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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 12 min 30 sec ago

Donald Trump Gives New Hope to Patent Aggressors and Patent Trolls

42 min 19 sec ago

Donald Trump's friend Bill Gates as President is likely good news for Bill’s close friend, Nathan Myhrvold from Intellectual Ventures

Summary: Pessimism about the prospects of patent progress or patent reform in an age of staunchly pro-business Conservatives and glorification of protectionism

With President (starting Friday) Donald Trump rumoured to be putting a corrupt man in charge of the USPTO (a man who also promotes software patents and defends patent trolls) we have some legitimate reasons for concern. United for Patent Reform said: “The best thing the administration and Congress can do is to let USPTO continue on this course” (citing an article we mentioned here a few days ago). But the Director of the USPTO is said to be on her way out and Trump is likely to nominate/appoint some pro-business Conservatives to SCOTUS Justice positions. Not too promising…

As Patently-O has just put it in its SCOTUS 2017 patent review:

A new Supreme Court justice will likely be in place by the end of April, although the Trump edition is unlikely to substantially shake-up patent law doctrine in the short term.

Patent trolls are a symptom of the patent maximalism syndrome. When even basic algorithms are considered patentable a whole lot of companies become easy litigation targets and some opportunistic non-producing firms exploit that.

Pieter Hintjens died a few months ago and he knows the cost of being a target of patent trolls. “If you have not read it yet,” Benjamin Henrion told me, “there is a chapter in Confessions of a Necromancer [PDF] on AllisBlue patent troll” (mentioned here 7 years ago as it attacked many companies).

“When I started to work with him in late 2005, he was firing all the people that were working on the SMS@ gateway project. Search for SMS@ in the PDF, there are other mentions as well.”

Here is one of the relevant parts from the PDF:

Around the same time, I got involved in the FFII, fighting software patents in Europe. One of my motivations was that our SMS@ application had been attacked by a patent troll (AllIsBlue). I’d fought back by building an industry association, yet was the only firm willing to take a stance. In the end I shut the app and fired that team, too.

Fighting software patents was easy at that stage. The FFII was in chaos after a long and hard fight in the European Parliament to defeat a law that would have let firms patent software, along the American model. For reasons that aren’t exactly clear to me yet, I was elected president. Somewhat out of nowhere, I’d no such ambition.

Sadly, the US continues to have an epidemic of patent trolls, albeit the problem is getting smaller. It is always a very bad sign when company has nothing to show except patents. Here is an example from last night. This is all BOS Global has to show:

Then there is also Microsoft, which totally failed in the mobile market (barely any sales!) and increasingly relies on patent blackmail against Android, ChromeOS, and other operating systems with Linux in them. Last night we found at least a dozen articles in English about the latest Microsoft patent, e.g. [1, 2], including puff pieces from Microsoft boosters. How long before Microsoft uses this patent to extort if not embargo Linux-based products? In the same way it has done for almost a decade…

“If the rumours have a solid basis to them, Trump wants to Make Patent Trolls Great Again.”Also based on news from last night, Cisco uses patents to embargo its competition yet again [1, 2, 3]. Background about Cisco’s strategy of using patents to virtually embargo Arista’s products can be found in [1, 2, 3].

It’s going to be interesting to see if later in the year patent aggression and trolling will see a resurgence. If the rumours have a solid basis to them, Trump wants to Make Patent Trolls Great Again.

More Fake News About the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Based on Lobbying Tactics From Bristows UPC and the Preparatory Committee

1 hour 31 min ago

“When asked by Ars, the EPO’s spokesperson mentioned the imminent arrival of the unitary patent system as an important reason for revising the EPO’s internal rules…”

Dr. Glyn Moody

Summary: Unified Patent Court (UPC) lobbying has gotten so bad that it now infiltrates general media outlets, where people are asked to just blindly assume that the UPC is coming and is inevitable, even though it’s clearly in a limbo and is unlikely to see the light of day

THE UPC Big Lie refuses to die. There is so much money at stake and those who hope to grab that money will just lie ad infinitum. Yesterday, Alan Johnson from Bristows (chronic liars [1, 2, 3]) wrote this blog post in the firm’s growingly-neglected site (as the UPC is clearly in a limbo).

“They have a TERRIBLE, truly appalling track record on facts.”Bristows has made false predictions so many times in the past that anyone with a braincell should learn to simply ignore them by now. But no; those who want to believe (like alien enthusiasts) just keep boosting all that nonsense. Whatever seems more optimistic is deemed better, but basing anything one publishes based on the liars from Bristows is not safe. They have a TERRIBLE, truly appalling track record on facts.

Here we have Alexander Esslinger (a.k.a. “Patently German”) propping up the latest nonsense from Bristows et al by saying “Provisional phase of #UPC to start in May 2017; fully operational in December 2017″ (he is actually citing Withers & Rogers, whose employee Dave Croston has just published fake news about the UPC).

“Many people have already explained why UPC is definitely inseparable from the EU.”“Unified Patent Court to be operational by December 2017 says the Preparatory Committee,” says this firm liking to this blurb from Team UPC. The Preparatory Committee is basically like a group of UPC boosters; they’re not independent actors. “Funfair fortunetellers predicting the future,” one person called it. If credibility depends on past predictions, Bristows and Team UPC should be regarded as chronic liars and repeating lies from Team UPC is hardly good journalism. They said 2015 about UPC ratifications, then 2016, now they say 2017. When will people learn to distrust people who continuously lie in an attempt to pressure/compel politicians to make an error, under the false impression of UPC inevitability?

Watch WIPR bragging about their “top story”, which is basically not fact-checked. The title is also misleading, as “can” (in the body) becomes “due to become” (in the headline). Never mind that Lucy Neville-Rolfe (whom they quote/cite) left or has been sacked after just months at her job.

“If the UPC became a reality, British businesses would be subjected to court rulings from places like Brussels.”According to this new tweet, Lucy’s successor “Jo Johnson who said ‘ #UPC isn’t an EU institution’ http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/science-and-technology-committee/news-parliament-2015/intellectural-property-ev4-16-17/ … at 11:08″

Well, Jo Johnson (who is very young for a politician) is wrong. Maybe he is still clueless because he’s new at the job and has no prior experience in this area. Many people have already explained why UPC is definitely inseparable from the EU. See for example this older series:

Johnson clearly does not understand how the UPC works if he claims it not to be an EU institution, or at least something that is disconnected from the EU. If the UPC became a reality, British businesses would be subjected to court rulings from places like Brussels.

Going back to the aforementioned fake news, citing WIPR, Patent Attorneys like this one hope to convince us that the UPC is coming (never mind if the UPC Preparatory Committee has itself put the brakes on it). The Preparatory Committee is nothing but chronic liars and self-serving manipulators. Just look at their affiliations! And WIPR trusts them (along with Bristows) enough to say — in the headline even! — that “UPC due to become operational in December 2017″?

Sorry, but this is fake news. It’s lobbying by misinformation. Here is how the article starts:

The Unified Patent Court (UPC) preparatory committee has announced that the UPC can become operational in December this year.

Today, January 16, the committee announced that it is now “working under the assumption” that the provisional application phase will start at the end of spring 2017, “presumably in May”.

The committee said that the court can become operational in December 2017.

It confirmed that judicial interviews can begin and “appointments eventually confirmed”.

In October last year, WIPR reported that the UPC had postponed the recruitment of UPC judges in light of the Brexit vote.

“The current timetable is being revisited in light of the result of the referendum in the UK, which will to some extent delay the entry into operation of the UPC,” it said at the time.

In November last year, former UK Minister of State for Intellectual Property, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, made the announcement that the UK will implement the unitary patent and UPC.

“With UK ratification expected in April,” Benjamin Henrion quoted from this. But he is quoting the group of liars, Bristows UPC, who have been repeatedly misleading the public about it and are now promoting their blog post along with their marketing hashtag. Perhaps they hope to attract attention to their business by making ludicrous claims. We don’t know for sure…

The bottom line is, a lot of what we’re seeing in the media, manipulated by Team UPC, is fake news. We must respond to that in order to avoid confusion. These people are playing dirty.

EPO Totally Silent for a Month, But Deep Inside There Are Serious Cracks

2 hours 10 min ago


Photo credit (CC): Groupe LINAGORA

Summary: The situation at the EPO seems to be pretty grim, even at the top-level management, and the EPO has gone into permanent silence mode

“Solidarity with the victims in Berlin” was the last time the EPO said anything publicly (other than banal tweets that say nothing new). In our entire history covering EPO affairs we never saw such long timespan of silence. We started asking about the silence from SUEPO and the EPO. “Cease-fire” one person suggested as a possibility for SUEPO saying virtually nothing, adding that: “It’s probably the well known silent before the storm situation. We both know too well that Battistelli & thugs can’t be trusted…”

We are pretty certain Battistelli intends to sack some more staff representatives, maybe the ones that he’s currently busting at The Hague.

Meanwhile, as revealed by this comment yesterday, the French “principal director in charge of IT is a personal friend of Battistelli,” continuing a tradition of nepotism and institutional corruption at the Office. At the end of last year we learned about possible tensions between two French ladies (Battistelli cronies), Elodie Bergot and Nadja Merdaci-Lefèvre, and now we have this:

more insight into VP1′s “resignation for personal reasons”: according to a very well informant within principal directors in The Hague (a young man who cannot hold his mouth and shares privileged info with some), here is how it would have actually happened:

during the Admin. Council, Battistelli called VP1 in his luxury suite overlooking Munich’s city on floor 10 of the Isar building, to tell him that he was very happy with the production figures and that VP1 did an excellent job before to eventually tender him a letter of resignation ready to sign on the spot.

Indeed the Admin. Council was heavily complaining (in confidential sessions) about the lack of progress of the IT roadmap for which TONS of applicants’money has so far been wasted for no tangible results. Enough! Someone’s head had to roll

Since the principal director in charge of IT is a personal friend of Battistelli (who recruited him at this position where money flows like the Seine in Neuilly) he had to protect him and instead to find another culprit. Battistelli considered that old VP1′s one would do the trick.

Since then old VP1 is down, deeply affected (we actually ignored he was such a delicate soul…) and finds he was brutally abused by the man he served so faithfully during all these years. Indeed to end ones long career like an old pair of knickers thrown in the bin must be hard.

If the following (slightly later) comment is correct, then it confirms rumours we heard about Team Battistelli being in a crisis which it hides from the media:

Indeed VP1 was always a relatively simple soul who didn’t get where he is other than by following the leader rather than having a particular affinity for his DG. His lack of any examination experience (he was working only as a search examiner) helped him drive for numbers without any understanding of the eventualities. So he’s been stabbed in the back? I suppose he thought that meeting the numbers was all that mattered for keeping him in his position. Brutal.
At least I’m happy to hear it isn’t a cover for a serious health issue.

If anyone could provide additional information about this (preferably with some evidence/proof for backing), we would greatly appreciate it. We can be contacted anonymously.

Links 16/1/2017: Linux 4.10 RC4, Linux Mint 18.1 ‘Serena’ KDE Edition Beta

Tuesday 17th of January 2017 12:23:29 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Turn an old laptop into a Chromebook-Linux hybrid

    Common scenario: You buy a new laptop, thinking you’ll sell, donate or hand down the old one… but it never happens. Maybe you don’t want to deal with the hassles of Craigslist or Ebay, not to mention wiping all your data, reinstalling Windows and so on.

    Whatever the case, now it’s just taking up space. But it doesn’t have to: You can give that old laptop new life.

    With Linux, right? Wrong! I mean, yes, you could install Linux, which has always been the go-to option, but not everybody needs or wants the complexity of that operating system. For some, Chromium might be the better choice.

    Chromium is the OS that’s at the heart of Chromebooks — those fast-booting, cloud-powered devices that are so popular these days. Think about it: For whatever reason, no one buys Linux laptops. They buy Chromebooks.

    If you like the idea of giving your old system a Chromebook-like lease on life, good news: It’s fast, free and easy. And it’s not even permanent unless you want it to be.

  • When Peer Pressure Nukes Linux for Windows

    Several months ago, my 16-year-old grandson decided he wanted a powerful computer for gaming. I showed him Steam and some other stuff in Linux and he thought that looked good, so I started accumulating parts. If it was substantially more powerful than anything I have for myself, it was on the list. Sorry I don’t have the details list nearby, but it had a motherboard with a name I had heard, a fairly fast AMD processor with six cores, maxed out RAM, 1TB hard drive, video that took up two slots and had two fans, power supply you could use for welding, and a pair of 22″ monitors.

    I installed Mint 17.3 KDE in less than half an hour (the usual), including separate swap and home partitions (it’s a neurotic thing), setting wallpaper and the like, and doing whatever came to mind at the time. It ran flawlessly and I was happy, so I played with it a while. I really liked it. If I could think of a use, I’d build one for myself.

  • That Other Operating System Continues Its Decline

    The big winner is the Linux kernel. The vociferous opponents of GNU/Linux who haunt this blog can’t have it both ways. If GNU/Linux is not “GNU” and is Linux, then Android/Linux can’t be just Android. It’s Linux underneath.

  • Audiocasts/Shows
    • FLOSS Weekly 417: OpenHMD

      Fredrik Hultin is the Co-founder of the OpenHMD project (together with Jakob Bornecrantz). OpenHMD aims to provide a Free and Open Source API and drivers for immersive technology, such as head-mounted displays with built-in head tracking. The project’s aim is to implement support for as many devices as possible in a portable, cross-platform package.

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 4.10-rc4

      Things are still looking fairly normal, and this is the usual weekly
      Sunday rc release. We’re up to rc4, and people are clearly starting to
      find the regressions. Good, good.

      it’s a slightly more random collection of fixes from last week: the
      bulk of it is still drivers (gpu, net, sound, usb stand out), and
      there’s the usual architecture work (but mostly just x86 this time
      around), but there’s a fair amount of fixes all over. Filesystems
      (xfs, btrfs, some core vfs), tooling (mostly perf), core mm,
      networking etc etc.

      This is also the point where I start hoping that the rc’s start
      shrinking. We’ll see how the tiny rc2 affects things – this may
      technically be rc4, but with that one almost dead week, it feels like
      rc3. But I’m crossing my fingers that we’ll have less next week.

      Regardless, go out and test. This was not a huge merge window, I think
      we’re in pretty good shape for people to dive in..

      Linus

    • Linux 4.10-rc4 Kernel Released

      The fourth weekly test release of the Linux 4.10 kernel is now available.

      For those not up to speed on Linux 4.10, see our Linux 4.10 feature overview. There is a lot of great work included like Nouveau atomic mode-setting, Nouveau boost support, AMD Zen/Ryzen work, new ARM board/platform support, EXT4/XFS DAX iomap support, ATA command priority support, Intel Turbo Boost Max 3.0, and much more.

    • Linus Torvalds Announces Fourth Linux 4.10 Kernel Release Candidate, Get It Now

      It’s Sunday evening, again, and Linus Torvalds just made his weekly announcement to inform the community about the immediate availability for download of a new Release Candidate of the upcoming Linux 4.10 kernel.

      One more week has passed in our lives, but the development of the Linux kernel never stops, and we’re now seeing the release of fourth RC (Release Candidate) build of Linux kernel 4.10, which appears to be fairly normal, yet again, bringing only a collection of assorted bug fixes and improvements from last week.

    • Linux 4.9.4

      I’m announcing the release of the 4.9.4 kernel.

      All users of the 4.9 kernel series must upgrade.

      The updated 4.9.y git tree can be found at:
      git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-4.9.y
      and can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser:

      http://git.kernel.org/?p=linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-st…

    • Linux 4.4.43
    • Linux Kernel 4.9.4 Released with Various ARM/ARM64 and Networking Improvements

      Only three days after announcing the release of the third maintenance update to the Linux 4.9 kernel series, renowned kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman is now informing us about the availability of Linux kernel 4.9.4.

      If you were afraid that your patch did not land in Linux 4.9, which is currently the most advanced stable kernel branch available for GNU/Linux distributions, or if you thought that your device hasn’t yet received the right drivers, think again, because Linux kernel 4.9.4 is full of goodies. Yes, again, but this time the patch is a little smaller and fixes a total of 59 files, with 507 insertions and 205 deletions.

    • A Yet-To-Be-Merged Kernel Patch May Boost Kabylake Graphics In Some Cases
    • A Look At Where The P-State Linux Driver Does Bad Against CPUFreq, Clear Linux Tests

      I’m still running more benchmarks in investigating the Core i5 7600K Linux performance and with even its graphics performance being slower than Skylake. I fired up Clear Linux on this Kaby Lake system this weekend and it’s indeed faster than Ubuntu, though there still is some sort of fundamental issue at play with these new CPUs on Linux. But what is clear is that there are cases where the P-State CPU frequency scaling driver does perform very poorly over the mature, generic CPUFreq scaling driver.

    • The Linux Test Project has been released

      the Linux Test Project test suite stable release for *January 2017* has been released.

    • Graphics Stack
    • Benchmarks
      • A Look At The Huge Performance Boosts With Nouveau Mesa 17.0-devel On Maxwell

        Landing this week in Mesa 17.0-devel Git was OpenGL 4.3 for NVC0 Maxwell and a big performance boost as well for these GeForce GTX 750 / 900 series NVIDIA “Maxwell” graphics processors. Here are some before/after benchmarks of the performance improvements, which the patch cited as “1.5~3.5x better”, when testing a GeForce GTX 750 Ti and GTX 980.

      • Fresh Tests Of Intel Beignet OpenCL

        When firing up Intel’s Beignet OpenCL implementation on Clear Linux this weekend, I was surprised to see it was happily chugging along with many of our different CL benchmarks.

  • Applications
    • Top Software

      The number of open source applications and tools that are available on today’s popular operating systems is simply mind-blowing. They come in all forms. Small scripts and console tools that can be easily integrated into large projects, feature-rich applications that offer everything a complete solution, well designed tools, games that encourage real participation, and eye catching candy.

      Open source software holds many compelling advantages over proprietary software. Open source improves the quality of the code, keeps costs down, encourages innovation and collaboration, combined with superior security, freedom, flexibility, interoperability, business agility, and much more.

    • Kodi 17.0 “Krypton” Release Candidate 3 Updates Estuary Skin, Fixes More Bugs

      The wait is almost over, and you’ll finally be able to enjoy a much modern, improved, and full of new technologies Kodi media center on your PC or HTPC device, be it an Apple TV or Raspberry Pi.

      Martijn Kaijser announced the third Release Candidate (RC) development version for the Kodi 17.0 “Krypton” media center, and it looks to us like these pre-releases are getting smaller by the day, the RC3 build including only seven changes listed on the release notes attached to the official announcement.

    • Proprietary
    • Instructionals/Technical
    • Wine or Emulation
      • Wine-Staging 2.0-RC5 Improves Compatibility For Origin, GOG Galaxy & More

        Wine-Staging 2.0-RC5 was released on Sunday as the newest version of this experimental/testing Wine build. This time around there are some exciting new patches.

        On top of re-basing off Friday’s Wine 2.0-rc5 release and continuing to maintain quite a number of patches that haven’t yet made their way into mainline Wine, a few more patches were added. Upstream Wine is currently under a code freeze until the 2.0 release later this month but that doesn’t stop the Wine-Staging crew.

      • Release 2.0-rc5

        Wine Staging 2.0-rc5 improves the compatibility of various applications that require at least Windows Vista or Windows 7. This includes Origin, Uplay, GOG Galaxy and many more. Several bugs were fixed in the PE loader to support loading of packed executables with truncated headers and/or on-the-fly section decompression. If you are using the 64 bit version of Wine, you may also benefit from the memory manager improvements, which allow applications to reserve/allocate more than 32 GB of virtual memory. The memory allocations are now only constrained by resource limitations of the hardware / the operating system and no longer by an artificial design limit in Wine.

      • Wine Staging 2.0-rc5 released, better support for Origin, GOG Galaxy and more
    • Games
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Calligra 3.0 released

        A new wonderful era for the Calligra Suite has begun with the release of version 3.0.

        We have chosen to cut back on the number of applications. Krita has left us to be independent and although it was emotional it was also done with complete support from both sides. We are saying goodbye to Author, which never differentiated itself from Words. We also removed Brainstorm the purpose of which will be better fitted by a new application (nothing planned from our side). Flow and Stage has gone in this release but we intend to bring them back in the future.

      • Calligra 3.0 Officially Announced, Drops Some Apps, Ports To KF5/Qt5

        This six-year-old split from KOffice is finally living in the KDE Frameworks 5 and Qt5 world with the Calligra 3.0 release. Besides the porting to KF5/Qt5, Calligra 3.0 does away with Krita since it’s moved onto releasing as its own project, the Author e-book application was dropped since it never became much different from Words, and the Brainstorm note-taking app was droped. The Flow flowchart software and Stage presentation program were also dropped from Calligra 3.0 but they are expected to be brought back in the future, such as when fully-ported to KF5/Qt5.

      • Kirigami 2.0 Released, KDE’s Framework for Convergent Mobile and Desktop UIs

        After being in development for the past six months, KDE’s Kirigami 2.0 open-source UI (User Interface) framework has been officially released in its final, production-ready state.

        If memory recalls, the first public release of the Kirigami UI framework saw the light of day at the beginning of August last year, allowing early adopters to test drive KDE’s brand-new tool for creating beautiful, convergent user interfaces written in Qt for both mobile and desktop applications.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • My next EP will be released as a corrupted GPT image

        Endless OS is distributed as a compressed disk image, so you just write it to disk to install it. On first boot, it resizes itself to fill the whole disk. So, to “install” it to a file we decompress the image file, then extend it to the desired length. When booting, in principle we want to loopback-mount the image file and treat that as the root device. But there’s a problem: NTFS-3G, the most mature NTFS implementation for Linux, runs in userspace using FUSE. There are some practical problems arranging for the userspace processes to survive the transition out of the initramfs, but the bigger problem is that accessing a loopback-mounted image on an NTFS partition is slow, presumably because every disk access has an extra round-trip to userspace and back. Is there some way we can avoid this performance penalty?

      • This week in GTK+ – 31

        In this last week, the master branch of GTK+ has seen 52 commits, with 10254 lines added and 9466 lines removed.

  • Distributions
    • New Releases
      • 4MParted 21 Disk Partitioning Live CD Gets Beta Release, Based on GParted 0.26.1

        4MLinux developer Zbigniew Konojacki is informing Softpedia today about the Beta release of his upcoming 4MParted 21.0 distribution, a small Live CD that you can use to partition disk drives without having to install any software application or script.

      • Q4OS 1.8.2, Orion

        New version 1.8.2 is based on the the most recent release of stable Debian Jessie 8.7, important security patches have been applied and core system packages have been updated. Q4OS Update manager has been rewritten from scratch to provide a robust and reliable tool for safe system upgrades. Other Q4OS specific fixes and under the hood improvements are delivered as usual. All the updates are immediately available for existing Q4OS users from the regular Q4OS repositories.

        Most attention is now focused on the development of the testing Q4OS ‘Scorpion’ version 2.2, based on Debian 9 Stretch. Q4OS 2.2 Scorpion continues to be under development so far, and it will stay as long as Debian Stretch will be testing, the release date is preliminarily scheduled at about the turn of April and May 2017. Q4OS ‘Scorpion’ will be supported at least five years from the official release date.

      • NuTyX 8.2.93 released
      • Linux Top 3: Parted Magic, Quirky and Ultimate Edition

        Parted Magic is a very niche Linux distribution that many users first discover when they’re trying to either re-partition a drive or recover data from an older system. The new Parted Magic 2017_01_08 release is an incremental update that follows the very large 2016_10_18 update that provided 800 updates.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Debian from 10,000 feet

        Many of you are big fans of S.W.O.T analysis, I am sure of that! Technical competence is our strongest suit, but we have reached a size and sphere of influence which requires an increase in organisation.

        We all love our project and want to make sure Debian still shines in the next decades (and centuries!). One way to secure that goal is to identify elements/events/things which could put that goal at risk. To this end, we’ve organized a short S.W.O.T analysis session at DebConf16. Minutes of the meeting can be found here. I believe it is an interesting read and is useful for Debian old-timers as well as newcomers. It helps to convey a better understanding of the project’s status. For each item, we’ve tried to identify an action.

      • Debian Outs First Release Candidate of Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” Installer

        Work on the upcoming Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” operating system is ongoing, and Debian Project’s Cyril Brulebois announced today the availability of the first Release Candidate of the Debian Installer for Stretch.

        A lot of things have been implemented since the eight, and last Alpha development release of the Debian Stretch Installer, but the most important changes outlined in the announcement for the RC1 build are the revert of the switch to merged-/usr as default setting for debootstrap and disablement of Debian Pure Blends support.

      • Debian Installer Stretch RC 1 release

        The Debian Installer team[1] is pleased to announce the first release candidate of the installer for Debian 9 “Stretch”.

      • Debian Installer Stretch RC 1 Arrives, The /usr Merge Has Been Postponed

        The Debian Installer is getting ready for the 9.0 “Stretch” release.

      • Debian GNU/Linux 8.7 “Jessie” Live & Installable ISOs Now Available for Download

        We reported the other day that the Debian Project released Debian GNU/Linux 8.7 “Jessie,” which is the seventh maintenance update to the current Debian Stable series of Linux-based computer operating systems.

        As promised, we told you then that installation mediums aren’t yet available for download, nor Live ISO images, which help users install the latest, most up-to-date version of Debian Linux on their PCs or laptops without having download hundreds of updates from the official software repositories.

      • Debian Project launches updated Debian GNU/Linux 8.7 with bug fixes

        An updated version of Debian, a popular Linux distribution is now available for users to download and install. According to the post on the Debian website by Debian Project, the new version is 8.7. This is the seventh update to the Debian eight distribution, and the update primarily focuses on fixing bugs and security problems. This update also includes some adjustments to fix serious problems present in the previous version.

      • Freexian’s report about Debian Long Term Support, December 2016

        The number of sponsored hours did not increase but a new silver sponsor is in the process of joining. We are only missing another silver sponsor (or two to four bronze sponsors) to reach our objective of funding the equivalent of a full time position.

      • APK, images and other stuff.

        Also, I was pleased to see F-droid Verification Server as a sign of F-droid progress on reproducible builds effort – I hope these changes to diffoscope will help them!

      • Derivatives
        • Tails 2.10 Will Upgrade to Linux Kernel 4.8 and Tor 0.2.9, Add exFAT Support

          A new stable release of Tails, the beloved anonymous Live CD that helps you stay hidden online when navigating various websites on the Internet, is being prepared.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • MATE 1.16 Desktop Now Available for Ubuntu MATE 16.04, Here’s How to Install It

            The wait is finally over, as the MATE 1.16 desktop environment is now available for those who use the Ubuntu MATE 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system or later versions, such as 16.04.1.

            After thoroughly testing them, Martin Wimpress and his team updated the PPA (Personal Package Archive) containing the MATE desktop packages for Ubuntu MATE 16.04 LTS, a long-term supported version of the officially recognized Ubuntu flavor built around the lightweight and customizable MATE desktop environment, to version 1.16.

            MATE 1.16.1 is, in fact, the current version of the desktop environment included in said PPA for Ubuntu MATE 16.04 LTS users, which they can install as we speak by using the installation instructions provided in the next paragraphs, and it looks like it was derived from those prepared for the upcoming Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” release.

          • Intel Haswell GPUs Now Support OpenGL 4.2 for Ubuntu Gamers in Padoka/Oibaf PPAs

            Ubuntu gamers relying upon their Intel Haswell graphics card series to play various games that support these GPUs will be happy to learn that the open-source Intel drivers now support OpenGL 4.2.

            Until today, the Intel i965 graphics drivers offered by the well-known Padoka and Oibaf PPAs for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) and Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) operating systems exposed only OpenGL 4.0 for Intel Haswell GPUs, thus support for some demanding games just wasn’t there.

          • Flavours and Variants
            • Ultimate Edition 5.1 Linux OS Is Out, Based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and Kernel 4.4

              After announcing the release of Ultimate Edition 5.0 Gamers Edition, an Ubuntu-based operating system designed for Linux gamers, last week, TheeMahn is now releasing Ultimate Edition 5.1.

            • Linux Mint 18.1 ‘Serena’ KDE Edition Beta is available for download now

              A Beta release for Linux Mint 18.1 ‘Serena’ KDE is here. There are already versions available featuring other desktop environments, such as Cinnamon, Mate, and Xfce. You’d think that would be enough, but no! Apparently a fourth edition is needed. Some people feel that a KDE version is a waste of resources, but either way, here we are.

              So what is new? The KDE Plasma 5.8 desktop environment is the star of the show — after all, if you do not want KDE, you wouldn’t choose this version. The shipping Linux kernel is 4.4.0-53, which is surprisingly outdated. Ubuntu-based operating systems are never known for being bleeding-edge, however.

            • Linux Mint 18.1 “Serena” KDE Gets a Beta Release, Ships with KDE Plasma 5.8 LTS

              After landing on the official download channels a few days ago, the Beta version of the upcoming Linux Mint 18.1 “Serena” KDE Edition operating system got today, January 16, 2017, an official announcement.

              The KDE Edition is the last in the new Linux Mint 18.1 “Serena” stable series to be published, and it was delayed a little bit because Clement Lefebvre and his team wanted it to ship with latest KDE Plasma 5.8 LTS desktop environment from the Kubuntu Backports PPA repository.

            • Linux AIO Ubuntu 16.10 — Ubuntu GNOME, Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Ubuntu MATE, and Xubuntu In One ISO

              Linux AIO is a multiboot ISO carrying different flavors of a single Linux distribution and eases you from the pain of keeping different bootable USBs. The latest Linux AIO Ubuntu 16.10 is now available for download in both 64-bit and 32-bit versions. It features various Ubuntu flavors including Ubuntu GNOME, Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Ubuntu MATE, and Xubuntu.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Google’s open-source Draco promises to squeeze richer 3D worlds into the web, gaming, and VR

    Google has published a set of open source libraries that should improve the storage and transmission of 3D graphics, which could help deliver more detailed 3D apps.

  • Why every business should consider an open source point of sale system

    Point of sale (POS) systems have come a long way from the days of simple cash registers that rang up purchases. Today, POS systems can be all-in-one solutions that include payment processing, inventory management, marketing tools, and more. Retailers can receive daily reports on their cash flow and labor costs, often from a mobile device.

    The POS is the lifeblood of a business, and that means you need to choose one carefully. There are a ton of options out there, but if you want to save money, adapt to changing business needs, and keep up with technological advances, you would be wise to consider an open source system. An open source POS, where the source code is exposed for your use, offers significant advantages over a proprietary system that keeps its code rigidly under wraps.

  • Events
  • SaaS/Back End
    • Target CIO explains how DevOps took root inside the retail giant [Ed: Don’t ever make/give Target any payments, certainly not digitally. They use a lot of Microsoft Mindows i.e. back doors]

      When I arrived at Target in mid-2015, I was excited to find an active grassroots DevOps and agile movement in pockets of the technology team. We’d already seen some great results with our digital teams and our enterprise architecture group moving to agile and DevOps. And we had a lot of engineers and team members who were hungry to start working this way.

    • OpenStack Vendor Mirantis Offers Managed OpenContrail SDN Services

      The open-source OpenContrail Software Defined Networking (SDN) technology is one of the most widely used and deployed networking approaches in the OpenStack cloud market. That’s a fact that is not lost on OpenStack vendor Mirantis, which is why today Mirantis is announcing commercial support for OpenContrail.

    • Cloud Kindergarten preps students for OpenStack careers

      Cloud Kindergarten began this year to offer students a chance to learn about OpenStack and how to work with it. The students taking part in this program have access to Devstack so that they can learn about different commands and how to best utilize them in practice. Students are also able to create a tenant or network with routers and host an application like WordPress with databases and web servers.

    • OpenStack private cloud: benefits, challenges and what the future holds

      Many businesses in the UK have turned to private cloud to run mission-critical applications, with 80 percent of senior IT professionals having moved, or planning to move, to the OpenStack private cloud.

      The impact and adoption rates of this “cloud of choice” were explored in a recent study by SUSE, looking into the key benefits of private cloud and the effect its growth is having on UK businesses.

    • Navigating OpenStack: community, release cycles and events

      Hopefully last week we piqued your interest in a career path in OpenStack. Like any other open source project, if you’re going to use it—professionally or personally—it’s important to understand its community and design/release patterns.

    • Containers on the CERN cloud

      We have recently made the Container-Engine-as-a-Service (Magnum) available in production at CERN as part of the CERN IT department services for the LHC experiments and other CERN communities. This gives the OpenStack cloud users Kubernetes, Mesos and Docker Swarm on demand within the accounting, quota and project permissions structures already implemented for virtual machines.

    • Effective OpenStack contribution: Seven things to avoid at all cost

      There are numerous blogs and resources for the new and aspiring OpenStack contributor, providing tips, listing what to do. Here are seven things to avoid if you want to be an effective OpenStack contributor.

    • Tips for contributors, managing containers at CERN, and more OpenStack news

      Are you interested in keeping track of what is happening in the open source cloud? Opensource.com is your source for news in OpenStack, the open source cloud infrastructure project.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • GIMP’s Progress In 2016, What’s Ahead For 2017

      GIMP contributor Alexandre Prokoudine published a lengthy blog post today looking back at what were the accomplishments for this open-source image manipulation program in 2016 and some of what’s ahead for the program this year.

      [...]

      Among the work still being done before GIMP 2.10 is released includes cleaning up libgimp, changing linear/gamma-corrected workflows, and 16/32-bit per color channel support, a new color management implementation, and more. GIMP 2.10 will hopefully ship later in 2017.

    • How To Install The Latest GIMP 2.9 Development Build on Ubuntu
    • What To Expect In GIMP 2.10

      The GIMP is our favorite image editing app for Linux, and this year it’s set to get even better. The development team behind the hugely popular open-source project this week shared word about ‘what’s next for GIMP‘ in 2017.

    • AMD HSA IL / BRIG Front-End Still Hoping To Get Into GCC 7

      For many months now there’s been work on an AMD HSA IL front-end for GCC with supporting the BRIG binary form of the Heterogeneous System Architecture Intermediate Language (HSA IL). It’s getting late into GCC 7 development and onwards to its final development stage while this new front-end has yet to be merged.

      Developer Pekka Jääskeläinen has been trying to get in the finishing reviews and changes for getting approval to land this BRIG front-end into the GNU Compiler Collection. It’s a big addition and with GCC 7 soon just focusing on wrong-code fixes, bug fixes, and documentation fixes starting on 19 January, there would be just a few days left to land this new front-end for GCC 7 to avoid having to wait until next year for it to debut in stable with GCC 8.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Access/Content
      • Can academic faculty members teach with Wikipedia?

        Since 2010, 29,000 students have completed the Wiki Ed program. They have added 25 million words to Wikipedia, or the equivalent of 85,000 printed pages of content. This is 66% of the total words in the last print edition of Encyclopedia Britannica. When Wiki Ed students are most active, they are contributing 10% of all the content being added to underdeveloped, academic content areas on Wikipedia.

    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Can RISC-V – Linux of Microprocessors – Start an Open Hardware Renaissance?

        I share the hope with many people that we will soon have access to modern, capable devices powered by both open hardware AND software. There have been advancements in recent years and more hardware is being opened up, but the microprocessors in our pc’s and other devices are stuck running one of the dominant, closed Instruction Set Architectures. RISC-V aims to fix this.

  • Programming/Development
    • Rcpp 0.12.9: Next round

      Yesterday afternoon, the nineth update in the 0.12.* series of Rcpp made it to the CRAN network for GNU R. Windows binaries have by now been generated; and the package was updated in Debian too. This 0.12.9 release follows the 0.12.0 release from late July, the 0.12.1 release in September, the 0.12.2 release in November, the 0.12.3 release in January, the 0.12.4 release in March, the 0.12.5 release in May, the 0.12.6 release in July, the 0.12.7 release in September, and the 0.12.8 release in November — making it the thirteenth release at the steady bi-montly release frequency.

      Rcpp has become the most popular way of enhancing GNU R with C or C++ code. As of today, 906 packages on CRAN depend on Rcpp for making analytical code go faster and further. That is up by sixthythree packages over the two months since the last release — or about a package a day!

Leftovers
  • Hardware
    • MSI X99A RAIDER Plays Fine With Linux

      This shouldn’t be a big surprise though given the Intel X99 chipset is now rather mature and in the past I’ve successfully tested the MSI X99A WORKSTATION and X99S SLI PLUS motherboards on Linux. The X99A RAIDER is lower cost than these other MSI X99 motherboards I’ve tested, which led me in its direction, and then sticking with MSI due to the success with these other boards and MSI being a supporter of Phoronix and encouraging our Linux hardware testing compared to some other vendors.

    • First 3.5-inch Kaby Lake SBC reaches market

      Axiomtek’s 3.5-inch CAPA500 SBC taps LGA1151-ready CPUs from Intel’s 7th and 6th Generations, and offers PCIe, dual GbE, and optional “ZIO” expansion.

      Axiomtek’s CAPA500 is the first 3.5-inch form-factor SBC that we’ve seen that supports Intel’s latest 7th Generation “Kaby Lake” processors. Kaby Lake is similar enough to the 6th Gen “Skylake” family, sharing 14nm fabrication, Intel Gen 9 Graphics, and other features, to enable the CAPA500 to support both 7th and 6th Gen Core i7/i5/i3 CPUs as long as they use an LGA1151 socket. Advantech’s Kaby Lake based AIMB-205 Mini-ITX board supports the same socket. The CAPA500 ships with an Intel H110 chipset, and a Q170 is optional.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Veterans’ Corner: Contaminated water at Camp Lejeune

      The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) plans to expand disability compensation eligibility for Veterans exposed to contaminated drinking water while assigned to Camp Lejeune.

      Water sources at Camp Lejeune were contaminated from 1953-1987 with industrial solvents that are correlated with certain health conditions. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs has proposed presumptions of service connection for certain conditions associated with these chemicals.

      The drinking water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated with perchloroethylene, trichloroethylene, vinyl chloride, benzene and other petroleum contaminants from leaking storage tanks. It has been determined that prolonged exposure to these chemicals increases the risk of certain health conditions.

    • Medicare for All should replace Obamacare: Column

      Even before the election of Donald Trump, Obamacare was in trouble. Premiums on the government exchanges for individual policies are projected to increase an average of 11% next year, nearly four times the increase for employer-based family policies. And some large insurers are pulling out of that market altogether in parts of the country.

      Those who buy insurance on the exchanges often find that even with subsidies, they can’t afford to use the insurance because of mounting deductibles (about $6,000 for individual Bronze plans). It has become clear that health insurance is not the same as health care.

  • Security
    • Microsoft slates end to security bulletins in February [iophk: “further obscuring”; Ed: See this]

      Microsoft next month will stop issuing detailed security bulletins, which for nearly 20 years have provided individual users and IT professionals information about vulnerabilities and their patches.

      One patching expert crossed his fingers that Microsoft would make good on its pledge to publish the same information when it switches to a new online database. “I’m on the fence right now,” said Chris Goettl, product manager with patch management vendor Shavlik, of the demise of bulletins. “We’ll have to see [the database] in February before we know how well Microsoft has done [keeping its promise].”

    • Reflected XSS through AngularJS sandbox bypass causes password exposure of McDonald users

      By abusing an insecure cryptographic storage vulnerability (link) and a reflected server cross-site-scripting vulnerability (link) it is possible to steal and decrypt the password from a McDonald’s user. Besides that, other personal details like the user’s name, address & contact details can be stolen too.

    • DragonFlyBSD Installer Updated To Support UEFI System Setup

      DragonFlyBSD has been working on its (U)EFI support and with the latest Git code its installer now has basic UEFI support.

    • Monday’s security updates
    • What does security and USB-C have in common?

      I’ve decided to create yet another security analogy! You can’t tell, but I’m very excited to do this. One of my long standing complaints about security is there are basically no good analogies that make sense. We always try to talk about auto safety, or food safety, or maybe building security, how about pollution. There’s always some sort of existing real world scenario we try warp and twist in a way so we can tell a security story that makes sense. So far they’ve all failed. The analogy always starts out strong, then something happens that makes everything fall apart. I imagine a big part of this is because security is really new, but it’s also really hard to understand. It’s just not something humans are good at understanding.

      [...]

      The TL;DR is essentially the world of USB-C cables is sort of a modern day wild west. There’s no way to really tell which ones are good and which ones are bad, so there are some people who test the cables. It’s nothing official, they’re basically volunteers doing this in their free time. Their feedback is literally the only real way to decide which cables are good and which are bad. That’s sort of crazy if you think about it.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Taiwan’s President Takes a ‘Walk on the International Stage’ While Trump Baits Beijing

      The U.S. President-elect’s insistence that recognition of the “one China” policy is negotiable has infuriated China

      Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has risked Beijing’s wrath by remarking that her trip to Central America via the U.S. has allowed “Taiwan to walk on the international stage,” just a day after President-elect Donald Trump reiterated that American recognition of the “one China” principle was up for negotiation.

      China and Taiwan effectively split in 1949 following a civil war, though Beijing considers the self-governing island of 25 million a breakaway province with which it must one day be reunified — by force if necessary. Chinese officials are extremely wary of any statement — like Tsai’s — that might give the impression that Taiwan is an independent nation.

    • Donald Trump warned Beijing will ‘take off the gloves’ if he continues Taiwan agenda, says Chinese state media

      President-elect Donald Trump has been warned he is “playing with fire” and that Beijing will “take off the gloves” if he continues to provoke China’s government by suggesting the “One China” policy could change.

      Mr Trump once again suggested the “One China” principle, in which the US recognises the self-governing island of Taiwan as part of China, is up for negotiation in a recent interview.

      Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, the President-elect said: “Everything is under negotiation, including One China”. China’s foreign ministry responded to the comments by stating that the “One China” principle is the foundation of US ties and is non-negotiable.

    • Yemen death toll has reached 10,000, UN says

      At least 10,000 people have been killed in the war in Yemen, according to the United Nations, which is urging both sides to come together to end nearly two years of conflict.

      The UN’s humanitarian affairs office said the figure, which is a low estimate, was reached using data from health facilities that have kept track of the victims of the war, which has largely been ignored by the international community.

      The figure does not include those recorded by hospitals and health centres as having died, which is likely to be most of the combatants on both sides of the conflict.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Julian Assange: Scapegoat or villain?

      One of the most banal tropes of Hollywood blockbuster trailers is about one man pitted against an all-powerful enemy, and ultimately prevailing. The figure of the lone ranger battling on with his back to the wall is a popular figure of American pop culture. How ironic, then, that this very figure seems to have become the bane of the country’s righteous political establishment.

      So one man, holed up in the embassy of a tiny Latin American nation, a man who hasn’t seen much sunlight in four years, who is under round-the-clock surveillance, and is subject to arbitrary denial of Internet access, has managed to swing the presidential election of the most powerful country in the world in a direction it ought not to have gone. Or so we are told by influential sections of the Western press.

    • Media beware, your credibility is all you have: Column

      BuzzFeed News drew a tongue-lashing from President-elect Donald Trump this week for publishing a 35-page bombshell document with inflammatory allegations about his ties to Russia.

      Disclosing the Trump dossier — with its errors and unproven claims — reflects BuzzFeed’s principles “to be transparent in our journalism and to share what we have with our readers,” editor Ben Smith said in a memo to his staff. He said it also reflects “how we see the job of reporters in 2017.”

      But many journalists and critics aren’t so sure. “It’s never been acceptable to publish rumor and innuendo,” Margaret Sullivan wrote in The Washington Post. The Atlantic’s David Graham, meanwhile, worried about the ethics of publishing specific claims other reporters had tried to verify but could not.

      Once again, it comes down to credibility — the only real currency journalism has.

    • Social media, “WikiLeaks” and false news in the 18th century: Thomas Jefferson and the “Mazzei letter”

      In today’s public discourse, nothing is more super-charged than social media, “WikiLeaks” and false news.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Japan criticised after whale slaughtered in Australian waters

      Australia’s federal environment minister, Josh Frydenberg, has criticised Japan following the release of photographs allegedly showing the slaughtering of protected whales inside Australia’s Antarctic whale sanctuary.

      Frydenberg’s statement came as conservationists called for tougher action from Australia.

      “The Australian government is deeply disappointed that Japan has decided to return to the Southern Ocean this summer to undertake so-called ‘scientific’ whaling,” Frydenberg said.

    • Green MEP calls on police chief to investigate ‘threats’ against anti-drilling campaigners

      Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the South East, has written to Chief Constable Giles York of Sussex Police urging the force to investigate ‘harassment’ claims made by various anti-drilling campaigners.

      In November, Keith visited constituents at the peaceful anti-drilling protection camp in Leith Hill, Dorking before meeting with the Keep Billingshurst Frack Free campaign group. During the meetings, and in subsequent correspondence, campaigners reported escalating levels of ‘stalking’ and ‘harassment’ by individuals they allege to be shareholders of the drilling company, UK Oil and Gas (UKOG).

  • Finance
    • A Republican Privatization of Social Security Is a Real Possibility

      Social Security was among the most important issues heading into the 2016 election. Yet, interestingly enough, it wasn’t paid very much attention during the debates, which is surprising when you consider that 61% of current retired beneficiaries count on Social Security to provide at least half of their monthly income.

      The reason Social Security is causing such concern among retirees and working Americans is an expected budgetary shortfall in the program that’s being caused by the retirement of baby boomers from the workforce and the relatively steady lengthening of life expectancies since the mid-1960s. According to the Social Security Board of Trustees, the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance Trust is slated to exhaust its more than $2.8 trillion in spare cash by 2034. Should Congress fail to find a way to generate more revenue, cut benefits, or enact some combination of the two, the Trustees report estimates that a 21% across-the-board benefit cut would be needed to sustain Social Security through the year 2090. For those aforementioned reliant seniors, a 21% cut in their benefits is a terrifying reality.

      During his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump offered one simple solution to the American public: that he would leave Social Security alone. Trump opined that it was the duty of congressional leaders to fulfill their promise to retired workers of a steady monthly benefit check.

    • World’s eight richest men own as much as poorest 50%

      The gap between the super-rich and the poorest half of the global population is starker than previously thought, with just eight men, from Bill Gates to Michael Bloomberg, owning as much wealth as 3.6 billion people, according to an analysis by Oxfam released on Monday.

      Presenting its findings on the dawn of the annual gathering of the global political and business elites in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, Oxfam says the gap between the very rich and poor is far greater than just a year ago. It’s urging leaders to do more than pay lip-service to the problem.

      If not, it warns, public anger against this kind of inequality will continue to grow and lead to more seismic political changes akin to last year’s election of Donald Trump as US president and Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.

    • The Coming Crusade Against Public Education

      Betsy DeVos, whose nomination for secretary of education will be reviewed by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on Tuesday, has never taught in a classroom. She’s never worked in a school administration, nor in a state education system, nor has she studied pedagogy. She’s never been to public school, and neither have her children. She has no record on higher education, except as an investor in the student-loan industry, which the Department of Education oversees. As Massachusetts Senator (and HELP Committee member) Elizabeth Warren wrote recently, there is “no precedent” for an education secretary with DeVos’s lack of experience in public education.

    • Sterling Options Signal More Turmoil as May Speech, Ruling Loom

      A measure of anticipated swings for the pound climbed to the highest in three months before U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech on Brexit plans Tuesday and a court ruling this month on whether the British leader or Parliament carries the power to invoke the exit.

    • World’s eight richest people have same wealth as poorest 50%

      The world’s eight richest billionaires control the same wealth between them as the poorest half of the globe’s population, according to a charity warning of an ever-increasing and dangerous concentration of wealth.

      In a report published to coincide with the start of the week-long World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Oxfam said it was “beyond grotesque” that a handful of rich men headed by the Microsoft founder Bill Gates are worth $426bn (£350bn), equivalent to the wealth of 3.6 billion people.

      The development charity called for a new economic model to reverse an inequality trend that it said helped to explain Brexit and Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election.

    • [Old] Gates Foundation accused of ‘dangerously skewing’ aid priorities by promoting ‘corporate globalisation’

      They are among the richest people on earth, have won plaudits for their fight to eradicate some of the world’s deadliest and prolific killers, and donated billions to better educate and feed the poorest on the planet.

      Despite this, Bill and Melinda Gates are facing calls for their philanthropic Foundation, through which they have donated billions worldwide, to be subject to an international investigation, according to a controversial new report.

      Far from a “neutral charitable strategy”, the Gates Foundation is about benefiting big business, especially in agriculture and health, through its “ideological commitment to promote neoliberal economic policies and corporate globalisation,” according to the report published by the campaign group Global Justice Now. Its influence is “dangerously skewing” aid priorities, the group says.

      [...]

      The report is critical of the close working relations between the Foundation and major international pharmaceutical corporations and points out many of the same firms have been criticised for their over-pricing of life-saving vaccines. It warns that philanthropic influence is skewing health priorities “towards the interests of wealthy donors (vaccines) rather than resilient health systems”.

      [...]

      It accuses the Gates Foundation of promoting specific priorities through agriculture grants, some of which undermine the interests of small farmers. These include promoting industrial agriculture, use of chemical fertilisers and expensive, patented seeds, and a focus on genetically modified seeds. “Much of the Foundation’s work appears to bypass local knowledge,” the report claims.

      The criticism echoes the accusations made by the Indian scientist Vandana Shiva who called the Gates Foundation the “greatest threat to farmers in the developing world.”

      [...]

      It calls for the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development to carry out an inquiry into the foundation’s work on top of a British Parliamentary inquiry.

    • The Clinton Foundation Shuts Down Clinton Global Initiative

      The Clinton Foundation’s long list of wealthy donors and foreign government contributors during the 2016 elections provoked critics to allege conflicts of interests. Clinton partisans defended the organization’s charitable work, and dismissed claims that it served as a means for the Clintons to sell off access, market themselves on the paid speech circuit, and elevate their brand as Hillary Clinton campaigned for the presidency.

      But as soon as Clinton lost the election, many of the criticisms directed toward the Clinton Foundation were reaffirmed. Foreign governments began pulling out of annual donations, signaling the organization’s clout was predicated on donor access to the Clintons, rather than its philanthropic work. In November, the Australian government confirmed it “has not renewed any of its partnerships with the scandal-plagued Clinton Foundation, effectively ending 10 years of taxpayer-funded contributions worth more than $88 million.” The government of Norway also drastically reduced their annual donations, which reached $20 million a year in 2015.

    • Looking forward to Theresa May’s speech on Brexit

      This week’s speech is expected to say that the United Kingdom is prepared to leave the single market. But, as I have set out on this blog and at the FT, the departure of the United Kingdom from the single market is the necessary implication of the positions which the prime minister has admitted to holding.

      Perhaps the speech will reveal something about how the United Kingdom is seeking to attain the objectives. Perhaps there will be some statements about still-unknown issues such as the United Kingdom’s position on a customs union.

      Or perhaps it will be a sequence of slogans and ambitions, without any substance on how they will be converted into reality.

      More important may be the interview from the chancellor of the exchequer Phillip Hammond with a German newspaper. He often seems to be the only grown-up in the cabinet.

    • Swedish minister ‘shocked’ by xenophobia towards Swedes in UK

      The Swedish government wants the issue of the rights of EU citizens in the UK and British people settled elsewhere in Europe to be resolved urgently and removed from the Brexit negotiating table as quickly as possible.

      Ann Linde, the Swedish minister for EU affairs and trade, said she was shocked by the uncertainty and xenophobia experienced by Swedes in the UK since the referendum.

      She said the future of an estimated 100,000 Swedish people in Britain and 30,000 British people in Sweden, had to be urgently dealt with. She said: “This is one of the very most important issues and we have to solve it in a very constructive way in the first part of the negotiations.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • French progressives dare to hope as maverick Macron surges in polls

      From the stage in a packed concert hall, France’s youngest presidential candidate looked up at the thousands of people who had come to witness his trademark thunderous speaking style.

      “Never accept those who promote exclusion, hatred or closing in on ourselves!” Emmanuel Macron urged the audience in Lille, a city surrounded by France’s leftwing northern heartlands that are increasingly turning to Marine Le Pen’s far-right Front National. “When the Front National promises to restore security points at the border, they are lying,” he said.

    • Donald Trump v. the Spooks

      In that corner, we have a deal-making, billionaire “man of the people” who, to European sensibilities at least, reputedly espouses some of the madder domestic obsessions and yet has seemed to offer hope to many aggrieved Americans. But it is his professed position on building a rapprochement with Russia and cooperating with Moscow to sort out the Syrian mess that caught my attention and that of many other independent commentators internationally.

      In the opposite corner, Trump’s opponents have pushed the CIA into the ring to deliver the knock-out blow, but this has yet to land. Despite jab after jab, Trump keeps evading the blows and comes rattling back against all odds. One has to admire the guy’s footwork.

      So who are the opponents ranged behind the CIA, yelling encouragement through the ropes? The obvious culprits include the U.S. military-industrial complex, whose corporate bottom line relies on an era of unending war. As justification for extracting billions – even trillions – of dollars from American taxpayers, there was a need for frightening villains, such as Al Qaeda and even more so, the head choppers of ISIS. However, since the Russian intervention in Syria in 2015, those villains no longer packed as scary a punch, so a more enduring villain, like Emmanuel Goldstein, the principal enemy of the state in George Orwell’s 1984, was required. Russia was the obvious new choice, the old favorite from the Cold War playbook.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Calling Something Hate: The New Form Of Silencing

      See how easy it is to tar someone as an unacceptable person?

      They say something you don’t like.

      Or maybe they’re in your way for some reason — perhaps keeping you from having an entirely clear path to the top.

      “J’accuse!” time!

      I think this is becoming — and will continue to become — an extremely convenient way to go after people who’ve done nothing wrong…well, that is, in a society that values civil liberties, including free speech, enough to protect them.

    • ‘Telly viewers hate censorship more than swearing’, say academics

      Television viewers are less offended by swear words than censorship when it comes to regulators, academics have found.

      Researchers from Leicester and Birmingham City universities travelled the country – and Germany – to study people watching daytime TV.

      They watched programmes reported to be offensive or problematic and discussed these with the viewers.

      Dr Ranjana Das, from Leicester’s School of Media, Communication and Sociology, and Dr Anne Graefer, from the Birmingham School of Media, found swear words, bad language or flashy lighting were rarely considered worth complaints to regulators.

    • IMDb Draws Support In Fight Against California Censorship Law

      A California law requiring Amazon’s IMDb to scrub actors’ ages from its site could pave the way for other new measures aimed at squelching truthful information, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press says in new court papers.

      “If it is constitutional for the government to suppress IMDb’s public site from reporting age information, there will be virtually no limit to the government’s ability to suppress the reporting of many other truthful facts by many other sources,” the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press argues in a friend-of-the-court brief filed last week. “In an age where the media is struggling to combat the pernicious effects of false news, the truth should not be suppressed.”

      The organization, along with a host of legal scholars, is backing IMDb’s effort to block enforcement of the new law, which was passed last year at the urging of the Screen Actors Guild and took effect on January 1.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Obama administration signs off on wider data-sharing for NSA

      The Obama Department of Justice (DOJ) has signed off on new rules to let the National Security Agency (NSA) share globally intercepted personal information with the country’s other 16 intelligence agencies, before it applies privacy protection to or minimizes the raw data.

      Or, as Patrick Toomey, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), put it in an interview with the New York Times, 17 intelligence agencies are now going to be “rooting… through Americans’ emails with family members, friends and colleagues, all without ever obtaining a warrant”.

      The new rules mean that the FBI, the CIA, the DEA, and intelligence agencies of the US military’s branches and more, will be able to search through raw signals intelligence (SIGINT): intercepted signals that include all manner of people’s communications, be it via satellite transmissions, phone calls and emails that cross network switches abroad, as well as messages between people abroad that cross domestic network switches.

    • Obama Expands NSA Spying. Attack against Democratic Rights
    • Barack Obama Allowed NSA to Share Surveillance Data With All Government Intelligence Agencies

      Barack Obama, the outgoing US president, allowed the NSA (National Security Agency) to share surveillance data with all government security and intelligence agencies. The new rules were signed by Loretta Lynch, the Attorney General, on January 3, 2017. There are 16 government security and intelligence agencies in total, some of them are the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

    • White House Approves New Rules for Sharing of Raw Intelligence Data

      President Obama last week approved a change in the way the National Security Agency shares raw signals intelligence data with the rest of the U.S. intelligence community, a shift that privacy experts worry will erode the civil liberties of Americans.

    • Pardon Snowden Campaign Delivers Over One Million Signatures to Obama

      With less than a week left of Obama’s presidency, a coalition of organizations has collected more than a million signatures on a petition urging Obama to issue a full pardon to Edward Snowden, the whistle-blower who revealed the size and scope of the surveillance conducted by the NSA and other federal agencies. Snowden (shown) fled the country and has lived in exile in Russia since May of 2013. If pardoned, he could return to American soil a hero to many.

    • Records show timesheet falsifications at NSA

      The National Security Agency’s internal watchdog has found more than 100 cases in five years in which civilian employees and contractors falsely claimed to have been at work.

      Details about the cases were released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Baltimore Sun (http://bsun.md/2iuZO9g ). An NSA spokesman says the incidents cost the agency almost $3.5 million, though about 80 percent of the money lost to the fraud has been recovered.

    • Amazon snapped up an AI security startup for around $20 million

      Amazon has acquired a San Diego security startup called Harvest.ai for around $20 million (£17 million), TechCrunch reports.

      The acquisition was reportedly made through Amazon Web Services (AWS), Amazon’s cloud services group.

      Founded by two former NSA employees, Harvest.ai has developed technology that can help companies to find and stop targeted attacks on their data.

    • 3Apple, please help to save private e-mail encryption

      After the latest Mac OS upgrade (Sierra) – GPG encryption of mail doesn’t work. Apparently, the GPGTools-people need to do a lot of reverse engineering. And as they kindly offer the world encryption for free their resources are limited.

      This might lead to people turning away from e-mail encryption, at a point in time where more people ought to take it up. This should be an argument strong enough for Apple to give the GPG-team a helping hand.

    • When It Comes to Police Surveillance, Local Politics Matter

      On Friday, the Boston Police Department said that it would not go ahead with a controversial plan to spend $1.4 million dollars on software used to monitor social media activity.

      “After reviewing the submitted proposals I felt that the technology that was presented exceeds the needs of our department,” Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said in a statement.

      The announcement comes after a sustained campaign led by the American Civil Liberties Union, Fight for the Future, and other community organizers to defeat the proposal, which was first made public in late October.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Obama’s Legacy: A Historic War On Whistleblowers

      As President Barack Obama soared into office eight years ago, he promised, on his first day in the White House, to launch “a new era of open government.”

      “The Government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears,” Obama said in a Jan. 21, 2009 memorandum.

      Obama was urging the attorney general to issue new guidelines protecting The Freedom of Information Act. “In the face of doubt,” Obama proclaimed, “openness prevails.”

    • Sick Muslim migrant gang that broke girl’s jaw accused of REGULAR ‘Sharia patrol’ attacks

      The girl, named only as Leonie, heads up the gang of six migrants who are purported to have carried out several Sharia-inspired attacks across the European capital of Vienna.

      Leonie, 15, was among the six Muslim youths from Chechnya who allegedly beat up a teenage girl, named as Patricia, in the centre of the Austrian capital city.

      Patricia, a Polish schoolgirl, was falsely accused of pulling off a Muslim woman’s headscarf.

      The attack, which left her with a broken jaw in two places, shocked Austria when footage of the beating went viral.

    • Pastor vandalized for fourth time after anti-mosque remarks

      A pastor who has been outspoken about his opposition to construction of a mosque in Bayonne is the victim of vandalism for the fourth time.

      [...]

      Basile says he asked the men in charge if they believed in Sharia law and they refused to answer. Their lawyer wouldn’t let them answer.

    • Saudi Arabia cleric warns of ‘depravity’ of cinema, concerts

      Saudi Arabia’s highest-ranking cleric has warned of the “depravity” of cinemas and music concerts, saying they would corrupt morals if allowed in the ultra-conservative kingdom. “We know that singing concerts and cinemas are a depravity,” Grand Mufti Abdulaziz al-Sheikh said in a television interview cited by Sabq news website late Friday. The head of the Saudi supreme council of clerics was responding to a question about the plans of the kingdom’s General Authority for Entertainment to licence concerts and study opening cinemas.

    • Saudi Arabia religious chief says legalising cinemas risks ‘mixing of sexes’ and ‘rotten’ influence

      Saudi Arabia’s religious authority has said the legalisation of cinemas and concerts could lead to the “mixing of sexes” and “atheistic or rotten” influences in the conservative Islamic kingdom.

      Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh made the statements on his weekly television programme as the Saudi government prepares to begin cultural and economic reforms known as Vision 2030.

      The head of the General Authority for Entertainment, Amr al-Madani has raised the potential for opening cinemas and holding concerts as early as this year.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • In Final Speech, FCC Chief Tom Wheeler Warns GOP Not to Kill Net Neutrality

      Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler delivered an impassioned defense of US net neutrality protections on Friday, one week before Republicans who have vowed to roll back the policy are set to take control of the agency.

      In his final public speech as the nation’s top telecom regulator, Wheeler warned that Republican efforts to weaken FCC rules ensuring that all internet content is treated equally will harm consumers, stifle online innovation, and threaten broadband industry competition.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Patents and know-how power new GE move into China battery market

      The fact that GE is willing to eventually part with the concerned patents altogether, if the price is right, is a good sign that this particular technology is a decent candidate for an external partnership in China. It signals that not having control of the relevant IP is an eventuality the business is prepared to face – to the extent that it has put an approximate dollar price on. GE does appear to know its way around China’s patent sales market – this blog reported last year on its transfer of 131 LED-related patents to Beijing-based display maker BOE Technology.

    • New Book Highlights IP Trade Law Flexibilities For Public Health

      “Private Patents and Public Health: Changing intellectual property rules for access to medicines” by Ellen ’t Hoen, an authoritative public health advocate who previously led the global Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) Access to Essential Medicines Campaign, and the Medicines Patent Pool.

      Ellen ‘t Hoen is a member of the World Health Organization Expert Advisory Panel on Drug Policies and Management, and a researcher at the University Medical Centre at the University of Groningen, Netherlands.

    • Copyrights
      • Don’t Go Back on the Deal – IFLA, EIFL and EBLIDA call on EU Member States to Deliver on Marrakesh Treaty Ratification

        As IFLA and partner organisations have underlined, this is an opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of people with print disabilities – who cannot pick up and read a book in the same way as everyone else – both in Europe and beyond.

      • Understanding the fundamental, irreconcilable conflict between copyright enforcement and privacy of communication

        Enforcement of copyright is fundamentally, conceptually incompatible with privacy of correspondence. You can’t have the sealed and private letter in existence at the same time as you enforce copyright, once communications have gone digital. This is the reason you see VPN companies and other privacy advocates fight copyright enforcement and copyright law: because society has to choose between privacy and copyright, and basic civil liberties are considered more important than one particular entertainment business model.

        Why is a VPN company interested in copyright law? Why does a VPN company even question copyright law expansion and enforcement? Why do the most appreciated internet operators talk back a lot to the copyright industry – and are appreciated by their customers for that very reason? Why does the net generation generally say, as a blanket statement, that copyright law just has no place in an Internet world?

        Is it, as some would claim, because BitTorrent users make up a majority of the paying customers of a VPN company or an internet operator? That the net generation just wants everything for free? That the VPN company profits from protecting criminals? You know, there are people who would actually claim this with a straight face, apparently serious. The facts are clear on the matter, though: BitTorrent usage is neither a majority reason for using a VPN, nor are heavy-bandwidth users particularly profitable. And the net generation has no illusion about everything-for-free being sustainable or even desirable – but they do defend their liberty ferociously.

‘Financial Director’ Publishes Fake News About the Unitary Patent (UPC)

Monday 16th of January 2017 01:10:29 PM

More of these foolish self-fulfilling prophecy attempts

Summary: Response to some of the latest UPC propaganda, which strives to misinform Financial Directors so as to enrich the author and his firm

TEAM UPC and the EPO‘s management keep lying to us all about the UPC. Sometimes the media outside the echo chamber-like circles of the patent microcosm starts to repeat the lies, whereupon we need to step in and issue corrections.

The above ‘article’ was promoted via the patent microcosm in Twitter and it says UPC “will also be more appealing to SMEs.”

“Sometimes the media outside the echo chamber-like circles of the patent microcosm starts to repeat the lies, whereupon we need to step in and issue corrections.”Josep Maria Pujals says “excepto en España. Aquí vamos sobrados…”

I told him that the UPC would be harmful to ALL SMEs, not just Spanish ones, citing some among plenty of evidence of it. It is a Big Lie (in the classic sense) that UPC is good for SMEs. Large corporations, their lobbyists, and the patent microcosm keep spreading these lies and occasionally we see politicians repeating that lie (probably due to gullibility).

“I’d better say [about] UPC,” Josep Maria Pujals told me, “Any company infringing other’s (also sme’s) patents can be accused before one Court of infringement & receive an injunction” (exactly!).

“First, it’s not happening (the UPC). Second, not good for SMEs.”The above article was composed by Dave Croston, who by his own description is a “partner and patent attorney at Withers & Rogers,” i.e. part of the patent microcosm. Are publications not fact-checking what they publish? Is Financial Director publishing fake news now, on behalf of people seeking to profit from Big Lies? The UPC isn’t even going to happen in 2017. It’s the same old broken record we have been hearing every year.

If Financial Director fails to do quality control when publishing items, then we’ll need to help them. First, it’s not happening (the UPC). Second, not good for SMEs. Don’t just become a platform for the patent microcosm if the goal is to properly inform Financial Directors.

Independent and Untainted Web Sites About Patents Are Still Few and Rare

Monday 16th of January 2017 01:00:35 PM

Summary: Commentary about news sources that we rely on, as well as the known pitfalls or the vested interests deeply ingrained in them

TECHRIGHTS started in 2006 primarily as a campaigning site. Our first campaign was about patents and about Novell. We have since then never been funded or affiliated with anyone. We are not perfect, but nobody out there is able to claim that we’re compromised by some monetary interests. I actually left my job as a writer (for a large publisher) the following year, after I had experienced editorial censorship that impeded my freedom of expression and inevitably led to an unhealthy dose of self-censorship (could not quite criticise the advertisers/sponsors).

“We are not perfect, but nobody out there is able to claim that we’re compromised by some monetary interests.”It’s no secret that a lot of news sites are funded (salaried) by venture capitalists who want something in return (like selling of an agenda for some particular client/s, setup of ‘events’ for lobbying etc.) and sites of patent lawyers are all about shameless self-promotion (even IP Kat resorted to that). They’re not reader-funded and definitely not independent. In the case of sites like IP Watch, there seems to be relatively real independence; Patently-O, on the other hand, seems indebted or beholden to the funding sources of Crouch’s university and the drivers of his research. There is no true independence there. As for the UK-based IAM and MIP (Managing IP), just look where their subscribers and partners come from; they are both megaphones of the patent microcosm and occasionally the EPO‘s too. In Patent Docs, Donald Zuhn’s (Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP) choice of top patent stories for last year omits cases where software patents are rejected and instead focuses on the opposite, i.e. more of the usual. Also see MIP’s “Cases to look out for in 2017 – Japan and China” (it’s actually behind a paywall, so only the patent microcosm is likely to read it all). As we repeatedly said here before, a lot of the corporate media is still steered by the patent microcosm whenever it covers patent issues/news; it either quotes it extensively, consults it extensively (for supposed fact-checking), or simply hands over the platform to it (guest posts, occasional columns and so on).

Firmly established bias connected to the income sources (strings) cannot be dismissed, ignored or downplayed. It’s a crucial factor and it’s almost everywhere. Some sites, such as Wikileaks, rely on donations from the public ; media partners too provide a cushion. Here is how they present their list of media partners (past and present):

Not everyone out there likes Wikileaks. It is thoroughly demonised by corporate media which deems it “competition” and envies its breadth of sources, troves of material etc. In our view, in spite of the witch-hunt, Wikileaks has a lot of credibility because it provides original material with which to back its claims. We have operated similarly for over a decade, but never did we receive the same scale or magnitude of leaks.

Going back to patents, while we’re reading very closely a lot of sites that cover the topic, very few of them we can actually trust for objective assessment. Scepticism is sorely required. Whitewashing of software patents from The Economist came just days ago in an article about Blockchain. Reality evades the author [1, 2, 3], who appears to conflate patenting with “success” or good news. Also see today’s article from the Nigerian media, titled “Things Bitcoin Companies Try To Patent”. Here is how it starts (name-dropping big brands, which have had nothing to do with Bitcon’s inception or popularisation): “Amazon. AT&T. Bank of America. Goldman Sachs. IBM. JPMorgan. Mastercard. R3. Western Union. Verizon. These are just a few of the corporations which have filed blockchain-related patent applications worldwide. But, what about bitcoin-specific patent applications, not blockchain?”

“We previously highlighted the use of terms like “death squad” (PTAB), “kill” (invalidate), and “survive” (not invalidated) in relation to patents. These are the terms made up by the patent microcosm, which typically inverses the narrative of aggression.”All that they hope to accomplish here is protectionism and control over disruptive technology that they had nothing to do with in the first place. It’s like the strategy of buying one’s competitor, often idealogical competitor (like buying the “organic” or “generic” competitor so as to limit people’s ability to escape unethical monopolies).

The use of language sure can be misleading. We previously highlighted the use of terms like “death squad” (PTAB), “kill” (invalidate), and “survive” (not invalidated) in relation to patents. These are the terms made up by the patent microcosm, which typically inverses the narrative of aggression. The defendant magically becomes a “killer”, the aggressor becomes the victim, and scientists are basically a “death squad”. George Orwell would have loved it!

In IAM, in this recent self-promotion (we assumed it’s paid for), the word “damages” is chosen as a truth-inverting euphemism; when the party damaged is one that must pay a ‘fine’ (settlement) why must we accept the narrative when the plaintiff is the ‘poor baby’? Such is the inherent bias of IAM, where the “T” word (troll) is rarely used at all.

“Since virtually none of these agents and clients use encryption, and as mass surveillance has become so pervasive, privilege has become merely an illusion for them. It’s marketing.”Now, let’s turn our attention to some recent articles from Patently-O, which some people out there consider to be some sort of yardstick of objectivity because it’s supposedly “academic” or “scholarly” (not that it rules out financial strings or conditions for employment/grants). We wrote about this subject 6 years ago in “Subjective Subject Matter”. This one Patently-O post says that “the Federal Circuit has reversed — finding that the examiner did not have (or at least explain) a substantial ‘reason to believe’ that the prior art inherently taught the functional limitation of being configured to reach a bone.”

Prior art is key to rejection of patent applications (i.e. patent quality); the very fact that one would go as high as the Federal Circuit to dispute an examiner’s judgment is rather worrisome.

On another day, Patently-O called for help with a job. To quote: “I’m writing a paper on privilege (patent agent, and patent lawyers who are in-house but not licensed in the state they practice in). In the course of doing so , I’ve been reading these state statutes and also thinking about them. I compiled a list and thought I’d share it. The ABA’s first, since it compiles them, but many links are broken and so the correct ones follow. So, if you don’t see your state, go to the ABA site. If you see your state, use this link.”

Well, “privilege” alludes to privacy in this case. Since virtually none of these agents and clients use encryption, and as mass surveillance has become so pervasive, privilege has become merely an illusion for them. It’s marketing.

“Patent maximalism keeps them and their occupation relevant.”Patently-O also entertained the possibility of lack of loyalty, or a patent agent knowing something that constitutes a conflict of interest. To quote: “Suppose you’re representing a party to a lawsuit, and you have no conflicts, but you need to take discovery of a client, or a former client and the lawsuit is related to your work for your former client. While your representation of the party in the suit isn’t adverse, some courts hold that taking discovery is adverse, and so if it’s taken from a current client, that’s a conflict, and if taken from a former client, that’s adverse and can’t be done if the matter for the former client is “substantially related” to the discovery requests.”

It comes to show just how problematic this whole occupation might be. And let’s not forget that lawyers like to plagiarise legal documents or reuse their own, i.e. using the work done for a former client to make shortcuts in the next (templates, copy-paste and so on).

Last but not least, consider this PTAB article from Patently-O. “In this case,” it says, “the patentee ImmunoGen won its case before the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) with a judgment that the challenged claims are not obvious. U.S. Patent No. 8,337,856 Phigenix appealed, but the court here has dismissed the case for lack of standing – holding that the challenger-appellant failed provide “sufficient proof establishing that it has suffered an injury in fact.””

We wrote about this on Sunday afternoon, noting that PTAB remains strong in enforcing patent quality — something which the patent microcosm sure likes to deny.

“The majority of sites provide some information or links to information, but their analysis tends to fall short because it’s basically marketing or lobbying wrapped up (or disguised) as “news”.”Today or last night, Patently-O highlighted a criticism of patent maximalism. It’s titled “Has the Academy Led Patent Law Astray?”

“In the article,” Patently-O says, “Barnett primarily focuses on the idea of a patent thicket and whether these patent thickets have inhibited downstream innovation. Barnett concludes: “Without a secure expectation of injunctive relief and compensatory damages, false prophecies of too many patents may result in too little innovation.” Of course this conclusion also rests upon weak empirical ground.””

We still get the impression that Patently-O opposes these views, based on what it has been writing over the past half a decade. It’s not hard to see the vested interests of the writers there. Patent maximalism keeps them and their occupation relevant.

One last example of bias comes from this new article, courtesy of a patent maximalism site, promoted by an advocate of software patents in Europe (he profits from it). It says that the “patent-eligibility jurisprudence under Section 101 and Alice is a model of inconsistency,” which is untrue. The author, Charles Bieneman (patent microcosm, obviously), is attempting to impose alternatives to Alice — those that would make software easier to patent. He basically does what David Kappos is now paid to do at the behest of companies like IBM and Microsoft.

We often sound negative and critical of many if not most things we cite. Well, when it comes to patents, it’s just so hard to find objective sources (there used to be Groklaw). The majority of sites provide some information or links to information, but their analysis tends to fall short because it’s basically marketing or lobbying wrapped up (or disguised) as “news”. Great caution is therefore imperative.

The 20% Rule: Patent Trolling Suffers Double-Digit Declines and Patent Troll Technicolor is Collapsing

Monday 16th of January 2017 11:43:09 AM

Related:

Summary: Significant demise or total catastrophe for the modus operandi (method) of going after companies with a pile of patents and threats of litigation

Published not too long ago was a sort of eulogy for patent trolls (“Number of New Patent Cases in the US Fell 25% Last Year, Thanks in Part to the Demise of Software Patent Trolls”). They’re not doing too well. Some of the biggest ones even collapse or resort to massive layoffs. Not that these people ever produced anything anyway, other than threatening legal letters…

Today we deal with Technicolor (covered here before [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]; it was close to Novell). Benjamin Henrion told me “lots of their boxes runs GPL code without publishing sources.” That’s a serious licence violation which highlights Technicolor’s hypocrisy.

Anyway, Europe’s lesser known patent troll (“licensing”) firm Technicolor is also dying or at least struggling, based on one of its fans, IAM ‘magazine’. To quote this Sunday’s report from IAM’s editor:

Technicolor CEO Frederic Rose has probably not had the best of weekends. On Thursday, the Paris-based entertainment technology company issued a warning that EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) for financial year 2016 is likely to come in at €565 million – significantly less than the €600 million to €635 million that had been anticipated at the end of the third quarter. The shortfall has been caused almost entirely by lower sales than expected of set top boxes in the company’s Connected Home division. On Friday the markets reacted with a sell-off: the company’s share price fell by close to 20%.

However, the news was not entirely bleak. While Technicolor as a whole has failed to deliver the results it was supposed to, its technology licensing operation had a spectacular year producing EBITDA of €190 million – a record amount and a truly noteworthy achievement given a slump in income from the MPEG LA patent pool. In Q4 alone, the patent licensing business – under the stewardship of chief IP officer Arvin Patel – generated revenues of more than $70 million, thanks in part to the conclusion of a series of new deals. That’s quite a performance, albeit one that was trailed at the end of Technicolor’s first half.

We recently saw claims that the EPO was operating loss of €145,000,000 — a claim we were never able to verify because we lack accounting expertise. But either way, if our interpretation of the above is correct, as “the company’s share price fell by close to 20%” we can expect a similar decline in employment (same in Intellectual Ventures, which fired 20% of its staff a couple of years ago). Technicolor is said to employ over 10,000 people (according to Wikipedia anyway), but having reinvented itself as somewhat of a troll, the company does not deserve to exist anymore. It’s a parasite and a burden on society, not just in Europe.

US Supreme Court Did Not End Apple’s Patent Disputes Over Android (Linux), More Cases Imminent

Monday 16th of January 2017 11:32:22 AM

Summary: An overview of some very recent news regarding the highest court in the United States, which has been dealing with cases that can determine the fate of Free/Open Source software in an age of patent uncertainty and patent thickets surrounding mobility

SEVERAL days ago we became aware of “Apple’s motion for a permanent injunction against Samsung for infringing upon three software patents.”

This has been covered by quite a few Apple-leaning sites and mainstream news sites, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4]. This article by Dennis Crouch of Patently-O said:

In a one-paragraph order, the Federal Circuit has vacated its prior design patent damages determination in Samsung v. Apple following the Supreme Court’s 2016 reversal. The appeal is reinstated, and new briefs will now be filed. (Federal Circuit Docket No. 14-1335).

Apple’s design patents cover various ornamental designs applied to the iPhone and infringing Samsung Galaxy devices. Samsung was found to infringe because it “sells … [an] article of manufacture to which such design … has been applied.” 35 U.S.C. 289. The statute calls for for the infringer to be “liable to the owner [of the patent] to the extent of his total profits.” In its original decision, the Federal Circuit held that “total profits” referred to Samsung’s total profits on its infringing phones – i.e., total profits associated with the article of manufacture to which the design has been applied.

The US Supreme Court was recently mentioned in relation to other cases. It will take on patents of reasonably large companies. “Today,” Patently-O wrote last week, “the Supreme Court granted certiorari in two dueling petitions involving the Federal Circuit’s 2015 interpretation of the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009.”

This was also covered by Natalie Rahhal in New York. She said that the “dispute between Amgen and Sandoz over aspects of the so-called patent dance outlined in the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act was granted cert by the US Supreme Court” (SCOTUS).

“If patents are supposed to be in the interest of the public, then why deny ill people access to treatment which they can afford?”Writing from New York, again in relation to a SCOTUS, “Natalie Rahhal analyses the arguments of the amicus briefs filed in Lee v Tam, ahead of oral arguments in the case involving disparaging trade marks at the US Supreme Court on January 18,” according to this from MIP. This is not about patents, but the oral argument is imminent (2 days from now).

Looking outside the US for high-profile cases, there is also this case of Fujifilm v AbbVie (UK), which several sites have covered this month [1, 2] because “[g]eneric companies can seek court declarations that their own products are old or obvious in patent law terms under certain circumstances, the England & Wales Court of Appeal has ruled,” to quote MIP.

In Canada, the Supreme Court might soon hear this case where AstraZeneca is attempting to block generics. To quote MIP again: “The court on November heard arguments in AstraZeneca Canada v Apotex. The case involves AstraZeneca Canada’s patent for Nexium (Esomeprazole), a pharmaceutical product used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease. AstraZeneca attempted to block Apotex from bringing a generic drug to the market. The Federal Court found that the promised utility of Nexium had not been adequately proven at the time of filing. AstaZeneca appealed to the Supreme Court.”

“2017 promises to be rather interesting, especially because later this week Trump gets inaugurated and he can thereafter cause a lot of damage to patent reform.”Suffice to say, we support generic medicine. If patents are supposed to be in the interest of the public, then why deny ill people access to treatment which they can afford?

2017 promises to be rather interesting, especially because later this week Trump gets inaugurated and he can thereafter cause a lot of damage to patent reform. His policies and appointments tend to serve the richest people, not ill and poor people.

Links 15/1/2017: Switching From OS X to GNU/Linux, Debian 8.7 Released

Sunday 15th of January 2017 05:25:54 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • CC4 – Linux – A Brief Introduction

    Here I’ve given a speech concerning the topic of Linux, it’s benefits and where it stands today, with a little bit of history.

  • Some improbable 2017 predictions [Older, no longer behind paywall]

    Another important single point of failure is Android. It has brought a lot of freedom to the mobile device world, but it is still a company-controlled project that is not entirely free and, by some measures at least, is becoming less free over time. A shift of emphasis at Google could easily push Android more in the proprietary direction. Meanwhile, the end of CyanogenMod has, temporarily, brought about the loss of our most successful community-oriented Android derivative.

    The good news is that the efforts to bring vendor kernels closer to the mainline will bear some fruit this year, making it easier to run systems that, if not fully free, are more free than before. Lineage OS, rising from the ashes of CyanogenMod, should help to ensure the availability of alternative Android builds. But it seems likely that efforts to provide free software at the higher levels of the stack (microG, for example) will languish.

  • Desktop
    • Why I switched from OS X to GNU/Linux

      After I was done with my studies at the university I wanted to work for some company which worked with Open Source, I started at Pelagicore, where I still work. There we are creating custom Linux distributions for car manufacturers, we do UI work, we write Linux drivers, Linux middleware and so on. Because we work with Linux it is much more convinient to run Linux nativelly for developement too. At Pelagicore (almosc) all developers work on Linux desktops and laptops, I felt that I fit right in with my ThinkPad. And this was also why I used my iMac less and less, everybody around me was using Linux, it became cumbersome to do the overhead to get stuff running on the iMac which I already had running at work and on my laptop on Linux.

      I started with Ubuntu, but quite fast switched to Debian testing with Gnome 3 because I learned about how Canonical treats everyone, their users (the [Amazon problem (http://www.zdnet.com/article/shuttleworth-defends-ubuntu-linux-integrating-amazon/) with Unity Dash search results, problems with their Intellectual Property Policy, etc.) It also helped that there was Jeremiah, who evangalizes debian day in day out at work.

      In between I wanted to try out Arch Linux so I installed it on my ThinkPad, and man this was a performance boost, it felt like a new machine in comperison to Ubuntu. Nowadays I run Arch at work too. For stuff which doesn’t work, like some specific version of Yocto, I wrap it into a docker container with a Ubuntu image for compatibility.

    • Mintbox Mini Pro computer with Linux Mint now available for $395

      The Mintbox Mini Pro is a tiny desktop computer with a fanless design for silent operation, a low-power AMD processor, 8GB of RAM, 120GB of solid state storage, and Linux Mint 18 software pre-installed.

      It measures about 4.3″ x 3.3″ x 0,9″ and has a metal case made from zinc and aluminum.

      First introduced in September, the MintBox Mini Pro is now available for purchase for $395.

    • Librem 13 coreboot report – January 12, 2017

      Hello again Purists! I’ve made some progress on the coreboot port to the Librem 13 v1 hardware.

  • Server
    • Top 10 Linux Server Distributions of 2017

      You know that Linux is a hot data center server. You know it can save you money in licensing and maintenance costs. But that still leaves the question of what your best options are for Linux as a server operating system.

      We’ve researched, crunched the numbers and put dozens of Linux distros through their paces to compile our latest list of the top ten Linux server distributions (aka “Linux server distros”) — some of which you may not be aware.

      The following characteristics, in no particular order, qualified a Linux server distro for inclusion in this list: ease of installation and use, cost, available commercial support and data center reliability.

      Without further ado, here are the top 10 Linux server operating systems for 2017.

    • A Web Service Written in Pure Bash.

      The service itself is currently running on a Ubuntu 16.10 droplet on DigitalOcean. To expose my service I needed to open a connection with the outside world and initially played with netcat as it’s preinstalled on most *nix machines. This task wasn’t familiar to me at all, but I couldn’t read the incoming request and I couldn’t handle two users connecting at the same time. I explored inetd which lacked of documentation beyond the man page. Continuing with my research I found xinetd which is a more secure version of inetd. I also found a lot more sufficient documentation and user guides on creating a service. After installing xinetd I began building a primitive version of my pure bash service called beeroclock.

  • Audiocasts/Shows
  • Kernel Space
    • Deloitte Blockchain Lab Opens in NYC

      Here’s another sign that blockchain is becoming big business.

      Deloitte today announced the formation of a blockchain lab in the heart of New York City’s financial district in what the global audit and consultancy firm expects will be a “make or break” year the technology. The lab is home to more than 20 developers and designers and will work with Deloitte teams abroad as well as over a dozen of the company’s technology partners.

      Open now and dubbed the Americas Blockchain Lab at Deloitte, the new practice will help drive the development of blockchains solutions for financial services firms, from proofs of concepts to ready-to-integrate solutions, stated the company.

      “Financial institutions have the power and ability to move blockchain to the next level,” said Eric Piscini, a principal with Deloitte Consulting, in a statement. “To get there, companies will need to move away from churning out proofs of concept and begin producing and implementing solutions.”

    • Graphics Stack
  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Google Code-in draws to a close — students finish your final task by January 16, 2017 at 09:00 (PST)

        Mentors, you have until January 18, 2017 at 09:00 (PST) to evaluate your student’s work. Please get that done before the deadline, so that admins don’t have to judge the student work.

      • Mycroft Plasmoid for KDE Plasma 5
      • Plasma 5.9 Beta Kicks off 2017 in Style.

        Thursday, 12 January 2017. Today KDE releases the beta of this year’s first Plasma feature update, Plasma 5.9. While this release brings many exciting new features to your desktop, we’ll continue to provide bugfixes to Plasma 5.8 LTS.

      • The hype is great: WikiToLearn India Conf2017 is almost here!

        In less than two weeks WikiToLearn India Conf2017 is about to happen. We are extremely happy because this is the first big international event entirely dedicated to WikiToLearn. We have to thank the members of our community who are working hard to provide you this amazing event. For sure, the best thing about this conference is the great variety of speakers: Ruphy is flying from Italy to India to attend the conference and give a talk about WTL. For this event we have speakers lined up from Mediawiki, KDE and Mozilla Community. Several projects and ideas will meet at WTL India Conf2017 and this is simply amazing for us! The entire event will be recorded and videos will be uploaded online: you won’t miss any talk!

      • Fixing old stuff

        On FreeBSD, Qt4 is still a thing — for instance, for the KDE4 desktop that is still the latest full-KDE experience you can get from the official packages. And although that software is pretty old, the base system still evolves. FreeBSD 9 has been put to rest, and with it all the GCC-based FreeBSD systems. That frees us from having to deal with GCC and Clang at the same time, and we can generally patch things in just one way (usually towards more-modern C++). But the base system also evolves “out from under” older software. There’s an effort to update the base system compiler (for FreeBSD 12) to Clang 4.0 (sometime soon-ish), and that means that our older C++ code is being exposed to a newer, pickier, compiler.

  • Distributions
    • Reviews
      • Intro To Netrunner Desktop 17.01 GNU/Linux for Beginners

        This review of Netrunner Desktop 17.01 GNU/Linux is intended for end users and beginners. Netrunner is a desktop oriented operating system, ships with complete daily-usage desktop applications, and full multimedia codecs support. It means once the users install Netrunner they do not need to install anything anymore for all daily works. In this article you will find 12 points of review, download links, and some notes at the end. Enjoy it.

      • MX Linux MX-16 Metamorphosis – Winds of change

        MX Linux MX-16 Metamorphosis is a very decent distribution. It’s a small product, not very well known, and probably not your first home choice when it comes to Linux. But then, despite its humble upbringing, it does offer a powerful punch. You get all the goodies out of the box, and except for some Bluetooth issues and less-than-trivial customization, the slate is spotless. Music, phones, speed, battery life, fun, all there.

        Of course, the question is, can MX Linux sustain this record. If we look back, there were some rough patches, a bit of identity crisis, and the existential question of quality, the same journey that Xubuntu underwent. But then it kind of peaked and degraded some recently. Will MX Linux follow the same path? The last few years were good, with a steady, consistent improvement on all fronts. Then again, I thought Xubuntu was invincible, too.

        For the time being, predicting the future remains tricky. However, here and now, MX-16 is a great choice for a lightweight desktop. Xfce has come a long way, and you get all the essentials you expect from a home system. It’s all there, plus good looks, plus speed that rivals anything out there, among the best battery life numbers, great stability, and even some extra unique features like the live session save and MX Tools. A most worthy combo. All in all, 9.5/10. Warmly recommended for testing and sampling.

    • New Releases
      • Devil-Linux 1.8.0-rc2 released

        Devil-Linux 1.8.0-rc2 has been released! This is a major overhaul of Devil-Linux. Most programs and libraries have been updated and unmaintained ones have been removed. The main file system has been switched to squashfs, to further reduce the iso size. See the changelog for additional details.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • openSUSE Tumbleweed – Review of the Week 2017/02

        I hope you all ended up well fed and healthy in the new year. For the last few weeks we have seen quite a slow pace for Tumbleweed, just as pre-announced in my last review of the year 2016. We can surely expect an increased pace again as people from all around the world resume their regular life rhythms. For completeness sake I will cover in this weeks’ review not only this week, but also the few snapshots since my last review. That means, we cover 8 snapshots: from 2016: 1216, 1217, 1219, 1222 and 1226 and from 2017: 0104, 0109 and 0110. Sadly, 0111 and 0112 ran into some issues on openQA – but the issues are to most parts in the testing framework, not the product (from what we know). But not being able to fully confirm it, I did not feel comfortable releasing them into the wild onto you. After all, I know some of you are still having issues with the kernel 4.9 series (but good new on that part is on the horizon). 0112 might still cut it, if we solve the openQA issues in time.

      • Forget Ubuntu, now OpenSuse Linux comes to Windows 10

        If you have been following Techworm, you will know that you can run Ubuntu Apps on Windows using Bash. Microsoft brought the fun and power of Linux to Windows 10 with Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). This allowed the Windows 10 users to run Bash on Ubuntu on Windows 10 and enjoy Ubuntu Apps without having to install the Ubuntu distro separately.

      • You can now install SUSE Linux distribution inside WSL on Windows 10
      • It’s Now Possible to Use openSUSE Inside Windows 10, Here’s How to Install It
    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Updated Debian 8: 8.7 released

        The Debian project is pleased to announce the seventh update of its stable distribution Debian 8 (codename “jessie”). This update mainly adds corrections for security problems to the stable release, along with a few adjustments for serious problems. Security advisories were already published separately and are referenced where available.

        Please note that this update does not constitute a new version of Debian 8 but only updates some of the packages included. There is no need to throw away old “jessie” CDs or DVDs but only to update via an up-to-date Debian mirror after an installation, to cause any out of date packages to be updated.

      • Debian 8.7 Jessie Released
      • Debian 8.7 released

        This update adds corrections for security problems to the stable release, along with adjustments for serious problems.

      • Debian GNU/Linux 8.7 Released

        The Debian Project has released the seventh update of Debian 8 Jessie. This release ships with tons of security updates, bug fixes, and updated packages. The existing users of Debian 8 need to point the apt package tool to one of the updated Debian mirrors and get the update. The new installation media and ISO images are yet to be published.

      • Debian GNU/Linux 8.7 Released With New Features and 85 Security Updates
      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • TedPage: The Case for Ubuntu Phone

            What I find most interesting thing about this discussion is that it is the original reason that Google bought Android. They were concerned that with Apple controlling the smartphone market they’d be in a position to damage Google’s ability to compete in services. They were right. But instead of opening it up to competition (a competition that certainly at the time and even today they’re likely to win) they decided to lock down Android with their own services. So now we see in places like China where Google services are limited there is no way for Android to win, only forks that use a different set of integrations. One has to wonder if Ubuntu Phone existed earlier whether Google would have bought Android, while Ubuntu Phone competes with Android it doesn’t pose any threat to Google’s core businesses.

            It is always a failure to try and convince people to change their patterns and devices just for the sake of change. Early adopters are people who enjoy that, but not the majority of people. This means that we need to be an order of magnitude better, which is a pretty high bar to set, but one I enjoy working towards. I think that Ubuntu Phone has the fundamental DNA to win in this race.

          • new Ubuntu Terminal snap – tabs and tiled view on Ubuntu 16.04 Unity 8
          • The Case for Ubuntu Phone: Flexibility for Mobile Networks

            Canonical engineer Ted Gould has put the case for Ubuntu Phone, arguing that mobile carriers will appreciate the ‘flexibility’ to bundle apps and services.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Baidu released artificial intelligence operating system DuerOS

    At this year’s CES show, Baidu released its artificial intelligence operating system system DuerOS, also announced at home with small fish to reach cooperation, small fish at home is the first equipped with Baidu DuerOS artificial intelligence manufacturers. Baidu said that this is the first time the introduction of dialogue type artificial intelligence operating system, Baidu is an important strategic product of artificial intelligence. DuerOS emphasizes the interactive nature of voice conversations through natural language. At the same time with the cloud of the brain, can always learn evolution, become more intelligent.

  • Intel Open-Sources BigDL, Distributed Deep Learning Library for Apache Spark

    Intel open-sources BigDL, a distributed deep learning library that runs on Apache Spark. It leverages existing Spark clusters to run deep learning computations and simplifies the data loading from big datasets stored in Hadoop.

    Tests show a significant speedup performance running on Xeon servers compared to other open source frameworks Caffe, Torch or TensorFlow. The speed is comparable with a mainstream GPU and BigDL is able to scale to tens of Xeon servers.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • New Port for RISC-V

      We’d like to submit for inclusion in GCC a port for the RISC-V architecture. The port suffices to build a substantial body of software (including Linux and some 2,000 Fedora packages) and passes most of the gcc and g++ test suites; so, while it is doubtlessly not complete, we think it is far enough along to start the upstreaming process. It is our understanding that it is OK to submit this port during stage 3 because it does not touch any shared code. Our binutils port has already been accepted for the 2.28 release, and we plan on submitting glibc and Linux patch sets soon.

    • [Older] Twenty-four new GNU releases in December
  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Data
      • Getting Election Data, and Why Open Data is Important

        Back in 2012, I got interested in fiddling around with election data as a way to learn about data analysis in Python. So I went searching for results data on the presidential election. And got a surprise: it wasn’t available anywhere in the US. After many hours of searching, the only source I ever found was at the UK newspaper, The Guardian.

        Surely in 2016, we’re better off, right? But when I went looking, I found otherwise. There’s still no official source for US election results data; there isn’t even a source as reliable as The Guardian this time.

        You might think Data.gov would be the place to go for official election results, but no: searching for 2016 election on Data.gov yields nothing remotely useful.

        The Federal Election Commission has an election results page, but it only goes up to 2014 and only includes the Senate and House, not presidential elections. Archives.gov has popular vote totals for the 2012 election but not the current one. Maybe in four years, they’ll have some data.

    • Open Hardware/Modding
Leftovers
  • New evidence: Was DB Cooper a Boeing employee?

    A band of amateur scientists selected by the Seattle FBI to look for clues in the world’s most infamous skyjacking may have found new evidence in the 45-year-old case.

    They’re asking for the public’s help because of new, potential leads that could link DB Cooper to the Puget Sound aerospace industry in the early 1970s.

    The scientific team has been analyzing particles removed from the clip-on tie left behind by Cooper after he hijacked a Northwest Orient passenger jet in November 1971.

    A powerful electron microscope located more than 100,000 particles on old the JCPenny tie. The team has identified particles like Cerium, Strontium Sulfide, and pure titanium.

  • If you don’t finish then you’re just busy, not productive

    I find this message extremely compelling, because I frequently find myself starting new programming projects in my spare time. In a lot of ways they are not a waste – I definitely learn a lot from these projects and gain a new skill.

  • Hardware
    • AMD Set to Launch Ryzen Before March 3rd, Meeting Q1 Target

      Then again, the launch could easily be anytime during February – this March 3rd date only really puts an end-point on the potential range. AMD has stated many times, as far back as August, that Q1 is the intended date for launch to consumers in volume. When we spoke with AMD at CES, nothing was set in stone so to speak, especially clock speeds and pricing, but we are expecting a full launch, not just something official on paper. Ryan will be at GDC to cover this exact talk, and I’ll be at MWC covering that event. Either way, we want to make sure that we are front of the queue when it comes time to disclosing as much information as we can get our hands on ahead of time.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Thirteen Dems Join GOP to Kill Sanders Resolution on Canadian Drug Imports

      Twelve Republicans and thirteen Democrats crossed party lines in a 52-46 vote against prodding Congress toward examining the allowance of pharmaceutical imports from Canada.

      The non-binding resolution failed last night amid a series of regular procedural considerations–a so-called “vote-a-rama.” Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) sponsored the measure.

      The move was a blow for those seeking to ensure access to healthcare, as the Senate also approved of a resolution orienting Congress toward a repeal of Obamacare, in a 51-48 vote.

      Notable Democratic defections on the Canada vote included Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the ranking member of the Senate health committee, and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), a rumored 2020 presidential contender.

    • Dow Chemical Wants Farmers to Keep Using a Pesticide Linked to Autism and ADHD

      On Mondays, Magda and Amilcar Galindo take their daughter Eva to self-defense class. Eva is 12 but her trusting smile and arching pigtails make her look younger. Diagnosed with autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, Eva doesn’t learn or behave like the typical 12-year-old. She struggles to make change, and she needs help with reading and social situations. Eva’s classmates are sometimes unkind to her, and Magda worries for her daughter’s feelings and her safety. So once a week, after they drive her from her middle school in Modesto, California, to her tutor in nearby Riverbank, the Galindos rush off to the gym where they cheer Eva on as she wrestles with a heavy bag and punches the air with her skinny arms.

    • Even Without an Agriculture Secretary, Trump’s Cabinet Says Plenty about Food and Water Plans

      It’s official. This week’s Veterans Affairs nomination leaves the Trump administration’s Secretary of Agriculture position as the last cabinet slot to be filled. With his inauguration just 7 days away, the president-elect still hasn’t announced his pick for this vital position that touches every American’s life at least three times a day.

      But while we wait (and wait, and wait) to see who will run the department that shapes our nation’s food and farm system, it may be instructive to take a look at what some of his other personnel choices say about his intentions in this realm. And particularly, what the Trump team could mean for two of our most basic human needs—food and water.

      First, food. On the whole, today’s US agriculture system is skewed to production of commodity crops—chiefly corn and soybeans—the bulk of which become biofuel components, livestock feed, and processed food ingredients. That said, over the last 8 years we’ve seen increased emphasis, from the White House and the USDA, on healthy eating, local food systems, and the like.

    • Donald Trump’s Plan for Our Water is Just as Bad as You’d Imagine

      During his Presidential campaign, Donald Trump vowed to use his first 100 days in office to implement plans to overhaul our nation’s aging roads, bridges, ports and yes—water systems.

      This sounds great on paper. Infrastructure systems form the backbone of our nation, and when they fall apart society follows. So, while modernizing these systems is laudable, the devil is in the details. In reality, Trump’s plan for repairing our nation’s water systems would be an absolute disaster for just about everyone—except of course, water corporations and Wall Street investors.

      In fact, some of the same players that brought down our nation’s housing market are poised to repeat the same mistakes—but this time, with our water.

    • GOP House Takes Next Step Toward Taking Healthcare Away From Millions

      With a vote largely along party lines, the U.S. House on Friday pushed the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, one step closer to death.

      Ahead of the 227-198 vote (roll call here), GOP House leaders expressed confidence that their chamber would pass a budget resolution paving the way for ACA repeal, “despite lingering wariness from the rank-and-file about proceeding without a plan to replace the health law,” as Politico reported. The Senate passed its version of the resolution in the wee hours of Thursday.

    • Obamacare Repeal = $7 Million Tax Cut for Nation’s Richest 400 People

      Repealing Obamacare, which Republicans on Friday appear closer to doing, would deliver a sizeable tax cut for the rich, a new report shows.

      Released Thursday by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), the publication shows that the repeal would give to each of the top 400 highest-income taxpayers—who averaged incomes of roughly $318 million in 2014—a tax cut of about $7 million a year.

      That’s because getting rid of the healthcare law would mean getting rid of its two Medicare taxes, which are paid for by individuals with incomes above $200,000 and couples with incomes above $250,000. One is a 3.8 percent Medicare tax that hits their unearned income (like capital gains) above those thresholds, while the other is additional 0.9 percent tax on earned income above those thresholds.

  • Security
    • Microsoft Says Windows 7 Has Outdated Security, Wants You to Move to Windows 10 [Ed: all versions are insecure BY DESIGN]

      Windows 10 is now running on more than 20 percent of the world’s desktop computers, and yet, Microsoft’s bigger challenge isn’t necessarily to boost the market share of its latest operating system, but to convince those on Windows 7 to upgrade.

    • Debian GNU/Linux 8.7 Officially Released, Includes over 85 Security Updates

      If you’re using Debian Stable (a.k.a. Debian GNU/Linux 8 “Jessie”), it’s time to update it now. Why? Because Debian Project launched a new release, Debian GNU/Linux 8.7, which includes over 170 bug fixes and security updates.

    • CVS: cvs.openbsd.org: src

      Disable and lock Silicon Debug feature on modern Intel CPUs

    • How we secure our infrastructure: a white paper

      Trust in the cloud is paramount to any business who is thinking about using it to power their critical applications, deliver new customer experiences and house their most sensitive data. Today, we’re issuing a white paper by our security team that details how security is designed into our infrastructure from the ground up.

      Google Cloud’s global infrastructure provides security through the entire information processing lifecycle.This infrastructure provides secure deployment of services, secure storage of data with end-user privacy safeguards, secure communications between services, secure and private communication with customers over the internet and safe operation by administrators.

    • Google Infrastructure Security Design Overview [Ed: Google banned Windows internally]

      The content contained herein is correct as of January 2017, and represents the status quo as of the time it was written. Google’s security policies and systems may change going forward, as we continually improve protection for our customers.

    • Security Through Transparency

      Encryption is a foundational technology for the web. We’ve spent a lot of time working through the intricacies of making encrypted apps easy to use and in the process, realized that a generic, secure way to discover a recipient’s public keys for addressing messages correctly is important. Not only would such a thing be beneficial across many applications, but nothing like this exists as a generic technology.

    • Patch your FreeBSD server for openssh vulnerabilities [11/Jan/2017]
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Trump must expose Obama-era power grabs: Column

      President-elect Donald Trump will face pervasive doubts about his legitimacy from the day he takes office. His opponents will likely portray him as governing in unprecedented and reckless ways. The best response to such charges is to open the books and expose how the Obama administration commandeered far more power than most Americans realized.

      Trump should follow the excellent precedent set by President Obama. In 2009, shortly after he took office, Obama released many of the secret Bush administration legal memos that explained why the president was supposedly entitled to order torture, deploy troops in American towns and cities, and ignore the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on warrantless, unreasonable searches. The disclosures signaled a new era in Washington and helped give Obama a reputation as a champion of civil liberties.

    • So How’s That Coalition Thing Working Out in Afghanistan?

      Short Answer: It’s been 15+ years of coalition and the Taliban are still there, the Afghan government in Kabul is even more corrupt, and most of Afghanistan is as economically decrepit as ever.

      A report, “Lessons From the Coalition,” emerged from a conference co-hosted by the U.S. Institute of Peace (yes, we have one, it is part of the State Department and doesn’t do much but organize events in Washington.) The conference brought together representatives from eleven major donor nations, the EU, UN, World Bank, and NATO to share common experiences and lessons from the Afghan reconstruction effort.

    • GOP introduces new gun silencer law

      Three GOP lawmakers introduced a new law that will make gun silencers easier to buy.

    • The Silence Of The Politicians

      I don’t doubt Trump would sign this into law. He likes breaking things and learning from the results. The first terrorist in a mass-shooting to use a silencer might change his mind but at what cost? How many more bodies do there have to be before USA brings in reasonable controls for access to firearms? It’s one thing to say good citizens have the right to firearms. It’s quite another to hold that murdering bad guys should have the same rights. Then there’s the problem of sorting out the good guys from the murdering bad guys. No, religion or skin-colour or address won’t do it…

    • A nuclear world: eight-and-a half rogue states

      The British nuclear force is not one of the larger ones, certainly in comparison with the United States and Russia. However, it still has 100-200 thermonuclear warheads, with just one of its Trident submarines capable of launching sixteen missiles, each with three warheads. The actual numbers may be lower than this in routine deployments, but a submarine ordered to fire could certainly ripple-fire over thirty warheads to different targets within half an hour. Typical missile flight times of less than half an hour mean that the destruction could all be achieved in just double that period (see: “Britain’s nuclear-weapons future: no done deal,” 21 July 2016).

    • Who’s Afraid of a Naked Emperor?

      Today, we have Russophobia. Smart, respectable people make fun of Russian people as if it’s a duty, a slight bow to the establishment just to make sure that they belong and are being obedient. The President of the United States says upfront that Russia is weak, small and no one wants anything from them except for oil, gas and arms, and so on.

    • Chelsea Manning Should Not Die in Prison

      On Wednesday, NBC News reported that President Obama had placed Chelsea Manning on a “short list” of individuals to whom he is considering granting clemency.

      Sentenced to serve 35 years in prison for disclosing information to the news media in 2010, Chelsea has spent almost seven years in custody — a term of incarceration already longer than any individual has ever served for comparable charges in United States history. Now, without action by President Obama before he leaves office and with nearly three decades left on her sentence, Chelsea is unlikely to survive to see her freedom.

      In the past six months alone, Chelsea has twice attempted suicide. After she first tried to end her life in July of last year, the military responded by bringing administrative charges against her for attempting suicide and then unexpectedly throwing her into solitary confinement before she was able to appeal those charges. A particularly cruel response to her despair, the punishment destabilized her just as she was beginning to recover. In solitary, she attempted suicide a second time.

    • Chelsea Manning and the Arab Spring

      What we call the Arab Spring was the result of many seemingly small things, butterfly effects. One of them was a courageous woman named Chelsea Manning. If the U.S. will take 35 years from Chelsea Manning’s life, may it console her that she has given us, Arabs, the secret gift that helped expose and topple 50 years of dictatorships.

      For me, it all started in mid-October of 2010, with a direct message on Twitter from a good friend of mine. He belonged to a circle of digital activists with whom I worked closely with for years on many advocacy projects in the Arab World, from anti-censorship strategies and campaigns to building and training non-violent protests movements. In that DM he urgently asked me to speak over encryption with him. After one single OTR chat session, he sent me an encrypted zip file containing a trove of around 400 texts files organized in about 15 folders. All the folders were named after Arab countries: Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Morocco, Bahrain, etc. I didn’t know what was in them. He told me just before ending the chat session: do something with them, I trust you and trust your knowledge and judgment.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Why I Got Kicked Out of Whole Foods …. Again

      It may surprise consumers that each of these facts are true of chickens in cage free farms, despite aggressive marketing of their eggs as humane. Companies that sell cage free eggs are able to charge more, although these eggs are less costly to produce. It’s time to stop the fraudulent marketing and constant search for a right way to do the wrong thing. Chickens, fish, cows, and pigs are all sentient animals who exhibit signs of pain, joy, and complex social relationships. The humane alternative to conventional eggs isn’t cage free, pasture raised, or any new label for exploitation.

    • We can learn so much from nature

      A French company, Colas, is working with the French National Institute for Solar Energy to test its Wattway technology under various conditions, with a goal of covering 1,000 kilometres of existing highway with thin, durable, skid-resistant crystalline silicon solar panel surfacing over the next four years. They estimate that could provide electricity for five million people. Although critics have raised questions about cost and feasibility, it’s not pie-in-the-sky. The technology is being tested and employed throughout the world.

      Rooftops are another place to generate power using existing infrastructure. Elon Musk’s company Tesla is making shingles that double as solar panels. Although they cost more than conventional asphalt shingles, they’re comparable in price to higher-end roof tiles, and can save money when you factor in the power they generate.

    • EPA Pick Pruitt’s “Radical Record” and Abundant Conflicts Probed by Senate Dems

      As Common Dreams and others have reported, Pruitt spent his time as Oklahoma attorney general launching multiple legal attacks against the EPA and its efforts to protect the environment and public health. Now, the Democrats on the Environment and Public Works committee want to know how the EPA will ensure that Pruitt is recused from involvement in those cases.

    • EPA Acknowledges Neonics’ Harm to Bees, Then ‘Bows to Pesticide Industry’

      The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday published two bee-related announcements, but with both, say environmental groups, the agency has failed the pollinators.

      One was its “Policy to Mitigate the Acute Risk to Bees from Pesticide Products.” It states that the “policy is not a regulation or an order and, therefore, does not legally compel changes to pesticide product registrations.”

      The other release was a set of draft risk assessments for three neonicotinoids, or “neonics.” They are the most widely used class of insecticides, and they have been linked to bee harm. The new assessments were for clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and dinotefuran, and an updated assessment on another, imidacloprid, was also included.

      Those assessments, according to Paul Towers, policy advocate and spokesperson for Pesticide Action Network, “are full of gaps and continue to ignore many of the most significant threats from neonicotinoids, particularly when they’re used as seed coatings on common crops,” their most frequent use.

  • Finance
    • Moody’s pays $864 million to U.S., states over pre-crisis ratings

      Moody’s Corp has agreed to pay nearly $864 million to settle with U.S. federal and state authorities over its ratings of risky mortgage securities in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis, the U.S. Department of Justice said on Friday.

      The credit rating agency reached the deal with the Justice Department, 21 states and the District of Columbia, resolving allegations that the firm contributed to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, the department said in a statement.

      “Moody’s failed to adhere to its own credit-rating standards and fell short on its pledge of transparency in the run-up to the Great Recession,” Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Bill Baer said in the statement.

    • Apple accused of App Store price-fixing in new lawsuit

      Apple is once again heading to court. However, the company won’t be arguing over patents for a change, instead Apple will need to fight off allegations of price-fixing in the iOS App Store as part of a new anti-trust lawsuit. This isn’t the first time Apple has been brought up on anti-trust charges either, the company was previously found to have been complicit in eBook price fixing, which ended with the company being fined £315 million.

    • Do You Make Less Than $47,500 a Year? Help Us Investigate Overtime Pay.
    • How Trump Could Kill a Plan to Get You Overtime Pay

      Donald Trump ran for president as the billionaire who would champion working people.

      As the president-elect put it in one of the major economic speeches of his campaign: “Too many of our leaders have forgotten that it’s their duty to protect the jobs, wages and well-being of American workers before any other consideration.”

      One of the first tests of Trump’s pledge to help workers will come in how his administration handles the complicated rules that govern who has the right to time-and-a-half overtime pay.

    • Will Betsy DeVos Restart The ‘Education Wars’?

      Education, which was hardly ever mentioned in the recent presidential election, has suddenly been thrust to the frontline in the increasingly heated conflict over President-Elect Donald Trump’s proposed cabinet appointees. The reason for that turn of events is his choice of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education. Her nomination risks “reigniting the education wars,” according to Randi Weingarten, the leader of the American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s second largest teachers union.

      Weingarten stated that warning in an address this week at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, and broadcast live on the AFT Facebook page.

      The union leader joins a chorus of education leaders and activists, as well as Democratic party government officials on Capitol Hill, in calls to delay the hearing for DeVos until after government ethics officials have finished their review of DeVos’ numerous ties to financial and charitable interests. After these calls for delay, the confirmation hearing was indeed postponed for a week.

      But what education wars?

    • There Are Moral Imperatives to Fighting Inequality: Correa

      In a wide-ranging interview with teleSUR, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa highlighted the historic achievements of his government.

      On the occasion of assuming the chairmanship of the G77 on Friday, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa spoke with teleSUR’s Abby Martin about the disaster of neoliberal policies in Latin America and the historic achievements of his model of 21st-century socialism.

    • Does Betsy DeVos Understand the Impact of Poverty and Trauma on Children’s Learning?

      Educators who look at learning from a developmental perspective know that the trauma and toxic stress associated with poverty can seriously interfere with a child’s brain development and inhibit learning. Children who have been overwhelmed by stress or exposure to violence, and experience lack of security frequently have difficulty controlling impulsive behavior and focusing their attention on tasks at school. While these behaviors are disruptive in classrooms – they are devastating to the children themselves.

      We understand neurobiological changes that are created by childhood trauma and toxic stress – these are changes in the emotional brain circuits that enable us to respond to crises, fear and threats. Children’s brains can be hijacked by emotions and deeply fearful responses to perceived threats. This reaction gives them less access to brain areas that support memory, focused attention, organizing information, and building positive relationships. We call these executive functions – and they are essential for learning.

    • Who killed bourgeois democracy in Europe?

      When a system calls itself democracy, but forces increasing parts of the demos (people) to live under poverty, its own central concept gradually becomes hollow.

    • Hammond threatens EU with aggressive tax changes after Brexit

      The chancellor, Philip Hammond, has suggested Britain could transform its economic model into that of a corporate tax haven if the EU fails to provide it with an agreement on market access after Brexit.

      In an interview with German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, Hammond said if Britain were left closed off from European markets after leaving the EU, it would consider abandoning a European-style social model, with “European-style taxation systems [and] European-style regulation systems”, and “become something different”.

    • Michael Hudson: Donald Trump Wants to Make the 1% Even Richer
    • Resisting the Trumpublican Shock Doctrine Blitzkrieg

      The Trumpublicans are intent on manipulating the shock of Donald Trump’s victory to roll back much of the New Deal and Great Society; ram through unvetted Cabinet appointments intent on undermining the legal mandate of the very Departments they are charged with leading; legitimize unprecedented conflicts of interest; and intimidate opponents, professional civil servants, and the press, in a rapid Blitzkrieg, before the opposition even knows what hit them.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Yertle, the Commander-in-Chief

      Dr. Seuss taught me to read. My older brother brought Seuss books home to me from the local public library because I was too young to have a library card of my own.

      The Cat in the Hat, Bartholomew and the Oobleck, Horton Hears a Who! — all, for better or worse, played a role in my early childhood development, a phase from which I have yet to emerge, but never mind. Yet as I watched Donald Trump’s press conference on Wednesday morning, a performance reminiscent of PT Barnum — if Barnum suffered from Attention Deficit Disorder, congenital petulance and anger management issues — I was reminded of a different Dr. Seuss masterwork…

      [...]

      Whatever the case, the point of Yertle and Mack’s tale is simple: Protest can topple a tyrant. Sometimes it has to be loud and rude. Next weekend, around the events of the inauguration, thousands and thousands will march and voices will be raised. Let these be just the beginning.

    • Outrage After Trump Insults Civil Rights Icon John Lewis

      On the Saturday morning of a holiday weekend honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., President-elect Donald Trump trashed civil rights leader and U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), after Lewis said he would not attend next week’s inauguration ceremony.

      The Georgia lawmaker—who has served in Congress since 1987; is the last living speaker of the 1963 March on Washington; and was severely beaten after leading civil rights demonstrators across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama in 1965—told NBC News on Friday that he does not plan to attend Trump’s inauguration.

      “It will be the first one that I miss since I’ve been in Congress,” Lewis said. “You cannot be at home with something that you feel that is wrong, is not right.” Lewis is one of a handful of Democratic lawmakers who have announced this week that they’ll be skipping the ceremony.

    • It Can Happen Here

      On November 8 the rise of a right-wing nationalist regime in the United States became a realistic possibility, if not now then in the coming years. Such regimes stress nationalist and patriotic themes, play upon and intensify fear of minority ethnicities and/or religions and/or other long-oppressed groups, promise to resolve festering economic problems of ordinary people, and direct the blame for such problems at a convenient scapegoat such as foreigners or immigrants rather than the real causes. Such regimes, if consolidated, invariably restrict long-established individual rights and introduce, or intensify, the use of extra-legal violent methods at home and abroad. This possibility has sent shock waves throughout U.S. society, including in the long-ruling establishment, creating a sense of chaos in which it seems anything can happen.

      The greatest danger is the political coalition that emerged on November 8. Such coalitions have underpinned right-wing nationalist regimes in the past. It is made up of traditional right-wing constituencies suddenly combined with significant parts of the working class. Such a political base, held together by the above themes and promises, can enable a right-wing nationalist regime to emerge in a democratic capitalist system even without the upstart demagogic leader winning an absolute majority.

    • GOP Leader Threatens to Subpoena Ethics Chief Who Called Out Trump Conflicts

      Instead of investigating concerns that President-elect Donald Trump will come to power with numerous conflicts of interest, the Republican head of the House Oversight Committee is now threatening the government ethics monitor who called them out.

      Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) sent a letter (pdf) to Walter Shaub, head of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), admonishing him for “blurring the lines between public relations and official ethics guidance,” citing a series of OGE tweets encouraging President-elect to commit to “full divestiture” of his business holdings (which he has refused to do.)

      In the letter, Chaffetz warns Shaub that the OGE’s operations are being examined by the committee and then demands that he make himself available “for a transcribed interview with the Committee staff as soon as possible, but not later than January 31, 2017.”

    • Why Bernie Sanders Came Up Short—and How That Lesson Can Fuel Future Progressive Victories [Ed: Misses the point that -- as Podesta E-mails and DNC leaks made VERY clear -- Clinton and DNC sabotaged Sanders]

      Bernie began the race fairly late in the game, with 3 percent name recognition, no money, and all kinds of baggage that pundits believed would disqualify him out of hand. By the time the Iowa primary came, Bernie was surging in the national polls. He went on to win twenty-two states and received an astonishing 46 percent of the pledged delegates for the nomination.

    • Five Ways Trump’s “News Conference” Wasn’t a News Conference

      Tyrants don’t allow open questioning, and they hate the free press. They want total control. That’s why Trump’s so-called “news conference” on December 11 – the first he’s held in six months – wasn’t really a news conference at all.

    • Donald Trump’s Fake News Conference

      The media waited with bated breath for Donald Trump’s first news conference in 167 days. But I’m sure many journalists knew what was coming: a show, orchestrated by The Apprentice executive director so as to reveal precisely nothing but used instead to revile his critics. Vladimir Putin couldn’t have done better.

      Trump was true to form, and character: He spent very little time answering (actually avoiding) questions, he brought along a small crowd of flatterers to applaud his lines, he had three people (his communications spokesman, his vice president-elect, and his tax lawyer) stand in to defend him, and he bragged about how many jobs he will create and how he had turned down a $2 billion business opportunity with Dubai.

      [...]

      Trump also tried to preempt further discussion of his financial conflicts of interest by putting the Trump Organization in the hands of his two sons. As various ethics specialists in and out of government have pointed out, that decision is no solution. As one of them said, Trump will be in violation of the Constitution on the day he takes office. He actually had the audacity to say that he has every right to run both his organization and the presidency—implying that we should be grateful for his choice not to do so, as though we don’t already know that he has every intention to remain in charge of his empire. He again refused to release his tax returns, saying that only the press wants him to do so. Trump’s attitude is clear: I’m the president and I’ll do what I want; try to stop me.

    • Meet Mike Pompeo, the Far-Right Christian Zealot Who Will Lead Trump’s CIA

      Pompeo is a deeply conservative evangelical Christian who has said, “America had worshipped other Gods and called it multiculturalism. We’d endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.” He believes politics is “a never-ending struggle . . . until the rapture.”

      He does not sound like the type of person one normally associates with the intelligence community. But this is Trump’s administration, and Trump has promised to shake things up. An apocalyptic Islamophobic fanatic at the head of CIA will no doubt bring change to the agency.

      [...]

      Trump has also declared that his presidential orders to torture suspected terrorists would not be refused by those under him. When told that torture is illegal, he simply said he would change the law because we “have to get tougher.”

      Pompeo surprised the committee when he said he would not comply with an order to torture and that he couldn’t imagine that Trump would ask him to do it. He insisted he would always comply with the law. Of course, he also has said the Bush administration’s torture regime was legal, so that’s not entirely reassuring. Still, Pompeo’s testimony was widely interpreted as distancing him from Trump’s stated position.

    • Trump and the Dangers of Secret Law

      President-elect Trump has disdained the rule of law when it comes to national security, vowing to reinstitute torture and suggesting that the military should target terrorists’ families. In response, President Obama recently released a report describing the legal and policy framework for United States military operations. The idea is simple: If the rules are made public, it will be easier to hold the Trump administration accountable for violations—or to spot when the rules have changed.

      Obama is undoubtedly correct in calculating that legal transparency will help safeguard the rule of law. But his initiative begs the question: why stop at military operations?

      Since the attacks of 9/11, every area of national security policy has increasingly been regulated by secret law. For instance, much of the authority to conduct mass surveillance, and the limits that apply, are set forth in classified orders of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (or “FISA Court”). In 2013, Edward Snowden revealed that this court had secretly interpreted the Patriot Act to allow the collection of nearly every American’s phone records.

    • Obama’s Farewell

      OK. See you at the country club, buddy, after your lunch with Penny Pritzger, the Chicago Hilton Hotels billionairess, who put you in office back when in 2008.

      And now America changes one real estate wheeler-dealer for another, this time one who takes the direct reins of government. And he’s Obama’s legacy as well….

    • Bringing Trump Nation Down to Size

      Exit polls show that 25 percent of Trump voters expressed the view that their candidate was not fit to be president, which lowers Trump’s unqualified support to 20 percent of the electorate. Which is on the high side, when you consider those who think he’s disgusting or dishonest or both but voted for him anyway.

    • Unicorns, Gnomes, and Plea to the Press on Covering Trump

      The story of the appalling press conference of January 11 needs to be the story of the lies that were told, the status of the very real and legitimate questions that the reporters asked but which were not answered, and the insistence on the importance of getting answers to those real questions.

      We need to stay grounded in our shared and dangerous reality, and not get sucked into an analysis of the illusions created by a master illusionist.

    • Bracing for Trump, Protests Commence in Nation’s Capital and Beyond

      “The Trump team has already announced that some of their first acts of brutality will be to lash out against immigrants and Muslims,” organizers wrote in a call to action. “Their aim is to deport millions of immigrants, rip millions of families apart, and drive tens of millions of immigrants, refugees, and their families and friends into silence out of fear.”

      “We are committed to standing up for an America which values all people,” they continued. “Just one week before Donald Trump’s inauguration we will stand up to say yes to community, love for one another, shared strength, and human dignity. It is time for us to link arms and stand as a line of defense against Donald Trump’s promised reign of terror.”

    • Who’s the Real Manipulator of Elections?

      In berating Russia for alleged interference in the recent U.S. election, the U.S. intelligence community ignores the extensive U.S. role in manipulating political movements around the globe, observes Jonathan Marshall.

    • The Scheme to Take Down Trump

      Is a military coup in the works? Or are U.S. intelligence agencies laying the political groundwork for forcing Donald Trump from the presidency because they can’t abide his rejection of a new cold war with Russia? Not long ago, even asking such questions would have marked one as the sort of paranoid nut who believes that lizard people run the government. But no longer.

    • What’s Propaganda Got To Do With It?

      Amid the “fake news” controversies in the aftermath of the 2016 United States Presidential election, the notion of propaganda surged back into popular consciousness. Across the political spectrum, online conversations about propaganda bloomed like a thousand flowers of media anxiety.

      For example, shortly after the election, futurist Alex Steffen garnered thousands of retweets and likes with a tweet that declared, “Fake news is propaganda. The powerful demanding apologies from artists is censorship. Business dealings while in office are corruption.” To underscore the anti-authoritarian thrust of the message, a follow-up Medium post featured an image of 1984 author (and dedicated democratic socialist) George Orwell, invoking the thought-limiting qualities of that novel’s Newspeak. Although Steffen did not name the President-Elect in his short text, the post is tagged, “Donald Trump.”

    • Trump, Russia, and the Return of Scapegoating, a Timeless American Tradition

      Now that the intelligence chiefs’ report on alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election is available in expurgated form—and we have no reason to assume the classified version is any more substantial than the rubbish made public last Friday—it is time to do that most difficult thing: step back and take a cold, hard look at ourselves. What we find, to put my conclusion first, is that most of us will do more or less anything just now to avoid taking a cold, hard look at ourselves and what it is we are up to.

      This is commonly done by way of scapegoating. The Russian case is extreme, but it must not be seen in isolation.

      It is true that Americans today are a divided people in many respects. But let’s not make too much of this, for we display a striking unity in our tendency to blame others for our difficulties, shortcomings, and failures, of which there are unusually many at this moment—every one our own doing. It is tempting to anatomize our current outburst of scapegoating according to political persuasion—which party abuses whom—but this does not do because almost everyone gives in to flinching from failures that are all our own.

    • Images That Refute Trump’s Attack on Hero John Lewis
    • Rep. John Lewis: ‘I Don’t See Trump as a Legitimate President’

      In an exclusive interview with NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., said he does not believe Donald Trump is a “legitimate president,” citing Russian interference in last year’s election.

      Asked whether he would try to forge a relationship with the president-elect, Lewis said that he believes in forgiveness, but added, “it’s going to be very difficult. I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate president.”

      When pressed to explain why, he cited allegations of Russian hacks during the campaign that led to the release of internal documents from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign co-chairman, John Podesta.

    • Trump team discussing border wall with Army Corps, Interior Department

      President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team is engaged in active discussions with the US Army Corps of Engineers and Interior Department to begin planning a wall along the Mexican border, including how specific environmental laws could get in the way, CNN has learned.

      A US official with knowledge of a visit last last month to the Interior Department — which oversees most federal lands and major environmental laws — said the transition team was particularly interested in finding out “how long it would take” to build the wall given potential legal obstacles.

    • The Great Wall Of China Didn’t Have Trump’s Problems

      Really, Trump caught onto this panacea during his campaign that can’t really work as intended/proclaimed and will cost a bundle and will do a lot of damage. Waiving legalities doesn’t really change that. As Trump is fond of saying, “It’s not going to happen!”.

    • Six Reasons Why Trump’s Wall is Even Dumber Than Most of Trump’s Other Ideas

      At his turbulent his news event last Wednesday (I won’t dignify it by calling it a news conference), Trump reiterated that he will build a wall along the Mexican border. “It’s not a fence. It’s a wall,” he said, and“Mexico will pay for the wall.”

      Here are 6 reasons why Trump’s wall is an even dumber idea than most of his others.

    • Dem boycotts of inauguration grow

      In a sharp break with tradition, a growing number of Democrats are announcing they will boycott President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration.

      Ten House Democrats so far have issued public statements saying they won’t attend the Jan. 20 ceremony following an extraordinarily divisive election. Still others say they’re torn about going.

      It’s a departure from lawmakers of both parties putting aside their personal feelings to watch the new president take the oath of office. While the majority of Democrats still plan to go, the fact that even a handful are making a point of boycotting shows the depth of antipathy toward Trump.

    • Human Rights Watch lists Trump as threat to human rights

      Human Rights Watch is listing President-elect Donald Trump as a threat to human rights, calling his campaign a “vivid illustration of the politics of intolerance.”

      “Donald Trump’s election as US president after a campaign fomenting hatred and intolerance, and the rising influence of political parties in Europe that reject universal rights, have put the postwar human rights system at risk,” the group said in a Friday statement announcing a new report.

      The 687-page World Report analyzes Trump’s campaign, pointing to his rhetoric as a cause for worry over human rights violations.

      “(Trump’s) campaign floated proposals that would harm millions of people, including plans to engage in massive deportations of immigrants, to curtail women’s rights and media freedoms, and to use torture,” the report says, quoting Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth.

    • James O’Keefe caught trying to bribe protesters to riot at Trump inauguration

      James O’Keefe is the Breitbart-affiliated fraudster and fake news pioneer who staged the hoax videos about Acorn and Planned Parenthood that disrupted the last two election cycles; his MO is to dress up in disguises and then attempt to trick progressives into saying damning things on camera (he’s not very good at it, having been rumbled by both CNN and Jay Rosen and Clay Shirky).

    • Dossier’s Russia Charges Should Be Treated Skeptically–but Taken Seriously

      It’s not an intelligence report, or a government report of any kind. No official agency had a hand in creating it; indications are it was leaked to media by the same private group that commissioned it. Putting it in the “intelligence” category makes it harder to think about how media outlets should deal with it, bringing in questions of journalism’s relationship to the state. Really, despite its anonymous author reportedly having a background in British intelligence, it’s closer to being itself a strange sort of journalism: It’s an investigator’s account of what information they say they learned by talking to people—not unlike a news article.

    • Mainstream Media’s Russian Bogeymen

      In the middle of a major domestic crisis over the U.S. charge that Russia had interfered with the U.S. election, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) triggered a brief national media hysteria by creating and spreading a bogus story of Russian hacking into U.S. power infrastructure.

    • NYT: If Only We Knew What We Already Know About Jeff Sessions

      Jefferson Beauregard Sessions seems to be on his way to becoming attorney general. Many people are angry and frightened, that the person in charge of the Justice Department could be a man whose public record demonstrates hostility to the idea of equal rights under the law. In particular, Sessions brought vote fraud charges, threatening decades of prison time, against voting rights activists who had worked with Martin Luther King; he has referred to the Voting Rights Act as “intrusive,” and supported voter suppression.

      That’s part of why there have been sit-ins and phone banks and multi-group public statements, reflecting the large number and wide range of people familiar with Sessions who state that his record, not his accent or personal demeanor, make him unfit for office.

      In this light, the January 8 New York Times editorial struck me as highlighting, painfully, the limits of elite media.

    • WATCH: In His Former Life as Alabama’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions Abused His Power and Was Read the Riot Act Over It

      It is now well-known that Jeff Sessions’ record as a senator shows blindness or hostility to the rights of those the attorney general is responsible for protecting — people of color, women, LGBT people, religious minorities, and immigrants. Less well known, but equally disturbing, is his record as a prosecutor. When he last exercised the power of a prosecutor, as attorney general for Alabama in the 1990s, he abused that power.

      The biggest case his office handled was thrown out in what the judge called the worst case of prosecutorial misconduct he had ever seen. In a remarkable opinion, the Alabama state trial judge hearing the case concluded that “the misconduct of the Attorney General in this case far surpasses in both extensiveness and measure the totality of any prosecutorial misconduct ever previously presented to or witnessed by the Court.”

    • Fox News Going All-In on Trump in the New Era

      January 19, 2009—the day before Barack Obama was sworn in as president—Fox News aired the first episode of Glenn Beck. Obama was a polished representative of the multicultural values that the conservative movement had fought to defeat for decades, and Beck was the perfect expression of right-wing rage and frustration with him: The eponymous host alternated between anger, conspiracy theories and sobbing.

      Beck’s tenure at the channel didn’t last long; Fox News chair and CEO Roger Ailes declined to renew his contract in early 2011. But by that point, the GOP had won back the House of Representatives in the 2010 Tea Party wave, a right-wing backlash movement that owed at least some of its success to Beck’s overly earnest mugging.

      Beck’s hire signaled to the network’s base and the country at large the direction Fox would take as a reaction to Obama’s election: The network was prepared to spend the next four to eight years in constant opposition to the newly elected president, with no angle of attack too extreme.

    • America in Need of ‘Democracy Promotion’

      Both the ruling party and the principal opposition party extensively manipulate the boundaries of legislative districts to benefit their own party and to entrench incumbents, but this practice has disproportionately benefited the ruling party because of its control over most state legislatures, where the manipulative line-drawing occurs.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Christian Censorship: I Talked About Race And Was Silenced

      A few days ago, I posted this piece, called An Apology To Black Women. Per my usual modus operundi, I posted it in various Christian Facebook groups. Within a few hours, I received a message from an admin of one of the groups. It said, essentially “We, the admins of ____ removed your post because even our one black admin found it offensive.”

    • Why the Senate’s Attack on Backpage Will Backfire

      The businessmen who run the classifieds website Backpage.com received a serious verbal lashing from a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday. They were accused of committing a crime that every member of the committee eagerly denounced — profiting from the sexual exploitation of children. Backpage had already shut down its popular adult services section the day before, citing ongoing acts of “government censorship.”

      It may be easy for lawmakers of both parties to agree that child sex trafficking should be condemned, but the hearing and the 20-month probe behind it drew plenty of controversy outside the Senate chamber. For a company accused of facilitating the exploitation of kids, Backpage saw a good number of organizations rush to its defense, including internet freedom groups, free speech advocates and libertarian think tanks.

    • Government Pressure Shutters Backpage’s Adult Services Section

      The announcement came on the eve of a hearing by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI). The hearing was the backdrop for the release of a committee report [PDF] alleging [PDF] that Backpage knew that its website was being used to post ads for illegal prostitution and child sex trafficking, and directly edited such ads to make their illegality less conspicuous or flagged for the posters how to do so themselves.

      While acknowledging the horrific nature of sex trafficking, EFF has participated in several cases to remind courts about the importance of preserving strong legal protection under the First Amendment and Section 230 (47 U.S.C. § 230) for Internet intermediaries.

    • EFF is Proud to Stand Beside Techdirt in its “First Amendment Fight for its Life.”

      The First Amendment provides vitally important protections for publishers – the Supreme Court ruled that public figure plaintiffs in defamation lawsuits must prove that offending statements about them are in fact false, and that the speaker actually knew they were false or seriously doubted them when they were published. That rule protects speakers, bloggers, and reporters against lawsuits designed merely to squelch critical speech about public figures. Nonetheless, defending against such suits can be very costly.

      [...]

      Techdirt is a vital resource – it provides a wide audience with independent journalism addressing some of the biggest technology issues of our time. The Internet community wouldn’t be the same without it. But of course this case is not just about Techdirt. It’s about freedom of the press generally.

      We commend Techdirt for taking on this fight for freedom of expression. And we urge everyone who cares about a free and independent press to support Techdirt in “its First Amendment fight for its life.”

    • Arizona Bill Would Ban Discussion of Social Justice, Solidarity in Schools

      Arizona state representative Bob Thorpe, a Republican, has just proposed a bill that would ban any school courses or extracurricular activities that “promote” any kind of “social justice” or “solidarity” based on race, class, gender, politics, or religion.

      The legislation, House Bill 2120, also appears to connect classes on social justice and solidarity with “promotion of the overthrow of the United States government,” which it also explicitly outlaws.

      Tucson.com reports that “Thorpe said Thursday his bill is aimed specifically at things like a ‘privilege walk’ exercise (pdf) sponsored by the University of Arizona and a course entitled ‘Whiteness and Race Theory’ at Arizona State University.”

      The law is sweeping yet fails to define many of its tenets—for example, it allows the teaching of “accurate” history of an ethnic group, but doesn’t define who or what would determine what is accurate. And Arizonans fear that not only does it threaten students’ and teachers’ rights to freedom of expression and assembly, but that it would go so far as to outlaw all charity efforts and most student groups at schools around the state.

    • KING: Arizona lawmaker proposes new bill banning classes or events discussing social justice on college campuses

      A conservative Arizona lawmaker, Rep. Bob Thorpe, is proposing a far-reaching law in Arizona, House Bill 2120, banning virtually every college event, activity or course which discusses social justice, skin privilege, or racial equality. Violating the law would allow the state of Arizona to levy multimillion-dollar fines and penalties against universities — removing at least 10% of their state aid.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • End of the line: surveillance, precarity and resistance in the call centre

      I spent six months undercover in call centres, researching how workers are subject to constant watch, psychological pressure, and what they do to resist. This is what I discovered.

    • Germany’s biggest Turkish Islamic network admits some imams spied for Ankara

      A Turkish Islamic group operating in Germany acknowledged that some of its imams complied with Turkish government instructions to give Ankara tips on suspected adherents of exiled US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

      Ditib, which stands for Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs, is believed to have strong ties to Diyanet (Turkish Presidency of Religious Affairs), a Turkish state-run religious affairs watchdog. Ditib previously denied its members were handing over information on Gulen supporters in Germany to the Turkish government.

      In a comment to Rheinische Post on Thursday, however, the secretary-general of Ditib, Bekir Alboga, appeared to have changed his tune, admitting that although “the written instructions of the Turkish Presidency of Religious Affairs were not addressed to Ditib… some Ditib imams wrongly followed them.”

    • Poll: Will Digital Privacy Become a Luxury?

      Technology is a tool that also risks becoming a threat to privacy

      Cell phones now regularly track their users’ locations, monitor their health habits and keep tabs on their schedules and preferences—a series of tools that could also become a threat to privacy.

      An increasing reliance on technology and mobile devices has raised more questions about data privacy and whether it risks becoming a luxury.

    • NSA records allege dozens of cases of workers ripping agency off

      A group of five National Security Agency contractors falsified their time sheets to claim they had worked almost 200 days that agency investigators concluded they in fact had not, according to the agency’s inspector general.

      The incident was one of more than 100 in which the NSA’s internal watchdog found that civilian employees and contractors claimed falsely that they’d been at work — incidents that a spokesman said cost the surveillance outfit based at Fort Meade almost $3.5 million.

      The NSA disclosed the cases in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Baltimore Sun. The records cover five years ending in 2014, when The Sun request was originally filed.

    • What’s Up with WhatsApp?

      Despite my jaded feelings about corporate Internet services in general, I was suprised to learn that WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption was a lie. In short, it is possible to send an encrypted message to a user that is intercepted and effectively de-crypted without the sender’s knowledge.

      However, I was even more surprised to read Open Whisper Systems critique of the original story, claiming that it is not a backdoor because the WhatsApp sender’s client is always notified when a message is de-crypted.

      The Open Whisper Systems post acknowledges that the WhatsApp sender can choose to disable these notifications, but claims that is not such a big deal because the WhatsApp server has no way to know which clients have this feature enabled and which do not, so intercepting a message is risky because it could result in the sender realizing it.

      However, there is a fairly important piece of information missing, namely: as far as I can tell, the setting to notify users about key changes is disabled by default.

      So, using the default installation, your end-to-end encrypted message could be intercepted and decrypted without you or the party you are communicating with knowing it. How is this not a back door? And yes, if the interceptor can’t tell whether or not the sender has these notifications turned on, the interceptor runs the risk of someone knowing they have intercepted the message. Great. That’s better than nothing. Except that there is strong evidence that many powerful governments on this planet routinely risk exposure in their pursuit of compromising our ability to communicate securely. And… not to mention non-governmental (or governmental) adversaries for whom exposure is not a big deal.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Down to the Wire: Obama’s DOJ Issues Scathing Report on Systemic Abuse Within Chicago Police

      The Justice Department released a blistering report on Friday concluding what many in Chicago have been saying for years: that the city’s police officers routinely use excessive and deadly force, particularly against black and Latino residents; that they systematically violate civil rights; and that the department consistently fails to hold officers accountable for abuse and misconduct.

      With one week to go before the beginning of the Trump administration — which is widely expected to take a considerably less aggressive approach toward police abuse — federal officials this week tied up the loose ends on some of the department’s most high profile investigations of police departments.

      On Thursday, Justice Department officials signed a consent decree with the city of Baltimore, outlining reforms the city will be required to undertake after a scathing report published last August found a pattern of stops, searches, arrests and use of force that violated the First and Fourth Amendments as well as federal anti-discrimination laws.

    • Shots In The Back, Children Tasered: DOJ Details Excessive Force By Chicago Police

      In “numerous incidents,” Chicago officers chased and shot fleeing people who posed no threat to officers or the public, the DOJ says. In some cases, there was no basis even to suspect the person of committing a serious crime.

      “The act of fleeing alone was sufficient to trigger a pursuit ending in gunfire, sometimes fatal,” the DOJ writes.

      In one case, the report says, police officers fired 45 rounds at a man who was running away, killing him. They claimed he had fired a gun at them while they were chasing him — even though they noted there was no gun found on the man.

    • Free Chelsea Manning Now

      Freedom is suddenly in sight for Chelsea Manning. There is a real chance the Iraq War veteran and Wikileaks whistleblower could be home by Groundhog’s Day.

      Even a year ago it was unthinkable; now, it could be a partial redemption of the Obama administration’s shoddy record of persecuting leaks and whistleblowers.

    • Justice Department balks at securing CIA ‘Torture Report’ at federal court

      The Obama administration is resisting a federal judge’s order for a rare copy of the so-called Torture Report, saying the damning Senate study of the CIA’s secret post- 9/11 prison network is not the government’s to give the court.

      Judge Royce Lamberth on Dec. 28 ordered the Justice Department to deliver a copy of the report to his court for safekeeping. He said it would be preserved at a top-secret storage facility maintained by the U.S. District Court at 333 Constitution Ave. in Washington, D.C.

      But Justice Department attorneys wrote in a 16-page filing on Friday that delivery of a government copy of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence document would “unduly interfere … with the larger oversight relationship between the Senate Committee and the CIA.”

    • Polish couple ‘forced to work for £4 a day’ in Nelson

      A Polish couple were forced to work for £4 per day and treated with less respect than dogs, a court has heard.

      Mohammed Riaz, 62, and his son Khuram, deny forcing or compelling Margorsha Bienick and Michal Czesniawski into labour in Nelson, Lancashire.

      The father and son, 27, told Burnley Crown Court the couple were alcoholics who would have been on the streets.

      The jury was shown a video of Ms Bienick describing working long hours and being shouted at.

    • Kolkata’s Imam sparks row again: ‘Women should always be in veil’

      At an event organized at the Tipu Sultan Mosque on Friday, Barkati said, “Women are more respectful if they hide themselves from the eyes of men. If they are ‘sexy “, then they will attract more eyes and will fall victim to men’s “hawaz”. Like Rajasthani women use veil, Bengali women wear saris and Muslim women wear burqas, veils will make them respectful.”

      When asked what he meant by ‘sexy’, Barkati said he meant ‘attractive’ by the word ‘sexy’. Explaining his stand, Imam Barkati said, “Young women are innocent. Even without their knowledge, they become the object of men’s lust. So by wearing veil, she will follow the Hindustani culture and will be able to protect herself properly.”

    • CMS: Police found no evidence that teacher assaulted a Muslim kindergartener

      Police found no evidence to confirm a November report that a teacher bullied and assaulted a Muslim kindergartener at David Cox Road Elementary, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools reported Friday.

      Principal Celeste Spears-Ellis notified parents that the accused teacher has returned to the classroom after the District Attorney’s Office found “no evidence of an assault other than the complainant’s report” and no grounds for criminal charges.

    • Donald Trump accuses civil rights icon John Lewis of ‘all talk and no results’

      Donald Trump has ignited fresh controversy — on the eve of Martin Luther King Day — by accusing one of the civil rights leaders who marched and struggled with him of “talk and no action”.

      In a pair of tweets on Saturday morning, he said Congressman John Lewis should not have “falsely” complained about the election result.

      “Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart,” said Mr Trump.

    • It’s begun: Internet providers are pushing to repeal Obama-era privacy rules

      Some of the nation’s biggest Internet providers are asking the government to roll back a landmark set of privacy regulations it approved last fall — kicking off an effort by the industry and its allies to dismantle key Internet policies of the Obama years.

      In a petition filed to federal regulators Monday, a top Washington trade group whose members include Comcast, Charter and Cox argued that the rules should be thrown out.

      “They are unnecessary, unjustified, unmoored from a cost-benefit assessment, and unlikely to advance the Commission’s stated goal of enhancing consumer privacy,” wrote the Internet & Television Association, known as NCTA.

    • The Breakthrough: Meet the Reporter Who Went Undercover in the Hermit Kingdom

      But some journalists have been able to evade the censorship. Suki Kim, an American novelist and investigative journalist, spent months undercover inside the country, working as an English teacher at a boarding school for North Korea’s young elites. Her reportage captured an unprecedented portrait of the country, showing the hopes, dreams and lies of North Korean youth.

      This week on the Breakthrough, Suki Kim takes us behind the closed borders of the Hermit Kingdom and reveals how she became one of the first reporters to go undercover in North Korea.

    • Turkey’s Relentless Attack on the Press

      It should come as no surprise that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey would praise Donald Trump for refusing to talk to a CNN reporter at a news conference.

      For years, Mr. Erdogan has been crushing independent voices as part of a broader effort to assert authoritarian control. Earlier this month, the Turkish police arrested the top legal adviser and a former chief executive of Dogan Holding, a conglomerate that owns the newspaper Hurriyet and CNN Turk. This followed the detention in mid-December of another company executive, Barbaros Muratoglu, reportedly accused of “aiding a terror group,” namely the organization of Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999. The company has denied links to Mr. Gulen.

    • Complaints Describe Border Agents Interrogating Muslim Americans, Asking for Social Media Accounts

      Customs and Border Protection agents have been invasively questioning Muslim-Americans at U.S. border crossings about their political and religious beliefs, asking for their social media information, and demanding passwords to open mobile phones, according to a set of complaints filed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

      In one case, a 23-year old American citizen alleges that he was choked by a CBP agent after declining to hand over his phone for inspection while crossing the border back from Canada.

      The complaints deal with the cases of nine people who have been stopped at various U.S. border crossings, eight of whom are American citizens, and one Canadian. They were filed to the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Justice.

    • Prisoners With Physical Disabilities Are Forgotten And Neglected in America

      Dean Westwood arrived at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Oregon in a wheelchair. Prison officials required him to surrender his property, submit to a search, and agree to administrative procedures like finger printing. This is standard practice. But unlike other detainees, Dean is paralyzed below the waist and has limited use of his arms and hands.

      Staff at the Oregon jail didn’t know how to handle someone with his disability. They rough-handled his limbs and pulled his fingers apart to get his fingerprints. They stripped him down for a search, rough-handling his genitals. They forced his body into a set of jail clothing that was a couple of sizes too small, which caused Dean severe irritation below the waist.

    • How to Talk to Congress

      As this year begins with a new president and new Congress taking power, more people than ever want to know how to make their voices heard in Congress. As the Legislative Counsel at EFF, my job is to help the organization and our supporters reach out to Congress more effectively. We’ve put together this guide in order to share some of our findings about how best to impact decisions in government. This represents years of trial and error at EFF as well as my own experience working in Congress and Washington, D.C. for a number of years before joining the organization.

    • Fury at Azaria Verdict is Israel’s Trump Moment

      The United Kingdom has Brexit. The United States, an incoming president Trump. And Israel now has Elor Azaria. It may not have the same ring, but ultimately the turning point could prove as decisive.

      Two fallacious narratives have greeted the army medic’s manslaughter conviction last week, after he was filmed firing a bullet into the head of a wounded and helpless Palestinian, 21-year-old Abdel Fattah Al Sharif.

      The first says Azaria is a rotten apple, a soldier who lost his moral bearings last March under the pressure of serving in Hebron. The second – popular among liberals in Israel – claims the conviction proves the strength of Israel’s rule of law. Even a transgressing soldier will be held accountable by the world’s “most moral army”.

      In truth, however, the popular reaction to the military court’s decision was far more telling than the decision itself.

      Only massed ranks of riot police saved the three judges from a lynching by crowds outside. The army top brass have been issued bodyguards. Demands to overrule the court and pardon Azaria are thunderous – and they are being led by prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

    • Chicago Police Routinely, ‘Systemically’ Abused Civil Rights: DOJ

      Chicago police systematically violated people’s civil rights by routinely using excessive force, particularly against African-Americans and Latinos, according to a bombshell report (pdf) from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) released Friday.

      The report is the conclusion of a 13-month investigation into the Chicago Police Department (CPD), launched after the October 2014 police killing of 17-year-old black Chicago resident Laquan McDonald, whose fatal shooting was captured by the patrol car’s dashboard camera.

      According to the inquiry, police routinely violated the Fourth Amendment by using “unnecessary and avoidable” force, including deadly force, which investigators attributed to poor training and accountability systems.

    • Smooth-Talking Jeff Sessions Can’t Hide Disturbing Record

      Although Jeff Sessions’ confirmation as attorney general of the United States by the GOP-controlled Senate is a foregone conclusion, it is still important to analyze his Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. Thus far, the hearing has shed a troubling light on his positions.

      In his responses to the senators’ questions, Sessions loudly protested the idea that he has ever embraced racism, homophobia or sexism. Calling allegations of racism “incredibly painful,” Sessions assured the senators, “I abhor the Klan and all it represents.” However, that has not always been the case. He once joked that he thought the KKK was “OK until I found out that they smoked pot.”

    • How ride-hailing apps like Uber continue cab industry’s history of racial discrimination

      Our new paper, “Racial and Gender Discrimination in Transportation Network Companies,” found patterns of discrimination in how some drivers using ride-hailing platforms, such as Uber and Lyft, treat African-American passengers and women. Our results are based on extensive field studies in Seattle and Boston, both considered liberal-minded cities, and provide stark evidence of discrimination.

    • Benny King and the Criminalization of Addiction in America

      You see, just like hundreds of thousands of poor, disproportionately black and brown Americans sidelined from American life – stuffed out of sight in state and federal penal institutions across the U.S. – King is serving time for one, and only one, unconscionable reason: he suffers from a substance abuse problem. He drinks.

    • Allegations of Russian Hacking Cover Up Larger Issue: Attacks on Independent Journalism

      Washington, D.C., and the mainstream media have spent much of the last week zeroing in on allegations that Russia interfered in the United States presidential election. Truthdig contributor Chris Hedges argues that such intense coverage is merely a way for establishment elites to criticize independent journalism.

      In an interview with RT America’s Simone Del Rosario, Hedges cites the McCarthyist attacks on independent outlets—including Truthdig—last year and says that the recent wave of reporting on Russia continues the alarmist narrative.

      Specifically, he labels a report recently released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence an “utter embarrassment.” He notes that U.S. intelligence chief James Clapper possessed “a deep rage” toward independent news outlets during his testimony before Congress last week.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • EFF to Court: Don’t Let California Gag IMDb

        California is trying to gag websites from sharing true, publicly available information about actors in the name of age discrimination. But one online service, IMDb, is fighting back. EFF and four other public interest organizations have filed in a friend of the court brief in the case, urging the court not to allow celebrities to wipe truthful information about them from the Internet.

Number of New Patent Cases in the US Fell 25% Last Year, Thanks in Part to the Demise of Software Patent Trolls

Sunday 15th of January 2017 04:29:36 PM

The legal paper ‘industry’ is walking away, gradually

Summary: Litigation and prosecutions that rely on patents (failure to resolve disputes, e.g. by sharing ideas, out of court) is down very sharply, in part because firms that make nothing at all (just threaten and/or litigate) have been sinking after much-needed reform

IN ORDER to understand what goes on in the mysterious (or cryptic) world of patent trolls we often turn to IAM ‘magazine’, which is paid by some trolls to embellish or soften their image. We read IAM ‘magazine’ very critically and try to extract from it some morsels of information. The other day we saw IAM ‘magazine’ conflating patents with “markets” again, as if patents are products up on the shelf or something (to trolls they are). It was also writing about this patent troll which got fed by Stanford University, whose patents were derived from publicly-funded research. To quote some background to this:

WiLAN has stepped up its campaign against the growing personal digital assistant market filing six lawsuits before and after Christmas against a series of big tech companies including Amazon and HTC over patents that underpin Siri, the popular electronic assistant on Apple devices. The most recent case was filed on Tuesday against ZTE in district court in Delaware, bringing the total number of suits that the NPE’s subsidiary IPA Technologies has filed in this campaign to 11.

WiLAN acquired the patents in question in two tranches, including a package of nine grants in May 2016, from SRI International, a non-profit research institute which spun out of Stanford University more than 40 years ago. SRI began developing the technology for a voice-controlled electronic assistant following a grant from the US Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), eventually setting up Siri Inc which was spun out as an independent entity in 2007 and was then bought by Apple in 2010.

We wrote about WiLAN many times before (6 years ago we named the person behind it, Jim Skippen). It’s regarded or understood to have become a pain in the bottom to a lot of Linux/Android OEMs, not just to companies like Apple. It’s a destructive entity which Canada should take shame — not pride — in.

The other day IAM also mentioned RPX, which is a massive troll that Microsoft joined 7 years ago. IAM wrote about it in the context of litigation decline — a subject which we covered here many times in the latter half of 2016. America Invents Act and PTAB had a lot to do with this decline, as IAM admits:

The headline numbers for the 2016 litigation year in the US were out last week and showed a big drop in the total number of new patent infringement cases. According to Unified Patents there were 4,382 new cases, a drop of almost 25% on the 2015 figure. That is the lowest level since 2011 when the America Invents Act (AIA) came into force and new joinder rules had a significant inflationary effect on litigation volume.

RPX also released some stats and included a numbers of interesting data points. Among them was a big fall in the number of NPE campaigns against companies with revenues of $50 billion or more. Those companies are, of course, typically among the most popular targets for licensing efforts but they’re also the ones most likely to fight back in long, drawn-out lawsuits.

RPX basically speaks of itself, as it tends to engulf and attack large entities. After Alice and some of the aforementioned reforms we don’t expect RPX to find quite the same level of ‘success’ (shakedown). In fact, like many other trolls we hope it will cease operations. We know for a fact that Intellectual Ventures is suffering and even laying off a lot of staff.

The patent microcosm, growingly irritated by the sharp drop in litigation, is already sucking up to Donald Trump, hoping that he will put someone corrupt like Randall R. Rader in charge, assuring regressions in law. On the other hand, Matt Levy, who opposes patent maximalism and calls for further patent reforms, has just published these suggestions to the Trump Administration, focusing in particular on patent trolls (a side effect or symptom of low patent quality):

What the new administration should be doing with patents

[...]

Continue to Fight Patent Trolls

It is true that patent troll litigation dropped in 2016, but according to a recent RPX report, nearly all of that drop is due to fewer lawsuits against very large, well-funded companies. Patent trolls seem to be shifting their focus to smaller businesses that can’t afford to defend themselves effectively. Trolls’ venue of choice continues to be the Eastern District of Texas, as I’ve written about a number of times.

A new paper by Brian Love and James Yoon confirms why this is true: patent trolls use the Eastern District of Texas (EDTX) because its procedures increase costs for defendants quickly. In fact, 90 percent of cases there are filed by patent assertion entities. The paper also shows that only 18 percent of EDTX cases have any local link to the original inventor, original patent owner, or the first named defendant. By comparison, nearly 88 percent of the cases filed in the Northern District of California (which includes Silicon Valley) have such a link to the district.

The reality is that we need venue reform. Congress needs to fix the patent venue statute so that patent owners can’t sue a company virtually anywhere. The evidence is simply undeniable that patent trolls are taking advantage of a court with overly friendly rules in order to extort money, and there’s no reason to allow this to continue any longer.

Do No Harm on Patentable Subject Matter

With recent Supreme Court decisions, there has been a lot of handwringing about the patentability of software, diagnostic methods, and certain biotech inventions. There have even been proposals to do away with the patent-eligibility requirement altogether.

Congress needs to let the law develop slowly. The courts are gradually coming to some reasonable interpretations based on previous case law, and that’s as it should be. There are a lot of stakeholders with competing interests, and the best way to develop this law is a bit at a time. Yes, it’s painfully slow, but it’s the way our legal system works.

These calls to “do away with the patent-eligibility requirement altogether,” (or at least weaken them) as Levy puts it, were often funded by companies like IBM and Microsoft, which paid a former USPTO Director (David Kappos) to become their lobbyist and undermine Alice, bringing back software patents in a crooked fashion that’s akin to bribery of officials.

America Invents Act Improved Patent Quality, But Right Wingers Threaten to Make It Worse Again

Sunday 15th of January 2017 03:54:25 PM

Rumours suggest that Donald Trump will add Randall R. Rader to his swamp


Photo from Reuters

Summary: The past half a decade saw gradual improvement in assessment of patents in the United States, but there is a growing threat and pressure from the patent microcosm to restore patent maximalism and chaos

The USPTO has been gradually improving under Michelle Lee, who sought positive reform and is said to be on her way out after Trump’s inauguration. The former Director, David Kappos, is now lobbying (in exchange for money!) to make things worse again. It looks as though Trump is about to blow away any progress with Rader as Director (or similar position). Rader is not only corrupt but is also a software patents proponent.

The following new post by Jason Rantanen links to this new report from the USPTO:

USPTO Releases its 2016 Performance and Accountability Report

I’m pleased to announce that the USPTO has published its Performance and Accountability Report (PAR) for fiscal year (FY) 2016. The PAR serves as the USPTO’s annual report, similar to what private sector companies prepare for their shareholders. Each year the USPTO publishes this report to update the public on our performance and financial health.

[...]

We will continue efforts in the Enhanced Patent Quality Initiative, which is a multifaceted initiative that builds on past efforts and includes future programs aimed at improving the accuracy, clarity, and consistency of patents; continue implementation of the patent dispute resolution portions of the AIA; meet the wave of legal challenges to the USPTO’s interpretation of the AIA and its regulations implementing the statute; develop outreach at both headquarters and regional offices; expand on dissemination of data; attain and maintain full sustainable funding; and provide IT support for a nationwide workforce with a “24/7/365” operational capability.

Watchtroll, in the mean time, being the software patents proponent that the site always is, suggests changes that would inherit bad elements of the EPO, where software patents are habitually being granted in defiance of the rules (more so under Battistelli than before, to the point where legal firms say it’s easier to get software patents at the EPO than at the USPTO). To quote from the summary:

In summary, there is a plausible case that the US law on obviousness is indeed compatible with the above-explained EPO problem-and-solution approach. It could even be said that the steps of the problem-and-solution approach appear to have been inspired by US law and practice!

Under present working styles, USPTO examiners concentrate on the claims and spend little or no time reading the description. If they are to initiate obviousness rejections using the problem-and-solution format they would have to change habits and consult the description to locate any effects related to the distinguishing features.

I remark that the problem-and-solution approach is not a new statement of the law of obviousness: it is a statement of practical steps to be taken by a practitioner in order to come to an objective assessment of obviousness/non-obviousness compatible with the Statute Law and Case Law. It is an approach designed for large organizations like the USPTO who need to maintain uniformity.

[...]

The US Law on obviousness is indeed compatible with the EPO problem-and-solution approach. The USPTO, unlike the EPO, may be bound by the ratio decidenti of superior court decisions, but this should not impede completing the MPEP with instructions like the problem-and-solution approach. All that is needed is to arouse interest in potential long-term advantages for the USPTO notably the perspective of increased quality. Application of the approach does not imply any change in the Statute or Case Law, simply a determination to complement the current piecemeal guidelines by a coherent methodology.

It follows that the USPTO not only could adopt an approach for assessing obviousness like the EPO problem-and-solution approach, but in my view the quest for quality is a good reason why it should do so.

A guest post at Patently-O, composed by Professors Arti Rai (Duke) and Colleen Chien (Santa Clara), is titled “Patent Quality: Where We Are” and it names the legacy of Kappos, which is similar to that of Battistelli (compromising patent quality to artificially make ruinous ‘gains’):

When former USPTO Director David Kappos took the helm in 2009, budgetary strains and application backlog demanded immediate attention. Even so, then-Director Kappos pushed through redesign of the agency’s IT system, gave an across-the-board increase in time to examiners, adjusted count allocation so as to reduce incentives for rework, and emphasized quality improvements through international worksharing, industry training, and the creation of the Common Patent Classification system. Then, with the passage of the American [sic] Invents Act of 2011, the agency’s budgetary position stabilized and the stage was set for further focus on quality. The backlog subsided, with the queue of patents reduced by 30% over the last eight years, according to statistics released by the USPTO.

It was only after the America Invents Act (AIA), which then created PTAB, that patent quality started to make more sense. We hope that even in the era of a Trump Administration the same kind of trend will persist, though we are not particularly optimistic about it.

PTAB — Not Deterred by Courts — Continues to Invalidate a Lot of Software Patents

Sunday 15th of January 2017 03:14:29 PM

Don’t believe the legal paper ‘industry’ (or the patent microcosm)

Summary: The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) continues to make progress reforming the patent system by eliminating a lot of patents and setting an example (or new standards) for what is patent-eligible after Alice

THE patent microcosm wants us to believe that the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) has devalued or stopped what PTAB was doing. They want us to think there’s some kind of feud or conflict — one that they themselves inflame.

Let’s wait and see how many law firms will bother covering the frequent outcomes from cases where CAFC sides with PTAB on issues pertaining to invalidation of patents. Here is one such new case. To quote MIP:

The Federal Circuit has dismissed an appeal of Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) final written decision in an inter partes review (IPR), arguing that because “Phigenix has not offered sufficient proof establishing that it has suffered an injury in fact, it lacks standing to bring suit in federal court”.

Here is a direct link to the decision [PDF]

PTAB is breaking some records again (based on some criteria), as shown by these latest figures. For the uninitiated, PTAB is slaughtering/squashing software patents more frequently than anything else, including courts. Petitions to PTAB, or IPRs as they are commonly called once processed, are also more reachable/accessible to small businesses that hope to undermine patents which large companies should never have been granted in the first place.

MIP’s PTAB round-up says:

December Patent Trial and Appeal Board petition filing was the fourth-highest of 2016, the Federal Circuit recently heard en banc arguments in one PTAB appeal and granted en banc rehearing in another, the appeals court remanded the Board in In re NuVasive, and the District of Delaware interpreted the scope of estoppel narrowly in Intellectual Ventures v Toshiba

When patent trolls like Intellectual Ventures go after large companies such as Toshiba they expect to get a lot of money. Intellectual Ventures was recently defeated in an epic cases where quite a few of its patents — software patents to be exact — got rejected by a prominent CAFC judge.

There is no compelling evidence to suggest that things are changing in favour of the patent microcosm, at least not in PTAB. No doubt, however, they will continue to lie to everyone — their clients included — in order to improve their bottom line. The term “fake news” seems applicable here.

EPO Abuses Come Under Fire From Politicians in Luxembourg

Sunday 15th of January 2017 10:20:12 AM

Latest among many countries to express concern


Source: Wikipedia

Summary: Luxembourg is the latest nation in which concerns about the EPO’s serious abuses are brought up not only by the media but also by politicians

THE EPO is very quiet this month. No “news” or “blog” items have been published since before Christmas.

Around Christmas time the media in Luxembourg published this article, which we mentioned here before. There is not much new information in there (not of great significance anyway) except parts which pertain to political interventions in Luxembourg. Notably, Claudia Dall’Agnol (pictured above) raises concerns and Etienne Schneider acts like a Battistelli mouthpiece, which makes Schneider look rather foolish and gullible. Does anyone out there still believe any word that comes out of Battistelli’s mouth? He’s a chronic, shameless liar. He’s a manipulative politician disguised as a manager.

Here is the English translation from SUEPO [PDF], which we reproduced below in HTML form:

“We’ve got our eye on it”

EUROPEAN PATENT OFFICE

Behind the façade of the European Patent Office (38 countries belong to it, Luxembourg among them) a massive social conflict has broken out.

The battle between the President and the staff union Suepo, which represents the majority of the 7,000 strong workforce, has been raging for more than five years. Minister Etienne Schneider is now providing a reply to the question raised in Parliament on this issue by LSAP deputy Claudia Dall’Agnol.

The management style adopted by President Benoît Battistelli, who took this office in 2010, appears to have led from escalation to escalation. Only recently, staff members took to the streets in their thousands in Munich to march to the consulates. If we are to believe what the union members are saying, Battistelli has been tightening the screws for a long time, to such an extent that the environment at work can sink no lower. In the course of the year, three senior Suepo members have been summarily kicked out. Our information is that the President has produced very flimsy excuses for doing this – some would say totally far-fetched.

Another senior Suepo figure was dismissed without notice at the beginning of November at the branch of the Office at The Hague, and a further member is said to have been subjected to extreme pressure. How, why, when, and who is concerned is not clear from the accusations. Two weeks ago, EPO officials at The Hague were called upon to carry out a protest demonstration at the Dutch branch office. A majority of the 2,800 or so personnel working there took part, and really made their voices heard (► Link).

“Focus of attention”

The Minister responsible, Etienne Schneider, in his reply to the question raised in Parliament by Deputy Claudia Dall’Agnol simply repeated the official version put about by the EPO President. There have allegedly been cases of bullying, but those responsible have been identified and punished. The staff member who was ejected in November at The Hague is said to have been the main person responsible.

But we have received entirely different information, too, which points to the President unleashing a systematic campaign of harassment against many of his staff, but in particular against the personnel representatives who are members of Suepo.. Schneider appears to be equally at ease in his reply,since he goes on to write: “I can give assurance that the Luxembourg delegation continues to pay close attention to the development of the social dialogue at the EPO, and to provide its support to any initiative in that context.”

According to Etienne Schneider, the agenda at the next meeting of the Advisory Board is scheduled to include the results of an internal survey on the issue of social dialogue and working conditions at the branches of the European Patent Office.

As can be seen from the above (last three paragraphs), Battistelli’s apologists seem to be relying on paid-for propaganda from PwC. We previously we wrote about it in the following articles:

SUEPO is very quiet these days, but the same goes for the EPO in general, including the management. This gives us more time to unearth and publish older material whose analysis is well overdue. Expect much more to come out in the coming days.

Constitutionality as a Barrier and Brexit Barriers to UPC Keep the Whole Pipe Dream Deadlocked

Sunday 15th of January 2017 09:52:38 AM

Summary: The UPC is still going nowhere fast, but the demise (or death) of the UPC as we know it must not be taken for granted

THE UPC may be unconstitutional (or un-Constitutional) in a lot of states. Does Battistelli care? Well, he hardly cares about the laws, let alone constitutions. According to this or this, quoting the new (and latest) paper from Dr. Ingve Björn Stjerna, “German ratification proceedings comprise several options for bringing the ratification legislation before the German Constitutional Court (“BVerfG”) for a constitutional law review in which the CJEU would be invoked as regards Union law questions by way of a request for a preliminary ruling.”

“We need more Free Open/Source software companies to help us battle the UPC, which would definitely usher in not only patent trolls but also software patents in Europe.”Given Germany’s selfish interests, as we recently noted in relation to Germany's Justice Minister Heiko Maas, we very much doubt the government will care if the UPC turns out to be un-Constitutional. Things have gotten so bad in fact that Maas also flagrantly disregards/ignores EPO abuses (as per German law) on German soil. As for Team UPC, it’s paying for propaganda. These people play dirty. Very dirty.

Thankfully, as we repeatedly pointed out before, the UPC in in a limbo. In fact, based on the abstract of this upcoming FOSDEM talk, Robinson Tryon too agrees with the “limbo” analogy. “With the future of the European Union’s Unitary Patent Court in limbo due to the Brexit,” he writes, “leaders in Free Software owe it to themselves and their companies to be more agile and more prepared to address patent issues…”

We need more Free Open/Source software companies to help us battle the UPC, which would definitely usher in not only patent trolls but also software patents in Europe. Here is the full abstract of the upcoming talk:

Are FOSS Companies Ready to Deal with Patents in the US and Europe?

Most small businesses have no patent strategy. Though many FOSS companies have policies in place regarding copyright and keeping detailed records of code contributions, few have paid enough attention to how patent litigation could affect them. For those FOSS businesses active in multiple countries or looking to expand into an international market, failure to understand the patent ecosystem in each jurisdiction could be a costly mistake.

Most small businesses have no patent strategy. Though many FOSS companies have policies in place regarding copyright and keeping detailed records of code contributions, few have paid enough attention to how patent litigation could affect them. For those FOSS businesses active in multiple countries or looking to expand into an international market, failure to understand the patent ecosystem in each jurisdiction could be a costly mistake.

This talk will use recent cases and ongoing changes in the patent systems of the US & Europe as modern examples for our discussion. We’ll describe the pitfalls that can affect any company, tabulate the costs of litigation, and offer methods businesses can use to reduce overall risk.

With the future of the European Union’s Unitary Patent Court in limbo due to the Brexit, and with no public position on patents from the United States’ next administration, leaders in Free Software owe it to themselves and their companies to be more agile and more prepared to address patent issues — whether they work at a small startup or at a large multinational corporation.

We previously coordinated some action (such as petitioning) regarding the UPC, but seeing how things are moving in the UK (with the business-oriented Madame Tesco leaving to be replaced by Boris Johnson's brother after just months in her job), it seems like the UPC is falling apart anyway, even without some outside intervention.

Links 14/1/2017: Wine 2.0 RC5 and AryaLinux 2017 Released

Saturday 14th of January 2017 05:26:24 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • Tired of Windows? Switching to Linux Will Be Easy If You Know This

      Linux sounds intimidating, but it’s essentially just another operating system. When you buy a pre-built PC, it arrives with an operating system pre-installed, usually Windows or Mac. But Linux distros such as Ubuntu are just as capable as Windows.

      The process of installing Linux is rather simple. But actually using Linux is a bit different. There are many incentives for migrating from Windows to Linux. For instance, Linux variants often use less RAM or offer a lightweight environment.

      Overall, there’s simply more choice. If you’re tired of Windows, switching to Linux will be pretty easy if you know these things.

    • A first Look at the Samsung Chromebook Plus

      Based on this video, it appears as if this Chromebook from Samsung would be a great machine with GNU/Linux installed on it.

  • Server
    • Many IT Pros Ask for Linux and Cloud Training

      A significant share of technology professionals said they encounter barriers in getting necessary, regular training on Linux and cloud systems, according to a recent survey from the Linux Academy. Very few reported that their IT department has such an advanced grasp of these topics that it requires little training. Many, in fact, would like to get up to speed on Linux, DevOps and the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud. However, time constraints, budget limitations and inadequate employer support are keeping these workers from getting the training they need. It doesn’t help that, thanks to the shortage of available talent, it’s taking two months or longer to fill open job vacancies that demand Linux or cloud skills. “The advancement of [open source and cloud] technologies is clearly outpacing the pool of professionals who are able to service and manage them,” said Anthony James, founder of the Linux Academy. “By the time professionals receive the training they need, the technologies have progressed, making their training obsolete. This underscores not only the need for access to timely and affordable training, but also for companies to further invest in their employees’ skills.” Nearly 890 IT professionals took part in the research.

    • New framework uses Kubernetes to deliver serverless app architecture

      A new framework built atop Kubernetes is the latest project to offer serverless or AWS Lambda-style application architecture on your own hardware or in a Kubernetes-as-a-service offering.

      The Fission framework keeps the details about Docker and Kubernetes away from developers, allowing them to concentrate on the software rather than the infrastructure. It’s another example of Kubernetes becoming a foundational technology.

    • A Story of a Microservice: Lessons from the Trenches

      A lot has been written about microservices over the years, but we feel that not many of these articles have presented real-life and long-term experiences of building and maintaining microservices. In this blog post we aim to address this shortcoming.

      Microservices are loosely coupled, independently deployable applications that are focused on fulfilling a single cohesive responsibility. The microservices mindset encourages continuous deployment cycles, promotes choosing the right tool for each job, and helps to build a highly fault-tolerant architecture that can be evolved and scaled on a fine-grained level. Implementing a microservice architecture requires a substantial investment in an automated deployment infrastructure.

  • Kernel Space
    • Laptop Mode Tools 1.71

      I am pleased to announce the 1.71 release of Laptop Mode Tools. This release includes some new modules, some bug fixes, and there are some efficiency improvements too. Many thanks to our users; most changes in this release are contributions from our users.

    • Laptop-Mode-Tools 1.71 Adds VGA Switcheroo Support, Kbd-Backlight

      For those using Laptop-Mode-Tools to conserve power consumption when running on battery or using it to be more power efficient on your desktop or server, a new version is now available.

      Laptop Mode Tools 1.71 adds new modules for vgaswitcheroo and kbd-backlight. This package update also revives the Bluetooth module, has some wireless/WiFi changes, AC/battery determination improvements, fixes, and other smaller improvements.

    • Amdocs Joins Forces with Linux Foundation to Accelerate OpenECOMP Adoption in Open Source
    • Amdocs Joins Forces with Linux Foundation to Accelerate OpenECOMP Adoption in Open Source

      Amdocs to contribute key modules to OpenECOMP to help accelerate the industry uptake of common SDN and NFV standards and faster service delivery architectures

      ST. LOUIS, Jan. 13, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Amdocs (NASDAQ:DOX), the leading provider of digital customer experience solutions, today announced that it will partner with the Linux Foundation to accelerate the global adoption of the open source Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management and Policy (ECOMP) platform. Hosted by the Linux Foundation, this new project will make ECOMP open source available to service providers and cloud developers in 2017.

    • Amdocs Will Contribute Modules to OpenECOMP
    • Amdocs Aids Linux Foundation in Open Source ECOMP
    • Blockchain will secure global derivatives trading

      Starting next year, one of the major providers of financial-markets infrastructure will begin using blockchain, the cryptographic software underlying bitcoin and other digital currencies, to help settle post-trade transactions in credit derivatives. It’s the first use of the breakthrough technology to undergird the global financial system.

      The Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation, in a release this week, said it would “re-platform” its existing Trade Information Warehouse, which automates record keeping and payment management for about 98 percent of all credit derivative transactions globally — or about $11 trillion a year.

    • Why IBM CEO Ginni Rometty Believes in Blockchain

      Close attention has been paid in the wake of Donald Trump’s historic victory in the US presidential election to bitcoin, which rose on safe-haven demand in reaction to Trump’s victory and uncertainty in global markets also related to Brexit’s looming impact.

    • Linux Kernel 4.4.41 LTS Update Comes With Improved Radeon, Nouveau And Power PC

      Greg Kroah-Hartman, the Linux kernel maintainer for the stable branch gives us the impression that he doesn’t need any sleeps whatsoever as he is delivering update after updates at a timely interval. The latest update is the Linux 4.4.41 kernel and has brought Linux OS users a wide array of interesting features.

    • Graphics Stack
      • Etnaviv Gallium3D Driver Lands, Premiering With Mesa 17.0

        In time for this weekend’s feature freeze of Mesa 17.0, the Etnaviv Gallium3D driver has landed in Mesa Git after years of work on this reverse-engineered, open-source driver stack.

      • Intel ANV Vulkan Driver Lands Last Minute HiZ Improvements

        Some more exciting last minute work landing in Mesa Git before this weekend’s Mesa 17.0 branching are the potentially performance-improving HiZ work within the Intel Vulkan driver.

      • Google releases ‘Draco’ 3D graphics open source compression library on GitHub

        Google is a significant contributor to the open source community. This is notable, as the company is wildly successful and its products are used by many. It incorporates open source code in its offerings, and then contributes back too. The search giant’s visibility lends credibility to open source ideology.

        Today, Google announces yet another open source project. Called “Draco,” it is a compression library designed for 3D graphics. The project can dramatically reduce the size of 3D graphic files without significant visual impact to the person viewing.

      • Introducing Draco: compression for 3D graphics

        3D graphics are a fundamental part of many applications, including gaming, design and data visualization. As graphics processors and creation tools continue to improve, larger and more complex 3D models will become commonplace and help fuel new applications in immersive virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). Because of this increased model complexity, storage and bandwidth requirements are forced to keep pace with the explosion of 3D data.

      • Google Announces “Draco” For 3D Graphics Compression

        Google’s Chrome Media team has developed Draco as an open-source compression library designed for 3D graphics.

      • Fedora 25 Switching Over To Using GLVND For Mesa, Happier NVIDIA Driver Installation

        A Mesa update coming down the pipe for Fedora 25 Linux users will see GLVND support enabled by default.

        GLVND, of course, being the OpenGL Vendor Neutral Dispatch library. This is the NVIDIA-led effort that was also supported by upstream Mesa/X.Org developers for in effect a “new OpenGL Linux ABI” for allowing multiple Linux OpenGL drivers to happily co-exist on the same system. This makes things much easier than having different drivers overwriting the libGL files, complications with driver installation/uninstall, etc. It was long overdue but finally was seeing upstream support in 2016.

      • Wayland 1.13 Planned For Release Next Month

        Wayland 1.13 has been in development since September while the plans today were firmed up for releasing it in February.

      • Tegra/Nouveau Render-Only Gallium3D Support
      • Building Mesa from source, a guide

        If you are using Mesa (FOSS OpenGL/Vulkan drivers on Linux), you can be in situation when it introduces some new features upstream, but it didn’t make it into your distribution yet and it can take quite a long time for that to happen. Certain games can become playable with that change, or it can be a performance optimization that speeds up already working games, or may be you simply want to test the newest Mesa itself – either way, you might be interested in running the latest development version of Mesa for various reasons. At the same time you don’t want to mess up your system with an unstable graphics stack.

    • Benchmarks
  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Kdenlive 16.12.1 released with Windows version

        We are proud to announce the first maintenance release for the 16.12 cycle. Besides the usual bugfixes and usability improvements this release also marks the official release of the Windows port.

      • More Raspberry Pi, Linux Pressure, Plasma 5.9

        Jonathan Riddell announced the latest KDE Plasma today to “kick off 2017 in style.” While announcing Plasma 5.9 Beta, Riddell assured users that 5.8 LTS would continue to receive bug fixes. Weird thing to say for a developmental release. Relatedly, neon 20170112 was uploaded but not announced. In other news, Mint 18.1 took another one on the chin today at The Reg mainly for it’s old base and Update Manager. Jamie Watson tested other distributions on his Raspberry Pis, this time Fedora, Manjaro, and Ubuntu MATE and Robin “Roblimo” Miller said Windows users should be grateful to Linux. That followed a similar themed story from the other day where a developer claims Valve Linux choice forced Microsoft to beef up Windows gaming support. It was another interesting day in the land of The Penguin.

      • New Qt 5.8 rc snapshot for testing

        All known blockers should be fixed in these packages and we are targeting to release Qt 5.8.0 Tue 17th January if nothing really serious found during testing. So please inform me immediately if there is some new blocker in the packages.

      • Qt 5.8 Hoping To Release Next Week, Last Minute Test Builds

        Qt 5.8.0 will hopefully be released in the days ahead.

        The Qt Company has issued new Qt 5.8.0 release candidate snapshots this week for testing. The developers believe all official blocker bugs should be fixed with this release but are encouraging last minute testing. If nothing major is discovered, Qt 5.8.0 will be released next week on 17 January.

        Those wanting to test what could be the final builds of Qt 5.8 can find them via this Qt mailing list post. Since then some bugs have been pointed out, but it’s not clear yet if they’ll be promoted to being blocker bugs and thereby potentially delaying next week’s release.

  • Distributions
    • Best Linux Distributions for New Users

      Ah, the age-old question…one that holds far more importance than simply pointing out which Linux distribution is a fan-favorite. Why is that?

      Let me set the stage: You have a user—one who has, most likely, spent the majority of their time in front of either a Windows or Mac machine—and they’ve come to you for an alternative. You want to point them in a direction that will bring about the least amount of hiccups along the way and highlight the power and flexibility of Linux.

    • AryaLinux 2017 Drops 32-Bit Support, Adds MATE 1.17 and Linux Kernel 4.9

      AryaLinux has received its first release in 2017, and it looks like it’s a good one. AryaLinux is both a builder for those who want to create their own GNU/Linux distribution from scratch, and a computer operating system.

    • AryaLinux 2017 – Release Notes

      AryaLinux 2017 comes with package updates, the latest Linux kernel and updated build scripts to build system from scratch. Here are the features of this release…

    • AryaLinux 2017 is now available for public

      AryaLinux is an Indian Linux distribution which is made using Linux From Scratch guide. This distribution uses alps as package management. Few hours ago Arya team released AryaLinux 2017 in Xfce and MATE editions. There are various changes made in this release and lots of new updates are included too.

      According to official announcement, AryaLinux will be released in 64-bit only from now on. So guys if you want to test this distro then you better have newer hardware. Linux kernel is updated to 4.9. Mate is now updated to 1.17. LibroOffice is updates to 5.2.3. Simple screen recorder is returned with Qt5. Parole and Exaile are made default media and audio player respectively.

    • New Releases
      • OpenELEC 7.0 Gets First Point Release, Improves SolidRun’s CuBox-i4Pro Booting

        The last days of 2016 brought us the OpenELEC 7.0 operating system for embedded devices, such as Raspberry Pi, which was based on the Kodi 16.1 open-source media center and allows users to transform those devices in HTPC (Home Theater PC) units.

      • New User Distros, Powered By Linux, No Opera for You

        There are many companies who use or offer Linux and today Linux and Ubuntu rounded up 10 of the biggest. Elsewhere, Jack Wallen offered his suggestions for which distros might suite particular users of certain other operating systems. From Windows 7 to Mac, he found an Ubuntu-derivative for each. Yep, “there’s a distribution for everyone,” as long as it’s Ubuntu. OMG!Ubuntu! reported today that Opera won’t be providing new conceptual browser to Linux users, because they claim it’s being developed “just for fun.” Remember who else once said that? In other news, Canonical today plugged Dell’s new Ubuntu laptops, Ubuntu Budgie announced a wallpaper contest, and MakeUseOf made use of Linux versus Windows today to illustrate how easy it can be to switch.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • openSUSE Linux Arrives On Windows 10

        Sr. Product Manager SUSE Linux Enterprise SUSE, Hannes Kühnemund, has written a blog post and described how to run openSUSE Leap 42.2 and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 SP2 on Windows 10. Now, by running simple commands, the users can install SUSE Linux distributions in Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). The company has also prepared a detailed blog post and described the whole procedure. For those who don’t know, by default, Microsoft enabled Ubuntu within WSL.

      • OpenSUSE comes to Windows 10. Plus, can you trust WhatsApp?

        This is the first in a weekey series I’m calling ‘weekly roundup’ in which I will highlight some of the hottest stories of the week from the world of Linux and open source. This week, I want to call your attention to some excciting Windows 10/openSUSE news and alert you to a backdoor vulnerability in WhatsApp that allows messages to be intercepted.

    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Debian 8 kernel security update

        There are a fair number of outstanding security issues in the Linux kernel for Debian 8 “jessie”, but none of them were considered serious enough to issue a security update and DSA. Instead, most of them are being fixed through the point release (8.7) which will be released this weekend. Don’t forget that you need to reboot to complete a kernel upgrade.

      • Derivatives
  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Social network App.net to shut down, open-source its platform

    The next (and last) step for App.net is to offer all its infrastructure as open source. Previously, the company open-sourced key projects that ran on top of the service, such as the alpha microblogging client, but not its full underlying platform. One possibility is for App.net to go in the same direction as Diaspora—with the ability to be self-hosted, in much the same manner as a WordPress installation.

  • Open Source Helps Drive Citizen Engagement With Minimal Cost

    Open source software drives innovation. People with great ideas have the ability to develop software and make it available for others to use. Agencies receptive to using open source software can take advantage of this innovation, learning new ideas about how technology is used and deployed.

    For example, DevOps is a relatively new field in the federal market and there are number of open source tools that enable its implementation that will automate the task of code verification, automated testing, deployment, etc. thereby increasing adoption.

    A typical starting point for developing a citizen engagement platform is a web content management solution (WCMS). An engagement platform developed on a WCMS allows an organization to create and publish content that is engaging to the audience and available to anyone on any device.

    Some technologies, such as Drupal, have also extended their capability to integrate other open source technologies like JavaScript frameworks and search engines. They can be further leveraged to create the ideal experience that is needed for today’s audiences that use varying devices. Further, this content can be revised as often as needed without any need for IT involvement.

  • D-Wave open sources quantum app development software

    To foster a quantum software development ecosystem, the company created qbsolv, which lets developers build higher-level tools and applications leveraging the D-Wave quantum systems without the need to understand the complex physics of quantum computers.

  • Pantek, Metisentry merge to build on open source IT expertise

    Two local IT services firm that specialize in open source technologies have merged.

  • Hedge fund firm Man AHL says open sourcing software helps attract best developer talent

    A commonly held view of hedge funds is of secretive organisations that jealously guard the tools that make them money. Contrary to this is the trend among certain firms to open source their software and invite collaboration from the developer community.

    Firms that have blazed a trail in the open sourcing of this sort of technology are the likes of AQR, which kick-started the Pandas libraries project, and Man AHL, which has open-sourced its Arctic data storage system.

    Arctic powers Man AHL’s vast financial market data store and is built on top of the open-source no-SQL database MongoDB. The Arctic codebase was made available on GitHub back in 2015.

  • Software Company Anahata Announces Management Restructuring
  • Software Company Anahata Appoints Ambarish Mohan as the Head of Open Source
  • Apache Beam Graduates to Help Define Streaming Data Processing

    Open-source effort originally developed from code contributed by Google moves from the Apache incubator to become a Top Level Project

    The open-source Apache Beam project hit a major milestone on Jan.10, graduating from the Apache Incubator and officially becoming a Top Level Project. Beam is a technology that provides a unified programming model for streaming as well as batch data processing.

    The Apache Incubator is an entry point for new projects into the Apache Software Foundation (ASF), with graduation marking a level of maturity and adherence to established policies and processes.

    “Graduation is an exciting milestone for Apache Beam,” Davor Bonaci, Vice President of Apache Beam, said in a statement. “Becoming a top-level project is a recognition of the amazing growth of the Apache Beam community, both in terms of size and diversity.”

  • Yahoo Open Sources Tool for Continuous Delivery at Scale

    For the past year, we’ve taken note of the many open source projects focused on Big Data and infrastructure technology hat have been contributed to the community. Some of these are real difference makers–strong enough for new startup companies to align around them with business models focused on them. While the Apache Software Foundation has has announced many of these, some of the bigger tech companies are contributing as well.

    Yahoo recently open sourced a distributed “publish and subscribe” messaging system dubbed Pulsar that’s capable of scaling while protecting low latencies. Yahoo uses Pulsar to drive several of its own in-house applications. And now, Yahoo is open sourcing Screwdriver.cd, an adaption of its Continuous Delivery build system for dynamic infrastructure.

  • Events
    • State of the Union: npm

      Ashley Williams kicked off her colorful “paint by number” keynote at Node.js Interactive by explaining that npm is actually a for-profit company. Npm makes money by selling its enterprise services and, apart from the amounts required to run the everyday operations of a regular company, its revenue is invested in running the npm registry.

    • KEYNOTE: State of the Union: npm by Ashley Williams, npm

      In this keynote, Ashley Williams, Developer Community and Content Manager, discusses how npm works as a service and shares some of the remarkable numbers associated with the registry.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Mozilla and Market Researchers Herald Big IoT Future

        Early last year, Mozilla announced that the Internet of Things (IoT) will be the next big opportunity for its open source software platform. “The Internet of Things is changing the world around us, with new use cases, experiences and technologies emerging every day,” wrote officials in a post. “As we continue to experiment in this space, we wanted to take a moment to share more details around our approach, process and current projects we’re testing.”

        We’ve heard similar predictions from several companies, and now two recent studies are confirming that the Internet of Things (IoT) is poised for huge growth.

        Studies from International Data Corporation (IDC), and one from the U.S. Department of Commerce (DoC), confirm that worldwide IoT spending is set to skyrocket.

      • Rust severely disappoints me

        I wanted to like Rust. I really did. I’ve been investigating it for months, from the outside, as a C replacement with stronger correctness guarantees that we could use for NTPsec.

        I finally cleared my queue enough that I could spend a week learning Rust. I was evaluating it in contrast with Go, which I learned in order to evaluate as a C replacement a couple of weeks back.

  • Education
    • Oviedo university studies to increase open source

      The University of Oviedo in Asturias, one of Spain’s autonomous communities, is studying ways to increase its use of free and open source software, reports La Nueva España, a newspaper. Using free and open source software will help to avoid the use of unlicensed software, the university management is quoted as saying in December.

      The university is also looking into using free software solutions to reduce academic plagiarism.

      The newspaper notes how Asturia’s one and only university is at the bottom end of the annual ranking of universities that use free software (Ranking de Universidades en Software Libre, RuSL.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • There’s A New Port Of RISC-V For GCC

      For those following the progress of the RISC-V open-source and royalty-free processor ISA, a new port of the GNU Compiler Collection for this architecture is now available.

      Palmer Dabbelt of UC Berkeley previously mentioned a few months ago their GCC RISC-V code was held up due to university lawyers due to upstream GCC contributions requiring copyright assignment to the Free Software Foundation, which upset the university. But it seems they’re past that now as Palmer announced this week the new RISC-V port for GCC.

  • Public Services/Government
    • FSFE: H2020 funded software should be free

      Software that is developed in research projects funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme should be published under a free software licence, says the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE). The advocacy group wants to know how much of the H2020 budget is spent on paying for proprietary software licences.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • The State of Open Source Licensing [Ed: Stop relying on Black Duck for information; was created as anti-GPL company.]

      Copyleft licenses, for example, of which the GPL is the most notable variant, are committed to the freedom of the source code. Code governed by a copyleft license asks for reciprocity from consumers; if changes to the code base are made and distributed (we’ll come back to that word), they must be released and shared under the original terms. Permissive licenses, on the other hand, are built around freedom for the developer: permissively licensed assets impose few if any restrictions on downstream users, and require no such reciprocity. Both communities are strongly committed to freedom; the difference lies in what, precisely, is kept free.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Renault Is Planning To Release Its Hardware As An Open-Source Automotive Platform

        Auto maker Renault is developing an open-source platform based on the Twizy that is a compact and lightweight electric vehicle with the bodywork parts removed. The POM will be made available to start-ups, independent laboratories, private customers and researchers, enabling third parties to copy and modify existing software in order to create a customizable electric vehicle. Renault has partnered with B2B company OSVehicle to develop and sell this open-source platform to the community. Bringing together entrepreneurs, developers, designers, and engineers, they will make it easier for them to build, share, distribute and modify the hardware designs of electric vehicles.

  • Programming/Development
    • A 5 year old girl vs. CoderDojo

      In early December’16 together with my 5 year old daughter we visited an introductory workshop about the Hello Ruby book and another workshop organized by Coder Dojo Bulgaria. Later that month we also visited a Robo League competition in Sofia. The goal was to further Adriana’s interest into technical topics and programming in particular and see how she will respond to the topics covered and the workshops and training materials format in general. I have been keeping detailed notes and today I’m publishing some of my observations.

Leftovers
  • Health/Nutrition
    • Senate Takes Major Step Toward Repealing Health Care Law

      Senate Republicans took their first major step toward repealing the Affordable Care Act on Thursday, approving a budget blueprint that would allow them to gut the health care law without the threat of a Democratic filibuster.

      The vote was 51 to 48. During the roll call, Democrats staged a highly unusual protest on the Senate floor to express their dismay and anger at the prospect that millions of Americans could lose health insurance coverage.

      One by one, Democrats rose to voice their objections. Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington said that Republicans were “stealing health care from Americans.” Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon said he was voting no “because health care should not just be for the healthy and wealthy.”

    • Nutella maker fights back against fears over cancer-causing palm oil

      Ferrero, the maker of Nutella, has hit back at claims that palm oil used in their hazelnut and chocolate spreads could cause cancer.

      In May, the European Food Standards Authority warned that the contaminants found in the oil’s edible form are carcinogenic. It warned that even moderate consumption of the substances represented a risk to children and said that, due to a lack of definitive data, no level could be considered safe.

      Palm oil is found in hundreds of household name food brands including Cadbury’s chocolate, Clover and even Ben & Jerry’s, but Nutella has so far faced the brunt of a consumer backlash.

    • Flint water town hall leaves residents discouraged

      Flint residents hoping for some major news about the safety of their long-troubled drinking water got something less than that at a town hall meeting Wednesday.

      Government officials contend that city water reaching homes continues to improve in terms of proper lead, copper, alkaline and bacteria levels. They described Flint as very much like other American cities.

      Yet the distance between Flint residents and the ability to trust their water and those in charge of it appears wide. Before the start of the meeting, Flint resident Tony Palladino Jr. was realistic.

    • House Clears Path for Repeal of Health Law

      The House cleared the way on Friday for speedy action to repeal the Affordable Care Act, putting Congress on track to undo the most significant health care law in a half-century.

      With a near party-line vote of 227 to 198, the House overcame the opposition of Democrats and the anxieties of some Republicans to approve a budget blueprint that allows Republicans to end major provisions of President Obama’s health care law without the threat of a Democratic filibuster in the Senate.

      President-elect Donald J. Trump, Speaker Paul D. Ryan and other Republican leaders now face a much bigger challenge: devising their own plan to ensure broad access to health care and coverage while controlling costs. While their party is far from a consensus on how to replace the health care law — under which more than 20 million Americans have gained health insurance — they will need votes from Democrats in the Senate to enact a robust replacement plan.

      Republicans have argued that Americans have been crushed by soaring premiums and other unintended effects of the law, which was adopted without any Republican votes.

    • Teen Vogue features Free Press photographer’s Flint water journey

      Detroit Free Press photographer and Flint resident Ryan Garza has captured stunning, insider photos of the Flint water crisis.

      Now his images are being showcased by Teen Vogue magazine.

      In an essay for the magazine, Garza offers a personal account of rashes, foul-smelling water and memorable Flint residents whose stories he has shared since the city switched from Detroit water to Flint River water in 2014.

    • Officials: More than 30 months into Flint crisis, water still unsafe to drink

      On Wednesday, officials held a town hall meeting in Flint to deliver some good news and some bad news about the city’s water crisis. The good: Flint’s water quality is improving. The bad: The crisis isn’t over.

      Officials are still urging Flint residents to use bottled water and filters on their home faucets. They said it will take roughly three years to replace all of the city’s lead water pipes — a job for which they have not yet secured funding.

      The good news is that officials say that during the last six months of water sampling, 90 percent of homes have indicated average lead readings of 12 parts per billion, below the federal threshold of 15 ppb.

      But more than 30 months into the crisis, good isn’t good enough for many frustrated residents.

    • Woman killed by superbug resistant to every available antibiotic after visit to India

      A woman has died after suffering from a superbug that was resistant to every available type of antibiotic.

      The 70-year-old returned to the US state of Nevada in August 2016 after an extended trip to India, where she was reportedly been hospitalised multiple times.

      Although she was admitted to a hospital’s acute care ward shortly after her return, she died in September after her infection proved resistant to 26 different antibiotics.

  • Security
    • Security advisories for Friday
    • New Windows backdoor targets intelligence gathering

      New versions of the MM Core Windows backdoor are being used to provide a channel into victims’ machines for the purpose of intelligence gathering, according to Carl Leonard, principal security analyst at Forcepoint Security Labs.

      The new versions were found by members of the Forcepoint investigations team.

      MM Core, which is also known as BaneChant, is a file-less advanced persistent threat which is executed in memory by a downloaded component. It was first reported in 2013 with the version 2.0-LNK and used the tag BaneChant in the network request sent to its command-and-control centre.

      A second version, 2.1-LNK, found shortly thereafter, had the network tag StrangeLove.

      Forcepoint researchers Nicholas Griffin and Roland Dela Paz, whose write-up on MM Core was provided to iTWire, said the two new versions they had found were 2.2-LNK (network tag BigBoss) and 2.3-LNK (SillyGoose).

    • Implementing Medical Device Cybersecurity: A Two-Stage Process

      Connectivity is ubiquitous – it’s moved beyond an overhyped buzzword and become part of life. Offering ever-advancing levels of access, control, and convenience, widespread connectivity also increases the risk of unauthorised interference in our everyday lives.

      In what many experts believe was a world first, manufacturer Johnson & Johnson recently issued a warning to patients on a cyber-vulnerability in one of its medical devices. The company announced that an insulin pump it supplies had a potential connectivity vulnerability. The wireless communication link the device used contained a potential exploit that could have been used by an unauthorised third party to alter the insulin dosage delivered to the patient.

    • Dockerfile security tuneup

      I recently watched 2 great talks on container security by Justin Cormack from Docker at Devoxx Belgium and Adrian Mouat from Container Solutions at GOTO Stockholm. We were following many of the suggestions but there was still room for improvement. So we decided it was good time to do a security tuneup of our dockerfiles.

    • FTC Sues D-Link For Pretending To Give A Damn About Hardware Security

      If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve probably noticed that the so-called Internet of Things isn’t particularly secure. Hardware vendors were so excited to market a universe of new internet-connected devices, they treated things like privacy, security, and end-user control as afterthoughts. As a result, we’ve now got smart TVs, smart tea kettles, WiFi-connected barbies and all manner of other devices that are not only leaking private customer data, but are being quickly hacked, rolled into botnets, and used in historically unprecedented new, larger DDoS attacks.

      This isn’t a problem exclusive to new companies breaking into the IoT space. Long-standing hardware vendors that have consistently paid lip service to security are fueling the problem. Asus, you’ll recall, was dinged by the FTC last year for marketing its routers as incredibly secure, yet shipping them with easily-guessed default username/login credentials and cloud-based functionality that was easily exploitable.

      The FTC is back again, this time suing D-Link for routers and video cameras that the company claimed were “easy to secure” and delivered “advanced network security,” yet were about as secure as a kitten-guarded pillow fort. Like Asus, D-Link’s hardware also frequently ships with easily-guessed default login credentials. This frequently allows “hackers” (that term is generous since it takes just a few keystrokes) to peruse an ocean of unsecured cameras via search engines like Shodan, allowing them to spy on families and businesses in real time.

    • The eight security backdoors that helped kill faith in security

      With the news of WhatsApp’s backdoor granting Facebook and government agencies access to user messages, fears over users’ privacy issues are sure to be at an all-time high for WhatsApp’s 1 billion users.

      Backdoors in computing equipment are the stuff of legend. A decade ago a security expert informed me with absolute certainty that a prominent non-US networking company had designed them into its products for years as a matter of course as if nobody much cared about this fact. Long before the average citizen had heard the letters NSA, it struck me at the time as extraordinary suggestion. It was almost as if the deliberate compromise of an important piece of network equipment was a harmless novelty.

    • Hacker group Shadow Brokers retires, dumps more code as parting gift

      The Shadow Brokers claimed to have held even more valuable cyber tools in reserve and offered to sell them to the highest bidder in an unorthodox public auction. On Thursday, they said their sales effort had been unsuccessful and were therefore ceasing operations. “So long, farewell peoples. The Shadow Brokers is going dark, making exit,” the group said according to a screenshot of the webpage posted Thursday on the news website CyberScoop.

    • Suspected NSA tool hackers dump more cyberweapons in farewell

      The hacking group that stole cyberweapons suspected to be from the U.S. National Security Agency is signing off — but not before releasing another arsenal of tools that appear designed to spy on Windows systems.

    • Shadow Brokers announce retirement, leak NSA Windows Hacking tools as parting gift
    • The Shadow Brokers Leaves the Stage with a Gift of So-Called NSA-Sourced Hacking Tools
    • Shadow Brokers group bids adieu, dumps hacking tools before going silent
    • ‘It Always Being About Bitcoins’: Shadow Brokers Retire
    • Hacking Group ‘ShadowBrokers’ Release NSA Exploits, Then Go Dark
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Giuliani to advise Trump administration on cybersecurity

      President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team announced Thursday that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani “will be sharing his expertise and insight as a trusted friend concerning private sector cybersecurity problems and emerging solutions developing in the private sector.”

      Giuliani is the CEO of Giuliani Partners, an international security consulting firm. The group recently struck a deal with BlackBerry to offer companies and governments cybersecurity support.

    • Swan Song from a “Reluctant” Hawk

      President Obama will deliver his Farewell Address tonight to a capacity crowd in Chicago’s McCormick Place convention center. It’s the right venue for the speech, the president explained last week, because Chicago is “where my career in public service began.”

      Indeed, it’s the city where, as a young state senator in 2002, Obama gave an antiwar rally speech railing against the “dumb,” “rash” rush to war in Iraq; and where, as a presidential candidate five years later, he promised to “turn the page on the imperial presidency” and usher in “a new dawn of peace.” And yet, 2008’s “peace candidate” will leave office as the first two-term president in American history to have been at war every day of his presidency, having dropped over 25,000 bombs on seven countries in 2016 alone.

    • Yet Another Lawsuit Hopes A Court Will Hold Twitter Responsible For Terrorists’ Actions

      So, this is how we’re handling the War on Terror here on the homefront: lawsuit after lawsuit after lawsuit against social media platforms because terrorists also like to tweet and post stuff on Facebook.

      The same law firm (New York’s Berkman Law Office) that brought us last July’s lawsuit against Facebook (because terrorist organization Hamas also uses Facebook) is now bringing one against Twitter because ISIS uses Twitter. (h/t Lawfare’s Ben Wittes)

      Behind the law firm are more families of victims of terrorist attacks — this time those in Brussels and Paris. Once again, any criticism of this lawsuit (and others of its type) is not an attack on those who have lost loved ones to horrific acts of violence perpetrated by terrorist organizations.

      The criticisms here are the same as they have been in any previous case: the lawsuits are useless and potentially dangerous. They attempt to hold social media platforms accountable for the actions of terrorists. At the heart of every sued company’s defense is Section 230 of the CDA, which immunizes them against civil lawsuits predicated on the actions and words of the platform’s users.

    • Teenage boy killed in Malmö shooting

      A teenage boy has died after being shot in the Rosengård district of southern Swedish city Malmö on Thursday evening.

      The boy was found injured at a bus stop in the area just before 7pm. He was taken to hospital, but police later confirmed that he had died from his injuries at 7.27pm.

      The boy was born in 2000 and was only 16. His relatives have been informed by the police.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Rex Tillerson’s Jaw-Dropping Testimony Just Completely Disqualified Him

      Rex Tillerson’s witless, contradictory, and obfuscatory testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmed fears that the ExxonMobil CEO is too conflicted, too ill-prepared, and too disengaged from accepted understandings with regard to diplomacy, sustainable development, and human rights to be seriously considered for the position of secretary of state.

      But the most unsettling exchange took place after an initial round of questioning by New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez. The veteran member of the Foreign Relations Committee asked what should have been a simple concluding question.

      Tillerson’s response was incredible.

      Senator Menendez: “For all of these answers you’ve given me, does the president-elect agree with you?”

  • Finance
    • Lost generation: Millennials are earning 20 percent less than their boomer parents

      Baby Boomers: your millennial children are worse off than you.

      With a median household income of $40,581, millennials earn 20 percent less than boomers did at the same stage of life, despite being better educated, according to a new analysis of Federal Reserve data by the advocacy group Young Invincibles.

      The analysis being released Friday gives concrete details about a troubling generational divide that helps to explain much of the anxiety that defined the 2016 election. Millennials have half the net worth of boomers. Their home ownership rate is lower, while their student debt is drastically higher.

      The generational gap is a central dilemma for the incoming presidency of Donald Trump, who essentially pledged a return to the prosperity of post-World War II America. The analysis also hints at the issues of culture and identity that divided many voters, showing that white millennials — who still earn much more than their blacks and Latino peers — have seen their incomes plummet the most relative to boomers.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • We all knew about this: The leaked dossier on Donald Trump’s Russia ties had been circulating in D.C. for months

      It was a bombshell story, emerging on the eve of Donald Trump’s first news conference as president-elect: U.S. intelligence officials had presented Trump with unsubstantiated claims that Russia had amassed compromising personal and financial allegations about him.

      The purported Russian efforts were described in a newly released and uncorroborated dossier produced in August. But they had circulated more widely in Washington in October — following early reports and opaque warnings from elected officials that something was afoot involving the Kremlin and Trump.

      In October, Mother Jones magazine described how a former Western spy — assigned to look into Trump’s Russian ties for a private American firm — had presented his findings to the FBI in August. Those findings, the magazine said, were produced for political opposition research and said that Russian intelligence had compromised Trump during his visits to Moscow — information that, if true, could be used to blackmail him or undermine his presidency.

    • WikiLeaks Docs Reveal Obama Believed Intelligence Community Lacked ‘Credibility’ In 2008

      Barack Obama believed the U.S. intelligence community lacked sufficient “credibility” in 2008, according to leaked documents from the Obama 2008 transition team.

      According to the documents, which were made public by anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks last fall but have gone largely unnoticed until now, one of Obama’s goals for his administration was to “restore credibility” that he believed the intelligence community needed but didn’t have.

    • Trump NSA director arranges telephone talks between Trump and Putin as Russia thaw on fast track
    • Trump adviser had 5 calls with Russian envoy on day of sanctions
    • Trump Adviser Spoke With Russian Ambassador On Day Sanctions Announced
    • Rudy Giuliani To Head Up Trump’s Cybersecurity Team As The Internet Laughs At Giuliani’s Security Bona Fides

      Our soon-to-be American President has made quite a show about bolstering the country’s efforts for cybersecurity. The “cyber”, as he is wont to call the issue, is claimed to be in disrepair and requires brave new minds to protect the country’s computer systems from hacks and attacks from outside forces. We’ve already discussed in the past how depressing it is to learn just how little actual computer science knowledge exists floating in the minds of our elected leaders and their top-level appointees. There is an opportunity to get very smart, very well-educated people on matters of cybersecurity involved in government.

    • Dems ‘outraged’ with Comey after House briefing

      A number of House Democrats left Friday’s confidential briefing on Russian hacking fuming over the actions of FBI Director James Comey and convinced he’s unfit to lead the agency.

      “I was nonjudgmental until the last 15 minutes. I no longer have that confidence in him,” Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.), ranking member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, said as he left the meeting in the Capitol.

      “Some of the things that were revealed in this classified briefing — my confidence has been shook.”

      Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), senior Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, delivered a similar condemnation.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Media censorship of unrest in Mexico continues, but why?

      The people of Mexico have had enough of government corruption, drug cartel influence, and high prices. Since the New Year, millions of Mexican citizens have taken to the streets to protest. Some of those protests are turning violent. Government attempts to quell the violence have failed. Border crossings have been closed several times due to protests. As the situation worsens, a baffling media blackout continues.

    • Slavic Scholar Compares Putin’s Censorship to Soviet Era Speech Restrictions

      A Slavic scholar and alumna spoke at the Seminary Co-Op Wednesday on Russian censorship and her “love affair with Russian.”

      Marianna T. Choldin returned on Wednesday to Hyde Park to discuss her most recent memoir, Garden of Broken Statues, with fellow alumna Judith E. Stein.

    • Streisand Effect Derails Man’s Analog Plan To Buy Up All The Newspapers Detailing His DWI Arrest

      The concept of buying up all the newspapers in town to avoid some embarrassing story or picture of oneself is old humor. The concept, featured in sitcoms of yester-yore, relies on a couple of things: newspapers being the single source of a story or photo and for news stories to not travel quickly nor beyond the insular community in which they occurred. Because of that, the joke doesn’t really work in a hyperconnected world with digital media.

      This was a lesson painfully learned by Joseph Talbot of Newark, it seems. Talbot, an otherwise apparently well-respected businessman, was arrested recently for driving while intoxicated. Understandably, he was embarrassed upon learning that news of his arrest had been written up in the local newspaper. His solution was to deploy the sitcom-level chicanery previously discussed.

    • German hosts will bar critical journalists from European far-right summit

      German organizers of a meeting of European right-wing populist and anti-immigration parties said on Thursday they would bar a number of journalists they deem hostile, sparking protests from media groups.

      The Alterative for Germany (AfD) plans to meet France’s far-right chief Marine Le Pen, Dutch anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders and Italy’s Matteo Salvini of the Northern League on January 21st in the western city of Koblenz.

      The AfD’s Marcus Pretzell, a co-organiser of the conference for some 1,000 delegates, announced that all publicly funded media would be barred, reported German news agency DPA.

    • Over 5,500 Academics Arrested in Turkey since Rule of Law Suspended

      Scholars At Risk report that the pressure on Turkish academics has persisted into the 2017 as a new decree was issued dismissing over 600 scholars and more than 100 administrative personnel from higher level educational institutions.

    • Mocha, MTRCB, and censorship

      No one has so far come forward to formally question and ask the courts to stop President Duterte’s appointment of Mocha Uson as member of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board.

      It could be done, especially if critics of both the President and Uson could present arguments and bases for her disqualification and ineligibility. They could even formally appeal to the President first, if they are really serious.

      But it is both difficult and self-defeating for the critics to make such a legal move, if it would be based on the arguments and bases they have so far been able to present.

    • Porn censorship laws and age checks breach human rights and threaten privacy, says UN official

      Age verification checks to prevent children from accessing pornography are a breach of human rights, a UN official has warned.

      David Kaye, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, said that amendments to the UK’s Digital Economy Bill could violate international law on freedom of speech.

    • “Hate crime” reporting risks becoming a tool for censorship

      In the weeks following the EU referendum there was a spike in reported “hate crime” incidents, where people feel they have been badly treated on account of their race, religion, gender or sexuality. Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, suggested this was a good thing: the Government’s data gathering was obviously working and “more victims are finding the confidence to come forward to report these crimes,” she said.

    • Outcry over ‘hate’ report for Govt minister’s speech
    • Amber Rudd defends comments about foreign workers
    • Free Speech Advocates, Publishers Wrestle With Questions Of Censorship
    • Doug Lamborn takes part in Ferguson artwork fight that pits censorship versus sensitivity
  • Privacy/Surveillance
  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Chelsea Manning Describes Bleak Life in a Men’s Prison

      Most mornings at 4:30 a.m., half an hour before the “first call” awakens inmates at the Fort Leavenworth military prison in Kansas, an alarm rings within an 80-square-foot cell. Inmate 89289, slightly built with close-cropped hair, rises to apply makeup and don female undergarments and a brown uniform before the still-slumbering men in the adjacent cells stir.

      That is the routine for Chelsea Manning, America’s most famous convicted leaker and the prison’s most unusual inmate. She is serving the longest sentence ever imposed for disclosing government secrets — 35 years — and her status as a celebrity of sorts and an incarcerated transgender woman presents continuing difficulties for the military.

      During the day, Ms. Manning, who was an Army intelligence analyst known as Bradley Manning when she disclosed archives of secret military and diplomatic files to WikiLeaks in 2010, builds picture frames and furniture in the prison wood shop. In the evenings, before the 10:05 p.m. lockdown, she reads through streams of letters, including from antisecrecy enthusiasts who view her as a whistle-blower.

    • ‘I escaped death by reciting from the Koran’

      When five armed Islamist militants stormed a restaurant in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on 1 July 2016, 29 people lost their lives. Emerging from the appalling, bloody debris are stories of immense courage. There are also unanswered questions about what happened to some of those who died.

      It was about 20:45 on a Friday evening just before the Islamic festival of Eid. The restaurant – the Holey Artisan Bakery and O’Kitchen in Gulshan, Dhaka’s leafiest, most exclusive area – was filling up, mostly with Japanese and Italian customers.

      Suddenly, the five young militants burst in shooting and began hacking at the diners with sharp weapons.

    • Teenage refugee ‘stabbed and kicked to death’ by Muslim gang on New Year’s Eve in Germany

      The 15-year-old Yazidi refugee, named only as Odai KH due to privacy laws, had fled the horrors of Syria to Luessum, a neighbourhood of the German city of Bremen.

      The attack took place during a fight that broke out on New Year’s Eve at around 2am on Lüssumer Heide.

      The boy was described as being a “cheerful lad who was full of dreams” and wanted to escape the “cruel violence and ethnic cleansing” so left to start a new life with his family, and applied for asylum in Germany in 2015.

    • A fifth social activist has been reported missing in Pakistan, alarming rights groups

      A fifth Pakistani social activist has gone missing from the capital Islamabad, a colleagues said on Wednesday, days after four other campaigners disappeared in a way that has alarmed supporters of free speech.

      Samar Abbas, president of the Civil Progressive Alliance of Pakistan (CPAP), an anti-extremism activist group, went missing on Saturday, according to Talib Raza, who worked with him at the Karachi-based organisation.

      Abbas’s brother, also named Talib, told local media on Wednesday that his brother had vanished over the weekend.

      “The family waited for a few days to inform people. When the stories about other activists disappearing started emerging, it became clear what was going on,” Raza told Reuters.

    • New US law says kids can walk to school by themselves

      After years of documenting instances in which parents and kids are terrorized by law enforcement and child welfare authorities because the kids were allowed to be on their own in public places, the Free Range Kids movement has gotten some justice: a new Federal law gives its official okey-doke to parents who let their kids get to school on their own.

      Section 8542 of the Every Student Succeeds Act specifically does not limit “a child from traveling to and from school on foot or by car, bus, or bike when the parents of the child have given permission” nor does it “expose parents to civil or criminal charges for allowing their child to responsibly and safely travel to and from school by a means the parents believe is age appropriate.”

    • Court Says Tossing A Flashbang Grenade Into A Room With A Toddler Is ‘Unreasonable’ Police Behavior

      The Evansville (IN) Police Department has seen a drug bust go up in a cloud of flashbang smoke. A search warrant for drugs and weapons, based on an informant’s tip, was executed perfectly… if you’re the sort of person who believes it takes a dozen heavily-armed officers, a Lenco Bearcat, and two flashbangs to grab a suspect no one felt like arresting when he was outside alone taking out his trash. (via FourthAmendment.com)

      The state appeals court decision [PDF] hinges on the deployment of a flashbang grenade into a room containing a toddler. Fortunately, in this case, the toddler was only frightened, rather than severely burned. But it was this tossed flashbang that ultimately undoes the PD’s case. The evidence is suppressed and the conviction reversed.

    • Islamic extremists get local official in Yogyakarta removed because he is Catholic

      The authorities in Bantul Regency (Yogyakarta special province), central Java, removed from office Yulius Suharto, head of Pajangan sub-district, following a massive lobbying campaign launched on social media by Islamic extremist groups and radical Muslims who targeted him because he is Catholic.

      The decision to dismiss the sub-district chief was made on Monday as a result of the unrelenting campaign against the official (pictured).

      In a statement, the authorities state that the decision is backed by scores of officials and citizens in Pajangan, ostensibly opposed to a Catholic holding the top office in the civilian administration of a predominantly Muslim area.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • New FCC report says AT&T and Verizon zero-rating violates net neutrality

      Just a week and a half before he is set to leave office, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has issued a new report stating that the zero-rated video services offered by AT&T and Verizon may violate the FCC’s Open Internet Order.

      Assembled by the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, the report focuses on sponsored data programs, which allow companies to pay carriers to exempt exempt their data from customers’ data caps. The programs have always been controversial, but the issue has grown particularly urgent in recent years, as carriers have bought up media companies and launched aggressive new mobile video packages.

    • Outgoing FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler: Net Neutrality’s Not Dead

      Republicans have been fighting to overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules since before they were even passed in 2015. They may finally get their wish. The party will soon control the White House, both houses of Congress, and the FCC itself. But on the eve of his resignation as chairman of the FCC, Tom Wheeler, who ushered in the rules, says it’s not too late to save net neutrality.

      “Vigilance to protect things that we enjoy today must be our watchword,” said Wheeler in a speech at the Aspen Institute in Washington, DC, today. The Obama appointee plans to resign his post on Inauguration Day next week.

    • Killing net neutrality at FCC is “not a slam dunk,” departing chair says

      In his final speech before leaving the Federal Communications Commission, Chairman Tom Wheeler today made the case for why net neutrality rules are working and said that Republican commissioners won’t necessarily have an easy time overturning the rules.

      “Contrary to what you might have heard, reversing the Open Internet rules is not a slam dunk,” Wheeler said at the Aspen Institute in Washington, DC. “The effort to undo an open Internet will face the high hurdle, imposed by the Administrative Procedure Act, of a fact-based showing that so much has changed in just two short years that a reversal is justified.”

    • Outgoing FCC chief Tom Wheeler offers final defense of net neutrality

      The outgoing head of the Federal Communications Commission, Tom Wheeler, used his final public speech to make a closing argument for maintaining net neutrality, the signature achievement of his time at the agency.

      “The overarching goal of the new policies was to promote a thriving broadband ecosystem, and that’s exactly what has happened,” Wheeler said.

      Under Trump, Republicans will regain a majority at the FCC and have already made clear their intention to begin pushing back on, if not completely rewriting or wiping out, the Open Internet Order that established net neutrality.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • ARIPO Lines Up IP Enhancing Activities For 2017 [Ed: The idea that Africa is ‘behind’ or ‘less developed’ BECAUSE it doesn’t have “IP” (or lots of patents) is ludicrous to the extreme]

      “In spite of this development, Africa has however not fully exploited the IP system for the benefit of its people. Uptake of intellectual property is still very low on the continent,” he said, adding that of the 2.57 million patent applications that were filed worldwide in 2013, Africa contributed only 0.6 percent.

    • US Issues Updated Antitrust Guidelines For Licensing Of IP

      The United States Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission today released updated antitrust guidelines for the licensing of intellectual property.

      The guidelines are for the public and businesses to better understand the enforcement approach of the federal antitrust agencies. The update followed a comment period based on a draft made available in August.

    • WIPO Green Platform Expanding With Experts Database, Seeks Experts [Ed: greenwashing]

      The World Intellectual Property Organization internet platform WIPO GREEN is expanding by building a database of experts meant to help technology seekers find green technology specialists to provide their service and expertise.

      WIPO GREEN, “The Marketplace for Sustainable Technology,” is an internet platform established in 2013. According to WIPO, “it brings together a wide range of players in the green technology innovation value chain, and connects owners of new technologies with individuals or companies who might be looking to commercialize, license or otherwise distribute a green technology.”

    • Copyrights
      • Advertisers Promise to Boycott Pirate Sites After Police Visit

        The UK’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit says that it visited several companies found to be advertising on pirate sites. The visits, made alongside FACT, IFPI, BPI and PRS, resulted in promises from the organizations to stop advertising on 1,232 pirate sites.

      • Study: Content owners should communicate with pirates

        A research study in the International Journal of Business Environment suggests that content providers must take a pragmatic view based on social consensus to persuade illicit downloaders that their behaviour is economically and ethically unacceptable behaviour among their peer group or other social group to which they belong.

        According to Eva Hofmann of the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, Coventry University, UK and Elfriede Penz of the Institute for International Marketing Management, at Vienna University of Economics and Business, in Austria, the unauthorised sharing of digital content is well-entrenched in popular culture. However, they have discerned a difference in the way those downloading pirated content and the legal downloaders decide on how to obtain the content they desire from the Internet.

      • New Study Essentially Suggests That Publishers Should Do CwF + RtB Instead Of Going Legal To Combat Piracy

        We have talked about the power of connecting with fans and giving them a reason to buy, along with using public shaming, as tools for combating piracy in its various forms. Tools far better, in fact, than twisting in litigious winds hoping that the construct of law will be sufficient to curb natural human behavior… and finding out that it isn’t. What these routes offer content producers is a way to ingratiate themselves with their fans, building a community that not only wants to buy content themselves, but also will decry any attempt to pirate that content by others. Morality is shaped by the herd, in other words, so having the herd on your side finds content producers a powerful ally.

        But philosophy like that doesn’t penetrate industry in and of itself. Perhaps, then, data and academic studies may. The International Journal of Business Environment recently released just such a study suggesting that content providers are far better off reaching out and connecting with fans, including those pirating their works, rather than trying to fight piracy legally.

      • Germany tries to cripple “right to read” EU Marrakesh Treaty legislation for visually-impaired persons with a “publishers compensation right”

        The German Permanent Representation to the EU has proposed to MEPs and to the Council to include in the draft Directive for implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty an article that would grant economic compensation to secondary rightsholders such as publishers. This would greatly weaken the “right to read” objectives of Marrakesh Treaty as an exception to copyright for print-disabled persons. Germany proposes to integrate “article 12” of the European Commission´s new general copyright proposal draft that has not yet been considered by the European Parliament which says: “Member States may provide that where an author has transferred or licensed a right to a publisher, such a transfer or a licence constitutes a sufficient legal basis for the publisher to claim a share of the compensation for the uses of the work made under an exception or limitation to the transferred or licensed right.”

      • Panels Present Importance Of Fair Use In South Africa’s Draft Copyright Amendment

        “Fair use” was at the heart of discussions between intellectual property stakeholders at a recent workshop called to discuss the revised draft copyright amendment bill of South Africa.

        The one-day workshop, held in Cape Town on 6 December was the first of two IP sector workshops that brought together academics, activists and IP practitioners to discuss the merits and demerits of the copyright amendment bill and its anticipated revisions. The second one-day workshop was held in Johannesburg the same week on the 8th of December.

        The draft copyright amendment bill, was published in the government gazette by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTi) in July 2015. This opened a public submissions process into the bill which ran until 16 September 2015. During this period, government called a one day conference in Johannesburg to further inform the refinement process of the bill (IPW, Africa, 28 August 2016).

      • Google Removes MEGA Frontpage From Search Results

        Google has removed the homepage of the popular cloud storage service Mega from its search index. The surprise move, which is the result of an inaccurate DMCA takedown notice from a movie company, directly impacts the site’s incoming search traffic.

      • UK ‘Piracy Warnings’ Are Coming This Month; Here’s How it Works

        This month UK Internet providers will start their long-awaited piracy alerts campaign. With help from copyright holders and support from the Government, ISPs will send email notifications to subscribers whose connections are allegedly being used to pirate content. Today we take a look at what’s in store.

      • BREIN Reveals Anti-Piracy Tactics and Achievements

        BREIN pulled 231 illegal sites and services offline, for example. This includes 84 linking sites, 63 streaming portals, and 34 torrent sites. Some of these shut down completely and others were forced to leave their hosting providers.

Links 13/1/2017: Linux 4.9.3 and Linux 4.4.42

Friday 13th of January 2017 12:30:33 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Linux People Should Say, ‘You’re Welcome, Windows Users’

    There was a time when a computer operating system called Windows totally dominated the market, and it sucked. I mean, really sucked. Blue screens of death, unexplained crashes, viruses and worms galore, re-re-reboots all the darn time…and still, despite all the problems, people used this Windows thing. Why? Because except for the artsy/hipster $MacOS, it was the only computer OS you could get for your desktop, and it was the one that ran all the 17 jillion programs businesses wanted their office workers to use. Luckily, Windows has gotten a lot better over the years. Except…was it luck or was it Linux that made Windows improve?

    Before we get into that, let’s talk about cars for a minute. Specifically Volkswagens, Renaults and Fiats. Once upon a time. American cars ruled our nation’s highways and byways. They were big. They had 738 cubic inch Hemiverberator V-8 engines, and loved to stop at gas stations. But hey! Gas was cheap. A couple of friends, maybe me and Indian Ron, could put $5 worth of premium into the big black Chrysler and cruise Van Nuys Boulevard all night or until we found honeys to ride with us, after which…. Sorry, this is a family website.

  • The reason why I can’t use GNU/Linux (for now)

    2) The migration to systemd.

    I won’t write something long here. Because this is not an anti-systemd post.

    I don’t really care if a distribution have or not systemd. If somebody tell me to try X distribution, I do without paying attention of the init.

    What I don’t really like about this is that a lot of distributions are moving to systemd as it was the best thing ever. Some of the did it even when most of the users were against the change.
    For example, Slackware had some users just because it had BSD-style init scripts. But since they moved to systemd, they are like any other distribution but without dependencies handling.

  • Insights on RedHat, SUSE & Canonical; The Major Linux Companies

    Open source software were always promisable. Thanks for the collaboration, opportunities and infrastructure that it provides to both end users and enterprises. Linux is an amazing example for a successful open source code which shapes future.

    The 25-years-old operating system has grown so fast. Today, it is used almost everywhere. From web servers, android devices, supercomputers and to IoT devices. Linux became more than just an operating system to run some lab servers. And because of this, it created huge opportunities for enterprises to benefit from. This market allowed great tech companies to be established to fulfill its needs. Which gave us the 3 major1) Linux companies: Red Hat, SUSE and Canonical.

    The business model for each of the major companies was similar; selling support services and subscriptions for their own open source and Linux-based products. It was the case for most business models in the open source world as well; profit from around the product, not the product itself.

  • 10 Top Companies That Are Powered By Linux

    Linux is one of the most popular operating systems used for many companies, in this article you are going to find 10 companies that use Linux.

  • Desktop
    • Papa’s Got a Brand New NAS

      At the beginning of my search, I started down a more traditional route with a cheap 1U server and a modern motherboard, but I quickly started narrowing down the motherboards to small, lower-power solutions given this machine was going to run all day. As I started considering some of the micro ATX solutions out there, it got me thinking: could I use a Raspberry Pi? After all, the latest iteration of the Raspberry Pi has a reasonably fast processor, a decent amount of RAM, and it’s cheap, so even if one by itself wasn’t enough to manage all my services, two or three might do the trick and not only be cheaper than a standard motherboard but lower power as well.

    • Traditional PCs Continue To Decline

      I’m joining the 21st century by switching to GNU/Linux on ARM instead of what the remains of the Wintel monopoly ships. 2017 should be the last year an x86-based PC runs in my home, except for a print-server. I don’t have an ARMed driver for the damned printer, but that printer is getting old. Maybe it will die…

  • Server
    • What benefits do Open Source, SDN, NFV, and new cloud standards bring to the networking industry?

      Remember proprietary networks – where you were expected to buy everything from a single provider (and its certified partners)? Those were the good old days for those proprietary vendors’ shareholders and investors, but they were a nightmare for customers who wanted to be free to choose the best solutions, embrace cutting-edge innovation, mix-and-match different capabilities and price points, and avoid the dreaded vendor lock-in. The good news is that proprietary networks are dead, dead, dead.

    • Report: Agile and DevOps provide more benefits together than alone

      DevOps and agile are two of the most popular ways businesses try to stay ahead of the market, but put them together and they provide even more benefits. A new report, Accelerating Velocity and Customer Value with Agile and DevOps, from CA Technologies revealed businesses experienced greater customer satisfaction and brand loyalty when integrating agile with DevOops.

    • The Hard Truths about Microservices and Software Delivery – Watch our LISA16 Talk

      Everybody’s talking about Microservices right now. But are you having trouble figuring out what it means for you?

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 4.9.3

      I’m announcing the release of the 4.9.3 kernel.

      All users of the 4.9 kernel series must upgrade.

      The updated 4.9.y git tree can be found at:
      git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-4.9.y
      and can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser:

      http://git.kernel.org/?p=linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-st…

    • Linux 4.4.42
    • Linux Kernel 4.4.42 LTS Updates USB Drivers, Improves ARM64 Support

      Only three days after announcing the release of Linux kernel 4.4.41 LTS, renowned kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman is informing us today, January 12, 2017, about the immediate availability of the Linux 4.4.42 LTS kernel.

      If you’re reading our reports on the latest Linux kernels, you should already be aware of the fact that Linux 4.4 is an LTS (Long Term Support) branch, used in various popular GNU/Linux distributions, including Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus), Arch Linux, and the security-oriented Alpine Linux. The new version, Linux kernel 4.4.42 LTS, it’s pretty hefty and changes a total of 92 files, with 903 insertions and 410 deletions.

    • Linux Kernel 4.9.3 Rolls Out with Over 200 Changes, Lots of XFS Improvements

      You won’t believe this, but Greg Kroah-Hartman announced today, January 12, 2017, the release of the third maintenance update to the Linux 4.9 kernel stable series, just three days after the release of Linux kernel 4.9.2.

      From the appended shortlog, it looks like there are a total of 201 files changed in this third point release of Linux kernel 4.9, with 1929 insertions and 945 deletions, so we can only think that all these patches were out for a while now, but they didn’t make it into the mainline kernel because of the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. However, they are more than welcome, and it’s really great work.

    • New CloudLinux 7 Kernel Now in Beta, Disables Procfs Restricted Mode by Default

      CloudLinux’s Mykola Naugolnyi is announcing today, January 12, 2017, the availability of a new kernel for the CloudLinux 7 series of enterprise-ready operating systems in the Beta channels.

      The updated CloudLinux 7 kernel, versioned 3.10.0-427.36.1.lve1.4.32, is now available from the company’s “updates-testing” repository, and those brave enough to take it for a test drive to see if it fixes some issues that had with previous kernel version can use the command below to install it.

    • Heterogeneous Memory Management Aims For Linux 4.11

      Jerome Glisse published his sixteenth version of the patches for implementing Heterogeneous Memory Management within the Linux kernel.

      For those unfamiliar with the impact or new possibilities opened up by HMM, it’s further explained here. HMM will make it easier to write code targeting GPUs in a manner more similar to CPUs, can use malloc’ed memory transparently on all supported devices by allowing device memory to be used transparently inside any process and for mirroring a process address space on a different device.

    • It’s Now Possible To Disable & Strip Down Intel’s ME Blob

      Many free software advocates have been concerned by Intel’s binary-only Management Engine (ME) built into the motherboards on newer generations of Intel motherboards. The good news is there is now a working, third-party approach for disabling the ME and reducing the risk of its binary blobs.

      Via an open-source, third-party tool called me_cleaner it’s possible to partially deblob Intel’s ME firmware images by removing any unnecessary partitions from the firmware, reducing its ability to interface with the system. The me_cleaner works not only with free software firmware images like Coreboot/Libreboot but can also work with factory-blobbed images. I was able to confirm with a Coreboot developer that this program can disable the ME on older boards or devices with BootGuard and disable Secure Boot. This is all done with a Python script.

    • Graphics Stack
      • Google Developer Back To Working On Another Vulkan C++ Abstraction Library

        The proliferation of Vulkan abstraction libraries continues.

        After covering NVIDIA’s Vulkan VkHLF framework that was released yesterday, it was pointed out to us that a Google developer is back to working on google/vulkan-cpp-library.

      • Valve Developer Posts New AMD GPU Debugging Tool, Part Of Improving Linux Driver

        Another Valve developer has begun contributing to the open-source AMD Linux graphics driver stack. Besides posting some RADV Vulkan patches last week, today he’s announced a new GPU debugging tool he’s been working on for AMD’s driver/hardware.

      • A Valve developer has released a tool to debug AMD graphics cards on Linux

        Andres Rodriguez sent in a message to the mesa-dev mailing list announcing ‘gputool’ for debugging AMD graphics cards on Linux. It’s also open source under the GPL, so that’s awesome.

        It currently only supports “POLARIS 10″, but hopefully with community help it can support more card generations from AMD.

      • AMD Has Been Working On An Open-Source GPU Debug Tool, To Be Released Soon

        Yesterday we noted the new open-source AMD GPU debugging tool being developed by a Valve engineer as part of their work on the open-source RADV/RadeonSI/AMDGPU code. It turns out AMD has officially been working on a GPU debugging tool too.

        As noted in that article yesterday it was sad that AMD hadn’t to date worked on a full-featured debug tool, especially considering how good Intel’s intel-gpu-tools is for debugging and testing, and how many years already AMD has been working on their open-source driver stack without having some official and public open GPU debug tool. Fortunately, it turns out that AMD has been working on such a utility.

      • OpenGL 4.3 Lands For Maxwell With Nouveau Gallium3D, Plus 1.5~3.5x Performance Boost

        It should be a busy end of week for Mesa with the Mesa 17.0 feature freeze being this weekend. In addition to Haswell hitting OpenGL 4.2, Nouveau’s NVC0 Gallium3D driver has enabled OpenGL 4.3 support for newer Maxwell and Pascal hardware.

      • OpenGL 4.3 now available in Mesa for nouveau (NVIDIA) for Maxwell and above

        Samuel Pitoiset (Valve developer) just put some fresh work into Mesa-git that enables OpenGL 4.3 with nouveau (NVIDIA) for Maxwell and above.

      • Haswell should now see OpenGL 4.2 thanks to recent work in Mesa

        Mesa is continuing to progress rapidly, as of today Haswell should now support OpenGL 4.2 ready for the next release of Mesa. Only a few days ago Haswell gained OpenGL4, so this progress is amazing.

        Mesa 17 should arrive soon, which means this will be in the next stable release. Mesa switched their versioning, so Mesa 13.1 is now Mesa 17 as they are using a year-based version model.

      • OpenGL 4.2 Now Exposed For Intel Haswell On Mesa 17.0

        Days ago we mentioned the patches were lining up to get Intel’s Haswell to OpenGL 4.2 and this morning those patches have landed in Mesa Git ahead of the branching for the Mesa 17.0 release.

      • Updated AMD DC/DAL Patches For Polaris 12, 5K VSR

        Harry Wentland of AMD on Wednesday posted updated DC (DAL) display patches for the AMDGPU code-base.

        This is just the latest of long-running work on getting the DC display stack into shape for hopefully merging into the mainline Linux kernel later this year.

      • X.Org Server 1.19 Gets First Point Release, Fixes XWayland and RandR Issues

        X.Org Foundation’s Adam Jackson was happy to announce the other day the release of the first maintenance update to the X.Org Server 1.19 display server series for Linux-based operating systems.

        X.Org Server 1.19.0 launched almost two months ago, on the 15th of November 2016, and we still haven’t seen a GNU/Linux distribution making the switch to the most advanced X.Org Server version to date, which brings many improvements for AMD Radeon (AMDGPU/Radeon) and Intel graphics cards.

    • Benchmarks
  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • KDE Plasma 5.9 Beta Kicks off 2017 in Style

        Today KDE releases the beta of this year’s first Plasma feature update, Plasma 5.9. While this release brings many exciting new features to your desktop, we’ll continue to provide bugfixes to Plasma 5.8 LTS.

      • KDE Plasma 5.9 Beta Released, Adds Global Menus & Better Wayland Support
      • KDE Kicks Off 2017 in Style with KDE Plasma 5.9 Beta, Brings Back Global Menus
      • KDE Applications 16.12 Gets Its First Point Release, over 40 Recorded Bugs Fixed

        Immediately after announcing the release of the KDE Plasma 5.9 Beta desktop environment, the KDE development team was pleased to unveil the first point release of the KDE Applications 16.12 software suite.

      • KDE releases Kirigami UI 2.0

        Soon after the initial release of Kirigami UI, KDE’s framework for convergent (mobile and desktop) user interfaces, its main developer Marco Martin started porting it from Qt Quick Controls 1 to Qt Quick Controls 2, the next generation of Qt’s ready-made standard controls for Qt Quick-based user interfaces. Since QQC 2 offers a much more extended range of controls than QQC 1, the port allowed the reduction of Kirigami’s own code, while improving stability and performance. Kirigami 2 is kept as close to QQC 2′s API as possible in order to extend it seamlessly.

      • KDE Kirigami UI 2.0 Released

        KDE developers are having a busy day with not only releasing the feature-packed Plasma 5.9 Beta but also publishing the KDE Kirigami UI 2.0.

      • Conf.kde.in 2017

        Carrying on the successful tradition of conf.kde.in since 2011, we are moving to the north-east region of India for this year’s conf.kde.in. Join us for conf.kde.in 2017 on 10, 11, and 12 March at Guwahati in Assam, India. conf.kde.in 2017 will focus on the promoting Free and Open source including but not limited to Qt and KDE software.

  • Distributions
    • Arch Family
      • Manjaro 17.0 alpha 2 is now available for public

        If you know Arch Linux, then you must have heard about Manjaro Linux too. A few hours ago Manjaro development team released Manjaro 17.0 alpha2. This release is made in two flavors, the main KDE flavor and Xfce flavor. Community releases are yet to get updated. The new version is named Gellivara. next releases will be codenamed differently rather than older month codenames.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • openSUSE Tumbleweed Now Powered by Linux Kernel 4.9, Gets KDE Plasma 5.8.5 LTS

        openSUSE Project’s Douglas DeMaio informed those running the Tumbleweed rolling operating system about the latest software updates that landed in the official, stable repositories.

        openSUSE Tumbleweed is always getting the latest GNU/Linux technologies and Open Source applications, and today we’re happy to inform you that the Linux 4.9 kernel finally made its way into the software repos of the distributions, along with cleaned up configuration settings for the Mesa 3D Graphics Library.

    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Modern and secure instant messaging

        I now have an XMPP setup which has all the features of the recent fancy chat systems, and on top of that it runs, client and server, on Free Software, which can be audited, it is federated and I can self-host my own server in my own VPS if I want to, with packages supported in Debian.

      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Canonical Will Soon Make It Easier to Enable Unity 7 Low Graphics Mode in Ubuntu

            Canonical’s Eleni Maria Stea is reporting today on the upcoming availability of a new option that would allow users to easily enable the low graphics mode for the Unity 7 desktop environment in Ubuntu Linux.

          • Man, I Used To Think My Ubuntu Desktop Looked So Cool…

            It is crazy how fast — and how drastically — tastes change.

            The desktop screencast in the video player aboves my Ubuntu 8.10 desktop as it looked back in 2008, in all its gaudy over-glossed glory. AWN? Check. Screenlets? Check. Compiz cube? Ch-ch-check!

            Like an old photo of a bad haircut, this video is very much of its its time.

            But aside from being a bit cringe, it shows how far the Linux desktop aesthetic has come, and how far our own tastes have too.

          • Does Ubuntu Budgie Need a New Logo?

            Now that Ubuntu Budgie is an official Ubuntu flavor we’re excited to see what developers plan to do this cycle — but could that mean a new logo?

          • Ubuntu Budgie Devs Would Like You to Vote for New or Old Logos of the Linux OS

            It would appear that the Ubuntu Budgie development team is now complete. They were looking for a graphics designer in December, and it looks like they found the right person for the job.

            We told you a while ago that Ubuntu Budgie, the GNU/Linux distribution formerly known as budgie-remix and based on the latest Budgie desktop environment and Ubuntu Linux operating system, achieved official Ubuntu flavor status from Canonical, and will join all the other editions as part of the Ubuntu 17.04 release in April.

          • Flavours and Variants
            • Why Mint’s Not Best, Tumbling Tumbleweed, Fedora Elections

              It’s that time of year again when all good blue hatters rush to the virtual polls to vote for their trusted leaders. The 2017 January Fedora elections are in full swing and Fedora account holders are urge to vote in the three categories this term. Elsewhere, Scott Gilbertson felt the need to explain his best distribution of the year choice and Douglas DeMaio is back from holiday with a report from Tumbleweed development. M.Hanny Sabbagh summarized Red Hat, SUSE, and Canonical today and VAR Guy contributor Christopher Tozzi concluded that the lines between Windows and Linux are blurring. Cynthia Harvey points out areas in everyday life that are already run by artificial intelligence and a cookie campaign convinced developers to bring Civilization 6 to Linux.

            • Mint 18.1 review: Forget about Wayland and get comfy with the command line

              All that changed a couple of years ago when Mint opted to stop chasing Ubuntu and built off the LTS cycle. Mint is no longer quite as cutting edge as it once was, which shows up in some important areas like the kernel (which is only at 4.4 even now). Mint is also still plagued by the some of the poorly implemented update and security issues that have dogged it for years. You can keep Mint up-to-date and secure, but Mint actively encourages users (especially inexperienced) users to avoid updates. That more than anything else would prevent me from picking Mint 18.1 over, well, any other distro.

            • Oi, Mint 18.1! KEEP UP! Ubuntu LTS love breeds a laggard

              The Linux Mint project dropped a last-minute gift during the Christmas period – Mint 18.1.

              Mint 18.1 builds on the same Ubuntu LTS release base as Mint 18.0, the result being a smooth upgrade path for 18.0 users and the relative stability of Ubuntu’s latest LTS effort, 16.04.

              In keeping with Ubuntu’s LTS releases, Mint isn’t stuck chasing Ubuntu updates. Rather the project can pursue its own efforts like the homegrown Cinnamon and MATE desktops, and the new X-Apps set of default applications.

            • You Can Now Have a Single ISO Image with All the Essential Ubuntu 16.10 Flavors

              Softpedia was informed by Linux AIO developer Željko Popivoda about the availability for download of the Linux AIO (All-in-One) Ubuntu 16.10 Live DVD that contains all the essential Ubuntu 16.10 flavors.

            • Ultimate Edition 5.1 Final

              Welcome aboard Ultimate Edition 5.1, 2 Operating Systems released in a week, not to mention new software. A day of Vacation has paid off. Let’s do some math. 4.2 GB X 4,193 downloads in less then a week I believe is roughly 17610 Gigabytes of transfer, 17 Terabytes in 5 days, thanks Sourceforge once again. I look for Ultimate Edition 5.1 to fold that. No screenie, I am hoping to lessen their burden. This I did not know until today, I am the #1 downloaded KDE project on sourceforge. Did you know I hate KDE?

            • Ubuntu Budgie Devs Launch Wallpaper Contest for First Release as Official Flavor

              In the good tradition of “wallpaper contests” organized for various Ubuntu flavors, the Ubuntu Budgie team is informing the Linux community about their Ubuntu Budgie 17.04 (Zesty Zapus) wallpaper contest.

              If memory recalls, this is not their first rodeo, but it’s the first wallpaper contest put together as official Ubuntu flavor. As usual, they are looking for talented artists and graphic designers who create the most fabulous and original images, and who would be proud to showcase their work in front of millions of Ubuntu users around the world.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • My first three contributions to open source

    Getting started with an open source project can be intimidating. I wanted to contribute to open source projects, but struggled with where to start. When the time came and I finally took the shot, I ended up having an excellent learning experience. Here is my experience with my first three open source contributions.

  • 5 ways to be successful with open source software

    The skills gap in big data will remain relatively constant in the next year, but this shouldn’t deter people from adopting Hadoop and other open-source technologies. As most of us know, when new technologies are created and vie for users, they are known by few.

    Only once a particular type of software is a mature standard part of the canon do we begin to have a substantial number of folks skilled in its use — but even then the skills gap can persist. It will disappear only when we stop seeing big improvements to the stack, which I doubt we want. In short, the skills gap is one of the primary factors gating the rate of platform change, but it’s also a sign innovation is at hand.

  • The 6 unwritten rules of open source development

    The sports world is rife with unwritten rules. These are the behaviors and rituals that are observed but rarely documented in an official capacity. For example, in baseball, unwritten rules range from not stealing bases when well ahead to never giving up an intentional walk when there’s a runner on first. To outsiders, these are esoteric, perhaps even nonsensical guidelines, but they are followed by every player who wants to be a valued teammate and respected opponent.

    Software development, particularly open source software development, also has an invisible rulebook. As in other team sports, these rules can have a significant impact on how an open source community treats a developer, especially newcomers.

  • Tips for non-native English speakers working on open source projects

    The primary language of most open source projects is English, but open source users and contributors span the globe. Non-native speakers face many communication and cultural challenges when participating in the ecosystem.

    In this article, we will share challenges, how to overcome them, and best practices for easing onboarding of non-native speakers, as non-native English speakers and contributors to OpenStack. We are based in Japan, Brazil, and China, and work daily with the huge OpenStack community that is spread around the world.

    The official language of OpenStack is English, which means we communicate daily as non-native speakers.

  • How companies can help employees contribute to open source

    I’m a part of the Drupal community, which has more than 100,000 active contributors worldwide. And among them is a growing group of employees who are encouraged by their employers to contribute to open source.

    These days, finding a seasoned developer whose resume or CV doesn’t mention an open source contributionor two (or more) is rare. The best developers know it matters, and it’s becoming normal for contributions to help you get, or keep, a job. If you’re an employer in technology, you know that. So how can you help your employees contribute to open source?

  • Events
  • SaaS/Back End
    • Report Notes OpenStack Gaining Traction with Telcos, and In Europe

      The OpenStack cloud computing platform is evolving in a number of notable new directions, notes Forrester’s report OpenStack’s Global Traction Expands For Its Newton Release. In particular, the report notes that OpenStack is gaining traction as a public cloud solution, and much of that trend is playing out in Europe. Additionally, telcos are flocking to OpenStack, says Forrester.

      Here are more details.

      “In the past year, telcos like CableLabs, SK Telecom, and Verizon have shelved their previous objections to the Neutron networking project and flocked to the OpenStack community, contributing features like Doctor,” notes the report. “Leading infrastructure & operations (I&O) professionals, application developers, and CIOs at firms like American Express, Disney, and Walmart have embraced OpenStack for their digital businesses. It’s the foundation of many private (and, increasingly, of many public) cloud services that give your company the agility it needs to respond to customer demand, from core systems to the mobile apps that deliver differentiated customer experiences.”

    • Mirantis to Support and Manage OpenContrail SDN

      In 2016, the SDN (Software Defined Networking) category rapidly evolved, and it also became meaningful to many organizations with OpenStack deployments. IDC published a study of the SDN market earlier this year and predicted a 53.9% CAGR from 2014 through 2020, at which point the market will be valued at $12.5 billion. In addition, the Technology Trends 2016 report ranked SDN as the best technology investment for 2016.

  • Healthcare
    • Open source enlightenment needed to end ‘dark ages’ of health IT

      Your article – “Whatever happened to Open Source in 2016?” highlights the brief vogue that open source recently enjoyed in the NHS – 2014-15 – and now seems to have lost. It raises some good questions and important issues, though I sense some broader perspective may be worth adding here.

      It’s worth remembering that healthcare is a well-established science – the first medical school established in the 9th century. While information technology is still a young science – the first MSc in software engineering dates from 1979.

      We know that the relatively risk averse culture of healthcare differs very significantly from the frenetic pace of innovation we see in the software world.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Proof that openness scales

      Recently I’ve had the immense pleasure of discovering Slalom Consulting, and I was fascinated to learn how they do open. Aaron Atkins and Shannon Heydt, both working in talent acquisition for Slalom, sat down with me to share challenges related to scalability—and explain how recruiting and talent management play a strong part in shaping company growth.

      Slalom’s case is rich and illustrative. But to understand it, we must first understand scabaility.

      Scalability is the ability of something to adapt to increasing demands. Meeting your business demands starts with your people and frameworks far before you fulfill a service or product.

    • Why open source seeds could be vital for the future of food

      Open source, a movement most commonly associated with tech, coding and hacking, is now becoming an increasingly important issue for food according to a recent article published on Ensia and GreenBiz. It might be somewhat surprising, for example, to learn that more than one-third of all carrot growing material has been patented and is protected by intellectual property rights (IPs). This raises a host of new challenges for small scale, independent breeders, who are responding by endorsing an “open source movement for seeds”, and could become a critical topic for those advocating a vision for a regenerative, more distributed food system with greater resilience designed in.

    • Open Hardware/Modding
Leftovers
  • Yahoo May Be In Transition But Its Software Troops Forge Ahead
  • Health/Nutrition
    • We’re Suing to Keep Kentucky Politicians Out of the Exam Room

      The Kentucky legislature had hardly been gaveled into session on January 3 when lawmakers rushed to pass the latest offensive abortion restriction into law. HB 2 forces doctors to describe an ultrasound to a women seeking an abortion in detail, even if she objects, even if the doctor believes that forcing the description on the woman would be harmful, and—most absurdly—even if the woman is covering her eyes and ears.

    • Cory Booker Joins Senate Republicans to Kill Measure to Import Cheaper Medicine From Canada

      Bernie Sanders introduced a very simple symbolic amendment Wednesday night, urging the federal government to allow Americans to purchase pharmaceutical drugs from Canada, where they are considerably cheaper. Such unrestricted drug importation is currently prohibited by law.

      The policy has widespread support among Americans: one Kaiser poll taken in 2015 found that 72 percent of Americans are in favor of allowing for importation. President-elect Donald Trump also campaigned on a promise to allow for importation.

      The Senate voted down the amendment 52-46, with two senators not voting. Unusually, the vote was not purely along party lines: 13 Republicans joined Sanders and a majority of Democrats in supporting the amendment, while 13 Democrats and a majority of Republicans opposed it.

    • Flint Residents Barred From Closed-Door Water Quality Meeting

      Residents of Flint, Michigan who traveled to Chicago were barred from attending a private meeting Tuesday between Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and other officials, who advocates say are rushing to declare the city’s water supply safe.

      Outrage over the closed-door meeting prompted protests in Flint and Chicago, where residents held signs outside the Water Quality Summit asking for their detailed water quality report.

      Inside the summit, officials from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), as well as Virginia Tech professor Marc Edwards, who is credited with exposing the lead contamination crisis, met with Snyder to discuss current sample data, ignoring testimony from residents.

      “My eyes are still burning. I can’t breathe when I get out of the shower…we’re still melting here,” Flint resident Tony Palladeno said in a recording aired on The Young Turks (TYT). Many residents have reported similar symptoms, particularly in regards to the city’s shower water, which TYT host Cenk Uygur notes was not tested.

    • NHS England chief says May ‘stretching it’ to say NHS getting more extra money than it asked for

      Simon Stevens, the NHS England chief executive, has undermined Theresa May’s claim to be funding health properly by flatly contradicting her assertion that the service has been given all the money it wants. He made the point during an assertive appearance before the Commons public accounts committee during which he also disagreed openly with Chris Wormald, permanent secretary at the Department of Health. Wormald said spending on health in the UK was in line with the OECD average. Stevens said that that was misleading because the OECD figures included countries like Mexico, that the UK spent less than on health than comparable advanced nations, and that it spent 30% less on health per head than Germany. May has repeatedly said that the NHS was given more than Stevens requested when he set out his five-year plan. But Stevens denied this.

    • Trump Asks Anti-Vaccine Activist Robert Kennedy Jr. to Lead Panel on Vaccine Safety

      Donald Trump, who promoted the debunked conspiracy theory that vaccines cause autism during his presidential campaign, asked a fellow skeptic of the scientific consensus on the issue, Robert Kennedy Jr., to chair a commission on “vaccine safety and scientific integrity” during a meeting at Trump Tower on Tuesday.

    • Make your own meat with open-source cells – no animals necessary

      IMAGINE producing meat at home without killing animals. With a few cells and a keg, the process could be no more complicated than brewing your own beer or pickling vegetables. That’s the vision of Isha Datar, the CEO of New Harvest, a non-profit organisation aiming to create everything from burgers to silk from cell cultures. “It’s like designing a new universe,” she told Hello Tomorrow, an event that brought together technology entrepreneurs in Paris last year.

  • Security
    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Third Party Patch Roundup – December 2016
    • The MongoDB hack and the importance of secure defaults

      If you have a MongoDB installation, now would be the time to verify that it is secure. Since just before Christmas, over 28,000 public MongoDB installs have been hacked. The attackers are holding the hacked data ransom, demanding companies pay using Bitcoins to get their data back. From the looks of it, at least 20 companies have given in and paid the ransom so far. This post explains the hack, how to protect yourself, and what we can learn from it.

    • Implantable Cardiac Devices Could Be Vulnerable to Hackers, FDA Warns

      Low-level hackers can play with your heart. Literally. Pacemakers, defibrillators and other devices manufactured by St. Jude Medical, a medical device company based in Minnesota, could have put patients’ lives at risk, the US Food & Drug Administration warned on Monday, the same day a new software patch was released to address these vulnerabilities.

      There are several confirmed vulnerabilities that could have granted hackers remote access a person’s implanted cardiac device. Then, they could change the heart rate, administer shocks, or quickly deplete the battery. There hadn’t been any report of patient harm related to these vulnerabilities as of Monday, the FDA said.

    • Thursday’s security updates
    • CVE-2016-9587: an unpleasant Ansible vulnerability
    • Docker 1.12.6 Fixes Privilege Escalation Vulnerability

      It’s great to see Docker move quickly to patch security issues like this. Let’s hope that users, patch quickly too, before Proof of Concept exploit code shows up in the wild (or worse – in Metasploit so script kiddies can point/click escape..).

    • Don’t Pay the MongoDB Ransom
    • WordPress 4.7.1 Updates for 8 Security Issues

      Just over a month after the first WordPress 4.7 release, new incremental update debuts fixing 62 bugs, including a security flaw in the popular PHPMailer email library that was first publicly reported in December 2016.
      WordPress 4.7.1 was officially released on Jan. 11, providing users of the popular open-source content management system with an incremental update fixing 62 bugs and 8 security issues.

    • After Lawsuits And Denial, PaceMaker Vendor Finally Admits Its Product Is Hackable

      So we’ve noted how the lack of security in the Internet of Things is a bit of a problem. Initially, many of us thought that easily hacked smart tea kettles and smart refrigerators were kind of cute. Then we realized that this same, paper-mache grade security is also apparently embedded in everything from automobiles to medical gear. Then, more recently, we realized that all of these poorly-secured devices were being quickly compromised and used in botnets to help fuel massive, historically unprecedented, new DDoS attacks. The warnings were there all along, we just chose to ignore them.

      For more than a decade people had been warning that the security on pacemakers simply wasn’t very good. Despite these warnings, many of these devices are still vulnerable to attack. This week the FDA was forced to issue a warning, noting that security vulnerabilities in the St. Jude Medical implantable cardiac device and corresponding Merlin@home Transmitter could be a serious problem. It’s notable as it’s the first time we’ve seen the government publicly acknowledge this specific type of threat.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Kolkata Cleric Threatens to Slit Tarek Fatah’s Throat on a TV Show

      Two days after issuing a ‘fatwa’ against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a Kolkata cleric on Monday threatened to slit the throat of Pakistan-born author and political commentator Tarek Fatah, with whom he appeared on a television programme.

    • Devastated Swede brands city ‘lawless’ after thugs set her car on fire

      Lejla Heco was left traumatised after she was forced to watch as her vehicle was targeted by vandals, who have been wreaking havoc across the city.

      The shocking incident happened just 50 minutes after the 28-year-old parked the car outside her father’s house in Malmo last Monday.

    • Obama’s Unkept Promise on Nuclear War

      By ratcheting up tensions with Russia, U.S. national security is raising risks of accidental nuclear war with missiles still on hair-trigger alert — despite President Obama’s promises, writes Jonathan Marshall.

    • How Obama Spread the Mideast Fires

      With President Obama down to less than two weeks in office, everyone is busy assessing his legacy. So let’s begin with the Arab world. Not since the Vietnam War, we can safely say, has an administration left a region in ruins the way Obama has left the Middle East (although it’s true that George W. Bush contributed mightily to the mess).

    • The seeds of the next Arab Spring

      The 2016 Arab Human Development Report (AHDR) by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was focused on the region’s youth – those aged between 15 and 29 – a significant group that keeps on growing. This is the first report of its kind to be released after the Arab Spring, and details how young people are more politically aware and motivated to achieve their civil and human rights. Yet they face considerable challenges, primarily economic and security-related. The poor economic planning by the existing regimes is only prolonging and worsening these problems, as a more politically-conscious population grows.

    • Rex Tillerson Wants to Provide Saudi Arabia With More Help to Bomb Yemen

      For 21 months, a coalition of nations led by Saudi Arabia has been relentlessly bombing Yemen, using U.S.- and U.K.-produced weapons and intelligence in a war that has devastated Yemen and killed well over 10,000 civilians.

      There is abundant evidence that the high civilian death toll in Yemen is the result of deliberate — not accidental — strikes by Saudi Arabia. During its air campaign, Saudi Arabia has bombed endless civilian targets — including homes, farms, markets, factories, water infrastructure, hospitals, and children’s schools — and has even gone so far as to use internationally banned cluster weapons, which are designed to inflict damage over a wide area and often remain lethal years after being dropped.

      But when secretary of state nominee and former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson was asked about Saudi Arabia’s use of cluster weapons during his confirmation hearing Wednesday, he declined to answer, and suggested that the way to discourage Saudi Arabia from hitting civilians in Yemen is to provide them with additional targeting intelligence.

    • Pompeo Goes Dark in CIA Nomination Hearing

      The darkness that fell over a roomful of senators, reporters, and onlookers on Thursday thanks to an unexpected power outage was fitting for a discussion of the future of the Central Intelligence Agency under Rep. Mike Pompeo, a nominee few career intelligence veterans know much about.

      The Republican lawmaker from Kansas donned two hats while trying to convince the Senate Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence he deserves to be the next spy chief: the congenial small business owner whose license plate reads “EAT BEEF,” and the tough-talking former soldier, first in his class at West Point, ready to defend the country at any cost.

      While he promised to abide by current legislation on surveillance and intelligence collection — even suggesting he didn’t intend to seek any policy changes in those areas — his views on making maximum use of government authorities to collect and analyze sensitive personal data alarmed some members of the committee.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • WaPo’s Factcheck of WikiLeaks Highlights Paper’s Strange View of Facts

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (Fox News, 1/3/17) again denied that the leaked e-mails he published during the election came from Russia—an assertion contradicted by many anonymous US intelligence officials. “We can say, we have said repeatedly over the last two months, that our source is not the Russian government, and it is not a state party,” Assange told Sean Hannity.

      It is perfectly reasonable for the media and the public to be skeptical of Assange’s claims, just as they should be of the anonymous intelligence officials who say otherwise. How can we know what the truth is, absent any evidence? This is an especially pressing question since the release of a declassified Intelligence Community Assessment on the matter (1/6/17) which, as released to the public, is big in bold assessments but lacking in forensic evidence. “The message from the agencies essentially amounts to ‘trust us,’” as the New York Times observed (1/6/17).

      But thanks to the Washington Post’s dutiful commitment to verifying facts through its “Fact Checker” column, the mystery should be over. Assange’s claim that there no connection between Russia and the leaked documents were put through the Post’s rigorous factchecking criteria (1/5/17) and subjected to its penetrating “Pinocchio Test” scale, earning a damning “three Pinocchio” grade. This, according to the Post’s methodology, means that Assange’s assertion contains “significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions.

    • What Impact Will Trump Presidency Have on Freedom of Edward Snowden & Julian Assange?
    • Julian Assange Not Charged With Anything

      Contrary to mainstream media fake news, Julian Assange has never been charged with any sexual offence. His status was that he was wanted for questioning. But the questioning by Swedish police and prosecutors took place exactly two months ago in the Ecuadorean Embassy, at length over several days. So he is no longer wanted for questioning, yet is still not charged. The pretence there is any kind of genuine criminal investigation in progress, already transparently thin, is now in shreds.

      The Swedish police and prosecutors have had over six years to gather and assess all the evidence. The only missing piece was the further interrogation of Assange, which happened in November. After six years of preparing the jigsaw, they have had two months to slot the last piece into place. Policemen are used to having to prepare a case for charging within days, not months. What is more, the remaining charge (the minor ones having time expired) is a single, extremely simple incident in which there is nothing else left to investigate.

    • How Wikileaks Keeps Its 100% Accuracy Record

      When I resigned as Ambassador to blow the whistle on UK/US complicity in torture and extraordinary rendition, I had a number of official documents I wished to leak to prove my story. They were offered to WikiLeaks through two friends, Andrew and Jonathan. WikiLeaks declined to publish them because they could not 100% verify them.

      Their reasons were firstly that they were suspicious of me and whether I was a plant; British ambassadors are not given to resigning on principle. Secondly a few of the copies were my own original drafts of diplomatic communications I had sent, not the document as it printed out at the other end.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Dakota Access protest policing costs exceed $22M

      The cost of policing the Dakota Access pipeline protests in North Dakota has surpassed $22 million — an amount that would fund the state Treasury Department for two decades and $5 million more than the state set aside last year.

      Protest-related funding decisions will be made by state lawmakers during the 2017 session. Leaders of the House and Senate appropriation committees say more funding will be approved, though the amount and method isn’t known.

      Rep. Jeff Delzer says state officials also still hope the federal government will help with funding.

    • Rex Tillerson is big oil personified. The damage he can do is immense

      In one of the futile demonstrations that marked the run-up to the Iraq war, I saw a woman with a sign that read “How Did Our Oil End Up Under Their Sand?” In nine words she managed to sum up a great deal of American foreign policy, back at least as far as the 1953 coup that overthrew Mossadegh in Iran and helped toss the Middle East into its still-boiling cauldron.

      If the Senate approves Rex Tillerson after his testimony on Wednesday, they’ll be continuing in that inglorious tradition – in fact, they’ll be taking it to a new height, and cutting out the diplomats who have traditionally played the middleman role.

    • A Brief Guide to Rex Tillerson’s Controversial Foreign Ties

      When Rex Tillerson goes before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on Wednesday for his confirmation hearings to become the next secretary of state, he’ll likely face standard questions a range of international issues including the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Syria, and tensions in the South China Sea. But the committee has perhaps never assessed a pick like Tillerson, who spent his 10 years as the CEO of the energy multinational ExxonMobil focused on long-term shifts in the energy market and their impact on geopolitics.

    • Tillerson’s Hearing Seals It: the US Won’t Lead on Climate Change

      Protesters at Wednesday’s senate confirmation hearing for Donald Trump’s Secretary of State nominee, former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, had one thing on their mind: climate change. One woman yelled that her house had been destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. “Reject Rex Tillerson and honor the earth!” a man cried.

      Tillerson, a 40-year veteran of one of the world’s largest oil companies, is up for the country’s most powerful diplomatic position at a time when climate change threatens global security. From food scarcity and drought to migration and war, climate change is one of the great destabilizers that will plague the Trump era.

    • Tillerson Time-Warp

      I suppose it could be a failure of recollection but it just made no sense. These events were just two years ago. $3.44 million spent lobbying EPA is not just a visit. It’s a campaign. We don’t know what they spent lobbying over sanctions, yet… Lobbying is what Trump’s “Swamp” is all about and Trump said he understood it well and that he would drain it. Presumably one of the reasons he chose Tillerson was to have another man on the team who knew the swamp well. Perhaps not.

    • Trump won’t drop ownership of business

      President-elect Donald Trump plans to relinquish management of his businesses, but he still intends to retain an ownership stake in his sprawling real-estate and branding empire.

      Trump’s adult sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, will run the company, along with a Trump Organization executive. Trump will not make any corporate decisions during his time in the White House, his aides said.

      Trump will put his business assets into a trust, and an ethics adviser will join the company’s management team. The adviser, who has not yet been named, will review and sign off on any new business deals that raise potential conflicts of interests, lawyer Sheri Dillon announced Wednesday. The company also will hire a chief compliance counsel to police potential conflicts.

    • Pesticide ban: New evidence shows ‘strong case’ for ban on chemicals linked to bird and bee deaths

      Evidence that controversial pesticides linked to “large-scale population extinctions” of bees should be banned has got stronger since a moratorium on their use was introduced three years ago, according to a new report.

      Scientists at Sussex University carried out a review of the scientific studies since the European Union restricted the use of neonicotinoid pesticides on flowering plants in 2013.

      In their report, published by environmental campaign group Greenpeace, they concluded there was greater evidence that wild plants near fields of crops treated with the chemicals were being contaminated.

    • Will Trump’s Climate Team Accept Any ‘Social Cost of Carbon’?

      President-elect Donald Trump and members of his proposed cabinet and transition team have taken aim at many of President Obama’s climate and clean-energy policies, programs and legacies — from the Paris Agreement to the Clean Power Plan.

      But there’s probably no more consequential and contentious a target for the incoming administration than an arcane metric called the “social cost of carbon.”

      This value is the government’s best estimate of how much society gains over the long haul by cutting each ton of the heat-trapping carbon-dioxide emissions scientists have linked to global warming.

    • The Future Of The Green Investment Bank Is In Peril

      The Green Investment Bank is a publicly-owned institution that funds low-carbon projects across the UK. From financing vast offshore wind farms to supporting innovative energy efficiency projects, the GIB is playing a crucial role in the transition the UK needs to make to a zero-carbon economy. With the Government talking boldly about leading the world on combatting climate change you might expect them to be guarding this institution and building it up but, instead, they’re planning to flog it off.

      The government’s preferred buyers, Macquarie, have a deeply regressive approach to environmental issues, and, in selling off its stake without the appropriate safeguards, the Government is placing the GIB at risk of being dismantled – putting at risk all the green projects it has invested in.

    • Rex Tillerson Would Put the Dollar Sign on the American Flag

      Norris, La Follette and the courageous foes of US involvement in World War I—most of them Midwestern progressive populists—recognized the profound danger that arose when US foreign policy became intertwined with the pecuniary demands of plutocrats and profiteers.

      It is not just in matters of war and peace that those dangers arise, of course. When CEOs are calling the shots, everything from trade policy to energy policy and responses to climate change are warped by unenlightened self-interest. The potential for the corruption of America’s foreign policy expands dramatically when businessmen with international interests assume positions of power. This is one of the reasons Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin, and 21 of their colleagues, in December, urged President-elect Donald Trump to follow the advice of the nonpartisan Office of Government Ethics and divest his business holdings before taking office.

    • Tidal lagoons are one step closer to powering Britain

      Once the first lagoon is generating power in Swansea, a fleet of other projects harnessing electricity from the rise and fall of the tide will be possible at Cardiff, Newport, Colwyn Bay in north Wales, the Cumbrian coast and off Bridgwater Bay Somerset.

      The price of generating electricity from tidal lagoons means that we can have a good-value source of power here in the UK for many years to come.

    • Rex Tillerson Doesn’t Sound Like a Climate Denier, But He Acts Like One

      The U.S. Senate will soon decide whether Rex Tillerson, the longtime leader of the world’s largest oil and gas company, Exxon Mobil, is qualified to serve as the U.S. secretary of state.

      His confirmation hearings this week came at a moment of climate emergency, when scientific studies indicate that dramatic international action is required to avoid massive deterioration of coastlines, intensification of drought, increased frequency of big storms, acidification of oceans, and all the other problems associated with climate change: mass migrations, violent conflicts, loss of languages, and species extinctions.

      Although Tillerson faced a few tough questions from members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about his climate change record on Wednesday, he was also shown deference for his allegedly scientific views on climate, with senators particularly praising his perspective on the issue as that of an engineer.

      And news stories favorably juxtaposed Tillerson’s acknowledgment of climate change with Trump’s 2012 tweet that the whole thing is a Chinese hoax.

  • Finance
    • William Carroll, Sunsara Taylor, and Rafael Caderas

      For the first half of the program, Peter and Mickey speak with sociologist William Carroll, about his latest research into the “transnational corporate class” — top corporate board members and executives — who wield vast influence over public policy.

    • What DeVos Might Do to Public Schools

      Donald Trump is stocking his administration with fellow rich people including “school voucher” advocate Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary, a choice that makes many public school defenders nervous, reports Dennis J Bernstein.

    • The Illegitimacy of Brexit

      What we may call constitutional ‘populism’ has thrown the British constitution into a state of confusion. Old certainties about the supremacy of parliament, the role of parties and the independence of the civil service and the courts are being challenged. Alarmingly, the nebulous idea of a remote and ‘illegitimate’ establishment seems now to include our democratic representatives in parliament, as well as the civil service and the courts. Theresa May, who, ironically, is an unelected prime minister who won office through the internal processes of her party, said in a speech last October that those that challenged the legality of the Article 50 notification were ‘subverting democracy’.

    • Democrats can’t win until they recognize how bad Obama’s financial policies were

      During his final news conference of 2016, in mid-December, President Obama criticized Democratic efforts during the election. “Where Democrats are characterized as coastal, liberal, latte-sipping, you know, politically correct, out-of-touch folks,” Obama said, “we have to be in those communities.” In fact, he went on, being in those communities — “going to fish-fries and sitting in VFW halls and talking to farmers” — is how, by his account, he became president. It’s true that Obama is skilled at projecting a populist image; he beat Hillary Clinton in Iowa in 2008, for instance, partly by attacking agriculture monopolies .

      But Obama can’t place the blame for Clinton’s poor performance purely on her campaign. On the contrary, the past eight years of policymaking have damaged Democrats at all levels. Recovering Democratic strength will require the party’s leaders to come to terms with what it has become — and the role Obama played in bringing it to this point.

    • An argument as to why a “hard Brexit” will be the natural and direct consequence of an Article 50 notification

      This post sets out in summary form an argu

      ment I have set out at the FT (here and here) and on Twitter.

      My argument is that, regardless of the express statements of the prime minister and her government, the UK is bound to have a “hard Brexit”.

      By “bound” I mean that it will be the natural and direct consequence of an Article 50 notification.

      By “hard Brexit” I mean that, once the United Kingdom leaves the European Union (either at the end of the Article 50 period of two years (or as extended) or at the end of any transitional/adjustment period) the United Kingdom will not be part of the “single market”.

    • Puerto Rico Turns to Lewandowski to Lobby Trump on Debt

      The hedge funds and insurance companies that want financially strapped Puerto Rico to pay them back in full may have found a new ally: Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski.

      The newly elected governor of Puerto Rico is in discussions to hire Lewandowski’s lobbying firm, at a time when the island’s creditors are hoping that the incoming Trump administration will be more sympathetic to them than the Obama administration has been. Such a shift would add to concerns that the new administration’s tight ties to banks and investment funds could tilt its policies in favor of Wall Street.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Russian tech expert named in Trump report says US intelligence never contacted him

      A Russian venture capitalist and tech expert whose name and company are mentioned in the now-notorious document alleging connections between the Donald Trump campaign and Russian hackers says no intelligence officers have ever contacted him about the accusations, which he says are false.

      A report compiled by a former Western intelligence official as opposition research against Trump was made public Tuesday when BuzzFeed posted its 35 pages. The document included unsubstantiated claims of collusion between the Trump campaign team and the Kremlin.

      It also alleged that global tech firm XBT Holding, with operations in Dallas, was instrumental in the hack of leaked Democratic Party emails that embarrassed Hillary Clinton and fellow Democrats.

    • Obama’s legacy: eight years of not holding executives criminally responsible for their companies’ misdeeds

      The most remarkable criminal justice story of 2017 is that the FBI has arrested a real corporate criminal, a VW executive who tried to engineer a coverup of the Dieselgate scandal, and that he might go to jail — it’s remarkable because the Obama administration spent eight years resolutely not sending criminal executives to jail, preferring instead to let their corporations buy their way out of criminal sanctions with huge fines, a doctrine pioneered by Obama Attorney General Eric Holder back when he worked for Bill Clinton’s administration. But while Clinton rejected this idea, Obama put it into practice.

      Holder believes that jailing executives — and exacting other forms of significant criminal justice against criminal corporations — is fundamentally unjust, because of all the collateral damage to investors, employees and customers. Instead, Holder preferred to fine companies very large sums (but not so large that the companies were jeopardized), effectively turning criminal lawbreaking into a predictable line item, one of the costs of doing business. Meanwhile, the collateral damage from the jailing of poor people — damage to their families and their communities — was considered an unavoidable and tolerable result of a functional criminal justice system.

    • Donald Trump in angry exchange with CNN reporter after President-elect refuses question

      Donald Trump refused to take a question from CNN – the organisation that had reported US intelligence officials had briefed the tycoon about unverified claims about his relationship with Russia.

      On Tuesday, CNN reported that officials had provided a summary of a dossier of information that was apparently generated by political opponents. The information claimed Mr Trump had been compromised by “salacious” information about his personal and business dealings in Russia.

      Mr Trump had tweeted that the claims were not correct and amount to nothing more than “fake news”. At a news conference he refused to take a question from CNN. He also criticised BuzzFeed News, which had published the allegations in their entirety.

    • Dear Meryl Streep, About That Golden Globe Speech

      And Trump is an ass, he did indeed mock a disabled person, hate breeds hate. Thank you, Meryl, for saying those truths.

      However, by confining your criticism, and not speaking out against Obama and his NSA, drones, Gitmo, wars (Libya, Syria, Iraq, etc), use of the Espionage Act, poor record on Freedom of Information Act requests, shielding CIA torturers from prosecution, never mind just making nice speeches while doing nothing practical to curb racism and mass killings, you leave all those bad things on the table. Silence insulates Trump from criticism for, for example, future drone terror, because he’ll be able to say “Well, Obama did it and no one complained.”

    • Evaluating “Sources” in Fake News Like You’re in the CIA

      The use of anonymous sources was once a major line for a journalist to cross.

      By not naming a source, the journalist insists you trust them. Did they talk to an intern or a policymaker? Every source has an agenda; if we don’t know the source we have no idea of the agenda. Was the journalist trying to act carefully, but was fooled themselves? Remember the run-up to the 2003 Iraq War, and the way the press facilitated that via articles based on unnamed sources we now know were Bush administration officials with fake tales of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

      Anonymous sources have their place. With Deep Throat during the Watergate scandal, the Washington Post tried to use his information as a tool to work backwards to verifiable truths, or to allow them to reach people who would go on the record. Part of Edward Snowden’s credibility came from his named status.

    • The Hitler Diaries Mark II – or I Hope They Changed the Mattress

      The mainstream media’s extreme enthusiasm for the Hitler Diaries shows their rush to embrace any forgery if it is big and astonishing enough. For the Guardian to lead with such an obvious forgery as the Trump “commercial intelligence reports” is the final evidence of the demise of that newspaper’s journalistic values.

      I suspect that we are supposed to “conclude” falsely that the reports were written by Mark Allen at BP.

    • In Absence of Evidence, Media Evoke ISIS in Jerusalem Attack

      Despite headlining its piece “Jerusalem Lorry Attacker ‘Was IS Supporter,’” the BBC’s very first sentence would concede, “Although Benjamin Netanyahu did not give evidence for the claim….” Lack of evidence, evidently, is no reason not to frame your reporting around an official charge.

      The BBC would rationalize this by claiming ISIS has “threatened” Israel in the past, while ignoring the far more material reality that ISIS has never attacked Israel—a rather glaring piece of historical context that was left unmentioned.

      Netanyahu, it’s worth noting, has much incentive to inflate the threat as an ISIS one. Aside from needing a distraction from the ongoing investigation by the Israeli attorney general over bribery and corruption, Netanyahu has long-sought to conflate Israeli security threats with those to of Western Europe and the United States to garner sympathy and support. Despite the lack of ISIS attacks on Israel, and the hostility the militant group has received from Palestinians, Netanyahu has frequently evoked their specter, once even insisting “Hamas is ISIS, and ISIS is Hamas.” (Hamas, which is Islamist but not Salafist, has frequently arrested Palestinians suspected of being sympathetic to the Islamic State.)

      The conflation also serves to distract from legitimate Palestinian grievances, including preeminently the decades-long occupation by the IDF, massive displacement by settlements in the West Bank (likely to increase with a new wave of settlement construction) and periodic large-scale bombings of Gaza.

    • Donald Trump Contradicts Himself, and Reality, at Press Conference

      Donald Trump, who will be sworn in as president of the United States next week, to the delight of 37 percent of the nation, held his first news conference since July on Wednesday. The raucous event in New York was supposed to have been devoted to Trump’s explanation of how he intends to dodge the many and varied conflicts of interest he will face as president, without selling off his businesses and putting his assets in a blind trust.

      Instead, the main topic of discussion was the fallout from the explosive and entirely unsubstantiated claims in a private intelligence dossier compiled by a former intelligence agent working for Trump’s political opponents, which was published by Buzzfeed on Tuesday night. Buzzfeed published the dossier after CNN reported that both President Obama and President-elect Trump were briefed last week on the allegations contained in it — chiefly that Trump’s campaign collaborated with the Russian government and that, according to anonymous sources, Russia has compromising personal information about Trump.

    • ‘We’re Seeing the Result of a 40-Year Assault on the Liberal Mainstream’ – CounterSpin interview with Ellen Schrecker on the New McCarthyism
    • ‘We Need to Give Voice to the People Who Feel Terrified’

      There are pundits who still say we should wait and see what a Trump White House will do before expressing concerns. But that ignores how Trump’s media-assisted prominence, the mainstreaming of his brand of brazen hatred, has encouraged and emboldened racist, sexist xenophobes around the country already. Donald Trump didn’t invent hate crime, but he has put the relationship between legitimizing talk and violent action on a plate for media. So how will a press corps that still talks about “race relations” when they mean white supremacy deal with the particular brew now concocted?

    • The Deep State Goes to War with President-Elect, Using Unverified Claims, as Democrats Cheer

      In January, 1961, Dwight Eisenhower delivered his farewell address after serving two terms as U.S. president; the five-star general chose to warn Americans of this specific threat to democracy: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” That warning was issued prior to the decadelong escalation of the Vietnam War, three more decades of Cold War mania, and the post-9/11 era, all of which radically expanded that unelected faction’s power even further.

      This is the faction that is now engaged in open warfare against the duly elected and already widely disliked president-elect, Donald Trump. They are using classic Cold War dirty tactics and the defining ingredients of what has until recently been denounced as “Fake News.”

      Their most valuable instrument is the U.S. media, much of which reflexively reveres, serves, believes, and sides with hidden intelligence officials. And Democrats, still reeling from their unexpected and traumatic election loss as well as a systemic collapse of their party, seemingly divorced further and further from reason with each passing day, are willing — eager — to embrace any claim, cheer any tactic, align with any villain, regardless of how unsupported, tawdry and damaging those behaviors might be.

      The serious dangers posed by a Trump presidency are numerous and manifest. There are a wide array of legitimate and effective tactics for combatting those threats: from bipartisan congressional coalitions and constitutional legal challenges to citizen uprisings and sustained and aggressive civil disobedience. All of those strategies have periodically proven themselves effective in times of political crisis or authoritarian overreach.

    • Pharma and Lockheed Martin Stocks Tumble After Trump Criticizes Overpayments

      President-elect Donald Trump lashed out at overspending on drugs and fighter jets during his press conference on Wednesday, giving progressives something to hope for but sending stocks in related companies diving.

      First, he took aim at the drug industry, complaining that it is making too many of its products overseas and that the government does not negotiate with the industry for prices for the Medicare program.

      “We have to get our drug industry coming back. Our drug industry has been disastrous, they’ve been leaving left and right,” he said. “The other thing we have to do is create new bidding procedures for the drug industry because they’re getting away with murder. Pharma, Pharma has a lot of lobbyists — a lot of lobbyists — a lot of power, and there’s very little bidding on drugs. We’re the largest buyer of drugs in the world and yet we don’t bid properly and we’re going to start bidding and we’re going to save billions of dollars over time.”

    • Maybe This Is How Democracy Ends

      The election of Donald Trump has triggered as much wonderment abroad as it has in the United States. David Runciman, a professor of politics at the University of Cambridge, has written in the London Review of Books a provocative reflection on the nature of democracy in the age of Trump: “Is this how democracy ends?” There is much to praise in his essay, including his heavy qualification that we really don’t know for sure if what we are seeing is the end phase of mature Western democracies since we do not have the appropriate historical precedents to be certain.

      Runciman is correct; as an admirer of Karl Popper, I believe that there is no such thing as historical determinism, either in the form of the Marxist dialectical process, or in the guise of its mirror image, the invisible hand of laissez-faire. Accordingly there is no surefire way to tell in advance whether Trump, Marine Le Pen or Geert Wilders would spell the end of democracy as we have known it. History, as Popper would tell us, is an open system, full of contingency. Waterloo, the Battle of Britain and Stalingrad were all close-run things.

    • A War on Regulations

      Are we going to let interest group politics undermine public safety?

    • Intel agencies ask Americans to ‘trust, don’t verify’ in new Cold War

      Just as the first casualty of war is said to be the truth, the first casualty of the new Cold War is irony. Our most prominent journalists seem to have missed the Orwellian irony of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) asking Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper at Friday’s Senate hearings if Julian Assange has any credibility. Assange has maintained that the hacked or leaked emails of Democratic Party officials did not come from the Russian government, or any other government.

      As is well-known, Clapper lied to Congress about a serious violation of the constitutional rights of tens of millions of Americans. This lie is a crime for which he actually could have been prosecuted. In March 2013, Clapper falsely answered, “No, sir” to the question, “Does the NSA [National Security Association] collect any type of data at all on millions, or hundreds of millions of Americans?”

      He later admitted that his answer was untrue.

      Clapper lied again in Friday’s testimony, saying that Assange was “under indictment” for “a sexual crime.” In fact, Assange has not been indicted for anything, and the government of Sweden has never even charged him with a crime. (He was initially questioned by Swedish police but allowed to leave the country.)

    • Did Trump Kill ‘Liberal Democracy’?

      Donald Trump’s victory has spurred commentary about the “death of liberal democracy,” but the seeds of that demise were planted in the 1980s amid elite orthodoxy in favor of neoliberal economics, argues Mike Lofgren.

    • Pulling a J. Edgar Hoover on Trump

      The decision by the U.S. intelligence community to include in an official report some unverified and salacious accusations against President-elect Donald Trump resembles a tactic out of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s playbook on government-style blackmail: I have some very derogatory information about you that I’d sure hate to see end up in the press.

    • The Lobby

      36 hours after I first asked the FCO Media Department for a statement clarifying Shai Masot’s immigration and visa status, given that he was not on the Diplomatic List, the FCO has still not responded, despite my putting my request in writing as they asked. I am going to phone the FCO again in a few minutes, and I am very much afraid I may become heated and impolite.

    • Homeland Security Nominee Gen. John Kelly Failed to Disclose Position at Lobbying Firm on Ethics Disclosure

      John F. Kelly, the retired Marine Corps general nominated by Donald Trump to be secretary of homeland security, did not disclose his position as a vice chairman at a lobbying firm called the Spectrum Group on his federal ethics forms made public this week.

      The failure to disclose the position may run afoul of federal law requiring Senate-confirmed nominees to reveal potential conflicts of interest to the lawmakers and the public.

      “He came on as a vice chairman in the end of last year,” said Esther Lofgren, the vice president of the Spectrum Group, when reached for comment.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Woman blogger from Bangladesh faces threat to life, seeks international help

      A college student from Bangladesh, who is a secularist-feminist blogger has sought assistance from the international community after facing life threats at home. A few months ago, after the Gulshan cafe attack, she travelled to India in search of help. When she returned to Bangladesh, the situation had worsened.

      [...]

      My Facebook ID was banned twice because of the campaign launched against people like me by fundamentalists.

      [...]

      According to fellow blogger Zobaen Sondhi who has fled to Germany, groups like Ansar Al Islam, Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), Al Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent, IS, Jamaat-ul-Mujahidin Bangladesh (JMB), New JMB, Ittehad-Ul-Mujahidin have published multiple hit lists with names of bloggers and writers they plan to kill. “The Bangladesh government is unwilling to ensure safety for secular bloggers and the fundamentalist organisation Hefajat-E-Islam operates with impunity. The Bangladeshi Cabinet Committee for Law & Order, headed by minister of industries Amir Hossain Amu, decided at its meeting on August 9, 2015, to declare atheist authors as criminals, thereby making them liable to prosecution; and intelligence agencies were asked to monitor blogs to trace them. Recently, one of the most powerful politicians of the country, MP Selim Osman vowed to punish atheist bloggers in the presence of high profile police officers.”

    • New Facebook project aims to strengthen ties with media

      Facebook has a message for the media: Let’s be friends.

      A new Facebook journalism project aims to strengthen the giant social network’s ties with the media by collaborating more closely on publishing tools and news products, helping the advertising-supported organizations find new readers and training journalists to more effectively use the platform.

      “We want to work with publishers to build products that enable them to tell better stories, connect with their audiences in richer ways and support emerging business models for publishers,” Justin Osofsky, Facebook’s vice president of global operations and media partnerships, told USA TODAY.

    • Port: Anti-porn activist flips out after censorship bill gets withdrawn from N.D. legislature

      Today on my radio show I had on as a guest anti-porn activist Chris Severe to talk about that “pornography vending machine” censorship legislation which was withdrawn in the state House earlier today.

      Severe is part of a group that’s been pushing similar legislation in a number of states, calling it the “Human Trafficking Prevention Act.” Which seems entirely misleading. While there’s no question that human tracking, and stuff like child pornography, are real problems the idea that mandating censorship hardware/software in every internet-capable device we own is the way to solve those problem is ridiculous.

    • Facebook bows to Thai censorship demands

      Facebook has given in to demands from the government of Thailand to censor content that it deems unsuitable, gagging a number of individuals from discussing the royal family and the ongoing transition to a new king.

    • Facebook Is Already Flirting With Censorship
    • Facebook is censoring posts in Thailand that the government has deemed unsuitable

      For millions of people, Facebook is the internet — but many of those who rely on the social network for news and views may not be aware that Facebook isn’t immune to internet censorship itself.

      That’s become apparent in Thailand, where Facebook is blocking content from a number of users following an apparent request from the government. Thailand’s lèse-majesté law prevents criticism of the country’s royal family, and it looks like it is being used to suppress postings from a number of high-profile users who are writing about the transition to a new king, including journalist Andrew MacGregor Marshall. The former Reuters correspondent, now a lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University, is already well known to Thai authorities. His 2014 book on the Thai royal family was banned and branded a “danger to national security and peaceful and orderly society.”

      TechCrunch has independently confirmed that, as MacGregor Marshall noted, at least one of his posts is not available in Thailand but can be read outside of the country. Marshall McGregor’s profile and the rest of his feed remain visible in Thailand. The post in question is from late December and, while it isn’t clear when it was blocked, a reposting made this week was visible in Thailand at the time of writing.

    • EFF to Court: Don’t Let the Right of Publicity Eat the Internet

      Imagine if every depiction of a real person on social media could support a lawsuit. That’s the strange and dangerous logic of a recent lower court decision from California. In that case, Cross v. Facebook, a superior court judge ruled that any “use” of a person’s identity on a site that also included advertising could support a right of publicity claim. If allowed to stand, this ruling could destroy long-settled immunity for hosts of user-generated content. Today EFF filed an amicus brief urging the California Court of Appeal to overturn the lower court’s decision. Our brief explains that the ruling is inconsistent with right of publicity law, CDA 230, and the First Amendment.

      The case was brought by a country-rap artist named Jason Cross who performs under the stage name Mikel Knight. He promotes his music using “street teams” who sell his CDs out of vans. After a fatal accident involving one of these vans, Knight’s sales practices began getting unfavorable media attention. He has been accused of pushing his sales teams too hard and created an unsafe environment. A Facebook page called ‘Families Against Mikel Knight’ was created where ex-street team members and others could comment on Knight’s operation.

      Knight filed a lawsuit against Facebook asserting a collection of claims ranging from negligent interference with prospective business relations to right of publicity. Facebook filed an anti-SLAPP motion seeking to dismiss the complaint. Since Knight was effectively trying to hold Facebook liable for content posted by users, the court correctly dismissed most of Knight’s claims as barred under CDA 230 (which protects online intermediaries that host or republish speech against a range of claims that might otherwise be used to hold them legally responsible for what others say and do).

    • Amos Yee’s asylum bid could last between weeks & years

      Amos Yee will have his first hearing at the Chicago Immigration Court on Jan. 30, 2017.

      Grossman Law, the legal firm representing the 18-year-old Singaporean, said an initial asylum application will be filed at the hearing along with evidence.

      How the case proceeds will depend on the judge.

    • Amos Yee’s US asylum application could take years: Lawyers

      Amos Yee, the teenage blogger who is applying for asylum in the United States, will have his first hearing at the Chicago Immigration Court on Jan 30.

      Grossman Law, the legal firm acting for the 18-year-old Singaporean, said that his lawyer will file an initial asylum application at the hearing along with evidence.

      If the judge finds that a legitimate claim for asylum or protection under the United Nations Convention Against Torture exists, a further hearing will be scheduled, according to a statement by Grossman Law on Wednesday (Jan 11).

      If Yee remains in custody, the hearing could be scheduled within eight to 10 weeks of the initial hearing.

    • Getty’s French Office Sends Out Letters To US Websites Demanding They Take Down Anything Linking It To ‘Legalized Extortion’

      Getty Image’s long history of copyright thuggery can be found all over Techdirt. This litany of uncivil public discourse finally resulted in it being force-fed its own medicine by a plaintiff who demanded $1 billion from the image licensing service for taking her public domain photos and adding them to the Getty library.

      Thanks to some serious misjudgment, and incomplete knowledge of how national laws work, Getty has now (briefly) earned a reputation for another form of thuggery: censorship.

      Matthew Chan runs Extortion Letter Info (ELI), a site that specializes in collecting threatening letters for various entities (usually copyright-related) and gives guidance on how to fight back against this form of speculative invoicing.

      Chan, along with others, has been loudly critical of Getty’s tactics. Getty likes to send out threatening letters and demand licensing fees for images it happens to see in use around the web. Visitors to ELI’s forums are no less disdainful of the company than Chan is. And, the internet being the great communicator it is, this sort of criticism isn’t limited solely to Chan’s site.

    • Trump Not Even Waiting To Get Into Office Before Threatening The First Amendment, Press Freedoms

      During the campaign and after his win, President Elect Donald Trump has been remarkably consistent on his calls for curtailing the rights afforded to the American people and our news organizations by the First Amendment. Between threatening lawsuits over campaign ads, suggesting that political protests ought to be stopped, and mocking free speech in more general terms, the soon-to-be President has positioned himself to be a challenger to long-held freedoms for which very real blood has been shed to protect.

      But it seems the President Elect is not content to wait to enter office to try to begin this erosion of the First Amendment. Amidst a week of turmoil over the publication of comments about the classified briefing he, amongst others, received detailing intelligence findings about Russian involvement in the previous election cycle, Donald Trump has called upon Congress to investigate how this information was leaked to NBC News.

    • Publications forced to join state-approved regulator
    • Ryan Confident Student’s ‘Disgusting’ Ferguson Painting Will Be Removed
    • Dem Rep Accuses Ryan Of ‘Vigilante Censorship’ Over Anti-Cop Painting
    • The Weird War Over Congress’s Pig-Cop Painting
    • Op-Ed: Expensive data is a new form of censorship in Zimbabwe
    • Turkish Politicians Livestream Censored Political Power Grab
    • Age Checks on UK Porn Sites Against ‘Free Speech’ – UN Rapporteur
    • Child blocks on porn breach adults’ rights, says the UN: Official claims new laws interfere with the right to freedom of expression and privacy
    • UK: Child block on porn sites breaches adults’ rights, says UN official
    • Porn censorship & age checks breach human rights, says UN official
    • UN free speech advocate criticises UK plan to curb access to online porn
    • Dissent Is Patriotic. It’s Also a Powerful Antidote to Propaganda.

      Fifty-five years ago this January, the ACLU of Northern California was busy filling orders from across the country for copies of its recently produced film, “Operation Correction.” The film was a response to a piece of Red Scare propaganda, “Operation Abolition,” which was produced by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and depicted civil liberties activists in San Francisco as violent “communist agents” bent on destroying the fabric of America.

      In those days, the federal government was deeply concerned with the political affiliations of ordinary Americans — if those affiliations were left-leaning.

      My own grandfather, who was a World War II veteran and affiliated with the Communist Party in San Francisco, was under FBI surveillance. In 1950, he was fired from a good union job at a glass company after FBI agents paid his employers a visit and informed them of his history as a labor organizer before the war.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • New Video on Encrypting the Web

      Encrypting the web is a more important challenge than ever. Now, EFF has teamed up with Sandwich Video and Baratunde Thurston to explain and promote this mission via video. Sandwich is the production company behind some of the best product launch videos in tech, and you may know Baratunde from his work on The Daily Show, The Onion, and New York Times bestseller How To Be Black. We brought these creative forces together to show you why we need to continue moving from non-secure HTTP to more secure HTTPS, and how you, with EFF tech tools HTTPS Everywhere and Certbot, can help us get there.

    • Court Documents Appear To Confirm The FBI Is Using Best Buy Techs To Perform Warrantless Searches For It

      As we covered last week, the FBI has apparently been paying Best Buy Geek Squad members in exchange for tips about illegal material discovered on customers’ computers. This is problematic for a couple of reasons.

      First, adding a financial incentive could lead to Best Buy employees digging around in users’ computers in hopes of finding something to turn in, rather than limiting themselves to the job at hand: repairing the device.

      Second, while companies are legally obligated to report the discovery of child porn to law enforcement, this occurs as a “private search.” As such, it’s perfectly legal and can result in the probable cause needed to perform a forensic search of the computer, as well as (possibly) any other electronic devices the customer owns. But when the FBI turns Best Buy employees into confidential informants — paid or not –it’s no longer a private search. It’s a third-party search at the government’s request. The government can’t task private individuals with performing warrantless searches on its behalf — at least not if it wants to hold onto the evidence.

    • It’s Official: Sixteen Government Agencies Now Have Access To Unminimized Domestic NSA Collections

      The NSA can now be used for second-hand domestic surveillance, thanks to new rules approved by President Obama that went into effect on January 3rd. Those unhappy to see Trump in control of these expanded powers have no one to thank but their outgoing president for this parting gift.

      This was first reported early last year, gathered from anonymous intelligence community sources and the now-useless PCLOB’s report on the FBI’s use of unminimized intelligence passed on to it by the NSA. At that point, it was mostly speculation, with the PCLOB’s report being the only thing in the way of factual information. The administration was confirmed to be working towards loosening restrictions on data sharing, even as the FBI was swearing it was tightening up control of its own use of unminimized data.

      As the New York Times reports, this change in rules on data-sharing is now in place, as confirmed by a declassified copy of the new procedures [PDF] released to the paper.

    • ePrivacy: Commission’s weak proposal forecasts harsh debates

      On Tuesday 10 January, the European Commission put forward a series of new texts on personal data protection in the EU. It includes the upcoming ePrivacy Regulation which will frame the confidendiality and security of our electronic communications, as well as the famous internet cookies, among other things. Before the legislative process had even started, lobbies from the digital industry and telecom operators collaborated closely to water down as much as possible the reform that was supposed to not only provide better security and confidentiality to electronic communications, but also to give users control of their data back. Nonetheless, civil society has not had its last word just yet. In the coming months, we are set to engage in a harsh legislative battle to make the ePrivacy a really ambitious Regulation that protects our rights and freedoms.

    • New Windows 10 privacy controls: Just a little snooping – or the max

      Microsoft has built an online dashboard of privacy controls in an attempt to soothe lingering anger over Windows 10 and its ability to phone home people’s private information.

      The new web portal lists some of the personal data that is collected from PCs and devices and sent back to Redmond, and allows people to somewhat limit the snooping. Meanwhile, Microsoft will also tweak Windows 10′s built-in privacy controls, giving Home and Pro users a choice between some system surveillance or full-blown system surveillance.

      It’s the software giant’s way of dampening last year’s outcry over its silent slurping of telemetry data from people’s machines. The changes are also a result of Switzerland’s data protection watchdog threatening to prosecute Microsoft for allegedly breaking Swiss privacy law with its Windows telemetry. Redmond promised to modify its software worldwide to avoid any trouble, and that has satisfied the Swiss: the privacy regulator this week dropped its investigation.

      “We are continuing this commitment to make it as easy as possible for you to make informed choices about your privacy with Windows 10,” Terry Myerson, executive veep of Microsoft’s Windows and Devices group, blogged on Tuesday. “With that in mind, in the Creators Update, we are making some changes by simplifying the privacy settings themselves and improving the way we present the privacy settings to you.”

    • Obama Just Made It Easier For Trump To Use NSA Data Against Americans

      With just over a week left until Inauguration Day, the Obama administration has alarmed privacy advocates by significantly weakening rules that prevent the troves of raw data collected about American citizens by the National Security Agency’s dragnet surveillance programs from being shared with other U.S. agencies.

    • Thanks, Obama: NSA to stream raw intelligence into FBI, DEA and pals
    • Obama expands the NSA’s ability to share data with other agencies
    • Just in Time for Trump, the NSA Loosens Its Privacy Rules
    • NSA reportedly to share intercepted communications with other agencies
    • Obama Expands Surveillance Powers on His Way Out

      With mere days left before President-elect Donald Trump takes the White House, President Barack Obama’s administration just finalized rules to make it easier for the nation’s intelligence agencies to share unfiltered information about innocent people.

      New rules issued by the Obama administration under Executive Order 12333 will let the NSA—which collects information under that authority with little oversight, transparency, or concern for privacy—share the raw streams of communications it intercepts directly with agencies including the FBI, the DEA, and the Department of Homeland Security, according to a report today by the New York Times.

    • N.S.A. Gets More Latitude to Share Intercepted Communications

      In its final days, the Obama administration has expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections.

      The new rules significantly relax longstanding limits on what the N.S.A. may do with the information gathered by its most powerful surveillance operations, which are largely unregulated by American wiretapping laws. These include collecting satellite transmissions, phone calls and emails that cross network switches abroad, and messages between people abroad that cross domestic network switches.

      The change means that far more officials will be searching through raw data. Essentially, the government is reducing the risk that the N.S.A. will fail to recognize that a piece of information would be valuable to another agency, but increasing the risk that officials will see private information about innocent people.

    • Finally Revealed: Cloudflare Has Been Fighting NSL for Years

      Like EFF’s other client, CREDO, Cloudflare took a stand against the FBI’s use of unilateral, perpetual NSL gag orders that resulted in a secret court battle stretching several years and counting. The litigation—seeking a ruling that the NSL power is unconstitutional—continues, but we’re pleased that we can at long last publicly applaud Cloudflare for fighting on behalf of its customers. Now more than ever we need the technology community to stand with users in the courts. We hope others will follow Cloudflare’s example.

    • Cloudflare’s transparency report reveals secret FBI subpoena

      Tech titans like Google and Apple aren’t the only ones that receive government requests for customer information — lesser-known companies like Cloudflare get them, as well. The service, which makes websites load faster, has revealed that it’s been fighting a national security letter (NSL) from the FBI since 2013 in its latest transparency report. NSLs are subpoenas the government hands out when it wants to gather information for national security purposes. It also comes with a gag order, which is why the company wasn’t able to include the information in previous transparency reports.

    • Florida PD’s Stingray Documents Oddly Don’t Mention Stingrays Once

      Curtis Waltman, filing his public records request through MuckRock, has obtained several hundred pages of documents related to IMSI catchers/Stingray devices from the Sarasota (FL) Police Department. There are a handful of interesting aspects about this haul, not the least of which is the fact that US Marshals basically raided the Sarasota PD’s office in 2014 to remove Stingray-related documents ahead of the ACLU’s scheduled examination of the files.

      What’s been obtained by Waltman is presumably part of the stash the Marshals didn’t take. The other interesting fact is that there is no reference whatsoever to Stingray devices or IMSI catchers in the documents, despite that being specifically what was requested.

    • Indonesia’s First Billion-Dollar Startup Races to Kill Cash [Ed: war on anonymity]

      Go-Jek became Indonesia’s first billion-dollar startup by offering ride-hailing services that became ubiquitous in the country. Now the company is planning a second act in digital payments amid rising competition from local rival Grab and Uber Technologies Inc.

      Go-Jek, backed by Sequoia Capital, KKR & Co. and Warburg Pincus, rolled out the technology in April to let customers pay for rides and other services with digital payments instead of cash. Since then, the Go-Pay service has grown to account for more than 50 percent of the company’s transactions, according to Chief Executive Officer Nadiem Makarim.

    • Regulators criticize banks for lending Uber $1.15 billion

      Federal regulators criticized several Wall Street banks over the handling of a $1.15 billion loan they helped arrange for Uber this past summer, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

      Led by Morgan Stanley, the banks helped the ride-sharing network tap the leveraged loan market in July for the first time, persuading institutional investors to focus on its lofty valuation and established markets rather than its losses in countries such as China and India.

    • Mystery Hackers Blow Up Secret NSA Hacking Tools in ‘Final F–k You’
    • Shadow Brokers give up NSA tools auction and opts for January sale instead
    • NSA-leaking Shadow Brokers lob Molotov cocktail before exiting world stage
    • Shadow Brokers abandon NSA cyberweapons sale publicly leaking hacking tools
    • Hacking Group Releases Files, Says It Is Ceasing Operations
    • Hacker group Shadow Brokers retires after failing to sell NSA exploits
    • Shadow Brokers Announce Retirement After Failed Attempts to Sell Their Hacking Tools
    • NSA hackers to stop selling stolen cyber weaponry
    • Shadow Brokers Calls It Quits After Failing To Get Buyers For NSA Exploits
    • NSA Exploit Peddlers The Shadow Brokers Call It Quits
    • Suspected NSA tool hackers dump more cyberweapons in farewell
    • The Shadow Brokers call it quits, release free Windows hacks
    • Shadow Brokers leak NSA-linked Microsoft hacking tools
    • Shadow Brokers quit operation; giving away free Windows hacking tools
    • Shadow Brokers spew Windows hack tools after exploit auction flop
  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Chelsea Manning on Obama’s ‘shortlist’ to commute prison sentence – report

      Chelsea Manning, the army soldier who leaked state secrets in 2010 and has been imprisoned longer than any other official leaker in US history, has called on President Obama to show her clemency in the final days of his presidency, saying that this amounts to her last chance for freedom “for a very long time”.

    • Center Victorious in ‘Clockboy’ Lawsuit Aimed at Suppressing Free Speech, Defeating Sharia-Supremacism

      The Center for Security Policy commended today the judiciary of Texas for upholding that state’s commitment to freedom of speech by dismissing a frivolous lawsuit aimed at punishing the Center for Security Policy and its Executive Vice President, Jim Hanson for exercising that constitutional right.

      The suit alleging defamation was brought last year by Mohammed Mohammed, the father of Ahmed, widely known as the “Clock Boy,” after the latter brought a clock device resembling a bomb to his school in 2016. It sought damages from the Center and its EVP in response to public statements made by Mr. Hanson, a former Green Beret, noting the resemblance of the younger Mohammed’s self-declared “invention” to a bomb. The plaintiffs also took exception to Mr. Hanson’s opinions regarding the potential motivations of the Mohammed family and Islamist groups like the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) that actively promoted the Clock Boy’s claims that he was a victim of discrimination and Islamophobia.

    • Federal Agents Arrest a Former Guatemalan Soldier Charged With Massacring Civilians

      Advancing an investigation that has spanned two continents and three decades, U.S. federal agents have arrested a Guatemalan immigrant suspected of involvement in the massacre of about 250 villagers in 1982 during Guatemala’s civil war.

      Jose Mardoqueo Ortiz Morales, 54, was arrested at his home in Hyattsville, Maryland, last Friday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said Tuesday. Ortiz is a legal permanent resident of the United States who worked in a mail room at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, authorities said. He faces charges in U.S. immigration court and potential deportation to Guatemala to stand trial for one of the worst massacres in Latin American history, the officials said.

      Ortiz becomes the fifth suspect arrested in the United States for the slaughter of men, women and children in the hamlet of Dos Erres in northern Guatemala more than three decades ago. Five veterans of an elite Guatemalan commando force known as the “kaibiles” have been convicted by courts in Guatemala on charges arising from massacre. But six others have eluded capture, some of them aided by Guatemalan security forces whose power has impeded the quest for justice, according to Guatemalan and U.S. investigators.

    • Britain’s Most Undesirable Immigrant: Why Was Shai Masot Given a Visa?

      Astonishingly, the Israeli Embassy’s Senior Political Officer Shai Masot, implicated in a plot against the Deputy Foreign Minister, was not on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Diplomatic List, the Bible for the status of accredited diplomats. This opens up a number of extremely important questions. Who was he, what was his visa status and why was he resident in the UK? It is very plain that the work he was doing as “Senior Political Officer” would equate normally to senior diplomatic rank.

      He was a major in the Israeli Navy – in the FCO’s own table of equivalent rank, Major equates to Second Secretary in the Diplomatic Service. After that he went on to apparently executive positions in the Ministry for Strategic Affairs, before moving to the Israeli Embassy in London. There he held many recorded meetings with politicians, including giving briefings in parliament and at party conferences, and acted in a way that in general would accord with a rank around First Secretary to Counsellor.

    • Will Dylann Roof’s Execution Bring Justice? Families of Victims Grapple With Forgiveness and Death

      The first thing you see when you walk into the home of Arthur Stephen Hurd is a row of oversized photographs of his wife, Cynthia. They are displayed along the wall on the right, placed on chairs and propped against the fireplace. In one corner is a portrait taken around the time they met. She’s in her early thirties, radiant in a colorful high-neck sweater and gold earrings. Further down is a picture from their wedding day – they wear dark, formal outfits; Cynthia beams, holding a red bouquet. Leaning on the fireplace is a photo of the pair boarding a Carnival cruise ship a year later – a trip to celebrate their anniversary. In the middle of the display is a framed picture of the luminous stained glass windows above the pulpit at Charleston’s historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. This is where Cynthia died, shot to death alongside eight fellow parishioners by 21-year-old Dylann Roof in 2015.

    • James Burns Chose to Go Back Into Solitary Confinement for 30 Days, and He Livestreamed His Experience to Show the World Its Cruelty

      James Burns suffered through solitary confinement as a young man. He went back between the walls to push for its abolition.

      For the last 30 days, I was worried about James Burns.

      He was once again in solitary confinement, only this time it was of his own accord and live-streaming on VICE. As a kid and a young man, Burns repeatedly was put in solitary, and it hurt him badly. Now a journalist, Burns volunteered to go back between those four lonely walls to raise awareness and push for an end to solitary confinement in America.

      Today, Burns gets out. Today the isolation ends. Today he goes home.

    • Why President Obama Should Commute Chelsea Manning’s Sentence

      Chelsea Manning has suffered long enough. It’s time for President Obama to do the right thing and send her home.

      This morning, NBC News reported that Chelsea Manning is on President Obama’s “short list” to receive a commutation of her sentence. Chelsea applied for clemency in November, urging the president to commute her sentence to time served and give her a chance “to live [her] life outside the USDB as the person [she] was born to be.”

      With nine days left in office, action by Obama may be Chelsea’s last chance for survival.

      Seven years into her 35-year sentence, Chelsea has already served longer than any person in United States history for disclosing information to the news media. The information she disclosed served a clear public interest, helping raise awareness regarding the impact of war on innocent civilians.

    • After 15 Years, Prisoners at Guantánamo Face More Uncertainty Than Ever

      “With respect to Guantánamo,” President Obama told reporters in November, “it is true that I have not been able to close the darn thing.”

      Wednesday marks the 15th anniversary of Guantánamo’s use as a detention facility for terrorism suspects. On Inauguration Day, the prison will pass to its third president, almost eight years after Obama ordered it closed within 12 months.

      After a transfer of four Yemeni captives to Saudi Arabia last week, Guantánamo — which held nearly 780 people under President Bush — now holds 55 men. Nineteen have been approved for release to other countries, while 26 are held in indefinite detention: “forever prisoners” of the war on terror. Only 10 have been charged with a crime.

    • Top UK Cop Says Hackers Should Be Punished Not With Prison, But With Jammed WiFi Connections

      Here’s a story that starts out well. One of the UK’s top police officers, Chief Superintendent Gavin Thomas, has said that putting people in prison for offenses like hacking into computers makes no sense. He points out that it costs around $50,000 a year to keep someone in a traditional prison, and that education programs are likely to be a far more cost-effective solution, especially in terms of reducing recidivism. This is absolutely right, and it’s great to hear a senior officer admit it. Unfortunately, things go downhill from here.

      [...]

      Given his belief that jamming bracelets would stop convicted computer criminals from using the Internet, the worry has to be that he shares the mistaken view that tech companies can create a safe system of crypto backdoors or “golden keys” that only the authorities can use. Let’s hope he takes some expert advice before offering an opinion on that one.

    • Cop Objects To Editorial About Community Policing, Sets Fire To 20-Year Career In Response

      Well, that would appear to align with Wolff’s stated desire to be fired. With twenty years on the force, Wolff likely has a pension locked up and would probably be given the option to resign, which means taxpayers will continue paying a former public servant that has zero respect for them for the next several years.

      As for the article that started it all, it simply makes the same point that could be made in nearly any major city: it’s tougher to build relationships with the communities you serve while living as far away as you can from them. It’s a problem everywhere and frankly, there’s not much to be done about it. Coaxing, pleading, offering housing, etc. are about the limit of what city governments can do to help close this gap between the police and the policed. Anything else places tremendous restrictions on officers’ freedoms. True, communities may be better served by officers with closer ties to the people they police, but mandating this would create larger rifts by adding a whole bunch of resentment and anger to the mix. In other words, the public would get Officer Wolff, who somehow maintains this level of anger and resentment despite living miles away from the neighborhood he works in.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Why Marsha Blackburn’s Rise Is Bad News for Net Neutrality and Science

      Big Telecom’s best friend in Congress just got a very big promotion.

      Rep. Marsha Blackburn, the arch-conservative Tennessee Republican who has received mountains of campaign cash from the telecom industry, has been chosen by the GOP to lead a key Congressional subcommittee with broad jurisdiction over cable, phone, and internet issues.

      For years, Blackburn has worked tirelessly to undermine pro-consumer policies advanced by the Federal Communications Commission—policies that have invariably been opposed by the very corporate giants that have poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into her campaign coffers.

      In particular, Blackburn has waged a relentless campaign against the FCC’s policy safeguarding net neutrality, the principle that all internet content should be equally accessible, which she has disparaged as “socialistic.” She has also opposed efforts to promote community broadband networks, to make internet access more affordable for underserved communities, to increase competition in the video “set-top box” market, and to protect consumer privacy from broadband industry abuses.

    • FCC Report Clearly Says AT&T & Verizon Are Violating Net Neutrality — And Nobody Is Going To Do A Damn Thing About It

      When the FCC was crafting net neutrality rules, it refused to ban zero rating — or the practice of giving an ISP’s own content an unfair advantage by exempting it from usage caps. At the time we noted how this would open the door to all manner of anti-competitive shenanigans, and that’s precisely what happened. Before we knew it, AT&T, Verizon and Comcast were all zero rating their own content while still penalizing streaming competitors, documenting how companies can abuse the lack of broadband competition to impose unnecessary and arbitrary caps — then use those caps as an anti-competitive weapon.

      This is not “free market competition.” It’s duopolists using their domination over the broadband last mile to hamstring emerging new markets and competitive threats. Caps aren’t necessary. They don’t actually even help manage congestion. Caps and overage fees are glorified, confusing and arbitrary price hikes that let incumbent broadband mono/duopolists extract additional revenues from captive customers, with the added bonus of hamstringing streaming market competitors.

  • DRM
    • Wireless Headphone Sales Soared After Apple Dropped Headphone Jack

      Apple’s decision to remove the headphone jack from new iPhones last year prompted lots of consumers to switch to wireless headphones, according to a new report on holiday shopping.

      Three-quarters of all headphones sold online in December were wireless models, up from 50% a year earlier, according to shopping tracker Slice Intelligence. Apple was the biggest beneficiary of the shift, as both its new AirPods earphones and models from its Beats subsidiary led the sales charts.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • Software Copyright Litigation After Oracle v. Google

        Many observers, including me, predicted that the 2014 decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) in Oracle America v. Google would provoke a new wave of litigation concerning copyright and interoperability. In particular, we worried that the decision would encourage dominant vendors to bring copyright claims against competitors that replicated interface specifications for the purpose of interoperating with the dominant vendors’ products. We were right.

        Sure enough, Oracle America has factored into at least four cases so far. One of these cases settled, one is on appeal, and the other two likely will be appealed in the near future. The latter two cases also involve patent claims, so appeals will be heard by the CAFC. (The CAFC has nearly exclusive appellate jurisdiction over cases with patent claims.) One can assume that the plaintiffs added the patent claims to ensure CAFC jurisdiction.

      • La Quadrature du Net calls to support the campaign #SaveTheLink!

        A group of MEPs of all political orientations, including Julia Reda, representative of the Pirate Party, calls on citizens to mobilize to prevent the introduction of dangerous measures in European copyright reform. Their campaign “Save the Link!” aims to preserve our ability to share information on the Internet, by preserving the freedom to make hypertext links and preventing widespread automated filtering of contents. La Quadrature du Net calls for support of this campaign to prevent the copyright reform from leading to further incursion on our freedoms.

      • “Everyone Made Themselves the Hero.” Remembering Aaron Swartz

        On January 18, 2012, the Internet went dark. Hundreds of websites went black in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). The bills would have created a “blacklist” of censored websites based on accusations of copyright infringement. SOPA was en route to quietly passing. But when millions of Americans complained to their members of Congress, support for the bill quickly vanished. We called it the Internet at its best.

        As we approach the fifth anniversary of the blackout, we also note a much sadder anniversary. A year after we beat SOPA, we lost one of the most active organizers behind the opposition. While being unfairly prosecuted under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Aaron Swartz took his own life on January 11, 2013.

        When you look around the digital rights community, it’s easy to find Aaron’s fingerprints all over it. He and his organization Demand Progress worked closely with EFF to stop SOPA. Long before that, he played key roles in the development of RSS, RDF, and Creative Commons. He railed hard against the idea of government-funded scientific research being unavailable to the public, and his passion continues to motivate the open access community. Aaron inspired Lawrence Lessig to fight corruption in politics, eventually fueling Lessig’s White House run.

      • Aaron Swartz and me, over a loosely intertwined decade

        I don’t remember the first time I heard about Aaron Swartz. It probably was from reading Dave Winer’s blog more than 10 years ago when I was an undergraduate at UC Berkeley. The guy effused glowingly about Swartz as a young teenager.

        “Aaron is the brightest 13 year old I’ve ever met on the Internet,” Winer wrote in February 2001. “It’s not just bit smarts, he marshals power very well and is persistent. Eventually you come around to his way of thinking, or he comes around to yours. These are the essential ingredients in good technology. We’re looking for the right answer, not to be proven right, or to prove the other guy wrong.”

      • The entire modern copyright was built on one fundamental assumption that the Internet has reversed

        When copyright was reinstated in 1710, the justification was that of publishing being many orders of magnitude more expensive than authoring, and so without it, nothing would get published. But the Internet has reversed this assumption completely: publishing is now many orders of magnitude cheaper than writing the piece you want to publish.

        The copyright monopoly, as we know, was created on May 4, 1557, when Queen Mary I introduced a complete censorship of dissenting political opinions and prevented them from being printed (and thus the “right to copy” was born as a privilege within a guild, by banning all wrongthinkers of the time from expressing ideas). This stands in contrast to France’s attempt at banning the printing press entirely by penalty of death in at least two aspects: One, England’s suppression was successful, and two, the suppression has survived (albeit mutating) to present day.

      • Public consultation on Building the European data economy

        Data has become an essential resource for economic growth, job creation and societal progress. Data analysis facilitates better decision-making, innovation and the prediction of future events. Europe aims to exploit this potential without infringing the rights and freedoms of people or damaging economic investments made into generating data. Within this context, the Commission aims to foster an efficient, competitive single market for data services including cloud-based ones. It needs to identify the legal, economic, and regulatory challenges, and to launch a discussion with stakeholders on future action.

      • No ‘copyright’ on raw data!

        In its Communication on Building a European Data Economy, the European Commission is taking steps towards a new copyright-like protection for raw data (“Data producer’s right”, pg. 13). This is the final bad idea Günther Oettinger submitted as parting digital Commissioner – it would have far-reaching dire consequences and must be rejected.

        This idea would protect any series of ones and zeros like creative works are protected today. This would create immense transactional costs and huge legal uncertainty for anyone creating and re-using data, such as researchers or innovative startups. Dealing with pure data such as access logs, sensor data or measurements would become as complex as dealing with copyrighted works is today.

Brexit Means No UPC (Unified Patent Court)

Friday 13th of January 2017 01:33:34 AM

Unitary Patent may already be dead, but Team UPC and the EPO won’t tell us that

Summary: Now that Jo Johnson, Boris Johnson’s brother, is officially declared the new minister for intellectual property in the UK everything that Lucy Neville-Rolfe wrote is as solid as paper bag on a rainy London day

PUTTING aside the patent microcosm (including scholarly sites like Patently-O), Team UPC, and the EPO, rational and objective people seem to know that Brexit is the death knell to the UPC as we know it. We wrote about it when/after Lucy had joined Battistelli, only to be sacked (or leave) weeks later, under still-unknown circumstances.

Confirmed by UK-IPO on Wednesday afternoon, just before we published what we knew about it, “Jo Johnson [is] chosen as new UK IP minister”:

Jo Johnson chosen as new UK IP minister

The UK government has chosen Jo Johnson, a member of parliament (MP) and the current innovation minister, as the new minister for intellectual property.

Johnson, MP for Orpington, Bromley, takes over from Baroness Neville-Rolfe.

The UK Intellectual Property Office confirmed the news on its Twitter page.

Johnson is the brother of Boris Johnson, the UK’s foreign secretary. Both are members of the Conservative party, led by Prime Minister Theresa May.

Jo Johnson will remain as minister of state for universities, science, research and innovation, a position he was appointed to in July 2016. He was elected as an MP in May 2010 and was re-elected in 2015.

Jo’s brother was a big proponent of Brexit, even if he fooled a lot of people into voting that way (like empty promises about the NHS).

Well, no word about the UPC has been said by Johnson, the above report from WIPR or UK-IPO, so one can only guess what will happen next.

There is a new UPC paper (English version [PDF]) composed by Dr. Ingve Björn Stjerna from Düsseldorf (Germany has the most to gain from the UPC). Here is the outline:

Allegedly for an independent assessment of “Brexit” vote implications for a potential ratification of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (“UPCA”) by the UK, three associations interested in this ratification commissioned the barristers Gordon and Pascoe to prepare a legal opinion on several related questions. The Opinion, which widely appears to develop legally far-fetched results in support of desired results, assumes almost self-evidently that the Unified Patent Court is not a court common to the Contracting Member States of the UPCA. Since the political approach for ensuring the UPCA’s compatibility with Union law after Opinion 1/09 was always based on the opposite understanding, it supports the voices arguing that the Agreement violates Union law and demanding it to be submitted to CJEU scrutiny as to create legal certainty for the users. Such scrutiny could be initiated in the German ratification proceedings.

Judging by recent events, especially the removal of Lucy (in favour of Jo Johnson), the UPC’s future looks anything but bright; it looks virtually non-existent and bleak. That’s just what many patent practitioners from London expected all along, even if some were in convenient denial over it, especially after the nonsense from Lucy.

Patent Trolls and Software Patents: CloudTrade, Patent Practitioners Density, and Via Licensing

Thursday 12th of January 2017 04:25:16 PM

Summary: Software patents armament from a British company, charted concentration of the patent microcosm in the United States, and US-leaning patent trolls that prey on China

“CloudTrade Awarded US Patent for Its Proprietary Document Data Extraction Software,” says a press release that was widely circulated yesterday [1, 2, 3]. CloudTrade is British and is not a patent troll, but it sounds as though it has nothing to brag about except crappy (and creepy) software patents — those that PTAB and patent courts would likely trash immediately (if a petition or lawsuit gets filed).

Why is a British company pursuing software patents in the US? Has it not heard yet about the futility of such as exercise? Did it receive bad advice from patent practitioners? Previously, the firm bragged about “patented e-invoicing technology” and “patent-pending technology”. They went as far as Australia for software patents. Unless they intend to start suing competitors (sometimes threaten to sue unless competitive products are removed from the market or settlement money is paid out of court), we fail to see what CloudTrade is thinking here. Maybe too much Kool-Aid from the patent microcosm…

Published hours ago was also this analysis by Jason Rantanen, who put together some data to find out which places in the US have a disproportionate number of patent practitioners (lawyers, attorneys etc.) and it was preceded by the following text. It emphasises that it’s about utility patents, not software patents:

A question from two economist friends, Nicholas Ziebarth and Michael Andrews, got me interested in the geographic distribution of patent practitioners in the U.S. and any correlations with issued utility patents and populations. Using the January 8, 2017 list of patent practitioners from the USPTO, the PTO’s data on utility patents issued to inventors by state, and population estimations for 2016 (wikipedia), I put together the following figures. They show what one might expect: patents, population and patent attorneys exhibit high degrees of correlation, although there is some interesting variation. All the linear regressions are highly significant (p<0.001).

It would be interesting to see these methods applied to software patents. It is widely known by now that patent trolls are highly dependent on such patents and it would be interesting to see where Texas fits in an analogous chart (or set of charts).

It is also widely known and recognised that many patent trolls work at the behest of some large, practicing companies. By using a troll for litigation they don’t risk the defendant following suit with a reactionary lawsuit. IAM has a new example of this. It speaks of some entity called Via Licensing (Web site indicates it’s just a troll) and reveals who it’s working for, much like MPEG-LA. To quote:

Dolby-backed patent pool operator Via Licensing has announced some high profile new licensing agreements in Greater China over the past month, with Lenovo and Xiaomi having joined the pool covering AAC technology. A big factor in this apparent momentum is the fact that the pool has introduced a new alternative rate structure which codifies a discount for devices sold in developing markets. This effort to accommodate local market realities in countries like China also adds a welcome dose of transparency to the licensing market.

Terms like “licensing market” are misleading. Intermediaries or satellites or proxies are hardly a “market”. They are a parasite which mostly serves to exclude small players and emergent technologies (competition).

Patent Maximalism — Like Copyright Maximalism — Relies on Misconceptions and Mass Deception

Thursday 12th of January 2017 03:53:23 PM

Summary: The latest examples of discussions about patent scope, courtesy of those looking to benefit financially by pushing such monopolies to the max

PATENT scope is key to success of a nation’s economy. Unrestricted scope is a recipe for disaster everywhere and it makes an economy less competitive at the international context/stage. One cautionary tale is the Eastern District of Texas, which we shall deal with separately when we write about patent trolls. After Alice (and possibly quite soon TC Heartland LLC) at SCOTUS a lot has changed for the better in the US. But it should not be taken for granted. Some people are trying to undo progress.

Joseph A. Capraro Jr., a Partner at Proskauer (the misleading cherry-pickers), is going to speak for patent maximalism at this upcoming event whose synopsis says: “Since the 2014 US Supreme Court decision on Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has become much more strict when evaluating patent eligibility for certain types of computer-implemented inventions. The Alice decision severely affected software patent applications, such that the USPTO began issuing Section 101 rejections based upon Alice where no previous subject matter eligibility rejection had been raised–and the USPTO even withdrew allowances for some applications. The Alice decision created an alarming landscape for the larger patent world as well, calling into question the validity of many existing software-based patents.”

Patent law firms just can’t help promoting software patents. To them it’s just business, irrespective of the effect on sellers and buyers (of actual goods, not patents). At IAM, for example, the patent microcosm of India now bemoans the exclusion of patents on “computer-related inventions” — whatever that actually means. Software patents are not permitted in India and as the microcosm puts it:

The first step has clearly been borrowed from the first two steps established in the UK Aerotel v Macrossan case. Further, if the term ‘only’ is to be read as ‘solely’, the second step can be said to be based on step three of that case. However, step four of the Aerotel test was not considered; rather an entirely different step three pertaining solely to computer programs has been prescribed. This third step focuses only on “a contribution” made by novel hardware, without specifying the nature of the contribution expected.

Nothing associated with “computer programs” is patentable in India (nor should it be). This is what makes India’s patent system more effective and more in harmony with the local economy, which thrives in software development. Consider this new short post from Patently-O, which basically parrots a new paper about strength of patent systems. “G.Dolin is correct in many ways,” Patently-O says. “The major problem with his analysis is the way that he focuses solely on the patent system motivating individual inventors. Although such motivation exists, in the US and around the world, the patent system is primarily used by corporate entities with few inventors receiving substantial upside value of their inventions. Rather, as in Russia, invention is part of the job description of many engineers and those engineers usually receive only a token for their successes rather than a share of the resulting profits.”

Like those who are using "China" and "Russia" to make their case for patent maximalism, here we have those who conveniently treat “Russia” (or “USSR”) as a model failure, then deduce from that all sorts of nonsense. Right now in China, which traditionally was quite lenient, the patent system is becoming overly aggressive and strict in the litigation sense while granting patents on everything under the sun. That itself is a recipe for disaster and it would quite likely damage the Chinese economy. It’s surprising that their economists fail to foresee the effect of all the patent trolls they have begun to attract.

Using “Russia” or “China” to make a case for patent maximalism is misleading. Likewise, telling India to adopt Westernised patent law is asking India to shoot itself in the foot. Patent systems are not constructed purely for the purpose of “creating jobs” like patent lawyers and judges. They are, at the core, intended to foster innovation and progress. Its sad to see Dennis Crouch, a Law Professor at the University of Missouri, resorting to that kind of stuff.

Software Patents Still Promoted by IBM and Its Lobbyist (and Former Employee) David Kappos, in Defiance of Much-Needed US Patent Reform

Thursday 12th of January 2017 03:44:52 PM

While the corporate media celebrates IBM as though it’s some kind of ‘champion’ for hoarding patents that it then uses to attack companies which actually grow

Summary: Patent aggression and patent lobbying from IBM is a growing problem, especially now that patent lawsuits are on the decline and software patents are going away

Thomas F. Cotter, a Briggs and Morgan Professor of Law (from the University of Minnesota Law School) wrote about Mexico’s patent law, invoking some drool-dripping ‘IP’ academics (Mike Schuster in this case) who say that in “Mexico, patent damages must be 40% of public selling price of infringing products…”

“Under the new CEO, or so it would seem, IBM is back to the days of suing companies like Sun.”IBM’s patent chief, who keeps plotting and scheming to blackmail the whole industry using software patents, cited the above ‘IP’ academics and noted that: “Patent damages would seem to be (potentially) quite high…”

Remember that IBM is now suing various companies and shaking them down for patent payments. Under the new CEO, or so it would seem, IBM is back to the days of suing companies like Sun (Florian Müller once called them “International Bullying Machines”).

We remind readers that today’s IBM is nothing like the IBM of 5 or 10 years ago. The company is still manipulating the media and lobbying for software patents, much to the detriment of just about every software company. “A large % of US companies are software companies,” wrote this patent attorney the other day. “Their patent applications are being inordinately rejected at the USPTO.”

I told him that software patents are being used against the vast majority of software companies (small ones), basically destroying them. This is the kind of thing that IBM and other patent maximalists are promoting. They worry that their plot is coming to an end, especially due to Alice and PTAB. The number of patent cases in the US courts has gone down sharply (as of 2016′s end) and MIP puts it all in a table, explaining the numbers as follows:

A total of 4,580 district court cases were filed in 2016, down from 5,775 in 2015.

This is the lowest number of district court patent cases since 2011, when 3,899 cases were filed, according to Docket Navigator figures. That year was the last before the American Invents Act came into effect.

The average monthly number of cases in 2016 was 382, down from 481 in 2015, 418 in 2014, 508 in 2013 and 455 in 2012.

The fourth quarter of the year saw 1,170 cases filed, up from the 1,138 cases filed…

Looking at utility patents alone (not software patents), Patently-O gives an impression of growth, even charting the numbers along with faces of USPTO Directors. To quote Patently-O: “The chart below shows the number of utility patents granted each year for the past few decades. I have included images of PTO chiefs as well. Although only small view of PTO work-product, the dramatic shifts in the number of grants (all occurring while facing a large backlog of cases) helps highlight the importance of the role of PTO Director. You’ll note that more utility patents were issued in 2016 than any prior calendar year – 303,000. However, the rate-of-increase seen under Dir. Kappos is clearly gone.”

David Kappos, ‘formerly’ IBM (still paid by them, now paid to lobby for software patents), has been a terrible Director whose lobbying at the moment puts the patent office at the bottom of ethical standards and brings it into disrepute. The graph mentioned above (with animation) serves to show just how terrible Kappos was in the quality control sense. For IBM to still be paying him, especially for something as notorious as software patents and lobbying, is a terrible idea.

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today's leftovers

  • FLOSS Weekly 417: OpenHMD
    Fredrik Hultin is the Co-founder of the OpenHMD project (together with Jakob Bornecrantz). OpenHMD aims to provide a Free and Open Source API and drivers for immersive technology, such as head-mounted displays with built-in head tracking. The project's aim is to implement support for as many devices as possible in a portable, cross-platform package.
  • My next EP will be released as a corrupted GPT image
    Endless OS is distributed as a compressed disk image, so you just write it to disk to install it. On first boot, it resizes itself to fill the whole disk. So, to “install” it to a file we decompress the image file, then extend it to the desired length. When booting, in principle we want to loopback-mount the image file and treat that as the root device. But there’s a problem: NTFS-3G, the most mature NTFS implementation for Linux, runs in userspace using FUSE. There are some practical problems arranging for the userspace processes to survive the transition out of the initramfs, but the bigger problem is that accessing a loopback-mounted image on an NTFS partition is slow, presumably because every disk access has an extra round-trip to userspace and back. Is there some way we can avoid this performance penalty?
  • This week in GTK+ – 31
    In this last week, the master branch of GTK+ has seen 52 commits, with 10254 lines added and 9466 lines removed.
  • Digest of Fedora 25 Reviews
    Fedora 25 has been out for 2 months and it seems like a very solid release, maybe the best in the history of the distro. And feedback from the press and users has also been very positive.
  • Monday's security updates
  • What does security and USB-C have in common?
    I've decided to create yet another security analogy! You can’t tell, but I’m very excited to do this. One of my long standing complaints about security is there are basically no good analogies that make sense. We always try to talk about auto safety, or food safety, or maybe building security, how about pollution. There’s always some sort of existing real world scenario we try warp and twist in a way so we can tell a security story that makes sense. So far they’ve all failed. The analogy always starts out strong, then something happens that makes everything fall apart. I imagine a big part of this is because security is really new, but it’s also really hard to understand. It’s just not something humans are good at understanding. [...] The TL;DR is essentially the world of USB-C cables is sort of a modern day wild west. There’s no way to really tell which ones are good and which ones are bad, so there are some people who test the cables. It’s nothing official, they’re basically volunteers doing this in their free time. Their feedback is literally the only real way to decide which cables are good and which are bad. That’s sort of crazy if you think about it.
  • NuTyX 8.2.93 released
  • Linux Top 3: Parted Magic, Quirky and Ultimate Edition
    Parted Magic is a very niche Linux distribution that many users first discover when they're trying to either re-partition a drive or recover data from an older system. The new Parted Magic 2017_01_08 release is an incremental update that follows the very large 2016_10_18 update that provided 800 updates.
  • How To Use Google Translate From Commandline In Linux
  • How to debug C programs in Linux using gdb
  • Use Docker remotely on Atomic Host
  • Ubuntu isn’t the only version of Linux that can run on Windows 10
  • OpenSUSE Linux lands on Windows 10
  • How to run openSUSE Leap 42.2 or SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 on Windows 10

Leftovers: Software and Games