.15 and GNOME 3.32

        The Mageia community has released today the Mageia 7 Linux operating system, a major version that brings up-to-date components and several new features for fans of this Mandriva derivative.

        Almost two years in the work, the Mageia 7 Linux operating system is now available to download and comes packed with numerous of the latest GNU/Linux technologies and Open Source software. Mageia 7 is powered by one of the most recent kernels from the Linux 5.1 series and features the latest Mesa 19.1 graphics stack.

        Mageia 7 also features a wide range of desktop environments and window managers, but it’s shipped in three main editions with the KDE Plasma 5.15.4, GNOME 3.32, and Xfce 4.14pre desktops. Support for Wayland and hybrid graphics cards has been enhanced as well in Mageia 7, which comes with an extended collection of games.

      • Mageia 7 Linux distro available for download

        Today is the first day of the seventh month — July. This month is special to Americans, as we celebrate our independence from the treacherous British on July the fourth.

        With that said, it is quite appropriate that Mageia 7 — a high-quality Linux distribution — is released today. You see, it is interesting to have the seventh major version of the operating system become available for download on 7/1. But also, it is significant because, just like America declared its independence, so too can Windows users by switching to this excellent Linux distro.

      • Mageia 7 Released with Plasma 5.15, Linux 5.1 & More

        If you fancy sampling a Linux distro that’s not based on Ubuntu, check out the new Mageia 7 release, now available for download.

        Mageia 7 arrives two years after the release of Mageia 6 and is packed full of the latest Linux software, utilities and desktop environments.

        “Everyone at Mageia is very happy to announce the release of Mageia 7. We all hope that the release works as well for you as it has during our testing and development,” writes Mageia’s Donald Stewart on the project blog.

        A RPM-based Linux distribution, Mageia is a fork of Mandriva, which was a mildly popular Linux distro that shut up shop in 2011.

      • Mageia 7

        Today we are looking at Mageia 7, which is released 2 years after Mageia 6, and it is worth the wait. As we got to know and love of Mageia, it is still filled with all it’s great tools and documentation, yet they smoothed it out to make it more streamlined and organized which is amazing. Mageia 7 comes with KDE Plasma 5.15 and Gnome 3.32 with Linux Kernel 5.1. The Plasma edition uses about 500Mof Ram when idling.

      • Mageia 7 Run Through
    • Slackware Family

      • Cinnamon 4.2 Early Testing

        it’s been a while since posted a post here, but that’s because of my work load which was way so hectic, so i didn’t have time to post an update on Slackware or other things related to Slackware, but for today, i will make an exception since it’s time to play with Cinnamon 4.2, the latest release of Cinnamon, which is yet to be announced, but the tarballs are already released on their github project page.

        There’s no news yet on their blog, but i’m guessing they will release it soon after they mark it as stable. It took several minor releases to ensure stability and compatibility in Cinnamon based on past track records. We had some minor issue dealing with cinnamon-settings-daemon for Slackware-Current since they moved to support newer UPower 0.99 API while in Slackware, we still use the old UPower 0.9.23. In the end, upstream patched a bit, but i’m not really sure the power management component works best since i haven’t tried it yet on a laptop (desktop is fine).

    • Fedora

      • Packit-as-a-Service is now live!

        Using the Packit service in your upstream projects helps you continuously ensure that your projects work in Fedora OS. Just add one config file [3] to your repository, along with the RPM spec file and you’re almost there. We have started publishing docs for the service over here [4].

      • Red Hat Introduces “Packit-as-a-Service” For Fedora

        Packit-as-a-Service has been announced as a GitHub integration app and leveraging the Packit project to provide for upstream CI testing to ensure different software projects continue to build and function fine on Fedora Linux.

      • A Closer Look at Fedora Projects

        The Fedora Project is a community of people working together to build free and open source software platform and to collaborate on and share user-focused solutions built on that platform. It makes an operating system and make it easy for people to do useful stuff with it.
        Actually, they produce several operating systems, or editions. The one that new contributors are most likely to be interested in, and focused on, is Fedora Workstation. Fedora Workstation has a wide range of software that’s suitable for almost anyone. All of the software provided with Fedora is open source and free to download and use.

    • Debian Family

      • Debian GNU/Linux 10 “Buster” ISOs Now Ready for Testing Ahead of July 6th Launch

        Scheduled for release on Saturday, July 6th, 2019, the Debian GNU/Linux 10 “Buster” operating system has been in development for the past few years and it is shaping up to be a great release with cool new features and improvements, along with more update components compared to the current release, Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch.”

        But, before it hits the streets later this week, the Debian Project is looking at the community to help them download, install, and test the release images of Debian GNU/Linux 10 “Buster” and report any issues they might encounter during the installations, etc., to ensure the final release is bug-free and rock-stable.

      • Derivatives

        • Whonix 15 has been Released

          After approximately one year of development, the Whonix Project is proud to announce the release of Whonix 15.

          Whonix 15 is based on the Debian buster (Debian 10) distribution. This means users have access to many new software packages in concert with existing packages, such as a modern branch of GNuPG, and more.

        • Security-Focused Whonix Linux Is Now Based on Debian GNU/Linux 10 “Buster”

          After being in development for the past year, Whonix 15 is now available and it’s based on the soon-to-be-released Debian GNU/Linux 10 “Buster” operating system series, due for release on July 6th, 2019. It comes with lots of new features and enhancement, including kernel hardening, systemd unit sandboxing, and Xfce as default desktop environment.

          “After approximately one year of development, the Whonix Project is proud to announce the release of Whonix 15,” said developer Patrick Schleizer. “Whonix 15 is based on the Debian buster (Debian 10) distribution. This means users have access to many new software packages in concert with existing packages, such as a modern branch of GNuPG, and more.”

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Steam and Ubuntu: support until 2025 and 20.04 LTS

            Steam customers who run the gaming client on Ubuntu machines were in for a shock when Canonical, Ubuntu’s parent company, announced that it would not support 32-bit packages on Ubuntu going forward. Valve Software, parent company of Steam, revealed that Steam would not support Ubuntu anymore once the change landed and that Valve would not recommended Ubuntu either anymore.

            Ubuntu has been the only Linux distribution that Steam supported officially up until now. While Steam works fine on many other Linux distributions, Valve would not offer any kind of support if Steam was not run on Ubuntu.

            The dropping of 32-bit packages from Ubuntu would pose serious troubles for Steam going forward. Valve notes that the Steam client requires 32-bit libraries and while Valve might be able to fix that in time, Linux users would find out soon thereafter that thousands of games would not play anymore because they required 32-bit environments.

          • ROS 101: An Intro to the Robot Operating System

            Here’s everything you need to know about the open-source Robot Operating System (ROS) and how you can get started creating your first project!

          • Confirmed: Ubuntu MATE Is Coming To The Raspberry Pi 4

            The Raspberry Pi 4 is a serious leap over the last generation, and with an option 4GB of RAM it can finally deliver a solid desktop PC experience.

          • Raspberry Pi 4 Ubuntu MATE under development

            It has been confirmed this week that a version of the free and open-source Linux distribution Ubuntu MATE, is currently under development for the new Raspberry Pi 4 mini PC. Recently launched the Pi 4 is a more powerful mini PC offering a number of new features including support for two 4K monitors, USB-C power and a range of ram options offering 1, 2 or 4 GB versions.

            Ubuntu MATE 18.04.2 for the Raspberry Pi 3 was unveiled just a few months ago and this week lead developer Martin Wimpress has revealed he is currently working on bringing the Ubuntu MATE desktop environment to the new Raspberry Pi 4. Wimpress tweeted a picture of the new Raspberry Pi 4, writing “This should keep me occuPIed 4 a while.”

          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 585
          • 10 Best Blue Color Wallpapers for Ubuntu Desktop

            BLUE the color of the ocean and the sky and water, three of the most fascinating things in human race. Ever wondered why blue and its different shades are popularly used colors in many work places interiors? Well Blue is a soothing color which keeps the mind calm as ocean and improves concentration which inspires creativity and out of the box thinking.

            Many of us get bored of default wallpapers bundled with any operating system or we not even care what wallpaper is placed on our desktop screen, we just concentrate on the work but you know what it matters. Even a glance at something that inspires freshness and calmness matter during long working hours hence beautiful wallpaper in the back can help you go an extra mile.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Resignations Signal Generational Change at Apache Foundation

    ASF isn’t the only Linux and open source organization experiencing a paradigm shift as leadership shifts from an old to new guard. At Open Source Initiative, where I am currently serving as a first term-board member, this transition has been made easier by the fact that the organization’s leadership prepared for the change.

    “The OSI Board has undergone a conscious, managed transition over the past eight years, which I’ve played a significant role in devising and leading and hope to finally step back from next March,” Simon Phipps, OSI’s president, told me. “The Board that set this in motion under Michael Tiemann deserve a lot of credit too for their vision and trust.”

    According to Phipps, instead of prolonging the inevitable, OSI took steps to hasten and welcome new blood with new ideas to the organization.

    “Around 2010, the board members decided to make room for a new approach to leading OSI and introduced both term limits and a stakeholder membership (affiliate organizations and individual open source advocates) to select replacement directors,” he explained. “The new board was arranged so that no one constituency could take control, and it was fully expected that the result would be a more varied board membership.”

    At OSI, forcing the change to the next generation of leaders early in a controlled fashion seems to have smoothed some of the bumps that are currently an issue at ASF.

  • Open Source Initiative Welcomes TODO Group as Affiliate Member

    The Open Source Initiative ® (OSI), the non-profit corporation with global scope formed to educate about and advocate for the benefits of open source and to build bridges among different constituencies in the open source community, announced today the affiliate membership of TODO Group. Boasting membership from some of today’s most active corporations working in and with Open Source Software, the TODO Group shares experiences, develops best practices, and collaborates around common tooling to address some of the most common challenges related to open source program management, development, deployment, and management.

    As Open Source Software continues its growth into and across corporate infrastructure, more and more companies are seeking peers and partners to help understand, not only “the value of open source” but “the open source ethos” as well. Businesses across industries–not just technology–use, contribute to, and maintain, thousands of open source projects, both large and small. Despite open source’s twenty year history, many of these programs face challenges in ensuring high-quality and frequent releases, engaging with developer communities, and contributing back to other projects effectively. Here, as a resource to those seeking authentic engagement with open source communities of practice, the OSI and TODO Group will work together, helping organizations identify potential projects, assess community alignment, and participate credibly and reliably to foster success.

  • I am sorry, we are unable to accept donations right now

    About two weeks ago, an attacker tried to use presumably stolen credit card information on our donation form. He was able to try around 300 different numbers in only a few hours before we noticed this and tried to block him. We consulted with the technical support hotline of our payment provider.

    Unfortunately, the risk department decided to disable our account at the same time before we could implement some better protection against fraud like this and was not able to contact us about it. After endless calls with them and lots and lots of promises about being called back, I was finally able to get hold of someone who told me that they are no longer able to provide their services to us – without any specific reason.

    This is not the first time that an open source project has been fallen victim to being cut off of their payments and it is indeed threatening to the existence of all those projects. Now it seems to be our turn.

    To not go too much into detail, this seems to be a case of that our payment provider terminated our contract because of one simple reason: They do not know what an Open Source project is and how donations work. The concept does not seem to be anything that they can understand or are willing to learn. It would have helped us to know this when we set up our donations system with them, but unfortunately we could not foresee this.

    Some parts of the banking business in Germany really seems to be living in the eighteen-hundreds. The Germans being people who overwhelmingly prefer to pay things in cash, this does not come as a surprise. As a tourist I can only recommend to bring some cash to wherever you go or you won’t be able to pay. Something that works the other way round in our neighbouring countries or elsewhere. Credit cards work everywhere.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Building on the UK white paper: How to better protect internet openness and individuals’ rights in the fight against online harms

        In April 2019 the UK government unveiled plans for sweeping new laws aimed at tackling illegal and harmful content and activity online, described by the government as ‘the toughest internet laws in the world’. While the UK government’s proposal contains some interesting avenues of exploration for the next generation of European content regulation laws, it also includes several critical weaknesses and grey areas. We’ve just filed comments with the government that spell out the key areas of concern and provide recommendations on how to address them.

        The UK government’s white paper responds to legitimate public policy concerns around how technology companies deal with illegal and harmful content online. We understand that in many respects the current European regulatory paradigm is not fit for purpose, and we support an exploration of what codified content ‘responsibility’ might look like in the UK and at EU-level, while ensuring strong and clear protections for individuals’ free expression and due process rights.

  • LibreOffice

    • [LibreOffice GSoC] Week 5 Report

      At week 4 I have finished the first phase of the new UI logger which was the grammar and the new sentences of the log messages and rewrite all the log statement with the new grammar.

      This week I have started the implementation of the Compiler of the new logger grammar. This Compiler is responsible for taking the log file with the new grammar and generate a UI test case that performs the same as the user actions.

  • CMS

    • 12 Best WordPress Chrome Extensions That You Should Try

      Google Chrome browser is currently the most widely used desktop browser and it comes with hundreds of extensions to ease your work. In one of our previous articles, we discussed 25 best chrome extensions for productivity.

      Here keeping in mind the usage of WordPress users, we are listing out the 12 Best Chrome Extensions for WordPress that you should try and have been suggested by our experts. If you are currently building a website, these extensions are sure to make your life easy!

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Joining-SiFive

        I’ve accepted and offer for a full-time position with SiFive. I’ll be starting on July 15th, 2019 and will be working on free software for RISC-V-based processors, among other tasks.

      • Longtime X11/Linux Developer Joins SiFive To Work On RISC-V Processors

        Keith Packard has joined RISC-V company SiFive. Yes, the same Keith Packard that is the longest still active (though somewhat more dormant these days) X Window System developer who for many years had led much of the X11/X.Org efforts and worked for nearly a decade at Intel on their open-source Linux graphics driver stack before working for HP Labs and also a side-gig for Valve improving the Linux stack for VR.

      • Microsoft tells FTC Repair poses a Cyber Risk. It doesn’t.

        In comments submitted to the Federal Trade Commission, Microsoft Corp. is arguing that repairing its devices could jeopardize the cyber security of Trusted Platform Module (TPM) security chip. Don’t believe them.

  • Programming/Development

    • Starting a web analytics project with Pandas

      Hey dude, how is it going? As I had promised you all in my previous post that I will start a new project, well, here we go! This project will take a few weeks to complete and the main reason I have created this project is to demonstrate to you all what can a developer achieve with the Pandas module.

      Before we start to write python code please make sure you have installed the latest version of PyCharm because we are going to use PyCharm IDE to develop this project.

      Once you have the PyCharm installed on your computer, go to File->New Project and create a new Python project from there onward. I assume you are already familiar with PyCharm IDE so I will not go into detail on how to create a new Python project. After you have created a new project, you need to create a Python file under the project folder, again, I assume you have already known that!

      Then just go ahead and install the Pandas module with PyCharm through the below steps : File->Settings->Project:yournewproject/Project Interpretor, under the right part of the box, click on the plus sign, then enter “Pandas” in the pop-up search box and then install the pandas package.

    • Shenandoah GC in JDK 13, Part 3: Architectures and operating systems

      In this series, I’ve been covering new developments of Shenandoah GC coming up in JDK 13. In part 1, I looked at the switch to load reference barriers, and, in part 2, I looked at plans for eliminating an extra word per object. In this article, I’ll look at a new architecture and a new operating system that Shenandoah GC will be working with.

    • Git now faster than Mercurial to clone Mozilla Mercurial repos

      With the now released git-cinnabar 0.5.2, the cinnabarclone feature is enabled by default, which means it doesn’t need to be enabled manually anymore.

      Cinnabarclone is to git-cinnabar what clonebundles is to Mercurial (to some extent). Clonebundles allow Mercurial to download a pre-generated bundle of a repository, which reduces work on the server side. Similarly, Cinnabarclone allows git-cinnabar to download a pre-generated bundle of the git form of a Mercurial repository.

    • Open Source Automated Machine Learning With MindsDB

      Machine learning is growing in popularity and capability, but for a majority of people it is still a black box that we don’t fully understand. The team at MindsDB is working to change this state of affairs by creating an open source tool that is easy to use without a background in data science. By simplifying the training and use of neural networks, and making their logic explainable, they hope to bring AI capabilities to more people and organizations. In this interview George Hosu and Jorge Torres explain how MindsDB is built, how to use it for your own purposes, and how they view the current landscape of AI technologies. This is a great episode for anyone who is interested in experimenting with machine learning and artificial intelligence. Give it a listen and then try MindsDB for yourself.

    • How to Use Redis With Python
    • Building Restful API with Flask, Postman & PyTest – Part 3

      Today in our final part of the 3 part series I will be covering the creation of actual REST APIs with PyTest.

      For those new the series, you can look at part 1 to understand the various tools that I will be using to create REST API endpoints of a expenses manager.

      Besides that look at part 2 in mocking the API endpoints for prototyping your API designs.

    • As a system programming language, C still deserves learning today

      Regardless if you are a systems language programmer, DevOps, performance engineer or wear other hats, the more you know about the Operating System, the more you can do your job better. Take all prevailing Unix-like Operating Systems as an example, from kernel to command line tools, they are almost implemented in C. To study related source code can make you delve into Operating System internal deeper. E.g., I knew there is a taskset command which can bind specified process of a dedicated CPU, but I wanted to know the magic behind it, so I went through its code. Then I learned 2 things: [...]

    • Jupyter Notebook 101

      Last year, I released a book entitled Jupyter Notebook 101. In celebration of a successful launch, I have decided to do a little contest.

    • Jupyter and data science in Fedora

      Most modern data scientists use Python. And an important part of their work is EDA (exploratory data analysis). EDA is a manual and interactive process that retrieves data, explores its features, searches for correlations, and uses plotted graphics to visualize and understand how data is shaped and prototypes predictive models.

      Jupyter is a web application perfect for this task. Jupyter works with Notebooks, documents that mix rich text including beautifully rendered math formulas (thanks to mathjax), blocks of code and code output, including graphics.

    • One CI/CD pipeline per product to rule them all

      When I joined the cloud ops team, responsible for cloud operations and engineering process streamlining, at WorkSafeBC, I shared my dream for one instrumented pipeline, with one continuous integration build and continuous deliveries for every product.

      According to Lukas Klose, flow (within the context of software engineering) is “the state of when a system produces value at a steady and predictable rate.” I think it is one of the greatest challenges and opportunities, especially in the complex domain of emergent solutions. Strive towards a continuous and incremental delivery model with consistent, efficient, and quality solutions, building the right things and delighting our users. Find ways to break down our systems into smaller pieces that are valuable on their own, enabling teams to deliver value incrementally. This requires a change of mindset for both business and engineering.

    • What makes a good code review in DevOps?

      Improving the software development lifecycle, the speed we deliver software to customers, and the quality of that software are all great premises of DevOps. They are goals that the tools and techniques prescribed by the DevOps movement attempt to achieve. As a developer, I feel freer to make changes rapidly, not just to source code, but also to infrastructure and configuration code. As a DevOps practitioner, my goal is to balance that freedom with quality and security. How? One tool we can use is code reviews.

    • The DataFrame Object in Pandas

      DataFrame Object in Pandas is used to plot the data table as well as to keep the data for the later usage. Let us look at a few examples below.

      Hello and welcome back, in this article we will take a look at the DataFrame object and its usages. We will continue to look at the usage of other Objects before we will actually start to create this new web analytics project.

      Before anything, let us create the DataFrame object.


  • Health/Nutrition

    • Why a California lawmaker wants to ban cigarette filters and disposable vapes

      We’ve all seen it, the smoker who takes one last drag and flicks the cigarette butt onto the ground. It’s instant litter that California Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson wants to prevent by banning the filters in most cigarettes.

      The Democrat from Santa Barbara’s bill, SB 424, would ban filtered cigarettes, disposable plastic holders and mouthpieces, and single-use electronic cigarettes. It also calls for manufacturers to take back any non-recyclable parts of reusable e-cigarettes. The bill cleared the Senate in May, but it’s now in the Assembly Committee on Governmental Organization—where previous cigarette butt bans have gone to die.

    • More strokes happening at younger age, here’s what you need to know
    • ‘Rising Enthusiasm for Medicare for All’ Has Provoked Dramatic Surge in Industry-Backed Lobbying: Report

      An analysis published Friday by the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen shows that “rising enthusiasm for Medicare for All has prompted industry to increase its lobbying against the proposal dramatically,” suggesting that powerful healthcare interests perceive the movement to replace the nation’s for-profit system “as a politically viable threat.”

      The new report—entitled Fever Pitch: Surge in Opposition Lobbying and Advocacy Validates the Credibility of the Medicare for All Movement (pdf)—reveals that “between the first quarter of 2018 and the first quarter of 2019, the number of organizations hiring lobbyists whose lobbying disclosure forms indicated that they worked on Medicare for All increased by nearly seven times, and the overall number of lobbyists hired increased ninefold.”

  • Security

    • How quickly do Firefox derived browsers receive security updates

      Mozilla released two security updates to their open source Firefox web browser just two days apart. This provided an excellent stress test and case study for how quickly Firefox derived web browsers ship security updates.

      The two security vulnerabilities in question, CVE-2019-11707 (MFSA-2019-18) and CVE-2019-11708 (MFSA-2019-19), were both zero-day critical security vulnerabilities that were known to be actively exploited on the web. Mozilla released Firefox 67.0.3 and 67.0.4 two days apart to address each of these issues.

      I’ll use the same Firefox derivatives I’ve featured before: Tor Browser, Cliqz, Waterfox, and Pale Moon.

    • Fixing Antivirus Errors

      After the release of Firefox 65 in December, we detected a significant increase in a certain type of TLS error that is often triggered by the interaction of antivirus software with the browser. Today, we are announcing the results of our work to eliminate most of these issues, and explaining how we have done so without compromising security.

      On Windows, about 60% of Firefox users run antivirus software and most of them have HTTPS scanning features enabled by default. Moreover, CloudFlare publishes statistics showing that a significant portion of TLS browser traffic is intercepted. In order to inspect the contents of encrypted HTTPS connections to websites, the antivirus software intercepts the data before it reaches the browser. TLS is designed to prevent this through the use of certificates issued by trusted Certificate Authorities (CAs). Because of this, Firefox will display an error when TLS connections are intercepted unless the antivirus software anticipates this problem.

      Firefox is different than a number of other browsers in that we maintain our own list of trusted CAs, called a root store. In the past we’ve explained how this improves Firefox security. Other browsers often choose to rely on the root store provided by the operating system (OS) (e.g. Windows). This means that antivirus software has to properly reconfigure Firefox in addition to the OS, and if that fails for some reason, Firefox won’t be able to connect to any websites over HTTPS, even when other browsers on the same computer can.

    • Cleaning a broken GNUpg (gpg) key

      I’ve long said that the main tools in the Open Source security space, OpenSSL and GnuPG (gpg), are broken and only a complete re-write will solve this. And that is still pending as nobody came forward with the funding. It’s not a sexy topic, so it has to get really bad before it’ll get better.

      Gpg has a UI that is close to useless. That won’t substantially change with more bolted-on improvements.

      Now Robert J. Hansen and Daniel Kahn Gillmor had somebody add ~50k signatures (read 1, 2, 3, 4 for the glory details) to their keys and – oops – they say that breaks gpg.

      But does it?

    • Hansen: SKS Keyserver Network Under Attack [Ed: Of course corporate media pretends this is a "Linux" thing and did lots of FUD, scaremongering etc.]

      This attack exploited a defect in the OpenPGP protocol itself in order to “poison” rjh and dkg’s OpenPGP certificates. Anyone who attempts to import a poisoned certificate into a vulnerable OpenPGP installation will very likely break their installation in hard-to-debug ways. Poisoned certificates are already on the SKS keyserver network. There is no reason to believe the attacker will stop at just poisoning two certificates. Further, given the ease of the attack and the highly publicized success of the attack, it is prudent to believe other certificates will soon be poisoned.

    • Certificate poisoning puts Tor network, Linux updates at risk

      An attack on a key server and the subsequent poisoning of the certificates of two OpenPGP contributors — Robert Hansen and Daniel Gillmor — has created a situation where the only safe approach is for people to stop retrieving data from the SKS keyserver network.

      A number of certificates associated with the Tor project have also been flooded. The Tor network is used for anonymously accessing sites on the Web.

    • Cosmos Hub and Reproducible Builds

      Open source software allows us to build trust in a distributed, collaborative software development process, to know that the software behaves as expected and is reasonably secure. But the benefits of open source are strongest for those who directly interact with the source code. These people can use a computer which they trust to compile the source code into an operational version for themselves. Distributing binaries of open source software breaks this trust model, and reproducible builds restores it.

      Tendermint Inc is taking the first steps towards a trustworthy binary distribution process. Our investment in reproducible builds makes doing binary distributions of the gaia software a possibility. We envision that the Cosmos Hub community will be our partners in building trust in this process. The governance features of the Cosmos Hub will enable a novel collaboration between Tendermint and that validator community to release only binaries that can be trusted by anyone.

      Here is our game plan.

      The release of the cosmoshub-3 will support our new reproducible build process. Tendermint developers will make a governance proposal with the hashes of all supported binaries. We will ask ATOM holders to reproduce the builds on computers they control and vote YES if the hashes match.

    • GNU Binutils Binary File Descriptor Library Heap-Based Buffer Over-Read Vulnerability [CVE-2019-12972]

      A vulnerability in the Binary File Descriptor (BFD) library, as distributed in GNU Binutils could allow a local attacker to cause a denial of service (DoS) condition on a targeted system.The vulnerability is due to a heap-based buffer over-read condition that exists in the _brd_doprntfunction, as defined in the bfd.c source code file of the affected software. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by submitting malicious executable and linkable format (ELF) input to the targeted system. A successful exploit could cause the affected software to stop responding or crash, resulting in a DoS condition.Proof-of-concept (PoC) code that demonstrates an exploit of this vulnerability is publicly available.The vendor has confirmed the vulnerability and released software updates.

    • enSilo Endpoint Security Platform 3.1 Product Review

      The collector installers were straightforward, but we found the server to be confusing. We had trouble getting all VMs to report back to the cloud server. Additionally, we were unable to get the Ubuntu machine installed and reporting correctly.

      We were able to get the CentOS machine online and connected, but when we went back and checked on it, it was in a disconnected state. The reasons for this were unclear to us, and, we concluded, the Linux offerings need some work.

    • Multiple Facebook Pages Caught Spreading Remote Access Trojans Since 2014

      Researchers from cybersecurity firm Check Point have uncovered a Facebook campaign that has been spreading malware since 2014. The campaign was operating under the posts that discussed the political situation in Libya.

      Notorious Remote Access Trojans (RATs) like SpyNote, Houdini and Remcos were spread through Facebook pages and it is believed that the residents of Libya, the US, China, and Europe have been affected by it.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Russia and Saudi Arabia agreed to maintain oil cuts for as long as 9 months: Vladimir Putin

      The current deal removed 1.2 million barrels a day of OPEC+ production, helping to send oil prices higher. The group has reduced output by far more than it agreed, however, due to the impact of U.S. sanctions on Iranian and Venezuelan output. What’s more, Saudi Arabia unilaterally lowered production below its official OPEC+ target, pumping 9.7 million barrels a day in May, compared with a ceiling of 10.3 million.

      The verbal agreement between Putin and Prince Salman at the G-20 further highlights the importance of the gathering as a key policy-making forum for oil and OPEC watchers. Last year, Putin and Prince Mohammed used the summit in Buenos Aires to give their political backing to extend the OPEC+ deal into the first half of 2019. Only a few days later, with clear instructions from their leaders, respective oil ministers met and agreed the details of production cuts.

    • Qatar sends first tranche of $3 billion payment to Pakistan: Report

      The inflow follows Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates sending $5 billion in aid packages. Pakistan also received $2.1 billion loan from China in March after Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan approached friendly countries to help it avert a balance of payments crisis.

    • Keep America Great (Don’t Count on It!)

      Donald Trump was partly voted into office by Americans who felt that the self-proclaimed greatest power on Earth was actually in decline — and they weren’t wrong. Trump is capable of tweeting many things, but none of those tweets will stop that process of decline, nor will a trade war with a rising China or fierce oil sanctions on Iran.

      You could feel this recently, even in the case of the increasingly pressured Iranians. There, with a single pinprick, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei effectively punctured President Trump’s MAGA balloon and reminded many that, however powerful the U.S. still was, people in other countries were beginning to look at America differently at the end of the second decade of the twenty-first century.

      Following a meeting in Tehran with visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who brought a message from Trump urging the start of U.S.-Iranian negotiations, Khamenei tweeted, “We have no doubt in [Abe’s] goodwill and seriousness; but regarding what you mentioned from [the] U.S. president, I don’t consider Trump as a person deserving to exchange messages with, and I have no answer for him, nor will I respond to him in the future.” He then added: “We believe that our problems will not be solved by negotiating with the U.S., and no free nation would ever accept negotiations under pressure.”

      A flustered Trump was reduced to briefly tweeting: “I personally feel that it is too soon to even think about making a deal. They are not ready, and neither are we!” And soon after, the president halted at the last minute, in a distinctly humiliating retreat, U.S. air strikes on Iranian missile sites that would undoubtedly have created yet more insoluble problems for Washington across the Greater Middle East.

      Keep in mind that, globally, before the ayatollah’s put-down, the Trump administration had already had two abject foreign policy failures: the collapse of the president’s Hanoi summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (followed by that regime’s provocative firing of several missiles over the Sea of Japan) and a bungled attempt to overthrow the regime of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

    • How to Properly Criticize RussiaGate

      Well, yes, I am, at least to some degree. I am of course aware that Mueller was a key player in selling the WMD ruse to justify the criminal U.S. invasion of Iraq, but I don’t really buy the Iraqi WMD analogy. The WMD thing was transparently made up. It was true warmongering fake news, as in “the Gulf of Tonkin incident.” The Mueller Report and the RussiaGate story are not in the same category as that. Let’s be serious for a moment.

      There’s no serious empirical doubt that Donald Trump has been all tangled up in Russia going way back.

      There’s no doubt Russia that tried various things (hacking, dumping, social media-campaigning and more) to help Trump win in 2016. (And, contrary to Trump in Helsinki, why wouldn’t it have? Given Hillary Clinton and Trump’s divergent positions on Russia, it would have been Russian-nationalist realpolitik malpractice for Moscow not to have tried. The operation also matched the Kremlin’s project of advancing the neo-fascistic right across the West)

      The report is not lying when it says that “the investigation established multiple links between Trump campaign officials and individuals tied to the Russian government.”

    • Trump’s War With Iran Would Be a Climate Disaster—Why Peace and Climate Justice Are the Same Project

      If the West goes to war with Iran, the planet cooks. Imagine a superpower in rapid decline, war-weary, exhausting all of its remaining resources to invade a strong middle power that has control over a good percentage of global energy distribution, sparking a mass refugee exodus, effectively destroying the coherence of the international order — at precisely the moment it needs to cohere around a rapid climate transition.

      The true absurdity of this planet is reflected in the fact that Tucker Carlson, a Fox News presenter, appeared to play a decisive role in talking Trump down from launching a military strike on Iran.

      There is a debate occurring in the United States between two factions – neoconservatives, the ideological group responsible for the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, and capitalist isolationists, who oppose them.

      The neoconservative’s strategic priorities are probably the same as they were in the Iraq War – create a huge opportunity to transfer state funds to the military industrial complex, and then privatise resources that belong to the Iranian people to American firms.

      Don’t be fooled, though – capitalist isolationists do not have a genuine commitment to peace, diplomacy, internationalism and Iranian lives.

      The key difference between the two camps is that they have a different perception on the return on investment from a war on Iran – are we really going to profit on this? John Bolton says yes, Tucker Carlson thinks no.

    • If War Breaks Out with Iran, It Won’t Be an Accident

      Some things are still unclear about Trump’s recent decision to bomb Iran — and his rapid-fire follow-up decision not to.

      We still don’t know what he or his bomb-Iran cheerleaders — National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — thought the bombing would actually accomplish. We also don’t know why Trump decided to recall the bombers. (Trump claimed it’s because a general told him 150 people would die in the attack. But given Trump’s indifference to civilian casualties in Yemen and elsewhere, I’m willing to bet the store that had little to do with it.)

      But some things are pretty clear. One is that while Trump pulled back on starting a shooting war, the administration is directly attacking millions of Iranians already.

      Three sets of new sanctions, imposed in recent months, are crippling much of Iran’s economy. They’re killing Iranians, as the health care system strains to survive shortages of medicine and medical equipment. “Sanctions [are] the first problem in our country and in our system. We can’t transfer the money and make the preparations for surgery. It’s a big problem for us,” says Dr. Mohammad Hassan Bani Asad, managing director of the Gandhi Hotel Hospital in Tehran. “We have the procedures, but we don’t have the instruments. It is very difficult for patients and maybe leads to death of some patients.”

    • European Leaders Defy Trump on Iran With Bold Move

      Frances Coppola at Forbes reports that European powers have made operational their Instex exchange mechanism, which will allow European and other companies to do business with Iran while avoiding US Treasury Department sanctions.

      The move is the biggest split between the US and Europe over an international policy issue since President Eisenhower intervened to stop the 1956 war launched against Egypt by Britain, France and Israel (h/t Matt Duss on Twitter).

    • The Autocrats of the Middle East are No Longer a Global Anomaly

      President Hassan Rouhani of Iran got it right on Tuesday. He said that the White House is “afflicted by mental retardation and doesn’t know what to do”.

      Donald Trump’s new sanctions may not be as “outrageous and idiotic” as Rouhani claims, but we’ve now reached a stage where the American president’s mental incapacity is plain for all to see. It is a sign of the times – our times, I’m afraid – that all the rantings and ravings of Iran’s leaders over the past 40 years at last sound clear cut, true, absolutely on the cue. Trump is crackers, barmy, off the wall, categorically lunatic.

      Rouhani is a sane man, but in the past we could listen to folk like President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was crackers, and take a chuckle at Iran’s expense. Talk of the “Great Satan” could even get a bit boring after a while. But Trump, while possessing some of the characteristics of Colonel Gaddafi, now sounds like Ahmadinejad. The only thing he has left to say – as Ahmadinejad claimed – is that a holy cloud hung over his head when he addressed the United Nations.

      But wait. It’s sure to come. God’s work looms high in the brains of the evangelical Republicans. And Trump has now proved that he can be as batty as any Middle East autocrat.

      I can even remember the day, early in his presidency, when I said in an Irish radio interview that Trump was “insane”. In those days, this was considered a little too provocative and my interviewer muttered something along the lines of “Well, Bob, you don’t have medical qualifications.” The difference now, of course, is that the world knows that the White House is a mad house. (My reply to my Irish colleague, by the way, was that if I had claimed Trump to be completely sane, he would not have queried whether I could say that without being a doctor.)

      No matter. We have Jared Kushner trying to give the Palestinians cash rather than a state, apparently still backed up at his Bahrain bash by the autocrats of the Arab Gulf. To see Tony Blair, one of the west’s biggest failures in the Middle East, trying to teach the bizarrely overconfident Kushner that there’s got to be a state for the Palestinians as well as the $50bn “Peace to Prosperity” plan was only matched by Kushner’s ridiculous property developer’s talk about “issues” and “negativity”. The longest foreign occupation in modern history, of the West Bank by the Israelis, does indeed throw up a number of “issues” – such as the massive property theft for Israel’s colonial expansion project – which do cause quite a lot of “negativity”.

      I do sometimes wonder if this weird sequence of events, not to mention the destruction of America’s more-than-$120m drone by Iran, has been set in motion by a massive collapse of mental integrity and ability in the west – not just in America, but in Europe as well.

    • Trump’s “Deal of the Century”: the Historical Precedent

      President Trump’s peace plan for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, or at least the economic side of it, was discussed at a meeting in Bahrain on June 25 and 26. The plan, euphemistically entitled “Peace to Prosperity” and the “Deal of the Century” is also, inaccurately, likened to a “Marshall Plan for Palestinians.” It is based on the assumption that money, ultimately the better part of $50 billion, can lure the Palestinian people into surrender—that is, the surrender of their right to a state of their own on their stolen ancestral land as well as the right of return for the 7.5 million Palestinians who have been forced into exile. Upon surrender, according to the plan, “an ambitious, achievable … framework for a prosperous future for the Palestinian people and the region” will be put into place. How this idealized future is to be integrated into the apartheid and Bantustan system of control that constitutes the Israeli government’s “facts on the ground” is left unexplained.

      This bit of gilded bait was put together by “senior White House adviser” Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law; Jason Greenblatt, chief lawyer of the Trump Organization and now U.S. envoy for international negotiations; and David Friedman, the president’s bankruptcy lawyer who is now the U.S. ambassador to Israel. All of these men are at once unqualified for their present positions as well as Zionist supporters of Israeli expansionism. It is not surprising then that the Israeli government has welcomed this effort. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he “would listen to the American plan and hear it fairly and with openness.” On the other hand, the Palestinian West Bank leader, Mahmoud Abbas, who is boycotting the Bahrain meeting, said, “As long as there is no political [solution], we do not deal with any economic [solution].”

    • Trump’s Peace Plan Has Been Designed to Fail – Exactly Like its Predecessors

      Donald Trump’s supposed “deal of the century”, offering the Palestinians economic bribes in return for political submission, is the endgame of western peace-making, the real goal of which has been failure, not success.

      For decades, peace plans have made impossible demands of the Palestinians, forcing them to reject the terms on offer and thereby create a pretext for Israel to seize more of their homeland.

      The more they have compromised, the further the diplomatic horizon has moved away – to the point now that the Trump administration expects them to forfeit any hope of statehood or a right to self-determination.

      Even Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and architect of the peace plan, cannot really believe the Palestinians will be bought off with their share of the $50 billion inducement he hoped to raise in Bahrain last week.

      That was why the Palestinian leadership stayed away.

    • U.S. Duty Free Americas Owners Give Millions to Israeli Settlements

      When travelers shop at dozens of duty free stores at airports worldwide, they may be paying for more than a bottle of vodka or a box of chocolates.

      The Falic family of Florida, owners of the ubiquitous chain of Duty Free Americas shops, funds a generous and sometimes controversial philanthropic empire in Israel that runs through the corridors of power and stretches deep into the occupied West Bank. An Associated Press investigation shows that the family has donated at least $5.6 million to settler groups in the West Bank and east Jerusalem over the past decade, funding synagogues, schools and social services along with far-right causes considered extreme even in Israel.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Italian journalist takes four-year FOI battle for Assange extradition files to UK tribunal

      An Italian investigative journalist battling to access files relating to the extradition of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange took her case to the UK’s Upper Tribunal today following a four-year legal fight.

      Stefania Maurizi, who works for Italian newspaper La Repubblica, said she wanted to “defend the right of the press to access the documents on the Assange case” in a message on Twitter ahead of the hearing.

    • Antifa’s Brutal Assault on Andy Ngo Is a Wake-Up Call—for Authorities and Journalists Alike

      The Antifa thugs who attacked Quillette editor and photojournalist Andy Ngo in Portland yesterday did not quite manage to crack his skull. But they did manage to induce a brain hemorrhage that required Ngo’s overnight hospitalization. (For those seeking to support Ngo financially as he recovers, there is a third-party fundraising campaign.) The scene was captured by local reporter Jim Ryan, whose video can be accessed at the link below. We caution readers that it is an unsettling spectacle—by which we mean not only the violence itself, but the unconstrained glee this pack of mostly young men exhibit as they brutalize a journalist whom they’d spent months demonizing on social media, and whom they’d explicitly singled out for attack.


      Andy Ngo is an elfin, soft-spoken man. He also happens to be the gay son of Vietnamese immigrants—salient details, given Antifa’s absurd slogans about smashing the heteronormative white supremacist patriarchy. Like schoolboy characters out of Lord of the Flies, these cosplay revolutionaries stomp around, imagining themselves to be heroes stalking the great beast of fascism. But when the beast proves elusive, they gladly settle for beating up journalists, harassing the elderly or engaging in random physical destruction.

    • Antifa Trends on Twitter After Video Shows Protest Group Throwing Milkshakes at Journalist [iophk: "tweets in place of sources :("]

      He posted Friday, saying he was “nervous” about covering the rally, saying, “They’re promising “physical confrontation” & have singled me out to be assaulted. I went on Tucker Carlson last year to explain why I think they’re doing this: They’re seeking meaning through violence.”

    • Punches, milkshakes, and eggs fly at journalist and police during violent Portland protests

      Video from the event on Saturday shows Andy Ngo, an editor at the publication Quillette, getting hit and pelted with a milkshake. Protesters said “get the f–k out of here,” “go home Andy Ngo,” and “f–king owned bitch” as they silly stringed and threw punches and objects at Ngo.

      Ngo posted bloody images of himself later, saying he had been taken to the emergency room.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Farmers, environmentalists slam ‘sell-out’ EU-Mercosur trade deal

      European farmers and environmentalists have denounced a historic trade deal signed between the EU and South American countries as a “dark moment”, warning of unfair competition and dire consequences for the climate.

    • A world without water: Scary future lies ahead

      Chennai makes the headlines because it is a metropolitan city. But it is by no means the only place suffering acute water stress. Nearly half the country is grappling with drought-like conditions, and this has been particularly bad this year in western and southern India because of the below-average rainfall.

    • Wildfires, power cuts plague Europe as deadly heatwave breaks records

      The World Meteorological Organization said this week that 2019 was on track to be among the world’s hottest years, and 2015-2019 would then be the hottest five-year period on record.

      It said the European heatwave was “absolutely consistent” with extremes linked to the impact of greenhouse gas emissions.

    • Behind Oregon’s GOP Walkout Is a Sordid Story of Corporate Cash

      The 11 missing GOP senators have particularly strong ties to industry players fighting the cap-and-trade bill. More than 65 percent of their campaign funding has come from corporations, including Koch Industries, whose subsidiary Georgia-Pacific operates mills that would be regulated under the cap-and-trade bill. According to Davis’s calculations, over the last decade companies affected by the legislation have given $117,619 to the campaigns of the 11 senators who fled, compared to $43,250 to current Democratic state senators.

    • Ancient Peruvian Water-Harvesting System Could Lessen Modern Water Shortages

      The 1,400-year-old system is designed to increase the water supply during the dry season by diverting and delaying water as it travels down from the mountains. This nature-based “green” infrastructure consists of stone canals that guide water from its source to a network of earthen canals, ponds, springs and rocky hillsides, which encourage water to seep into the ground. It then slowly trickles downhill through the soil and resurfaces in streams near the community.

    • Ancient water-saving can help modern Peru

      There’s plenty to learn in modern Peru from the designers of ancient water-saving methods, scientists are finding. Our forebears could even keep the capital’s taps running through the summer heat.

      Lima, Peru’s desert capital, a city of 12 million people, expects to run out of water by 2025. It already faces a crisis each summer as the supply from the mountains dwindles to a trickle. Yet the quantity of rain in the wet season can be overwhelming.

      Between the Andes and the Pacific ocean, Lima sits on a coastal plain where the average rainfall is a tiny 9 mm a year, and it has to rely on the snow melt from the mountains and glaciers to provide summer drinking water and the needs of industry and farming.

      But with the glaciers disappearing because of climate change, and the population increasing, the city will soon become untenable for many of the poor in summer, unless water supplies can be improved.

    • Theresa May Urges G20 Countries to Target Zero Emissions

      Theresa May, the outgoing UK prime minister, used her final appearance at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan to urge other nations to follow her country’s lead in aggressively lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

      The prime minister, who led a session on the environment at the G20 summit, asked the other countries to set a target date for net zero emissions, following the UK’s example of becoming a net zero emitter of all greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, according to the BBC.

    • Climate change: May urges G20 to follow UK lead on CO2

      World leaders have reaffirmed their commitment to cutting greenhouse gas emissions, after Theresa May urged them to do more on climate change.
      The prime minister called on the G20 countries to set targets for net zero greenhouse gas emissions.
      Instead, 19 pledged to meet their targets set in the 2015 Paris agreement. The US did not sign up.
      The UK is the first country to legally commit to become a net zero emitter of all greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
      At the summit, Mrs May was also one of several world leaders to put pressure on Saudi Arabia over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year.

    • Theresa May urges world leaders to tackle climate crisis – but US refuses

      Theresa May has called on other countries to “raise their ambition” and copy the UK by aiming for net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

      The prime minister said she wanted other world leaders to “embrace this target” as she held a news conference at her last G20 summit.

      It came as Donald Trump confirmed he would not be changing his mind on climate change action, saying US factories don’t work on wind power and he doesn’t want to subsidise green energy.

    • Alaska’s Warming Waters Spell Trouble for Residents and Wildlife

      “The waters are warmer than last year at this time, and that was an extremely warm year,” Thoman said, as the Anchorage Daily News reported.

      The warming temperatures are part of an emerging crisis for communities along the state’s western and northern coastlines, Thoman told CNN. Birds and marine animals are showing up dead and sea temperatures are warm enough to support algal blooms, which can make the waters toxic to wildlife.

      This has dire consequences for towns that depend on fishing for their economy and their sustenance.

      “Much of what the people eat there over the course of the year comes from food they harvest themselves,” said climatologist Brian Brettschneider at the International Arctic Research Center, as CNN reported. “If people can’t get out on the ice to hunt seals or whales, that affects their food security. It is a human crisis of survivability.”

      Last month, a group of hunters traveled over 50 miles by boat to find bearded seals resting on the ice. The ice, and the seals that accompany it, should have been just outside their village. But the ice had receded far to the north, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

    • Melted Alaska sea ice alarms coast residents, scientists

      Ice melted as a result of exceptionally warm ocean temperatures, the Anchorage Daily News reported .

      The early melting has been “crazy,” said Janet Mitchell of Kivalina. Hunters from her family in early June traveled more than 50 miles (80 kilometers) by boat to find bearded seals on sea ice. Bearded seals in the past could be hunted just outside the village but sea ice had receded far to the north.

    • ‘Crazy’ and ‘scary’: Dramatic ocean warming off Alaska raises concerns for hunters and wildlife

      Exceptionally warm ocean temperatures have melted sea ice off Alaska’s coasts far earlier than normal this year, alarming scientists and rural residents worried about the impacts to seals, seabirds and fish they hunt.

      The early melting has been “crazy,” said Janet Mitchell of the village of Kivalina in Northwest Alaska.

      In early June, a group of hunters from her family traveled more than 50 miles by boat to find bearded seals on the ice. The ice, and the seals that accompany it, should have been just outside the village. But the ice had receded far to the north.

    • Alaska’s warming ocean is putting food and jobs at risk, scientists say

      The ice around Alaska is not just melting. It’s gotten so low that the situation is endangering some residents’ food and jobs.

      “The seas are extraordinarily warm. It is impacting the ability for Americans in the region to put food on the table right now,” said University of Alaska climate specialist Rick Thoman.
      Ocean temperatures in the Chukchi and North Bering seas are nearly 10 degrees Fahrenheit (five degrees Celsius) above normal, satellite data shows.

    • Auburn Police Chase Bear Spotted Near Mass Pike

      Police in Auburn have spent Monday morning chasing a black bear around town.


      Sluckis said later Monday afternoon that the bear had been tranquilized and moved to a wooded area.

    • Residents asked to take in bird feeders after bear spotted roaming around Auburn

      Police officials are asking the public to take in bird feeders after a black bear was spotted roaming around Auburn on Monday morning.

      The bear was last seen outside of a home on Bryn Mawr Avenue, according to Auburn Police Chief Andrew Sluckis.

  • Finance

    • MSDNC, Single Payer, and the Serenity Prayer

      As any sentient progressive should know, NBC and MSNBC (hereafter “MSDNC”) are media assets owned by and subservient to the United States capitalist and imperialist ruling class. Last Wednesday night during MSDNC’s opening Democratic presidential candidate debate, NBC’s nightly news anchor Lester Holt asked ten White House contenders about the popular social-democratic proposal to grant every living U.S. citizen health insurance as a basic human right through Medicare for All (hereafter “M4A” and “Single-Payer”). The policy is now supported by seventy percent (you read that correctly) of the U.S. population.


      Then came the morning-after. Over a breakfast of organic oatmeal and apple (eaten in the hope of keeping the for-profit medical-industrial-complex at bay for another six-month check-up), I heard MSDNC morning host Stephanie Ruhle (herself a multi-millionaire and former leading global derivatives trader who calls Wall Street her “favorite place in the world”), bring on the deeply conservative MSDNC commentator Charles Sykes to declare that the “winner” of Wednesday’s debate “was Donald Trump.” How so? Because the Democratic field (which didn’t even include Bernie Sanders on the first night) had “tilted so far left” that it gave the Republicans talking points to use in decrying on the horrors of the Democratic Party’s supposed radical “socialism.”

      Never mind that most of the American population desperately needs and wants M4A. Never mind that the for-profit medical-industrial-complex is helping bleed the nation and its working-class majority dry in a nation where life expectancy has been declining for the last few years. Never mind that just 2 of the 10 candidates on the MSDNC stage Wednesday night raised their hands in response to Holt’s slanted query.

      The loathsome Sykes said something else Thursday morning. He told Ruhle that M4A does well in opinion surveys “until you tell people that they’ll lose their private plans.” Interesting: if Sykes is correct, one can undermine popular support for Single-Payer by raising the specter of lost existing plans.

    • No Rainbow Capitalism: The Five Worst Corporations We Must Kick Out of Pride

      The first Pride celebration was a national march in 1970 to commemorate the Stonewall Riots that had occurred the year before. The biggest event was in Los Angeles, with approximately 1,000 protesters. In 2018, Los Angeles Pride—now more party than protest—attracted over 150,000 people. LA Pride 2018 included dozens of booths and floats bearing the logos of major corporations, with rainbow-colored promotional materials. Modern Pride celebrations are characterized by a large corporate presence.

      Many corporations have begun to sell themselves as LGBTQ-friendly in order to increase the value of their brands. But it is important to consider the effect of corporate sponsorship of Pride. Corporations’ accumulation of profits are based on their exploitation of the working class, in the United States and abroad—which means that corporate sponsorship of Pride directly harms the LGBTQ community, especially its most marginalized members, and contradicts work that many LGBTQ activists have done to build coalitions with other marginalized groups.

      Here are five of the most heinous corporate sponsors of the Pride celebrations in several major US cities—although this list is far from complete. Any corporation that sponsors pride events does so to distract from the harm that it inflicts on marginalized communities, and we shouldn’t allow pride to be exploited in this way. No more corporations at pride!

    • Bernie Sanders Is Right: 3 Billionaires Really Do Have More Wealth Than Half of America

      The wealthiest 3 billionaires in the U.S. – Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett — now have as much wealth as the bottom half of the U.S. population combined.

      Those were the first words spoken at last week’s 2020 Democratic Debate, citing a wealth inequality study by the Institute for Policy Studies.

      In fact, Sen. Bernie Sanders mentioned the study, Billionaire Bonanza, several times during the debate.

    • Are Cryptocurrencies the First Crack in the Wall to Regulate Facebook?

      As if controlling a social media monopoly were not enough, Facebook has decided to get into the digital currency business. It announced plans to introduce its new cryptocurrency, called “Libra,” by next year. In telegraphing its plans, Facebook has expressed the hope that it would create “the foundation for a new financial system not controlled by today’s power brokers on Wall Street or central banks,” write Mike Isaac and Nathaniel Popper of the New York Times.

      A lofty goal to be sure, although when unpacking the details of Facebook’s digital currency aspirations, they seem ill-conceived and, much like Icarus flying too close to the sun, will almost certainly hasten the company’s downfall or, at the very least, finally motivate a swath of government agencies to properly regulate it, which of course may amount to the same thing.

      Already, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the Financial Stability Board (an international body that monitors and makes recommendations about the global financial system), the U.S. Federal Reserve and the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority are all signaling displeasure with Facebook’s proposed digital currency launch. Unlike other regulatory agencies, it’s hardly likely they’ll be pussy-footing around the issue as the DOJ’s antitrust division has done. If left unsatisfied, they will shut “Libra” down, but more significantly, could well break the dam as far as Washington’s diffidence in regulating many of Facebook’s other activities.

    • Facebucks Are the Last Thing the World Needs

      Is Facebook’s money—Libra—funny money, or a threat to all currencies? Or is it just a giant scam to transfer people’s cash into Facebook?

      Facebook’s proposed currency, Libra—or as NPR put it, Facebucks—has created a storm. Libertarians see Libra, a variant of a cryptocurrency backed by Facebook’s big bucks and the bevy of companies that it has put together, bringing the day when cryptocurrencies will truly challenge all global currencies and fulfilling economist Friedrich Hayek’s dream of The Denationalization of Money. Or perhaps, as a Hacker Noon article by Erasmus Elsner puts it, “Facebook has Found a place to Park its $40bn+ Cash Reserves and Everyone Thinks its [sic] about Crypto”—a clever way of taking in free cash without paying interest, and parking it wherever it wants.

      Buried in the Libra White Paper are a couple of sentences that say Libra will also enable a global digital identity for people (read: a global Aadhaar). All this from Facebook, which is under fire for mass-scale violations of privacy. From a platform that literally extorts its users for visibility, the “real” currency of the narcissistic digital age: If you want your posts to be seen, pay us.

    • Facebook’s Audacious Bid for Global Monetary Control

      That threat may now be materializing. On June 18, Facebook unveiled a white paper outlining ambitious plans to create a new global cryptocurrency called Libra, to be launched in 2020. The New York Times says Facebook has high hopes that Libra will become the foundation for a new financial system free of control by Wall Street power brokers and central banks.

      But apparently Libra will not be competing with Visa or Mastercard. In fact the Libra Association lists those two giants among its 28 soon-to-be founding members. Others include Paypal, Stripe, Uber, Lyft and eBay. Facebook has reportedly courted dozens of financial institutions and other tech companies to join the Libra Association, an independent foundation that will contribute capital and help govern the digital currency. Entry barriers are high, with each founding member paying a minimum of $10 million to join. This gives them one vote  (or 1% of the total vote, whichever is larger)  in the Libra Association council. Members are also entitled to a share proportionate to their investment of the dividends earned from interest on the Libra reserve — the money that users will pay to acquire the Libra currency.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • GOP Oregon lawmaker who threatened police during climate bill boycott hit with formal complaint [iophk: "apparent R sedition"]

      State Sen. Brian Boquist (R) was hit with the complaint Saturday for suggesting earlier this month that he would shoot state troopers sent by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) to round up lawmakers who had skipped out on the vote.

    • Protesters and police clash in Hong Kong before handover anniversary event

      The international financial hub has been shaken by historic demonstrations in the past three weeks, when protesters have demanded the withdrawal of a bill that would allow extraditions to the Chinese mainland.

    • Hong Kong: Police and protesters clash on handover anniversary [iophk: "suspend != scrapped"]

      Eventually, the demonstrations forced the government to apologise and suspend the planned extradition law.

      However, many protesters said they would not back down until the bill had been completely scrapped.

      Many are still angry about the level of force used by police on 12 June, and have called for an investigation.

    • Boris Johnson, UK’s Answer To Trump, Offers A Masterclass In How To Use The Dead Cat Strategy Combined With A Google Bomb

      Boris Johnson — full name Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson — was born in New York to English parents, studied at Eton and Oxford, became Mayor of London, and now stands a good chance of becoming the UK’s next prime minister. That’s not because of any outstanding ability, but largely because he belongs to the country’s ruling class and assumes the position is his by right, as do many of his supporters. However, this smooth if completely unearned rise to the top of the UK’s political system was threatened recently by an unexpected event. Police were called in the early hours to the London home of Johnson and his partner, Carrie Symonds, after neighbors heard “a loud altercation involving screaming, shouting and banging”

    • After Biden’s Sharp Decline, Wall Street Investors Reassessing Other Blue Chips

      Investors are pondering where to put their money this week after the sudden decline in the assessed value of presidential candidate Joe Biden.

      On Wall Street and in other corporate quarters where financiers were heavily invested in Biden, hopes have eroded in recent days amid reduced investor confidence. Some prominent donors began to openly question the wisdom of devoting more capital to the national marketing campaign for the former vice president.

      After the leading blue chip closed sharply lower at the end of last week, even declaring “my time is up,” many top investors felt overexposed and looked for shelter. Gathering new topline data and considering several prospectuses that had been previously submitted, investors are now reassessing assets and liabilities as well as potential growth in market share during the next quarter and beyond.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • The enduring myths around Spain’s Historical Memory Law

      The PP leader believes the law is “harmful” and a “partisan rewriting of history.” He has entrusted a counter bill, called the Concord Law, to Adolfo Suárez Illana, the eldest son of Adolfo Suárez, who served as prime minister during the transition to democracy following Franco’s death in November 1975. Suárez Illana has said that the Spanish owe some of their democracy to Franco because “if he had not wanted the Transition to be done as it was, it would not have been done that way.”

    • Canadian artist fired after viral Trump cartoon [iophk: "Facebook and Twitter in place of official communications :("]

      Previous Trump cartoons by de Adder probably went unnoticed by the company, Tyrell said, but this one went viral thanks to social media celebrities such as George Takei and ultimately led to his contract being terminated.

    • Canadian artist fired after anti-Trump cartoon goes viral

      An artist has been fired from a Canadian publishing company after his drawing of President Donald Trump standing over the bodies of two drowned migrants went viral on social media.

    • College Forgets How The First Amendment Works; Targets Its Own Student Newspaper With A Public Records Request

      A California community college has discovered open records requests. It’s not receiving them, which would be normal. Instead, it’s filing them. And in doing so, it’s attempting to bypass the state’s journalist shield law by pretending the party it’s FOIAing is a public entity.

      In an apparent attempt to regain narrative control of an incident involving the college’s administration and the student government, Southwestern College is seeking to obtain the recording of that event by the school’s student newspaper. The recording is of a student government election that was abruptly cancelled by the school’s president in May, apparently over a bogus Instagram post that suggested one group of students was going to engage in interracial violence.

      The school was rebuffed when it swung by the newspaper to ask for a copy of this recording. So, it decided to go with plan B: a public records request.

    • Online Censorship Is Coming–Here’s How to Stop It

      A year ago, I warned about some terrible copyright legislation being drawn up in the EU that would have major adverse effects on the Open Source world. Its most problematic provision would force many for-profit sites operating in the EU to use algorithmic filters to block the upload of unauthorized material by users. As a result of an unprecedented campaign of misinformation, smears and outright lies, supporters managed to convince/trick enough Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to vote in favour of the the new Copyright Directive, including the deeply flawed upload filters.

      A number of changes were made from the original proposals that I discussed last year. Most important, “open source software development and sharing platforms” are explicitly excluded from the scope of the requirement to filter uploads. However, it would be naïve to assume that the Copyright Directive is now acceptable, and that free software will be unaffected.

      Open source and the open internet have a symbiotic relationship—each has fed constantly into the other. The upload filters are a direct attack on the open internet, turning it into a permissioned online space. They will create a censorship system that past experience shows is bound to be abused by companies and governments alike to block legitimate material. It would be a mistake of the highest order for the Open Source community to shrug its shoulders and say: “we’re okay—not our problem.” The upload filters are most definitely the problem of everyone who cares about the open and healthy internet, and about freedom of speech. For example, the GitHub blog points out that false positives are likely to be a problem when upload filters are implemented—regardless of nominal “exemptions” for open source: “When a filter catches a false positive and dependencies disappear, this not only breaks projects—it cuts into software developers’ rights as copyright holders too.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Somerville, Massachusetts Becomes The Second US City To Ban Facial Recognition Tech

      Last month, San Francisco became the first city in the nation to ban the use of facial recognition tech by city government agencies. While it can’t keep the federales from rolling in and deploying the software against city residents, it does prevent local law enforcement from deciding this is the tech toy it can’t live without.

      The ordinance passed in Somerville is pretty much the same thing. No local use, but federal-level use is OK. To be fair, the city can’t regulate the activities of the federal government. It could have forbidden local agencies from working with federal agencies using facial recognition tech, but it didn’t go quite that far.

      This is a solid move, one that certainly looks smarter than allowing local cops to load up on tech that’s been roasted by Congress and (still!) sports a pretty gaudy failure rate.

    • Why I switched from WhatsApp to Signal

      I had avoided WhatsApp until late 2017 when one of my family installed it on my phone with the promise I would find it useful to keep in touch during a two-month work trip. Actually, it turned out to be more useful for work, as WhatsApp is the preferred method of communication at the company I visited on that trip.

      Now, I was aware that Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014 for US$19 billion. I do not have a Facebook account and have no intention of getting one, and the fact Facebook owns WhatsApp was one of the reasons I had been reluctant to install WhatsApp in the first place. However, it didn’t take me long to like WhatsApp. The UI is very well designed, the functionality excellent and WhatsApp Web is easy and convenient to use. WhatsApp is a polished product, no doubt about that. The end-to-end encryption of WhatsApp messages is comforting, although that was not my main reason for using it. Offhand I can only think of one function I find annoying in the WhatsApp UI: when you forward a message containing an image, there is no automatic way to include the text accompanying the original message.

    • Creating my own web analytics system from scratch

      I mentioned in passing a few weeks back that I’ve removed Google Analytics from Ctrl blog, and that I’d built a replacement web analytics collection and analysis system from scratch. Here are some more details on that endeavor.

      I’ve never been comfortable handing information about my visitors over to Google, or been happy about the performance impact, and unsatisfied with how it doesn’t properly track how much time visitors spend on pages. (A key metric in my book.)

      The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) have re-invigorated the open source web analytics scene as sharing visitor data with Google suddenly had taken on a higher risk. Taking ownership over data collection practices and not sharing anything with third-parties is less risky under the GDPR.

    • Facebook should do more on voter suppression, hateful content, civil rights audit says

      Facebook over the past year has been undergoing a civil rights audit led by Laura Murphy, a top civil rights attorney. Since last year, Murphy has conferred with more than 90 civil rights organizations about their concerns over how the company’s algorithms can be manipulated to discriminate against minorities and other marginalized groups.

    • Facebook commits to staving off census misinformation

      The company is planning to ban users from spreading disinformation around the census, as well as to create a team dedicated to staving off any efforts by bad actors to interfere in the demographics survey.

    • Police Body Cam Company Says it Won’t Use Facial Recognition (For Now)

      Axon, a company that sells tasers and wearable body cameras to 48 major cities in the U.S., announced today that it would “not be commercializing face matching products on our body cameras at this time.”

    • Snowden: ‘The Most Important Thing Bitcoin Is Missing Right Now Is Privacy’

      Bitcoin’s biggest flaw is its lack of privacy, said Edward Snowden at the Bitcoin 2019 conference.

      The cybersecurity expert noted the importance of privacy as a source of liberty.

      “The lack of privacy is an existential threat to bitcoin. Is the only protection users have from political change,” Snowden said.

      Snowden also stated that he was a bitcoin supporter and even used an encrypted service that he paid for with bitcoins in order to communicate with journalists in 2013.

    • Black Market T-Mobile Location Data Tied to Spot of a Triple Murder

      The two men weren’t really federal agents, however. They were Fidel Garcia and Gabriel Bernal, two bounty hunters illegally posing as law enforcement. Both worked for F.N.G. Security, a firm that had been given the contract to apprehend Hutchinson.

      As Hutchinson stood near a desk in one of the dealership’s glass walled offices, the two bounty hunters approached, handguns drawn. One of the hunters grabbed Hutchinson from behind, and attempted to restrain him. Hutchinson pulled a gun from his belt, but dropped it onto the desk, and reached to grab it. Others ran out of the office in a panic.

      Twenty gunshots were fired in a span of six seconds, piercing walls and shattering windows. All three men were hit. A cellphone video of the shooting showed bystanders running from the scene, taking cover behind cars inside the dealership, and a woman screaming as the bullets stopped. When police arrived shortly after, all three men were dead.

      But someone from afar was tracking the hunters.

    • Digital Minimalism

      Additionally it’s clear by now that Twitter and Facebook are only interested in maximising your time on the site so they can get your eyeballs in front of more ads, and damn the consequences. I don’t want to line Dorsey and Zuckerberg’s pockets any more.

      I deleted my Twitter account last week, and my Google account (used solely for YouTube) today. I’ve scheduled my Facebook account deletion for July 1st. This is the only service I’ve used to communicate with wider family and childhood friends, and I wanted to give them a bit of a heads up before disappearing.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Cedric Willis spent 12 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. He was shot dead two blocks from his home
    • Now We Know

      Perhaps you can commiserate. For the past few weeks I’ve felt an aching in my chest; an angst I cannot escape. The darkening skies of an ever besieged biosphere aside, the specter of rising fascism undoubtedly looms large now, and war, a global war, now seems inevitable. It’s true that the saber rattling has been going on for some time. And the bombs have never really stopped falling. The last leader of the American Empire dropped over 26,000 of them in his last year alone.

      But then, last week, the current bloated tweeting emperor called forth his bombers into the sky and, at a moment’s notice, called them back. A war that would ignite a region already smoldering from decades of imperial assaults was halted in midair. But the effect of terror had been accomplished. Billions of people now hold their breath as he casually promises to obliterate millions of people if “anything” American is harmed. Is an unmanned drone worth millions of human lives? We may find out if the Empire thinks so.

      And then there are the camps. Those camps on the southern border of the Empire. It is unfathomable for any person of conscience to ignore the horror unfolding there. It requires a forfeiture of one’s soul. Children screaming for their mothers, the mothers whose arms they were ruthlessly torn from. Clothing caked with mucus. Lying on cold, concrete floors, with foil sheets as blankets. Abandoned children mothering other abandoned children. Caged. Alone. Terrified. And the guards screaming at the children who didn’t follow their instructions. Who didn’t share the lice combs they were told to share. And the children who have been adopted out to other families, or who died of exposure and preventable diseases. Succumbing to dehydration in a harsh desert because people have been imprisoned by the Empire for leaving out water.

      Queer people locked in solitary confinement, for being queer. Pregnant women shackled to beds as they give birth. And yet some liberals balk at the use of the words “concentration camps” for being too strong. History has words that describe those liberals too, and they aren’t flattering.

    • Inside the Secret Border Patrol Facebook Group Where Agents Joke About Migrant Deaths and Post Sexist Memes

      Members of a secret Facebook group for current and former Border Patrol agents joked about the deaths of migrants, discussed throwing burritos at Latino members of Congress visiting a detention facility in Texas on Monday and posted a vulgar illustration depicting Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez engaged in oral sex with a detained migrant, according to screenshots of their postings.


      Responsible for policing the nation’s southern and northern boundaries, the Border Patrol has come under intense scrutiny as the Trump administration takes new, more aggressive measures to halt the influx of undocumented migrants across the United States-Mexico border. The patrol’s approximately 20,000 agents serve under the broader U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, which has been faulted for allegedly mistreating children and adults in its custody. The agency’s leadership has been in turmoil, with its most recent acting chief, John Sanders, resigning last week.

      ProPublica received images of several recent discussions in the 10-15 Facebook group and was able to link the participants in those online conversations to apparently legitimate Facebook profiles belonging to Border Patrol agents, including a supervisor based in El Paso, Texas, and an agent in Eagle Pass, Texas. ProPublica has so far been unable to reach the group members who made the postings.

      ProPublica contacted three spokespeople for CBP in regard to the Facebook group and provided the names of three agents who appear to have participated in the online chats. CBP hasn’t yet responded.

      “These comments and memes are extremely troubling,” said Daniel Martinez, a sociologist at the University of Arizona in Tucson who studies the border. “They’re clearly xenophobic and sexist.”

    • Democrats Are Complicit in Trump’s Fearmongering About Immigrant Youth

      “When They See Us,” Ava DuVernay’s miniseries about the wrongful convictions of the Central Park Five, was the most-watched series on Netflix during the first half of June. The runaway success of this painful series about Black and Brown boys who were caught up in a national hysteria about violent “wolfpacks” of dark-skinned youth is the latest moment in an ongoing societal reckoning with the racist mass incarceration policies of the ’80s and ’90s.

      Of course, not everyone is taking part in this reckoning. Donald Trump refuses to apologize for his own prominent role in persecuting the Central Park Five — in 1989 he took out full–page newspaper ads that proclaimed his desire to “hate” the accused teenagers, his hopes that they “be forced to suffer,” and for New York to bring back the death penalty. Trump continues to insist on their guilt years after overwhelming evidence exonerated them.

      As president, Trump uses similar methods to dehumanize young people of color in order to justify the cruelties of his immigration policies at and inside the border. Last month, Trump named as his choice to lead Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Mark Morgan, a man who last year told Fox News’s Tucker Carlson said he’d looked at the eyes of “so-called minors” in immigrant detention centers and determined “that is a soon-to-be MS-13 gang member.”

      It’s important to remember, however, that American racial panics have generally been bipartisan affairs. In fact, much of the current reckoning around mass incarceration has involved confronting Bill Clinton-era Democrats for their support of the 1994 Crime Bill, which funded states to lengthen sentences and build more prisons, and its accompanying “superpredator” rhetoric.

    • Xenophobic and Misogynist Posts in Secret CBP Facebook Group ‘Confirm Our Worst Fears’ of Agency Culture, Lawmakers Say

      Lawmakers who visited immigrant detention centers near El Paso, Texas on Monday spoke out about revelations of a secret Facebook group in which current and former Border Patrol agents had shared violent and misogynist comments about the members of Congress.

      Reps. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) were among those who traveled to Clint, Texas on Monday to visit a Border Patrol station there, where legal advocates reported last month that they had found hundreds of children living in inhumane and unsafe conditions.

    • Investigation of Secret Border Patrol Group Launched as New Degrading Facebook Posts Surface

      The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency has opened an investigation into vulgar and misogynistic social media posts made by members of a secret Facebook group for current and former Border Patrol agents.

      On Monday, “U.S. Customs and Border Protection was made aware of disturbing social media activity hosted on a private Facebook group that may include a number of CBP employees,” said Matthew Klein, head of the agency’s internal affairs unit.

      Klein said CBP “immediately informed” the investigators with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General and initiated an inquiry. The office typically takes the first look at allegations of serious misconduct within the CBP.

    • American Cops Face No Repercussions for Their Islamophobia


      The message by Richard Crites, a sheriff’s deputy in Missouri, starts off like so many political posts on Facebook. Then there’s the kicker:


      In New Jersey, prison guard Joseph Bonadio posted repeated insults about the Prophet Muhammad and shared memes of roasting pigs with the message “Happy Ramadan.” In Georgia, retired cop Claude Stevens Jr. railed against Muslims for months, posting conspiracy theories and Islamophobic memes.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Is ‘This Time Different’ Concerning Big Internet Dominance?

      I’ve made a similar point a few times in the past, but now that the antitrust knives are out for the big tech companies (mainly Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple), it does seem worth noting just how quickly the tech landscape seems to change. I moved to Silicon Valley 20 years ago. At that time, the “dominant” companies were: Microsoft, Sun, Oracle, Netscape, IBM, SGI, Intel and Yahoo. Those were still the days of “no one gets fired for buying IBM.” Google’s headquarters today were once SGI’s. Facebook now occupies Sun’s headquarters (affectionately nicknamed Sun Quentin, for its resemblance to the prison a bit north of here). A decade or so ago, I remember the general refrain about the startup ecosystem was that there were three “dominant” companies in the marketplace that any startup was trying to sell to. The so-called “GYM” companies: Google, Yahoo, Microsoft. Yet, today, all anyone can talk about is “GAFA” (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple) or in some versions “FAANG” (add in Netflix).

  • DRM

    • Microsoft is about to shut off its ebook DRM servers: “The books will stop working”

      “The books will stop working”: That’s the substance of the reminder that Microsoft sent to customers for their ebook store, reminding them that, as announced in April, the company is getting out of the ebook business because it wasn’t profitable enough for them, and when they do, they’re going to shut off their DRM servers, which will make the books stop working.

      Almost exactly fifteen years ago, I gave an influential, widely cited talk at Microsoft Research where I predicted this exact outcome. I don’t feel good about the fact that I got it right. This is a fucking travesty.

    • Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo Say Trump Tariffs Will Make Game Consoles Hugely More Expensive [Ed: Those are just DRM boxes]

      If you hadn’t noticed by now, Trump’s efforts to use tariffs to somehow magically improve the country’s standing in the world aren’t based on much in the way of sound logic or economic theory. And companies who’ve been forced to reconfigure and relocate their entire supply chains (to countries like Taiwan) to avoid massive penalties are likely to just pass those costs on to American consumers, something said consumers haven’t really fully grokked yet. Countless CEOs think the entire gambit is immeasurably stupid, but have been hesitant to be too pointed in their criticism for fear of upsetting administration regulators.

      As the actual bill comes due however, consumers are likely to wake up from their slumber. Maybe.

      Case in point: Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo this week fired off a letter to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, warning the Trump administration’s plan to bump Chinese tariffs from 10 to 25 percent will have a profoundly-negative impact on the game industry. With 96 percent of game consoles made in China last year, the act of reconfiguring their entire supply chains will have a massive impact on the sector’s bottom line and the numerous connecting companies that tendril out from the big three gaming giants.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Duty to Submit Supplemental Evidence [Ed: Seems like CAFC under the fantastic judge Sharon Prost is becoming even more strict than PTAB (weakened by Trump flunkies like Iancu so as to deviate from the law/caselaw)]

      In a rare split decision, the PTAB upheld the patentability of Polygroup’s U.S. Patent No. 8,974,072 (2-1 decision). On appeal, however, the Federal Circuit has vacated that decision with an oddly written double-negative conclusion: “substantial evidence does not support the Board’s finding that Polygroup failed to establish a rationale to combine the prior art.”

    • Trademarks

      • UMG Tries To Block O-Town’s Trademark Application Over Its Motown Record Label

        It will surprise nobody to hear that music mega-business Universal Music Group has graced our pages acting aggressive and, at times, downright face-palm-inducing on matters of intellectual property. The whole UMG mantra from the top down appears to be something like: major label music is insanely awesome and the things that make the internet so great are generally terrible. And so, as you might expect, UMG finds itself on Techdirt quite often.

        Conversely, O-Town, the boy-band that was popular for a minute thanks to the 2000s era MTV show “Making The Band”, has apparently never graced our pages. Again, this is as one would expect. But now these two sides find themselves in the same post, all because the latter is attempting a comeback and UMG is being, well, UMG.

        It all started when, as part of the comeback, O-Town’s remaining members applied for a trademark on their own band’s name. UMG opposed the application. Why? Well, because UMG owns Motown Records… and just frankly can’t help itself, that’s why.

      • Motown Seeks to Block ‘O-Town’ Trademark

        The boy band O-Town briefly rose to fame in 2000, with a star turn on MTV’s reality series “Making the Band.”

      • When do the “Principles of Equity” allow for Profit Disgorgment?

        The Supreme Court has granted writ of certiorari in the trademark case of Romag Fasteners involving profit disgorgement under 15
        U.S.C. § 1117(a).

        The statute appears to provide profit disgorgment (i.e., awarding the defendant’s profits) as a regular remedy for trademark infringement although “subject to the principles of equity.” In its decision, the Federal Circuit (following 2nd Circuit law) held that profit disgorgment must be associated with a more-egregious activity – such as willful infringement – before being awarded. Here, the jury found no willful infringement and so that foreclosed the award of the defendant’s profits.

    • Copyrights

      • Nintendo’s Lawyers Need To Chill

        Here’s a taste of where we’re at in 2019: Every single time Kotaku writes about a fan game involving Nintendo characters, the first comments are never about the ambition or quality of the project. They’re about a fear of Nintendo’s lawyers.

        It’s almost a meme at this point, so predictable and tragic has the process become. The world finds out about a cool fan game someone (or a team) has made, the world gets ready to enjoy it, Nintendo’s lawyers step in, they get it taken down, and we don’t end up getting to enjoy it after all. Generally, Nintendo doesn’t do anything about fan art, fan remixes of music, or other such projects. But for whatever reason, it draws a hard line at fan games.

      • Dear Nintendo: Here Are Some Ways You Could Be A Little More Cool, Man

        Nintendo could and should do exactly this sort of thing. It would take a bit of work, of course, but the boon in allowing the fan community to thrive and create works of love alongside Nintendo properties has to far outweigh whatever that extra workload would be. At the very least, it would keep writers like me from pointing out to the gaming public that Nintendo hates them whenever I can. It would build a more enduring relationship with fans, it would make for a great PR story, and it would allow for an explosion in Nintendo branding to flood gaming fandom. All of these would represent good business developments for Nintendo.

      • “Go Unlimited” Taunts Hollywood With DMCA-Ignore Video Hosting

        Pirate streaming services are booming. Copyright holders are working hard to contain this problem by going after hosting services. However, not all platforms are taking content offline. Go Unlimited infamously offers a “DMCA-ignore” hosting solution, which it believes is entirely legal. While Hollywood clearly disagrees, pirate streaming sites are happy.

      • Taylor Swift said she’s ‘sad and grossed out’ that ‘bully’ Scooter Braun now owns all of her past music

        “I walked away because I knew once I signed that contract, [Big Machine founder and executive] Scott Borchetta would sell the label, thereby selling me and my future,” Swift said. “I had to make the excruciating choice to leave behind my past. Music I wrote on my bedroom floor and videos I dreamed up and paid for from the money I earned playing in bars, then clubs, then arenas, then stadiums.”

        After 12 years with Big Machine, Swift signed to Universal Music Group in November 2018 with a deal that notably assigned her ownership of all future music.

EPO Management Exacerbates Its Patent Invalidity Crisis by Rushing Examination Even Further in New Pilots

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Justice doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters now is speed and volume of patent “delivery” (grant).

A sick EPO
A morbidly sick kakistocracy is what the EPO turned into (in less than a decade)

Summary: The printing/litigation machine that the Office has devolved into is certainly good for patent trolls, but not for anybody else; those who don’t play along are sooner or later ousted (for caring about proper examination and underlying justice)

IN THE PREVIOUS EPO post we spoke about the collapse in patent quality and silencing of all sources of criticism. Team Campinos/Battistelli has long been more interested in squashing and muzzling media/bloggers than it was in solving the stated (by media/bloggers) problems. Last week’s leak (a program euphemistically-named “Collaborative Quality Improvements”) shows that collapse in patent quality is now branded “Collaborative” and “Quality Improvements”. More marketing than substance. More PR than science.

“More marketing than substance. More PR than science.”Our newly-published leaks are obviously ignored by the European media (don’t even bother trying to get the media interested), which the EPO gives money to (it helps keep it silent). We get some truly explosive material about the EPO published almost each and every week. The corporate media refuses to even touch it. They stonewall. They’d rather not say why the issues aren’t being covered. Such is the impact of the officials buying silence from this media (at our expense). It’s corruption that in effect extends to the media. It’s disturbing and troubling to me, both as a European citizen and one who spent decades writing about injustices. I’ve never seen anything like that (when covering Microsoft abuses the media at least showed interest). Days ago we added another leak about mass-demoted Directors. Media response? Nothing! They didn’t even tweet about this. Nothing. What ought to have been front page news in some circles (e.g. sites about patent ‘news’*) was simply ignored. As someone put it this morning: “Meanwhile, Angel Aledo and Diego Eguidazu (http://techrights.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/DEA-LinkedIn.pdf …), having destroyed many people´s careers, enjoy a huge salary at @EPOorg without ever passing an #epso @EU_Careers competition, just because they are under the Campino´s Mafia http://techrights.org/2019/06/01/antonio-campinos-isnt-change/ … #EqualRights”

Donald Zuhn has meanwhile been spreading to syndicated ‘news’ sites (actually, lawyers’ sites treated by Google News as “news”) this latest post of his from Patent Docs, a patent maximalists’ site. It’s about another pilot (notorious like all the rest). Can we call it “globalisation” wherein the goal is lowering labour standards, examination thresholds/practices, and patent quality (e.g. calling bunk software patents "hey hi")? In his own words (notice the recurring theme, words like “Cooperation” and “Collaboration” again):

In a Patent Alert e-mail distributed last week, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office announced that beginning July 1, 2019, the Office would once again be accepting new International applications to the IP5 Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) Collaboration Search and Examination (CS&E) pilot program. In a notice published in the Federal Register last year (83 Fed. Reg. 30147), the Office announced its first year of participation in the pilot program, which ran from July 1, 2018 until June 30, 2019. The second year of the Office’s participation in the program begins tomorrow and runs through June 30, 2020. The pilot program was initiated to assess user interest for a CS&E product (i.e., an International search report and written opinion prepared by collaborating examiners from the IP5 Offices), as well as whether the collaboration results in efficiency gains by the IP5 Offices.

And here comes yet another pilot, belatedly posted with an older date (probably a CMS/editing error) (warning: epo.org link) to show how the EPO prioritises patent trolls and/or presumption of guilt (leapfrogging justice). What an awful strategy which values/favours parasites and litigators, not innovation.

So the EPO says it wants patent trolls et al “obtaining patents more quickly and efficiently” irrespective of underlying facts, legal validity etc. In its own words:

With effect from 1 July 2019, the European Patent Office (EPO) will be extending its PPH pilot programme with IP Australia, thus enabling applicants at both offices to continue obtaining patents more quickly and efficiently.

The PPH pilot programme is being extended for three years until 30 June 2022, and the current conditions and requirements for participation will continue to apply.

Anyone who thought that Campinos might be “hope” or “change” or “improving things” must rethink things quickly. He’s already deranking/demoting dozens of Directors he does not like (replacing them with his minions) and planning to fire a lot of people, under the guise of "sustainability" or "efficiency" or "agility" (like he did at his former employer). It’s quickly escalating and it will inevitably become a dictatorship (or takeover) of patent maximalists like never seen elsewhere (not even in China).
* We don’t really cover these matters as closely as before anymore, but the good news is that patent maximalists’ sites/blogs are deteriorating and perishing.

Managing IP is deteriorating along with Patent Docs, Watchtroll (back to ranting about very old 35 U.S.C. § 101 cases in “Federal Circuit Cellspin Ruling Provides Important Clarifications on Aatrix and Berkheimer”), IAM and Patently-O. They lost many of their key writers and don’t have much to write, so they yank out ‘meta’ articles like this one instead. Managing IP — a de facto think tank of patent maximalists and Battistelli — is stacking panels again in order to stage bogus debates where one side of the debate is excluded, as usual.

The EPO is More Interested in Silencing Its Critics Than in Actually Correcting Injustices

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

They’ve already blocked Techrights and sent several law firms after it (with threatening letters)

Castle at Gondar
Castle at Gondar (Portuguese Empire). Freedom of the press is probably healthier in Ethiopia than inside EPOnia.

Summary: EPO makes ‘peace’ (or photo ops) with Ethiopia and covers up the patent quality crisis; this isn’t amusing and staff will likely suffer because layoffs are still foreseen while budget gets diverted to member states (to buy votes, to remove oversight)

THE annual ‘festival’ of the European Patent Office (EPO) is over, as is the quarterly meetup in which Campinos and Battistelli buy support from the Council (e.g. ‘cooperation’ money, which happened again last week).

Do not expect reprieve or amnesty to come from the Council. It’s not “Administrative”; it administers nothing but its own selfish interests (pertinent nations or their national patent offices). We’ve quite frankly come to the point where we have far more confidence in the USPTO (than in the EPO).

Nowadays it’s easier to get software patents in Europe than in the US. Several law firms have said so themselves, as did IBM quite recently. It’s incredible, isn’t it? What a reversal!

The EPO is still granting illegal (as per the EPC) patents on algorithms and Bardehle Pagenberg, the most vocal proponent and promoter of such patents (regularly visits the EPO as well), has this new example, brought up by Patrick Heckeler earlier this week.

“Ethiopia was part of the Portuguese Empire (not many people know this) and the President of the EPO is French-Portuguese.”One might be tempted to say that this is the sole problem (it certainly was the only issue we talked about between 2006 and 2014), but today’s EPO doesn’t just grant patents on algorithms but on things that existed in nature for many thousands of years. Remember that 'Teffgate' in Ethiopia? Who can forget? It was all over Dutch media, albeit not other nations (and Dutch is almost incomprehensible to over 98% of the world’s population).

Yesterday the EPO issued this new nonsensical statement (warning: epo.org link) under its “news” section (with “Ethiopia” in the headline). Is the EPO googlebombing “Ethiopia” now? We suspect so. There are hardly any EPs from Ethiopia, but loads of negative publicity for the Office. Here’s what the EPO said: “Following the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding on Reinforced Partnership with Ethiopia in April of this year, EPO President António Campinos and the Director-General of the Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office (EIPO), Ermias Yemanebirhan, signed their first Biennial Work Plan for 2019-21 on the occasion of a visit by a high-level Ethiopian delegation to Munich last week. This is the second time the EPO has concluded such a partnership with a non-member state, following a similar agreement signed with South Africa last year.”

Ethiopia was part of the Portuguese Empire (not many people know this) and the President of the EPO is French-Portuguese. Battistelli used to sign many such ‘vanity’ deals with former French colonies, especially in Africa. Coincidence? Let’s not forget what happened two years ago in other Portuguese colonies (where António’s father was born).

According to the EPO’s very own figures (warning: epo.org link and in Microsoft’s proprietary format of course!), Ethopia had just ONE EUROPEAN PATENT IN ABOUT A DECADE!

Was this deal worth the journey? The carbon footprint? Did Campinos manage to board a plane OK? Or did people fly over to him (as if the EPO means a lot to Ethiopia)? Well, they certainly got some photo ops out of it! This is what the “news” is about: photo ops.

It is very probable, in our assessment, that this publicity stunt (yes, it can be regarded as such) is likely connected to the ‘Teffgate’ scandal that cost the Ethiopian government (and people) a fortune! Because examination hadn’t been done properly…

Don’t get us wrong…

EPO examiners are in general good people.

They’re not permitted, however, to do a good job (or do their job properly, based on the law which governs them and empowers the Office, namely the EPC).

That’s because they’re ruled by very bad people, career-climbing sociopaths who revel in pain and angst.

Here’s another example that we alluded to some days ago and IPPro Magazine has just covered as well (“Apple device unlock patent rejected in EPO appeal”). The EPO never needed to allow this fiasco to get this far. This patent application is very obviously a ‘scam’, but many patents were granted to Apple by EPO examiners due to debased management. We know because the people involved told us so. And these patents of Apple are still unchallenged. This means that a lot of existing Europen Patents are just “fake”, they’re utter rubbish. On this latest example:

Apple’s appeal to dismiss a European Patent Office (EPO) ruling denying a patent for unlocking a device by performing gestures on an unlock image has been dismissed.
The patent was found to be lacking in novelty and did not show an inventive step.

It covered methods that would allow users to unlock their Apple devices using various swipes, compared to the current old method of simply swiping right.

It would also allow users to unlock the devices via several unlock images, each being associated to a specific application.

Apple appealed to the EPO Technical Board of Appeal, but has now been dismissed.

Instead of working to correct things, the EPO throws itself right at the fire or under the wheels. Yesterday I told the EPO (which incidentally follows me in Twitter!), “have some class. Have some tact. Do you even know what 4IPCouncil stands for? It’s like the NRA of the patent world.”

I responded to this tweet: “Take a look at the interactive guide of @4ipcouncil. A new resource for European SMEs to unlock the value of patents.”

This is Team UPC speaking 'for' SMEs. That’s what 4IPCouncil does nowadays. It’s like AstroTurfing, not grassroots. The ones most harmed by this agenda are having their voice hijacked and then the EPO amplifies the lies. “Instead of doing its job, which is patent examination, the EPO does lobbying and sponsors so-called ‘studies’ (marketing/propaganda) to lie about SMEs, which it harms,” I said regarding the subsequent EPO tweet which said: “Can the filing of IP rights be used as a reliable predictor of the likelihood that an SME will experience high growth? This study answers this question…”

Who funded this ‘study’? The former employer of Campinos together with his current one. Unfortunately for him, one week since he started the job people pick on the odor and realise, openly, that they got a more ‘orange’ version of Battistelli.

“At least 3 lies in one sentence,” I told the EPO regarding its next tweet. “It’s another Battistelli — congrats!”

The EPO quoted its President as saying: “The plan will help us to provide a prosperous future for European innovation and a strong European patent network by putting sustainability first”. Have a look at the plan…”

Well, watch who’s bragging about this plan. Here’s a site of patent fanatics (long history there) copying that almost verbatim this week:

The European Patent Office (EPO) published the 2023 Strategic Plan (SP2023) adopted by the Office on 27th June 2019. SP2023 was developed over two rounds of consultations that involved the active participation of all the 38 EPO states, IP offices, staff members and the public. The Plan was unanimously adopted by the EPO Administrative Council; it identifies five key goals in order to ensure that the EPO dispenses nothing but excellence through all its services. It has also recognized specific areas within each of the five goals which will be implemented over the course of four years.

This is complete lunacy which we responded to before, as did others (connected to the EPO, probably insiders). The accompanying “speech” feels like satire because there’s a lie every 10 seconds. There are yet more comments about this “plan” and this “speech”, one of which from an examiner who wrote (after SUEPO had linked to it): “I rather suspect that the most likely outcome is that, in the long term, the downwards direction in quality of the EPO’s work products will continue … all the way to the bottom.”

Here’s the full comment:

Take a look at the picture from the staff survey published in R.I.P. Kat:


That tells you all that you need to know. In essence, the current culture at the EPO works well for a small number of managers but makes life miserable for the much larger number of examiners that do all of the work that generates the EPO’s funding.

In the private sector, it has long been the case that the management and overseers (non-executive directors) of a company form a cosy relationship that leads to hyper-inflated salaries and massive bonuses or pay-offs (even extending to what could be viewed as rewards for failure).

We should perhaps not be so surprised that the same kind of relationship has now translated to the EPO. Thus, it now seems that, so long as they get an adequate pay-off, the AC will support ever-increasing rewards for the EPO’s management, even if there is clear evidence of abject failures of the policies of that management.

How does the EPO keep up the flow of funds that guarantees a complacent and compliant AC? Simple! Just drive down the EPO’s “costs” (for which read salaries and benefits for the majority of the workforce, including examiners) at the same time as increasing the performance demanded from each examiner and remunerating well those managers that enforce the increased targets. In a nutshell, this explains the huge gap in levels of contentment between “the workforce” and “the management” of the EPO.

It does not take a genius to work out why such a policy cannot be sustained in the long term without seriously degrading the quality of the EPO’s work products. Whilst one might assume that this means that the whole charade must come to an end at some point, I do not believe that such an assumption is currently justified.

The shareholders of a private company might eventually rebel against a greedy and useless management. Also, the company’s customers might take their custom elsewhere. However, the EPO’s current set-up means that the management and the AC are free to ignore the opinions of the EPO’s “stakeholders”, as well as national and EU laws that might otherwise constrain their employment practices. Also, the EPO’s “customers” cannot go anywhere else to obtain a European patent (certainly not via the PCT route), never mind such a patent having unitary effect.

Thus, I rather suspect that the most likely outcome is that, in the long term, the downwards direction in quality of the EPO’s work products will continue … all the way to the bottom.

Notice the silence from IP Kat; it’s hardly even surprising anymore.

MaxDrei, who used to regularly comment in IP Kat, said this:

We live now in the age of impunity, the age of the bloviating “Hyperleader” who cultivates his super-gullible and unquestioning world-wide fan base with the help of Fake News broadcast over the Internet. Donald Trump was the first but now we in Europe are saddled with his various disciples, to be found in an ever-increasing number of the EPC Member States, whose influence reaches to Brussels and Munich..

But cling to optimism. If the resistance to attacks on Democracy and the Rule of Law is stalwart and unrelenting, such “leaders” can be subdued. The one in Turkey is no so cocky now, I imagine. Alistair de Pfeffel “Boris” Johnson in London has suddenly gone all quiet. Let’s see what happens in the USA, these next 12 months. In the long run, all things must pass. There is hope yet!

The next couple of comments are amusing; they compare EPO transparency to the surveillance which is “glass walls” (a Campinos plan):

Transparency equals glass walls….

“retaining talent” ?

How do they wish to do so, beyond the “golden cage” effect?

Also, PD3.1 desire to create a turnover of 10% of active staff every year contradicts this very much as well.

Dear Transparency

Who is (or what is) PD3.1 ?

A 10% staff turnover every year is practised in such companies as Goldman Sachs and Amazon. The rule is simple and brutal : based on annual performance appraisals, the 10% lowest performers are terminated.

That does not sound very effective for attracting “talents” and building teamwork and mutual training within examiners.

Forget about attracting “talents” because the EPO is barely even recruiting anymore (no ads); those who get recruited are lawyers who will likely fight dismissed staff in 'courts' (kangaroo courts, internal ones), bankrupting them if necessary because their bills aren’t footed by EPO budget. Quite a deterrent, eh? Justice is not the goal. It’s all about power.

My Response to Jim Jagielski (Regarding Microsoft)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 12:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft does not want 🐧 🗺 domination. It just wants domination over the 🐧 and the 🗺.

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