12.12.20

Links 13/12/2020: KDE Frameworks 5.77.0, Armbian 20.11.3, Rescuezilla 2.1

Posted in News Roundup at 10:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Desktop/Laptop

      • TUXEDO launch their smallest Linux gaming notebook with the Book XP14

        With a rather unassuming and plain case that doesn’t give much away, the new TUXEDO Book XP14 is their smallest and lightest gaming notebook now available.

        Coming with Intel Tiger Lake processors with either the Core i5-1135G7 or the Core i7-1165G7 it’s backed up by their new Xe graphics, you can also upgrade it to have an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 if you want that extra bit of power for your gaming needs.

        Not only does it have ample power, it also has a speedy 14″ 120Hz screen along with a matte finish to help keep away as much glare as possible to be usable in various lighting conditions.

    • Server

      • Kubic with Kubernetes 1.20.0 released

        The Kubic Project is proud to announce that Snapshot 20201211 has been released containing Kubernetes 1.20.0.

      • Top 6 Linux server distributions for your data center

        Linux powers the enterprise. From the cloud to containers and to the backbone of your network, Linux is there working tirelessly to keep your business humming. Whether you use Linux in your AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, or your on-premise data center, you use Linux.

        But what distribution? You’ve either gone one of two routes: You’ve selected a single company (such as Ubuntu, Red Hat, or SUSE) to supply you with a Linux distribution, or you’ve gone the mix-and-match route to ensure that each distribution serves a specific function and does it to perfection.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Kernel Space

      • Micron’s HSE Open-Source Storage Engine Hits v1.9 – Phoronix

        Announced earlier this year by Micron was the HSE open-source storage engine aimed for low-latency, speed-performance on modern SSD storage and ideal for powering the likes of NoSQL databases. In squeezing out one more major release before year’s end, HSE 1.9 was released on Friday.

      • Maple Tree “RFC” Patches Sent Out As New Data Structure To Help With Linux Performance – Phoronix

        For over the past year there has been work on the new “Maple Tree” data structure led by Oracle for the Linux kernel and this week marked the patches being sent out in “request for comments” (RFC) form with the aim still on helping the kernel performance.

        Maple Tree amounts to a data structure that works well on modern CPUs and in an RCU-safe manner for storing index ranges that map to a single pointer. Oracle’s Liam Howlett sums up the Maple Tree data structure as “an RCU-safe range based B-tree designed to use modern processor cache efficiently. There are a number of places in the kernel that a non-overlapping range-based tree would be beneficial, especially one with a simple interface. The first user that is covered in this patch set is the vm_area_struct rbtree in the mm_struct with the long term goal of reducing the contention of the mmap_sem. The tree has a branching factor of 10 for non-leaf nodes and 16 for leaf nodes. With the increased branching factor, it is significantly short than the rbtree so it has fewer cache misses.”

      • Intel’s Newest Linux Driver Is For Radio Frequency Interference Mitigation – Phoronix

        Adding to the new features coming for Linux 5.11, the Intel “RFIM” driver has been queued up as the company’s latest open-source driver. The RFIM driver tweaks the DDR memory rates and fully integrated voltage regulator stemming if believed to be causing WiFi/5G interference.

        Intel’s RFIM INT340X thermal driver is for Radio Frequency Interference Mitigation. This driver is used for tweaking the fully integrated voltage regulator (FIVR) and DDR frequencies in order to avoid radio frequency interference with WiFi and 5G wireless.

        For modern laptops and other small form factor devices using Intel SoCs, this driver can have the SoC’s integrated voltage regulator switch frequencies by a small percent to avoid the noise harmonic interference with 5G/WiFi. The driver can tweak the IVR operation just enough that it doesn’t interfere but without impacting the performance of the voltage regulator.

    • Applications

      • 11 Best Free and Open Source Linux Password Managers

        A password manager is a utility which helps users store and retrieve passwords and other data. Most password managers use a local database to hold the encrypted password data.

        In modern society, people face a bamboozling amount of information to retain. Most people read a considerable amount of information online on a regular basis. Whether you conduct business online, read for your job, or just read for pleasure, the internet is a vast source of information. Retaining that information on a long-term basis can be difficult. However, some nuggets of information need to be recalled quickly. Passwords are one such example.

      • Ventoy 1.0.30 – Neowin

        Ventoy is an open source tool to create bootable USB drive for ISO/WIM/IMG/VHD(x)/EFI files. With Ventoy, you don’t need to format the disk over and over, you just need to copy the ISO/WIM/IMG/VHD(x)EFI files to the USB drive and boot them directly. You can copy many files at a time and ventoy will give you a boot menu to select them. Both Legacy BIOS and UEFI are supported in the same way. Most type of OS supported (Windows/WinPE/Linux/Unix/Vmware/Xen…)

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • How to Install Kdenlive Video Editor 20.12 in Ubuntu 20.04, 20.10 | UbuntuHandbook

        KDE announced its December 2020 apps update including Kdenlive 20.12 two days ago. Here’s how to install it in Ubuntu via PPA.

        Kdenlive 20.12 is a big release with many new features, stability improvements, various mix and transition fixes.

      • How to Convert CentOS Linux 8 to CentOS Stream [3 Steps]

        CentOS Stream is a continuously delivered Linux distro, which tracks ahead of RHEL. It will have rolling release ie changes are made constantly.

        CentOS is going to be an upstream build that will have testing patches and updates. With the end of the year 2021, Centos Linux 8 will end, the best option is to migrate to CentOS Stream 8.

        CentOS 6 reached the end of life (EOL) on November 30, 2020. Redhat will continue to update CentOS Linux 7 till June 30, 2024. But there won’t be any CentOS 9 release anymore.

        Are you currently using CentOS Linux 8 and like to convert to CentOS Stream, then follow the below steps.

      • RHCE Ansible Series #11: Managing Systems With Ansible
      • How to Change Time Zone in Linux – TecAdmin

        A time zone refers to the local time of a region or a country. Generally each country uses one time zone but few of the countries shares multiple time zones due to its geological areas.

        It is always an important thing to set a correct time zone in your system. Many of applications are build with time crucial. So it is necessary to set correct time zone to work application correctly.

        This tutorial will help you to check current time zone of system and also set the new time zone on Linux based systems.

      • How To Install WordPress on Debian 10 – idroot

        In this tutorial, we will show you how to install WordPress on Debian 10. For those of you who didn’t know, WordPress is the most popular open-source blogging and CMS platform worldwide, powering a quarter of all websites on the Internet today. It is based on PHP and MySQL and packs a ton of features that can be extended with free and premium plugins and themes. WordPress is the simplest way to create your website or blog.

        This article assumes you have at least basic knowledge of Linux, know how to use the shell, and most importantly, you host your site on your own VPS. The installation is quite simple and assumes you are running in the root account, if not you may need to add ‘sudo‘ to the commands to get root privileges. I will show you through the step by step installation of WordPress free and opensource CMS on a Debian 10 (Buster).

      • du command in Linux with Useful Examples – TecAdmin

        du is the short of disk uses. Which means the du command calculates the size on disk used by a files. It is the basic Linux command frequently used the Linux system users.

      • How to create encrypted partitions on Linux with GNOME Disks – Neowin

        Some of most popular Linux distributions including Ubuntu, Linux Mint and Fedora come with a disk and partition manager tool called GNOME Disks, a tool developed by the GNOME project. While it’s packed with features, one interesting capability that’s a bit tucked away is disk encryption; this can be used to create secure partitions on your hard drive or create an encrypted USB device.

      • How to install Blender CAD software on MX linux – Linux Shout

        Blender is a free and open-source CAD software for 3D animation, modeling, motion graphics, texturing, computer games, UV unwrapping, and more.

        It is a professional open-source program and an alternative to commercial software such as Maya or Cinema 4D and imports or exports standard formats such as OBJ, FBX, 3DS, PLY, and STL.

        Blender also can be used as a video editing software. We can perform various editing tasks such as cutting videos, apply transition effects, use picture-in-picture effects, display 3D or 2D graphics, or add a soundtrack.

        Here we will let you know the simple steps to install Blender on MX Linux using the command line and graphical package installer. The below steps can be used for Ubuntu, Elementary, and Linux Mint as well.

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

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

      • 30 Basic commands which every Linux user should know

        It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced Linux user. This Basic command you should know.

        Just bookmark this page because you require this command will work for daily use.

        Let’s start the basics command journey

        1. pwd Command
        We use the pwd command when we want to know the name of the current working directory.

        Syntax

        trendoceans@LINUX:~$ pwd
        Output

        /home/trendoceans

        When you pass the pwd command in the terminal, you will get the full path of the current working directory.

        It will always start from the forward Slash (/) after that directory name.

    • Wine or Emulation

      • Wine 6.0 comes closer with a second Release Candidate

        The Wine compatibility layer is closing in on a big new release, with the second Release Candidate now available for testing on Wine 6.0.

        Since they’re attempting to fix up major and annoying issues for the 6.0 release, no big new features are being pulled in. Instead, they use this time just for bug fixing. With that in mind this release notes a total of 40 bugs marked off the very long list, some newly fixed and some fixed a while ago that got fresh testing.

    • Games

      • 0 A.D Is A Superb Free (As In Freedom) Game – DT LIVE

        0 A.D is a free and open source real-time strategy game, similar in spirit to Age of Empires. I am not much of a gamer, and 0 A.D is not something that I often win at, but I do enjoy playing this game. And I love promoting open source games, especially those that are native to Linux.

      • Godot Engine set to get better VR support with a new hire thanks to Facebook | GamingOnLinux

        Godot Engine, the free and open source game engine for 2D and 3D games is getting a nice VR boost – thanks to Facebook Reality Labs. We can expect great things from this by the sounds of it.

        Admittedly, anything with Facebook attached ends up raising a few eyebrows over here but we are talking about open source and the work will benefit everyone. Writing in a blog post on the Godot website, Project Manager Rémi Verschelde mentioned that Facebook has given the team a grant which has enabled them to hire developer Bastiaan Olij, who will be working on Godot full time as of February 2021.

      • Make some sweet honey in the 1 year anniversary update to beehive builder Hive Time | GamingOnLinux

        Hive Time, the sweet beehive building and management sim from Cheeseness hits the one year mark, celebrates with a new upgrade and a fresh little trailer.

      • Hollow Knight on Linux | Ubuntu 20.04 | Native – YouTube

        Hollow Knight running natively on Linux.

      • Cyberpunk 2077 is playable on Linux right now, but it’s not the best

        Well, ProtonDB — a community-driven database that is dedicated to software, says Cyberpunk 2077 is playable on Linux but it has various audio and graphical issues. Valve developers have been working on their Proton software, which acts as a compatibility layer allowing Linux operating systems to run DirectX games through Steam.

        It’s not perfect and some can’t even get it to play, but Valve’s Proton software allows Cyberpunk 2077 right now — but for AMD Radeon gamers only. But there are people saying that with the GeForce 455 drivers, Cyberpunk 2077 works on Proton.

      • Open Source Game Achievements with Gamerzilla

        Gamerzilla is a multitude of pieces. The web interface is served by Hubzilla, a federated social network service. Hubzilla has extensive addon capabilities which could implement game achievements. Perhaps the biggest contributing factor to choosing Hubzilla was FreeGameDev site setting up an instance.

        Asking developers to interact with a web interface probably wouldn’t get much traction. LibGamerzilla is a C library that handles interfacing with the Hubzilla instance. It should be as easy for developers to use as the Steam API.

        However that would still require every game to add a setting page where you specify your Hubzilla instance and login information. No one wants to do that. Instead LibGamerzilla can also be added to a game launcher like Lutris or GameHub. Connection information would be configured once and the launcher would relay all achievements to the Hubzilla instance. If you don’t want to upload your data, no problem the game launcher saves data locally and could display your achievements.

        Everything is saved locally and synchronized. If you play a game without the game launcher running, it will synchronise next time you run it from the game launcher. You can also play offline and upload achievements at a later date.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • This week in KDE: Usability bonanza

          This week we focused a lot on the little usability details that make software a joy to use! A lot of really exciting longer-term work is underway too, some of which you can read about on Vlad Zahorodnii’s blog. But that stuff is still in progress, so until it’s merged, check out this stuff…

          Have a look at https://community.kde.org/Get_Involved to discover ways to be part of a project that really matters. Each contributor makes a huge difference in KDE; you are not a number or a cog in a machine! You don’t have to already be a programmer, either. I wasn’t when I got started. Try it, you’ll like it! We don’t bite!

          Finally, consider making a tax-deductible donation to the KDE e.V. foundation.

        • KDE’s Development Focus Ahead Of The Holidays Has Been About Better Usability

          KDE developer Nate Graham is out with his weekly development summary highlighting the desktop project’s changes for the week. WebRTC support with the screencast code in Plasma now works on Wayland, but the Plasma Wayland changes are lighter than we’ve seen in recent weeks. Instead the emphasis this week seems to have been on enhancing KDE’s usability.

        • Release Announcements KDE Frameworks 5.77.0

          KDE Frameworks are 83 addon libraries to Qt which provide a wide variety of commonly needed functionality in mature, peer reviewed and well tested libraries with friendly licensing terms. For an introduction see the KDE Frameworks release announcement.

          This release is part of a series of planned monthly releases making improvements available to developers in a quick and predictable manner.

        • KDE Frameworks 5.77 Released with More Than 250 Fixes and Improvements

          KDE Frameworks 5.77 packs a month’s worth of improvements, bug fixes and new features to make your KDE Plasma and Apps experience much better and more reliable than ever.

          There are more than 250 changes included in this monthly update, but below I’m gonna highlight some of the most important ones. First, the usability improvements as KDE Frameworks 5.77 makes it possible to send multiple files to a Bluetooth device. Moreover, a new option in the standard file overwrite dialog will let you overwrite older files automatically, and it’s once again possible to navigate to other folders with the keyboard in URL navigators.

        • OSM Opening Hours Integration in KDE Itinerary

          I recently wrote about KOpeningHours, a new library to parse and interpret OSM opening hours expressions. Here is now how we make use of this in KDE Itinerary.

          [...]

          At this point I considered the opening hours topic sufficiently covered, just leaving the standard KDE review process to be done for integrating this into the 21.04 release service.

          Then I however got contacted by an OSM contributor, who, after having imported the opening hours of all French post offices into OSM and finding himself confronted with a number of false-positive warnings by the OSM validator, was looking into improving the Osmose OSM validator for opening hours expressions. KOpeningHours was apparently performing quite well during an evaluation for this, and is therefore being considered as a parser for the validator.

      • GNOME Desktop/GTK

        • Learning Dvorak keyboard layout · GeekSocket

          Earlier I practiced QWERTY on GNU Typist. This time I tried Klavaro, and I really liked it. On Fedora it can be installed with sudo dnf install klavaro. It is a GUI application with different levels like basic, adaptability, speed and fluidity. It guides the user step by step with visual instructions. You can also see a graph of your progress.

          [...]

          After reaching to 30 WPM, I was subconsciously typing with QWERTY sometimes. I started to use Dvorak on weekends and decided to switch to it. That helped me to overcome the issue of typing QWERTY. This was after 2 months since I started practicing.

          I faced one issue with GNOME when I added ‘English (Dvorak)’ as a second layout. While Ctrl key is pressed, the layout gets switched back to primary one [‘English (US)’ in my case]. This happens only with applications running natively on Wayland. Setting the Dvorak layout as primary input source (dragging it to the top of the list) mitigates the issue. Take a look at GNOME/gtk#1825, Mozilla Bug 1644502 for more details.

        • GVls and Code Style diagnostics – Daniel Espinosa

          Vala-Linter has merged my contribution to convert it to a library, while it has been integrated into GVls, the GNOME Vala Language Server, to diagnose coding style “errors” based on elementary’s one.

          Just now found GVls is crashing, that wasn’t the case for a while, and that is because the way #ValaLinter uses @vala_lang’s library, I think. While the recovery is fast enough, I don’t like that situation.

          Vala-Linter can be executed as a command line, that may is harder to use, but if the crashing is too frequent that may needs to be used by GVls to reduce the effect of crashing or just because a software crash is not good.

          Vala’s library is used in its internal Unit Test System, that catch any crash or undesirable behavior. The harder part on having a Unit Type system is to find a way to reproduce an issue and fix it; then write the test to make sure it has gone away, while in the future the test will be executed on any change you made in your code, ensuring the issue is not back.

          GVls was used by Vala’s library to fix lot of warnings; the warnings don’t prevent Vala’s compiler to work, but make GVls to fail on its Unit Test system, so an external code test was created, to test your entire code in GVls and find an issue not present in the tests cases in GVls, currently more than 90.

    • Distributions

      • IPFire Wireless Access Point: Introducing WPA3

        Today we are releasing an update to the wireless access point feature of IPFire: WPA3

        The new standard to secure wireless connections is arriving. Since we are all spending more time in the office or at home working our way through the pandemic, we want it to do as comfortable as possible – and secure, too!

        I am sure most of you remember the days of WEP and WPA1. Breaking them was part of the daily tech news cycle and hopefully nobody is running networks like that any more. WEP has been designed in the late nineties, based on RC4 and artificially weakened because of laws that limited exporting cryptography from the United States. It was therefore easy to implement in hardware, but broken very quickly.

      • New Releases

        • Rescuezilla 2.1 Makes It Easier to Extract Files from Backups, Based on Ubuntu 20.10

          Rescuezilla 2.1 comes two months after version 2.0, but it’s not just a point release. In fact, this is a major update to Rescuezilla, which has been rebased on the latest Ubuntu 20.10 (Groovy Gorilla) operating system.

          The biggest change in this release is the introduction of the Image Explorer utility that makes it easier to extract files from backup images by allowing you to mount partclone images. While still in beta, Image Explorer is currently based on partclone-nbd, but future versions will be based on partclone-utils.

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • After Rocky Linux, We Have Another RHEL Fork in Works to Replace CentOS

          Enterprise oriented Linux server distribution CloudLinux has announced that they are also working on an open sourced, community fork of RHEL to replace CentOS.

        • Project Lenix – CentOS Fork Announced by CloudLinux Team

          Well, this seems another good news for many CentOS users. The CloudLinux Team announces that they plans to fork RHEL and create a CentOS like distribution named ProjectLenix.

        • GoComply with OSCAL & FedRAMP :: Introduction to oscalkit

          This is the third post of the GoComply series that introduces open source pipeline to produce and process OSCAL and FedRAMP documents. If You want to achieve continuous compliance at the lowest possible cost, GoComply project is here to help. With GoComply, You will rely on open source tooling and your data will be stored in standardized formats and thus you will have a enough head room and knee room to achieve your organizational goals.

        • GoComply with OSCAL & FedRAMP :: Introduction to metaschema

          This is the fourth post of the GoComply series that introduces open source pipeline to produce and process OSCAL and FedRAMP documents.

        • IWB, IBM Emeritus: Why Business Transformation Efforts Often Fail

          A 2019 study found that the average digitization level across all industry sectors was only around 25% of their ultimate potential. But, the pandemic has now made the case for accelerating the digital transformations firms and economies were forced to make to help them cope with the crisis. But, how successful are such major transformation likely to be?

          A few months ago I received an email from the Harvard Business Review recommending a classic article from its 50 Best Selling collection that could shed light on this important and timely question, – Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail, originally published in 1995 by (now emeritus) Harvard professor John Kotter.

          “Over the past decade, I have watched more than 100 companies try to remake themselves into significantly better competitors,” wrote Kotter. These included large and small organizations, US and non-US based, some that were on their knees and some that were doing quite well. “But, in almost every case, the basic goal has been the same: to make fundamental changes in how business is conducted in order to help cope with a new, more challenging market environment.”

          [...]

          In an interview at a 2007 conference, then WSJ technology columnist Walter Mossberg asked me whether IBM’s near-death experience in the early 1990s was a major factor in the company’s subsequent successful transformation while so many other IT companies didn’t make it. It clearly was.

          Transformative change is very difficult for established companies. Already consumed with managing their existing operations, they may see the transformations needed to keep up with rapidly changing technologies and markets as more of a distraction than an opportunity. But, a major crisis should be an opportunity to implement the actions needed to survive. As Rahm Emanuel famously said in a 2008 interview: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”

        • How long will be CentOS Stream supported?

          If you were like me, you had hard time finding how long exactly is the new CentOS Stream going to be supported. Carl George from the CentOS Project gave me the following answer.

          CentOS should be supported roughly 5-6 years.

        • Need a stable, RHEL-compatible alternative to CentOS? Three reasons to consider Oracle Linux

          Since the debut of Oracle Linux release 4, in 2006, it has been completely free to use and easy to download. Major and update release have been free for more than 14 years. Errata releases have been freely available since 2012. Free source code, free binaries, free updates, free errata, freely redistributable – without having to sign any documents with Oracle and no need to remove trademarks and copyrights – and free for production use.

        • Oracle Linux Looking To Attract CentOS Users Looking For Alternatives

          In light of this week’s major bombshell that CentOS 8 is being EOL’ed next year and CentOS focusing on “CentOS Stream” as the upstream to RHEL, Oracle is hoping at least some of those frustrated CentOS users will transition to Oracle Linux.

          Oracle Linux has been tracking RHEL upstream and with their Red Hat Compatible Kernel is quite close to the vanilla RHEL/CentOS state. Oracle does offer support services around Oracle Linux but the distribution itself is available as a free download. Lately, Oracle Linux has been quicker in re-basing against new RHEL releases than CentOS itself. Hence why in our article earlier this week about CentOS 8 going away, Oracle Linux is worth mentioning as an alternative.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • FSF

        • GNU Projects

          • Power up your Linux terminal text editor with ed

            The GNU ed command is a line editor. It’s considered the standard Unix text editor because it was the very first text editor for Unix, and so it was (and generally still is) available on any POSIX system. In some ways, it’s easy to tell that it was the first because, in many ways, it’s extremely rudimentary. Unlike most other text editors, it doesn’t open in a window or screen of its own, and in fact, by default, it doesn’t even prompt the user for input. On the other hand, its near lack of any interface can also be a strength. It’s a functional editor that can be controlled with short instructions either interactively or through a script.

      • Programming/Development

        • 15 Open-source Full-Text Search Engine Solutions for developers

          Full-Text Search is a technical term referred to advanced linguistic text query for a database or text documents. The search engine examines all the words stored in a document as it tries to match certain search criteria giving by the user.

          Many web websites depend on Full-text search to perform advanced search operations.

          As a new trend, many developers and companies tend to create static websites instead of dynamic database-driven ones. In both cases they can use Full-Text search with help of several libraries and services.

          Some cloud-based services offer Full-Text search as a service likeAlgolia.com. However, open-source alternatives can save time and resources as provide better control for enterprise.

        • OpenBLAS 0.3.13 Released With A RISC-V Port, POWER10 Optimizations – Phoronix

          OpenBLAS 0.3.13 was released today as the newest update to this leading open-source BLAS (and LAPACK) implementation.

        • AMD AOMP 11.12 Released For OpenMP Offloading To Radeon GPUs – Phoronix

          Last week there was the release of AOCC 2.3 as AMD’s LLVM Clang downstream focused on Zen-optimized support. Meanwhile on the graphics side of the house, this week ushered in AOMP 11.12 as their LLVM Clang downstream focused on Radeon OpenMP GPU offloading.

          AOMP continues maturing as the company’s downstream of LLVM Clang that allows OpenMP offloading to Radeon hardware. AMD has been working to upstream their Radeon OMP patches into LLVM, but at least until that’s all perfect, AOMP is continuing to advance. Friday’s release of AOMP 11.12 follows the recent ROCm 3.10 for which this compiler is now re-based against those sources. We are also still expecting ROCm 4.0 to be released in the coming days after being announced last month at SC20.

        • Perl/Raku

        • Python

          • Firebird python3 driver status

            The firebird-driver package provides driver for Python 3.8+ and Firebird 3+. This driver uses new Firebird OO API provided by fbclient library. You can download it or install directly from Python Package Index.

            To use the driver you can start with the Getting Started from documentation area

            A few more examples are in Usage Guide from documentation area

            Please note, that his new driver requires Firebird 3+ and Python 3.8+. This “high” base line was chosen deliberately, to use all new features available from latest Firebird & Python releases without constraints and limits that backward compatibility would require. Internally, the driver uses new client API based on interfaces introduced by Firebird 3. This new API has many limits raised (like statement sizes, blob sizes etc.) or completely lifted (like number of databases participating in distributed transaction), and provides access to new Firebird features (like scrollable cursors).

        • Rust

          • Advent of Rust 11: Can I Pretend to Write Python Instead?

            I’m starting to run out of substantially different lead paragraphs to write about this latest installment of the chronicle of trying to teach myself the Rust programming language by completing the programming puzzles on Advent of Code 2020, so let’s just get to it!

  • Leftovers

    • Electric Talk Therapy

      1) This story is 100% true, told as faithfully as I can tell it.

      2) I was set up for this completely unexpected experience by: 1) the horrible social and psychic realities of the Covid pandemic; and 2) intensive reading of Carl G. Jung’s work in November 2020, concerning dreams and accessing available unconscious resources to help deal with life’s challenges (The Red Book and Modern Man in Search of a Soul, specifically).

    • An Icy Rally With Burning Demands

      But sadness can intrude here too. In Wilkau-Hasslau (in southern Saxony, pop. 9,656), the candy factory was a main employer since 1898. Publicly-owned in the GDR era until 1990, it offered about 300 jobs. With German “unification” HARIBO took over and cut that in half. Now its West German owners decided to shut down their only remaining plant in East Germany; modernization of their plant near Bonn makes it superfluous. Neither 13,000 protest signatures nor pleas by the mayor or even Saxony’s Minister President disturbed their “happy world”. The bitter locals could tell them where to stuff those cute little gummies!

      HARIBO won success in a very small market niche. A renowned American firm is angling higher – for the entire world retail market! Amazon, in its German section, hires about 6,000 people plus 10,000 temporary workers for the current boom – and stubbornly defies union organization.

    • Of Thee I Sing

      These are the fundamental premises of journalist and stringed instrument player Richard Manning’s eminently readable and fascinating new book If It Sounds Good, It is Good: Seeking Subversion, Transcendence, and Solace in America’s Music. To be honest, the title is slightly misleading; this book is about more than just American music even though its primary focus is on the Delta blues, hillbilly hollers, gospel exhilarations and the miscegenation of them all. Manning discusses the psychology of music and its potentially healing medicine. He also shares stories about women and men he has encountered through playing music and all that can become associated with that practice. Throughout the text, a thread develops linking US history, politics, loves and hatreds together like a river and its tributaries or a highway and the roads that feed into it as the asphalt meanders across the country east to west or north to south.

      As even a dilatory read of US cultural history reveals, certain highways that crisscross the north American continent are not only legendary, they were instrumental to various periods of that history. Two that come easily to mind are Route 66 and Highway 61. For the purposes discussed here and in Manning’s text, it is the latter which is most important. Not only is Highway 61 part of the title of a Bob Dylan album and a song, it is the road that links the Mississippi delta to the north and vice versa. People and their music that traveled along this road define much of what is considered roots American music; the music that oozes much of what is identified with the US of A. Slavery, Jim Crow, industrialization, hard times, the open road, loose women and easy men, union battles and corporate greed—the whole shebang, as it were. Grateful Dead and Kerouac biographer Dennis McNally covered this highway and its meaning in greater detail in his 2015 masterwork On Highway 61: Music, Race and the Evolution of Cultural Freedom. Manning includes that text in his bibliography. The highway’s essential role in the drama of US history carries on.

    • The Wrong Mank

      Played by Gary Oldman in a scenery-chewing performance that impressed most critics, Mank is always coming up with some arch, overly clever dialog that has about as much relationship to the way that people speak as I do with running in a marathon. When the secretary learns that Mank was a frequent guest of William Randolph Hearst, she asks him what his mistress Marion Davies was like. He replies: “Why is it when you scratch a prim, starchy schoolgirl, you get a swooning motion picture fan who has forgotten all she learned about the Battle of Hastings.” The secretary, of course, is the starchy schoolgirl and his reference to the Battle of Hastings was a put-down since he assumed she knew nothing about it. She immediately shows him up by identifying the day it took place, which is the kind of drama you can expect from this film.

      I had a sense of déjà vu watching the patronizing and obnoxious behavior of Mank. Where did I see such a character before? All of a sudden it hit me. The friction between Mank and his two female aides was straight out of “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” the 1942 film that featured Monty Woolley as Sheridan Whiteside—a famous radio personality on a speaking tour. When he falls on the ice in front of the house where he is to be a dinner guest, he breaks his leg. Carried into the house, he insists on remaining there until he heals. People love this film because Whiteside, like Mank, is always coming up with pithy observations that seem more at home in a theater than in a film.

    • Who Will Be Labor Secretary?

      Some will doubtless carp that lefties like Reich or Sanders will never snag senate approval. Well, for once the Dems could play hardball. Biden could use the Vacancies Act to appoint someone for 300 days, if he times making the appointment during the 60 days after his inauguration, because the act allows him to name someone to serve “during the pendency of a nomination.” If Mitch McConnell’s senate won’t consider Sanders or Reich, for instance, fine. Let Biden ignore these reactionary corporatists and appoint a progressive acting secretary. A labor secretary can do a lot of good in a year. Then later Biden might be able to make a recess appointment of Sanders or Reich – and recess appointments can last as long as two years. It could require a lot of finagling, but it’s doable, if there’s a will. Of course, if the Dems win the Georgia senate races, thus regaining senate control, then they have no excuse not to appoint a progressive labor secretary.

      It’s no secret that labor has taken a beating in the past four and a half decades. Hostile supreme court rulings, the general absence of pro-union legislation and labor’s inability to erase anti-union laws, specifically Taft-Hartley – which prohibits wildcat strikes, secondary boycotts, solidarity strikes, closed shops, mass picketing and direct union donations to federal political campaigns – all emaciated the labor movement. As a result, the standard of living for working-class Americans plunged. Without union protections, the curse of precarity, i.e. gig employment, flourishes like poison ivy in labor’s garden. The number of people working two or three jobs just to stay afloat mushroomed. The U.S. became one of the most economically unequal countries on the globe. These evils all spring from anti-union soil, from mind-numbing free-market religion and from plutocrats consciously waging class war, and winning, while workers get clobbered.

    • Seeing Hillbillies

      Why? Viewing human complexity and vulnerability in capitalist society helps me to understand what I have experienced. That is, after all, the basis of my consciousness.

      Each familial relationship in Hillbilly Elegy is complex in its own way, a bit like Tolstoy’s take on the similarities of troubled families. Accordingly, the family members in Hillbilly Elegy experience life events that resonated with me.

    • Rossi, the Man With the Rapier Thrust

      Paolo Rossi’s achievement was, unlike Maradona’s four years later, also due to a team which hit peak form at the right time, the business-end of the tournament. If anything, while Diego Maradona carried the Argentinian team almost single handed, the 1982 Italian team carried Paolo Rossi as a virtual passenger throughout the group stage. It was players such as Bruno Conti and Marco Tardelli (his room-mate in Spain), as well the famed Juventus defence, which enabled the Italians to edge through the group phase without winning, but neither losing, a single game. Rossi, who had earlier caught the eye as a free scoring centre forward first with Vicenza and then on loan at Perugia, still reeling from the death of their player, Renato Curi, had been banned from football for two years. He had been implicated in the calcio scommesse betting scandal, a charge he refuted, always protesting his innocence. He missed the European Championship on home soil after having earned raving notices for the Italian team at the 1978 World Cup where Italy finished fourth, beating eventual winners, Argentina in the first group phase. Rossi, alongside Roberto Bettega, stole the show in the first rounds and part of the second group phase, scoring goals and moving freely assisted by players drawn from the team he would eventually join and play for exactly following the 1982 triumph – Juventus. Unlike in Spain, Italy started that campaign in Argentina like a house on fire until their brilliance tapered off and they ended losing a lead and match in what was virtually a semi-final against a Cruyff-less Holland side. Rossi started out as a member of the Juventus youth squad and played for Italy at that level.

      By then, the end of Argentina 1978, Rossi had already earned himself star billing as one of the deadliest strikers in world football. He had set Serie A alight in season 1977-78 with his goal-scoring exploits with unfashionable Vicenza, or Lanerossi Vicenza, as they were known then, but with little impact in European club football, immediately after the 1978 Argentine expedition, as his Veneto club could not get past the UEFA Cup first round; they lost to Czech outfit, Dukla Prague. The following year (1979-80), playing for Perugia against Aris Salonica in the first round of the UEFA Cup, he would be on the receiving end of a 0-3 home reversal after opening the scoring, in the away leg in Thessaloniki, with a typical opportunist goal, a deft slight touch to a low cross in a 1-1draw.

    • How to cope with virtual meeting fatigue

      Throughout much of 2020, virtual meetings have been a major part of our lives. This is new for many of us—while we may have participated in webinars or other virtual meetings on occasion, we have never relied on our webcams for doing our day-to-day work.

    • Education

      • Failing Students Need Support, Not Blame

        The Washington Post reports that an unprecedented number of students are failing classes, but asks whether standard A-F grading, as opposed to a simple Pass/Fail, is fair during a pandemic. I think the question is bigger than that.

        My questions are: What should our role be as teachers? And what prepares students best for future success in life?

    • Health/Nutrition

      • St. Petersburg restaurant owners take down ‘Resistance Map’ after just two days

        The creators of the “Resistance Map” project — a group of restaurants and bars in St. Petersburg, planning to operate over the New Year holidays despite official orders to close to prevent the spread of COVID-19 — have announced that they are shutting down their website:

      • Tom Vilsack Is the Reason Urban and Rural Progressives Must Unite to Fight Corporate Agribusiness Control Over Democracy

        If progressives ever want to gain more votes in rural America, they must rid the Democratic Party of the Corporate Agribusiness stranglehold over everything rural and strike fear into any politician who attempts to pander to those interests.

      • What If Trump Had Worn (and Marketed) a Mask?

        Was this inevitable? It’s not like this particular topic has been a hot button issue for decades like feminism or fluoride or gays. Surgical masks have been absent from the last half century of culture wars, unmentioned by Phyllis Schlafly, Ronald Reagan or Alex Jones.

        So, having been off the table this whole time, the mask “issue” was up for grabs and I venture to suggest that it could have gone the other way. In an alternate universe, Republicans would now be die-hard mask-wearers and Democrats… well, I’m not so sure.

      • Russia set to roll out second coronavirus vaccine ‘EpiVacCorona’

        Russia’s second coronavirus vaccine, “EpiVacCorona,” is about to be made available to the general public, announced Rospotrebnadzor head Anna Popova, on Friday, December 11.

      • Does the Chicken Price Fixing Scandal Surprise Anyone?

        The landscape is getting worse because the food behemoths are increasingly privatized. The USDA continues to allow chicken producers and meat producers in general to essentially self-police, a phenomenon which began with the institution of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point or HACCP. Why let humane or hygiene considerations slow down profits?  It should surprise no one that government meat inspectors can be ignored or ridiculed at these privatized slaughter plants…when they don’t unabashedly switch loyalties.

        How bad is the situation in U.S. slaughterhouses which mainstream media like to sanitize by calling food “packing” or “processing” plants? While the nation was busy watching Covid, the USDA allowed the top chicken slaughter plants to increase kill line speeds from 140 birds a minute to 175 birds per minute or three birds a second. Think about that. In addition to worker injuries and Covid transmission, this condemns even more birds to be boiled alive because they miss the stunner.

      • Get the Feds Out of the Way of Cannabis Reform

        Fifteen states, home to 25 percent of the U.S. population, have legalized the possession and use of marijuana by anyone over the age of 21. Most states now allow some form of medicinal use.

        Federal law, which mandates that possessing any amount of cannabis is a criminal offense, is woefully out of sync with these policies. Each year, this chasm between state and federal policies grows wider.

      • Biden’s Pick of Tom Vilsack to Head USDA Is a Missed Opportunity
      • Dunking on a 7′ hoop, or: Refuting Dr. Vinay Prasad’s attack on medical skepticism

        Skeptics, like Rodney Dangerfield, “don’t get no respect, no respect at all,” at least not from academics. This lack of respect for what we do (and for science communication in general) has historically ranged from indifference to outright disdain and contempt and is nothing new. For example, Carl Sagan’s fame and science communication negatively impacted his career. Arguably, nowhere has this been more true than in the branch of skepticism dealing with medical claims and quackery; in other words, the very branch with which I’m most associated. Basically, there remains a prevalent attitude out there among all too many physicians, particularly academics, that countering quacks and antivaxxers is just so damned easy that it’s not worth our precious time as physicians.  To some extent, that attitude is changing, a process that, from my perspective, began with the growing prominence of the antivaccine movement several years ago, resulting in measles outbreaks, and accelerated with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US earlier this year and the tsunami of medical misinformation and quack cures that followed. Even so, the more things change, the more they stay the same, at least in some ways, which brings us to the case of someone whom I like to refer to as the very eminent rising star in oncology, Dr. Vinay Prasad.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Security

          • Dassault subsidiary in US hit by Windows Ragnar Locker ransomware

            Dassault Falcon Jet, a US subsidiary of the 91-year-old French aviation firm Dassault Aviation, has taken a hit from a gang of cyber criminals using the Windows Ragnar Locker ransomware.

          • Episode 238 – Door 13: Unlucky or survivor bias? – Open Source Security

            Josh and Kurt talk about the unluckiest man in the world and survivor bias

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Apple, Cloudflare Join Forces To Encrypt DNS

              Each time you visit a website, your browser interacts with a domain name system (DNS) resolver that converts web addresses to an IP address understood by the machines along your path. Historically however this traffic exchange isn’t encrypted, making it possible for your broadband provider or another third party to monitor your browsing data based on your DNS queries. DNS inventors in the 80s didn’t really bet on a future where all DNS queries would be tracked, monetized, or weaponized by third parties.

            • IPANDETEC Releases First Report Rating Nicaraguan Telecom Providers’ Privacy Policies

              The organization reviewed six companies: Claro Nicaragua, a subsidiary of the Mexican company America Móvil; Tigo Nicaragua, a subsidiary of Millicom International, headquartered in Luxembourg; Cootel Nicaragua, part of the Chinese Xinwei Group; Yota Nicaragua, a subsidiary of Rostejnologuii, a Russian company; IBW, part of IBW Holding S.A, which provides telecom services across Central America, and Ideay, a local Nicaraguan  company.

              The ¿Quién Defiende Tus Datos? report looks at whether the companies post data protection policies on their website, disclose how much personal data they collect from users, and whether, and how often, they share it with third parties. Companies are awarded stars for transparency in each of five categories, detailed below. Shining a light on these practices allows consumers to make informed choices about what companies they should entrust their data to.

              Main Findings

    • Defence/Aggression

      • After Senate Effort Fails, Biden Urged to Block ‘Corrupt and Dangerous’ $23 Billion Weapons Sale to UAE

        “Our government should not sell a single bullet to the UAE, much less billions of dollars in deadly military equipment.”

      • With Endless War Abroad and Endless Suffering at Home, Peace Group Warns Against Making NDAA Fight All About Trump

        “While we commend Congress for not ceding to Trump’s demands, particularly on the question of Confederate base names, we must not lose sight of the fact that the FY21 NDAA is about much more than that.”

      • Trump Deal to Trade Occupied Western Sahara for Morocco Normalizing Ties With Israel Denounced Worldwide

        “Only the people of Western Sahara can decide their own future as they have an inalienable right to self-determination recognized by the U.N.,” said one Sahrawi official.

      • Inspired by Columbine but driven by bullies Russia’s response to school shootings has overlooked underlying causes, says new ‘Mediazona’ report

        In a new article published by Mediazona, journalist Elizaveta Pestova argues that Russia’s response to increasingly common school shootings has been too heavy-handed. She spoke to multiple scholars who say the country’s authorities are ignoring the phenomenon’s underlying problems: bullying and a lack of support from parents and teachers. Meduza summarizes Pestova’s report.

      • “I Told You So. You Damned Fools”: 75 Years of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

        The commemorative issue is a compendium of highlights. Early attitudes to the atomic bomb are covered in the June 1947 issue of the Bulletin, with Sylvia Eberhart’s report. Eberhart had been tasked by Dr. Leonard S. Cottrell, Jr., subcommittee chair of the Committee on the Social Aspects of Atomic Energy of the Social Science Research Council, to compile the findings. Few Americans, she suggested, ventured to “depreciate the power of the bomb.” There was a universal emphasis on “its destructiveness.” A sense of the weapon’s normality was detected. “On the whole, it must be concluded from the survey that the threat of the bomb does not greatly preoccupy the people, and that they are not giving special attention to the issues in which it is involved.”

        Much of this might have been put down to ignorance. A third of those surveyed were unable to explain the role of the United Nations or know what it was designed to accomplish. This was all the more notable for the fact that the UN was meant to be responsible for the control of the bomb. Opposition to the UN having such control was notable in the survey, as it was perceived to be “giving the bomb secret away to foreign countries.”

      • Calls to “Abolish the Death Penalty” Grow as Trump’s Last-Minute Execution Spree Kills Brandon Bernard

        “In a world of incredible violence, the state should not be involved in premeditated murder,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders.

      • Case closed Putin says that the murders of Boris Nemtsov and Galina Starovoitova have been solved. Is that true?

        During a meeting with the Human Rights Council on Thursday, December 10, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the high-profile murders of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov and State Duma deputy Galina Starovoitova have been solved. In particular, he said that in addition to the perpetrators, the people who ordered the killings have been found. Meduza fact-checks Putin’s comment against previous criminal convictions in connection to both killings, as well as the most recent reports from state investigators.

      • Pukr: Palestinians, Uighurs, Kashmiris and Rohingyas

        PUKR also serves as an acronym for Palestinians, Uighurs, Kashmiris, and Rohingyas. These four peoples in various parts of the world are similarly situated in terms of pukr, that is, subjugation and suffering. Furthermore, these four peoples are predominantly Muslims. Studying their shared predicament may compromise the specifics of adversity that each population encounters, as there are varying degrees of persecution severity. Yet the study unfolds a shared script of cruelty containing siege, denativization substitution, and expulsion, and the failure of nations and international institutions to find meaningful solutions beyond selective condemnation.

        The following analysis reveals that the PUKR peoples are treated as non-natives in their ancestral homelands while the suppressive states alter the demographics, and they are subject to harsh military clampdown forcing many to leave homes and become stateless refugees. The suppressive states deny persecution or justify repressive measures; they defy international pressure and blame the PUKR peoples as the villains of peace and security. The mantra that the PUKR people spawn terrorists and jihadis has been so repeatedly chanted in unison that the clarity of oppression has been thoroughly muddled.

      • What is the United States of America? A Military Democracy

        The fiscal year 2021 defense budget comes in at a whopping $740.5 billion dollars. But there is more security to be had: The Department of Homeland Security will spend roughly $50 billion and the Department of Justice (houses the FBI) $30 billion. US intelligence agencies are expected to spend approximately $85 billion in 2021 with a new focus on China. That adds up to about $905 billion dollars.

        Merchant of Death, For Real

      • ‘US Leadership’—and Other Euphemisms for War

        Joe Biden doesn’t become president for a month and a half, but already sections of the corporate media are calling on him to use US power to dominate the world.

      • How US Sanctions Have Contributed to the 50K Dead of Coronavirus In Iran

        Iran suffers the worst pandemic outbreak in the Middle East.

      • The gateway to Africa Carnegie Moscow Center experts explain why Russia is setting up a naval base in Sudan

        In recent years, the main indicator of Russia’s military presence in Africa has been the activities of mercenaries and political consultants associated with Kremlin-linked oligarch Evgeny Prigozhin. But now, for the first time since the Soviet era, Moscow is set to make its presence official. In the near future, Russia will have a new naval base in Sudan, on the shores of the Red Sea. That said, it’s too early to talk about large-scale Russian expansion, to put it mildly, argue Africa specialists Andrey Maslov and Polina Slyusarchuk in an article for the Carnegie Moscow Center. In their opinion, this is largely a phantom threat created by Western media — and one that’s only supported by extreme patriots inside Russia itself. 

      • Trump’s Parting Shot at Yemen

        Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chris Murphy (D-CONN), and Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced the resolutions. Senate Joint Resolution 77 would have blocked the sale of up to 18 weapons-ready MQ-9B Reaper unmanned drones. Senate Joint Resolution 78 would have blocked the sale of 50 F-35 stealth warplanes, America’s most advanced fighter jet. (Senator Murphy notes that this is “the second-largest ever sale of U.S. drones to a single country.”)

        President Donald Trump vetoed similar resolutions twice in the past. This time he didn’t have to. In a mostly party-line vote, the two resolutions were defeated 46 to 50 (Reapers) and 47 to 49 (F-35s).

      • Biden’s Pentagon Pick: a Five-Sided Blunder

        First of all, civilian control of the military has been under attack since the unfortunate passage of the Goldwater-Nichols Act in 1986 that enhanced the political influence of the regional commanders-in-chief, such as General Anthony Zinni and David Petraeus, and marginalized the civilian leaders of the Department of Defense. These regional commanders became more influential than U.S. ambassadors and assistant secretaries of state. The Act created a more powerful chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, allowing the chairman to bypass the secretary of defense and personally brief the president on war plans.  Nevertheless, the Act passed the Senate with little discussion and without one vote of opposition.

        President Ronald Reagan’s strengthening of the uniformed military was at the expense of the Department of State.  President Bill Clinton further weakened the State Department by abolishing the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and the United States Information Service.  Clinton ignored the strong opposition of our diplomats when he pursued the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which continues to complicate U.S. relations with Russia.  President Barack Obama demonstrated too much deference to the military, particularly in his first term, which then Vice President Biden tried to prevent.

      • Don’t Cheer Trump’s 11th-Hour Troop Withdrawals

        Last Friday, the Pentagon announced that nearly all US military forces in Somalia, by order of the president, will leave the country by January 15. The announcement came on the heels of a similar decision in November to halve America’s military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, to about 2,500 personnel in each country. Together, the moves amount to a last-minute attempt by Trump, who will be replaced in the White House on January 20, to make good on his pledges to scale back foreign wars.

      • Cruz Aims to Use Trump’s False Claims of Fraud to Block Biden’s Appointments
      • Trumpists Are Ranting About Election Fraud as Americans Die of Covid
      • Trump Recognized Morocco’s Illegal Occupation to Boost the Israeli Occupation
      • U.S. Recognizes Morocco’s Occupation of Western Sahara in Latest Betrayal of Sahrawi People

        We continue to examine the U.S.-brokered deal between Morocco and Israel to normalize relations. As part of the deal, the U.S. will become the first country in the world to recognize Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, which Morocco has occupied since 1975 in defiance of the international community. We convene a roundtable to discuss developments: Mouloud Said, a representative of the Polisario Front in Washington; Stephen Zunes, professor of politics and international studies at the University of San Francisco; and Sahrawi journalist and activist Nazha El-Khalidi.

      • Palestinian Official Hanan Ashrawi: Trump’s Morocco-Israel Deal Legitimizes Land Theft & Occupation

        In a deal brokered by the Trump administration, Morocco and Israel have agreed to establish diplomatic relations. The United States has also agreed to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over occupied Western Sahara, the first country in the world to do so. Morocco has occupied much of the resource-rich territory since 1975 in defiance of the United Nations and the international community. Thousands of indigenous Sahrawis have been tortured, imprisoned, killed and disappeared while resisting the Moroccan occupation. Morocco is the fourth Arab nation to establish ties with Israel since August, part of a diplomatic push by the outgoing Trump administration to shore up international support for Israel. Palestinian diplomat and scholar Hanan Ashrawi says this latest agreement is legitimizing land theft. “This is part of a whole pattern of behavior, a process whereby the Trump administration has been acting as the errand boy for Israel in order to try to get as many victories, as many benefits, as many privileges for Israel,” she says.

      • Andrew Bacevich on Why Retired General and Raytheon Official Lloyd Austin Should Not Head Pentagon

        Joe Biden’s nominee for defense secretary, retired four-star Army General Lloyd Austin, would make history as the first African American to lead the Pentagon if confirmed by the Senate. But Austin can only be confirmed if he secures a waiver from Congress due to laws designed to preserve the civilian control of the military, and several leading Democratic senators have indicated they would oppose granting a waiver. Andrew Bacevich, president and co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, says he shares those concerns. “The general is not a civilian, and it seems to me if we’re serious about civilian control of the military — and we should be as citizens — that we ought to have a bona fide civilian in charge of the Pentagon,” he says.

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Environment

      • Why a “Re-Indigenization” of Society Makes Sense

        If we are to legitimately address a history of these inequalities and their historical consequences, “environmental destruction”, “genocide”, “racism”, “systemic warfare”, “human exploitation”, and “state system oppression”, we must begin by examining if progress means a continuation on our present path toward self-destruction. In part, I address some of the effects of these colossal man-made calamities in my new book, Epochal Reckonings (2020, Co-Winner of the Proverse Prize)—a poetic guide to some of our 21st century crises.

        What I wish to examine here is a re-thinking of ourselves on our planet earth, in relation to an indigenous understanding of “Mother Earth”. Moreover, I will argue while we have moved well beyond the likes of French philosopher René Descartes, for many reasons his intellectual legacy still remains as we struggle to come to terms with our environment and our heritage from the Agricultural Revolution.

      • Sea of Plastic

        Check out all installments in the OppArt series.

      • World still warms in 2020 as greenhouse gases fall

        Greenhouse gases have fallen during 2020. But that’s no reason for congratulations, in a year of climate drama.

      • Capitalism and the Green New Deal

        Optimism that the incoming Democratic administration will take decisive action to address environmental decline is misplaced. An analogy, in terms of the institutional and political backdrop and an alleged public purpose, is the Affordable Care Act. Sentiment amongst its supporters is that the ACA was better than nothing. In fact, the ACA did not improve health outcomes. What it accomplished was to secure the role of health insurance companies as healthcare intermediaries and increase executive pay. Thomas Ferguson’s ‘investment model,’ where policy favors are exchanged for political contributions, well predicted this outcome.

        The urgency of addressing environmental decline raises the conundrum of how to force political solutions by several degrees of magnitude. Electoral rhetoric had it that the Biden administration would be more amenable to political suasion than Donald Trump because Democrats are more ideologically aligned with the environmental Left. Right. It would be a mistake to assume that Democrats couldn’t (wouldn’t) make the current situation worse. The political accomplishment of the ACA was to convince half the electorate that important progress had been made when it hadn’t, and the other half that viewed the program as ‘socialism,’ that socialism doesn’t work.

      • ‘We Need to Get Off the Current Road to Hell,’ Say Former UN Climate Leaders

        Global ambition to avert climate catastrophe “must shift quickly to another scale, beyond recognition.”

      • Noting Nation’s Unparalleled Contributions to Global Crisis, 100+ Groups Push Biden to Commit US to ‘Fair Share’ of Climate Action

        The letter to the president-elect calls for not only rejoining the Paris agreement, but also “bold, equitable, and ambitious emissions reductions and a commitment to support less wealthy countries to do the same.”

      • Embracing Ecological Realism

        Does Joe Biden see his mission as merely reclaiming situation normal from Donald Trump? How aware is he of the big, beyond-our-lifetimes future and the crucial need to address climate change? Is he able to acknowledge that human “interests” go well beyond national borders? And if so, how much political traction would he have to have before he could begin turning vision into policy?

        A recent bit of news: The House just voted overwhelmingly in favor of the 2021 Pentagon budget: $740.5 billion. The vote was 335-78. More Democrats than Republicans gave it their blessing — in utter defiance of any sane recognition of true security, national or otherwise. This is situation normal in action, requiring nothing from a politician except limited thinking.

      • Energy

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • Apocalypse Cow: The Future of Life at Point Reyes National Park

          During the last Ice Age, 30,000 years ago, much of the Earth’s waters were locked up in glaciers, and the Pacific Ocean was 400 feet lower than it is today. “The Farallon Islands were then rugged hills rising above a broad, gently sloping plain with a rocky coastline lying to the west,” according to California Prehistory—Colonization, Culture, and Complexity.

          Humans migrated from Asia walking the coastal plains toward Tierra del Fuego. Then, 12,000 years ago, the climate warmed and glaciers melted. Seas rose, submerging the plains. A wave of immigrants flowed south from Asia over thawed land bridges. Their subsequent generations explored and civilized the Americas, coalescing into nations, including in West Marin and Point Reyes.

        • Gray Wolf Recovery and Survival Require Immediate Action by the Biden Administration
        • Trump’s BLM Withdraws Cattle Grazing Plan in Face of Environmental Lawsuits

          In March of 2018 the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Native Ecosystems Council sued to stop the BLM’s plan to burn sagebrush-juniper habitat in the Iron Mask area in the Elkhorn Mountains near Canyon Ferry Reservoir, southwest of Townsend, Montana.  In 2019, a federal court judge ordered the project stopped because the agency failed to analyze the cumulative impacts of the project on wildlife.

          The BLM did not comply with the Court’s 2019 Order and issued a “Supplemental Environmental Assessment” that did not analyze cumulative impacts to wildlife. The two conservation groups, therefore, filed suit against the agency again on February 28, 2020 asking the Court to stop the BLM from illegally burning sagebrush and juniper. In July 2020, United States Magistrate Judge Timothy Cavan found in favor pur favor.

    • Finance

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Citing 14th Amendment, Pascrell Says These GOP House Members Shouldn’t Even Be Sworn In

        “The text of the 14th Amendment expressly forbids members of Congress from engaging in rebellion against the United States. Trying to overturn a democratic election and install a dictator seems like a pretty clear example of that.”

      • In Just ‘Two-Ish Minutes,’ AOC Details Progressive Accomplishments From First Two Years in Office

        Often accused of being ineffective by conservatives and centrists, the congresswoman highlighted her work passing legislation, serving her constituents, and leading House investigations into corruption and fraud. 

      • ‘Harebrained’ Texas Election Lawsuit a Serious GOP Attack on Democracy, Warn Experts

        “Trump will leave office in January. But the attorneys general who are aiding his failed coup are just getting started.”

      • Canada, Haiti and Hong Kong

        Despite hundreds of thousands of Canadians having close ties with both Haiti and Hong Kong, only protests in the latter seem to be of concern to politicians.

        Recently NDP MP Niki Ashton and Green MP Paul Manly were attacked ferociously in Parliament and the dominant media for participating in a webinar titled “Free Meng Wanzhou”. During the hullabaloo about an event focused on Canada’s arrest of the Huawei CFO, Manly — who courageously participated in the webinar, even if his framing of the issue left much to be desired — and Ashton — who sent a statement to be read at the event but responded strongly to the backlash in an interview with the Winnipeg Free Press — felt the need to mention Hong Kong. Both the NDP (“Canada must do more to help the people of Hong Kong”) and Greens (“Echoes of Tiananmen Square: Greens condemn China’s latest assault on democracy in Hong Kong”) have released multiple statements critical of Beijing’s policy in Hong Kong since protests erupted there nearly two years ago. So have the Liberals, Bloc Québecois and Conservatives.

      • What Trump’s Doing Is Crazy and Dangerous—and It Ain’t Over Yet

        Trump still threatens us, and discussing the election in the past tense is stupid.

      • Want to Defund the Police? Then Vote for Loeffler and Perdue in Georgia Senate Run-Off Race

        When police (and teachers and firefighters and other essential state and local government workers) are defunded and fired in the next few months, blame it on Republicans like Purdue and Loeffler.

      • ‘Without Decency and Without Dignity’: German Newsweekly Der Spiegel Names Trump ‘Loser of the Year’

        “The country is more divided than ever since the times of the Civil War. This is not a by-product of Trump’s politics, it is their goal.”

      • Question: How Should the Left Judge Biden’s Success? Answer From a Leftist: ‘How Many People Stop Going Hungry’ Is One Good Way

        “Honestly, if Biden is able to keep his own campaign promises,” says Justice Democrats co-founder Saikat Chakrabarti, “that’ll be pretty good.”

      • Republican Senate Groups Have Five Times More Cash for Georgia Runoffs
      • What Criticisms of Bolivia’s 2019 Elections Continue to Get Wrong

        Even before the October election, many in the opposition had pledged not to accept the results of the vote if Morales won. The Organization of American States (OAS), in country to observe the vote, poured gasoline on the fire when — the day after the election and with the official count not yet complete — it issued a press release expressing concern about “an inexplicable change in trend [in the preliminary count] that drastically modifies the fate of the election and generates a loss of confidence in the electoral process.”1 The statement delegitimized the election in the eyes of many, both in Bolivia and internationally. It also provided opposition elements with the justification they needed to reject the election results and force Morales from office three weeks later.2

        As CEPR and a number of other independent researchers have shown, the OAS has produced no credible evidence to back up its statement of October 21, 2019. While a long interruption of the preliminary vote count ― from around 7:45 p.m. on October 20, 2019 to 6:30 p.m. the following day ― raised understandable concerns, there was no “inexplicable” or “drastic” change in trend following the interruption, as the OAS alleged.

      • Hinch-22
      • When Justice and Politics Match: Deb Haaland Should Be Biden’s Interior Secretary

        It would be a big disappointment to the environmentalists, progressives, all those members of Congress who supported her, and the tribes Haaland organized and mobilized to help elect Joe Biden to overlook such a well-qualified candidate for his Cabinet.

      • Will Trump Break-Up the Republican Party?

        For all Trump’s rants and tweets about voter fraud and a rigged election, one this clear – on 22nd he will no longer be president. The political questions that is emerging is whether Trump’s defeat will set the stage for the break-up of the Republican Party?

        The Republic Party was founded in 1854 to oppose the spread of slavery into the western territories. The “Grand Old Party” as it came to be known was formed by disaffected members of the Whig Party opposed Pres. Andrew Jackson who many considering a tyrant. In 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected president and, six weeks later, South Carolina seceded from the Union, setting the stage for the Civil War.

      • Go Vote Yourself a Raise, Georgia – You’ve Long Earned It

        If the Democrats win both seats, the Senate would be split, 50-50. Vice President Kamala Harris would serve as President of the Senate, and in the case of tied votes have the deciding vote. The Democrats could also take control of the Senate, choose the Committee Chairs, and set the rules for moving legislation to the floor.

        Georgia is normally a Republican state. But on November 3rd, the state chose Joe Biden over Donald Trump by about 12,670 votes. The two incumbent Republican Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler failed to win a majority of the votes. This triggered a runoff against Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock.

      • AOC Slams House Republicans for Spending Their Time Trying to Overturn Trump Loss While ‘People Are Starving’

        More than half of the House GOP caucus has endorsed a likely doomed-to-fail Texas lawsuit seeking to undo the results of the November presidential election.

      • Is It Really Terry McAuliffe’s Turn in Virginia—Again?

        Virginia’s Democratic renaissance has largely been powered by women—female candidates as well as voters. When Democrats came within a seat of taking the House of Delegates in 2017 (they finished the job in 2019); 11 of 15 victorious challengers were women, including several women of color, propelled by a wave of anti-Trump revulsion. Already two women, both of them African American, have launched campaigns for governor in 2021 (incumbent Ralph Northam can serve only one term). Second-term Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy and 14-year veteran state Senator Jennifer McClellan made their announcements within days of one another last summer—a historic first for Black women in the former capital of the Confederacy.

      • Roaming Charges: Negative Creep

        + Biden is a politician who is unlikely to disappoint his followers for the simple reason that he has few truly devoted adherents and offers them little of substance. Mostly, he delivers on small things, tiny symbolic acts that serve to mask the broader betrayals of movements and aspirations he claimed to represent but never had any real interest in. Unlike Obama, idealism was never Biden’s calling card. His entire career he has sold a brutal brand of pragmatism behind a dental implant smile.

        + Few politicians in American history have been as programed by the System as Joe Biden, conditioned to the point where Biden eventually became a chief programmer himself, updating the operating system of the Republic every decade or so with new measures of austerity, imperial violence  and domestic punishment. If the American brand of neoliberalism is approaching a crisis point, it’s a crisis that Biden himself, perhaps more than anyone else on the political scene today, helped bring about.

      • Songs of the Biden Heart

        The aggrieved band could not stop Trump’s expropriation of their anthem of triumph. The president’s supporters were wont to bellow the song up until Election Day 2020.

        Among Trump’s other unsportsmanlike musical favorites was Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”; the hit’s bullying words when heard from MAGA loudspeakers was gloss on “You’re Fired!”: “Don’t want to see your face, you’d better disappear.” In the 1990s the singer and his then-secret bride, Lisa Marie Presley, bought a luxury apartment in Trump Tower a few floors below the future president’s penthouse. Such proximity aside, entertainment elites generally hate Trump, all the more when he kidnaps their tunes for political purposes.

      • The Centrality of Critical Education in Dark Times: a Tribute to Noam Chomsky on his 92nd Birthday

        Across the globe, democratic institutions such as the independent media, schools, the legal system, certain financial institutions, and higher education are under siege. The promise, if not ideals, of democracy are receding as right-wing populism and an updated version of fascist politics are once again on the move subverting language, values, courage, vision, and hope for a more just and humane world. In the current historical moment, we are witnessing a crisis of education, consciousness, civic imagination, and democratic values. Education has increasingly become a tool of domination as right-wing pedagogical apparatuses controlled by the entrepreneurs of hate attack workers, the poor, people of color, refugees, immigrants from the south and others considered disposable. In the midst of an era when an older social order is crumbling and a new one is struggling to define itself, there emerges a time of confusion, danger, and moments of great restlessness. The present moment is once again at a historical juncture in which the structures of liberation and authoritarianism are vying for shaping a future that appears to be either an unthinkable nightmare or a realizable dream.

        The dark times that haunt the current age are epitomized by a new crop of authoritarians who echo the politics of a totalitarian past and have come to rule in the United States and a number of other societies. These architects of a new breed of fascist politics increasingly dominate major cultural apparatuses and other commanding political and economic institutions across the globe. Their nightmarish reign of misery, violence, and disposability is legitimated, in part, in their control of all sorts of knowledge producing settings that construct a vast machinery of manufactured consent. This reactionary educational formation includes the mainstream broadcast media, digital platforms, the Internet, and print culture, all of which participate in an ongoing spectacle of violence, the aestheticization of politics, the legitimation of opinions over facts, and an embrace of a culture of ignorance. For instance, in the United States, Donald Trump’s shaping of political culture has become in many ways more toxic and damaging than his public policies given his undermining of the civic fabric, rule of law, and democracy itself. He normalized racism, state violence, hatred, and disinformation by not only bringing it to the center of power, but also by deeply embedding a toxic, death-dealing politics deep into American consciousness and culture. Trump used the term fake news as an instrument of power to disdain the truth and call the press the enemy of the American people. Anti-intellectualism and a hatred for the truth became the new normal in American culture. Under such circumstances, the growing reign of authoritarianism and right-wing popular movements waged a war on critical forms of education, regarded the truth with disdain, and disparaged the very presence of critical judgment in any sphere where civic literacy asserted itself. This plague of ignorance and culture of lies took place in the midst of a death dealing pandemic accelerated by a bungling mode of governance that disdained scientific evidence, played down the seriousness of the virus, offered no national plan to deal with the pandemic, and confused science with pseudo-science. As infections rose and deaths skyrocketed, the United States turned into a funeral home. Trump’s response was to focus relentlessly on the bogus claim that he won the presidential election while relentlessly attempting to legitimate and circulate a range of bizarre and utterly delusional right-wing conspiracy theories.

      • Senator Ron Johnson No Longer Has Constituents; He Has a Boss, a Don

        Senator Ron Johnson stopped representing the people of Wisconsin on January 20, 2017. The two-term Republican decided on that day that he would serve one man: Donald Trump.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Mass Incarceration is Declining, But Not for Women

        In 2020, the people of Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota voted to legalize marijuana, joining 11 other states and the District of Columbia. In Oregon, voters opted to decriminalize possession of all drugs. And even during the deeply divisive Trump administration, bipartisan criminal justice reform managed to pass a Republican Senate and Democratic House to get signed into law.

        Slowly but surely, the absurdly large incarcerated population in the U.S. is declining. One noteworthy exception, though, is women.

      • Supreme Court Says Muslim Men Can Sue The FBI For Placing Them On The No-Fly List For Refusing To Become Informants

        The FBI really enjoys its take on the War on Terror. Starting with the hassling of Muslims at airports and border entries, the FBI cultivates a large collection of confidential informants. These informants then find pliable individuals to target with extra attention, pushing them towards threatening to engage in violence. Then the FBI swoops in to arrest these supposed “terrorists” — ones that often seem unable to stay gainfully employed, much less capable of carrying out terrorist attacks. The FBI’s favorite targets are impressionable Muslim men with mental health issues — ones its agents and informants radicalize right into jail cells.

      • Congressional Investigation Finds Many Booster Seat Makers “Endangered” Children’s Lives After Review of “Meaningless Safety Testing”

        In an unusually harsh and pointed report, a U.S. House subcommittee, responding to a ProPublica investigation, found widespread evidence that the nation’s largest manufacturers of car seats “endangered the lives of millions of American children and misled consumers about the safety of booster seats” in crashes that can kill or paralyze children.

        On Friday, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy upped the ante, formally requesting that federal highway safety regulators, as well as the Federal Trade Commission, investigate “unfair and deceptive marketing and unreasonable risks to safety” by the makers of booster seats. Separately, the subcommittee urged state attorneys general to look for violations of consumer protection laws by these companies.

      • Fighting From Federal Death Row in My Friend Brandon Bernard’s Memory

        Last night: Brandon Bernard

      • How the Safe Bet Lost in North Carolina

        On October 9, Cal Cunningham, the Democratic candidate in North Carolina’s 2020 Senate race, gave an online press conference to reporters. It was a critical moment in his campaign: Over the past week, the generic but apparently wholesome Southern Democrat whose eventual victory over Republican incumbent Thom Tillis seemed all but preordained had become a man under siege. Cunningham was now primarily occupied with dealing with the fallout from a leaked series of explicitly sexual—but not exactly sexually explicit—text messages that he’d exchanged with a woman who was not his wife. Though labeled “sexts” by the media, the texts found Cunningham telling the woman, Arlene Guzman Todd, things like “You are historically sexy 😘,” and “Sounds so hot and fun!”

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • Can Broadband Policy Help Create A More Equitable And inclusive Economy And Society Instead Of The Reverse?

        25 years ago, then NTIA Administrator Larry Irving warned that the rising importance of the internet had the downside of creating what he coined a “digital divide.”

      • The Broadcasting Act Blunder, Day 16: Mandated Payments and a Reality Check on Guilbeault’s Billion Dollar Claim

        (prior posts in the Broadcasting Act Blunder series include Day 1: Why there is no Canadian Content Crisis, Day 2: What the Government Doesn’t Say About Creating a “Level Playing Field”, Day 3: Minister Guilbeault Says Bill C-10 Contains Economic Thresholds That Limit Internet Regulation. It Doesn’t, Day 4: Why Many News Sites are Captured by Bill C-10, Day 5: Narrow Exclusion of User Generated Content Services, Day 6: The Beginning of the End of Canadian Broadcast Ownership and Control Requirements, Day 7: Beware Bill C-10’s Unintended Consequences, Day 8: The Unnecessary Discoverability Requirements, Day 9: Why Use Cross-Subsidies When the Government is Rolling out Tech Tax Policies?, Day 10: Downgrading the Role of Canadians in their Own Programming, Day 11: The “Regulate Everything” Approach – Licence or Registration Required, Broadcast Reform Bill Could Spell the End of Canadian Ownership Requirements, Day 12: The “Regulate Everything” Approach – The CRTC Conditions, Day 13: The “Regulate Everything” Approach – Targeting Individual Services, Day 14: The Risk to Canadian Ownership of Intellectual Property, Day 15: Mandated Confidential Data Disclosures May Keep Companies Out of Canada)

    • Monopolies

      • Patents

        • Saturday Sundries [Ed: "IP" maximalists at it again]

          The IP & Innovation Researchers of Asia (IPIRA) Network is hosting the Third IP & Innovation Researchers of Asia (IPIRA) Conference on 24-27 March 2021 (online). The deadline for submissions is 15 December 2020, with more information available here.

          Coming up next week is the IFIM Holiday Seminar, taking place online on 17 December. For those interested in IP damages, copyright exceptions and fairness in copyright, this is the ‘place’ to be. More information is available here.

          [...]

          CREATe (University of Glasgow) yesterday published an open letter signed by a coalition of international academics concerning the new right of revocation found in Article 22 of the recent EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, focusing on the lessons to be learned from existing national laws in the implementation of the directive.

        • Virtual oral proceedings – Are they legal under article 116 EPC? [Ed: EPO breaking the law]

          The President of the EPO decided on November 10, 2020, that Oral Proceedings before Opposition Divisions are to be held by video conference, until September 15, 2021. According to this decision, agreement of the parties is not necessary (Decision of the president of the European Patent Office dated 10 November 2020, Articles 1 and 2). The Boards of Appeal at the EPO intend to go one step further, namely to restrict the possibility for Oral Proceedings according to Article 116 EPC permanently (if “exceptional circumstances” can be confirmed). Reference is made to the proposed text of Article 15(a) EPC of the Rules of Procedure of the Boards of Appeal, according to the user consultation, as online on December 2, 2020. The present article will not focus on whether such “virtual Oral Proceedings” are in general reasonable or, in a broader sense, legitimate during an extreme pandemic situation with severe travel restrictions (which should not be confused with any “exceptional circumstances”) as a specific and limited deviation of the law, but rather whether such “virtual Oral Proceedings” are legal under the EPC. This article will also not focus upon whether virtual proceedings should be possible if the party (or the representative) agrees. In essence, this article relates to how Article 116 EPC must be interpreted and not about how it should be worded.

          [...]

          The authors contend that depriving parties and representatives of their right to personal appearance before the EPO infringes Article 116 EPC. The wording of Article 116 EPC clearly requires the (“physical”) presence of the parties or their representatives. General principles in the member states (by way of example only, Germany) do not understand “Oral Proceedings by video conference” to be Oral Proceedings. Since any provision in the RPBA or any decision of the President of the EPO must (of course) be in line with the EPC itself, the abovementioned decision of the President appears to be illegal as would the intended Rule 15a of the ROPB.

        • QSAM Biosciences Receives Notice of Allowance for European Patent and Expands Licensed IP Portfolio

          QSAM Biosciences Inc. (OTCQB: QSAM), a company developing next generation nuclear medicines, including Cyclosam® Samarium-153-DOTMP, for the treatment of cancer and related diseases and conditions, announced today that the European Patent Office (EPO) has allowed the first patent covering “DOTMP kit formulations for radioisotopes.” This is the first patent outside the United States and is in addition to the two prior patents issued by the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) covering “High purity and low specific activity therapeutic bone agents.”

          The EPO patent allowance covers technology licensed exclusively by QSAM from IGL Pharma, Inc. that protects the radiopharmacy preparation of CycloSam. The DOTMP kits, which refer to the chelating agent that binds the radioisotopes to growing cells in the bone and is believed by management to reduce toxicity and increase efficacy of the drug candidate, are a crucial component of the Cyclosam radiopharmaceutical product.

        • Verdant Technologies™ granted European patent
      • Copyrights

        • Meet CC Mexico, Our Next Feature for CC Network Fridays!

          The Creative Commons Global Network (CCGN) consists of 46 CC Country Chapters spread across the globe. They’re the home for a community of advocates, activists, educators, artists, lawyers, and users who share CC’s vision and values. They implement and strengthen open access policies, copyright reform, open education, and open culture in the communities in which they live.

        • How Bob Dylan Wrote the Second Great American Songbook

          Bob Dylan takes great pains to detail just how inimical to popular taste his music was when he first started performing in the late 1950s and early ’60s. “I had no song in my repertoire for commercial radio anyway,” Dylan writes in the first—and to date only—volume of his memoirs, Chronicles: Volume One (2004). “Songs about debauched bootleggers, mothers that drowned their own children, Cadillacs that only got five miles to the gallon, floods, union hall fires, darkness and cadavers at the bottom of the rivers weren’t for radiophiles. There was nothing easygoing about the folk songs I sang. They weren’t friendly or ripe with mellowness. They didn’t come gently to the shore. I guess you could say they weren’t commercial.”

[Meme] Nobody to Talk to at the European Patent Office

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Best negotiator ever, António Campinos

Summary: Nobody does it like ‘Tony’; he’ll pretend to listen, do whatever he wants regardless, then label himself “social” something (because his father was in the Socialist Party)

António Campinos Has Been a ‘Lame Duck’ for Nearly Two Years Now, But the Administrative Council Failed to Act

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

This year, according to a survey, only 1 in 33 or 1 in 34 members of staff can still trust Campinos (the Administrative Council is trusted by 0%, based on that same survey)

Lame duck
Reference: Lame duck

Summary: As escalations from the Chairman of the Central Staff Committee show, it was around spring of 2019 that Campinos lost control and people lost trust in him (or honeymoon period was over, as the metaphor/saying goes)

BACK in March of last year staff representatives at the EPO (Central Staff Committee) spoke to constituents/staff about “[a]djustments to the new career system” (that was before breakdown of talks with António Campinos; still a ‘grace period’ after 8 years of Benoît Battistelli).

The open letter is reproduced in full below and it speaks of “a first VICO “kick-off” meeting”, reminding us that the term has been used since (at least) last year and it’s not a substitute for trials or formal appeals:

Reference: sc19041cl-0.3.1/4.2.1/6.1
Date: 19.03.2019

Mr António Campinos
President of the EPO

ISAR – R.1081

OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT

Setting-up a Working Group (WG) on adjustments to the performance management system and procedure for incompetence

Dear Mr President,

The CSC thanks you for your letter dated 22 February 2019 in which you propose to resume discussions started in 2018 and reconvene the WG on performance management and procedure for incompetence. We welcome your declaration that “any career and performance management has to be regularly reviewed and adapted”. As a first step, we have accepted the invitation to a first VICO “kick-off” meeting to take place on 21 March.

Composition of the Working Group
It would appear that the main interlocutor involved from the side of the Administration is one who has shaped (the implementation of) the performance management system, with somewhat limited success. By contrast, we believe it is necessary to equip your delegation with nominees whose presence does not preclude any success of the working groups ab initio.

Mandate / scope
In view of the short duration of this first meeting, we propose to focus our discussions on the mandate of this working group and the time frame for its work. Some guiding principles for the working group could (in our view) be based upon input we have already provided to you with our documents:
- “Position of the CSC with regard of performance management” (sc18154cl sent as annex to our letter sc18153cl dated 14 November
2018);
- Annex 1 “Adapting the career system to EPO needs” to our letter sc18138cl dated 19 October 2018;
- Our letter sc18121cl on Article 52 (procedure for incompetence).


While our nominees will reference these documents as a starting point for the discussions in the working group to establish its mandate, we do not forget the deliverable that is expected to come out of it: proposals for (necessary) change.

The CSC remains convinced that there is an urgent need to amend the current career system to make it fit for an Office granting high quality patents, to motivate staff and to reduce litigation while ensuring long term sustainability.

A first step of devising fair transitional measures (with a corresponding budget) from the previous to the current career system, as was done in the EU institutions, could address past litigation. Further amendments to the system, as a result of successful social dialogue, might lead to increased transparency, thereby avoiding discrimination and perhaps preventing further litigation. It would also foster staff engagement.

The members of the Working Group appointed by the CSC look forward to receiving the statistical data on the implementation of the New Career System since 2015 onwards (requested with our letter sc19040cl dated 8 March 2019).

Finally, our expert nominees are looking forward to collaborating with the career specialists you will appoint from your side to try and ensure that this new working group delivers proposals for change that are to the benefit of the EPO and its staff.

Yours sincerely,

Chairman of the Central Staff Committee

Enclosures in electronic form:
Letter sc18121cl
Letter sc19040cl

“The President proposed to resume discussions started in 2018 and reconvene the WG on the performance management system and procedure for incompetence,” said the Chairman of the Central Staff Committee. “We believe that the composition of the WG is essential to be able to deliver proposals for change.”

“This was shortly before the faked financial ‘analysis’ (justifying the robbery of present and past staff, mostly for gambling purposes).”It is important to remind ourselves that at this stage the representatives were still hopeful, trying to be optimistic as if there’s a chance of a real turnaround. “A first step of devising fair transitional measures from the previous to the current career system,” they wrote, “as was done in the EU institutions, could address past litigation.”

This was shortly before the faked financial ‘analysis’ (justifying the robbery of present and past staff, mostly for gambling purposes). Future staff? What future? The EPO plans layoffs, not recruitment. The destruction of the Office is already underway.

Exactly one week later those same staff representatives spoke of “[w]orrying performance assessment for 2018″. Here’s the full letter, signed by the same people with copies sent to Vice Presidents Stephen Rowan, Nellie Simon, and Christoph Ernst:

Reference: sc19039cl-0.3.1/4.2.1
Date: 08.03.2019

Mr António Campinos
President of the EPO

ISAR – R.1081

Performance Assessment for 2018

Dear Mr President,

The Staff Representation feels obliged to report to you on the enormous anxiety, worry and demotivation among many of our colleagues caused by the performance assessment for the year 2018, confirmed by the quite negative hands-on experience of many colleagues in the assessment exercise in the last few weeks.

In particular, the CSC sees an urgent need to discuss with you one recent publication:

- Guidance to performance assessment 2018 – Performance assessment of examiners and formalities officers of 19th February 2019.

This document includes crucial elements of the system for structuring the planning and evaluation of the work of about five thousand employees in DG1. The document establishes a classification with four possible grades:

• above the expected level
• at the expected level
• below the expected level or even
• far below the expected level

A very similar scale based system ranging from (1) “Excellent” to (5) “unsatisfactory” also existed in the performance assessment system described in Circular 246 until the year 2014, with the fundamental difference that it also comprised a fifth possible, positive evaluation:

• (1) – Excellent, which corresponded to a level “far above the expected level”


Since the founding of the European Patent Organisation, however, the number of employees with a negative assessment – below or far below the expected level – has been consistently very small, indeed almost negligible1. This has also been the result of a very careful recruitment procedure, where the competencies and skills are monitored at the beginning.

Such a distribution of individual assessments seems to be still in line with “normal” national and international administrations.

This year, possibly for the first time in the forty years of the Organisation’s history, the Staff Representation is observing an abrupt change in the hitherto essentially consistent assessment system, and many colleagues are reporting that their performance will be evaluated “below” or “far below” the expected level, much worse than what should be expected.

Historical trends and statistics may be unpopular with (some) managers or consultants. However, we fail to understand why an institution praised as a leading actor in IP matters worldwide should set its own standards in such a manner that it ends up portraying itself as relying to quite an extent on the work of staff it considers unable to meet their “targets”. Importantly, it is not plausible at all that more than 30% of the highly educated and carefully selected staff members in DG1 will become “underperformers” overnight.

Moreover, and contrary to the past, consultation with the Staff Representation on the Guidance to performance assessment has not taken place2, which leaves doubts whether an improvement in management style is intended at all. Further it appears that reference figures, for example reference examiners, so-called “corridors”, etc. are neither public nor have they been a matter of consultation with the Staff Representation. We cannot see any improvement on that front either.

In fact the announced performance assessment system appears as continuing, or even reinforcing, past and outdated prejudices against staff, in particular Examiners and Formalities Officers. It is completely at odds with your intention to establish a renewed and genuine (social) dialogue based on pride and “engagement”: this system and its implementation cannot but be regarded as a slap in the face for all DG1 employees.

____
1 This margin has been kept throughout all subsequent performance management systems (see for example previous Circular no. 246, item A. (5), CODEX March 2015). It is also referred to in the Joint Communiqué from VP1, VP2 and the CSC to all DG1 and DG2 examining staff ProPro ll for 2004, 2005 in Munich. This document, signed by the then Vice-President DG1, the Vice-President DG2 and the Chairman of the CSC, confirmed that only 0,9% of the Examiners were given – in the year 2004 – a productivity box marking below 3 (good).
2 The guidance to performance assessment refers to the amended version of circular 366 (“New Circular 366”). This circular has not entered into force, but was withdrawn before any discussion in the GCC meeting of December 2018.


In addition, the consequence of an abnormal number of negative appraisal reports will in all likelihood be an increased number of conciliation/objection procedures before the Appraisals Committee possibly followed by ILOAT complaints, which is not in the common interest of the EPO and of the employees.

It is worth noting that, in the past, with the existing conciliation procedure in place including a neutral mediator, a settlement rate of 80% of cases prior to further litigation could be achieved. The abolishment of neutral mediators, together with the introduction of the New Career System abruptly stopped this trend in the year 2014 in favour of litigation, quickly tunnelled to the ILOAT by the so-called “Appraisals Committee”3.

Conclusion and requests

Having in mind that the reporting exercise for the year 2018 will be finalised during the spring of 2019, this is a matter that cannot really wait and a dedicated meeting on this particular topic would need to be arranged at your earliest convenience. Appropriate measures have to be envisaged urgently in order to avoid further damage to staff and to our Organisation.

Regards / sincerely

Joachim Michels
Chairman of the Central Staff Committee

cc.: Vice-President DG1; Mr Stephen Rowan
Vice-President DG4; Ms Nellie Simon
Vice-President DG5; Mr Christoph Ernst

____
3 The Appraisals Committee does not fulfil minimum requirements of a balanced composition and impartiality, since the Staff Representation is excluded.

Long story short, the EPO is ‘re-engineering’ the appraisal process to be more biased against staff and justify dismissals, layoffs etc.

The lame ducks depicted in this Clifford K. Berryman cartoon are defeated Democrats heading to the White House hoping to secure political appointments from then President Woodrow Wilson.“Already in early March,” the representatives note, “we felt obliged to report to the President the enormous anxiety, worry and demotivation among many colleagues caused by the performance assessment for the year 2018, confirmed by the quite negative hands-on experience of many colleagues in the assessment exercise in the last few weeks.”

“The destruction of the Office is already underway.”“Therefore,” they add, “we proposed an urgent dedicated meeting on this particular topic to avoid further damage to staff and to our Organisation.”

We already know what happened in weeks that followed; talks basically broke down completely. But it was around that time when things soured and hopes turned into major disappointment. Not to say this is some sort of anthropological research into root causes (based on a trail of letters with reports from meetings); nevertheless, as staff goes on strike in 3 days, it’s important to set the record straight and show whose fault it is. Representation of the staff (union and the Central Staff Committee) was far more than courteous and open-armed; Campinos really had an opportunity to rescue the EPO, but he chose censorship, grift and naked corruption instead.

Two Years of Absolutely Nothing From António Campinos (Except Photo Ops and Self-Praising Fluff)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

When Central Bureau of SUEPO met the EPO President

António Campinos Photo OpsSummary: The letter from SUEPO, published one week after the 5 December 2018 meeting with EPO President António Campinos, is worth recalling; it shows that for 2 years Campinos mostly perpetuated the harm caused by Benoît Battistelli because the likes of Aurélien Pétiaud and Michael Lund never received justice and those who abused Laurent Prunier still work at the Office

A DOCUMENT or a message published on 12/12/2018 (i.e. exactly 2 years ago) spoke about an early “[m]eeting between the Central Bureau of SUEPO and the President of the EPO” — the first such meeting. “The Central Bureau of SUEPO met the President in The Hague on 5 December 2018 for the first time since Mr Campinos took office on 1 July,” SUEPO told members. Their main paper was already uploaded last month [PDF]. “We called for a normalisation of relations between SUEPO and the Office,” they said. “If reforms are discussed with SUEPO we can contribute to reducing litigation and to improving acceptance of reforms. Harm inflicted by Mr Campinos’ predecessor on SUEPO as an institution and on several of its Officials and Staff representatives still requires concrete action for putting an end to these dire straits, as has previously been flagged in letters by the CSC and by USF.”

“…the likes of Aurélien Pétiaud and Michael Lund never received justice and those who abused Laurent Prunier still work at the Office.”The USF letter is in French, but the CSC letter is in English. Here’s the substance of the letter from the USF, which also uploaded the letter from the CSC):

USF 2018 letter

Munich 09.11.2018
sc18151cp – 0.2.1/5.2

Staff Representation Disciplinary Cases – Urgent action needed

Dear colleagues,

In June 2018, the ILO Administrative Tribunal, with a series of judgments, set aside disciplinary measures inflicted on EPO staff representatives / SUEPO officials, and on one former staff member now employed by SUEPO. It is clear to even the inattentive observer that the cases resulted from a political campaign launched by the previous President and his Administration, aimed at weakening any opposition to their plans.

In the meantime the new President, Mr. Campinos, has concluded the two cases concerning Malika Weaver and Ion Brumme. However, this does not clean the slate.

Amnesty

In Judgment 4047, the matter was remitted to the EPO to enable the charges against Elizabeth Hardon “to be considered afresh”. In Judgment 4052, the case was sent back to the EPO for the President of the Office “to undertake a new examination”. In this latter case, the Tribunal ordered that the examination “shall take into account the instruction to the President contained in Administrative Council Resolution CA/26/16 dated 16 March 2016.”

In that Resolution, the Council requested the President to consider the possibility of involvement of an external reviewer for arbitration or mediation.

We do not see this happening. Quite on the contrary – Elizabeth Hardon will soon face a new disciplinary committee instigated by the same old Administration, and apparently with the same old charges – even though the Administration’s behavior has already been castigated by the Tribunal. In June 2019, the Tribunal will rule in the case concerning Laurent Prunier, the last of the staff representatives / SUEPO official dismissed by the previous President. He was disciplined despite CA/26/16, and for extraneous motives, similarly to Elizabeth, Malika and Ion. We cannot see that the Office has learnt from the other cases.

The Judgments have preserved the President’s dispositive powers. We, for our part, consider that amnesty would be a fair execution of the Judgments. In all cases, it would also serve social peace and justice.


Reparation and protection

A second pillar of the justice system, namely the functioning of the internal Appeals Committee, also needs to be repaired.

Staff representatives face difficulties accommodating their workload in the Appeals Committee with the workload in their other duties, mostly patent examination. Judgments 3971 and 4050 made public these difficulties, resulting in disciplinary measures against Aurélien Pétiaud and Michael Lund, which the Tribunal considered “within the range of acceptability” or “not to be disproportionate”. It is now absolutely clear that those disciplinary measures were politically motivated as part of an intimidation campaign against staff representatives.

We consider that reparation of the torts inflicted on Aurélien Pétiaud and Michael Lund would also serve social peace and justice.

This would draw a final line under an inglorious chapter in the Office’s history.

Against that historical backdrop, special attention must now be paid to ensure that members of the new Appeals Committee have both a minimum level of independence and peace of mind. As staff representatives, they are increasingly facing the same quandary as their predecessors: trying to reduce the backlog when workload is being increased on all fronts. This is why we expect that management will refrain from undue pressure, vexations or threats of retribution against them in their day-to-day business.

The Central Staff Committee

We reproduced the above letter at the time; but what’s noteworthy is that now we can make a ‘scorecard’ and see that in 2.5 years in Office Campinos accomplished almost nothing.

You Can Really Tell That EPO Management is Growingly Stressed or Increasingly Worried by Next Week’s Strike in All EPO Sites

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

3 months ago:

EPO quiet

The past 3 days (or less):

EPO gallop close-up

Summary: The EPO’s management is busy writing loads of superficial puff pieces while the rest of the staff actually does all the work (and prepares to go on strike this coming Tuesday)

THE facts are very clear. The facts are on the side of EPO staff. The facts are damning. The facts can literally get Benoît Battistelli detained, prosecuted, and arrested, along with any enablers and collaborators/facilitators/accomplices. His boss was recently arrested. His bodyguard was also arrested. No wonder he keeps a ‘low profile’ (and has been for two years now, in effect hiding in a French law school).

“Campinos and his cohorts already squirm.”There’s an old saying along the lines of being unable to change the past (except cheap revisionism and cover-up). Truth can sort of ‘catch up’ with people, as some people allege in relation to Donald Trump (there are rumours he’s already applying for asylum somewhere while delaying the inevitable outcome of last month’s election).

The EPO has basically just done a ‘news’ item about António Campinos talking to a computer (a so-called ‘speech’) with Andrei Iancu displayed on the screen as if it’s a significant event. They try to make a ‘cult of personalities’ based on a crook riding his dead dad’s coattails. According to this (warning: epo.org link), a few days ago Campinos was chatting with a Trump booster, Andrei Iancu, who actively promoted Trump ahead of the election (he had worked for Trump before netting this job, so it’s a bit like EPO nepotism). To quote (lots of inaccuracies there): “EPO President António Campinos delivered [sic] a keynote speech [sic] yesterday (10 December), followed by a joint panel [sic] discussion [sic] with the Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office Andrei Iancu, at the Center for Intellectual [sic] Property [sic] (CIP) FORUM 2020.”

EPO gallopHow is this actually newsworthy? What’s the importance of this? How does that compare to the other 3 pieces published in less than 2 days prior to that? As of last night, Watchtroll repeated EPO propaganda about illegal software patents (“4IR”) seeing “exponential growth”… in effect fake patents that should not have been granted. We already know that Watchtroll works closely with Team Battistelli. It should be noted that nobody but us and Kluwer Patent Blog even mentioned next week’s strike, which is now public information (it’s even in the front page of SUEPO’s Web site).

Europe’s second-largest institution going on strike is not news? Whereas 4 pieces of fluff about Campinos are somehow EPO “front page” (homepage) material? Who are those people kidding? The above is the 4th spammy EPO ‘news’ in less than 3 days (earlier this year they went on for over a month without even one! See screenshots at the top!) because the EPO’s dictators try to distract from their crimes, which eventually caused the staff to go on strike (next week).

Well, also mind the dates; this whole torrent of garbage started the day Campinos received the letter from SUEPO, informing him about the imminent strike. We’ve already seen how the ‘gish gallop’ of fluff overlaps truly damaging things which happen at the Office (and Office management tries hard to distract from).

Clearly someone (or someones) feels a little nervous. Later in the weekend we may produce here more evidence of that. So in effect the strike is having a real effect even prior to actually taking place. That’s collective bargaining or leverage. Campinos and his cohorts already squirm.

SUEPO, the Staff Union of the European Patent Office (EPO): António Campinos Gives a “Strong Impression” That “Mr Battistelli is Still Running the Office Through the Trustees He Placed in the House.”

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Recent: European Commission’s Thierry Breton Covers Up EPO Corruption For His Friend Benoît Battistelli

Papa Don't Preach; Just carry on with breach of the law

Summary: Staff of the EPO is smart enough to understand how politicians work, in effect putting in place cover-up mechanisms which stifle self-assessment, introspection, investigation or shift in objectives

In spring of last year the staff union of the EPO, SUEPO, wrote to members and colleagues about António Campinos. To quote: “Already before his arrival at the EPO, he [Campinos] must have informed himself and read public blogs and papers written by relevant stakeholders. In any event, after 9 months spent in the Office and after having met personally a thousand staff members, who often complained to him about HR, Mr Campinos is fully aware of the responsibility of HR (top) managers for the present disarray.”

“How can workers not join the strike?”Team Battistelli remained in charge of HR despite lack of qualifications and relevant skills (we saw some embarrassing private letters that we cannot publish as that would certainly expose a source; even people nearby struggle to keep their mouths shut about what they saw). Having circulated this letter [PDF], SUEPO said: “Whilst the IM department (now “BIT”) is undergoing a profound reorganisation with change of (top) managers, we are witnessing no change at all in HR. A disturbing question inevitably comes to mind: WHY?”

Breton-Battistelli relationshipThe main culprit is named also; including at the end: “We doubt that his [Campinos] sympathy for Ms Bergot’s policies or methods is sufficient to explain Mr Campinos’ unfaltering support of PD43, considering the consequences this open support has on his image and the strong impression it gives – namely that Mr Battistelli is still running the Office through the trustees he placed in the house. Like our readers, we can only make assumptions about Mr Campinos’ true reasons for changing nothing in HR. In any event the continued presidential support to HR top management does not bode well for social dialogue and the EPO’s future.”

With 3 days until strike in all EPO sites we can see the consequences; not only has Campinos failed to investigate Battistelli’s grift (EPOTIF for instance), he actively participates in this whole gambling scam by stealing money from workers and pensioners. How can workers not join the strike? As SUEPO puts it, “Enough Is Enough!” Trop c’est trop!

Two Years Ago SUEPO Discussed Rules of Strike With António Campinos and 3 Days From Now EPO Staff in All Sites Goes on Strike

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Union-busting and anti-strike provisions did not work for long, did they? You can’t sweep legitimate grievances under a rug, not even during a pandemic.

A photo of Ion Brumme

Summary: On December twelfth 2018 (exactly 2 years ago) the staff union of the EPO published a letter which said they had “discussed the rules for strike (Articles 30a and 65(1)c) ServRegs and Circular No. 347), which triggered many litigation cases currently pending. The President confirmed his readiness for looking at them together with us with the intention of settling pending litigation cases and finding a modus vivendi reflecting a staff union’s prerogative for organising a strike.”

LAST YEAR in the middle of May (before talks broke down due to António Campinos failing to engage in a genuine dialogue, much like Benoît Battistelli had failed), the staff union of the EPO (SUEPO) sent out this “[o]pen letter from SUEPO Central to Mr Campinos on discussion of a Memorandum of Understanding,” stating that Campinos “invited SUEPO to discuss on 16 May a new framework for a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the EPO and our Union. Our response, which we sent already to the delegations of the Administrative Council, is available…”

“Notice the tone used back then compared to today’s.”It’s quite typical for Campinos to stage “meetings” with people just to tick a box and then claim to the Administrative Council that he was doing something social, piggybacking his father’s social(ist) creds. But as SUEPO made very clear in this letter: [PDF]

MoU EPO open letter page 1

MoU EPO open letter page 2

MoU EPO open letter page 3

The latter letter was published exactly 2 years ago. Notice the tone used back then compared to today’s. It’s amazing a strike was prevented for this long; in fact, one was planned and scheduled just before the pandemic interrupted things. To quote from the strike’s statement: “Management seems to believe that Staff of the EPO is in a state of paralysis and will not react, no matter how hard they will be hit, as if the pandemic would have anesthetised our senses. Only that can explain the current attacks after years of loyal and competent work. Indeed, year after year, Council meeting after Council meeting, managers and Heads of Delegations keep praising the results of our work, the great working atmosphere, the huge production with ever reducing working staff. Only to come some days later with new and inventive attacks on our working conditions. Changes are always imposed, making a mockery of the consultation with Staff Representatives. For the president this is only a power game where he has all the cards. We are tired of being always the losers of this game. We don’t want to play your game Mr Campinos: Enough is enough.”

“We will likely write a lot more about the EPO next year.”SUEPO linked to this some days ago and new comments say “abandon the EPC! Viva national law!” and “The cash injection system in the SSP and this Salary Adjustment Prreform [sic] change the working atmosphere at the EPO from a golden cage to a menagement [sic] heaven based on employees hell.” (by “Worried employee”)

For a long time Team Battistelli worked hard to make it harder and harder to arrange a strike; don’t miss Tuesday’s opportunity to take a day off without being bullied by line managers. This is just the start. “SUEPO has announced the strike will be the start of a year of social conflict to defend the future of the Staff and their families,” says the article cited by SUEPO. We will likely write a lot more about the EPO next year.

IRC Proceedings: Friday, December 11, 2020

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:50 am by Needs Sunlight

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