If Techrights is a Conspiracy Website, What’s the Big Conspiracy?

Posted in Site News at 2:47 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Article by figosdev

Free We Are Not Alone

Summary: The real “conspiracy” here is that legalised bribery runs both our industries and our governments, and that corruption is why we hurt as much as we do.

While at least four American politicians are in the middle of an insider trading scandal around a global pandemic, it’s a great time to talk about the sort of “conspiracy” that Techrights exposes.

Of course, the accusation itself is a straw man designed to make criticism of bad actions look less legitimate. It’s a fact that large corporations are known from time to time to fight against fair competition in self-serving ways; reporting that doesn’t make you a “conspiracy theorist.”

Even the term “conspiracy theorist” was promoted heavily by the CIA to lump more criticism of government corruption together with the rants of raving nutters, so that when you encounter one you think of the other. In his standup comedy, Russell Peters makes fun of the way that media and marketing use this sort of association to get more people to judge other groups (Arabs being one example) unfairly.

What we are talking about here is the sort of tactics you might find abused by Fox News. This comparison is even more relevant when you consider that some of the news outlets utilised in the Stallman lynching were owned by Fox News creator Rupert Murdoch. As these tech press shills we often complain about engage more and more in these tactics against sceptics of corporate corruption, they align themselves more closely in ethics with Fox News itself. So that’s something to consider. CBS is another large family of media corporations that we complain about, and they pay some of the shills we have spoken unfavourably of.

“What we are talking about here is the sort of tactics you might find abused by Fox News. This comparison is even more relevant when you consider that some of the news outlets utilised in the Stallman lynching were owned by Fox News creator Rupert Murdoch.”I’m personally of the opinion that it matters less who you are owned by than what you are doing — if you happen to work for Microsoft (one of my least favourite companies on Earth) but the thing you’re best known for is running a non-profit that promotes both Free software (the software itself) and software freedom (the movement) /and/ it isn’t just a ploy to get people to use more proprietary Microsoft tools, I only care that you work for Microsoft if your position on these matters is damaging. Sure, if you work for Microsoft, then it probably is. But it’s the bad things you do, not the person who pays you, that really bothers me.

It’s a common rhetorical maneuver (straw man again) to separate the actual reason for a critique from a person’s argument, then replace it with a nonsense reason, nonsensical-sounding reason, or incomplete reason. I have a problem with what you’re doing, I note that it’s common for people from a certain company to do the same thing, then your retort is “Oh — they just (irrationally) dislike that company for no reason at all.”

The funny thing is, the reason was just stated — but your retort implies there isn’t one. If I gave a dollar to every shill we know who did this, each time they tried to pull it off, I wouldn’t be able to eat. But let’s talk about the “big conspiracy” that Techrights has spent years exposing, since this is supposedly a conspiracy website.

The “big conspiracy”, in my own opinion (I don’t officially speak for Techrights) is that money often equals influence. It’s certainly more complicated than that, but that’s the truth where the real story begins. That’s where the phrase “Follow the money” comes from.

You’ll find this message of money and influence is extremely common in progressive politics, the Occupy movement, and political and election reform. You’ll find former FSF board member and Creative Commons founder (not to mention 2016 presidential candidate and Harvard law professor) Lawrence Lessig speaking on this theme in one of my favourite presentations of all time, which he gave at Dartmouth in 2010.

The big “conspiracy” that Lessig discusses is that via stifling political campaign contributions (legalised bribery) lobbyists have usurped voters and by extension, voting and democracy. This is a theme Lessig has touched on many times during his academic career, and while he is one of my favourite voices on the subject, he is far from alone in this and cites various experts and books that talk more about the subject than he does.

One of the reasons that Lessig got into this topic is actually similar to why more of us do — because we try very hard to advocate for Free software, but find that there are several things (more than we anticipated) standing in our way. It’s logical to try to understand what those obstacles are. When those obstacles are not just remotely but closely linked to corporate donations (legalised bribery) then of course, someone ought to say something. But shills tell us otherwise.

“I’m sure those politicians involved with profiting by telling only a few people to dump stock because of coronavirus “care” a lot as well.”I think it is entirely fair, when someone is being paid by a large corporation that has known connections with monopolies — and is promoting the same messages that are really 10 or 20 years old and in favour of those monopolies — to call that person a “shill”. It’s an opinion, it’s obviously derogatory, but if we can’t criticise corruption and the people who dishonestly champion it, why even bother pretending we stand for anything ourselves?

The real message of people calling Techrights a conspiracy website is that it should stop being so “unfair” (critical) towards corruption, and just you know, drink some iced tea and shut the f*** up. But just to be entirely fair, they don’t really say that. What they say is that Roy uses “charged language.” I suppose referring to “donations” that appear to have transformative and corrupting influence “bribery” is an example of such “charged language”; while calling Techrights a “conspiracy website” isn’t.

Roy and I have our differences. In a corporate cult we would have more orthodoxy, and we would all make our choices and have expectations based purely on what’s best for the big company. You often hear these giant corporations talk about how much they care about people; When you lay people off by the hundreds of thousands, and control more of their personal lives than a smaller company would, you really have to remind people over and over just how much you care about people. “At GAFAM Incorporated, we really care!”

That way when people demonstrate repeatedly just how sociopathic and backhanded you really are, you can say “No, that’s not true — just last Thursday, we told everyone how much we care!” I’m sure those politicians involved with profiting by telling only a few people to dump stock because of coronavirus “care” a lot as well.

But one of the differences between Roy and myself is that I lean more libertarian, and Roy leans (in my opinion) farther left. I don’t have a problem with that at all; being libertarian, I find some of what Eric Raymond says easier to relate to than Roy seems to (again, these are my opinions, I can’t actually speak for Roy but I can speak to my impressions) even though I am certainly sceptical of Raymond’s sincerity on a few specific matters. I still hold out hope that someday, someone will convince me otherwise.

Still, it’s possible to lean both libertarian and progressive — what happens as a result is that you are deeply sceptical of certain routes to progress, but you still try to arrive at a destination where people are happy and more empowered than they were before. I don’t disregard, as shills seem to expect me to — that monopolies disenfranchise the working classes.

One of the most important aspects of the Free software movement to me is that monopolies hurt the user, as well as hurt freedom. Free software does work against that, by definition. It also seems pretty obvious to me that very few billionaires are going to exist without monopolistic abuse. I’d like companies to be able to profit from Free software, but to become a company like Red Hat worth billions of dollars probably takes more compromise than is ideal for anybody — except Red Hat and a few people closer to the top.

“These companies are funding activism junk food, while our collective activist metabolism turns to crap.”To keep something like that going, year after year, you have to convince enough people that this really benefits them too. You have to “sell” disempowerment to the masses, if you want to be the top “earner” in your industry, or if you want to sell your company for billions years down the road.

What Techrights actually talks about, is the motivations and destructive actions of such companies. It talks about the influence that those companies are gaining over more grassroots activism, replacing the “healthy diet” of scepticism of monopoly power with the sugars and fats of “our budget lets us get our message out to more people, while the impact our message has over real user freedom is more shallow than ever before — because we are actually run by the same people we started out standing against.”

These companies are funding activism junk food, while our collective activist metabolism turns to crap. Grassroots movements become larger this way, but have less energy and loaf around watching lots of “messaging” on television instead of getting out and doing what needs to be done. One thing that does change is that it suddenly looks better in media; but the television will not be revolutionised.

Naturally, people quibble over to what degree this has happened, while Techrights repeatedly works to show exactly how this has happened and why. Techrights talks about freedom, it talks about people being disenfranchised, it talks about corruption — and how to stand up to that corruption.

The fight between shills and activists continues — but this means the activists criticise the shills for taking bad money (and then saying things that are untrue, which defend the monopolies) and the shills criticise the activists, saying they’re nothing but trolls, dirty hippies and conspiracy theorists.

There is more money in lying than there is in truth, perhaps. One of the things I love about Techrights is how it invites the community to speak for itself — rather than putting words in everybody’s mouths (and demanding pseudo-ideological corporate conformity) like what is required of the shills.

I won’t link to the Bill Hicks remix, but shills hate your freedom so much, they lie to you for a living. Then they claim they support Stallman. In what form does that support exist? What aspect of what Stallman stands for are they supporting, really? Because the old lie that open source is the same thing as Free software is always used to get you and keep you further away from freedom.

“…the old lie that open source is the same thing as Free software is always used to get you and keep you further away from freedom.”If you sell off Free software — that is, if these monopolies gain more and more (indirect) influence as they pay for more and more of our organisation’s budgets, then these organisations don’t work for us anymore; just as politicians no longer work for voters when they get paid off by lobbyists.

Instead, the direction things are going in is that we work — as volunteers (but really as slaves) for Free software, because although we work harder than we ever did before, we actually get less freedom than we used to as a result. Volunteering for freedom is not slavery, but doing free labour for a bunch of corporate liars making false promises absolutely is.

That’s the “conspiracy” that Techrights exposes. But I prefer to call it “corruption” rather than conspiracy, even if it’s a little of both. I am a libertarian; at least as much as I am aligned with anything else on the political compass, but I am aware of the fact that as regulations on funding (or anti-bribery rules) have been systematically weakened over the past three or four decades, legalised bribery explains more and more of what has gone wrong in the world.

Although I may at times disagree with some progressives on the best course of action — I don’t believe regulations even can prevent enough corruption — I think I can agree that without such regulations there absolutely must be some other established force in place to work against corruption; if that force is not present, we all suffer. Libertarians and most progressives sometimes have different thoughts about why these things are not working, but it’s still extremely important that these things are clearly not working.

I have no respect for the shills, and they have none for us. The reason I think they only care about money, is that it isn’t enough to say you care; you have to show it. What these pundits repeatedly show, is that money means more to them than Stallman, than Freedom, or us. A warning, if you support the shills — they will “help” you and they will use you, in exactly the way they helped Linus Torvalds.

The real “conspiracy” here is that legalised bribery runs both our industries and our governments, and that corruption is why we hurt as much as we do. I hope Techrights continues to report on that — while the Twit-verse continues working to turn bullshit into “marketshare”, and other cynical and shallow examples of success.

Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (public domain)

Links 21/3/2020: DXVK 1.6 Released, Arduino for Open Source Ventilators

Posted in News Roundup at 1:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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          The Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX) is an open data-sharing platform managed by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. In the exchange, you will find a climate change data set for each country that is derived from world bank data. The climate change data sets typically track indicators such as arable land, land under cereal production, and fertilizer consumption over a number of years. The indicators will vary from country to country, but will help you tell a story around your solution. You can find and download the climate change country data sets by selecting a location or by using the search option.

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

      • Debian Family

        • Here’s a look at what’s new in Linux Mint Debian Edition 4

          The Linux Mint project head, Clem Lefebvre, has officially announced the availability of Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) 4, just days after Neowin reported that stable builds were appearing on third-party mirrors. With today’s launch, we get a detailed list of all the new features and instructions on how to upgrade LMDE 3 installations.

          The biggest change in this update is that it’s based on Debian 10 meaning newer packages will be available to download and new hardware is supported. Other features include home directory encryption, NVMe support, SecureBoot support, support for Btrfs submodules, a new installer, improvements from Linux Mint 19.3 such as Cinnamon 4.4 and new default apps, and a few other smaller changes.

        • LMDE 4 “Debbie” released

          It is based on Debian 10 (“Buster”) with lots of new features, including many improvements from Linux Mint 19.3. More information can be found in the release notes.

        • Linux Mint’s Debian Variant LMDE 4 Released With New Features and Improvements

          Brief: Linux Mint’s Debian variant LMDE 4 has been released with Debian 10 Buster as the base. Check out what’s new feature this new release brings.

          Most people know that Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu but not many people know that Linux Mint also has Debian-based variant. It is called LMDE which stands for Linux Mint Debian Edition.

        • Linux Mint Officially Releases Debian Edition LMDE 4 “Debbie”

          For further improving the security of internal storage, LMDE 4 adds automated partitioning with support for LVM and full-disk encryption. You can even encrypt your home directory as well.

          Screen resolution always remains a problem while running OS in VirtualBox. Hence, the Debian edition now automatically adjusts the live session into 1024×768 resolution.

          Among the bug fixes, one of the most important improvements is the compatibility of Nouveau driver with NVIDIA cards. If you’ve ever faced a black screen during OS booting, it must be because of NVIDIA driver. But, you can now boot using a new boot option that installs NVIDIA drivers on the fly.

        • Debian, Chris Lamb and a Campaign of Harassment-by-Proxy

          One of the law suits to define the age of social media is Herrick v. Grindr LLC. Herrick’s ex-boyfriend has created fake profiles impersonating Herrick, inviting arbitrary strangers to visit Herrick at his workplace. The case has been escalated all the way to the US Supreme Court. It is an example of harassment-by-proxy.

          In a recent email, the Debian Project Leader made a rather confused report about a campaign of harassment. It is confusing because officials in the Debian aristocracy have used the project’s resources to pretend they are victims. It is otherwise known as victim-offender reversal.

          The simple fact of the matter is that a volunteer resigned from a post in August 2018 and cited extraordinary personal circumstances in a private email to the former leader, Chris Lamb.

          Nobody from the project made any attempt to communicate with this volunteer for a month. Then, just as the volunteer was departing on vacation, Enrico Zini, one of the Debian Account Managers, sent an insulting email alleging the volunteer wasn’t a real developer. This intrusion on a developer’s vacation is a pretty grave example of harassment. People have complained about trolls on Debian’s mailing list but none of them have stooped so low as sabotaging a volunteer’s vacation.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Developer ports Ubuntu Touch to the Xiaomi Redmi Note 7

          There was a time when you could slap any operating system on the mythical HTC HD2, be it Android, Ubuntu, or even Windows RT. The Samsung Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note II are gradually taking up that mantle, as it is possible to install regular GNU/Linux distributions on them with very little effort. While you can satisfy the urge of having a “true Linux phone” by getting the Librem 5 or PinePhone, their hardware configurations are unfortunately dated. Several community-driven projects, such as UBports and postmarketOS, are trying to bridge the gap between regular consumer Android devices and mainstream Linux distributions, and Project Halium plays a huge role in this development scene. Now, XDA Recognized Developer erfanoabdi has decided to dip his toe in this particular domain, as he has ported Ubuntu Touch to the Xiaomi Redmi Note 7.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • 3 metrics to measure your open source community health

        Community building is table stakes in the success of any open source project. Even outside of open source, community is considered a competitive advantage for businesses in many industries—from retail, to gaming, to fitness. (For a deeper dive, see “When community becomes your competitive advantage” in the Harvard Business Review.)

        However, open source community building—especially offline activities—is notoriously hard to measure, track, and analyze. While we’ve all been to our fair share of meetups, conferences, and “summits” (and probably hosted a few of them ourselves), were they worth it? Did the community meaningfully grow? Was printing all those stickers and swags worth the money? Did we collect and track the right numbers to measure progress?

      • Open Source Software: Mitigating the Risks to Reap the Rewards

        Initially developed by Richard Stallman in 1983 and popularized by Linus Torvalds in the early 1990s, open source software has evolved tremendously over the last 37 years. Although it started out as a niche practice, it became more mainstream in the 2000s. Its value was initially verified by Sun Microsystems’ $1 billion acquisition of MySQL in 2008, and more recently by IBM’s purchase of Red Hat for $34 billion last year. Now the most popular open source software, GNU/Linux runs on nearly 70% of web servers and is maintained by more than 15,000 unique programmers around the world. However, there remains an ongoing debate within the tech industry on both the pros and cons of open source software. We’ve taken a look at a couple of each and discussed below.

      • Events

        • Covid-19: Bootlin proposes online sessions for all its courses

          Like many of us, due to the Covid-19 outbreak, you may be forced to work from home, to limit your contacts with other people and fight the spread of the disease. To take advantage from this time confined at home, we are now proposing all our training courses as online seminars. You can then benefit from the contents and quality of Bootlin training sessions, without leaving the comfort and safety of your home. During our online seminars, our instructors will alternate between presentations and practical demonstrations, executing the instructions of our practical labs.

      • Productivity Software/LibreOffice/Calligra

        • Arrows gallery

          For the LibreOffice 7.0 release I work on galleries. One which is ready for testers is a new/updated arrows gallery.

        • Icon gallery

          I submit a new gallery for LibreOffice called Icons. It show some usefull [sic] icons/symbols which can be used in all LibreOffice apps. If you search for app icons they area already available in the GUI widget prototyping extension.

      • Programming/Development

        • BowPad is an open source programmer-friendly text editor with a ribbon interface

          The program displays a sidebar on the left; this is the file tree that you can use to browse for folders. If the selected folder has documents in it, they can be opened from the sidebar by double-clicking on files.

          The large pane to the right of the sidebar is BowPad’s text editor area. It uses a line/paragraph indicator box which makes it easy to type when working with long documents. The application supports syntax highlighting for over a 100 file types (refer to the list at the end of the article). Documents are opened in tabs like a web browser.

        • Reducing memory consumption in librsvg, part 2: SpecifiedValues

          To continue with last time’s topic, let’s see how to make librsvg’s DOM nodes smaller in memory. Since that time, there have been some changes to the code; that is why in this post some of the type names are different from last time’s.

        • CMake 3.17.0 Released Today! & Available for Download!

          CMake 3.17.0 Released: CMake is an open-source and cross-platform application. CMake application is mainly used to develop programs using Independent Compiler method. The core developers behind this CMake application are “Andy Cedilnik, Bill Hoffman, Brad King, Ken Martin, Alexander Neundorf“.

        • RProtoBuf 0.4.16: Now with JSON

          A new release 0.4.16 of RProtoBuf is now on CRAN. RProtoBuf provides R with bindings for the Google Protocol Buffers (“ProtoBuf”) data encoding and serialization library used and released by Google, and deployed very widely in numerous projects as a language and operating-system agnostic protocol.

          This release contains a PR contributed by Siddhartha Bagaria which adds JSON support for messages, which had been an open wishlist item. I also appeased a clang deprecation warning that had come up on one of the CRAN test machines.

        • Perl / Raku

          • CY’s Take on Perl Weekly Challenge #052

            Do tell me if I am wrong or you strongly oppose my statements!

            I register a free account on blogs.perl.org . The process is surprisingly easy but I am a bit nervous that my posts are put along experienced coders on the frontpage of blogs.perl.org .

            Back to the main topic.

            The first challenge is typical for PWC. Integers in base-10 with some properties on or among their digits, and the perl script needs to list it out. A very useful code slice is split //, $num . (For beginners: On other programming languages, usually we need to have a line of code which can the type of our variable; or more commonly seen, make a new variable of different type of that variable. An example is to_string in C++. )

            The second challenge is game theoretical. I think there are no shortcuts for this problem. I dug out a textbook on game theory #1, got back on the Coursera Course “Combinatorial Game Theory”. #2 … Finally, I find the challenge does not require advanced understanding of Prisoners’ Dilemma or Nim. All we need to know is how to draw a game tree, how to count the payoff properly and how to code in Perl!

            The procedure is: go forward for calculating the payoff function for every end node, and then having a backward induction. Then we get who the winner is while the game is played optimally. (Along process, the information gained can provide a method to allow the computer play against a human optimally.)

        • Python

          • BreadcrumbsCollector: mypy: how to use it in my project?

            Type annotations are a great addition to Python. Thanks to them, finally our IDEs are able to provide good quality autocompletion. They did not turn Python into statically typed language, though. If you put a wrong annotation (or forget to update it after code change), Python will still happily try to execute your program. It just may fail miserably. Type annotations are like comments – they do not really have any influence on the way how your program works. They have also the same disadvantage – once they become obsolete, they start leading developers astray. Type annotations advantage is that they have a very specific format (unlike comments) so can be used to build tools that will make your life easier and code better. In this article, you will learn how to start using mypy, even if you like to add it to your existing project.

          • Gocept Weblog: Zope May sprint goes remote

            Earl Zope was inviting to the Zope May sprint, from 13th till 15th of May, 2020. He was hoping for many volunteers to come. Due to restrictions to prevent spreading of COVID-19 (Corona) this sprint is going to be remote-only. – By now all of the organizers and their families are fine, so you do not have to worry about us.

          • Zope May Sprint

            Earl Zope has settled down for a good while in Python 3 wonderland. He made friends with the inhabitants and other immigrants. He enjoys his new live.

            The sunset of his original homelands took place as predicted by the beginning of January 2020. As Earl Zope was well prepared this was no longer a frightening date for him.

            But even living in Python 3 wonderland is not only joy and relaxing. The Python 3 wonderland changes in a more rapid speed than the Python 2 land ever had before: Each year a new policy has to be fulfilled (aka new Python version release). Additionally it is time to drop the last connections to the old Python 2 land to ease the transformation in Python 3 wonderland to make developers and consumers happy.


            You are invited to the “Zope May sprint” located in Halle/Saale…

          • DjangoCon Europe 2020 postponed to September

            It is with a sincere heart that we have decided to postpone DjangoCon Europe 2020 to September 16-20.

            As you might be aware, conferences are being cancelled worldwide. We still have hope, and before throwing the towel, we have decided to postpone. We took particular care to choose safe dates, far enough from the current outbreak peek estimates, but also far from the next fall/winter. Some experts state this is here to stay, and if they are correct, we should have troubles next fall/winter, let’s just hope to a smaller degree.

            Many of you have already bought tickets, and to those, we kindly ask to hope with us.

          • PyCon US 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is cancelled

            The PSF’s priority is the health and safety of the community and the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has made it unsafe to hold PyCon US this year.
            Recently, the United States and the State of Pennsylvania have asked that large gatherings be postponed or cancelled until further notice. With that in mind, the PSF has worked to reduce financial exposure and develop a plan to provide content remotely.

          • Python 4 Kids: Python is No Good for Mortality Rates

            Here we are at the uptick in the Covid 19 pandemic. There are many sources of data which list infections and deaths as a result of the virus. It’s very tempting to want to put your Python skills to use and crunch some numbers on the infection. By and large, go for it, but one thing I’d ask you not to do is to try to calculate a “mortality rate”. This is not because Python can’t do division but, rather, working this number out is conceptually pretty tricky. It’s something that epidemiologists need to get a lot of training in to do correctly. You can’t just take the deaths column and divided it by the infected column because the two numbers are not properly related.

          • Python Anywhere: COVID-19 update: PythonAnywhere is now all-remote

            Scary times. We hope everyone reading this is well and keeping safe!

            We thought it would be a good idea to tell you how we’re managing the current crisis at PythonAnywhere. We switched over to remote working last Thursday, 12 March; there are obviously private and public health reasons why that was a good idea, but there’s a reason specific to us, which we thought would be worth sharing.

            Most of the team here are lucky enough to be in low risk categories, but we pair-program — that is, we have two people working together at the same computer, all day and every day. Each day we rotate the pairs around, so that the same two people are never working together on two consecutive days. This makes sure that we spread knowledge around the team.

          • MooseAche

            Simple web-browser in Python, using PyQt

            MooseAche is the latest revolution in web browsing! Go back and forward! Save files! Get help! (you’ll need it). Any similarity to other browsers is entirely coincidental.

          • How to read data from Kafka with Python

            Kafka is an open-source distributed messaging system to send the message in partitioned and different topics. Real-time data streaming can be implemented by using Kafka to receive data between the applications. It has three major parts. These are producer, consumer, and topics. The producer is used to send a message to a particular topic and each message is attached with a key. The consumer is used to read a message on a particular topic from the set of partitions. The data received from the producer and stored on the partitions based on a particular topic. Many libraries exist in python to create producer and consumer to build a messaging system using Kafka. How the data from Kafka can be read using python is shown in this tutorial.

        • Rust

          • Writing Programs! That Write Other Programs!!

            The talk was a short, friendly introduction to the same stuff I wrote about in Synthesizing Loop-Free Programs with Rust and Z3.

            The recording of the talk is embedded below. The presentation slides are available here.

            Also make sure to also check out all the other talks from !!Con West 2020! !!Con West (and !!Con East) is a really special conference about the joy, surprise, and excitement of programming. It’s the anti-burnout conference: remembering all the fun and playfulness of programming, and embracing absurdist side projects because why not?! I love it, and I highly encourage you to come next year.

        • Java

          • Java 14 Improves Runtime Visibility, Overall Performance

            A key part of the Java Development Kit is the Java Flight Recorder (JFR) feature, which provides a tool to help profile Java applications for diagnostic purposes. In Java 14, Java Flight Recorder gains a new streaming data capability.

            “JFR Event Streaming (JEP 349) is a new feature in Java 14 that I think people will be able to use right away,” Georges Saab, vice president of development for the Java Platform at Oracle, told ITPro Today. “That changes the historical way that Java Flight Recorder data has been consumed, which is kind of in batch format, to now being available as sort of a stream of events that you can deal with in real time.”

          • OpenJDK 14 Has Some Performance Improvements But OpenJDK 8 Still Strong

            Given this week’s general availability release of OpenJDK 14, here are some fresh benchmarks looking at all the major releases from OpenJDK 8 through 14 while looking at the JVM performance across multiple workloads.

            Curious to see how OpenJDK 14 is performing in relation to previous releases for the JVM performance, I ran some fresh benchmarks on an AMD Ryzen 9 3950X system with Ubuntu 19.10 + Linux 5.6 for seeing how the performance is comparing to previous releases. In particular, how OpenJDK 14 is performing in relation to OpenJDK 8 that for most workloads is still the fastest release in recent years.

            This testing is just looking at the JVM performance with using the same Java bytecode compiled Java programs on each of the releases tested, using the reference/upstream compiled versions of the software packages under test. The same options were used each time and no other changes were made besides swapping out the OpenJDK x86_64 Linux builds used for testing each release.

    • Standards/Consortia

      • RSS: The Original Federated Social Network Protocol

        So what is RSS? The acronym has a bit of a checkered history. Currently RSS stands for Rich Site Summary, originally RDF Site Summary, but it is often known by the more common term Really Simply Syndication. Which ever name you call it by, RSS is a standardized format for listing the most recent updates for a website. The majority of websites and blogs publish a feed of updates, either in RSS format or its close cousin, the Atom Syndication Format (ATOM). YouTube channels, Podcasts, most web comics, and many news sites expose all their updates in one of these standardized formats. Most RSS readers support scanning websites to find their feeds, in formats such as RSS 0.9, 1.x, 2.x or ATOM. RSS readers poll websites regularly, and display updates from websites users are subscribed to.

  • Leftovers

    • How to Survive End Times

      It feels like the end times. A mysterious invisible killer stocks the land. Wild rumors abound. The government is useless. There’s no sense that anyone knows anything, much less is in charge. Could America become a failed state?

    • Death of the ‘Usual’

      Humanity is faced with a series of self-made, interrelated crises, from the environmental catastrophe to poverty, inequality, the absence of peace and an unprecedented level of displaced persons, among other pressing issues. All have been brought about by the negative behaviour of mankind, by the pervasive modes of living, the corrosive values and ideologies that dominate all aspects of contemporary life.

    • Survive and Revolt

      “I Don’t Take Responsibility at All”

    • Portraits of Fire in the Ancien Régime
    • Shakespeare Got Through It. We Will, Too.

      Creative people will not only survive, they will create.

    • Science

    • Education

      • The Move to Online College is Hitting Adjunct Professors the Hardest

        Non-tenure track faculty at community and city colleges across the country told Motherboard they have not received sufficient pay, training, or equipment to teach classes online—and the consequences could be devastating for students.

      • How covid-19 is interrupting children’s education

        Even if teachers manage to broadcast their lessons, students may struggle to join them. Not everyone can get online (see chart). In America 7m school-age children cannot access the internet at home. Lin Kengying of 21st Century Education Research Institute, a think-tank in China, says that the closure of schools since the Lunar new year holiday, which began at the end of January, has led his organisation to reconsider the potential of e-learning. “It hasn’t been smooth,” he says, citing problems such as internet access, scheduling classes, teachers unfamiliar with online tuition, and subjects such as physical education being “awkward” to teach remotely. In China teachers have to submit lesson plans for review by censors, which has led to delays. Students have been spamming the main online teaching app with one-star reviews in an effort to get it removed from the app store. And Xue Hua, a mother of two in Jiangxi province, has been printing out all the learning materials for her 16-year-old son, Guo Guo, because she worries about too much screen-time.

        Even done properly, online learning is a poor substitute for the kind that happens in a classroom. On average, students fare worse working online, especially those with less strong academic backgrounds, says Susanna Loeb of Brown University. Online courses can be an asset when students cannot be in school, but she reckons that they are “suboptimal for most” and argues that long periods of time spent away from actual schools will probably lead to children’s education suffering.

      • Erasmus Student Network statement on the COVID-19 outbreak

        In case your mobility has been cancelled – we sympathise with the loss of your exchange experience and hope your educational path will not be impacted by this and you will be able to have another opportunity at a later stage. However, we urge you not to disregard the decisions taken by relevant authorities which led to the suspension/cancellation of your mobility and stay in your country. We advise you to inquire about the ‘force majeure’ clause of your Erasmus+ Mobility Agreement at your home university.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • “Quack” Doctors Accelerate the Global Spread of Superbugs

        Bacteria naturally evolve a resistance to antibiotics, but the massive and inappropriate use of antibiotics accelerates this process. Quack doctors are given numerous incentives to bolster the use of antibiotics, all provided by big pharma companies including Abbott and Sun, each of which is a billion-dollar company that does business in more than 100 countries, including the United States. These rewards include the provision of medical equipment, gift cards, televisions, travel, and cash. The incentives are so great that some doctors earn nearly a quarter of their salaries from promoting antibiotic use.

      • What Is Trump Waiting For? Companies Must Be Ordered To Make Medical Supplies—Right Now

        The time for a World War II-like mobilization to defeat this enemy we all share is this very minute.

      • Catholic-Affiliated Hospitals Don’t Provide Residents with Adequate Reproductive Healthcare Training

        With faith-based facilities, and especially Catholic hospitals, rising in popularity, there are a growing number offacilities opening or affiliated with religious backgrounds.

      • How to Make COVID-19 Prevention Work for Working People
      • NIH Director Says ‘Drastic’ Measures Like California Lockdown Are Needed to Stop Coronavirus Spread

        “If we did everything right today…what we might be able to do is change what’s going to happen three or four weeks from now. That’s our challenge.”

      • With Monthly Cash Payments, Progressive Caucus Urges Pelosi to Go Big and Bold on Coronavirus Stimulus

        “The risk of going too small on stimulus is large and scary, while the risk of going too big is almost nonexistent,” said Josh Bivens of the Economic Policy Institute.

      • It’s Vitally Important for Media to Get Facts Right in a Life-or-Death Crisis

        The front page of the New York Times (late) print edition for March 20, 2020, bore a large map of the United States, illustrating reported cases of Covid-19 by state and county, as of March 19, 4 p.m. EDT. Readers in the paper’s home city might have been particularly interested in the count for the state of New York—which, according to the map, was up to 5,200+ cases…

      • As #WhereIsJoe Biden Trends, Sanders to Host Coronavirus Roundtable to Address Pandemic

        “Trump is in front of the cameras every day, reassuring people, putting on the appearance of ‘leadership,’” said one Democratic critic. “Where is Biden? Why isn’t he dominating the airwaves?”

      • Cuomo Announces Sweeping Stay-at-Home Directive Across New York State in ‘Drastic’ Measure to Stem Coronavirus Outbreak

        “This is not life as usual.”

      • You Have Heard That It Was Said, But I Tweet to You . . .

        Donald Trump began his presidential campaign by declaring, “I know more than the generals.” That has been his mantra: claiming that he knows more than anyone else about war, law and order, healthcare and other critical issues facing Americans. Then along came the Coronavirus, presenting a grave health threat to the United States and the world. Trump has not said about the Coronavirus pandemic, “I know more than the doctors.” Such megalomania would be rejected out of hand by most Americans, who see doctors, not politicians, when they are sick.

      • Questioning The Qualified Quarantine

        We have reached a point of contradiction in the coronavirus panicdemic. On the one hand, we must imprison ourselves in order to stop the virus, on the other hand, the virus is inevitably going to infect 70% of the population regardless. Keep in mind it is the same people saying these two things at once. Some have speculated that the virus isn’t serious. I would disagree with that. It’s all serious.

      • The Veterans Health Administration Has Banned Even Administrative Employees From Working From Home

        The head of the U.S. Veterans Health Administration, the nation’s largest integrated health care system, has banned most administrative staff from working at home, despite calls from public health officials and the White House for more Americans to stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

        In a March 13 memo obtained by New Mexico In Depth and ProPublica, Richard A. Stone, the VHA’s executive in charge, called for a halt to authorizations for administrative employees to telework until further notice, citing concern about overwhelming computer servers that are needed by health care providers for telemedicine.

      • Charter Spectrum Under Fire For Putting The Public At Risk During Coronavirus

        Charter Communications literally has some of the worst customer satisfaction ratings of any company in any industry in America. Like Comcast, Charter has spent years merging its way to market domination, and now enjoys a notable monopoly over broadband in numerous U.S. markets. This monopoly, combined with regulatory capture, has resulted in a company that literally doesn’t have to give a damn about its customers.

      • The White House Asked Manufacturers for Help, Then Gave Them No Clear Instructions

        As hospitals across the country face drastic shortages of masks, respirators and other vital equipment, the White House has sent out a plea for donations that’s left many recipients confused and full of questions.

        In at least one instance this week, Vice President Mike Pence, who heads the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force, blindsided private industry by requesting that construction companies donate face masks to hospitals. The White House then failed to provide guidance when directly asked.

      • Moscow public transit usage has decreased by less than a third this month as coronavirus infections spread
      • Russian Defense Ministry proceeds with semiannual national draft despite coronavirus pandemic

        Russia’s Defense Ministry has refused to delay its spring draft amid the global pandemic of COVID-19. The draft, which applies to all young men who do not meet certain conditions such as university study, will begin as usual on April 1 and last until July 15, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said.

      • Reading Camus’ The Plague in a Time of Pandemic

        Like millions of other “shut-ins” in northern California, where I live, I’m under quarantine and doing my best to chill. I’ve just finished reading for the first time Albert Camus’s The Plague, which takes place in Oran, on the coast of Algeria, and offers a horrific picture of a whole population living with fear and anxiety and trying to comprehend the incomprehensible.

      • The ventilator problem Russia has way more machines that can keep coronavirus patients breathing than Italy did — but that doesn’t mean the pandemic will be any easier.

        Whether or not Russia’s healthcare system will be able to withstand the coronavirus pandemic is an open question. One way to move toward an answer is to compare conditions in Russia to those in Italy. Local doctors working in the hard-hit Lombardy region have repeatedly pointed to a shortage of ventilators, devices that can be necessary to keep patients breathing in severe cases. Data collected by Meduza indicates that Russia’s supply of ventilators is quite extensive: Even the number available per capita in some geographically peripheral regions, not to mention Moscow, significantly exceeds ventilator supplies in Western countries. That said, ventilators alone are not enough to overcome the pandemic. In a number of other areas, comparing Russian and Italian health infrastructure doesn’t bode well at all for Russia.

      • The Smugness of Celebrity Self-Isolation

        The rush to elevate self-isolation to Olympian heights as a way to combat the spread of COVID-19 has gotten to the celebrities.  Sports figures are proudly tweeting and taking pictures from hotel rooms (Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton being a case in point).  Comics are doing their shows from home.  Thespians are extolling the merits of such isolation and the dangers of the contagion.  All speak from the summit of comfort, the podium of pampered wealth: embrace social distancing; embrace self-isolation.  Bonds of imagined solidarity are forged. If we can do it, so can you.

      • Here’s Why Florida Got All the Emergency Medical Supplies It Requested While Other States Did Not

        On March 11, Florida requested a cache of emergency supplies from the federal government to protect its medical workers against the novel coronavirus.

        Three days later, the state got everything it wanted.

      • Reporter: ‘What Do You Say to Americans Who Are Scared?’ Trump: ‘I Say You Are a Terrible Reporter’

        “Cool to know adults are in charge of stuff.”

      • Coronavirus Crisis, Says Coalition, Must Force Wall Street to Finally Recognize Perils of Climate Shocks ‘Barreling Towards Us’

        “In this recovery we face a clear choice: bail out the fragile fossil financial system and lock in the next climate crash, or keep building a resilient green financial infrastructure that will serve as a stable foundation going forward.”

      • Living at the End of the World

        The coronavirus spreads like a kind of modern plague across the global landscape. The view from my study window is of the gently rolling hills of the Berkshires in the foothills of the Appalachians. Today, they are lightly dusted with snow that will vanish in the warmer air by mid afternoon. Here, looking toward my neighbor’s apple orchard always allows and invites introspection and the separation from the world, which is good for writing.  Close by are the Litchfield Hills of northwestern Connecticut, where Philip Roth stood at his writing podium and produced some superb works of literature amid the small farms indigenous to the area. Clear the land of trees, rocks, and brush, and the farmland is fertile.

      • Russia confirms 54 new coronavirus cases, bringing total number of known infections to 253

        On March 20, Russian health officials announced that they recorded 54 new cases of coronavirus in the previous 24 hours, bringing the country’s number of confirmed COVID-19 infections to 253.

      • Prime Minister Mishustin says six COVID-19 vaccines are being developed in Russia

        Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has indicated that multiple Russian-produced treatments for COVID-19 as well as six possible vaccinations will soon be undergoing testing.

      • Examine Your Own Cultural Practices, Senator Cornyn

        Senator John Cornyn told reporters it’s “no coincidence” COVID-19 originated in China, given “cultural practices there.” What cultural practices did the senator list?

      • ‘Russia’s Chances Against Coronavirus’: Sizing up the country’s healthcare capacity and social readiness for a pandemic

        As COVID-19 spreads rapidly across the world, the disease is pushing healthcare systems to the brink. The number of reported cases is low but rising in Russia, where officials have imposed limits on public assemblies and major events, while resisting the more drastic measures deployed in Asia and now rolling out in the West.

      • Without Adequate Protective Gear, Doctors Fear They’re Infecting Patients

        Emergency room physician John Gavin can’t identify the exact patient from whom he contracted the coronavirus, but he’s confident he picked up the illness working one of his 12-hour shifts in Amite, Louisiana’s small, rural emergency room.

      • Here are the 51 Republican Senators Who Voted Against Expanding Paid Sick Leave

        Republican senators on Wednesday teamed up to kill an amendment introduced by Democratic Sen. Patty Murray that would have expanded paid sick leave to millions of U.S. workers left out of a bipartisan coronavirus relief package.

      • NYC Public Hospital Worker Warns “We Should Expect the Worst” From Coronavirus

        In the face of COVID-19, healthcare workers have been both heroically working around the clock in dangerous conditions to treat coronavirus victims and organizing for higher safety standards and more resources. Nurses unions in particular, which have led the fight for years for single-payer healthcare, have played a vital role in recent days in exposing the truth behind the Trump administration’s rosy claims about its preparedness for this pandemic.

      • As Coronavirus Cases Spike Worldwide, We Need Global Cooperation to Halt Spread

        As the worldwide death toll from the coronavirus pandemic has topped 10,000, with over 250,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, we speak with Stanford University’s global health expert Dr. Michele Barry, an infectious disease doctor. Italy has surpassed China in coronavirus deaths, and cases are rising in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, as the governor of California has ordered all 40 million residents to shelter in place.

      • Immigration Courts Are Telling Employees to Come to Work — Ignoring Health Risks and Local Shelter-in-Place Orders

        On Tuesday night — over a day after several Bay Area counties issued shelter-in-place orders barring most people from leaving their homes — the San Francisco immigration court sent an email to staff: Hearings were being postponed nationwide for most immigrants, so the court would be closed starting Wednesday. (The text of the email was provided to ProPublica.)

        On Wednesday, however, employees were directed to get onto a conference call, according to two participants. There they were told the Tuesday night email was wrong. The court wasn’t closed. They would have to come into the office — or use their vacation time to stay home. When staff asked about the shelter-in-place orders, the response was that the Department of Justice, which runs immigration courts, took the position that those were local laws and didn’t apply to federal employees.

      • Poverty in the Time of Corona: Victims of a Sickness That is Yet to Exist

        In the days on COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, we sometimes forget that the virus is not a “natural disaster,” nor does it affect all people equally. While we can all get sick (which is why there is so much attention on COVID-19), the virus is in no way an equal opportunity perpetrator, meaning that it discriminates in how it affects people living in extreme poverty. Of course, this selective effect has nothing to do with its genetic makeup, but is related to the discriminatory social system of El Salvador. This discrimination, the resulting vulnerabilities, and the recent emergency measures create thousands of victims of the virus at the time when there is still not a single confirmed case of COVID-19 in the country.

      • Nature’s Revenge: Climate Change and COVID-19

        The corona virus pandemic is no accident. Like past global epidemics, it’s a warning that nature has had it with the ecocidal proclivities of man. These outrageous actions are changing climate and are warming and threatening planet Earth. Nature (the Earth) is fighting back. Climate change is sowing pandemic diseases.

      • What COVID-19 Says About Us

        A crisis, according to self-help and leadership books, reveals much about a person’s character. The same can be said of a nation’s character.

      • Social Distancing USA
      • ICE Has Repeatedly Failed to Contain Contagious Diseases, Our Analysis Shows. It’s a Danger to the Public.

        The coronavirus is threatening crowded Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities with long histories of mishandling infectious diseases that can rapidly spread outside their walls, a ProPublica review of thousands of pages of death reports found.

        The ICE population presents a particular danger as communities grapple with the novel disease. The analysis found that ICE has repeatedly failed to follow rules meant to contain communicable diseases inside its detention centers, which can become breeding grounds for illness. As guards and nurses leave facilities and go home, those outbreaks can spread.

      • I’m Not in the NBA Nor Am I Tom Hanks. Here’s How I Lucked Into a COVID-19 Test.

        The question of who can get tested for COVID-19 has centered on persistent issues of inequality in access to health care. Every day, celebrities and professional athletes share their diagnoses as reports continue of delays for nearly everyone else.

        I’m not rich or famous. I wasn’t even symptomatic. But I was able to get tested.

      • Covid in the Web Of Generations: A Faint Hello From the “Only” Ones

        “Only the old and weak will die.”

      • Senator Dumped Up to $1.7 Million of Stock After Reassuring Public About Coronavirus Preparedness

        Soon after he offered public assurances that the government was ready to battle the coronavirus, the powerful chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr, sold off a significant percentage of his stocks, unloading between $628,000 and $1.72 million of his holdings on Feb. 13 in 33 separate transactions.

      • Demands for Resignations as More GOP Senators Accused of ‘Smash and Grab’ Stock Dumps Ahead of Coronavirus Crash

        “They didn’t mobilize to help families, or prep response. They dumped stock.”

      • The Senator Who Dumped His Stocks Before the Coronavirus Crash Has Asked Ethics Officials for a “Complete Review”

        Sen. Richard Burr, the powerful chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, requested a Senate Ethics Committee investigation into his stock trading, a day after ProPublica and the Center for Responsive Politics reported that he had dumped significant amounts of shares before the market crash triggered by the coronavirus outbreak.

        Burr unloaded between $628,000 and $1.72 million of his holdings on Feb. 13 in 33 separate transactions, a significant portion of his total stock holdings. The sales came soon after he offered public assurances that the government was ready to battle the coronavirus.

      • Two Senators Sold A Bunch Of Stock After Being Briefed About COVID-19; While Telling The World Things Were Going To Be Fine

        Senator Richard Burr is a real piece of work. In 2012 he was one of only three Senators to vote against the STOCK Act. This was a law put in place following a 60 Minutes expose about how Congress was getting filthy stinkin’ rich off of insider trading, since Congress was exempt from insider trading laws. The bill did pass — Burr’s vote against notwithstanding — and President Obama signed into law. Unfortunately, the next year, Congress passed (and Obama signed) an amendment that rolled the rules back for staffers, though it still does apply to elected officials themselves.

      • Imagining A New World on the Other Side of the Pandemic

        At The Nation, Atossa Araxia Abrahamian has a provocative piece that imagines how future historians may come to write the story of the Covid-19 pandemic. The speculative history takes the form of a “best-case” scenario that serves as both a challenge and a salve, an inspirational fantasy to help balance out the more easily imagined dystopias with a tantalizing vision of a civilization transformed.

      • Health Care Workers and COVID 19
      • We Can Stop Pandemic Profiteering

        And, on top of all of this, our balkanized, multipayer, mostly-for-profit health insurance system that leaves tens of millions — likely far more as unemployment skyrockets — without health care will mean continued massive profits for health insurance and massively more death, misery, and poverty for everyone else.

        This sort of profiteering off the crisis is not only immoral on its face — it will worsen the crisis and lead to thousands or even millions more deaths. Profits are effectively resources siphoned off into investors’ bank accounts that could be going into slowing the pandemic, growing health-care capacity, and general social welfare like housing and food. The profit motive will drive decisions and broader dynamics as firms produce and provide services in the interest of private gain, not social good. Profit is the reason that “nonessential” businesses are still running against government recommendations, endangering their workers and all of society. And because profits come from raised prices, poorer quality products, lower wages, and worse working conditions, it will make the lives of workers in essential sectors worse and less safe while making it harder for patients, hospitals, and municipalities to procure essential goods.

      • Coronavirus: A story of blatant Republican irresponsibility and corruption

        But you would have thought GOP lawmakers might be just a little bit concerned about their own voters getting sick and dying in droves. Not to mention the collapse of the world economy.

        Unfortunately, leading Republicans don’t seem all that worked up about it, or at least not in public. Recall that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell adjourned the Senate for three days last week. He didn’t feel it was necessary to stay in session so they could put together an emergency economic package to help the millions of workers and owners who have lost their jobs and businesses overnight.

      • Paying to stop the pandemic

        But there is worse. Troubling new findings suggest that stopping the pandemic might require repeated shutdowns. And yet it is also now clear that such a strategy would condemn the world economy to grave—perhaps intolerable—harm. Some very hard choices lie ahead.

      • Psychedelics in Palliative Care

        As an anesthesiologist with a focus on palliative care and psychedelic medicine, I recently shared my own story of healing at the summit at Headlands Center for the Arts on psychedelic medicine and palliative care.

      • Russia’s sparkling new bridge to Crimea is the peninsula’s biggest obstacle to containing coronavirus, says the region’s head
      • A Congressman Skipped the Coronavirus Relief Vote. Instead, He Went Home to Tell Senior Citizens to Blame Mass Media.

        Alaska’s lone member of the U.S. House, Rep. Don Young, skipped a vote early Saturday on a federal coronavirus relief package. Turns out, he was in Alaska, where hours earlier he had told a gathering of senior citizens that dangers posed by the coronavirus pandemic — the “beer virus,” he called it — have been overblown because of media-fueled hysteria.

        Young isn’t the only politician to downplay the threat posed by the virus. Over the weekend, the governor of Oklahoma tweeted a photo of himself eating dinner with his children at a busy Oklahoma City restaurant. He deleted the tweet and subsequently has advised the state’s residents not to congregate in groups of 10 or more and to pick up food at restaurants instead of eating in.

      • As Doctors and Nurses Grow Desperate for Protective Gear, They Fear They’re Infecting Patients

        Emergency room physician John Gavin can’t identify the exact patient from whom he contracted the coronavirus, but he’s confident he picked up the illness working one of his 12-hour shifts in Amite, Louisiana’s small, rural emergency room.

        “There were just so many people who had so many vague symptoms that any of them could have been that person,” he said. “We see a lot of viral-type illnesses.”

      • Russian citizens can still enter Russia, but now they all have to quarantine for two weeks

        With Russia’s borders closed to foreigners, only Russian citizens are consistently entering the country from abroad, but they may still do so freely if they can find a way in. On March 19, however, Anna Popova, the head of Russia’s Federal Service for Consumer Rights Protection and Human Welfare (Rospotrebnadzor), ordered the governments of all Russian regions to institute a 14-day quarantine for all citizens returning to the country.

      • Anonymous Telegram-based news outlet says Moscow is planning to shut down at 800 coronavirus cases; officials cry slander

        On March 19, Moscow City Hall held a meeting to discuss the possibility of a citywide shutdown due to the COVID-19 epidemic, the Telegram-based outlet Baza claimed.

      • St. Petersburg governor visits a grocery store to verify stocked shelves and speaks to a random shopper who randomly turns out to be an actress

        To demonstrate the city’s well-stocked shelves, St. Petersburg Governor Alexander Beglov made an impromptu visit to a local grocery store on Wednesday. There was food aplenty and nobody was stuck in long lines. A happy passerby even spoke to the governor and confirmed this information on camera.

      • No, President Trump, the Coronavirus Is Nothing Like H1N1 Swine Flu Either

        As the coronavirus threat has escalated in recent weeks, President Donald Trump has repeatedly compared it to the U.S. handling of the H1N1 swine flu outbreak of 2009.

        In three press briefings and five tweets since March 1, the president has compared his administration’s handling of the coronavirus favorably to the way President Barack Obama’s team dealt with the H1N1 outbreak, which infected 60 million Americans. This comes after Trump spent weeks saying the coronavirus paled in comparison to the seasonal flu, a comparison we debunked over the weekend.

      • Amid coronavirus pandemic, Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport is closing two terminals

        Effective on March 20, Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport will close terminals “E” and “C” to all departures and arrivals, redirecting all flights from these terminals to terminals “D” and “F.”

      • ‘Now Make It National’: Vermont and Minnesota Classify Grocery Store Staff as Emergency Personnel

        “If your job is so ‘essential’ that you can’t get off for a killer global pandemic, you deserve $15 an hour and a union.”

      • Business as Unusual: Notes on a Pandemic

        Even if no one you know catches it, you’ll start to worry if you’re not already flushed with paranoia. At first, everything seemed normal. It was hard to understand all the attention given to it when it was half way around the globe. We’ll be ready for it when it comes, you thought. Wasn’t Trump telling us it was less concerning than the Flu. So confidant was he that he barred the WHO test for the virus that is used all over the world. Why didn’t he just put a tariff on it, like everything else? Instead, he encouraged pharma friends to develop tests and vaccines (based on publicly-funded research, as usual) that they could make dear and make a killing (literally). It’s the economy, stupid, not the citizens. All the smart people are investing in drug companies and medical suppliers.

      • On the Front Lines of the Coronavirus Pandemic: A Doctor’s View

        Coronavirus has officially hit the United States. Throughout the country, there have been anywhere between 1600 and 3600 confirmed cases and 41 deaths. This number is likely a gross underestimate of the actual number of cases, as the U.S. has only tested a small proportion of the population. Meanwhile, top health officials in Ohio estimate 100,000 people could have potentially already been infected with the virus. Researchers at Johns Hopkins estimate there could be between 50,000 and half a million cases in the U.S. at this time, and that number only looks like it will grow. Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and top member of Trump’s coronavirus task force, recently stated it’s possible millions could die in the United States. I hope that we do not see things get worse in the U.S., but based on what I personally have seen and what my colleagues report, I cannot help but believe things will get worse than they are now.

      • Russia enters nationwide high-alert status amid COVID-19 pandemic

        Every regional government in the Russian federation has approved an order instituting a high-alert status due to the continuing spread of coronavirus infections, TASS reported. As a result, all schools and higher education institutions in Russia’s 83 federal subjects as well as Sevastopol and Crimea will be shifted to remote learning, and all public or athletic events have been cancelled.

      • Russia confirms 52 new coronavirus cases, bringing total number of known infections to 199

        On March 19, Russian health officials announced that they recorded 52 new cases of coronavirus in the previous 24 hours, bringing the country’s number of confirmed COVID-19 infections 199. A dozen of the latest cases were detected in Moscow. The rest are scattered widely across the country.

      • Under Capitalism, Every Plague Has a Silver Lining

        However grave the calamity, someone will see it as a way to make a buck. COVID-19, which the World Health Organization declared as a global pandemic on March 11, is no exception. Forget about human misery. The private sector and the Trump Administration see the coronavirus as an opportunity. Because under capitalism, every plague has a silver lining.

      • What Coronavirus Means for Pregnancy and Other Things New and Expecting Mothers Should Know

        Over the next three months, nearly a million women in the United States will give birth to nearly a million babies — a huge influx of mostly healthy, highly vulnerable patients into a hospital system that’s about to come under unprecedented strain. Pregnant women, not surprisingly, are anxious. Those in their third trimester, looking to deliver during an epidemic, are close to frantic.

        It’s hard to stay calm when reliable information is as scarce as N95 masks and prenatal providers are so busy revamping their procedures they’re struggling to respond to patients’ most basic queries. I spent the past few days gathering the latest information about the coronavirus and pregnancy, reaching out to doctors, nurses, midwives and doulas I’ve come to know while covering maternal mortality and health as part of ProPublica’s “Lost Mothers” project. Below you’ll find their answers to your most urgent questions (though you should always consult with your doctor about your own situation).

      • Amazon Warehouse Worker Tests Positive for Coronavirus Days After Employees Warn Company Isn’t Taking Proper Precautions

        Workers at the New York fulfillment center denounced the company for reopening the facility just one day after the positive case was reported.

      • ‘We’ll stay here until they smoke us out’ As road construction begins over a radioactive waste dump in Moscow, police start forcing local activists off the site

        A conflict broiling around the construction site for Moscow’s Southeast Bypass Road has come to a head in recent days as police have attempted to remove activists from the area. The road is meant to pass through a radioactive waste site adjacent to the property that houses the Moscow Complex Ore Plant. Activists opposed to the construction have regularly staffed a guard post at the site, but on the night between March 17 and 18, police officers began to dismantle that ad-hoc station. On March 19, they began building a barrier around it. The activists have expressed concerns that the government’s actions might cause radioactive isotopes to be released into the air. Moscow City Hall, however, has promised that construction will begin only after the nuclear waste site’s land is reclaimed.

      • How My Mom Followed Her Instincts to Find Her First Coronavirus Patient

        The lab called at 12:30 a.m. Tuesday.

        My mother, a pediatrician and internist in the south suburbs of Chicago, tested two of her patients for COVID-19 late last week, a young person with a mild cold who had recently traveled to China and an older person complaining about a toothache whose temperature was just over 100 degrees. My mom also tested herself. Guess which patient tested positive? The one with a toothache.

      • What the Coronavirus Emergency Has to Do with Biden vs. Sanders

        Biden merely wants to patch up some of the holes, while Sanders wants to build strong structures on truly democratic foundations.

      • A Lesson Coronavirus Is About to Teach the World

        Coronavirus will bring into focus the depraved inefficiency of this system—the model of profit-driven health care, of market forces that look out for the short-term interests of business, not the long-term interests of us all.

      • ‘We Cannot Test. We Cannot Test’: As Coronavirus Cases in US Spike 40% in One Day, Medical Workers Plea for Key Supplies

        “Testing is central because that leads to early detection, it minimizes further spread, and it quickly treats those found with the virus.”

      • Let Them Tape Brooms Together: Pandemics Are Fun!
      • IMF Refuses Aid to Venezuela in the Midst of the Coronavirus Crisis

        On March 16, 2020, the chief of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Kristalina Georgieva wrote a blog post on the Fund’s website; it represents the kind of generosity necessary in the midst of a global pandemic. “The IMF stands ready to mobilize its $1 trillion lending capacity to help our membership,” she wrote. Countries with “urgent balance-of-payments needs” could be helped by the IMF’s “flexible and rapid-disbursing emergency response toolkit.” Through these mechanisms, the IMF said that it could provide $50 billion to developing countries and $10 billion to low-income countries at a zero-interest rate.

      • Civilization Ruffled by Another Perfect Epidemiological Storm

        It is the beginning of the twenty-first century and most humans remain inhabitants of what James C. Scott calls the ‘Multispecies Resettlement Camp’ – the aggregation of men, women, children and their domesticated  plants and animals that was made possible by the development of agriculture. His book, Against the Grain – A Deep History of the Earliest States, 2017, takes a jaundiced look at sedentism – the staying put that initially gave rise to urban culture and that would, some millennia later, come to define modernity. This progression represents our understanding of the development of Western Civilization which we are accustomed to celebrate – or did, until a couple of months ago when we reaped its corollary of epidemiological terrorism. As city dwellers, and more broadly, as subjects of highly interdependent, globally connected states, we remain prey to the “chronic and acute infectious diseases that devastate the population again and again,” which Scott identifies as a primary characteristic of the very earliest states.

      • COVID-19 and Trump’s Racist Rhetoric

        The stakes are too high to allow ourselves and our governments to squander our collective energies and resources on racism and xenophobia.

      • Creative Empathy in a Pandemic

        We are one planet—one people. This isn’t idealism; it’s the most pragmatic social organizing principle possible. 

      • A Lesson Coronavirus is About to Teach the World

        If a disease can teach wisdom beyond our understanding of how precarious and precious life is, the coronavirus has offered two lessons.

      • Covid-19 and the Need, Right Now, For a Universal Basic Income

        Apart from the medical threat revealing a brutal class divide in healthcare, the coronavirus pandemic is creating social and economic havoc among non-rich populations. If ever the need for a universal basic income was evident, it is now. But governments, trying to save the neoliberal system, and making the most of the disaster to lay the foundations for a new round of disaster capitalism, won’t see it. To give a couple of examples of this catastrophe profiteering, laissez-faire entrepreneur par excellence, Sir Richard Branson, wants a £7.5 billion government bailout for his airline, and Trump has proposed a $700 billion stimulus package in which industries will be “stimulated” at the expense of Social Security and, once again, the poor. So much for the free market.

      • Moscow rushes to build an infectious diseases hospital outside the city. Here’s the construction site after a week.
      • Russia’s first confirmed coronavirus death is an elderly university professor who reportedly lectured until her hospitalization

        On March 19, a chronically ill 79-year-old woman in Moscow diagnosed with coronavirus died from pneumonia, making her Russia’s first confirmed COVID-19 fatality. Before contracting the disease that’s now spreading across the world, the woman suffered from type-two diabetes, vascular disease, and high blood pressure. The woman was first hospitalized on March 13 at a private clinic before she as moved to an infectious disease facility, three days later.

      • President Trump Raises the Spectre of the Yellow Peril to Divide Americans and Shortchange Working People in $1 Trillion Stimulus Package

        Criminalizing immigrant workers and dividing working people will NOT bring about public health security. But ensuring equal rights to universal healthcare and economic relief will. 

      • Washington Post Photographer Spots Crossed-Out ‘Coronavirus’ in Favor of ‘Chinese Virus’ in Trump Notes

        “Aggressively, purposefully, maniacally, loathsomely racist.”

      • These Are the 51 GOP Senators Who Just Voted Against Expanding Paid Sick Leave to Protect Americans

        Republican senators on Wednesday teamed up to kill an amendment introduced by Democratic Sen. Patty Murray that would have expanded paid sick leave to millions of U.S. workers left out of a bipartisan coronavirus relief package.

      • Quarantine Bridge
      • On the eve of Human Rights Day, human rights activists Pregs Govender addresses President Ramaphosa on how human rights can beat Covid-19.

        Your presidential address was honest about Coronavirus (or Covid-19) and declared it a national disaster, countering the confusion caused by America’s Trump and Britain’s Johnson.

        You and your Cabinet elevated scientific facts above the fake news being spread on social and corporate media. Globally over 240,000 people were infected and over 10,000 people are now dead.

        Your speech rallied many, including all SA’s political parties, to recognize this as a time for united action.

        Many young people were inspired to develop memes on the prevention guidelines, including you jiving to the ‘elbow bump’. People traveling to work on public transport shared that ‘everyone is helping – sharing sanitizers, caring about themselves and each other’. Religious institutions are educating their followers on the dangers of physical contact and advising them to pray in their homes instead.

      • Coronavirus deaths: What we don’t know

        The drastic measures taken in the UK to tackle coronavirus have been justified because of the need to save lives.

        Modelling by Imperial College London – used to inform government – suggests 500,000 could die if we do nothing.

        Even the government’s previous strategy to slow the spread was likely to lead to 250,000 deaths, the research showed.


        Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, said in an appearance before the Health Select Committee, that the hope was to keep the death toll below 20,000 by suppressing the virus.

        That would still be worse than those killed by flu, he said, giving a number of 8,000 per year.

      • Emergency powers in Moscow Amid concerns about spreading coronavirus, Sergey Sobyanin has ordered thousands of Muscovites to lock themselves at home for weeks. Here’s how the city is enforcing that.

        On the evening of March 5, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin put the capital on high alert due to the coronavirus epidemic. A decree to this effect was published on the City Hall website. It lists requirements for citizens who have “visited territories” where coronavirus cases have been reported, including prominent European countries such as Italy, France, Germany and Spain. Among other requirements, Muscovites returning from these countries must “self-isolate” at home and not go to work. Meduza looks at whether such restrictions are legal and whether they make sense.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • ESET Releases Latest Version of ESET Endpoint Antivirus for Linux

          ESET has launched the latest version of ESET Endpoint Antivirus for Linux, ensuring all organizations are protected to the highest standard, no matter the operating system. Endpoint Antivirus for Linux joins ESET’s extensive product range, which already caters extensively to Windows and MacOS.

          ESET Endpoint Antivirus for Linux is designed to provide advanced protection from threats to organizations’ general desktops. Powered by the advanced ESET LiveGrid technology, the solution combines speed, accuracy and minimal system impact, leaving more system resources for the desktops’ vital tasks in order to maintain business continuity.

        • ‘Zoombombing’: When Video Conferences Go Wrong

          Zoom has become the default social platform for millions of people looking to connect with friends, family, students and colleagues while practicing social distancing during the new coronavirus pandemic.

          But the trolls of the internet are under quarantine, too, and they’re looking for Zooms to disrupt.

          They are jumping into public Zoom calls and using the platform’s screen-sharing feature to project graphic content to unwitting conference participants, forcing hosts to shut down their events.

        • Zyxel Flaw Powers New Mirai IoT Botnet Strain

          A joint advisory on CVE-2020-9054 from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the CERT Coordination Center rates this vulnerability at a “10” — the most severe kind of flaw. The DHS/CERT advisory also includes sample code to test if a Zyxel product is vulnerable to the flaw.

          My advice? If you can’t patch it, pitch it, as Mukashi is not the only thing interested in this Zyxel bug: Recent activity suggests attackers known for deploying ransomware have been actively working to test it for use against targets.

        • Discord says it’s banning millions of accounts to tackle spam

          Discord banned 5.2 million accounts between April and December last year, the company revealed today in its second transparency report. The most common reasons for account bans were spam and exploitative content, which includes nonconsensual pornography (so-called “revenge porn”) as well as sexual content related to minors.

          The report reveals a stark difference in the kinds of violations that most users are likely to report, versus the actions that are most likely to get people and servers banned. The most common reports Discord receives from users relate to harassment, however only a relatively small proportion of these reports actually result in action being taken. Discord says that in many cases it will teach people how to block the offending user without taking any further action.

        • Server Outages and Increased API Errors: Incident Report for Discord

          Discord was unavailable for most users for a period of an hour. The root cause is well understood and fixed. The bug was in our service discovery system, which is used by services within our infrastructure to discover one another. In this instance, service discovery is used by our real time chat services services in order to discover the RPC endpoint that they use to load data from our databases when you connect to Discord, or when a Discord server (or “guild”) is created for the first time, or needs to be re-loaded from the database.

        • Google suspends Chrome upgrades as COVID-19 impacts software schedules

          According to a now-outdated Chrome release schedule, Google was supposed to upgrade the browser to version 81 on Tuesday, March 17. Chrome OS was to shift to version 81 on March 24. Google had both on a metronomic schedule that delivered new features every six to eight weeks.

          Also on Wednesday, Google updated Chrome 80 — the version that debuted Feb. 4 — to build 80.0.3987.149, which contained fixes for 13 security vulnerabilities. The nine that Google called out in a separate post were all rated as “High,” the second-most-serious threat ranking in a four-step scoring system. Only one of the nine noted a bug bounty amount — $8,500 — and five other bug listings said that a cash reward would be determined later.

        • Apple Briefly Dips Below $1 Trillion Level It Held Since October

          Coronavirus-related weakness has already evicted two names from the thirteen-digit club: Amazon.com Inc. and Google-parent Alphabet Inc. Both rose above the threshold earlier this year but fell back below $1 trillion in late February.

        • Pseudo-Open Source

        • Security

          • Security updates for Friday

            Security updates have been issued by Arch Linux (bluez and chromium), Debian (icu, rails, thunderbird, and twisted), Fedora (chromium and webkit2gtk3), Gentoo (bsdiff, cacti, clamav, fribidi, libgit2, pecl-imagick, phpmyadmin, pyyaml, and tomcat), openSUSE (wireshark), Oracle (firefox, icu, python-imaging, thunderbird, and zsh), Scientific Linux (thunderbird), SUSE (firefox, nghttp2, thunderbird, and tomcat), and Ubuntu (twisted).

          • Phishing in the Time of COVID-19: How to Recognize Malicious Coronavirus Phishing Scams

            For malicious people, preying on collective fear and misinformation is nothing new. Mentioning national headlines can lend a veneer of credibility to scams. We’ve seen this tactic time and again, so it’s no surprise that COVID-19 themed social media and email campaigns have been popping up online. This blogpost provides an overview to help you fight against phishing attacks and malware, examples of phishing messages we’ve seen in the wild related to coronavirus and COVID-19, and specific scenarios to look out for (such as if you work in a hospital, are examining maps of the spread of the virus, or are using your phone to stay informed).

            The COVID-19 themed scam messages are examples of “phishing,” or when an attacker sends a message, email, or link that looks innocent, but is actually malicious and designed to prey on fears about the virus. Phishing often involves impersonating someone you know or impersonating a platform that you trust. Your day-to-day diligence is the best preventative measure. Consider these points before you click: Is it an enticing offer? Is there a sense of urgency? Have you interacted with the sender before over this platform?

          • Librem Hardware and the Intel CSME Vulnerability

            Whenever a security vulnerability comes out one of the first questions that come to many peoples’ minds is: am I affected? The last couple of years in particular have seen a lot of hardware-based vulnerabilities in Intel processors and in those cases generally it’s a matter of looking at the affected list of hardware and comparing it against your own hardware.

            More recently a vulnerability (CVE-2019-0090) was announced in the Intel CSME that can allow an attacker with local access to potentially extract secret Intel hardware signing keys from a system. There are a number of different analyses out there on this vulnerability from the very dry CVE report itself to “sky is falling” reports that contain a lot more hype. If you want more technical details on the vulnerability itself, I’ve found this report to have a good balance of measured technical information on impact without the hype.

          • Hackers leak internal documents showing the FSB’s quest for a cyber-weapon that can take whole nations offline

            The hacker group “Digital Revolution” has released documents describing a procurement order from a division of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) for the development of “Fronton” software that would enable cyberattacks using infected Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices. The BBC’s Russian-language service was the first media outlet to report this story.


            In total, according to the hackers’ data, there are three versions of the software: Fronton, Fronton-3D, and Fronton-18. The programs can infect any smart device (from digital assistants to “smart” homes), connecting them into a network and then attacking the servers responsible for the stability of online services and the Internet itself in entire countries.

            Based on the documents, FSB contractors recommended creating botnets 95-percent comprising IP cameras and digital video recorders (cameras that receive control data and send image data via the Internet). “If they transmit video,” the leaked materials state, “they have a big enough communication channel to perform DDoS attacks effectively.” The project suggests hacking these devices by using a dictionary of typical passwords used for IoT devices.

          • Windows, Ubuntu, macOS, VirtualBox fall at Pwn2Own hacking contest

            The 2020 spring edition of the Pwn2Own hacking contest has come to a close today.

            This year’s winner is Team Fluoroacetate — made up of security researchers Amat Cama and Richard Zhu — who won the contest after accumulating nine points across the two-day competition, which was just enough to extend their dominance and win their fourth tournament in a row.

            But this year’s edition was a notable event for another reason. While the spring edition of the Pwn2Own hacking contest takes place at the CanSecWest cyber-security conference, held each spring in Vancouver, Canada, this year was different.

          • Once upon a time there was a WebSocket

            This is the story from one of our recent penetration testing engagements. Still, the story is a familiar one for those who are testing newer web applications that use one of the multitudes of evolving web app platforms built on a poorly understood technology stack. In this case, we ran into a WebSocket-based application that was thought to be relatively secure; however, the use of web sockets in the application was misunderstood, resulting in a significant set of authentication and authorization flaws.

          • Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt/Fear-mongering/Dramatisation

            • DDoS botnets have abused three zero-days in LILIN video recorders for months

              Digital video recorders are devices installed on company networks that aggregate video feeds from local CCTV or IP camera systems and record it on various types of storage systems, like HDDs, SSDs, USB flash drives, or SD memory cards.

            • Multiple botnets are spreading using LILIN DVR 0-day

              The LILIN 0-day vulnerability is made of 3 parts: hard-coded login credentials, /z/zbin/dvr_box command injection vulnerabilities and /z/zbin/net_html.cgi arbitrary file reading vulnerabilities, /z/zbin/dvr_box provides Web services, and its web interface /dvr/cmd and /cn/cmd have a command injection vulnerability. The injected parameters have been: NTPUpdate, FTP, and NTP.


              LILIN users should check and update their device firmwares in a timely fashion, and strong login credentials for the device should be enforced.

              The relevant malicious IPs, URLs and domains should be blocked and investigated on users’network.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Tracking Your Cycle: Is the App Secure? And Who Is Accessing Your Data?

              According to an October 2019 article in the Kansas City Star by Crystal Thomas, “Williams testified that the investigation of Planned Parenthood began after state inspectors found evidence of a failed abortion that didn’t have a corresponding complication report logged with the state.”

            • The US Government Is Also Looking At Increasing Domestic Surveillance To Fight The Spread Of The Coronavirus

              Say hello to the coronavirus and goodbye to privacy. The government is working with a variety of tech companies — including infamous analytics companies like Palantir — to get a grasp on the spread of the virus. Unfortunately, this means the data citizens have generated for a variety of tech companies will become a handy way to track them and their movements, especially if they’re infected or in contact with those who are.

            • Governments Around The World Are Tracking Their Citizens’ Movements To Prevent The Spread Of COVID-19

              In an effort to turn an unmitigated disaster into something a bit more mitigated, governments around the world are heading towards the “drastic” end of the scale to slow down the spread of the coronavirus. Cities and everything in them have been effectively shut down. Preventing the spread of the virus depends a lot on the voluntary cooperation of citizens to self-report and self-quarantine. Meanwhile, no one has any toilet paper. What a time to be alive, at least temporarily.

            • Coronavirus: Asian countries use surveillance tech to curb outbreak

              Hong Kong’s health authorities have held daily briefings on the outbreak. But the new bracelets were announced in a late-night government press statement on Monday with little fanfare.

              Some 5,000 wristbands were ready for use with another 55,000 on their way, authorities said.

              On Thursday, Hong Kong began ordering all arrivals from overseas to wear the bracelets.

            • GOP lawmakers call on Twitter to ban Chinese Communist Party from the platform

              Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) sent a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey strongly urging him to remove the CCP from the platform, and to block access to Twitter for any other foreign officials that ban the use of Twitter in their countries.

            • Emergency Surveillance During COVID-19 Crisis

              Israel is using emergency surveillance powers to track people who may have COVID-19, joining China and Iran in using mass surveillance in this way. I believe pressure will increase to leverage existing corporate surveillance infrastructure for these purposes in the US and other countries. With that in mind, the EFF has some good thinking on how to balance public safety with civil liberties: [...]

            • How Coronavirus Might Help Surveillance Boom

              In other words, sometimes during a crisis companies react by exploiting a business opportunity and governments might look to increase their Big Brother powers. Motherboard editor-in-chief Jason Koebler joins host Ben Makuch on the show to explain more.

            • DOJ Moves Forward with Dangerous Plan to Collect DNA from Immigrant Detainees

              The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) recently-issued final rule requiring the collection of DNA from hundreds of thousands of individuals in immigration detention is a dangerous and unprecedented expansion of biometric screening based not on alleged conduct, but instead on immigration status. This type of forcible DNA collection erodes civil liberties and demonstrates the government’s willingness to weaponize biometrics in order to surveil vulnerable communities. 

              DOJ finalized its October 2019 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, making no amendments despite receiving over 40,000 public comments—including one by EFF—the overwhelming majority of which opposed the mandatory DNA collection proposal.

            • Google Says It Doesn’t ‘Sell’ Your Data. Here’s How the Company Shares, Monetizes, and Exploits It.

              “Google will never sell any personal information to third parties; and you get to decide how your information is used.” – Sundar Pichai

              Sound familiar? Although big tech companies like Google keep the lights on by harvesting and monetizing your personal data, they can be quick to mince words and deny the strawman scenario of exchanging hard drives full of your data for a suitcase of money. Now California law has given them another reason to deny and deflect.

            • Are Your Identification Photos in a Face Recognition Database?

              San Francisco – A majority of Americans are in face recognition databases in use by the U.S. government. Are you one of them? The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has launched a new quiz called “Who Has Your Face” to help you find out.

              “Your driver’s license picture and other ID photos are often shared with law enforcement and other agencies like Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE),” said EFF Digital Strategist Jason Kelley. “Those agencies use facial recognition technology to compare your face with those in mugshots and with other photos of people suspected of committing crimes—putting you at risk of being misidentified. So we created this quiz to help show people what we know about who has their face.”

            • Announcing Who Has Your Face

              The government and law enforcement should not be scanning your photos with face recognition technology. But right now, at least half of Americans are likely in government face recognition databases—often thanks to secretive agreements between state and federal government agencies—without any of us having opted in. Although the majority of Americans are in these databases, it’s nearly impossible to know whether or not your photo has been included. Today, EFF is launching a new project to help fight back: Who Has Your Face.

              Who Has Your Face includes a short quiz that you can use to learn which U.S. government agencies may have access to your photo for facial recognition purposes, as well as a longer resource page describing in detail the photo sharing we discovered. This project is a collaboration between the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law, and aims to shine a light on the photo sharing that has allowed the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, dozens of Departments of Motor Vehicles, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, law enforcement, and many other agencies to use face surveillance on millions of people without their knowledge. 

            • Face Surveillance Is Not the Solution to the COVID-19 Crisis

              In the current moment, governments may be tempted to funnel scarce public health resources into the use of face recognition to curtail the spread of COVID-19. Public health crises, especially a global pandemic, may require extraordinary measures in favor of the public good—but invasive face surveillance is not in the public’s interest.

              This approach could involve building new infrastructure to conduct more face surveillance and large government contracts with some of the most nefarious surveillance technology vendors in the world. Companies like Clearview AI, which uses over two billion face images scraped from social media to track individuals and identify them with real-time face surveillance, are already in talks with agencies to provide assistance. Even as civil liberties groups call for a national ban on government use of face recognition, U.S. Customs and Border Protection is currently touting face recognition at airport check-ins as supposedly more hygienic than other screening. 

            • Microsoft Role in Surveillance of Palestinians Draws Protest

              Through its M12 venture capital fund, Microsoft has a financial interest in AnyVision. In October 2019, NBC News reported that an Israeli military surveillance project used AnyVision’s technology to monitor Palestinians in the West Bank. AnyVision has denied its technology is used this way. In response, Microsoft hired former US Attorney General Eric Holder to conduct a private audit of AnyVision. In December 2018, Microsoft president Brad Smith had asserted that the company supported “safeguards for people’s democratic freedoms in law enforcement surveillance scenarios” and it does not “deploy facial recognition technology in scenarios that we believe will put those freedoms at risk.”

            • US, Israel, South Korea, and China look at intrusive surveillance solutions for tracking COVID-19

              With the coronavirus outbreak rapidly spreading worldwide, governments are or exploring or implementing privacy-intrusive solutions for tracking the disease’s spread. What are your thoughts on these solutions?

              As the global coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is leaving its mark across the world, at least four governments are deploying or at looking at implementing privacy-intrusive surveillance systems to track citizens and the disease’s spread.

              Countries like China and South Korea have already deployed extensive citizen tracking systems, while Israel and the US are preparing similar surveillance measures.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Nukes: The unmentionable Election Issue: Getting to Zero

        Where are the Democrats?

      • Preparing For MATH Destruction: Weapons Manufacturer Raytheon Sponsors Tween Mathematics Competition

        Raytheon’s involvement in this organization began as part of it initiative, MathMovesU, to provide young people interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) with the tools to succeed in their chosen fields. But before that, in the early 2000s, Raytheon was sponsoring hopeful high schoolers in robotic competitions, supporting young engineering talent. According to the Washington Post, in 2010, the company rolled out its “U.S. STEM Education Model” in response to President Obama’s ‘Change The Equation’, a non-profit initiative devoted to improving the quality of STEM education in public institutions. Raytheon promised “each state its own educational model that would influence how policy-makers shape public education at the state level.” The pattern is that the multinational company strives to forge a path for all young innovators, spearheading projects like its “Think Like a Programmer” Girl Scout program, which allows girls to explore the abundant world of AI and cybersecurity. Raytheon’s mission to reach young audiences extends outside of the US through its MathAlive! program, which visit places like Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia—to which Raytheon has sold surface-to-air missile systems, known as Patriots, in recent years.

      • US National Security Strategy is Meant to Protect Wall Street, Congress, the White House, and the Pentagon

        The United States’ National Security Strategy is based on foundational Instruments of National Power (INP). The INP consists of Diplomacy, Informational, Military, Economic, Financial, Law Enforcement, Information. Combined with the INP’s support, they combine to protect an economy and society that has an annual Gross Domestic Product of nearly $20 trillion (USD) and a per capita income of almost $60 thousand according to the CIA’s World Factbook. In that publication, the CIA notes that “US firms are at or near the forefront in technological advances, especially in computers, pharmaceuticals, and medical, aerospace, and military equipment…”

      • Trump’s Deadly Sanctions Power Should Be Reined In

        US presidents should not have the power to unilaterally wage economic warfare against civilian populations.

      • The Art of the Phony Peace Deal

        Well, it only took a million years but peace has finally come to Afghanistan, sort of. Or at least so it appears. I’m not one of those hyperventilating liberal opportunists, bursting at the seems to piss on any peace parade led by a dayglo elephant. I have genuinely made an effort to put my best foot forward when Trump has made his occasional isolationist noises. Hell, I’m probably the only one to the left of Sebastian Gorka who cheered as he told the deep state to sit and spin from Helsinki with Putin at his side. But even in the wake of all the reactionary chaos of a flip-flopping Pat Buchanan wannabe, I’ve begun to notice another trend of vain opportunism which makes me feel less than easy about Orange-Man-Bad’s latest peace deal with the Taliban.

      • Foreign Policy—the Primary Debate’s Final Frontier

        Biden may not suffer from living in the Washington bubble, but we will. We will suffer the casualties—domestic and foreign—resulting from the continual military interventions that come with out-of-control spending.

      • Us Foreign Policy After the Election

        Former vice-president Joe Biden looks likely to be going to-to-toe with Trump for election in November, especially after the Primaries in Arizona, Florida and Illinois where Bernie got a whupping.  At first glance, Biden seems a reasonable enough candidate, and it is interesting to examine what his foreign policy might be.

      • America’s Commandos Deployed to 141 Countries and “Criminal Misconduct” Followed

        Last October, a group of eight Apache attack and CH-47 Chinook helicopters carrying U.S. commandos roared out of an airfield in Iraq. They raced through Turkish airspace and across the Syrian border, coming in low as they approached a village just north of Idlib Province where Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, his bodyguards, and some of his children were spending the night. The helicopters opened up with their machine guns, while military jets circled above and 50 to 70 members of the U.S. Army’s elite Delta Force stormed into a compound just outside the village of Barisha. When it was all over, Baghdadi’s home was rubble, an unknown number of people living in the area, including civilians, had been killed, and he and two of his children were dead — victims of a suicide vest worn by the ISIS chief.

      • Trump Should Have the Guts to Call His Middle East Troop Redeployments What They Are: a Retreat

        Few can forget the words of Tony Blair’s government aide hours after the World Trade Center was destroyed on 9/11. “It is now a very good day to get out anything we want to bury,” wrote Jo Moore. Donald Trump obviously thought the same thing.

      • ‘Do F-35s Fight Pandemics?’ Amid Covid-19 Outbreak, Lawmakers Pushing For Even More Useless Pentagon Spending

        “Infuriating doesn’t even begin to describe it.”

      • Fox News Has Always Lied to Old People. This Time It May Kill Them.

        Fox News is not news. I have been saying and writing this since Rupert Murdoch launched the network in 1996, but today, it is more important than ever to understand. Fox is, and always has been, a right-wing propaganda outlet disguised as a cable news network.

      • Pakistani doctor arrested in Minnesota on terrorism charge

        The affidavit said the FBI began investigating in January, after learning that someone, later determined to be Masood, had posted messages on an encrypted social media platform indicating an intent to support ISIS.

        On Jan. 24, Masood contacted one of the informants on the encrypted platform and said he was a medical doctor with a Pakistani passport and wanted to travel to Syria, Iraq or the northern region of Iran stretching to Afghanistan “to fight on the frontline as well as help the wounded brothers,” the affidavit said.

        He explained that he wanted to make the trip because he “hates smiling at the passing kuffar just to not make them suspicios.” [...]

      • “Maximum-pressure March”: US hybrid war on Venezuela heats up

        The first quarter of 2020 has seen the Trump administration escalate its rhetoric against Venezuela. At the State of the Union, President Trump promised to “smash” and destroy the Venezuelan government. This was followed by a renewed threat of a naval blockade on the country, which is an act of war under U.S. and international law. Then the State Department eagerly noted that the “Monroe Doctrine 2.0” will be “fleshed out in the weeks and months to come,” while declaring “maximum-pressure March” against Venezuela.

      • 17 Years Later: The Consequences of Invading Iraq

        While the world is consumed with the terrifying coronavirus pandemic, on March 19 the Trump administration will be marking the 17th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq by ramping up the conflict there. After an Iran-aligned militia allegedly struck a U.S. base near Baghdad on March 11, the U.S. military carried out retaliatory strikes against five of the militia’s weapons factories and announced it is sending two more aircraft carriers to the region, as well as new Patriot missile systems and hundreds more troops to operate them. This contradicts the January vote of the Iraqi Parliament that called for U.S. troops to leave the country. It also goes against the sentiment of most Americans, who think the Iraq war was not worth fighting, and against the campaign promise of Donald Trump to end the endless wars.

      • ‘In This Dark Hour for the Iranian People,’ Groups Demand Trump End Inhumane Sanctions Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

        “Doing so would not just serve U.S. interests in helping contain the further spread of the virus, but would also be a powerful humanitarian gesture to the more than 80 million Iranians suffering under the pandemic.”

      • Economists Demand Trump Immediately Lift Iran, Cuba, and Venezuela Sanctions That Are ‘Feeding the Coronavirus Epidemic’

        “This policy is unconscionable and flagrantly against international law. It is imperative that the U.S. lift these immoral and illegal sanctions.”

      • America’s Commandos Deployed to 141 Countries

        What did they do and where did they do it?

      • US Drone Assassinations Continue Despite German Effort to Restrict Them

        A year after a German court issued a ruling that would have dramatically restricted U.S. drone operations in accordance with international law, no substantive changes have taken place, as the lawsuit that led to the March 2019 ruling is still stuck in the appeals process.

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • Fixers Are Crowdsourcing Medical Equipment Repair Information

        The coronavirus is here, it’s spreading, and the U.S. is not prepared. Most patients won’t require hospitalization, but many of those that do will require a ventilator to help them breathe. As cases mount daily, American health professionals are sounding the alarm—there may not be enough ventilators to go around.

        One solution to the problem is repairing and updating old equipment to fill the shortage. iFixit, a company that teaches people how to repair their own devices, is building a database of repair information about hospital equipment but it needs help.

    • Environment

      • Extreme summer heat puts millions at risk

        Summer on much of the planet could get too hot for comfort by the end of the century, with more than a billion people seriously affected by extreme heat.

      • Major Players in US Agriculture Convene to Address Climate Change

        The forum was a national meeting of the minds from all corners of the agricultural, environmental, food, policy and agribusiness worlds,” wrote Shelby Watson-Hampton in a report for Lancaster Farming, which covers the farming and agriculture industry in the region. With representatives from the likes of the World Wildlife Fund, Tyson Foods, Bayer, National Black Growers Council, Campbell Soup Co., Feeding America, PepsiCo, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, members of Congress, and three Secretaries of Agriculture present, among others, this may have been the most robustly representative meeting of agriculture’s key players to ever converge in a single space.

      • Energy

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • “Hot Blob” Created by Marine Heatwave in Pacific Ocean Wipes Out Nearly a Million Seabirds

          The “hot blob” both caused a drop in production of algae and also an increase in the production of harmful algae. In this way, the “blob” created  tougher competition for small prey which predatory fish like salmon, cod, and halibut come out victorious from. Although the number of washed up seabirds were around 60,000, Corbett pointed out that previous studies show that only a “fraction of birds that die at sea typically wash ashore.” The blob has been forming since 2013, and the weather phenomenon “El Niño” accelerated the temperatures of the heatwave during 2015 with the blob reaching an average of 11° Fahrenheit above average water temperatures. The situation shows how big of an impact a small rise in average ocean temperatures can have on the underwater ecosystem. The study concluded, “in light of predicted global warming trends and the associated likelihood of more frequent heatwaves,” as a warning for the future effects of global climate change.

    • Finance

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Corporate Media Bias in Disproportionate Coverage of Hong Kong Protests

        FAIR examined major protests in Ecuador, Haiti, Chile, and Hong Kong for its study, finding that there was nearly ten times more reports about the Hong Kong protests than about the protests in the other three counties combined. Looking at these results, they attempted to determine the major reason for the imbalance, discovering that news coverage was proportionate to the size and severity of the protests. FAIR found that mass protests in Haiti resulted in far more deaths than any of the other uprisings, and that Chile’s president Sebastian Piñera attempted to declare war on the population of his country, which is arguably far more newsworthy than the entirety of the actions of protests in Hong Kong.

      • What the Coronavirus Says about Us

        Trump’s message to governors on lifesaving medical equipment—”get it yourselves”—is grimly appropriate in a country without national health care.

      • The president’s needs Experts debate if Russia’s constitutional reforms are really just a scheme to keep Vladimir Putin in power until 2036

        Pending the results of a nationwide plebiscite now scheduled in mid-April, Russia is close to adopting new constitutional amendments that would “zero out” Vladimir Putin’s term clock, allowing him to run for re-election twice more, potentially extending his presidency to 2036. Meduza asked a group of experts if Putin planned in advance to include a constitutional exception for his presidency, and if so why did he come up with such a complex way of retaining power?

      • Next month when holding a nationwide plebiscite on constitutional amendments, Russian election officials will keep polls open for a full week

        Vladimir Putin has scheduled a plebiscite on constitutional amendments on April 22. But how does Russia expect to hold a nationwide vote in the next month, as much of the world grinds to a halt to slow the spread of coronavirus in order to keep their healthcare systems from being overwhelmed by sick people? On Friday, federal election officials indicated that the solution will rely on a mix of home voting and extended time for voting. In fact, the Central Election Commission has now permitted regional officials to keep the polls open for an entire week before April 22, extending the ballot window from three to seven days.

      • It’s Been Open Season on Voting Rights Since SCOTUS Gutted Voting Rights Act

        Election protection is increasingly seen as a critical issue in the US. Since the gutting of the Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court, there have been problems with voter purging, voter ID laws, what some call modern-day ‘poll taxes’, precinct closures, and difficulties with voting machines. Congress has noted serious attempts to hack into voting systems in the US based in partisan politics. Women Rising Radio joins two election protection activists to talk about threats to the U.S. electoral process.

      • Sanders v. Warren: Why It Still Matters

        When the body politic suffers severe trauma, here will be people yearning for a return to “normalcy.” Their efforts almost always turn out poorly.

      • If Trump Declares Martial Law Due to Coronavirus, Can He Suspend the Election?

        There is no dearth of examples suggesting that President Donald Trump lives in an alternate reality. But his belief that the coronavirus “came out of nowhere” and “blindsided the world”—even though public health experts had been warning about the next pandemic for years—may be the reason why the United States is so unprepared to deal with the crisis.

      • Fighting COVID 19 in Cuba, China and the United States

        Governments, according to Thomas Jefferson, are supposed to guarantee people’s rights to “life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” COVID 19 has out people’s lives and health in the spotlight now. What kind of tools do governments have at their disposal to protect lives and health?

      • Now Our Senate Overlords Are Making Money off Our Deaths

        Washington, DC has been rocked in the last day by revelations of possible coronavirus-related insider trading by members of Congress. Though several senators have been accused, it’s two in particular that the charges have focused on.

        First, there’s Georgia’s Kelly Loeffler, spouse to the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange and, with an estimated net worth of half a billion dollars, quite possibly the richest member of Congress. That particular fact had already made Loeffler a walking, talking conflict of interest, plonked onto a committee where she would be in charge of regulating her own husband’s business enterprises.


        But even this is nothing compared to North Carolina’s Richard Burr, who has justifiably been thrust into the eye of the hurricane over congressional stock sell-offs. As ProPublica reported, Burr not only attended the same January 24 briefing as Loeffler, but, as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was getting daily briefings about the virus’s spread. A day after the Dow Jones Average hit its all-time high, Burr made his largest stock sell-off in fourteen months, selling up to $1.72 million in shares, including as much as $150,000 invested in several hotel chains whose value tanked not long after. Burr didn’t buy any shares, either. As icing on the cake, Burr was one of only three senators to vote against the 2012 STOCK Act, which banned insider trading by members of Congress.

        What makes Burr’s case particularly outrageous is that, unlike with Loeffler, we have evidence he was lying to the public about the threat of the virus. Despite authoring a February 7 op-ed assuring people the government was well-prepared to prevent a pandemic, twenty days later, in a meeting with his real constituents — a group of wealthy local industrialists who had donated more than $100,000 to his last campaign — Burr gave a very different message: that the virus was “much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history”; that “you may have to alter your travel” and that of their employees; that there would be school closures; that the military would be tasked with grappling with the health crisis.

      • Republicans are actually supervillains: They profited while abandoning us to coronavirus

        The No. 1 rule, when it comes to Republican behavior during a crisis, is that it is always worse than you imagined. That was true during Donald Trump’s Russia scandal, when it turned out that the Republican chair of the House Intelligence Committee was denying and hiding evidence while trying to undermine the federal investigation into Trump. It was true throughout the impeachment process, when various Republican figures made no bones about their belief that there was no crime Trump could commit that they would convict him for.

        Nor is this a recent development. George W. Bush is primarily remembered for lying us into a war with Iraq, but let’s not forget that this was accompanied by outing a CIA agent for vindictive purposes and running torture camps, as well as an explosive scandal involving multiple Republican members of Congress reportedly being paid off by lobbyists.

      • Useful Idiots: Noam Chomsky on the Primary, Media Criticism, and COVID-19

        In the Biden vs. Bernie debate, our hosts take a close look at the accuracy of Joe Biden’s statements on immigration and deportations, social security, bankruptcy, Iraq, and more.

      • Senator Dumped Up to $1.6 Million of Stock After Reassuring Public About Coronavirus Preparedness

        On Thursday, Burr came under fire after NPR obtained a secret recording from Feb. 27th, in which the lawmaker gave a VIP group at an exclusive social club a much more dire preview of the economic impact of the coronavirus than what he had told the public.

        “Senator Burr filed a financial disclosure form for personal transactions made several weeks before the U.S. and financial markets showed signs of volatility due to the growing coronavirus outbreak,” his spokesperson said. “As the situation continues to evolve daily, he has been deeply concerned by the steep and sudden toll this pandemic is taking on our economy.”

      • Flake News, Bics, PINOcchios, and the War on Bernie Sanders

        Corporate media isn’t doing itself any favors. Although constantly assaulted by Trump as Fake News, when it comes to its coverage of Bernie Sanders, Flake News is the more fitting term given the penchant of its pundits to blow their collective gaskets and meltdown whenever the democratic socialist from Vermont is discussed. But is any of this really surprising? After all, the line that separates punditry from puppetry is a thin one: Corporations have bought our politicians and the mainstream media that reports on them.

      • Tulsi Gabbard Endorses Joe Biden for President as She Drops Out of Democratic Primary

        “I’m suspending my presidential campaign and offering my full support to Vice President Joe Biden in his quest to bring our country together,” said the Hawaii congresswoman.

      • Elections May Have to Change During the Coronavirus Outbreak. Here’s How.

        As the novel coronavirus spreads through the U.S. during presidential primaries, election and government officials are scrambling to figure out how to allow voters to cast their ballots safely ― or postpone primaries altogether. Managing in-person voting during an unprecedented pandemic has forced authorities to overcome new virus-related hurdles: providing sufficient cleaning supplies to polling places, moving polling places out of nursing homes and ensuring there are enough poll workers.

        There’s also a huge open question: If the virus continues to infect large numbers of people, how can the general election take place safely this fall?

      • ‘Bolsonaro Out!’ From Balconies and Windows, Millions Demand Ouster of Brazilian President Over Handling of Coronavirus

        “Brazil can’t take it anymore,” declares a petition demanding Bolsonaro’s impeachment.

      • Episode 72 – Human Rights: Clean Water and the WWE in Saudi Arabia with Reem Habte and Dylan Lazaga – Along The Line Podcast

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

      • Bloomberg Campaign Posted Fake Tweets Attributed to Sanders

        The Bloomberg campaign team had posted the tweets after Sanders publicly praised former Cuban president Fidel Castro for literacy programs and universal healthcare. Although Sanders also denounced authoritarian rule in Cuba, the Bloomberg campaign took the opportunity to post fabricated quotes attributed to Sanders about former Ugandan president Idi Amin, Soviet leader Josef Stalin, and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, among others.

      • Considerations of the Post-Sanders Era

        Just the other day, I was looking through the articles Kevin Coogan had written over the years. Kevin, a long-time commenter on my blog, died unexpectedly on February 27th and I was curious to review his take-downs of Lyndon LaRouche’s cult. A bit younger than me, Kevin was a former member and hoped to warn others about making the same mistake he made. I had the same missionary zeal when it came to the Socialist Workers Party. We both shared Ishmael’s need to repeat the verse from Job at the very end of Moby Dick: “and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.”

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Interview With Liz Mair, Whom Rep. Devin Nunes Is Suing For $400 Million Because She Was Mildly Mean To Him

        It’s been one full year since Rep. Devin Nunes kicked off his long series of frivolous SLAPP suits against various critics. While the suing of satirical Twitter accounts still get the most headlines, two of the lawsuits (including the first one) target Liz Mair, a political consultant who has worked on numerous Republican campaigns (and was a spokesperson for the RNC). It’s still unclear why Nunes targeted Mair in particular, who has pointed out how this is a clear attempt at stifling free speech, but he seems particularly annoyed with her. Most elected officials learn that part of being in public office is that you get criticized, but Nunes seems to think that anyone who criticizes him deserves to get sued. Mair has now launched a new website, NunesVFreeSpeech.com, seeking donations for her own legal defense, and in defense of free speech. Mair also agreed to answer some questions I had about her experiences over the last year in dealing with this lawsuit.

      • Twitter Suspended Cory Doctorow For Putting Trolls On A List Called ‘Colossal Assholes’

        Shout it from the rooftops: content moderation at scale is impossible to do well. Mistakes will always be made, or even “legitimate” decisions will appear “wrong” to many, many people. The latest example: Twitter — which has received criticism for being both too aggressive in shutting down accounts and not nearly aggressive enough (sometimes by the same people) — suspended Cory Doctorow’s account earlier this week. The reasoning for the suspension? He would put various trolls onto a Twitter list called “colossal assholes” before muting them, and Twitter claimed this violated its policies (though the company only told him well after it suspended him)…

      • Labels on State-Sponsored Content: YouTube’s Failed Promise

        As problems with labelling arose, YouTube received many reports from different organizations alerting them to content that met its criteria as state-sponsored media but had not yet ben labeled. ProPublica alerted YouTube to the existence of 57 state-sponsored channels that were releasing videos without warnings about their funding. In response, YouTube labelled 35 of the 57 channels but declined to comment on the status of the 22 channels it chose not to label. Of the 57 channels YouTube proposed, ‘Russia 1’ was one of the most popular channels to not have a state-sponsored label. ‘Russia 1’ was a popular state-owned television channel in Russia that had a large YouTube following. Some 353,000 people were subscribed to the channel, and YouTube failed to keep them notified about the state-sponsored content they were consuming.

      • South Africa enacts regulations criminalizing ‘disinformation’ on coronavirus outbreak

        The Committee to Protect Journalists expressed concern over newly passed regulations in South Africa that criminalize disinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic and could potentially prompt other countries to adopt more repressive rules and censorship against the press.

        Yesterday, the South African government enacted new regulations, which CPJ reviewed, criminalizing statements intended to deceive any person about COVID-19 or the government’s response to the pandemic. The regulations were published in the Government Gazette under the 2002 Disaster Management Act and carry penalties including fines, imprisonment, or both.

      • When “Fake News” Was Banned: an America Trump Would Have Loved

        Every month, it seems, brings a new act in the Trump administration’s war on the media. In January, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo exploded at National Public Radio reporter Mary Louise Kelly when he didn’t like questions she asked — and then banned a colleague of hers from the plane on which he was leaving for a trip to Europe and Asia. In February, the Trump staff booted a Bloomberg News reporter out of an Iowa election campaign event.

      • Why Reddit Quarantined a Popular, Hate-Driven Message Board

        Many of the threats that target minority groups or political figures violate Reddit’s community values.

    • Freedom of Information / Freedom of the Press

      • FBI Says It Will Only Accept Snail Mail FOIA Requests Until Further Notice, Due To Coronavirus Concerns

        With the Coronavirus grinding everything to a halt (except for stock market losses! [sobs in 401(k)]), it’s understandable that public services would be affected as well. The unexpected shift to telecommuting means everything is going to slow down as public and private entities figure out how to still serve customers/citizens while still keeping the spread of the virus to a minimum.

      • The Long Dark Night of the Soul

        As many of you will already know, I was excluded from the public gallery of the Alex Salmond trial yesterday. Inside the High Court, in the queue to enter the courtroom, I was suddenly taken aside by the police and told I was barred. The prosecution had made an application to the judge for an order for my removal which the judge had agreed, over a “possible contempt of court.”

      • Governments Must Commit to Transparency During COVID-19 Crisis

        As government officials at all levels move quickly to respond to COVID-19 and protect the public’s health, it is vital that they also safeguard the public’s ability to participate in and access information about those decisions, EFF and a coalition of more than 100 organizations wrote in a letter on Friday.

        Transparency and public access during this crisis is a necessary and important way to give those affected clarity into government decision-making. It’s neither normal nor healthy for democracy to hide or classify public health-related decisions or deliberations. At a time when whistleblowers and others have contributed to the public awareness of how agencies and government actors, in the U.S. and abroad, have responded to this crisis, it’s crucial that we see exactly how decisions with potentially life-altering ramifications are made. From the letter: 

      • ‘Journalists as diplomatic pawns’: Questions and outrage as China set to expel US reporters

        The foreign ministry said in a statement that reporters for the three American news organisations would also be prohibited from working in Hong Kong and Macau, though it is unclear how the restriction will be implemented due to press freedom guarantees in the Special Administrative Regions. Affected journalists have been ordered to return their press cards which expire at the end of this year within 10 days.

        HKFP rounds up of reactions to the news.

      • We Don’t Have Time for This

        Trump gleefully fielded a softball from the sycophantic far-right One America News: a sardonic query about whether the term “Chinese food” was racist, then a false accusation that the “major left-wing news media” has embraced “Chinese Communist Party narratives.” That cued Trump to launch a long, self-aggrandizing, and false rant against the press, which was neither original nor worth repeating.

      • Beijing dismisses Chinese news assistants working for U.S. bureaus

        On Thursday and Friday, the Beijing Personnel Service Corporation for Diplomatic Missions ordered at least seven Chinese nationals who work as staffers at U.S. news organizations in Beijing to be dismissed from their jobs, according to several journalists in Beijing, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal by the Chinese government. The order included workers for The New York Times and Voice of America, the U.S. Congress-funded broadcaster, as well as two other outlets that could not be immediately identified, according to those journalists. VOA confirmed the dismissal of its Chinese news assistant in a statement sent to CPJ. Steven Lee Myers, the Beijing bureau chief for The New York Times, also confirmed to CPJ via a messaging app that the newspaper’s Chinese staff was targeted.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Trump Holds White House Presser to Announce Much Stricter Separation Guidance (While Violating the Guidance!)

        It’s hard to take President Trump seriously.

      • ‘Global Gag Rule’ Continues to Compromise Women’s Health around the World

        This policy was first implemented by the Reagan administration in 1984. It has continuously changed from presidency to presidency, but the Trump administration has advanced the strictest policies yet seen. The rule forces organizations to choose between receiving global health assistance from the US or providing comprehensive reproductive care. The Trump-Pence administration expanded the policy’s scope to go beyond abortion services and family planning care, to include other forms of assistance from the State Department, USAID, Department of Health and Human Services, and Department of Defense. Now the wording of the policy would, according to the Rewire.News report, “deny funding for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, nutrition, maternal health, family planning, and malaria.”

      • 693 Bodies: Sex Crimes against Hundreds of African-American Girls Committed by a White DJ Largely Ignored

        Pope is currently being held in jail without bond. His charges include three counts of trafficking in persons and first-degree criminal sexual conduct along with a count each of kidnapping, second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor, and promoting the prostitution of a minor. Though diagnosed with AIDS in a state where intentionally infecting or exposing another to the disease constitutes a criminal offense, he is yet to be charged with such an offense.

      • First Circuit Appeals Court: ‘Community Caretaking’ Function Applies To Warrantless Seizures, Not Actually Caring For The Community

        The First Circuit Court of Appeals has confirmed what we’ve already assumed: the “community caretaking” function law enforcement performs is there to help it dodge the Constitution, not to ensure it actually takes care of the community. Citing Simpsons’ episode BABF18*, Judge Selya (trigger warning: overwrought English) says nothing about the community caretaking function prevents officers from harming you. But it does not mean officers ever need to help you.

      • ICE Crackdown on U Visas

        A U visa is class of visas set aside for undocumented people who have been victims of crimes and are actively cooperating with police in an investigation or prosecution of criminal activity. The program protects U visa holders from being  deported for assisting in an investigation. Such visas can also be helpful for prosecutors so that they do not waste time and resources on cases in which people who are or will soon be deported are involved. US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves 10,000 visas per year for those over the age of 21. For people under the age of 21, there is no set limit on the number of U visas that can be issued. The visas can take up to four years to obtain for most immigrants. Yet the program is facing serious backlogs and, as of March 2019, there were some 239,933 cases awaiting processing.

      • Hate in the Time of Coronavirus: A Real Emergency at the Border

        The septuagenarians in the famous novel are afflicted with love, an intense passion as tumultuous as an epidemic. Do we happen to have any septuagenarian leader who can change the language of hate to compassion?

      • Take Heart! Humans are Amazing

        There are some things you’d can’t fight with the barrel of a gun. Pandemics are one of them. In times like this, nonviolent responses are our best rescue remedies. They boost our morale, help us take care of one another, push for justice, and keep us all going when the going gets tough. As my colleague Ken Butigan wrote in Love in the Time of Coronavirus: “When societies take rapid, extraordinary steps to mitigate the shock of job loss or the expense of testing, they are pursuing nonviolent strategies—nonviolent because they resist the violence of exclusion or indifference while fostering healing and unity.”

      • High-Tech Human Rights Abuses in China

        The BBC reported in November 2019 that, starting in 2017,  the Chinese government forced large numbers of Uighurs into indoctrination camps euphemistically called “Vocational Education and Training Centers.” A leak of internal government documents made to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists highlights the atrocities perpetrated against the Uighurs in these centers. The “China Cables,” as the ICIJ calls them, included a nine-page memo sent out in 2017 to the officials who run the camps by Zhu Hailun, the deputy-secretary of Xinjiang’s Communist Party. The memo contained orders to “[ensure] full video surveillance coverage of dormitories and classrooms free of blind spots”, “increase discipline and punishment of behavioural violations”, and “encourage students to truly transform”. The Chinese state wants to demolish the culture and religion of the Uighurs in order to make them loyal to the communist government and are using every resource to their advantage.

      • Secret Border Control Facebook Groups Used to Share Racist, Sexist, and Hateful Posts

        There are many hateful posts on Facebook, but Daniel Martinez, a sociologist at the University of Arizona who studies the border, believes that there “seems to be a pervasive culture of cruelty aimed at immigrants within CBP. This isn’t just a few rogue agents or ‘bad apples’.”

      • A Women’s Police Town

        Men have always fought their wars in the name of women’s liberation. The Trojan War was ostensibly fought to free Helen, “the face that launched a thousand ships.” But we all know that the real reason was to satisfy the ambition of Achilles, and that the “Trojan Women” were trampled on in the process.

      • Manifesting Radical Feminism

        Webster’s defines a manifesto as “a written statement declaring publicly the intentions, motives, or views of its issuer.” In her recently published book Burn it Down! Feminist Manifestos for the Revolution, editor Breanne Fahs notes that although the manifesto form began with nobles and kings who used them to tell their subjects how things were, the form has become associated with the Left and the street, so to speak. They are urgent, strident and occasionally nihilistic; contradictory and rabble-rousing. The best known of all manifestos is probably the one written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels—The Communist Manifesto. In this reviewer’s mind, that work is one of the most powerful and concise pieces of text every published. Its purpose is clear in the first paragraph. The rationale it presents is as flawless and simple as an elementary school math problem. That pamphlet is the ultimate template for the form we call the manifesto.

      • Death at the Greek Border: Syrian Refugees Should Not Be Used as Political Pawns

        In a surprising move, Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, announced on February 29 that he will be re-opening his country’s border to Europe, thus allowing tens of thousands of mostly Syrian refugees into Greece and other European countries.

      • Stonewalled: Establishment Media’s Silence on the Trump Administration’s Crusade against LGBTQ People – Censored Notebook

        Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared as Chapter 7 in Censored 2020: Through the Looking Glass, edited by Andy Lee Roth and Mickey Huff with Project Censored (New York: Seven Stories, 2019). Anderson and Roth have also written on the topic of LGBTQ censorship, in print and online, for In These Times and in the Spring 2020 issue of Index on Censorship.

      • We Told You So, And More: Law Council’s Backflip On Hanson’s Family Law Inquiry

        Listening to and showing respect to the experts – in particular the people who work on the frontline – is crucial in the fight against domestic violence, writes Hayley Foster, CEO of Women’s Safety NSW.

      • The Coronavirus Pandemic Is a Reminder the Rich and Powerful Won’t Save Us

        It’s all an important reminder of something many of us felt even before this moment: The rich and powerful will not save us.

        For me, the first sign that coronavirus could become its own vector for class war came when the Guardian reported on March 11 — the same day the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global pandemic — that the super-rich were using private jets to flee and that one California company specializing in “disaster bunkers” had seen a spike in inquiries and sales.

        That’s just one way our economic divide is being illustrated in stark terms. Reporting from ProPublica and the Daily Beast has alleged senators have engaged in insider trading, making seven-figure deals selling off stocks after learning about the risk posed by the virus. Meanwhile, all across the nation, states like Ohio and Minnesota are seeing massive spikes in unemployment insurance applications that have even crashed the websites people use to apply. As our leaders cash in, too many of us are worried about running out of cash.

      • Coronavirus Will Be the Hardest for Gig and Service Workers in the U.S.

        Must be nice, right? Unfortunately for the overwhelming majority of people in the U.S., this reality is utterly out of reach. And there is a notable disparity between those who can afford to stockpile supplies (even in the case of rampant price-gouging) and those who struggle to afford the basics at the best of times. Location matters too: If supply chains are disrupted, people in rural or isolated communities will have an even harder time getting what they need or getting to the hospital if they fall ill, and those who lack internet access (like nearly one-third of rural households do) will have more difficulty participating in remote work or keeping track of a rapidly developing news situation.

        Those with white-collar jobs may be able to stay home with zero consequences — and many are actively being encouraged by their employers to do so, but for many U.S. workers, this is simply not an option. Retail workers, hospitality workers, transit workers, fast food workers, delivery workers, home health-care workers, and drivers are only some of the public-facing professionals who are at risk during an epidemic, yet they also have the hardest time taking time off work thanks to the precarity of their hourly wage and lack of benefits, such as paid sick leave. Labor unions like SEIU, AFSCME, AFT, and UNITE HERE have been pressuring for the federal government to take decisive action to protect workers, while worker-led organizations like Gig Workers Rising have been calling upon employers to lessen the financial burdens faced by gig workers deciding between going to work sick or losing income by staying home.

      • Trump Uses Coronavirus to Spread Racism

        There is nothing like a global pandemic to unleash the forces of racism in society. In the United States, with a virulently racist administration already in power before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we might not even notice the offensive rhetoric and policy emanating from President Donald Trump, given how much he has normalized xenophobia. But it bears identifying, for if ever there was a need for solidarity among Americans, it is now. 

      • Deaths of Despair and the Psychological Wages of Whiteness

        Racism and policies supported by a majority of poor and working-class white voters can kill them.

      • What You Should Know About Online Tools During the COVID-19 Crisis

        A greater portion of the world’s work, organizing, and care-giving is moving onto digital platforms and tools that facilitate connection and productivity: video conferencing, messaging apps, healthcare and educational platforms, and more. It’s important to be aware of the ways these tools may impact your digital privacy and security during the COVID-19 crisis.

        Here are a few things you should know in order to make informed decisions about what works best for you and your communities, and ways you can use security and privacy best practices to protect yourself and others.

      • Heads Up Internet: A Dangerous Zombie CFAA Expansion Bill is Back

        A group of senators in Washington is trying—for the fourth time—to pass dangerous and misguided language that would amend and expand the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), our nation’s notoriously vague anti-hacking law. The language was first floated in 2015, then again in 2016, and again in 2018. Back in 2018, the language made up a standalone bill, the International Cybercrime Prevention Act, and the Senators have dropped that entire bill into Title IV of the Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act.

        Title IV is ostensibly motivated by the threat posed by botnets, but its provisions would have implications far beyond that limited context. What it actually does is unnecessarily expand the CFAA without fixing any of the law’s existing problems. The CFAA already threatens beneficial security research, and Title IV, which increases penalties, will only make that threat worse. It also creates broad new authority for the government to obtain court orders to stop violations of the CFAA, or to order third parties to do so on its behalf. This could result in severe collateral damage, yet Title IV fails to provide any protections or give users any recourse if their systems are harmed.

      • In Loving and Proud Memory of My Friend Derek Soberal

        Soberal escaped initial response from fire and police personnel, running to a nearby Rabba where he obtained a knife from behind the deli counter. He used it to stab himself, per multiple reports. At some point during the sequence at Rabba, Toronto Police officers decided the best way to help my fiery friend in ecstatic distress involved pumping him full of more heat with a conducted electricity weapon, commonly known as a Taser.

        Joe Warmington has quickly whipped off a piece in the Toronto Sun, sympathetic and mostly full of praise and admiration for Derek, but essentially blaming the death on Soberal’s re-entry in recent months into a world of activism, particularly indigenous solidarity, that he had left behind the last few years to start a young family. Warmington and Soberal had something of a friendship, it seems, a natural fit given the way Derek was politicized.

        Warmington is a far right-wing columnist who has never met a heinous set of police activities he has not been willing to step right up and defend vociferously.

        With one glaring exception, that is.

        Toronto Police overreached with such pageantry and terror during G20 meetings held in Toronto a decade ago this June, that even old Joe Warmington was forced to turn his purple pen against his friends in blue.

      • After Detainee Protests, ICE Moves Asylum-Seeking Women

        Bethany Carson, an immigration researcher and organizer for the advocacy nonprofit Grassroots Leadership, told the Texas Observer that many of the women seeking asylum were from Cameroon. Although approximately 80% of Cameroonians seeking asylum in the US due to political violence in their home nation are successful, in New Orleans judges deny asylum to about 85% of people who apply.

      • If Social Distancing Is Impossible in Prisons, People Should Be Freed

        In early March, Michelle Tran drove 1,500 miles from her home in Wichita, Kansas, to visit her husband Thai at California’s Avenal State Prison.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • The Great 5G Hype

        President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson share much in common – a similar appearance, a showman’s presence, conservative (if not racist) beliefs, a nationalist ideology, reputed extramarital affairs and support for Brexit. However, their mutual affection hit the wall in late January over 5G – “Fifth Generation” – broadband technology when the UK decided that it could work with the Chinese tech company, Huawei, as a supplier of 5G equipment as long as its market share did not exceed 35 percent.

      • ‘Working from home’: Will Britain’s broadband be up to the job?

        And as more people also self-isolate and turn online some have begun to question whether the UK’s ageing broadband infrastructure can cope with millions of people logging in from home. While UK broadband operators argue there is sufficient network capacity to cope with spikes in usage, it is unclear whether home users should expect a slowdown in their ability to connect. The coronavirus pandemic is likely to present ongoing challenges for the nation’s broadband infrastructure and the use of it.

        Although not all workers will be able to shift to their home, for example gig economy workers, it is likely that many more people will be doing so in the near future. Broadband connectivity is vital for many workers, enabling them to access information and colleagues remotely. It can also help to make contacts with friends and relatives and access to shopping and other services – all of which may be vital in any extended period of working from home or self-isolation. In this respect, broadband’s role in supporting mental health is clear.

      • Molly de Blanc: Seven hundred words on Internet access

        In the summer of 2017, I biked from Boston, MA to Montreal, QC. I rode across Massachusetts, then up the New York/Vermont border, weaving between the two states over two days. I spent the night in Washington County, NY at a bed and breakfast that generously fed me dinner even though they weren’t supposed to. One of the proprietors told me about his history as a physics teacher, and talked about volunteer work he was doing. He somewhat casually mentioned that in his town there isn’t really internet access.

        At the time (at least) Washington County wasn’t served by broadband companies. Instead, for $80 a month you could purchase a limited data package from a mobile phone company, and use that. A limited data package means limited access. This could mean no or limited internet in schools or libraries.

        This was not the first time I heard about failings of Internet penetration in the United States. When I first moved to Boston I was an intern at One Laptop Per Child. I spoke with someone interested in bringing internet access to their rural community in Maine. They had hope for mesh networks, linking computers together into a web of connectivity, bouncing signals from one machine to another in order to bring internet to everyone.

        Access to the Internet is a necessity. As I write this, 2020 is only weeks away, which brings our decennial, nationwide census. There had been discussions of making the census entirely online, but it was settled that people could fill it out “online, by telephone, or via mail” and that households can “answer the questions on the internet or by phone in English and 12 Non-English languages.” [1][2]

        This is important because a comprehensive census is important. A census provides, if nothing else, population and demographics information, which is used to assist in the disbursement of government funding and grants to geographic communities. Apportionment, or the redistribution of the 435 seats occupied by members of the House of Representatives, is done based on the population of a given state: more people, more seats.

        Researchers, students, and curious people use census data to carry out their work. Non-profits and activist organizations can better understand the populations they serve.

        As things like the Census increasingly move online, the availability of access becomes increasingly important.

    • Digital Restrictions (DRM)

      • Right to Repair in Times of Pandemic

        Entropy isn’t just a word, it’s the (second) law (of thermodynamics): the idea that things tend towards chaos and brokenness. That’s why the Right to Repair is so close to our heart: fixing things is nothing less than the embodiment of the ancient struggle to wring order from chaos, to stave off deterioration and collapse.

        It’s no coincidence that farmers are the vanguard for Right to Repair. People who live in rural, low-population zones have to fend for themselves when entropy is visited upon their tools. Farmers can’t wait for days or weeks for a part or a service technician: they literally have to make hay while the sun shines. Since the dawn of agriculture, farmers have been making and adapting their tools, and workshops and even forges are mainstays of agricultural life.

    • Monopolies

      • Jim Naureckas on Covid-19, Dana Brown on Public Ownership of Pharmaceuticals

        This week on CounterSpin: The coronavirus is highlighting existing faults and fissures in US society. Stark evidence of government priorities and their impact is coming fast and furious: $1.5 trillion is available instantly for loans to banks, but there’s no plan to protect incarcerated people, in jails, prisons or migrant detention centers. Congress can’t seem to act on assistance that reaches all the people who need it, and Jeff Bezos—the one with $111 billion—wants Whole Foods workers to share their sick leave. Immediate tests for celebrities without symptoms—yes; reconsideration of devastating sanctions on Iran and Venezuela—absolutely not. It’s a crime scene that’s setting up social economic justice work for the next many years, and calling for dogged, humanistic reporting that doesn’t “ask what questions this all raises,” but instead demands better answers.

      • With Nation Distracted by Public Health and Economic Crises, Trump Moves to Allow GMO Crops in Wildlife Refuges

        “Only the Trump administration would aggressively promote the use of crops genetically engineered for pesticide tolerance on wildlife refuges.”

      • Patents

        • Important IP Updates Covid-19 | 20.03.2020

          All EPO-specific deadlines expiring on or after March 15, 2020 are thus extended until April 17, 2020. All oral appointments scheduled until March 27, 2020, including examination and opposition procedures, will be postponed until a new date, unless there is confirmation of the meeting by videoconference.

        • Coronavirus: IP offices in Europe – changed practice

          European Patent Office (EPO)

          Most deadlines expiring on or after 15 March 2020 are extended until 17 April 2020 with the possibility of further extensions, dependent upon circumstances at the end of this period.

          The EPO has postponed, until further notice, all oral proceedings in examination and opposition proceedings, scheduled to take place up to and including 27 March 2020, unless they have already been confirmed to take place by means of videoconferencing. During this time the EPO will explore options for the further use of videoconferencing in oral proceedings.

          The Boards of Appeal have also cancelled all hearings until 27 March 2020 and our experience is that they have started to cancel hearings in the following weeks as well. At present there are no provisions for the Boards of Appeal to hold hearings by videoconference. Future announcements are likely to be found here (EPO Covid-19) – continually updated information) and here (EPO Boards of Appeal).

        • Alert: EPO and EUIPO Extend Deadlines in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

          In response to the disruption caused by COVID-19, the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), which is responsible for the registration of EU trademarks and designs, has announced that it is extending all time limits expiring between 9 March and 30 April inclusive that affect all parties in proceedings before the office to 1 May 2020. As Friday 1 May 2020 is a public holiday (Labor Day) in Spain, time limits are, in practice, extended until Monday 4 May.

        • BRIEF-Follicum Gets Preliminary Approval From EPO For Co’s Patent Within Diabetes
        • Software Patents

          • Continuing Improvements to the OSS Supply Chain Ecosystem

            At the beginning of the 20th century, for the most part, production was local in nature, as it had been for several millennia. By the latter half of the century, with improvements in shipping and telecommunications, companies turned to lean production models (e.g., the Toyota Production System). Telecommunications meant that it was possible to specify components to a third party which was not local. Containerisation and transportation improvements meant that components could be transported cheaply and be delivered just-in-time by a supplier that was not local.

            This allowed the production process to be modularised and contracted out, improving the efficiency of production. In today’s world, in which the Internet has driven communication costs down, companies no longer believe it is in their best interests to self-produce or locally source all components. Because of this, the world’s largest companies have built increasingly global and complicated supply chains. Benefiting from the computing and communications revolution that started in the 1990s and continues today, these companies are increasingly flexible in their choice of suppliers. The choices that they make about suppliers are not as rigid as they were when lean production was originally conceptualised.

            Linux and other open source software (OSS) projects have driven the computing and communications revolution that has changed the world, including the nature of modern supply chains. Open source technologies are also increasingly being used in products themselves (e.g., Android on mobiles, Automotive Grade Linux in the auto sector, etc), as the world’s best-known brand names fully embrace OSS.

          • AI and Life Sciences Patents: Separating Myth From Reality [Ed: Illegal patent monopolies on algorithms and on life/nature, disguised using buzzwords like "HEY HI" and "life science"]

            Drugs designed with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) are now entering clinical trials. Jane Wakefield, Artificial intelligence-created medicine to be used on humans for first time, BBC (Jan. 30, 2020). That important milestone has initiated widespread discussion of a brave new world in which computers will “invent” medicines. Such dramatic discussions, however, misapprehend both the U.S. legal framework and the nature of drug discovery: HAL9000 cannot be an inventor under current U.S. patent law. These discussions also ignore a more pressing problem: There are at least three patent law doctrines—obviousness, written description, and enablement—that AI actually can change. This article separates the myth from the reality of how AI will impact life sciences patent law, and offers practical tips to practitioners seeking to protect drug patents against future AI-related challenges.

            Computers Cannot Currently Be Inventors as Either a Legal or Practical Matter. Current U.S. patent law assumes that an inventor must be a human being. The U.S. Constitution, for example, grants Congress the power to “promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.” U.S. Const. Art. I, §8, Cl. 8 (emphasis added). The Patent Act also refers repeatedly to “persons”. See, e.g., 35 U.S.C. §116. These assumptions are not unique to American law. The University of Surrey recently submitted two patent applications to the European and United Kingdom Patent Offices naming an AI system as an inventor on two product patents. Those applications were rejected on the grounds that European law requires an inventor to be a natural person. EPO refuses DABUS patent applications designating a machine inventor, EPO (Dec. 20, 2019).

            Even if U.S. law permitted AI as inventors, current AI systems simply cannot replace the human intervention inherent to the drug discovery process. Inventing a drug is iterative: Researchers run tests to identify lead compounds that change in focus and number as additional data and hypotheses are considered. Even after a lead compound is identified, it is further revised using input from experts in pharmacology, biology, and chemistry to determine formulation, safety, and dosing. There is a reason that drug patents name multiple inventors.

      • Trademarks

      • Copyrights

        • Warner Bros Sues ‘Harry Potter’ Running Club over Copyright Infringement

          Warner Bros. has filed a lawsuit against Connecticut-based non-profit organization Random Tuesday, for operating Harry Potter and Gilmore Girls themed running clubs. This causes confusion among the public, Warner argues, adding that some of the merchandise sold in the store is copyright-infringing.

        • Doom Eternal Debacle May Have Dismantled Denuvo DRM on Debut Day

          In what appears to be a monumental screw-up somewhere in the game’s supply chain, the Denuvo anti-tamper technology deployed on Doom Eternal may have already been compromised. Early purchasers of the game discovered a folder in the game’s directory containing an .exe file that can be used to replace the original one protected by Denuvo.

IRC Proceedings: Friday, March 20, 2020

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:18 am by Needs Sunlight



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