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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 2 hours 42 min ago

Masking Abstract Patents in the Age of Alice/§ 101 in the United States

Wednesday 23rd of May 2018 05:34:48 AM

Summary: There are new examples and ample evidence of § 101-dodging strategies; the highest US court, however, wishes to limit patent scope and revert back to an era of patent sanity (as opposed to patent maximalism)

AS noted in our previous post, software patents aren’t doing well in the US. The USPTO has become tougher on them, with or without the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and the courts weighing in.

“Recent patents in New Hampshire,” published earlier this week in local media, reveal a little bit of information in the form of summaries. Some of these newly-granted (by USPTO) patents definitely sound like software patents. Having reviewed the media so far this week, we see other examples of it, including one from Accenture. “The newly issued patent,” it says regarding U.S. Patent No. 9,818,067, “is the latest in the worldwide intellectual property (IP) portfolio for Accenture, which includes more than 6,000 granted patents and pending patent applications.”

Many of these are just dubious software patents. How about this new example from Monday, which name-drops both “Blockchain” and “IoT” in the headline? It says:

HK-based AnApp’s founders are well-versed in computer hardware and software, holding more than 20 patents in semiconductor and electronics designs, and believe that the integration of IoT and blockchain will benefit our industries and daily lives.

Well, blockchains are software, but media hype about blockchains has been out of control lately, so the applicants hope it will make them sound innovative. The patent trolls’ lobby/Richard Lloyd has in fact just name-dropped all the misleading buzzwords which are often misused to patent software even in an age when software patents are not ponent (at least in courts). “AI, blockchain and IoT patents all on the shopping list for latest IP3 buying programme” is the headline and the summary adds more buzzwords, such as “virtual reality” and “automotive”. To quote:

Details of the latest iteration of IP3, the patent buying programme hosted by AST designed to give IP owners a quick and efficient way of selling their assets, were announced this morning with this year’s version open to non-AST members and focused on some of the hottest tech areas. On the shopping list for this year’s programme are patents in eight different categories including artificial intelligence, virtual reality, automotive, blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT).

They are simply trying to put new ‘clothing’ on abstract patents. Or ascribe algorithms to some device or vehicle they’re installed on…

How about this one as a new example? Or this new press release about “Two New Design Patents” (design patents are somewhat of a farce; applicants would be wise to rely on trademarks and copyrights instead).

Yesterday, in Above the Law, Gaston Kroub said that “[t]here is a vulnerable population hungry for IP advice,” but who are these vulnerable people? Victims of patent trolls or the ones patent law firms urge to sue just about everyone? The following loaded question is revealing:

3) There has been a lot of expressed concern about the declining value of U.S. patents, and the possible repercussions to the innovation economy. How do you think the clinic’s participants have adjusted or responded to the alleged malaise in the patent system?

There’s no such “malaise”; the quality of patents is being elevated and there’s nothing wrong with that. But they speak on behalf of the patent microcosm, not scientists.

Charlotte Tillett and Camille Arnold (Stevens & Bolton LLP, i.e. another law firm) has just published this new article alluding to the Supreme Court in relation to the pharmaceutical industry. To quote:

February saw the long-awaited Supreme Court hearing of Warner-Lambert v Generics t/a Mylan relating to the second medical use patent of pregabalin (Lyrica) for the treatment of pain. The judgement has huge importance to the pharmaceutical industry, clarifying the test for plausibility in patent applications, and determining the approach to take when applying for, or enforcing, second medical use patents.

[...]

The decision should come in the next few weeks, but what should companies do in the interim to protect their positions? Patent applications filed now run the risk of being found invalid for lack of plausibility later, should the Supreme Court enforce a higher threshold test. However, waiting to obtain further support for the patent application may be unwise, if there is a risk that another party may submit an application in the meantime.

Ultimately the decision will be a commercial one – if funding is required to progress research into the drug and cannot be acquired without a patent, then it will not be possible to wait to obtain clinical trials. However, if the Supreme Court does set a high bar for plausibility, funders may well be less inclined to accept patents that risk invalidity in the future.

Judging by many recent decisions from the Supreme Court (regarding patents), it’s not hard to guess the outcome; either way, the law firm above perpetuates the “research” (or R&D) myth. It’s common knowledge that much of the research money actually comes from government, e.g. university grants. In reality, for practical reasons, access to medicine is a lot more important than patents. We shall soon know if the Supreme Court maintains the consistency of its rulings.

PTAB’s Latest Applications of 35 U.S.C. § 101 and Obviousness Tests to Void U.S. Patents

Wednesday 23rd of May 2018 05:01:38 AM

Summary: Validity checks at PTAB continue to strike out patents, much to the fear of people who have made a living from patenting and lawsuits alone

THE U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) now enjoys the scrutiny of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, PTAB. It helps eliminate patents which were granted in error. Suffice to say, the patent microcosm is not happy about it. It keeps moaning about PTAB and about its application of US law, notably 35 U.S.C. § 101.

Yesterday, for example, this post about Praxair Distribution, Inc. v Mallinckrodt Hospital Products IP Ltd. was published by Kevin Noonan to say that a patent had been voided:

Last week, the Federal Circuit found all patent claims invalid for obviousness in an inter partes review, in Praxair Distribution, Inc. v. Mallinckrodt Hospital Products IP Ltd. But the Court did not render its decision without engendering a judicial disagreement between the majority and Judge Newman on the proper role of the printed matter doctrine in obviousness determinations.

Mallinckrodt’s patent-in-IPR, U.S. Patent 8,846,112, was directed to methods for providing nitric oxide gas as a treatment for dilating pulmonary blood vessels in neonates. However, the art recognized a side effect, pulmonary edema, for which infants with pre-existing left ventricular dysfunction (LVD) were at particular risk. A diagnostic assay (pulmonary capillary wedge pressure, or “PCWP”) having greater than a specific value was taught in Mallinckrodt’s patent to exclude infants at risk for this side effect. Claim 1 is representative of the claims invalidated by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board…

Noonan, noting Section 101 “fatigue”(whatever he intended by that), then resorted to propping up the habitual dissent from Newman:

As is frequently the case, Judge Newman makes the better argument. Perhaps due to Section 101 fatigue or because the Supreme Court’s penchant for ignoring the statutory silos of eligibility, anticipation, and obviousness is contagious, the majority’s decision imports the incoherence of eligibility law into the obviousness context (doing little to clarify the standards in either). And by extending the application of the printed matter doctrine to claims that don’t recite printed matter, this precedential decision has the capacity to make mischief (having the Court’s imprimatur) until such time that another panel can creatively avoid its application or in the unlikely event that the Federal Circuit considers the question en banc (an eventuality that seems likely only if the Court becomes enamored with this approach to invalidating claims on eligibility grounds under the auspices of an obviousness determination). Neither possibility can be particularly comforting to the patent community.

When he says “patent community” he means patent microcosm. They’re not happy.

Yesterday, once again at midday, Watchtroll covered the patent scam of Allergan and St. Regis Mohawk Tribe. Some patent lawyers seem rather eager to make themselves look like crooks rather than law professionals. The whole post was about this amicus brief:

Askeladden again submitted an amicus brief to the Federal Circuit on May 17, 2018 supporting the PTAB’s decision below. A copy of that amicus brief is available here.

Why should a massive corporation disguise itself as a tribe and find itself exempted from the law? PTAB, as the highest US court recently found, is perfectly within its right to revoke patents which should not have been granted. Even IAM, a patent maximalists’ site, isn’t denying it (Watchtroll has always been a lot more radical in its views). IAM has just advertised some upcoming ‘event’ about “The impact of Oil States and SAS Institute on your PTAB strategy” as if it’s a question of “strategy” rather than legality (they seek new strategies for working around the law).

“Why should a massive corporation disguise itself as a tribe and find itself exempted from the law?”At the start of this week a post by Michael Borella was also published regarding SAP America, Inc. v InvestPic, LLC — the latest reminder of many that software patents are worthless to PTAB in light of 35 U.S.C. § 101. To quote some relevant bits:

SAP America, Inc. (SAP) filed a declaratory judgment action in the Northern District of Texas, alleging that U.S. Patent No. 6,349,291 of InvestPic, LLC (InvestPic) was invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The District Court invalidated the ’291 patent during the pleadings stage. InvestPic appealed the ruling to the Federal Circuit.

[...]

The Supreme Court’s Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l case set forth a test to determine whether claims are directed to patent-eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. One must first decide whether the claim at hand is directed to a judicially-excluded law of nature, a natural phenomenon, or an abstract idea. If so, then one must further decide whether any element or combination of elements in the claim is sufficient to ensure that the claim amounts to “significantly more” than the judicial exclusion. But generic computer implementation of an otherwise abstract process does not qualify as significantly more. On the other hand, a claimed improvement to a computer or technological process is typically patent-eligible.

[...]

Declaring the claims abstract, the Court moved on the second step of Alice. Here, InvestPic fared no better, as the Court stated “[w]e readily conclude that there is nothing in the claims sufficient to remove them from the class of subject matter ineligible for patenting and transform them into an eligible application,” and (subtlety invoking Berkheimer v. HP Inc.) “there are no factual allegations from which one could plausibly infer that they are inventive.” Particularly, all additional elements were either abstract themselves or (as recited in other claims) conventional computer components.

[...]

Even under a generous reading of Alice and its progeny, these claims might be found lacking. But the difficulty with cases like this one is how they are applied. We have seen how the Electric Power Group case has been broadly viewed by the courts and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to contend that virtually any invention involving collection, processing, and output of information is ineligible. Clearly, this is improper, it can be rebutted in many situations, but the process for doing so requires time and money — something that small companies might not have.

As we shall show in our next post, companies continue to seek new ‘clothing’ for abstract patents, basically making these appear more concrete than they really are.

France is Irrelevant to Whether or Not UPC Ever Becomes a Reality, Moving/Outsourcing de Facto Patent Examination to European Courts Managed in/Presided by France

Wednesday 23rd of May 2018 04:04:25 AM

The ‘Three Frenchmen’ of UPC


The UPC/EPO/EU plot, with Barnier as a longtime ‘activist’ for the EU-centric UPC, Battistelli as a saboteur of the EPO and especially the Boards of Appeal (which UPC would render obsolete), and Campinos as Battistelli’s succession choice (Campinos already works for an EU agency, EU-IPO)

Summary: Team UPC is still focusing on France as if it’s up for France to decide the fate of the UPC, which EPO insiders say Battistelli wants to be the chief of (the chief, it has already been decided, would have to be a Frenchman)

LONGTIME readers are already aware that EPO patent quality is getting worse, whereas it’s said to be improving at the USPTO or US courts. It’s no exaggeration to say that European patent courts will grapple with many bogus patents in the coming years. Cui bono? Patent lawyers. They bill for the trouble (at both ends). The UPC would vastly expand their scope of operations, damages and so on. This is why many patent law firms happily ‘enlist’ themselves to join what we call “Team UPC” — basically a cabal of patent maximalists who don’t mind smashing Europe’s economy if they can make a buck (or a euro) in the process. It’s actually Team UPC, aided by Battistelli, which came up with the UPCA, crafting the very same rules they’d be governed by (if they ever managed to pull this off). These rules are as ridiculous (overzealous) as one might expect.

“It’s actually Team UPC, aided by Battistelli, which came up with the UPCA, crafting the very same rules they’d be governed by (if they ever managed to pull this off).”Bristows LLP’s Vanessa Rieu wrote and then promoted some fluff about France (cross-posting it later, maybe for a fee, in sites of lawyers). We already mentioned this a few days ago because other Team UPC ‘activists’ had pushed this envelope as well, no matter if France ratified a long time ago and is in no way ‘the’ barrier to UPC. Germany isn’t ratifying and the UK, even if it ratified, cannot actually participate in the UPC. In other words, only 1 of 3 countries whose ratification is imperative (France that is) would be eager to see the thing kicked off; hardly surprising given the projected role of France and the role played by Frenchmen like Barnier, Battistelli and Campinos.

Meanwhile, Kluwer Patent Blog, a blog dominated by UPC propaganda which is often composed by Bristows (and ‘unwanted’ comments deleted by them as well), publishes this new reminder that bogus patents are worthless patents unless one can use these for blackmail alone (the patent trolls’ modus operandi), usually against the poor and weak — those unable to afford a court battle. “If you know your patent lacks novelty, you’d better not enforce it” was the title of this post from yesterday:

The Barcelona Court of Appeal (Section 15) recently handed down an interesting judgment (dated 6 February 2018) revoking a utility model and ordering the owner to pay the damages caused by having enforced it while knowing that it lacked novelty. According to Article 114 of the former Spanish Patent Act (equivalent to Article 104 of the Act now in force), when a patent or utility model is revoked, as a general rule, the revocation does not affect, inter alia, final judgments where infringement has been declared. However, there is an exception for cases where the owner had acted in bad faith.

What is interesting about this recent judgment is that it is one of the very few to date, if not the only one, in which the contours of this exception have been examined. The facts of the case can be summarised as follows:

In 2002, the owner of the utility model filed a patent infringement action against the company that brought the revocation action that led to the judgment of 6 February 2018 being discussed here. As a result, at second instance, on 6 April 2006 the Barcelona Court of Appeal (Section 15) handed down a judgment declaring the infringement and ordering the defendant to pay 532,109.85 Euros by way of damages.

Imagine thousands of such cases per year, including some affecting European companies well outside their juristriction with proceedings in a language foreign to them. Imagine patents being asserted against them, using legal documents in a foreign language, alluding to dubious patents granted in a hurry. This is the vision Battistelli and Team UPC have for Europe.

Saint-Germain’s Poisonous Legacy of “Toxic Loans”: The Emperor’s New Investment Guidelines

Wednesday 23rd of May 2018 03:18:03 AM

“Speculators may do no harm as bubbles on a steady stream of enterprise. But the position is serious when enterprise becomes the bubble on a whirlpool of speculation. When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done.”

–John Maynard Keynes, “The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money,” Chapter 12: The State of Long-Term Expectation

Summary: Details about a secret vote to ‘gamble’ the EPO’s budget on “a diversified portfolio managed by external experts”

In a document dated 24 November 2017 (CA/F 18/17 Rev. 1) the current and soon-to-depart Emperor or “Sun-King” of the European Patent Office, Mr Battistelli, presented the Administrative Council with a proposal for “New Investment Guidelines of the European Patent Office”. (warning: epo.org link; see local copy [PDF])

“The official record shows that of the 32 delegates present, only 6 voted against, 2 abstained and the remaining 24 voted in favour.”According to information from EPO insiders the proposal was rubber-stamped with almost indecent haste by the Budget and Finance Committee of the EPO’s Administrative Council in December 2017. See SUEPO Den Haag publication. [PDF]

The official record shows that of the 32 delegates present, only 6 voted against, 2 abstained and the remaining 24 voted in favour.

An interesting detail here is that the matter was decided by means of a secret vote which was apparently requested by the Italian delegation.

More recently, EPO insiders report (see above) that at the last meeting of the BFC, which took place in Munich on 16 and 17 May, Mr Battistelli’s proposal to invest the EPO’s whopping cash surplus of around € 2.3 billion in the newly established “treasury investment fund” was also approved by a large majority of the delegations with only one vote against by the German delegation.

Soon after the adoption of the New Investment Guidelines in December 2017, a contributor to the Kluwer Patent Blog voiced his concern about certain aspects of the guidelines and he expressed the view that the permitted range of exotic “financial instruments” “appears to be unnecessarily extensive”.

“An interesting detail here is that the matter was decided by means of a secret vote which was apparently requested by the Italian delegation.”These concerns were echoed in March 2018 by another regular contributor to the Kluwer Patent Blog, Dr. Thorsten Bausch, who noted that the EPO “literally sits on a heap of money; so much money that the President has written (warning: epo.org link; see local copy [PDF]) to the AC’s Budget and Finance Committee, asking them to liberalize the Investment Guidelines, so that the EPO can start investing in more exciting financial instruments such as currencies, derivative instruments, asset-backed securities (ABS), mortgage-backed securities (MBS), Credit Default Swaps (CDS) or in summary: ‘a diversified portfolio managed by external experts’.

Bausch recommended his readers “to study this document in full” and noted that it had already been critically discussed in the earlier January posting on the Kluwer Patent Blog. He shared the concerns expressed by the previous contributor and opined that “the experiences of Harvard University and others in 2008/2009 should be a lesson to all of us.”

“Mr Battistelli’s proposal to invest the EPO’s whopping cash surplus of around € 2.3 billion in the newly established “treasury investment fund” was also approved by a large majority of the delegations with only one vote against by the German delegation.”If Dr. Bausch was looking for cautionary tales in such matters he need not have ventured so far afield across the Atlantic to Harvard.

A quick glance over the Franco-German border into the political “backyard” of the Deputy Mayor for culture in St. Germain-en-Laye would have been sufficient to alert readers to the risks of dabbling in the kinds of exotic and exciting “financial instruments” foreseen in the Emperor’s New Investment Guidelines.

We think that it could be instructive to have a closer look at the SIDRU “toxic loan” débâcle in St. Germain-en-Laye.

“We think that it could be instructive to have a closer look at the SIDRU “toxic loan” débâcle in St. Germain-en-Laye.”Our aim is to encourage a more critical approach on the part of all stakeholders including the general public to current attempts to (mis)use EPO funds for speculative gambling in the global casino of the international financial markets.

We hope that a careful and diligent study of the cautionary tale which follows will yield a “prudential” dividend for all those who make the effort to digest the details.

Saint-Germain’s Poisonous Legacy of “Toxic Loans”: Cautionary Tale for the EPO?

Wednesday 23rd of May 2018 02:46:47 AM

Summary: Preface or background to a series of posts about Battistelli’s French politics and why they can if not should alarm EPO workers

THE EPO keeps talking about the so-called “Inventor Award” — a ceremony which will take place in Battistelli’s theatre at the start of next month. The EPO mentions it about half a dozen times per day and a new puff piece has just been produced. This helps distract from the scam which is passage of EPO budget to Battistelli’s other employer, not to mention awarding literal scams. We wrote dozens of articles about that already.

“Over the coming days — starting today — we shall publish information not only about the toxic politics in Saint-Germain but also the toxic loans.”“We are in the process of finalising a rather long report on the above topic,” readers of Techrights said. There had been ongoing work whose aim was to highlight the relevance of local politics in Saint-Germain to the EPO itself. Those things aren’t entirely separable because, as has been proven over the years, Battistelli runs the EPO in a very political rather than technical/professional fashion. “For convenience,” said our readers, “we have broken it down into “five chunks” as it is probably too long and complex for a single posting.”

Over the coming days — starting today — we shall publish information not only about the toxic politics in Saint-Germain but also the toxic loans.

Links 22/5/2018: Parrot 4.0, Spectre Number 4

Tuesday 22nd of May 2018 07:14:24 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • Lenovo denies claims it chose Windows over Linux in second row over technology

      Lenovo Group has angrily denied claims it chose the popular Microsoft Windows system over a domestically-produced Linux operating system (OS) in a recent government procurement programme.

      The company branded the allegations as “slander” in a statement that follows an internet storm in China in recent weeks over the company’s decisions on domestic versus overseas technology.

      China’s largest personal computer (PC) maker insisted it had suggested using a domestically-produced Linux OS for both desktop and notebook PCs in a recent PC procurement meeting for suppliers organised by the Central Government Procurement Center, according to the company statement on Tuesday.

    • Lenovo denies on voting against preloading domestic operating systems: report

      Lenovo says the report about it voting against preloading domestic operating systems (O/S) are “deliberate slander,” and the company “strongly condemns” the rumor, according to a report by qq.com late Monday.

      Lenovo claimed the suggestion it made was to use a separately made domestic Linux system solution, including in desktops and notebooks, adding that the advice has been submitted.

      The company has always supported the development of domestic O/S, Lenovo said.

      The response came after domestic news site guancha.cn reported earlier the same day that four leading computer manufacturers including Lenovo voted against preloading domestic O/S in personal computers in a poll organized by a government purchasing center on May 16.

    • Linux app support coming to older Chrome OS devices

      Linux apps on Chrome OS is one of the biggest developments for the OS since Android apps. Previous reports stated Chromebooks with certain kernel versions would be left in the dust, but the Chrome OS developers have older devices on the roadmap, too.

      When Google first broke silence on Linux app functionality, it was understood that Linux kernel 4.4 was required to run apps due to dependencies on newer kernel modules. Thanks to an issue found on Chromium’s public bugtracker, we have confirmation that containers won’t be limited to the handful of Chrome OS devices released with kernel 4.4.

  • Kernel Space
    • Looking Ahead To The Linux 4.18 Kernel

      There still are several weeks to go until the Linux 4.17 kernel will be officially released and for that to initiate the Linux 4.18 merge window, but we already know some of the features coming to this next kernel cycle as well as an idea for some other work that may potentially land.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Plasma 5.12.5 bugfix update for Kubuntu 18.04 LTS – Testing help required

        Are you using Kubuntu 18.04, our current LTS release?

        We currently have the Plasma 5.12.5 LTS bugfix release available in our Updates PPA, but we would like to provide the important fixes and translations in this release to all users via updates in the main Ubuntu archive. This would also mean these updates would be provide by default with the 18.04.1 point release ISO expected in late July.

      • Revisiting my talk at FOSSASIA summit, 2018

        Earlier this year, I had the chance to speak about one of KDE community’s cool projects that is helpding developers erase the line between desktop and mobile/tablet UI’s with ease. I’m referring to the Kirigami UI framework – a set of QtQuick components targetted at the mobile as well as desktop platforms.

        This is particularly important to KDE and a lot of projects are now migrating towards a Kirigami UI, particularly keeping in mind the ability to run the applications on the Plasma Mobile.

      • This Week in KDE, Part 2 : OYLG, Workspace KCM, Single/Double Click

        Last weekend, I went to İstanbul to attend Özgür Yazılım ve Linux Günleri (Free Software and Linux Days 2018) to represent LibreOffice. We had 3 presentations during the event about LibreOffice Development and The Open Document Format. We had booth setup with stickers, flyers, roll-up etc. These were all thanks to The Document Foundation’s supports! You can find detailed information about the event from here : https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/Events/2018/OYLG2018

      • Watching the Detectives

        For instance, Kevin Ottens has been writing about understanding the KDE community by the “green blobs” method, showing who is active when. Lays Rodrigues has written about using Gource to show Plasma growing up. Nate Graham describes the goings-on in the KDE community nearly every week.

        Those are, roughly: a metric-, a visual-, and a story-based approach to understanding the community, over different timescales. But understanding of a system doesn’t come from a single dimension, from a single axis of measurement. It comes from mixing up the different views to look the system as a whole.

      • Managing cooking recipes

        I like to cook. And sometimes store my recipes. Over the years I have tried KRecipes, kept my recipes in BasKet notes, in KJots notes, in more or less random word processor documents.

        I liked the free form entering recipes in various notes applications and word processor documents, but I lacked some kind of indexing them. What I wanted was free-ish text for writing recipes, and some thing that could help me find them by tags I give them. By Title. By how I organize them. And maybe by Ingredient if I don’t know how to get rid of the soon-to-be-bad in my refridgerator.

      • KDAB at Qt Contributor’s Summit 2018, Oslo

        KDAB is a major sponsor of this event and a key independent contributor to Qt as our blogs attest.

        Every year, dedicated Qt contributors gather at Qt Contributors’ Summit to share with their peers latest knowledge and best practices, ensuring that the Qt framework stays at the top of its game. Be a Contributor to Qt!

      • Krita 2018 Sprint Report

        This weekend, Krita developers and artists from all around the world came to the sleepy provincial town of Deventer to buy cheese — er, I mean, to discuss all things Krita related and do some good, hard work! After all, the best cheese shop in the Netherlands is located in Deventer. As are the Krita Foundation headquarters! We started on Thursday, and today the last people are leaving.

      • Back from Krita Sprint 2018

        Yesterday I came back from 3,5 days of Krita Sprint in Deventer. Even if nowadays I have less time for Krita with my work on GCompris, I’m always following what is happening and keep helping where I can, especially on icons, and a few other selected topics. And it’s always very nice to meet my old friends from the team, and the new ones!

      • GSoC 2018 Week #1 with KDE

        There were quite some implementations out of the pre-plans and were huge. They got me very nervous at first. Such changes meant big updation in the code base and lots of time to have everything in place and with no warnings/errors ( well I can’t say much about bugs :p as they always arise in some cases which I or others haven’t tried, but hopefully they will be much less ).

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
  • Distributions
    • New Releases
      • Bodhi Linux 5.0 Enters Development Based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, First Alpha Is Out

        Now that Canonical released Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver), more and more Ubuntu-based GNU/Linux distributions would want to upgrade to it for their next major releases, including Bodhi Linux with the upcoming 5.0 series. The first Alpha is here today to give us a glimpse of what to expect from the final release.

        Besides being based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, the Bodhi Linux 5.0 operating system will be shipping with the forthcoming Moksha 0.3.0 desktop environment based on the Enlightenment window manager/desktop environment, and it’s powered by the Linux 4.9 kernel series. Also, it supports 32-bit PAE and non-PAE systems.

      • Emmabuntüs Debian Edition Linux Is Now Based on Debian GNU/Linux 9.4 “Stretch”

        Emmabuntüs Linux developer Patrick d’Emmabuntüs informs us today on the immediate availability for download of the Emmabuntüs Debian Edition 2 1.02 release.

        Emmabuntüs Debian Edition 2 1.02 is the second maintenance update to the Debian-based operating system used in schools and other educational institutions across the globe. It’s based on the latest Debian GNU/Linux 9.4 “Stretch” operating system and brings various updated components, as well as improvements like the ability to turn off the script that handles the screensaver images and support for automatically detecting and configuring printers.

    • Slackware Family
      • VLC rebuilt for -current, Chromium and Palemoon updated

        Browser updates: both Google Chromium (66.0.3359.181) and Palemoon (27.9.2) released new versions last week which I packaged for Slackware 14.2 and -current. The Palemoon update contains CVE-tagged security fixes. You are advised to upgrade.

    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • OSCAL’18 Debian, Ham, SDR and GSoC activities

        Debian has three Google Summer of Code students in Kosovo this year. Two of them, Enkelena and Diellza, were able to attend OSCAL. Albania is one of the few countries they can visit easily and OSCAL deserves special commendation for the fact that it brings otherwise isolated citizens of Kosovo into contact with an increasingly large delegation of foreign visitors who come back year after year.

      • Derivatives
        • Parrot 4.0 is out

          Parrot 4.0 has been released. Parrot is a security-oriented distribution aimed at penetration tests and digital forensics analysis, with additional tools to preserve privacy.

        • Parrot 4.0 release notes
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Don’t expect Ubuntu maker Canonical to IPO this year

            Canonical, the company best known for its Ubuntu Linux distribution, is on a path to an IPO. That’s something Canonical founder and CEO Mark Shuttleworth has been quite open about. But don’t expect that IPO to happen this year.

            “We did decide as a company — and that’s not just my decision — but we did decide that we want to have a commercial focus,” Shuttleworth told me during an interview at the OpenStack Summit in Vancouver, Canada today. “So we picked cloud and IoT as the areas to develop that. And being a public company, given that most of our customers are now global institutions, it makes for us also to be a global institution. I think it would be great for my team to be part of a public company. It would be a lot of work, but we are not shy of work.”

            Unsurprisingly, Shuttleworth didn’t want to talk about the exact timeline for the IPO, though. “We will do the right thing at the right time,” he said. That right time is not this year, though. “No, there is a process that you have to go through and that takes time. We know what we need to hit in terms of revenue and growth and we’re on track.”

          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 528

            Welcome to the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter, Issue 528 for the week of May 13 – 19, 2018.

          • Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver – Canonical giveth, Canonical taketh

            This review focuses on Ubuntu with Gnome 3 – and so I will leave my findings with the Unity desktop separate, except a single sentence: Unity is the desktop environment that 18.04 should have had, and everything else is a fallout consequence of that. So yes, Ubuntu Bionic Beaver is okay. But that’s like saying paying mortgage for the rest of your life and then dying unceremoniously is okay. It’s not okay. Mediocre has never been anything to strive for. EVER.

            Ubuntu Beaver does a few things well – and with some updates, it’s also polished up some of them early turds, as I’ve outlined in the Kubuntu review; hint, the same is ALSO happening in Kubuntu, and we may have a presentable offering soon. Yes to media, phones, app stack, package management. But then, the network side of things should be better, resource utilization should be better, the desktop should be more usable for ordinary humans. It’s ridiculous that you NEED extensions to use Gnome 3, in addition to all the hacks Canonical introduced to make the system usable. So yes, if you wanna be mediocre go for it. 7/10. If not, wait for Kubuntu or MATE to get its game together, or stick Unity onto 18.04. More to follow soon.

          • Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth takes aim at VMware and Red Hat at OpenStack Summit

            “Google, IBM, Microsoft [are] all investing and innovating to drive down the cost of infrastructure. Every single one of those companies engages with Canonical to deliver public services,” he said.

            “Not one of them engages with VMware to offer those public services – they can’t afford to. Clearly they have the cash, but they have to compete – and so does your private cloud.”

            To capitalise on this trend, the firm is in the throes of rolling out a migration service to help users shift from VMware to a “fully managed” version of Canonical’s Ubuntu OpenStack distribution, which Shuttleworth said costs half as much to run.

            “When we take out VMware, and displace VMware, we are regularly told that a fully managed OpenStack solution costs half of the equivalent VMware estate [to run],” he added.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Open Source Storage: 64 Applications for Data Storage

    As data storage needs continue to grow and many organizations move toward software-defined infrastructure, more enterprises are using open source software to meet some of their storage needs. Projects like Hadoop, Ceph, Gluster and others have become very common at large enterprises.

    Home users and small businesses can also benefit from open source storage software. These applications can make it possible to set up your own NAS or SAN device using industry-standard hardware without paying the high prices vendors charge for dedicated storage appliances. Open source software also offers users the option to set up a cloud storage solution where they have control over security and privacy, and it can also offer affordable options for backup and recovery.

  • OpenStack Moves Beyond the Cloud to Open Infrastructure

    The OpenStack Summit got underway on May 21, with a strong emphasis on the broader open-source cloud community beyond just the OpenStack cloud platform itself.

    At the summit, the OpenStack Foundation announced that it was making its open-source Zuul continuous development, continuous integration (CI/CD) technology a new top level standalone project. Zuul has been the underlying DevOps CI/CD system that has been used for the past six years, to develop and test the OpenStack cloud platform.

  • OpenStack makes Zuul continuous delivery tool its second indie project

    The OpenStack Foundation has launched its Zuul continuous delivery and integration tool as a discrete project.

    Zuul is therefore Foundation’s second project other than OpenStack itself. The first was Kata Containers. Making Zuul a standalone effort therefore advance’s the Foundation’s ambition to become a bit like the Linux and Apache Foundations, by nurturing multiple open source projects.

  • OpenStack spins out its Zuul open source CI/CD platform

    There are few open-source projects as complex as OpenStack, which essentially provides large companies with all the tools to run the equivalent of the core AWS services in their own data centers. To build OpenStack’s various systems the team also had to develop some of its own DevOps tools, and, in 2012, that meant developing Zuul, an open-source continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) platform. Now, with the release of Zuul v3, the team decided to decouple Zuul from OpenStack and run it as an independent project. It’s not quite leaving the OpenStack ecosystem, though, as it will still be hosted by the OpenStack Foundation.

  • Nextcloud 13: How to Get Started and Why You Should

    In its simplest form, the Nextcloud server is “just” a personal, free software alternative to services like Dropbox or iCloud. You can set it up so your files are always accessible via the internet, from wherever you are, and share them with your friends. However, Nextcloud can do so much more.

    In this article, I first describe what the Nextcloud server is and how to install and set it up on GNU/Linux systems. Then I explain how to configure the optional Nextcloud features, which may be the first steps toward making Nextcloud the shell of a complete replacement for many proprietary platforms existing today, such as Dropbox, Facebook and Skype.

  • Why use Puppet for automation and orchestration

    Puppet the company bills Puppet the automation tool as the de facto standard for automating the delivery and ongoing operation of hybrid infrastructure. That was certainly true at one time: Puppet not only goes back to 2005, but also currently claims 40,000 organizations worldwide as users, including 75 percent of the Fortune 100. While Puppet is still a very strong product and has increased its speed and capabilities over the years, its competitors, in particular Chef, have narrowed the gap.

    As you might expect from the doyenne of the IT automation space, Puppet has a very large collection of modules, and covers the gamut from CI/CD to cloud-native infrastructure, though much of that functionality is provided through additional products. While Puppet is primarily a model-based system with agents, it supports push operations with Puppet Tasks. Puppet Enterprise is even available as a service on Amazon.

  • Events
  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Mozilla uncovers ‘new conceptual framework’ for open source

        A report has been generated which claims to offers ‘a new conceptual framework’ of open source project archetypes.

        This research cover aspects of open source spanning business objectives, licensing, community standards, component coupling and project governance.

        It also contains some practical advice on how to use the framework (it actually is a working framework) and on how to set up projects.

      • Qt for WebAssembly – check out the examples!

        WebAssembly is now supported by all major web browsers as a binary format for allowing sand-boxed executable code in web pages that is nearly as fast as native machine code. Qt for WebAssembly makes it possible to run Qt applications on many web browsers without any download steps or special server requirements (other than serving the wasm file).

        To give you a closer look, we compiled some demos. For best performance, use Firefox.

      • Redeploying Taskcluster: Hosted vs. Shipped Software

        The Taskcluster team’s work on redeployability means switching from a hosted service to a shipped application.

        A hosted service is one where the authors of the software are also running the main instance of that software. Examples include Github, Facebook, and Mozillians. By contrast, a shipped application is deployed multiple times by people unrelated to the software’s authors. Examples of shipped applications include Gitlab, Joomla, and the Rust toolchain. And, of course, Firefox!

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • Funding
    • City student emerges winner in Google contest

      Abishek, who lives in Panangad, was among the 1,000-odd students roped in by FOSSASIA, an organisation from Asia engaged in developing open source software, as part of the contest. He was asked to complete 93 coding tasks in 49 days between November and January this year.

    • Open source startup Tidelift snags $15 mln Series A

      Boston-based Tidelift, an open source startup, has secured $15 million in Series A funding. General Catalyst, Foundry Group and former Red Hat Chairman and CEO Matthew Szulik led the round. In conjunction with the funding, Larry Bohn, managing director at General Catalyst, Ryan McIntyre, co-founder and managing director at Foundry Group and Szulik have all joined Tidelift’s board of directors.

    • Tidelift raises $15M to find paying gigs for open-source developers maintaining key projects

      Tidelift wants to give open-source developers a way to earn some money for contributing to important open-source projects and while helping the companies that are using those projects in key parts of their business, and it just raised $15 million to build those connections.

      General Catalyst, Foundry Group, and former Red Hat CEO Matthew Szulik co-led the Series A founding round into the Boston-based startup, the first time the 17-person company has taken financing, said Donald Fischer, co-founder and CEO of Tidelift. The other co-founders — Havoc Pennington, Jeremy Katz, and Luis Villa — share a wealth of open-source experience across companies like Red Hat and organizations like The Wikimedia Foundation and the Mozilla Foundation.

    • Tidelift Raises $15M Series A To Make Open Source Work Better–For Everyone
  • BSD
    • DragonFlyBSD 5.3 Works Towards Performance Improvements

      Given that DragonFlyBSD recently landed some SMP performance improvements and other performance optimizations in its kernel for 5.3-DEVELOPMENT but as well finished tidying up its Spectre mitigation, this weekend I spent some time running some benchmarks on DragonFlyBSD 5.2 and 5.3-DEVELOPMENT to see how the performance has shifted for an Intel Xeon system.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
  • Licensing/Legal
    • VMware Announces OpenStack 5, Tesla Releases Some Source Code, KDE’s Plasma 5.13 Beta and More

      Tesla has released some of the source code for its in-car tech. Engadget reports that the company “has posted the source code for both the material that builds the Autopilot system image as well as the kernels for the Autopilot boards and the NVIDIA Tegra-based infotainment system used in the Model S and Model X.”

    • Tesla inches toward GPL compliance in low gear: Source code forcibly ejected into public

      Following five years of hectoring, Tesla has released a portion of the open-source code it’s obligated to provide under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL).

      Since 2013, the Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC), responding to complaints of GPL violations related to software in the Tesla Model S, has pressed the carmaker to comply with the terms of the GPL.

      The SFC provides legal support to open source projects. In theory, Tesla could be sued for flouting the GPL, but even the SFC, which backed the controversial GPL claim against VMware, prefers resolving compliance issues outside of court.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Phase Genomics and Pacific Biosciences Announce the Release of Co-Developed Genome Assembly Phasing Software – ‘FALCON-Phase’

      FALCON-Phase is available as open source to scientists and also as a service through Phase Genomics. Scientists can utilize the new software to advance their current research and even revive historic genome projects with the addition of Hi-C data.

    • Open Data
      • Mapping Palestine Before Israel

        During the founding of the state, the Israeli military destroyed more than 500 Palestinian villages; some were completely abandoned, while others became the foundation for Jewish villages and towns. Some villages survived. A new open-source mapping project, Palestine Open Maps, allows users to see the Palestinian landscape as it looked before 1948—and to search for villages and towns from that era to find out whether they remain, were depopulated, or were built over.

        [...]

        The maps’ level of detail is exceptional, showing roads, topographic features, and property boundaries. The team’s next task: to make the maps downloadable.

        [...]

        In the decades since 1948, what Palestinians call the nakba (“catastrophe”) remains a matter of debate between the sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For Barclay, an aim of the mapping project is to clarify at least one part of this debate: the land itself, and what was once there. “Putting the villages on screen that were destroyed, depopulated, and built over in the form of these maps makes what happened irrefutable,” he said. He also noted the irony of using the maps of the former colonizer for such a project. “The British essentially drew these maps as part of their control of Palestine,” he said. “But the maps unintentionally captured the moment before the destruction occurred.”

Leftovers
  • Science
  • Hardware
  • Health/Nutrition
    • World Health Assembly Begins Discussion On Access To Medicines

      On the second day of this week’s annual World Health Assembly, delegates began discussing the issue of “shortages of, and access to, medicines and vaccines.” It is generally held that access to safe, efficacious, and affordable medicines is of paramount importance to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, but there seems to be no expeditious solution, and no lack of divergent views on how to get there.

    • Global Antimicrobial Resistance R&D Hub Launched At Health Assembly

      According to a press release today from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, “the German Federal Government has led the establishment of the Global AMR R&D Hub: Under the German Presidency, the G20 Heads of State and Government resolved in the summer of 2017 to intensify global cooperation in the fight against AMR. The Federal Research Ministry subsequently proposed plans for the Global AMR R&D Hub and supported its establishment. Initially, the secretariat of the Global AMR R&D Hub will be based in Berlin, at the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF).”

      “We urgently need new drugs, particularly antibiotics, in the fight against infectious diseases in order to protect the health and lives of people around the world,” German Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek said in the release. “Resources need to be used more effectively in order to develop more new treatments, diagnostics and prevention measures for resistant pathogens. We will therefore strengthen and improve the coordination of our research on antimicrobial resistance at the national and international level.”

    • WHO Director Dr Tedros Opens First Annual World Health Assembly With ‘Keys For Success’

      According to Tedros, the eradication of smallpox stands as one of the greatest achievement in the history of the WHO but also in the history of medicine. This victory shows “what WHO is capable of,” he said, adding that it could change the course of history, with partners.

    • Global Influenza Initiative Celebrates 10 Years, Adds Former WHO Official

      As the annual World Health Assembly opened today, a global initiative for sharing influenza genetic data celebrated its tenth anniversary and announced new senior advisors for international affairs and biosecurity issues, one of which is Marie-Paule Kieny, former World Health Organization Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Innovation.

  • Security
    • Google and Microsoft disclose new CPU flaw, and the fix can slow machines down

      Microsoft and Google are jointly disclosing a new CPU security vulnerability that’s similar to the Meltdown and Spectre flaws that were revealed earlier this year. Labelled Speculative Store Bypass (variant 4), the latest vulnerability is a similar exploit to Spectre and exploits speculative execution that modern CPUs use. Browsers like Safari, Edge, and Chrome were all patched for Meltdown earlier this year, and Intel says “these mitigations are also applicable to variant 4 and available for consumers to use today.”

      However, unlike Meltdown (and more similar to Spectre) this new vulnerability will also include firmware updates for CPUs that could affect performance. Intel has already delivered microcode updates for Speculative Store Bypass in beta form to OEMs, and the company expects them to be more broadly available in the coming weeks. The firmware updates will set the Speculative Store Bypass protection to off-by-default, ensuring that most people won’t see negative performance impacts.

    • Spectre variants 3a and 4

      Intel has, finally, disclosed two more Spectre variants, called 3a and 4. The first (“rogue system register read”) allows system-configuration registers to be read speculatively, while the second (“speculative store bypass”) could enable speculative reads to data after a store operation has been speculatively ignored. Some more information on variant 4 can be found in the Project Zero bug tracker. The fix is to install microcode updates, which are not yet available.

    • Red Hat Says It’ll Soon Fix the Speculative Store Bypass Security Vulnerability

      Red Hat informed us today that they are aware of the recently disclosed Speculative Store Bypass (CVE-2018-3639) security vulnerability and will soon release updates to mitigate the issue on all of its affected products.

      Speculative Store Bypass (CVE-2018-3639) is a security vulnerability recently unearthed by various security researchers from Google and Microsoft, and it appears to be a fourth variant of the Spectre hardware bug publicly disclosed earlier this year in modern microprocessor, and later discovered to affect billions of devices. The Speculative Store Bypass vulnerability appearently lets an unprivileged attacker to bypass restrictions and gain read access to privileged memory.

    • Spectre chip security vulnerability strikes again; patches incoming

      After the first-wave of Spectre and Meltdown attacks were conquered, people relaxed. That was a mistake.

      Since the CPU vulnerabilities Spectre and Meltdown showed an entirely new way to attack systems, security experts knew it was only a matter of time until new assault methods would be found.

      They’ve been found.

    • Spectre Variants 3A & 4 Exposed As Latest Speculative Execution Vulnerabilities
    • Speculative Store Bypass explained: what it is, how it works
    • After Meltdown and Spectre, Another Scary Chip Flaw Emerges

      At the same time, though, a larger concern was also looming: Spectre and Meltdown represented a whole new class of attack, and researchers anticipated they would eventually discover other, similar flaws. Now, one has arrived.

    • 22 essential security commands for Linux

      There are many aspects to security on Linux systems – from setting up accounts to ensuring that legitimate users have no more privilege than they need to do their jobs. This is look at some of the most essential security commands for day-to-day work on Linux systems.

    • CVE-2018-3639: Spectre Variant 4 Vulnerability Affects the Linux Kernel

      A Spectre variant 4 vulnerability has been identified in the Linux kernel and represents a very dangerous threat to all affected machines. All system administrators are urged to apply the latest updates as soon as possible to mitigate any possible impact.

    • Spectre Number 4, STEP RIGHT UP!

      In the continuing saga of Meltdown and Spectre (tl;dr: G4/7400, G3 and likely earlier 60x PowerPCs don’t seem vulnerable at all; G4/7450 and G5 are so far affected by Spectre while Meltdown has not been confirmed, but IBM documentation implies “big” POWER4 and up are vulnerable to both) is now Spectre variant 4. In this variant, the fundamental issue of getting the CPU to speculatively execute code it mistakenly predicts will be executed and observing the effects on cache timing is still present, but here the trick has to do with executing a downstream memory load operation speculatively before other store operations that the load does not depend on. If the CPU is convinced to speculatively execute down this victim path incorrectly, it will revert the stores and the register load when the mispredict is discovered, but the loaded address will remain in the L1 cache and be observable through means similar to those in other Spectre-type attacks.

    • Email Might Be Impossible To Encrypt
    • Email Is Dangerous

      One week ago, a group of European security researchers warned that two obscure encryption schemes for email were deeply broken. Those schemes, called OpenPGP and S/MIME, are not the kinds of technologies you’re using but don’t know it. They are not part of the invisible and vital internet infrastructure we all rely on.

      This isn’t that kind of story.

      The exploit, called Efail by the researchers who released it, showed that encrypted (and therefore private and secure) email is not only hard to do, but might be impossible in any practical way, because of what email is at its core. But contained in the story of why these standards failed is the story of why email itself is the main way we get hacked, robbed, and violated online. The story of email is also the story of how we lost so much of our privacy, and how we might regain it.

    • Real Security Begins At Home (On Your Smartphone)

      When the FBI sued Apple a couple of years ago to compel Apple’s help in cracking an iPhone 5c belonging to alleged terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook, the lines seemed clearly drawn. On the one hand, the U.S. government was asserting its right (under an 18th-century statutory provision called the All Writs Act) to force Apple to develop and implement technologies enabling the Bureau to gather all the evidence that might possibly be relevant in the San Bernardino terrorist-attack case. On the other, a leading tech company challenged the demand that it help crack the digital-security technologies it had painstakingly developed to protect users — a particularly pressing concern given that these days we often have more personal information on our handheld devices than we used to keep in our entire homes.

    • Software fault triggered Telstra mobile network outage

      The blackout was the third in May, with an outage to its triple-zero service occurring on 4 May after a cable between Bowral and Orange in NSW was cut due to lightning. On 1 May, the telco suffered an outage of its NBN services and 4G services.

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Red Hat responds to Speculative Store Bypass and helps explain Variant 4 chip vulnerability
    • Microsoft, Google: We’ve found a fourth data-leaking Meltdown-Spectre CPU hole
    • Google and Microsoft Reveal New Spectre Attack
  • Defence/Aggression
    • This Article From 1985 Predicted Deadly Force by Police Would Be ‘Nonexistent’ in the Future

      When you imagine the American police officer of the future, what do you see? In the 1980s, one police officer saw “supercops”—a highly trained force of professionals who had the most high-tech toys at their disposal and almost never killed people.

      James R. Metts wrote an article for the October 1985 issue of The Futurist magazine about these “supercops” of the future. The piece is part utopian fantasy (jetpacks!) and part dystopian nightmare (surveillance!), but it’s also a fascinating look into what some people thought cops would look like in the future—just two years before the original RoboCop would hit theaters.

    • The U.S. Considered Declaring Russia a State Sponsor of Terror, Then Dropped It

      The attempt to kill a former Russian spy in England bore an ominous signature: The assailants used a lethal nerve agent of a type developed in the Soviet Union, and British investigators quickly concluded that only the Kremlin could have carried out such a sophisticated hit.

      Soon after the March attack, Rex Tillerson, then the U.S. secretary of state, ordered State Department officials to outline the case for designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism under U.S. law. Experts in the department’s Bureau of Counterterrorism began to assemble what they thought was a strong case.

      But almost as quickly as the review began — within about two days — the secretary of state’s office sent new instructions to drop the initiative, according to State Department officials familiar with the episode.

    • 2,000 years ago in Denmark, a fierce battle left dozens dead

      Months after the battle, people ritually damaged remains and put them under water.

    • Russia downs drone near military base in Syria

      The Russian military sais on Monday it shot down an unidentified drone approaching the Russian Hmeimim air base in Syria’s Latakia province.

      A statement carried on Monday by Russian news agencies reported that there were no casualties or damage to the base.

      The Hmeimim air base serves as the main hub for Russian operations in Syria.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Australian workers and youth defend Julian Assange

      Over the past week, the imperialist-led campaign against WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange has intensified. The Guardian, acting as a mouthpiece of the intelligence agencies, has published a stream of articles aimed at providing the pretext for Assange to be expelled from Ecuador’s London embassy, where he was granted political asylum almost six years ago, and forced into the hands of the British and US authorities.

      [...]

      The sentiments of ordinary people stand in stark contrast to the venomous hostility to Assange on the part of governments and the corporate media. On Sunday, the Socialist Equality Party held a successful public meeting in Brisbane, concluding a national series titled “Organise Resistance to Internet Censorship, Free Julian Assange.” The Brisbane meeting, like previous events in Sydney, Melbourne and Newcastle, was attended by workers, retirees, students and WikiLeaks supporters.

    • For Ecuador, Currying Favor with Washington is as Simple as Sacrificing Julian Assange

      For all practical purposes, whistleblower and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is now a prisoner in asylum at the Embassy of Ecuador in London, facing the torture of near-total isolation from the outside world and hanging by the thread of the Andean state’s dwindling hospitality.

      On Thursday, the Australian – who, strangely enough, was given Ecuadorian citizenship last December – faced a new layer of precariousness atop his six-year refuge, when Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno ordered that additional security assigned to the building be withdrawn.

    • Assange looks to be one step closer to eviction from embassy

      After half a decade of stagnation, the story of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and his endless stay at the Ecuadorian embassy in London may be moving into high gear. It was only a week ago when we learned that his hosts were talking about either trying to sneak him out of the country to Russia or simply telling him to pack his things and walk out the door. They were also complaining about his grubby living conditions and describing him as being a “threat” to embassy personnel. Now, in yet another signal that it may be time to go, Ecuador has fully withdrawn Assange’s special security detail who had been protecting him. (Reuters)

    • Assange Team Lawyer: It’s Important That Ecuador Maintains Independence From US

      Former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa has blasted the country’s government for depriving WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of access to the outside world. Meanwhile Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Maria Espinosa stated that she and the UK share the intention to solve the issue. Sputnik spoke with Greg Barns, a member of Julian Assange’s legal team.

    • Judge admonishes ex-CIA worker over protective order

      A federal judge has sternly reminded a former CIA employee who may face charges connected to a leak at the agency that he can’t discuss sensitive material covered by a protective order with anyone other than his attorney.

      U.S. District Judge Paul A. Crotty spoke to 29-year-old Joshua Schulte on Monday at prosecutors’ request.

    • Accused CIA leaker must keep quiet about case, judge says

      Prosecutors said in Manhattan Federal Court that the terms of a September 2017 protective order regarding the case of Joshua Schulte, 29, had been broken by recent articles revealing he is under investigation for leaking the closely guarded cyber tools.

    • Alleged CIA leaker accused of sending press info about case

      A former CIA software engineer suspected of leaking classified documents to Wikileaks is also leaking information about his case to the press, it emerged in Manhattan federal court on Monday.

    • Suspect identified in CIA ‘Vault 7’ leak, that revealed iOS-Mac exploits

      U.S. Authorities have identified a major suspect in the so-called “Vault 7” leak that has released a huge cache of information detailing the Central Intelligence Agency’s cyber-tools, including software exploits targeting iPhone and Mac devices.

    • Courts Says CIA Can Dump Classified Info To Members Of The Public And Still Deny They’ve Been Publicly Released

      Journalist Adam Johnson’s FOIA lawsuit against the CIA has been brought to a halt. Johnson sued the CIA for refusing to release classified documents it had previously voluntarily “leaked” to selected journalists. The CIA argued the documents were still classified and not subject to FOIA requests. Johnson argued the CIA had already released the documents to the public when it decided to release this classified info to journalists.

      Back in February, it appeared the court was on Johnson’s side. Responding to the government’s motion to dismiss, the court pointed out the CIA couldn’t waive FOIA exemptions when dumping docs to journalists and then seek to use them when other journalists asked for the same info.

  • Finance
    • Rupert Murdoch Believes In The Free Market… Until His Company Is Struggling: Then He Wants To Regulate Competitors

      Yes, Rupert Murdoch believes this right up until his own companies have trouble adapting and competing. Then he goes running to government to regulate those companies who are actually succeeding.

      There may be reasonable arguments for certain kinds of regulations. But Murdoch’s only reason for calling for regulations of internet companies — after whining about socialism and talking up free markets — is pretty blatantly an attempt to whine for a handout for his own businesses that have failed to adapt to changing times.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Twitter bots may have affected voters on Brexit, U.S. presidential race: study

      “Overall, our results suggest that the aggressive use of Twitter bots, coupled with the fragmentation of social media and the role of sentiment, could contribute to the vote outcomes,” wrote the authors of the paper, researchers at the University of California at Berkeley and the United Kingdom’s Swansea University.

    • Twitter Bots May Have Boosted Donald Trump’s Votes by 3.23%, Researchers Say

      Automated tweeting played a small but potentially decisive role in the 2016 Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s presidential victory, the National Bureau of Economic Research working paper showed this month. Their rough calculations suggest bots added 1.76 percentage point to the pro-“leave” vote share as Britain weighed whether to remain in the European Union, and may explain 3.23 percentage points of the actual vote for Trump in the U.S. presidential race.

    • “Just be fair”: when does journalism undermine its own reputation?
    • Media Ignore Government Influence on Facebook’s Plan to Fight Government Influence

      Facebook announced Thursday it was partnering with DC think tank the Atlantic Council to “monitor for misinformation and foreign interference.” The details of the plan are vague, but Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab wrote in a non-bylined Medium post (5/17/18) that the goal was to design tools “to bring us closer together” instead of “driving us further apart.” Whatever that means, exactly.

      Behind its generic-sounding name and “nonpartisan” label, the Atlantic Council is associated with very particular interests. It’s funded by the US Department of State and the US Navy, Army and Air Force, along with NATO, various foreign powers and major Western corporations, including weapons contractors and oil companies. The Atlantic Council is dead center in what former President Obama’s deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes called “the blob”—Washington’s bipartisan foreign-policy consensus. While there is some diversity of opinion within the Atlantic Council, it is within a very limited pro-Western ideological framework—a framework that debates how much and where US military and soft power influence should be wielded, not if it should in the first place.

    • Antifa or Antiwar: Leftist Exclusionism Against the Quest for Peace

      CounterPunch has astonished many of its old fans by its current fundraising ad portraying the site as a prime target of Russia hostility. Under the slogan, “We have all the right enemies”, CP portrays itself as a brave little crew being blown off the water by an evil Russian warship out to eliminate “lefty scum.”

      Ha Ha Ha, it’s all a joke of course. But it’s a joke that plays into the dangerous, current Russophobia promoted by Clintonite media, the deep state and the War Party. This is a reminder that Russophobia finds a variant in the writing of several prominent CounterPunch contributors.

      Yes, CounterPunch continues to publish many good articles, but appears also to be paying its tribute to the establishment narrative.

      Put on the defensive by the “fake news” assault against independent media, CP senior editor Jeffrey St Clair seemed to be shaken by Washington Post allegations that he had published articles by a “Russian troll” named Alice Donovan. St Clair never publicly questioned the FBI claim that the ephemeral plagiarist worked for the Kremlin, when she could as well have been planted by the FBI itself or some other agency, precisely in order to embarrass and intimidate the independent website.

    • Why Are So Many Democrats Afraid of Impeachment?

      Party leaders need to make clear that impeachment is always valid when there is evidence of presidential wrongdoing, cover-ups, and corruption of justice.

    • Virtually Everything the Government Did to WikiLeaks is Now Being Done to Mainstream US Reporters

      At Freedom of the Press Foundation, we believe it’s vital to defend WikiLeaks’ right to gather and publish classified information in the public interest, just as it’s vital to protect the rights of Associated Press and Fox News to do the same. Under the law, the AP, Fox News, and WikiLeaks are no different (a fact that even the government argues). If one falls, the others will not be far behind.

      Despite this fact, many journalists and mainstream media organizations purposefully stayed silent when WikiLeaks first came under attack by the Justice Department in early 2011. That disappointing silence left open the possibility that the Justice Department could use those same tactics against others in the future.

      And unfortunately now it’s clear: virtually every move made by the Justice Department against WikiLeaks has now also been deployed on mainstream US journalists.

    • Philip Cross Madness Part IV

      Mike Barson, keyboard player of the great ska group Madness, had his Wikipedia entry amended by “Philip Cross” to delete his membership of Momentum and interview with The Canary.

      [...]

      A number of people have opined in reply to my posts that the time spent to make all of Cross’s daily edits, as per the number of keystrokes, is not great. That ignores the colossal effort that goes into research and above all monitoring of Wikipedia by the “Philip Cross” operation.

      Finally, this is an excellent example of the bias of Wikipedia. The information about Barson is totally true. He is a proud member of Momentum. It is also quite interesting and an important bit of his life. But according to Wikipedia’s pro-MSM rules, “Philip Cross” can indeed delete it because the information is not from an MSM source. In the unlikely event of the Times or Telegraph ever writing about Barson’s Momentum membership, it would of course be in a hos

  • Censorship/Free Speech
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Progressive groups launch petition for government to break up Facebook

      The groups, which include the Content Creators Coalition, Demand Progress and the Open Markets Institute, are urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to force Facebook to do three things: spin off its subsidiaries like Instagram and WhatsApp into separate companies, make it possible to communicate across third-party social media platforms and strengthen its privacy rules.

    • The most significant UK data breaches

      With only months until GDPR comes into effect in May 2018, high-profile breaches are still occurring. Here are some of the more significant from UK organisations.

    • Cookies That Go the Other Way

      The original cookie allowed the server to remember the client when it showed up again. Later the cookie would remember other stuff: for example, that the client was a known customer with a shopping cart.

      Cookies also came to remember fancier things, such as that a client has agreed to the server’s terms of use.

      In the last decade, cookies also arrived from third parties, some for site analytics but mostly so clients could be spied on as they went about their business elsewhere on the web. The original purpose was so those clients could be given “relevant” and “interest-based” advertising. What matters is that it was still spying and a breach of personal privacy, no matter how well its perpetrators rationalize it. Simply put, websites and advertisers’ interests end at a browser’s front door. (Bonus link: The Castle Doctrine.)

      Thanks to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into full force this Friday, that kind of spying is starting to look illegal. (Though loopholes will be found.) Since there is a world of fear about that, 99.x% of GDPR coverage is about how the new regulation affects the sites and services, and what they can do to avoid risking massive fines for doing what many (or most) of them shouldn’t have been doing in the first place.

    • Microsoft makes inroads with U.S. spy agencies [iophk: "now Russia, China, and others have easiest access to the 17 agencies data"]

      Microsoft has secured a potentially lucrative agreement that makes the full suite of the tech giant’s cloud-computing platform available to 17 U.S. intelligence agencies, executives said recently, moving agencies’ computer systems onto Office 365 applications and adding certain cloud-based applications not previously available to them.

    • The backlash that never happened: New data shows people actually increased their Facebook usage after the Cambridge Analytica scandal
    • Chinese school uses facial recognition to check if pupils aren’t concentrating
    • Acer becomes first PC maker to bring Alexa to laptops

      Acer first revealed its plans to bring Amazon’s easily-fooled AI assistant to its hardware line-up back in January, and news of the impending rollout comes just days after rival PC maker HP showed off the first all-in-one to come with Alexa smarts baked-in.

      The Acer Spin 5 line of convertibles, which come kitted out with four-microphone arrays for far-field voice detection, will be the first in line to receive the software update on 23 May, with the gaming-focused Nitro 5 Spin set to offer Alexa when it goes on sale next month.

    • Google has almost completely expunged ‘don’t be evil’ from its Code of Conduct

      Alphabet, the shell company created to house Google and other unrelated projects such as Waymo, never used the phrase, though they have something similar, but Google has always stuck to the idea that not being evil is worth mentioning. Heck, it’s even been the wifi password for shuttles to Google Campus.

    • Google Duplex will warn anyone it calls that they are being recorded

      Duplex calls will need to be recorded so they can be sent to the cloud for parsing. The other solution would be an on-device AI chip that would be much slower although Amazon is said to be looking at one as an accelerator for Echo devices.

    • Google’s Duplex AI Robot Will Warn That Calls Are Recorded

      On Thursday, the Alphabet Inc. unit shared more details on how the Duplex robot-calling feature will operate when it’s released publicly, according to people familiar with the discussion. Duplex is an extension of the company’s voice-based digital assistant that automatically phones local businesses and speaks with workers there to book appointments.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • UK gov will have fresh [I]nternet safety laws ready in a ‘couple of years’

      But you’d be wrong. The Department got Digital, Culture, Media & Sport will work with the Home Office and other government departments and industry to knock out a white paper later this year that’ll set out legislation to be brought forward to tackle [I]nternet nastiness.

    • Predatory behavior runs rampant in Facebook’s addiction support groups

      After the call, Couch was surprised to find that she could not log back in to Affected by Addiction. In fact, she came to realize, she’d been banned. The experience left her feeling paranoid, like she couldn’t trust anyone. She warned her son to be careful about support groups.

    • The Pointless “Security” At Airports Stops Everyone But The Criminals

      # warning: references the Fail

      This is the antithesis of security and means that we are actually more insecure than if we put all those TSA dollars into probable cause-based policing. No showy show show at the airport out of that, but it would actually keep us safer.

    • The effect of the new UK cybersecurity laws

      Interestingly, despite earlier indications, the UK government has moved away from applying the very high potential fines linked to percentage of turnover that the GDPR has. Instead, there is a sliding scale of fines depending on the severity of the contravention with the highest being £17 million for a material contravention which caused/could cause an immediate threat to life or significant adverse impact on the UK economy.

    • The Latest: Haspel jokes about rocky confirmation process

      Newly sworn-in CIA Director Gina Haspel says she wants to send more officers into the field, improve foreign language proficiency among the ranks and strengthen the agency’s working relationships with intelligence agencies in partner nations.

    • President Trump swears in new CIA Director Gina Haspel
    • Trump targets former CIA Director John Brennan, quoting a pundit on ‘Fox & Friends’
    • Here’s Why Donald Trump Is Criticizing Former CIA Director John Brennan
    • Trump lambastes a former CIA director ahead of installation of a new one
    • Group affected by CIA brainwashing experiments wants public apology, compensation from government

      A group of Canadians affected by CIA brainwashing experiments conducted at McGill University’s Allan Memorial Institute met for the first time on Sunday to start organizing for a public apology and compensation from the federal government through a possible class-action.

      Around 40 people gathered at a Montreal condo to share their stories, cry and support each other. The pain, many said, was palpable in the room.

      “The government should offer an apology and there should be recognition of the injustice that was done,” says Gina Blasbalg, who became a patient at the Allan in her teens in 1960, and drove with her husband from Richmond, B.C., to attend the weekend meeting.

      ​Survivors Allied Against Government Abuse (SAAGA), as the group calls itself, includes both victims and family members of people who were unwitting participants in brainwashing experiments conducted under the supervision of Dr. Ewen Cameron, director of the psychiatric hospital between 1943 and 1964.

    • China must stop pushing territorial claims, censorship on foreign firms

      China imposes its political assertions on foreign companies, and if they do not comply, it retaliates against them. China should end this excessive censorship, which hinders free economic activities by the private sector.

      The Chinese government has demanded Japanese, U.S. and other airlines describe Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao as part of China on their websites. They have also been directed to label Taiwan “Chinese Taiwan” and use the same color for Taiwan on their maps as the one for mainland China.

    • Chinese publishers are in uncharted territory as maps get left out of books

      New rules have made it so difficult for publishers to get maps of China past the censors that some are choosing to leave them out of books entirely.

      Three separate publishing sources have told the South China Morning Post that the process of getting them approved for publication is so difficult and costly, they’re even suggesting authors remove maps before they will go ahead with a book deal.

      While Beijing has always been fastidious about maps of China – particularly whether they include the nine-dash line showing its disputed claim in the South China Sea, and the self-ruled island of Taiwan – the censors are now also turning their attention to how the country is represented on maps of the world, and even historical maps.

    • China Now Leads the World — at Bullying

      China has made known that it wants to be the world’s premier power, and it already leads in one area: bullying. The latest example is GAP clothing retailer, which just issued a groveling apology to Beijing for releasing a t-shirt emblazoned with an “erroneous” map of China. The “error” was omitting Taiwan, parts of Tibet, and certain South China Sea islands — all places that Beijing fancies part of its territory.

      The kicker is that, apparently, the shirt wasn’t even being sold in China. In fact, it was photos of the garment taken in Canada’s Niagara region that attracted the Chinese attention after being circulated online. This reflects a little known phenomenon: Through economic bullying, China is influencing markets well beyond its borders.

    • Patriot or Double Agent? CIA Officer on Trial as U.S. Targets Spying by China

      To the U.S. government, Kevin Mallory was a man in desperate straits, with no income in his pocket but with information in his head useful to China, given his longtime work as a covert CIA officer who spoke Mandarin.

    • State TV Says Fishing Rods ‘Used To Communicate With CIA’

      Despite Iran’s Intelligence Ministry insisting there is no proof to suggest that the environmentalists who have been detained were involved in espionage against their homeland, their attorney sees no breakthrough in his clients’ situation.

      At least 13 environmentalists, charged with espionage for “enemies,” have been behind bars since January 24.

      The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) intelligence organization also detained more than 40 environmentalists, rangers, and their relatives on May 7 and 8 in Hormozgan Province, southern Iran.

    • South Carolina Legislature Repeals Racist ‘Disturbing School’ Law for Students

      In 2015, video surfaced of a police officer violently dragging a Black girl from her school desk. He was arresting her, and using shockingly excessive force, because she was “disturbing school,” a vague law that more or less made it a crime for a student to be loud, to talk back to staff or school police. In other words, it criminalized being a kid.

      Unsurprisingly, this law has disproportionately affected students of color, who are already over-policed outside the school walls, so we sued in August 2016. Last week, we scored a victory on behalf of all students who have been pulled into the maze of the state’s criminal justice system.

      On Thursday, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster signed an amendment repealing the crime of disturbing schools for students in the state of South Carolina. The importance of this law being signed cannot be understated. Its passage will eliminate a major source of the school-to-prison pipeline, which has caused grievous and lifelong harm to students across South Carolina.

    • Uncle Sam Is Helping Missouri Cops Steal From the State’s Public Education Fund

      When it comes to the practice of civil asset forfeiture, the state of Missouri has the right idea. State law mandates that 100 percent of proceeds from cash and property forfeitures that result in convictions be used to fund the state’s public schools. That’s a sound idea, but there’s one problem: It isn’t happening.

      In 2016, local law enforcement only sent $100,000 to public schools when it seized $6.3 million worth of property. And of that total, 44 percent went to the feds. What accounts for this discrepancy?

      Simple: Missouri law enforcement has conspired with the Department of Justice, in defiance of state law, to ensure that the cash goes into their coffers rather than to the school children of Missouri.

      In 2001, Missouri’s Civil Asset Forfeiture Act (CAFA) was amended in an effort to impede state and local law enforcement from policing for profit, a common practice in many states across the county whereby police are incentivized to seize property and pocket its cash value. CAFA aimed to ensure that upon a defendant’s conviction their seized property be handed off to the local county prosecutor who would “deposit the proceeds into the public education fund as required by the Missouri Constitution,” thereby curtailing law enforcement’s incentive to arbitrarily and pervasively seize, and then keep or cash in, property allegedly involved in a crime.

    • The CIA made a Magic: The Gathering-style card game for training agents, and we played it

      Last year during SXSW, the CIA revealed it designs elaborate tabletop games to train and test its employees and analysts. After receiving a Freedom of Information Act request, the CIA sent out censored information on three different games it uses with trainees — and thanks to Diegetic Games, an adapted version of one of them will soon be available to the public.

      CIA: Collect it All is based off a card game described in the documents as “Collection Deck,” which was designed by CIA Senior Collection Analyst David Clopper. Its play style is roughly based on Magic: The Gathering, and demonstrates how different intelligence tactics can be used to address political, economic, and military crises — and how the system often manages to screw it all up. If you want a copy of your own, there’s a funded Kickstarter campaign for it that ends on Tuesday that charges $29 for a set of physical cards or $10 for a print-and-play version.

    • It takes more than a makeover to make a woman

      Munroe Bergdorf is pushing a pretty sexist view of womanhood.

    • A Death in Slow Motion

      James “Lee” Lewis had waited years for a new heart, praying for the day he would be free of the mechanical pump doctors implanted in him in 2015. The device had extended his life after his heart began to fail, but he hated that its wires and the portable battery pack kept him tethered to land and off his fishing boat.

      [...]

      For the next three months, he remained connected to life-support machines, enduring nearly 20 follow-up surgeries and procedures, before dying on March 23. For many weeks, the hospital withheld key details about his care, the family said, including what went wrong in the operating room during his transplant.

      Along the way, his wife and daughter chronicled Lee’s downward spiral in matter-of-fact Facebook posts that belied their sadness and anger but sometimes hinted at their frustration with the transplant program. ProPublica and the Chronicle confirmed their account through a review of medical records, answers to written questions from the hospital and an interview with a physician involved in Lee’s care.

      Taken together, excerpts from their social media feeds show how loved ones coped after Lee’s transplant — his shot at deliverance — went seriously wrong.

    • An old CIA memo provides rare proof of abuses by Brazil’s dictatorship

      From 1964 to 1985, Brazil was ruled by a military dictatorship that tortured and murdered dissidents in the name of fending off communism. The generals who ran the country have long denied the use of such brutal tactics, but a newly unearthed CIA memo reveals that Brazil’s top leaders knew and approved of a policy to execute people seen as threatening to the regime.

      In the two decades after Brazil’s military overthrew a democratically elected government in 1964, researchers say, the regime committed numerous atrocities. Interrogators utilized electric shocks on victims, drilled nails into their hands and doused their extremities in alcohol before setting them on fire. Hundreds of people deemed a threat to the government died or disappeared.

    • MoD wants to maintain a register of AI experts
    • Military brainboxes ponder ‘UK needs you’ list of AI boffins
  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Verizon Begins ‘Testing’ DSL Usage Caps It Refuses To Call Usage Caps

      For years now broadband providers have used a lack of competition to impose all manner of obnoxious additional fees on the backs of broadband consumers. That includes arbitrary and obnoxious usage caps and overage charges, which not only raise rates on captive customers, but quite intentionally make using streaming video competitors more expensive and cumbersome. Once caps are in place, large ISPs often exempt their own content from usage caps while still penalizing streaming competitors (aka zero rating).

      ISPs used to claim that such limits were necessary to manage network congestion, but as that argument was increasingly debunked (caps don’t actually help manage congestion) they’ve shifted their justifications to more flimsy alternatives. These days, ISPs usually offer no justification at all, or issue vague declarations that they’re simply trying to help users “better understand their consumption habits.”

    • FCC will take public comments on Sinclair-Tribune merger
    • T-Mobile should stop claiming it has “Best Unlimited Network,” ad group says

      AT&T challenged T-Mobile’s ads to the National Advertising Division (NAD), which ruled that T-Mobile hasn’t substantiated its claim that it has the best wireless network.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Chinese company which raised $1.3 billion in IP-backed financing has Virginia factory site foreclosed

      It would appear that the recipient of the largest ever IP-backed loan has come full circle to cautionary tale.

      Tranlin Paper, based in China’s Shandong Province, borrowed well over a billion dollars from the China Development bank in 2014 on the strength of its IP portfolio. It planned to invest part of the sum in a US-based paper mill which promised to provide 2,000 jobs.

      On the US side at least, the deal appears to have gone pear-shaped. And in China as well, serious questions are being asked about Tranlin’s financial situation.

    • Examining the Role of Patents in Firm Financing

      First, I’m working on a paper on this topic right now, using a high quality dataset that nobody has been able to exploit for this question. I hope my coauthor (David Ratigan, an economist here at Villanova) and I can do so! Hall’s paper lays out some of the challenges we face, and the primary criticism of prior papers: whether the benefit of financing is simply the patent right, or instead the underlying quality of the invention. Professor Hall suggests that the best approach may be a detailed study of companies with unpatented inventions as compared to companies with patented inventions. I think it would be great, but really difficult, to do such a study. But I’m not convinced it is necessary with the proper random sample and controls. We’ll find out, because that’s what we’re trying to do. Even if we fail, I think there is value in knowing the role of the patent right even if it is simply a proxy signal – more on this theoretical question below.

      Second, I think it would be good for law folks to read this. This is not a literature I hear discussed or cited very often.

      [...]

      This last question is the most important, and the one highlighted in this literature review. Must we separate the patent right from the patent innovation in order to determine that the patent system has value? Whenever I have propounded this theory of patenting, that’s the pushback I get – that the patent is just a correlated signal with firm quality, so the patent doesn’t have any real value on its own (this pushback even implies that the patent right has little value). But imagine a world where there is no patent system and firms innovate. How would they signal their quality? The method doesn’t really matter, except to note that those very same firms that don’t patent now can signal their quality in the exact same way.

    • A litigious Chinese Internet startup worth up to $30 billion buys patents for the first time

      China’s most popular news app, Toutiao, uses an algorithm to deliver a personalised feed of content to 120 million active users. The service, which produces no original content of its own, has dedicated most of its IP efforts to date to fending off copyright complaints. But a recent US assignment shows that it is preparing for potential patent conflict, too. Toutiao’s parent company, Bytedance, has raised money at a valuation of up to $30 billion, and remains independent of China’s three big internet giants, Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent.

    • Trademarks
    • Copyrights
      • Sleepwalking towards a perpetual (news?) publishers’ right in online publications
      • US Congress considers extending copyright term

        A Bill has been put before the US Congress that extends copyright protection for sound recordings (that were fixed before 1972) until 2067. This could mean that sound recordings fixed as early as 1923, would remain out of the public domain for evvvveeerrrr 144 years.

      • HBO Wins Stupid Copyright, Trademark Lawsuit Brought By Graffiti Artist Over 2 Seconds Of Background Scenery

        Whenever a company like HBO gets targeted with a lawsuit over intellectual property concerns, you might think we find it tempting to jump all over them in each and every case. After all, HBO has the distinction of being notably horrible when it comes to enforcing its own IP, from shutting down viewing parties, to offering streaming options, to abusing the the DMCA process just to keep spoilers from existing, as though that could possibly work.

        But the truth is the fun we have in cases where these types are found to be in legal trouble over intellectual property only extends to when that legal trouble is in some way warranted. When its not, we find that there is a helpful other party on which to heap our ire. That’s the case in a lawsuit HBO recently won against graffiti artist Itoffee R. Gayle, who complained about his work appearing in a scene of the HBO show Vinyl. The court ruled that HBO’s use was de minimis, or so fleeting so as to cause no injury and therefore not be actionable.

      • How The Recording Industry Hid Its Latest Attempt To Expand Copyright (And Why You Should Call Your Senator To Stop It)

        Last month, we wrote about the problems of the CLASSICS Act that the House was voting on. There’s a lot of background (much of it included in that post), that is not worth repeating, but the very short version is that sound recordings from before 1972 are treated somewhat differently under copyright law than songs recorded since February of 1972. Specifically, pre-1972 sound recordings are not covered by federal copyright law, but by a weird batch of state laws. Due to a bunch of shenanigans, many of those works will not be put into the public domain until 2067, even if by any other measure they should be in the public domain. The RIAA has always liked this aspect of pre-1972 songs. However, there are other aspects of pre-1972 songs that the RIAA does not like, and that’s mainly that the lack of federal copyright coverage means that those works (mostly) don’t get any performance rights, since most state laws didn’t have such a concept. That’s money the RIAA feels is being left on the table.

        One way to handle this would be to just federalize the copyright on pre-1972 works and put all works on an equal footing. Easy, right? But that’s not what the CLASSICS Act does. Instead, it just modernizes the parts of copyright for those works that help extract more money from people (such as adding in performance rights) while refusing to bring with it the parts of copyright law that protect the public — including the timeline for things moving into the public domain.

        [...]

        Instead, it’s just a welfare bill for musicians. And, hey, Congress can set up a welfare system for musicians if it wants to, but it should be described as such and debated as such. Instead, this is being positioned very differently, because of course that’s how the RIAA plays things.

      • Kodi-Addon Developer Gives Up Piracy Defense Due to Lack of Funds

        Shani, the brains behind the popular Kodi-addon ZemTV, has asked his attorney to stop defending him. The London-based developer says he doesn’t have the funds to fight the legal battle against Dish Networks in a US court. As a result, there’s a high likelihood that the broadcast provider will win a default judgment.

      • Singapore ISPs Block 53 Pirate Sites Following MPAA Legal Action

        Several major ISPs have blocked dozens of pirate torrent and streaming platforms following orders from the Singapore High Court. The action, which covers platforms including The Pirate Bay plus KickassTorrents and Solarmovie variants, follows a successful application from the MPAA, which accuses the platforms of flagrant copyright infringement.

Chamber of Commerce Lies About the United States Like It Lies About Other Countries for the Sole Purpose of Patent Maximalism

Tuesday 22nd of May 2018 08:02:20 AM

Summary: When pressure groups that claim to be “US” actively bash and lie about the US one has to question their motivation; in the case of the Chamber of Commerce, it’s just trying to perturb the law for the worse

THE “Cult of Patents” (patent maximalism) has infected the EPO, whereas the USPTO disinfected itself some years ago. But the cult strikes back and we nowadays see front groups such as CIPU amplifying misleading propaganda from think tanks and bullies (like the Chamber of Commerce). They had been doing it to India for a number of years (because software patents are not allowed in India and the same goes for patents on life/nature).

“Do not be misled by “US” in their names; the Chamber of Commerce and USTR do not represent the US; they represent a few people in the US, usually to the detriment of the republic.”This morning we saw the article “US leads the way in Madrid trade mark filing” and another new one titled “US Patent System Remains 1st In The World, Despite Errors In Chamber Rankings” (by Josh Landau, the Patent Counsel at the CCIA, where “he represents and advises the association regarding patent issues,” according to his biography).

We already wrote several responses to these Chamber of Commerce lies; others too have complained about these lies. The ‘Chamber’ basically shames the US in an effort to change patent policy for the worse. Here are parts of Landau’s response:

Over the past few months, US officials ranging from PTO Director Andrei Iancu to a number of Congressional members, most recently Rep. Kelly (Illinois-2), have cited to the Chamber of Commerce’s ranking of intellectual property systems, which has dropped the US patent system from 1st in the world to 12th. They cite the rankings as evidence that the US patent system is in urgent need of review.

Unfortunately, the rankings are based on misinterpretations and falsehoods. These are worth noting ahead of a House Judiciary hearing Tuesday with Iancu testifying.

[...]

For example, the Chamber’s ranking claims that life sciences patents experience a disproportionately high number of trials. But biological and pharmaceutical patents represent only 10% of all challenges—which is slightly lower, proportionally, than the percentage of patent applications that relate to biological and pharmaceutical technologies. And when the PTO looks at drug patents, not only is the number of trials requested lower than would be expected by proportion, but the rate at which the PTO agrees to review those patents is slightly lower than average.

And when the PTO does review drug patents, they are significantly less likely to find them invalid. In other words, the statements in the Chamber’s ranking are completely at odds with the reality when it comes to life sciences patents.

Do not be misled by “US” in their names; the Chamber of Commerce and USTR do not represent the US; they represent a few people in the US, usually to the detriment of the republic. Will the media finally realise this and stop amplifying such misleading claims? We can understand why Iancu would cite them. He is, after all, himself from the patent microcosm.

Links 21/5/2018: Linux 4.17 RC6, GIMP 2.10.2

Monday 21st of May 2018 06:27:06 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • GNU/Linux vs. Unix: What’s the difference?

    If you are a software developer in your 20s or 30s, you’ve grown up in a world dominated by Linux. It has been a significant player in the data center for decades, and while it’s hard to find definitive operating system market share reports, Linux’s share of data center operating systems could be as high as 70%, with Windows variants carrying nearly all the remaining percentage. Developers using any major public cloud can expect the target system will run Linux. Evidence that Linux is everywhere has grown in recent years when you add in Android and Linux-based embedded systems in smartphones, TVs, automobiles, and many other devices.

    Even so, most software developers, even those who have grown up during this venerable “Linux revolution” have at least heard of Unix. It sounds similar to Linux, and you’ve probably heard people use these terms interchangeably. Or maybe you’ve heard Linux called a “Unix-like” operating system.

    So, what is this Unix? The caricatures speak of wizard-like “graybeards” sitting behind glowing green screens, writing C code and shell scripts, powered by old-fashioned, drip-brewed coffee. But Unix has a much richer history beyond those bearded C programmers from the 1970s. While articles detailing the history of Unix and “Unix vs. Linux” comparisons abound, this article will offer a high-level background and a list of major differences between these complementary worlds.

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 4.16.10
    • Linux 4.14.42
    • Linux 4.9.101
    • Linux 4.17-rc6

      Things continue to be fairly calm. There’s a couple of commits in here that
      aren’t “trivial few-liners”, but most of it really is pretty small. And in
      fact, a quarter of the full patch for the week is tooling – and the bulk of
      that is the testing subdirectory.

      In fact, drivers are in the minority here, because another 30% is arch
      updates (arm, s390, x86), and we even have more lines of filesystem fixes
      than we have driver fixes (admittedly mostly due to a few of the
      more-than-a-few-liner patches being to filesystems: afs and btrfs).

      We do have a few driver fixes (all over – hwmon, usb, sound, acpi, gpu),
      but it’s all really small.

      So nothing special to report. Go read the shortlog, pull the changes,
      build, and test. It should all be good and pretty stable by this point.

      Linus

    • Linux 4.17-rc6 Kernel Released As Another “Fairly Calm” Release

      Linux 4.17 is up to its sixth weekly release candidate ahead of the official release expected by mid-June.

    • USB Audio Class 3.0 Improvements Coming To Linux 4.18

      With the recently minted Linux 4.17 kernel there was initial USB Audio Class 3.0 support for this audio-over-USB specification while with Linux 4.18 that UA3 support will be further enhanced.

      UAC3 is primarily geared for “USB audio over USB Type-C” that is an upgrade over UAC2 with improved power management, new descriptors, and more.

    • Linux Foundation
      • Linux Foundation LFCE: Hugues Clouâtre

        I started using Linux and open source software professionally at the beginning of my IT career while attending university. I found the simplicity and flexibility of Linux quite interesting, especially compared to the mainstream operating systems at that time (2004). Red Hat and Debian were the first Linux distributions I used in a business environment. Linux gives you the freedom to experiment — it got me interested right away.

    • Graphics Stack
      • IWOCL OpenCL 2018 Videos Start Appearing Online

        There is the conference program for those that are curious about the sessions that took place during this annual OpenCL conference. Eventually, slide decks should be available from there too.

        The most prominent session video of interest to hobbyists and general OpenCL developers/users will likely be The Khronos Group’s President, Neil Trevett, providing a “state of the nation” on CL…

      • Mesa 18.1 Officially Released as the Most Advanced Linux Graphics Stack Series

        The development team behind the open-source Mesa graphics stack announced over the weekend the general availability of the final Mesa 18.1 release for Linux-based operating systems.

        The Mesa 18.1 series comes approximately two months after the 18.0 branch, which probably most GNU/Linux distributions are using these days, and which already received its fourth maintenance updates. Mesa 18.1 introduces a few new features across all supported graphics drivers, but it’s mostly another stability update.

      • Mach64 & Rendition Drivers Now Work With X.Org Server 1.20

        Anyone happening to have an ATI Mach 64 graphics card from the mid-90′s or a 3Dfx-competitor Rendition graphics card also from the 90′s can now enjoy the benefits of the recently released X.Org Server 1.20.

        Mach 64 and Rendition are among the X.Org DDX (2D) drivers still being maintained for the X.Org Server. Even though using either of these two decade old graphics cards would be painfully slow with a Linux desktop stack from today especially if paired with CPU and memory from that time-frame, the upstream X.Org developers still appear willing to maintain support for these vintage graphics processors. Well, at least as far as ensuring the drivers still build against the newest software — we’ve seen before out of these old drivers that they are updated to work for new releases, but at times can actually be broken display support for years before anyone notices with said hardware.

    • Benchmarks
      • Ryzen 7 2700 / Ryzen 7 2700X / Core i7 8700K Linux Gaming Performance With RX Vega 64, GTX 1080 Ti

        With the Linux benchmarks of the Ryzen 7 2700 last week I included a few Linux gaming benchmarks, but for those evaluating CPU options for your next Intel/AMD Linux gaming system upgrade, here is a much more thorough set of benchmarks from a wide variety of OpenGL and Vulkan powered Linux games. The Ryzen 7 2700, Ryzen 7 2700X, and Core i7 8700K processors were tested for this Ubuntu gaming comparison while testing with both a Radeon RX Vega 64 and GeForce GTX 1080 Ti.

      • The Prominent Changes Of Phoronix Test Suite 8.0

        With development on Phoronix Test Suite 8.0 wrapping up for release in the coming weeks, here is a recap of some of the prominent changes for this huge update to our open-source, cross-platform benchmarking software.

      • AMD AOCC 1.2 Code Compiler Offers Some Performance Benefits For EPYC

        Last month AMD released the AOCC 1.2 compiler for Zen systems. This updated version of their branched LLVM/Clang compiler with extra patches/optimizations for Zen CPUs was re-based to the LLVM/Clang 6.0 code-base while also adding in experimental FLANG support for Fortran compilation and various other unlisted changes to their “znver1″ patch-set. Here’s a look at how the performance compares with AOCC 1.2 to LLVM Clang 6.0 and GCC 7/8 C/C++ compilers.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • KDE Plasma 5.13 Looks Like an Awesome Update

        The KDE Plasma 5.13 release is shaping up to be something rather special indeed.

        Currently in development, KDE Plasma 5.13 serves as the next major release of the leading Qt/Qml desktop environment. The update features a stack of improvements, refinements and some innovative new functionality.

        In this post we roundup the best KDE Plasma 5.13 features and changes, plus give you all the details on how to upgrade to Plasma 5.13 in Kubuntu and KDE Neon once it is released on June 12, 2018.

      • First week of coding phase, GSoC’18

        QML plugins will now be loaded into Falkon from the subdirectory qml in the standard plugin paths, similar to Python plugins. Also in metadata.desktop file for plugin, the main entry file (QML) can be specified so that the plugin named X can have the entry file Y.qml.

      • KDAB at SIGGRAPH 2018

        Yes, folks. This year SIGGRAPH 2018 is in Canada and we’ll be there at the Qt booth, showing off our latest tooling and demos. These days, you’d be surprised where Qt is used under the hood, even by the biggest players in the 3D world!

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • GNOME 3.30 Desktop to Introduce New App for Finding Free Internet Radio Stations

        GNOME 3.30 is currently in heavy development, with a second snapshot expected to land this week, and the GNOME Project recently updated their future plans page for the upcoming releases with the inclusion of the Internet Radio Locator app, which could make its debut during this cycle.

        Internet Radio Locator is an open-source graphical application built with the latest GNOME/GTK+ technologies and designed to help users easily locate free Internet radio stations from various broadcasters around the globe. It currently supports text-based location search for a total of 86 stations from 76 world cities.

  • Distributions
    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Debian is wrong

        So, the MiniDebConf Hamburg 2018 is about to end, it’s sunny, no clouds are visible and people seem to be happy.

        And, I have time to write this blog post! So, just as a teaser for now, I’ll present to you the content of some slides of our “Reproducible Buster” talk today. Later I will add links to the video and the full slides.

      • Mini DebConf Hamburg

        Since Friday around noon time, I and my 6-year-old son are at the Mini DebConf in Hamburg. Attending together with my son is quite a different experience than plain alone or with also having my wife around. Though he is doing pretty good, it mostly means the day ends for me around 2100 when he needs to go to sleep.

      • Derivatives
        • Parrot 4.0 Ethical Hacking OS Debuts with MD Raid Support, Stable Sandboxed Apps

          Powered by the latest Linux 4.16 kernel series, Parrot 4.0 is a major release of the GNU/Linux distribution designed for ethical hacking and penetration testing operations. It’s the first to introduce stable, reliable support for sandboxed applications as an extra layer of security, and official Netinstall and Docker images.

          “Parrot on Docker gives you access to all the Parrot containers you need on top of Windows, Mac OS, or any other system supported by docker, no matter if it is just your laptop or a whole docker cluster running on an entire datacenter. You will always have access to all the parrot tools in all the isolated environments you need,” said the devs.

        • Debian GNU/Linux 8 “Jessie” Will Reach End of Security Support on June 17, 2018

          According to a security advisory posted by developer Moritz Muehlenhoff on the Debian-security-announce mailing list, the Debian GNU/Linux 8 “Jessie” operating system series will no longer receive regular security updates as of June 17, 2018. However, a limited number of packages will still be updated for a while.

          “This is an advance notice that regular security support for Debian GNU/Linux 8 (code name “jessie”) will be terminated on the 17th of June,” said Moritz Muehlenhoff. “As with previous releases additional LTS support will be provided for a reduced set of architectures and packages.”

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Tennibot is a really cool Ubuntu Linux-powered tennis ball collecting robot

            Linux isn’t just a hobby — the kernel largely powers the web, for instance. Not only is Linux on many web servers, but it is also found on the most popular consumer operating system in the world — Android. Why is this? Well, the open source kernel scales very well, making it ideal for many projects. True, Linux’s share of the desktop is still minuscule, but sometimes slow and steady wins the race — watch out, Windows!

            A good example of Linux’s scalability is a new robot powered by Linux which was recently featured on the official Ubuntu Blog. Called “Tennibot,” the Ubuntu-powered bot seeks out and collects tennis balls. Not only does it offer convenience, but it can save the buyer a lot of money too — potentially thousands of dollars per year as this calculator shows. So yeah, a not world-changing product, but still very neat nonetheless. In fact, it highlights that Linux isn’t just behind boring nerdy stuff, but fun things too.

          • Ubuntu 18.10 Aims to Improve Laptop Battery Life

            It’s been less than a month since Ubuntu 18.04 LTS released, but when you work on a six-month release cycle the focus moves quickly to what comes next. Canonical is doing just that by telling us what we can expect to see in Ubuntu 18.10, which arrives in October.

            If you’re only just getting used to Ubuntu 18.04, don’t worry, Canonical hasn’t forgotten about you. In a blog post, Canonical’s desktop engineering manager, Will Cooke, details plans to release 18.04.1 in July. It will fix a number of bugs, but also introduce the ability to, among other things, unlock Ubuntu with your fingerprint.

          • Ubuntu 18.10 Linux Operating System Launching Oct 2018

            Now that the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS operating system is available to download offering long-term support, its developers Canonical are now looking to the future and have announced that Ubuntu 18.10 operating system is expected to be made available during October 2018 and will bring with it some major new additions and enhancements.

          • Ubuntu 18.10 will come with a new default theme, improved power management, and more

            Scheduled to arrive in October, Ubuntu 18.10 “Cosmic Cuttlefish” will still use GNOME but will come with a new default theme called Communitheme, improved power saving options, a faster first-time startup for apps installed as snaps, DLNA media sharing, and more. Until then, version 18.04.1 is expected to drop in July with a few minor changes, as well as the usual tweaks and bug fixes.

          • Flavours and Variants
            • Kubuntu Drops 32-bit Install Images

              If you were planning to grab a Kubuntu 18.10 32-bit download this October you will want to look away now.

              Kubuntu has confirmed plans to join the rest of the Ubuntu flavour family and drop 32-bit installer images going forward.

              This means there will be no 32-bit Kubuntu 18.10 disc image available to download later this year.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Web Browsers
    • More Roads And Faster Browsers

      And it’s exactly what is happening with our Web pages. Browsers become more performant. So developers instead of using this extra performance to make the page extra-blazingly fast, we use it to pack more DOM nodes, CSS animations and JavaScript driven user experiences.

    • Mozilla
      • Firefox 61 Beta 6 Testday Results

        As you may already know, last Friday – May 18th – we held a new Testday event, for Firefox 61 Beta 6.

        Thank you all for helping us make Mozilla a better place: gaby2300, Michal, micde, Jarrod Michell, Petri Pollanen, Thomas Brooks.

        From India team: Aishwarya Narasimhan, Mohamed Bawas, Surentharan and Suren, amirthavenkat, krish.

  • CMS
    • WordPress 4.9.6 Update Helps Websites Prepare for GDPR

      The open-source WordPress content management system project announced its 4.9.6 update on May 17, providing users with privacy enhancements designed to help sites be compliant with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation.

      GDPR is set to go into effect on May 25, requiring organizations to take steps to protect the privacy of end- user information. To be compliant with GDPR, organizations need to properly disclose how user data is stored and used.

      “It’s important to understand that while the GDPR is a European regulation, its requirements apply to all sites and online businesses that collect, store, and process personal data about EU residents no matter where the business is located,” WordPress developer Allen Snook wrote in a blog post.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
    • DragonFly BSD 5.2.0

      My experience with DragonFly this week was a lot like my experiences with other members of the BSD family. The system is lightweight, provides lots of useful documentation and gives us a minimal platform from which to build our operating system. The system was stable, fast and provided me with most of the software I wanted. Apart from DragonFly not working with my desktop computer’s hardware, I had an overall good experience with the operating system.

      I had mixed feelings about H2. At this point the file system seems stable and can be used for most common tasks. However, the advanced features that make the future of H2 look so appealing, are not all in place yet. So it might be best to wait another year before switching over to H2 if you want to make the most of snapshots and other advanced file system options.

      DragonFly is typically regarded as a server operating system, and that is where its strengths lie. However, this week I feel it performed well as a desktop platform too. It takes a little while to set up DragonFly as a desktop, but the documentation walks us through most of the process and I was able to do everything I would typically do on Linux desktop distribution.

    • Server maker IXsystems sets sail with new TrueNAS flagship

      All IXsystems storage runs a distribution of OpenZFS, based on the Zettabyte File System (ZFS) initially developed by Sun Microsystems, on x86-based appliances manufactured by iXsystems. The vendor, based in San Jose, Calif., also sells IXsystems FreeNAS rackmount systems used primarily by home offices and small businesses, and all-flash Z50 TrueFlash appliances on the high end.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • GIMP 2.10.2 Released

      It’s barely been a month since we released GIMP 2.10.0, and the first bugfix version 2.10.2 is already there! Its main purpose is fixing the various bugs and issues which were to be expected after the 2.10.0 release.

    • GIMP 2.10.2 Released With HEIF Image Format Support

      Just shy of one month since the long-awaited debut of GIMP 2.10, the first stable point release is now available.

      Besides fixing bugs, there is new features too including support for HEIF images for importing and exporting, spherize and recursive transform filters added, improved histogram computation, and more.

    • GNU nano 2.9.7 was released

      Accumulated changes over the last five releases include: the ability to bind a key to a string (text and/or escape sequences), a default color of bright white on red for error messages, an improvement to the way the Scroll-Up and Scroll-Down commands work, and the new –afterends option to make Ctrl+Right (next word) stop at the end of a word instead of at the beginning. Check it out.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • Tesla Starts Open Sourcing Some Software Code After Facing Criticism

      Elon Musk might enjoy the status of most-talked-about celebrity in the technology world, but his company Tesla doesn’t have many admirers when it comes to open source and free software enthusiasts. The company is known to be using many GPL-licensed technologies that need Tesla to share the source code of their software.

    • Tesla releases source code for some of its in-car tech
    • It Only Took Six Years, But Tesla Is No Longer Screwing Up Basic Software Licenses

      Tesla is actually doing it. The electric car maker is starting to abide by open source software licenses that it had previously ignored, and releasing the code it’s sat on for over six years, according to Electrek.

      Tesla’s super smart cars, specifically the sporty Model S sedan and Model X SUV, incorporate a lot of open source software, from Linux, the open source operating system, to BusyBox, a collection of tools that are useful when working with Linux and other UNIX environments (like macOS). All open source software is released under licenses and one of the most popular licenses is the GPL, or General Public License.

    • Tesla releases some of its software to comply with open source rules

      Tesla makes some of the most popular electric vehicles out there and the systems in those cars rely on open source software for operating systems and features. Some of that open source software that is used in Tesla products has a license agreement that requires Tesla to at least offer the user access to the source code. Tesla hasn’t been making that offer.

    • Tesla open sources some of its Autopilot source code

      ELECTRIC CAR MAKER Tesla tends to keep the details of its work under lock and key, but now Elon Musk’s company is plonking some of its automotive tech source code into the open source community.

      Tesla dumped some of its code used to build the foundations of its Autopilot semi-autonomous driving tech and the infotainment system found on the Model S and Model X cars, which makes uses of Nvidia’s Tegra chipset, on GitHub.

      Even if you’re code-savvy, don’t go expecting to build your own autonomous driving platform on top of this source code, as Tesla has still kept the complete Autopilot framework under wraps, as well as deeper details of the infotainment system found in its cars. But it could give code wranglers a better look into how Tesla approaches building infotainment systems and giving its cars a dose of self-driving smarts.

    • Tesla releases source code

      Tesla has taken its first step towards compliance with the GNU General Public Licence (GPL) by releasing some of its source code.

      The car maker has opened two GitHub repositories which contain the buildroot material used to build the system image on its Autopilot platform, and the kernel sources for the boards and the Nvidia-based infotainment system in the Model S and Model X.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Lemonade Proposes Open Source Insurance Policy for All to Change, Adopt

      Technology-focused homeowners and renters insurer Lemonade Inc. has proposed an open source renters insurance policy that anyone can contribute to changing, even its rivals since Lemonade is not copyrighting it.

    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Suitcase Computer Reborn with Raspberry Pi Inside

        Fun fact, the Osborne 1 debuted with a price tag equivalent to about $5,000 in today’s value. With a gigantic 9″ screen and twin floppy drives (for making mix tapes, right?) the real miracle of the machine was its portability, something unheard of at the time. The retrocomputing trend is to lovingly and carefully restore these old machines to their former glory, regardless of how clunky or underpowered they are by modern standards. But sometimes they can’t be saved yet it’s still possible to gut and rebuild the machine with modern hardware, like with this Raspberry Pi used to revive an Osborne 1.

        Purists will turn their nose up at this one, and we admit that this one feels a little like “restoring” radios from the 30s by chucking out the original chassis and throwing in a streaming player. But [koff1979] went to a lot of effort to keep the original Osborne look and feel in the final product. We imagine that with the original guts replaced by a Pi and a small LCD display taking the place of the 80 character by 24 line CRT, the machine is less strain on the shoulder when carrying it around. (We hear the original Osborne 1 was portable in the same way that an anvil is technically portable.) The Pi runs an emulator to get the original CP/M experience; it even runs Wordstar. The tricky part about this build was making the original keyboard talk to the Pi, which was accomplished with an Arduino that translates key presses to USB.

      • My talk from the RISC-V workshop in Barcelona
  • Programming/Development
    • 9 Best Free Python Integrated Development Environments

      Python is a widely used general-purpose, high level programming language. It’s easy to read and learn. It’s frequently used for science, data analysis, and engineering. With a burgeoning scientific community and ecosystem, Python is an excellent environment for students, scientists and organizations that develop technology software.

      One of the essential tools for a budding Python developer is a good Integrated Development Environment (IDE). An IDE is a software application that provides comprehensive facilities to programmers for software development.

      Many coders learn to code using a text editor. And many professional Python developers prefer to stay with their favourite text editor, in part because a lot of text editors can be used as a development environment by making use of plugins. But many Python developers migrate to an IDE as this type of software application offers, above all else, practicality. They make coding easier, can offer significant time savings with features like autocompletion, and built-in refactoring code, and also reduces context switching. For example, IDEs have semantic knowledge of the programming language which highlights coding problems while typing. Compiling is ‘on the fly’ and debugging is integrated.

    • Want to Debug Latency?

      In the recent decade, our systems got complex. Our average production environments consist of many different services (many microservices, storage systems and more) with different deployment and production-maintenance cycles. In most cases, each service is built and maintained by a different team — sometimes by a different company. Teams don’t have much insight into others’ services. The final glue that puts everything together is often a staging environment or sometimes the production itself!

      Measuring latency and being able to react to latency issues are getting equally complex as our systems got more complex. This article will help you how to navigate yourself at a latency problem and what you need to put in place to effectively do so.

Leftovers
  • You Can Send Invisible Messages With Subtle Font Tweaks

    The method is a steganographic technique, meaning it hides secret information in plain sight such that only its intended recipient knows where to look for it and how to extract it. FontCode can be applied to hundreds of common fonts, like Helvetica or Times New Roman, and works in word processors like Microsoft Word. Data encoded with FontCode can also endure across any image-preserving digital format, like PDF or PNG. The secret data won’t persist after, say, copy and pasting FontCode text between text editors.

    The most significant format conversion FontCode messages can transcend, though, is digital to physical and back.

  • Damned Ads!!!

    This is ridiculous. I don’t mind advertisers paying for my browsing experience but killing the browser to do it? What’s with that? You advertisers better get your act together or you’re going to kill the web as we know it. I feel sorry for the noble websites funded by ads. They plead with us not to block ads. I don’t want the overhead of sorting advertisers out between the good, the bad and the ugly. I just don’t want to know. My life is too complicated for an old retired guy. Weeds I understand. They’re just doing their thing. I don’t understand advertisers driving markets away.

  • Hardware
  • Health/Nutrition
    • Trump Administration Aims to Gut Family Planning Program Primarily Serving Low Income Patients

      The new gag rule would cut off access to critical care and information for low income patients nationwide.

      The Trump administration announced Friday that it is proposing a new “gag rule” designed to block patients who rely on Title X from accessing critical family planning services at reproductive health care providers including Planned Parenthood.

      The new proposed rule, which comes despite strong opposition from more than 200 Members of Congress and 110 organizations, has not been released to the public. According to reports, however, the rule is intended to push Planned Parenthood and other reproductive health care providers out of the Title X program if they provide or refer patients for abortions, and would allow providers in the program to withhold comprehensive information from patients about their options.

      If implemented, this will create a reality in which women with private health insurance receive comprehensive information, including referrals for abortion, from their doctors, while women whose providers are funded through the Title X program do not — because of restrictions imposed by the government on their doctors.

    • Five Years After The Indian Supreme Court’s Novartis Verdict

      On 1 April 2013, in a packed room inside India’s Supreme Court, a magnificent building in Indo-British architectural style, two judges delivered a verdict that impacted the national and global conversation about patents and patients.

      India’s apex court delivered a 112-page landmark judgement which dismissed Swiss pharma giant Novartis AG’s appeal for a patent for its life-saving cancer drug marketed under brand name Glivec in most parts of the world.

      The Novartis case triggered a hugely polarising discourse around the world about a key feature of India’s patent regime.

  • Security and Bugs
    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 97 – Automation: Humans are slow and dumb

      Josh and Kurt talk about the security of automation as well as automating security. The only way automation will really work long term is full automation. Humans can’t be trusted enough to rely on them to do things right.

    • An introduction to cryptography and public key infrastructure

      Secure communication is quickly becoming the norm for today’s web. In July 2018, Google Chrome plans to start showing “not secure” notifications for all sites transmitted over HTTP (instead of HTTPS). Mozilla has a similar plan. While cryptography is becoming more commonplace, it has not become easier to understand. Let’s Encrypt designed and built a wonderful solution to provide and periodically renew free security certificates, but if you don’t understand the underlying concepts and pitfalls, you’re just another member of a large group of cargo cult programmers.

    • Teensafe, A Teen Phone Monitoring App, Leaks Thousands Of Apple ID Passwords

      Teensafe is a monitoring app used by parents for keeping a check on the activities of their children. The app allows parents to access their child’s location, call history, messages, browsing history, and apps downloaded by them without their permission.

    • Teen phone monitoring app leaked thousands of user passwords

      The mobile app, TeenSafe, bills itself as a “secure” monitoring app for iOS and Android, which lets parents view their child’s text messages and location, monitor who they’re calling and when, access their web browsing history, and find out which apps they have installed.

    • The weirdest bug I’ve found in a compiler: MSVC 2017

      There’s been discussion on cppitertools about the newest MSVC release (15.7) claiming to be fully standards compliant, which led me here.
      The following code fails to compile under MSVC for one reason: the U on lines 4 and 5 is a different name than the T on lines 10 and 11, so the result of the static_assert condition on line 19 is false. (Note that I’m not using std::declval here for simplicity’s sake).

    • Security updates for Monday
  • Defence/Aggression
    • War criminal Henry Kissinger: “AI is the end of the Enlightenment”

      This is a fascinating piece, but not because of its insights (which are anodyne, poorly argued, grounded in monumental ignorance of his subject, and years out of date — your basic high-paid management consultant, recycling five-year-old ideas for CEOs who are ten years out-of-date), but because of who they’re coming from.

      Kissinger is a living fossil, a monster of the 20th century that has staggered into the 21st, one of the last survivors of the cohort of genocidal authoritarians who included Pol Pot and Stalin. His doctrine once held that the state should gather its smartest (which is to say, “most Kissingerian”) elements inside of secret rooms where they would decide who would live and who would die, in the name of humanity’s greater good. They could do this because they had been through elite educational institutions that taught them about Greek, Roman and German philosophers.

    • Academics protest Google’s role in drone murder

      Three prominent technology scholars published an open letter Monday, which has now received over 900 signatures, condemning Google’s collaboration with the Pentagon’s illegal “targeted killing” program.

      The academics published their letter in support of over 3,100 Google employees who issued their own open letter last month protesting the company’s participation in a Pentagon program called Project Maven, designed to leverage the power of artificial intelligence to analyze footage collected by US military drones.

    • How Many Civilians Did Trump Kill in Drone Strikes Last Year?

      If civilian deaths from drone strikes are anything similar, Trump’s team is killing five to ten times as many civilians as Obama did. I’m a little surprised that they aren’t proud of this and eager to share that data, but I guess even the Trumpies have their limits.

    • ‘A Dangerous Low’: Trump Ignores Deadline for Reporting Civilians Killed by US Drone Attacks

      The Trump administration on Tuesday flouted two major deadlines for disclosing the number of civilians killed by U.S. military forces: one public report that was mandated by an Obama-era executive order and focused on drone strike deaths; and one report to Congress that is supposed to detail all civilian deaths tied to U.S. military operations.

      “The Trump administration’s decision not to comply with even the meager transparency requirements of the executive order is a dangerous low,” declared Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project.

      “It’s unacceptable,” she added, “for the government to simply refuse to release the numbers of people killed, let alone their identities, the rules governing its deadly decisions, or investigations into credibly alleged wrongful killing.”

    • How the UAE’s Chinese-Made Drone Is Changing the War in Yemen

      “They are working incredibly hard to be the new entrepreneurial contractor in the region, both politically and militarily,” says Farea al-Muslimi, an associate fellow at Chatham House. “They no longer want to remain on the sidelines. Yemen is one of the battles where they think they can improve both their credentials and capabilities.”

      The UAE has invested heavily in military aid to coalition-backed forces in Yemen. It has constructed various security units, seen as proxy forces by the United Nations, to fight al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula on the southern coast. Now, the UAE is directing its efforts to support Tareq Saleh, the nephew of late President Ali Abdullah Saleh who is leading an offensive to retake the strategic port of Hodeidah from the Houthis.

      “In recent days, we had been closely monitoring the Houthi leadership’s movements,” says a senior commander of the coalition’s ground forces advancing from the port of Mokha.

      The strike that killed Samad was part of the Saudi-led coalition’s offensive on Hodeidah. The Saudi ambassador to the United States, Khalid bin Salman, even tweeted about the strike earlier this week, claiming it was in retaliation for Houthi missile attacks. Samad “vowed [a] couple of weeks ago to make 2018 the ‘year of ballistic missiles on KSA,’” the Saudi ambassador wrote. “The response to him was a direct hit under the leadership of HRH Minister of Defense.”

      Though the Saudis have claimed credit for the strike, the intelligence for the attack was routed through Tareq Saleh’s staff to the UAE, which also carried out the operation.

      The UAE did not respond to a request for official comment

  • Finance
    • Over 80% Of 2017 IPOs Had ‘Negative’ Earnings – Most Since Dot-Com Peak

      Put a slightly different way, 2017 was the biggest “money for nothing” year since Pets.com… consider that the next time you’re told to buy the dip. Remember the only reason “the water is warm” is because it has been ‘chummed’ by the the last greater fool ready for the professional sharks to hand their ‘risk’ to…

    • Tax cut sparks record-setting $178 billion buyback boom

      One broad measure of business spending, real nonresidential fixed investment, rose by 6.1% during the first quarter. That’s solid growth signaling a strong economy. However, it was roughly in-line with the past several quarters. It even marked a slight deceleration from the final three months of 2017.

      That means companies have not significantly boosted spending on equipment, factories and other investments that create jobs and boost wages.

      Some economists aren’t surprised that the early windfall of the tax cuts is going to Wall Street, instead of Main Street. They note that companies have long had access to tons of cash. They note that companies have long had access to tons of cash.

      If they had plenty of cash, you shouldn’t really expect having access to more would lead them to invest,” said Alan Auerbach, director of Berkeley’s Robert D. Burch Center for Tax Policy and Public Finance.

    • The EU, Manufacturing and Brexit

      Britain already runs one of the world’s most efficient customs systems. In 2016, the World Bank ranked us fifth in the world on customs performance.

      [...]

      Brown writes, “The ‘Northern Powerhouse’ is just a phrase, and it is hard to believe that devolution in England will achieve more than a further layer of bureaucracy. There is wide agreement on the need for North-South rebalancing, but I believe the fundamental key to achieving this is the recovery of manufacturing.”

      But governments here have seen engineering as just ‘metal bashing’. When the author asked Labour’s Ed Balls, when he was Chief Economic Advisor to the Treasury, his view on the decline of engineering, Balls replied, “You might as well mourn for the dinosaurs.”

      Brown ends with recommendations for accessing the single market, industrial policy, economic management, energy policy, education, taxation, fund management, corporate governance, private equity, representation and accountancy. His key recommendations are these:

      In industrial policy “Choose engineering as a sector to back. Consider import substitution and rebuilding supply chains, and support for exporters. … Conduct tougher public interest reviews of overseas takeovers. Change the restrictive terms of the Business Bank, establish an engineering investment fund …”

      In energy policy “Establish and implement a clear and effective policy embracing cost and security of supply, with protection of the environment. … Bring fracking under the control of one unified authority, and mitigate the impact on the environment and local communities.” He notes that “Thatcher “went on to privatise utilities that did not operate in freely competitive markets and where long-term consideration of the national strategic interest is crucial, for example energy and the railways. In these instances it has worked very much less well, and there is a strong need for reconsideration.”

      And in education “Invest more in primary and secondary schooling, while pruning tertiary colleges and greatly promoting vocational training. … Improve funding for technical subjects in universities, and increase their contacts with engineering industry. Introduce a prestigious engineering qualification. Remove private schools’ charitable status, and provide state schooling on the same basis for all children, with no faith or grammar schools. …”

    • Brexit blamed for dramatic fall in UK business registrations

      Britain’s decision to leave the European Union has sparked a dramatic fall in the number of French, Dutch and Belgian businesses registering in the UK, in a further illustration of Brexit’s impact on the UK economy.

      Figures from Companies House show that French companies registered 48% fewer businesses in the UK in 2016-17 than the previous financial year while companies in Belgium registered 38% fewer. Companies in the Netherlands, which is probably the worst affected by Brexit of Britain’s trading partners, registered 52% fewer companies last year than in 2015-16.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Hillary Clinton is Now a Victim of ‘Socialists’

      Hillary Clinton’s take on “what happened” in the 2016 election is a running tale of victimization. She was the casualty of FBI Director James Comey and of Vladimir Putin and WikiLeaks. She was unjustly loathed by that “basket” of racist, sexist, nativist, and homophobic “deplorables” that is supposedly the American “heartland,” white working-class and rural population – people she recently painted (at an elite globalist gathering in Mumbai, India) as a bunch of “pessimistic,” slow-witted and retrograde losers. She was victimized by Bernie Sanders, who (Hillary complained) wasn’t even a “real Democrat” but had the unmitigated chutzpah to let his primary campaign challenge her prearranged coronation as the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate.

      Never mind the series of stupid, arrogant, and largely unforced errors that crippled her uninspiring and policy-bereft insider campaign that was under her command. And never mind her own epic unpopularity before and during the campaign – disapproval earned over her many years of functioning as a cold and transparently elitist Establishment agent of the wealthy corporate and financial Few.

    • Polls Show Being Anti-Trump Isn’t Enough to Beat GOP

      With six months to go before the midterm election, recent national polls are showing that the Democratic Party’s much-touted momentum to gain control of the House has stalled. The latest numbers tell us a lot about the limits of denouncing Donald Trump without offering much more than a return to the old status quo.

      Under the headline “Democrats’ 2018 Advantage Is Nearly Gone,” CNN on May 9 reported that nationwide polling found “the generic congressional ballot has continued to tighten” — “with the Democrats’ edge over Republicans within the poll’s margin of sampling error for the first time this cycle.”

      With so many gerrymandered districts as well as widespread voter-ID laws and other GOP-engineered voter suppression, Democrats will need a substantial margin in vote totals to prevent Republicans from retaining a majority in the House of Representatives. (The prospects are worse in the Senate, where Democrats are defending a lopsided number of seats this year.)

    • Code Name Crossfire Hurricane: The Secret Origins of the Trump Investigation

      Within hours of opening an investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia in the summer of 2016, the F.B.I. dispatched a pair of agents to London on a mission so secretive that all but a handful of officials were kept in the dark.

      Their assignment, which has not been previously reported, was to meet the Australian ambassador, who had evidence that one of Donald J. Trump’s advisers knew in advance about Russian election meddling. After tense deliberations between Washington and Canberra, top Australian officials broke with diplomatic protocol and allowed the ambassador, Alexander Downer, to sit for an F.B.I. interview to describe his meeting with the campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos.

    • The FBI Informant Who Monitored the Trump Campaign, Stefan Halper, Oversaw a CIA Spying Operation in the 1980 Presidential Election

      Photo: YouTube
      The FBI Informant Who Monitored the Trump Campaign, Stefan Halper, Oversaw a CIA Spying Operation in the 1980 Presidential Election
      Glenn Greenwald
      May 19 2018, 2:27 p.m.

      An extremely strange episode that has engulfed official Washington over the last two weeks came to a truly bizarre conclusion on Friday night. And it revolves around a long-time, highly sketchy CIA operative, Stefan Halper.

      Four decades ago, Halper was responsible for a long-forgotten spying scandal involving the 1980 election, in which the Reagan campaign – using CIA officials managed by Halper, reportedly under the direction of former CIA Director and then-Vice-Presidential candidate George H.W. Bush – got caught running a spying operation from inside the Carter administration. The plot involved CIA operatives passing classified information about Carter’s foreign policy to Reagan campaign officials in order to ensure the Reagan campaign knew of any foreign policy decisions that Carter was considering.

      Over the past several weeks, House Republicans have been claiming that the FBI during the 2016 election used an operative to spy on the Trump campaign, and they triggered outrage within the FBI by trying to learn his identity. The controversy escalated when President Trump joined the fray on Friday morning. “Reports are there was indeed at least one FBI representative implanted, for political purposes, into my campaign for president,” Trump tweeted, adding: “It took place very early on, and long before the phony Russia Hoax became a “hot” Fake News story. If true – all time biggest political scandal!”

    • Trump misspells Melania’s name in tweet on her return to White House from hospital

      Length of Walter Reed stay leads to questions over condition but spokeswoman says speculation on first lady’s health ‘uninformed’

    • Emma Barnett: A Classic “Philip Cross” Wikipedia Operation

      High Tory, ex Daily Telegraph and Murdoch, expensive private school, Emma Barnett is BBC Politics’ rising star and stood in as host of the BBC flagship Marr programme on Sunday. She was there rude and aggressive to Labour’s Barry Gardiner. The “highlight” of her career so far was during the general election when on Radio 4 Women’s Hour she demanded instant top of the head recall of complicated figures from Jeremy Corbyn, a ploy the BBC never turns on the Tories.

      The most interesting fact about Emma Barnett is that her exclusive private education was funded by her parents who were pimps and brothel keepers on a large scale, for which both were convicted.

      I know of no compelling evidence as to whether Barnett was, or was not, complicit in her parents’ activities, which financed her education into adulthood. But that this background is interesting and unusual is not in doubt. However the MSM’s image protector, “Philip Cross”, has been assiduous in, again and again, deleting the information about Barnett’s parents from Wikipedia. Not only has Cross deleted the referenced information of her parents being brothel-keepers, he has repeatedly inserted the ludicrous euphemisms that her father was a “businessman” and her mother a “housewife”.

    • The “Philip Cross” MSM Promotion Operation Part 3

      “Philip Cross” has just 200 Twitter followers, but has more MSM journalists following him than are to be found among my 42,300 twitter followers. Despite the fact a large majority of “Philip Cross’s” tweets are mere retweets, with Oliver Kamm and Nick Cohen most frequently retweeted. “Philip Cross” has never broken a news story and the few tweets which are not retweets contain no gems of expression or shrewd observation. In short, his twitter feed is extremely banal; there is literally nothing in it that might interest a journalist in particular. Do not take my word for it, judge for yourself.

      Why then does James LeMesurier, founder of the “White Helmets”, follow Philip Cross on twitter? Why does ex-minister Tristram Hunt follow Philip Cross on Twitter? Why does Sarah Brown, wife of Gordon, follow Philip Cross on twitter?

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Jacques: UM feels a lot like the USSR

      According to the complaint: “The University’s disciplinary code prohibits ‘harassment’ and ‘bullying,’ and further increases the potential penalties if such actions were motivated by ‘bias.’ All of those concepts, as the University interprets and applies them, can capture staggering amounts of protected speech and expression.”

      [...]

      “Students should be able to express themselves without fear of retribution,” Neily says.

    • Careful what you say in this university, its speech policies are those of Soviet Russia

      UM is an egregious example of how public institutions are limiting the free expression and debate of ideas — something that seems in opposition to the whole point of a college campus. And it is also creating a climate of suspicion on campus by encouraging students to spy on one another. They never know who they can trust.

      [...]

      The university’s system of encouraging anonymous tattletales (with real consequences for accused students) is “not workable,” she argues.

    • Christian Universities Engaging In Censorship Of Newspapers

      The censorship of newspapers is considered a grievous act in places of learning, but lately some Christian universities are facing accusations of meddling in the stories presented in their own publications. Several students who work at university newspapers have had their stories turned away by editors, claiming that the material was not interesting or would otherwise damage the school’s reputation. For example, Erin Covey of Liberty University complained that her desire to cover an anti-Trump and anti-Falwell event near the campus were blocked by her editors, seemingly because the protesters were only there for free publicity.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Google Could Face $4.3 Billion Claim in U.K. IPhone Privacy Case

      IPhone users suing Google over data-collection claims may be seeking as much as 3.2 billion pounds ($4.29 billion), the search giant said in a court filing.

      The group representing iPhone users, known as Google You Owe Us, now includes 4.4 million people, according to documents filed with the court at a hearing Monday. The group says the Alphabet Inc. unit unlawfully collected people’s personal information by bypassing Apple Inc.’s iPhone default privacy settings.

      While any potential damages are still to be determined, the group has suggested each individual could receive 750 pounds if the case is successful, Google said in court documents. The Mountain View, California-based company denies the allegations and argued at the hearing that the dispute doesn’t belong in a London court.

    • Nearly Everyone In The U.S. And Canada Just Had Their Private Cell Phone Location Data Exposed

      The company recently received all the wrong kind of attention when it was caught up in a privacy scandal involving the nation’s wireless carriers and our biggest prison phone monopoly. Like countless other companies and governments, LocationSmart buys your wireless location data from cell carriers. It then sells access to that data via a portal that can provide real-time access to a user’s location via a tailored graphical interface using just the target’s phone number.

      [...]

      It was yet another example of the way nonexistent to lax consumer privacy laws in the States (especially for wireless carriers) routinely come back to bite us.

      But then things got worse.

      Driven by curiousity in the wake of the Times report, a PhD student at Carnegie Mellon University by the name of Robert Xiao discovered that the “try before you buy” system used by LocationSmart to advertise the cell location tracking system contained a bug, A bug so bad that it exposed the data of roughly 200 million wireless subscribers across the United States and Canada (read: nearly everybody).

    • Report Confirms Deep Flaws Of Automated Facial Recognition Software In The UK, Warns Its Use In The US Is Spreading

      Techdirt has written many stories about facial recognition systems. But there’s a step-change taking place in this area at the moment. The authorities are moving from comparing single images with database holdings, to completely automated scanning of crowds to obtain and analyze huge numbers of facial images in real time. Recently, Tim Cushing described the ridiculously high level of false positives South Wales Police had encountered during its use of automated facial recognition software. Before that, a post noted a similarly unacceptable failure rate of automated systems used by the Metropolitan Police in London last year.

      Now Big Brother Watch has produced a report bringing together everything we know about the use by UK police of automated facial recognition software (pdf), and its deep flaws. The report supplements that information with analyses of the legal and human rights framework for such systems, and points out that facial recognition algorithms often disproportionately misidentify minority ethnic groups and women.

    • Why Is My Facebook Android App Asking For “Superuser” Permission?

      It looks like developers working at Facebook really love to live dangerously. The company knows how to violate the user trust and play loose and fast with data protection and user privacy. The recent Cambridge Analytica scandal is a perfect example of the same.

    • The Facebook Android App Is Asking for Superuser Privileges and Users Are Freaking Out

      The Facebook Android app is asking for superuser permissions, and a bunch of users are freaking out about granting the Facebook app full access to their device, an understandable reaction following the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal.

      “Grants full access to your device,” read the prompts while asking users for superuser permissions.

    • Prime suspect in CIA ‘Vault 7′ hack still hasn’t been charged
    • Canada’s Trudeau Promotes ‘Anglosphere’ Spying

      While the media has been full of news about information-gathering by Facebook and other Internet giants, other secretive organizations that are a major threat to our personal privacy and public security are seldom mentioned. When they are, it has been because politicians are praising them and offering up more money for them to spy.

      For example, Justin Trudeau recently promoted the “Anglosphere’s” intelligence sharing arrangement. Two weeks ago, in a rare move, the PM revealed a meeting with his “Five Eyes” counterparts. After the meeting in London Trudeau labeled the 2,000 employee Communications Security Establishment, Canada’s main contributor to the “Five Eyes” arrangement, “an extraordinary institution”. Last year Trudeau said that “collaboration and cooperation between allies, friends and partners has saved lives and keeps all of our citizens safe.”

    • Jerry Chun Shing Lee spy trial: ex-CIA officer pleads not guilty, will wait a year before trial in US

      A former CIA officer and Hong Kong resident accused of passing top secret information to Chinese intelligence officers in exchange for money will have to wait a year before going on trial in the United States.

      Jerry Chun Shing Lee, an American citizen who worked for the CIA from 1994 to 2007, pleaded not guilty on Friday to one charge of conspiracy to commit espionage and two of illegally retaining classified information.

      Lee, 53, appeared for arraignment in a federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, “unshackled in a green jumpsuit and glasses”, according to CNN. US District Judge Thomas Selby Ellis III set his trial date for February 12, 2019.

    • UK Supreme Court to probe British spy court’s immunity from probing

      Privacy International’s years-long challenge against UK government hacking is headed to the nation’s final court of appeal at the end of the year.

      The case, part of the privacy activists’ ongoing legal battles over the UK’s spy agencies’ activities, focuses on the government’s use of general warrants to hack computers and devices inside and outside Blighty.

      The fight kicked off in 2014, when Privacy International issued a legal complaint to Britain’s spying oversight court, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, alleging the campaign group was hacked by GCHQ.

    • Chinese spies promised to take care of ex-CIA officer for life, prosecutors say

      Chinese spies promised to take care of a former CIA officer for life if he handed over information on clandestine activities in their country, federal prosecutors say.

      Defendant Jerry Chun Shing Lee, 53, pleaded not guilty Friday in federal court in Alexandria to charges of conspiracy to commit espionage and holding on to classified information after leaving the CIA.

    • Ex-CIA officer accused of spying for China pleads not guilty

      The Justice Department alleges that Lee, a former CIA case officer and US citizen, was asked to trade information for money by two Chinese intelligence officers in 2010 and 2011 while he lived in Hong Kong.

    • ‘I felt exposed online’: how to disappear from the [I]nternet

      The process of deleting one’s Facebook account is deliberately arcane. The social network encourages you to “deactivate” your account, rather than “delete” it, to leave an open door if you later regret the decision. Permanent deletion requires a request be made to the company. If you log in within 14 days of the process being under way (easy to do accidentally if you have the app on your phone or linked accounts that require you to log in via Facebook), the company will automatically cancel your original request.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Is a Moral Compass Enough for the CIA?

      On Thursday, Gina Haspel was confirmed as America’s next CIA director after the Senate voted to approve her nomination in a 54-45 vote. Her appointment stirred concern among anti-torture advocates because of her role in operating a black site in Thailand where operatives used enhanced interrogation techniques on detainees. For today’s issue, I spoke to a few former intelligence officials to get a sense of how officers navigate through situations that are morally challenging, and what happens when an agent receives a potentially unethical directive.

    • CIA’s Haspel can tap undercover work in Russian operations

      Scrutiny of the 33-year spy career of new CIA director Gina Haspel has focused on her undercover role in the harsh interrogation of suspected terrorists, but she cut her teeth in intelligence operations against Russia.

      She’s sure to tap that latter experience as she takes over at the nation’s premier intelligence agency at a time of rising tension with Moscow. President Donald Trump has characterized it as worse than during the Cold War, and it’s been aggravated by investigations into Moscow’s interference in the election that brought Trump to power.

    • McCaskill defends CIA vote, says reasons are classified
    • Democrat McCaskill defends no vote on Trump CIA pick – but can’t say why
    • Dem McCaskill slammed for vote against Trump CIA pick
    • McCaskill defends CIA vote, says reasons are classified
    • McCaskill defends CIA vote: Reasons classified

      Earlier Saturday, Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas said McCaskill “put partisan politics over national security” by opposing Haspel.

    • Donnelly stands by support of new CIA director

      Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly is standing by his support of the CIA’s newest director.

      Gina Haspel will be the first female director of the CIA. Her nomination was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday.

      Her confirmation was reached because of yes votes from six Senate democrats. That includes a vote from donnelly.

    • Haspel was only following orders: she’ll make a good CIA chief

      Listening to members of Congress question the putative director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Gina Haspel (in some cases rudely), one quickly got the impression that with the exception of a very few individuals on both sides, senators had their minds made up long before they sat down.

      The major reason is simply politics. We are so deeply split politically that I suspect that Jesus Christ would have trouble getting widespread support from this committee.

    • New CIA chief Gina Haspel is the ‘spy’s spy’

      The more uncomfortable parts of the new CIA chief’s Senate confirmation hearing would have taken place behind closed doors – fitting for a person who has spent most of her career in the shadows.

    • Innocent Infants

      There is a certain amount of confusion about the reason for the practice, and even more confusion about whether the activity it is seeking to prevent is criminal or not. But one thing is absolutely clear. It is not the same as what the Nazis did in the 1930s and 1940s, when families were being taken to concentration camps. When arriving at the camps, children were sometimes taken from their parents and, in many cases following the separation, would never again see their parents. The families arriving at the camps were not undocumented immigrants. They were citizens of the countries in which they lived.

      The Trumpsters are dealing with families that are neither citizens nor residents of the United States. The children they are dealing with are newly arrived in the United States. They are with parents who have arrived illegally and are seeking asylum. Like the Nazis, Trumpsters make no attempt to deny what they are doing. But whereas the Nazis had no need to justify what they were doing, the Trumpsters know that to avoid criticism, they must justify their actions.

    • Bright Light: Romania’s ‘Utter Denial’ of CIA Renditions Role

      Poland has grudgingly paid damages, Lithuania is investigating and Macedonia has apologised. Even Donald Trump’s pick to head the CIA said this month that it should never happen again.

      Yet Romania maintains a stubborn silence over its own alleged role in a secret CIA renditions and torture programme after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

      A March 28 apology by Macedonia’s year-old government for its involvement in the CIA rendition of a man in 2004 and the appointment of CIA director Gina Haspel has refocused attention on one of the darkest chapters of former President George W. Bush’s ‘War on Terror’.

      An upcoming ruling at the European Court of Human Rights, ECHR, is expected to punch a hole in the wall of official denial in Bucharest and a pending decision at the International Criminal Court, ICC, could yet bring more scrutiny.

    • This week’s reveals about the Deep State’s info ops

      It has been a big week for America, with big reveals showing how the Deep State manipulates the news – and our view of the world. Of course this has not been reported by the major news media.

    • Why misunderstanding identity politics undermines the goals of a just society

      The crisis of identity politics has undermined the concept of intersectionality, which is viewed as critical to the struggle for liberation from all forms of oppression. The recent assassination of the Brazilian Black queer activist Marielle Franco and the consequent public uproar demonstrate the threat intersectional leaders pose to the ruling establishment that uses division and preserves privilege to stifle change. Leaders such as Franco serve a vital unifying role in a peoples’ transnational solidarity movement that embraces—rather than eliminates—identities.

      Ashanti Monts-Treviska co-manages a social enterprise, Cascadia Deaf Nation, which focuses on creating a member-owned cooperative model that co-creates thriving spaces with Deaf Black Indigenous People of Color (DBIPOC*) in British Columbia, Washington State and Oregon. Monts-Treviska is a doctoral student in transformative studies and consciousness at the California Institute of Integral Studies.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Respecting Foreign Judgments and $79 million for clicking “I agree”

      After losing in the UK, SAS brought its lawsuit to the USA and won on the same contract claim that was a loser in the UK (but lost on the copyright claim). The US lawsuit also included a fraudulent inducement and unfair trade practices under N.C. UDTPA. A jury found WPL liable — although WPL was barred from presenting any evidence regarding its reliance upon the UK and EU safe harbors. Damages $80 million.

      In this process, the district court refused to give any preclusive effect to the UK judgment.

      On appeal, the Fourth Circuit held that the UK judgment was properly denied preclusive effect since it was contrary to North Carolina policy. “North Carolina courts [are] more protective of the sanctity of contracts” than are UK or EU courts.

    • WIPO Asked To Improve Its Reporting On Development Agenda Implementation

      The World Intellectual Property Organization annual self-evaluation of the implementation of its 2007 Development Agenda was rubber-stamped by most delegates again this year at the Committee on Development and Intellectual Property. But Brazil offered detailed suggestions on ways to improve the report and ensure that past work is not being included in the reporting on new accomplishments. It also warned against confusing WIPO’s Development Agenda work with its broader activities for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

    • Trademarks
      • Disparaging and scandalous trade marks post-Tam

        While the Supreme Court settled the issue of disparaging marks, Section 2(a)’s prohibition against immoral or scandalous marks is still being contested. The Federal Circuit last month declined to hear the Brunetti case en banc

      • Canada tackling trade mark trolls

        One provision in Canada’s national intellectual property strategy is to prevent the misuse of the registration system such as instances of “trademark squatting”

        The Canadian government unveiled its first national intellectual property strategy at the end of April, in which one provision was to prevent the misuse of the trademark registration system such as instances of “trademark squatting”.

    • Copyrights
      • Barton Beebe on Bleistein

        Barton Beebe’s recent article, Bleistein, the Problem of Aesthetic Progress, and the Making of American Copyright Law, was already highlighted on this blog by Shyamkrishna Balganesh, but I wanted to add a few thoughts of my own because I really enjoyed reading it—it is a richly layered dive into the intellectual history of U.S. copyright law, and a wonderful piece to savor on a weekend.

        In one sense, this is an article about one case’s role in U.S. copyright law, but it uses that case to tackle a fundamental question of copyright theory: what does it mean “to promote the Progress”? Beebe’s goal is not just to correct longstanding misunderstandings of Bleistein; as I understand it, his real point is that we can and should “assess[] aesthetic progress according to the simple propositions that aesthetic labor in itself is its own reward and that the facilitation of more such labor represents progress.” He thinks Justice Holmes’s invocation of “personality” in Bleistein represents a normatively attractive “third way” between judges assessing aesthetic merit and simply leaving this judgment to the market—that aesthetic progress is shown “by the mere fact that someone was willing to make the work, either for sale or otherwise, and that in making it, someone had invested one’s personality in the work.”

        This personality-centered view of copyright seems similar to the Hegelian personality theory that was drawn into IP by Peggy Radin and elaborated by Justin Hughes, though at times it seems more like Lockean theories based on the author’s labor. I think he could have done more to explain how his theory relates to this prior literature, and also how it’s different from a utilitarian theory that recognizes the value creators get from creating (à la Jeanne Fromer’s Expressive Incentives). In any case, I think Beebe’s take is interesting, particularly with the connection he draws to John Dewey’s American pragmatist vision of aesthetic progress.

      • Poking the IP [sic] bear

        Whether or not you believe “legacy” artists deserve more copyright protections, there is no good reason not to condition that gift upon the artist taking some steps to claim that right, so that the “legacy” recordings no one cares about can be simply and cheaply made available through archives and other sources. (And before you start with Berne and the like, re-read Sprigman’s piece.)

        This is the point just never engaged. [...]

      • Fairplay Canada Discredits “Pro-Piracy” TorrentFreak News, Then Cites Us

        Earlier this week Fairplay Canada, the coalition lobbying for a national piracy blocking mechanism, countered its critics in a detailed reply. Buried in the footnotes, the document also included a stab at TorrentFreak, ‘discrediting’ our coverage by labeling us a “pro-piracy” site. Interestingly, however, the same report later cites TorrentFreak as a reputable source on site-blocking jurisprudence.`

The Attacks on the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Have Lost Momentum and the Patent Microcosm Begrudgingly Gives Up

Monday 21st of May 2018 03:27:56 AM

Summary: The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), reaffirmed by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) and now the Supreme Court as well, carries on preventing frivolous lawsuits; options for stopping PTAB have nearly been exhausted and it shows

THERE’S nothing that the patent microcosm has not yet attempted in its war against PTAB. It tried to undermine the legitimacy of PTAB (to no avail), it attempted to slow PTAB down (also without success), and last year it even resorted to “scams” (misuse of immunity by using shell entities). The USPTO does not mind PTAB because it does not profit from litigation, unlike the patent microcosm. The USPTO just needs to grant good (valid) patents, unlike the EPO under Battistelli.

We’ve noticed a considerable decrease in criticisms of PTAB; after Oil States (basically the highest court cementing PTAB’s role with only two dissenting Justices) it seems like the patent microcosm nearly gave up trying to tear PTAB down. Watchtroll, one of the main anti-PTAB sites, covered Altaire Pharm., Inc. v Paragon Bioteck, Inc. yesterday, but this wasn’t even an anti-PTAB article. It feels as though they have learned to accept that PTAB is here to stay. This site’s founder, Gene Quinn, even wrote something titled “Is the pro-patent community going to continue to lose every battle?”

The patent microcosm just can’t stop lobbying Iancu after bullying/smearing his predecessor, Michelle Lee, showing that they’re a collective of bullies rather than legal professionals. Watchtroll now calls the patent extremists (like him) the “pro-patent community” as if patent rationalists are “anti-patents” (they’re not). Earlier this month Quinn maligned the Supreme Court, basically calling it “anti-patent”.

As if anyone who isn’t as extreme about patents (as Quinn is) must be “anti-patent”. False dichotomies much? Binary conditions?

We must also note that Watchtroll have been covering a lot of copyright and trademark stuff rather than patents — a rather profound difference (Watchtroll wrote about the Delaware litigation statistics, Vanda v West-Ward, another CAFC/PTAB case (Gen. Hosp. Corp. v Sienna Biopharmaceuticals, Inc.) but not much more). Have they given up? Is judge- and court-bashing all they have got left? Either way, let’s look elsewhere.

A month before Oil States (“article was first published in Intellectual Property Magazine, March 2018″) Joseph J. Raffetto, Arlene L. Chow and Corey Leggett (Hogan Lovells) wrote this article. It was finally made public (in full) just a few days ago. It had actually promoted the “scam” against PTAB:

Before projecting the future, it is important to reflect on the past. The US Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) in 2017 saw roughly the same number of filings as the two preceding years (ref. 1). The institution rate in 2017 remained similar as compared to 2015 and 2016 (ref. 2). The relatively consistent numbers for filings and institutions suggests that America Invents Act (AIA) proceedings have normalised and transitioned into a permanent fixture for the resolution of patent disputes.

[...]

Will ‘sovereign immunity’ continue to be a viable shield against PTAB proceedings?

Last September, Allergan and the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe (tribe) entered into an agreement under which Allergan transferred certain patents directed to an eye treatment drug to the tribe, which in turn licensed the patents back to Allergan. The tribe then filed motions to dismiss IPRs relating to six of these patents, arguing that the parties’ arrangement shielded the patents from AIA challenges under the doctrine of sovereign immunity. This is not the first attempt to defend against IPRs on the basis of sovereign immunity. The PTAB dismissed multiple IPRs last year pursuant to sovereign immunity defences where the patent owners were state universities (ref. 4) But, this deal with the tribe appears to be the first example of transferring a patent portfolio to a sovereign entity seemingly for the purpose of defending against PTAB patent challenges.

The PTAB appears to be addressing sovereign immunity with increasing scrutiny as a result. It has not ruled on the tribe’s motions to dismiss. Instead, in light of the unique posture of the patent transfer, it has solicited amicus briefing from “any interested party” on the tribe’s sovereign immunity defence. Overall, 15 amicus briefs were submitted: seven sided with the tribe, favouring granting the motions to dismiss; eight favoured denying the motions. The time for filing amicus briefs has passed, and the PTAB is scheduled to render its decision this spring. Other recent orders from the PTAB suggest further scepticism of the defence. In December, for example, a PTAB panel denied a state university’s motion to dismiss an IPR based on a sovereign immunity defence (ref. 5) The PTAB decision acknowledged that state entities are generally immune from adjudicatory proceedings by federal agencies – like IPRs – but nevertheless found that the university had waived its immunity by filing a lawsuit in federal court for infringement of the same patents at issue in the IPR.

Allergan and the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe have failed so badly and Oil States clearly undermines their ‘case’, making it futile.

It certainly feels like the patent microcosm is nowadays just hoping to slow PTAB down. IAM, the patent trolls’ lobby, is planning to do another lobbying event/push dressed up as “free webinar on how SCOTUS and the USPTO are reshaping the PTAB landscape” (with stacked panels too, obviously).

Brad Y. Chin, Kevin R. Tamm, and Yeon J. Ko recently a few days ago published this article about SAS v Iancu and Oil States. As usual, as in this case as well, sites of patent maximalists try hard to distract from Oil States and focus on the vastly less important decision from the same day. To quote the parts about Oil States:

The Supreme Court issued decisions in the cases of Oil States v. Greene’s Energy and SAS v. Iancu, addressing the constitutionality of inter partes review (“IPR”) and determining whether the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) must decide the patentability of all claims challenged by an IPR petitioner. The decisions held that IPR proceedings are constitutional and 35 U.S.C. § 318(a) requires the PTAB to issue a final written decision addressing the patentability of all claims challenged in the petition if instituted, putting an end to “partial institution” decisions. Although the Court has clarified the constitutionality of IPR, its decision in SAS will significantly impact the role of the petitioner, patent owner, and PTAB, creating less certainty for parties during IPR proceedings.

In Oil States, the Court held 7-2 that IPR, an adjudicative procedure before the PTAB at the United States Patent & Trademark Office (“USPTO”) to reconsider patentability of issued patents, does not violate Article III of the Constitution nor the Seventh Amendment. Oil States Energy Servs., LLC v. Greene’s Energy Grp., LLC, No. 16-712, slip op. (U.S. Apr. 24, 2018). Patent owner and petitioner Oil States sued Greene’s Energy in federal court for infringing Oil States’ patent, encompassing protections for wellhead equipment used in fracking. Greene’s Energy countersued asserting invalidity of the patent and also filed an IPR petition before the PTAB. Pending litigation, the PTAB, after institution, invalidated challenged claims in the patent. On appeal, the Federal Circuit upheld the constitutionality of IPR and ultimately affirmed the PTAB’s decision.

In addition to SAS v Iancu there’s also Anacor Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v Iancu (another one of those “big pharma” cases). Covered by Donald Zuhn as well as others is this case of bogus patents being thrown away by both PTAB and (then) CAFC. The gist of it:

On Monday, the Federal Circuit affirmed the determination by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board in an inter partes review that claim 6 of U.S. Patent No. 7,582,621 is unpatentable for obviousness. On appeal, Anacor Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the assignee of the ’621 patent, challenged the Board’s reasoning in finding claim 6 to be invalid.

[...]

On appeal, Anacor argued that: (1) the Board violated due process and the procedural requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act by failing to provide Anacor with adequate notice of, and an opportunity to respond to, the grounds of rejection ultimately adopted by the Board; (2) the Board improperly shifted the burden of proof by requiring the patent owner to disprove obviousness; and (3) the Board incorrectly concluded that the compounds of Austin are structurally similar to the compounds of Brehove. In an opinion authored by Judge Bryson, and joined by Judge Reyna and Judge Stoll, the Federal Circuit rejected Anacor’s challenges to the Board’s reasoning and upheld the Board’s conclusion that claim 6 of the ’621 patent is invalid for obviousness.

It’s quite common for CAFC to agree with PTAB, especially on grounds such as these. Speaking of “mathematical analysis of information,” CAFC recently threw away another such patent:

After considering the claims, the district court granted SAP’s motion for judgment on the pleadings — finding that the claimed process of “performing statistical analysis” is an ineligible abstract idea. In particular, the district court saw core of the claim as being directed toward an ineligible mathematical calculation. The field limitation (investment data) and generically claimed usable output (“a plot”) were insufficient to transmute the idea into a golden claim.

Had CAFC actually overturned PTAB, patent maximalists would be shouting from the rooftops again. One patent maximalist, “IP Hawk”, celebrates very small ‘wins’. “Nice to see Reatlime Data get a win at PTAB in a final decision. Opinion just filed,” he wrote. So much for a ‘win’ (as he put it). Is that like one in a hundred? Dozens? It’s also at a very low level (not even a court case).

Right now (in 2018) it is extremely hard to convince PTAB and the patent courts; they don’t tolerate low-quality patent grants, which patent trolls have come to heavily rely on (Watchtroll is still denying that they exist and are a problem, having just called the very mention of them “political bullying”).

As covered here earlier this month, PTAB and CAFC are nowadays tackling some of the worst patent trolls. The example of Personal Audio has been covered by the “big media” by now (e.g. “Supreme Court declines to hear “podcasting patent” case, handing win to EFF” in so-called ‘liberal’ press, not to mention the Conservative media’s coverage). This had also been covered by Mike Masnick and Nazer of the EFF. Masnick’s post recalls:

Going back many years now we’ve written about the company Personal Audio, which built itself up as a patent troll for digital audio. Back in 2011, it won a patent lawsuit against Apple over patents on playlists. In 2013, as podcasting was starting to take off, Personal Audio decided that one of its other patents actually covered podcasting as well and sued some top podcasters while threatening many others. EFF stepped in to use the valuable inter partes review process to seek to invalidate the patent, which worked. Though, in the process the company sought to intimidate EFF donors.

While all of this was happening, the company also realized that podcasters don’t make any money, and figured out how to dump its lawsuits against individual podcasters… while still going after large companies like CBS.

And here’s Ars Technica:

On Monday, the Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear the case of Personal Audio v. Electronic Frontier Foundation. In short, the case is all said and done.

As Ars reported in August 2017, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the April 2015 inter partes review (IPR) ruling—a process that allows anyone to challenge a patent’s validity at the US Patent and Trademark Office.

“On Monday,” Don’t Bully My Business wrote, “SCOTUS dismissed a case involving an infamous patent troll. Click the link to read more about this success story!”

What needs to be remembered is this: those who keep attacking PTAB basically defend entities like Personal Audio, i.e. patent trolls. This is why we call sites like IP Watchdog and its founder “Watchtroll” (and have done that for many years). Also remember that PTAB is broadly supported by technology companies, both large and small; it’s mostly opposed by law firms.

Software Patenting and Successful Litigation a Very Difficult Task Under 35 U.S.C. § 101

Monday 21st of May 2018 02:33:36 AM

Better not bother

Summary: Using loads of misleading terms or buzzwords such as “AI” the patent microcosm continues its software patents pursuits; but that’s mostly failing, especially when courts come to assess pertinent claims made in the patents

NO MATTER what patent law firms keep claiming, software patents are hard to get at the USPTO. They’re even harder to ‘sell’ to judges and juries; expert testimonies can ‘peel off’ the layers of buzzwords and demonstrate that a lot of software patents (whether they’re called “cloud” or “IoT” or whatever) boil down to algorithms or code, i.e. the domain of copyrights.

We’re not done writing about software patents. The subject needs to be constantly brought up because rebuttals are necessary. Many public events and news sites are still dominated by patent law firms. They tell audiences what they want them to believe rather than what is true.

Consider this example from 24 hours ago. The patent microcosm is still trying to figure out how to get software patents which courts — more so than examiners — would likely reject anyway. To quote the outline of this upcoming ‘webinar’ (lobbying/marketing):

Strafford will be offering a webinar entitled “Functional Claiming for Software Patents: Leveraging Recent Court Treatment — Surviving 112(f) and Disclosing Functional Basis for Software to Meet Heightened Standard of Review” on June 5, 2018 from 1:00 to 2:30 pm (EDT). Cory C. Bell and Doris Johnson Hines of Finnegan Henderson Farabow Garrett & Dunner will guide IP counsel on functional claiming in software patents and USPTO prosecution, examine recent court treatment, and explain how to navigate the issue of functionality given the uncertainties in the prosecution and litigation contexts.

Check out who’s on this panel (‘webinar’); basically nobody that has anything to do with software. It’s what’s commonly known as “circle-jerk”.

It has become fashionable to ‘dress up’ software patents as all sorts of things; the EPO likes three-letter acronyms such as “ICT”, “CII”, and “4IR”. A couple of days ago there was this press release titled “Sigma Labs Expands into Europe, Granted Patent for Monitoring Additive Manufacturing Processes” and it talked about software between the lines:

Sigma Labs has several additional patents pending related to its PrintRite3D technology. This recently granted patent is for the first application of 18 submitted over the past five years in the general domain of in process quality assurance.

This is an “assurance software company”, the product is pure software, their press release speaks of “proprietary software algorithms” and mentions “experience in software business development…”

They basically operate in my professional field (computer vision/3-D) and I expect them to pursue patents on algorithms (mathematics/geometry). But they will avoid phrases like “software patents”, knowing that terms like these have become dirty words (grounds for rejection/invalidation).

Many computer vision tasks are nowadays tackled by statistical models (I have done a lot of that personally); so they embrace terms like Machine Learning and sometimes Artificial Intelligence (AI). It just sounds so much more ‘trendy’.

Several days ago Bereskin & Parr LLP’s Isi Caulder and Paul Blizzard suggested painting bogus software patents as “AI” just to get patent grants:

Protecting and Navigating Intellectual Property for Artificial Intelligence Based Technologies

[...]

…AI data processing systems, has seen an increase of 500%. While increasing numbers of AI technology patents are issuing, as with other kinds of computer-implemented inventions, AI-based inventions are generally vulnerable to being considered ineligible subject matter.

These are all software patents. No question about it…

Buzzwords have taken over however — to the point where IP Watch now speaks of a UN-led international summit on artificial intelligence. The World Economic Forum, which keeps promoting the EPO’s “4IR” nonsense, has just published “Robot inventors are on the rise. But are they welcomed by the patent system?”

They’re talking about computer-generated patents which would merely make the entire system collapse by filling it up with junk. See this new paper titled “Patentability of AI-Generated Inventions: Is a Reform of the Patent System Needed?

Here’s the abstract:

As technology advances, artificial intelligence (AI)-generated inventions – i.e., inventions created autonomously or semi-autonomously by computer systems – are deemed to becoming more common. The human ingenuity in such inventions is less visible, while at the same time the inventing activity becomes easier, as most of the mental effort is passed on to the AI. However, this scenario makes it harder to assess whether the invention possesses an “inventive step” – a condition for patentability that requires the invention to be non-obvious to a skilled person. Indeed, a given AI-generated invention might be non-obvious to a skilled person; but it will probably be obvious to a person that has access to a similar AI. The main aim of this research is to assess whether patent laws are fit for purpose with regard to the patentability of AI-generated inventions, in particular in what concerns the inventive step requirement. With that objective, the research carries out a comparative analysis of the inventive step (or non-obviousness) requirement in Japan, the European Union and the United States. The research will conclude with recommendations towards an international harmonization of the interpretation of, and practices related to, the inventive step requirement in the field of AI-generated inventions.

This is the whole “AI” hype gone out of control.

As we said at the start, the word “cloud” also gets (mis)used quite a lot. That just typically means “server”, but it’s supposed to sound a lot more advanced and novel/innovative.

The litigation firm of ‘former’ Microsoft staff (Bart Eppenauer, Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P.) did some ‘cloudwashing’ of software patents last week. To quote some bits that name Free/libre software and patent trolls (“NPEs”):

Open Source Software is also in the cross-hairs of numerous cloud patent lawsuits. It’s no surprise that patent trolls would target open source, such as Sound View’s lawsuit against Fidelity directed at multiple OSS components, including jQuery, OpenStack Object Storage (Swift), Apache HBase, and Apache Storm. Sound View also filed earlier lawsuits against open source software usage of major cloud service providers such as Hulu, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. What did come as a surprise were the patent infringement allegations that Citrix leveled against Avi Networks’ cloud application delivery platform for OpenStack, mentioned above in the context of cloud competitor lawsuits.

[...]

Overall, patent litigation filings in 2018 are on par, if somewhat below, the number of filings in 2017. However, in a fascinating development, the number of Non-NPE patent lawsuits exceeds the number of NPE lawsuits for the first time in years, according to Unified Patents Q1 2018: Patent Dispute Report.

[...]

On the other hand, the change in patent venue law and subsequent decline of the Eastern District of Texas as the hotbed of patent litigation ushered in by TC Heartland will require NPEs to continue evolving their litigation tactics. On balance, however, these actions collectively may increase the strength and certainty of U.S. patents after a decade of what many see as an assault on patent value by the Supreme Court in particular. If that trend holds, and patents become more powerful (and valuable), cloud patent lawsuits will certainly be on the rise in the coming years.

Calling such patents “cloud” something (in order to bypass Section 101) is a very old trick. How long will that work for? Section 101 (§ 101), once applied by courts rather than a sole patent examiner, tends to eliminate every such patent. There are quite a few examples of § 101 in action, including from the past week. In Dailygobble, Inc. v SCVNGR, Inc., according to this, the CBM patent “Survives” (they use that word to imply the plaintiff is the one coming under attack), but in a case involveing SAP § 101 came to the rescue and eliminated the patent at every level (repeatedly). Charles Bieneman explains:

The Federal Circuit has held that patent claims directed to “performing certain statistical analyses of investment information” are patent-ineligible under the Alice/Mayo abstract idea test and 35 U.S.C. § 101, thus affirming a District Court’s judgment on the pleadings. SAP America, Inc. v. InvestPic, LLC, No. 2017-2081 (Fed Cir. May 15, 2018) (precedential) (opinion by Judge Taranto), joined by Judges Lourie and O’Malley). In the second paragraph of its opinion, the court emphasized that brilliant innovation would not alone save patent-eligibility, nor could novelty and non-obviousness under 35 U.S.C. §§ 102 and 103.

The same blog also mentioned this § 112 case — same section as mentioned by Li Feng and Stacy Lewis at Watchtroll 3 days ago. § 112 isn’t of much interest to us, nor are these other cases [1, 2] where patents get invalidated or cases thrown out on another basis (not for being abstract).

§ 101 came to the rescue in Genetic Veterinary Sciences, Inc. d/b/a Paw Prints Genetics v LABOklin GmbH & Co. KG et al (last week). It’s another bogus/abstract patent that was granted by examiners and was found to be “Invalid Under 35 U.S.C. § 101″:

Following a jury trial, the court granted plaintiff’s motion for judgment as a matter of law because the asserted claims of plaintiff’s labrador retriever genotyping patent encompassed unpatentable subject matter and found that the claims were directed toward a natural phenomenon.

How about patents which pertain to “law of nature”? Here’s another new case, this one too having been covered by the Docket Navigator:

The court granted plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment because the asserted claims of its pain treatment patents did not encompass unpatentable subject matter and found that the claims were not directed toward a law of nature.

This is an actual court case, but sometimes it doesn’t even have to go this far. As we’ll show in our next post, a post about the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), a lot of patents get denied before a lawsuit is even initiated. The courts agree with PTAB’s decisions most of the time and even refuse to accept most appeals. The “Federal Circuit held that all of the claims challenged in an IPR were obvious,” Patently-O wrote some days ago, “upholding the PTAB’s obviousness determination with respect to most of the claims but reversing its nonobviousness determination with respect to a few.”

It mentions sections 101 and 102/103 as follows:

In a divided opinion, the Federal Circuit held that all of the claims challenged in an IPR were obvious, upholding the PTAB’s obviousness determination with respect to most of the claims but reversing its nonobviousness determination with respect to a few. Praxair Distribution raises of a number of distinct, yet interrelated, issues concerning the cryptic, yet essential, printed matter doctrine: the opinion addresses the doctrine’s extension to mental steps, its implications for the relationship between sections 101 and 102/103, and the breadth of its functional-relation exception.

U.S. Patent 8,846,112 covers methods of distributing nitric oxide gas cylinders for pharmaceutical applications. Inhaling nitric oxide dilates blood vessels in the lungs and improves blood oxygenation, and it is approved for treating neonates with hypoxic respiratory failure. The prior art taught that inhaled nitric oxide may lead to pulmonary edema, a serious adverse event, in neonates with left ventricular dysfunction. The claims of the ‘112 patent address methods that build on this prior art. Roughly, the claims can be sorted into three groups: the informing claims, the informing-and-evaluating claims, and the informing-and-discontinuing-treatment claims. This commentary addresses each of these three groups of claims in turn.

As we shall show in our next post, after Oil States the momentum of attacks on PTAB’s credibility has mostly been lost. We don’t think there will ever be a rebound for patent maximalists and they too are starting to come to grips with it.

António Campinos Will Push Toward a France-Based Unified Patent Court (UPC)

Monday 21st of May 2018 01:40:10 AM

Michel Barnier (centre) lobbied for the UPC for many years (since the days it wasn’t even called UPC)

Summary: Frenchmen at the EPO will try hard to bring momentum if not force to the Unified Patent Court; facts, however, aren’t on their side (unlike Team UPC, which was always on Team Battistelli’s side)

YESTERDAY we wrote about the TC Heartland determination turning one. Lawyers, especially upon this decision’s anniversary, still try to work their way around it. They want to make it possible to drag companies into patent courts/trials far away from where they’re based. In re HTC Corp. was recalled yesterday (Sunday) by Watchtroll. “The patent venue statute does not apply to foreign corporations sued for patent infringement,” it said. “These foreign defendants may be sued in any judicial district where they are subject to personal jurisdiction.” This is part of a pattern.

We find this quite relevant to the UPC/Brexit debate. Can British companies be sued over patent infringement in other countries (for their activities inside Britain)? With court proceedings that aren’t even in English? This question has been brought up in the constitutional complaint in Germany (the language and the UK’s status in Europe).

“Can British companies be sued over patent infringement in other countries (for their activities inside Britain)?”Patent maximalists and Team UPC in their lawyers-centric sites don’t seem bothered by such questions. They seem so eager to see a torrent of new patent lawsuits, so earlier this month they were in “full fanboi” mode for the UPC.

Max Walters, a journalist rather than a lawyer, called it the “patent court’s Brexit paradox”. August Debouzy, boosters of Battistelli agenda, spoke of “the disappearance of a statute of limitations”. Law firms were generally enthusiastic however. FB Rice’s Jeremy Dobbin, Madeleine Kelly, Steve Gledhill, Andrea Ruhrmann, Eddie Walker, Toby Thompson and Will Morgan acted as though UPC is inevitable, George Tebbutt (Haseltine Lake LLP) said it “inches closer,” and Mayer Brown LLP’s Oliver Yaros, Mark A. Prinsley, Dr. Ulrich Worm and Christoph J. Crützen wrote 6 days ago that Britain had ratified (no matter if it’s not really possible for the country to ever participate).

“Long story short, there are serious and tough questions to be asked — ones that Team UPC is unwilling to answer, let alone bring up.”Even Joff Wild, who had promoted the UPC on the EPO’s payroll (the PR department/external agencies), cited this article from yesterday and wrote in IAM that the situation “could explode politically”. Mr. Wild makes it no secret that he opposes Brexit (he said so for a couple of years) and here is his explanation:

It is, for example, the British public’s complete ignorance of IP law and policy – and the consequent total lack of interest that it inspires among the country’s politicians – that allowed the UK government to ratify the UPC agreement last month.

It happened, let’s not forget, despite questions the move raises about the post-Brexit role of the Court of Justice of the European Union; and the apparent contradiction inherent in insisting on taking back control while signing up to a treaty that means, for the first time, judges from outside the UK will decide on infringement and validity issues, as well as remedies, in patent litigation directly affecting the UK.

In the same way, you are not going to get much more than a shrug of the shoulders from 99% of the British population when it is finally decided what happens to Community trademarks currently valid in the UK or how the country’s copyright regime might evolve once EU directives and regulations no longer apply here.

[...]

Today’s Observer reports that UK and US officials are secretly discussing some of the issues that will need to be sorted out if a post-Brexit trade deal between the two countries is going to happen. One that has been identified is changing the definition of what can be classed as whisky. That is something which would have huge ramifications in Scotland.

What’s more, the report states: “The US also wants protected designation of origin, which safeguards products such as Cornish pasties or Melton Mowbray pork pies, dispensed with because they “undermine access” for US producers.”

Long story short, there are serious and tough questions to be asked — ones that Team UPC is unwilling to answer, let alone bring up.

It’s obvious that Battistelli will never see the UPC, not as EPO President anyway (there are speculations that he hopes to become the UPC’s chief). António Campinos becomes the EPO’s President next month. We now have a new Web (Wiki) page about articles that focus on him. Mr. Wild speaks a great deal about trademarks — a topic/aspect currently dealt with by the EU-IPO, headed by Campinos. We expect Campinos to work hard and push hard towards the UPC; whether he will lie about it as routinely as Battistelli did remains to be seen, but remember that Team Battistelli remains in tact and Campinos does not intend to alter its composition (based on inside sources).

In Apple v Samsung Patents That Should Never Have Been Granted May Result in a Billion Dollars in ‘Damages’

Monday 21st of May 2018 01:05:23 AM

Merely damages the credibility of the USPTO if anything…


Reference: 11 Cool, Funny or Just Plain Strange Patents for Back to School

Summary: A roundup of news about Apple and its patent cases (especially Apple v Samsung), including Intel’s role trying to intervene in Qualcomm v Apple

HERE in this Web site we prefer to focus on topics/angles which ought to be covered by mainstream media but never/rarely are. The Apple v Samsung trial is generally being covered quite a lot by big publishers, e.g. “Apple v Samsung Poses Threat Beyond Just Tech” and other new headlines/reports [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. It is already being mentioned quite heavily in social control media, probably because Apple is involved. Not many patent cases manage to attract quite as much public interest. We remarked on it a few times earlier this month. As Wall Street media put it last week, “Apple Wants $1 Billion From Samsung at Smartphone Retrial” (retrial after nearly a decade of fighting).

Apple has taken patent maximalism/lunacy to new heights in California. It’s seeking billions in ‘damages’ over a simple shape of something. To quote one report:

Apple Inc. is seeking about $1 billion from Samsung Electronics Co. in another go-round stemming from a long-running smartphone patent-infringement dispute.

Jurors at the retrial before before U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, learned at the outset that the South Korean company infringed three of Apple’s design patents and two utility patents. Their sole job, Apple lawyer Bill Lee said, is to determine what damages Apple can collect.

Damages? What damages? As Josh Landau (CCIA) put it 5 days ago:

The design patent total profits rule of § 289 was created in an era when awards of profits were common and where complex multi-component products like we have today were uncommon. (Obviously, the concept of a computing device with an ecosystem of third-party app developers wasn’t even within the realm of imagination when § 289 was written.)

In fact, § 289 was created as a reaction to a decision about carpet decorations. A customer might seek out and buy a carpet just because of the design. But for most products today, that simply isn’t the case.

In order to avoid the kind of perverse results I’ve described, the article of manufacture for an icon or GUI should be interpreted as the software, not the device it runs on. And even if that change were made, Congress should still consider revisiting the total profits rule. A single infringing icon that’s a small part of a complex operating system shouldn’t entitle a patent owner to the total profits on the whole operating system—no matter how iconic it might be.

Patents on designs are a clear misfit; copyright and trademark laws cover designs. There’s this new blog post at IP Kat about industrial designs in Mexico with subheadings like “New concepts for industrial design examination” and “New regime for the validity of designs” (they aren’t talking about patents!).

Going back to Landau, the following day he published “Smartphones, Diapers, and Design Patents” — a post in which he mentioned Microsoft v Corel analysis by Sarah Burstein. She is a proponent of such patents. She wrote about it years ago.

Landau alludes to diapers and says:

Apple v. Samsung is obviously about high tech smartphones. Other recent design patent cases have focused on high tech products as well—both the Nikola v. Tesla case Patent Progress covered recently and the Microsoft v. Corel case that Prof. Sarah Burstein described over on Patently-O deal with high tech products.

[...]

Similarly, in a design patent case involving diapers, you have a printed outside layer—and then all the technology on the inside. Is the article of manufacture the entire diaper, or the printed outside layer? And how do you distinguish that from the Apple v. Samsung case?

The truth of the matter is — as we have been arguing for a number of years — patents on designs are too bizarre a concept. Watchtroll now promotes the nuisance patent litigation against Tesla (over mere shape/curves of a truck). Patent maximalists typically like any patents, irrespective of how broad they are. That just means more litigation, hence more business for them.

“The truth of the matter is — as we have been arguing for a number of years — patents on designs are too bizarre a concept.”There is another patent battle going on which involves Apple. But it’s not about design patents and it has nothing whatsoever to do with Samsung. As Florian Müller put it the other day: “While waiting for a tire change, I get to watch another #Qualcomm v. #Apple #patent infringement hearing at the Munich I Regional Court. Some chipset in some Apple products allegedly infringes on a manufacturing patent. Intel joined Apple in challenging the patent. More to follow [] Breaking News: Qualcomm employee just told the Munich I Regional Court today (at a #patent infringement hearing relating to the A10 chip) that Apple recently canceled a settlement meeting on short notice. Next meeting not scheduled yet.”

Müller then wrote a blog post about it:

While Apple is seeking north of $1 billion in damages from Samsung in the ongoing jury re-retrial in the Northern District of California, its earth-spanning dispute with Qualcomm continued today in the Munich I Regional Court with a first hearing (the primary objective of which is roughly comparable to that of a Markman hearing in a U.S. patent infringement case). Qualcomm alleges that the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus infringe its EP1199750 on a “post[-]passivation interconnection scheme on top of [an] IC chip.”

I’ll start with the most interesting piece of information I gleaned there. A Qualcomm employee–presumably an in-house lawyer, but I don’t know his name and title–responded to Presiding Judge Dr. Zigann’s question about the state of settlement discussions. According to Qualcomm, the parties had scheduled a meeting that would have taken place recently, but Apple canceled on short notice, and no new meeting has been agreed upon yet.

Qualcomm has long exploited SEP to tax pretty much every large company that sells chips (or products with chips inside them) — a subject which does not seem to bother Delrahim, unlike a long list or big bunch of “former government officials and professors” as Müller put it (Dennis Crouch covered this around the same time).

“Patent maximalists typically like any patents, irrespective of how broad they are. That just means more litigation, hence more business for them.”It’s worth noting that Intel sides with Apple here; Intel also lobbies for software patents and days ago Michael Proksch from Intel Standards Group was quoted as saying that they they invest $100 million annually in a 50,000-strong patent portfolio.

Intel has in fact filed/fired another patent missile:

Intel has filed for a declaratory judgment of non-infringement against small semiconductor licensing business Tela Innovations, in another dispute that shows how assertion activity is continuing to pick up in the chip sector. This spat has a particularly interesting edge to it given that Intel was an early investor in Tela and the two companies have a covenant not to sue (CNTS) dating back to May 2007. That covenant is still in effect and according to Intel’s filing “covers Tela patents claiming priority during the term of the CNTS”

A CNTS has all sorts of other names associated with it. Tela is actually new to us. It seems to be rather obscure, more or less like many patent trolls, but its Web site does not come across as that. There’s more to them than their patents.

“Imagine lots of patent lawsuits over shapes of cars or components around/inside the car.”Where does this all end up? Where do such large companies (Intel, Qualcomm, Apple and Samsung) position themselves in the market? Who will pay for the legal battles if not customers that nowadays pay about $1,000 for a phone? The shape of things — pardon the pun — ain’t so great.

According to yesterday’s latest update from Müller, Homer Simpson may sway the big trial, which is a jury trial:

It would have been preferable to give the Apple v. Samsung design patent damages re-retrial jury in San Jose (Northern District of California) a chance to render a verdict before the weekend. In that case, jurors might have put an end to this disruption of their lives. But the way things worked out, they’re now going to think about what position to take on Monday morning when official deliberations begin. In the meantime, they’re not allowed to talk to anyone about the case or to take a look at any media reports (whether some jurors do so anyway is another question, but they’re not supposed to).

As in the previous trials in this case, and as I mentioned a few days ago, Apple’s lawyers portrayed Samsung as an intentional infringer, an unrepentant copyist, with Samsung being barred from presenting some evidence that could have shed a different kind of light on that question.

The holdings that (i) Samsung infringed those three design patents (a long time ago) and (ii) that those patents are valid are “law of the case” and the re-retrial jury must presume both to be the case. It is worth noting, however, that courts in other jurisdictions looked at international equivalents of those intellectual property rights (and at devices from the same generation of Android-based Samsung products) and reached rather different conclusions. But things are the way they are for the purposes of this U.S. case, so the focus is just on damages, and the single most important question in this regard is what “article of manufacture” a disgorgement of Samsung’s profits should be based on: the entire device (which was considered a foregone conclusion in previous trials, but the Supreme Court and, previously, the United States Department of Justice disagreed with Judge Koh, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and Judge Lucy H. Koh) or one or more components?

[...]

The world outside that San Jose courtroom overwhelmingly prefers a component-based damages determination. This InsideSources article on the problems that an excessive damages amount in the Apple v. Samsung case could cause tech and non-tech companies alike is a good example. But jurors won’t have the benefit of such information on the wider ramifications of what they’re required to decide.

“What has patent maximalism wrought?”We have always argued that jury trials, especially for technical matters, are inadequate. It is rather odd that such trials are even being considered in this domain. If Apple gets its way, a lot of industries will be impacted. Imagine lots of patent lawsuits over shapes of cars or components around/inside the car.

What has patent maximalism wrought?

Links 20/5/2018: KDevelop 5.2.2 and 5.2.3, FreeBSD 11.2 Beta 2

Sunday 20th of May 2018 12:22:38 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Linux fragmentation – The Sum of All Egos

    If Tom Clancy had been a technophile of the software kind, he’d have used this title instead of the familiar one for one of his iconic blockbuster thrillers. The thing is, Linux accounts for a tiny percentage of the overall desktop market share. The perennial 1% has been around roughly since 2005, and even if the actual share is higher than that, it’s still a small and largely insignificant fraction. And yet, there are hundreds of Linux distributions populating this narrow, crowded arena. Why? Well, ego, of course.

    One might say: open source. Ah, well, the open-source nature of Linux has been the chief excuse to the colorful abundance of replication and duplication of the Linux desktop world, while at the same time serving as the main catalyst to the expansion of Linux in the commercial space, which makes for a dubious cause. I believe the reason is different. Let me tell you what it is.

  • Desktop
    • ‘Crush Them’: An Oral History of the Lawsuit That Upended Silicon Valley

      The then-23-year-old giant, which ruled the personal computer market with a despotic zeal, stood accused of using monopoly power to bully collaborators and squelch competitors. Its most famous victim was Netscape, the pioneering web browser, but everyone from Apple to American Airlines felt threatened by late-’90s Microsoft. The company was big enough to be crowned America’s most valuable firm, bold enough to compare attacks on its domain to Pearl Harbor, and, eventually, bad enough to be portrayed as a (semifictionalized) cadre of hypercapitalist murderers in a major motion picture. The “don’t be evil” optics that colored the rise of today’s tech giants (and have recently lost their efficacy) were a direct response to Microsoft’s tyrannical rule.

  • Kernel Space
    • Steam Controller Kernel Driver Is Landing In The Linux 4.18 Kernel

      The Linux 4.18 kernel will feature the initial Steam Controller kernel driver that works without having to use the Steam client or using third-party user-space applications like the SC-Controller application.

      A few months back we reported on a kernel driver being worked on for the Steam Controller by an independent user/developer outside of the gates of Valve. In part through reverse-engineering, Rodrigo Rivas Costa has been working on this native Steam Controller Linux kernel driver that works for both USB cable and wireless modes of the Steam Controller and is a proper HID driver.

    • Graphics Stack
      • AMD Zen CPU Microcode Added To Linux-Firmware Tree, Bulldozer Updated

        When the Linux Firmware tree was updated on Friday with the newest AMDGPU firmware files for the graphics processors, the Family 17h “Zen” CPU microcode files also made their debut.

      • Learn How To Make Use Of Vulkan’s New Debug Extension – VK_EXT_debug_utils
      • ARM Mali 400/450 “Lima” DRM Driver Steps Closer To Mainline

        When it comes to open-source ARM Mali graphics driver efforts there has been the Panfrost driver targeting the Mali T700 series that has occupied much of the limelight recently, but there has been a separate effort still working on open-source driver support for the older 400/450 series.

        Qiang Yu who works for AMD during the daytime has for the past number of months been working in his spare time on reviving open-source ARM Mali 400 series support. Qiang’s efforts are based upon the original “Lima” driver initiative that was started years earlier by Luc Verhaegen.

      • AMD Rolls Out New Firmware For A Number Of GPUs

        AMD has landed a number of updated firmware images into the linux-firmware tree for their recent generations of hardware.

        There is updated Radeon GPU firmware for Raven Ridge, Fiji, Tonga, Stoney, Topaz, Carrizo, Vega 10, Polaris 10, Polaris 11, and Polaris 12 GPU families. More or less, the newer AMD GPUs now have updated firmware available.

      • RADV Gets Support For 32-bit GPU Pointers For User SGPRs, Benefiting Performance

        Samuel Pitoiset of Valve’s Linux graphics driver team has been working on support for 32-bit GPU pointers for user SGPRs as his latest performance enhancement for this open-source Radeon Vulkan driver.

        Months after AMD’s Marek Olšák was working on 32-bit pointers for RadeonSI to free up some scalar general purpose registers (SGPRs), Pitoiset has been pursuing similar support for the RADV Vulkan driver.

      • Raven Ridge With The Ryzen 5 2400G On Mesa 18.2 + Linux 4.17 Is Finally Stable

        Depending upon the motherboard and other factors, the Raven Ridge Linux support has been a bit of a mess since its February launch. Fortunately, with time various Linux driver fixes have landed for improving the stability and performance of these APUs with Zen CPU cores and Vega graphics. During my recent testing of the AMD Ryzen 5 2400G, it was completely stable and running fine with the newest open-source driver code but the Ryzen 3 2200G was still a stability nightmare.

      • Mesa 18.1 is out with the shader cache on for Intel

        Open source drivers on Linux have advanced rather quickly and now we have another fresh release out with Mesa 18.1 which was released yesterday.

        One of the major new features, is that the shader cache for Intel is now turned on by default, which should hopefully result in smoother performance for those of you gaming with an Intel GPU. Vulkan 1.1 support for the AMD RADV and Intel ANV drivers, plus various performance improvements and bug fixes.

  • Applications
    • SMTube review – Your train to Youtube

      It’s a no brainer. On the desktop, you go online, and you open a tab and you load Youtube, and then you play clips. But then, on mobile devices, you have dedicated applications, which usually offer a somewhat more efficient media experience. So, on the desktop, it’s the browser way or the … SMTube way?

      SMTube is a cross-platform Youtube player, which allows you to search and play videos from the popular media platform, with some additional search tweaks and filters, and extra download options, all this from the desktop, without having to keep a browser tab open. It’s a convenient tool to use, and with the recent rewrite, it actually works, and it works fairly well. I decided to test to see what gives.

      [...]

      SMTube looks like a nice tool. It is not strictly necessary or needed, but it does allow you to have Youtube open and playing, even if you’re not currently using your browser, i.e. you can use it like any other media player. This is nice, plus you get a clean and intuitive interface, decent search and filter options, and it’s easy to change settings and configure additional players. You also have the option to download clips.

      I don’t know where SMTube stands when it comes to Google, Youtube, but ordinary users will surely appreciate the extra flexibility they get with a media player rather than just a browser tab. Of course, you’re not signed in, you don’t get recommendations, comments or playlists, and such, so I guess there are benefits to going directly to Youtube. But if you’re only after what Youtube can play without any socializing, SMTube is an excellent choice. It’s had a rough ride, it never quite fully worked for me in my various distro reviews, but this new version is stable, robust and works well. At the very least, it’s worth testing. Choo choo.

    • Instructionals/Technical
    • Games
      • FRAMED Collection, a noir-styled spy adventure where you rearrange comic tiles is now out

        It’s actually a compilation of FRAMED and FRAMED 2, games that have been widely praised and previously only available on mobile platforms. It has you moving around slices of an animated comic book, to put the noir-styled spy adventure story together. It actually sounds hilarious, as it’s not a basic “this one has to go here” type of game, as it changes what happens based on where you put the tiles creating some amusing sounding failures:

      • Paradox’s grand strategy titles will be getting more content soon

        At their annual convention, Paradox Interactive have announced new expansions for their current grand strategy titles. There’s a little bit of everything for fans of these games.

      • Stellaris: Distant Stars story DLC pack releases May 22nd, new trailer is out

        The latest and probably one of the most exciting story DLC packs for Stellaris, Distant Stars, is now set to release May 22nd.

        In short, there’s going to be a lot more to find when you go exploring. One of the problems I repeatedly talked about with Stellaris (even though I do love it) was that it just didn’t have enough content. This pack seems like it will fix that problem and then some. They say there’s around 50% more anomalies to discover, they’ve also improved some of the originals. There’s three new leviathans, new types of stars and something about discovering a constellation outside our own galaxy.

      • Myst 25th Anniversary Collection will not being seeing a Linux release for now

        It seems the plans to team up with Codeweavers to bring Myst 25th Anniversary Collection [Kickstarter] to Linux didn’t work out.

      • A Linux beta build of Solstice Chronicles: MIA may come soon

        The developer behind the great looking top-down shooter Solstice Chronicles: MIA [Official Site] has said that they may soon have a Linux beta build.

      • What are you playing on Linux this weekend and what do you think about it?

        It’s a weekend, the sun is shining in a rare event for where I live, so naturally I will be spending my time playing Linux games. What will you be playing this weekend?

        Personally, I’m going to be jumping back into Rocket League. Between the intense gameplay and sweet music, it’s certainly in my top 10 most played Linux games. As much as I love the game, I’m simply terrible at it. Anyone who’s watched some of our livestreams will attest to that fact, but even so I soldier on and keep playing. It truly says something about a game, to keep pulling you back in even when you know you’re probably go to have loss after loss.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Plasma 5.12.5, Applications 18.04.1 and Frameworks 5.46.0 by KDE now available in Chakra

        On your next system upgrade you will receive all the latest versions of KDE’s Plasma, Applications and Frameworks, in addition to several other package updates. For more details and the full changelogs on KDE’s software releases, you can read the official announcements:

        Plasma 5.12.5
        Applications 18.04.1
        Frameworks 5.46.0

        Other noteworthy package updates include wine 3.8, skypeforlinux 8.20.0.9 and pypy 6.0.0.

      • Doxyqml 0.4.0

        After almost two years, here comes a new version of Doxyqml, the QML filter for Doxygen. This new version adds a new command-line option: –namespace to wrap the generated C++ in a namespace, and makes the parser more robust. Nothing ground-breaking, but some nice changes nevertheless.

        What’s interesting with this project is that I don’t use it these days, but it still receives contributions from time to time. This puts me in the unusual position (for me) where most of my contributions to the project are reviewing code, cleaning things, a bit of infrastructure (I just added code coverage checks: 88%, not too bad) and release management.

        Surprisingly, I like doing this, I am happy to see this little tool remains useful enough that others keep it alive.

      • KDevelop 5.2.2 and 5.2.3 released

        KDevelop 5.2.2 and 5.2.3 released

        We today provide a stabilization and bugfix release with version 5.2.2 and 5.2.3. 5.2.2 was tagged 6 weeks ago, but we never managed to release it because we did not have the patience to fix the Windows installers in time due to a broken CI. Windows installers are provided for 5.2.3 again. We’ll only provide source tarballs for 5.2.2 and we encourage everyone to just skip this release and use 5.2.3 which contains a few more bug fixes.

        This is a bugfix-only release, which introduces no new features and as such is a safe and recommended update for everyone currently using KDevelop 5.2.1.

      • This week in Usability & Productivity, part 19

        This week we announced a beta of the upcoming KDE Plasma 5.13 release, and so far the internet seems pretty excited about it.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Nautilus Ability To Launch Binaries Or Scripts To Be Reverted, Might Be Implemented Differently

        It looks like the decision to remove the ability to run binaries and scripts from Nautilus file manager will be reverted. The change comes after some use cases appeared that the developers agreed they need to support, “especially for enterprise and content creators”.

        One such use case that was mentioned as a reason for reverting this is a small “if then that” script for building HTML and PDF files, which uses Zenity to display a dialog, as well as notifications to display the progress.

        I find the use case being used as an example a bit weird because that’s certainly not something common, like a self-extracting game script for instance.

      • Stickers in Riot

        The matrix.org protocol is flexible so this is a good example of how to add new features to the clients that uses matrix without the need to change the protocol.

        This is not a core feature because you can send images, but I think this is great and add a simple way to show reactions for the users, so as I was reading I thought that we can add this to Fractal, so I started to read how we can add support for this.

      • Talking at GPN 2018 in Karlsruhe, Germany

        Similar to last year I managed to attend the Gulasch Programmier-Nacht (GPN) in Karlsruhe, Germany. Not only did I attend, I also managed to squeeze in a talk about PrivacyScore. We got the prime time slot on the opening day along with all the other relevant talks, including the Eurovision Song Contest, so we were not overly surprised that the audience had a hard time deciding where to go and eventually decided to attend talks which were not recorded. Our talk was recorded and is available here.

  • Distributions
    • Reviews
      • Cinnamon Desktop Spices Up RoboLinux Raptor

        RoboLinux is a unique distro that focuses on incorporating Windows versions XP through 10 within a fully functional Linux operating system. You might never need the Stealth VM features that let you easily install and run Microsoft Windows within most any Linux distro. Still, RoboLinux is a topnotch general purpose Linux computing platform that comes with a choice of leading desktop environments. RoboLinux creates a cloned Drive C from a Windows partition and installs your favorite Windows version with all of your costly Windows software running in a virtual machine.

    • AsteroidOS
    • Gentoo Family
      • A short history of Gentoo copyright

        As part of the recent effort into forming a new copyright policy for Gentoo, a research into the historical status has been conducted. We’ve tried to establish all the key events regarding the topic, as well as the reasoning behind the existing policy. I would like to shortly note the history based on the evidence discovered by Robin H. Johnson, Ulrich Müller and myself.

    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Free software log (April 2018)

        This is rather late since I got distracted by various other things including, ironically, releasing a bunch of software. This is for April, so doesn’t include the releases from this month.

        The main release I worked on was remctl 3.14, which fixed a security bug introduced in 3.12 with the sudo configuration option. This has since been replaced by 3.15, which has more thorough maintainer testing infrastructure to hopefully prevent this from happening again.

      • MiniDebCamp Hamburg – Friday 18/5, Saturday 19/5

        Friday and Saturday have been very productive days, I love events where there is time to hack!

        I had more chats about contributors.d.o with Ganneff and Formorer, and if all goes according to plan, soon salsa will start streaming commit information to contributors and populate information about different teams: not only about normal packaging repos, but also about websites, tools, native packages, etc.

      • Progress report from the Movim packaging sprint at MiniDebconf

        Nik wishes you to know that the Movim packaging sprint (sponsored by the DPL, thank you!) is handled under the umbrella of the Debian Edu sprint (similarily sponsored) since this package is handled by the Teckids Debian Task Force, personnel from Teckids e.V.

        After arriving, I’ve started collecting knowledge first. I reviewed upstream’s composer.json file and Wiki page about dependencies and, after it quickly became apparent that we need much more information (e.g. which versions are in sid, what the package names are, and, most importantly, recursive dependencies), a Wiki page of our own grew. Then I made a hunt for information about how to package stuff that uses PHP Composer upstream, and found the, ahem, wonderfully abundant, structured, plentiful and clear documentation from the Debian PHP/PEAR Packaging team. (Some time and reverse-engineering later I figured out that we just ignore composer and read its control file in pkg-php-tools converting dependency information to Debian package relationships. Much time later I also figured out it mangles package names in a specific way and had to rename one of the packages I created in the meantime… thankfully before having uploaded it.) Quickly, the Wiki page grew listing the package names we’re supposed to use. I created a package which I could use as template for all others later.

      • Help the Debian kernel team to help you

        I gave the first talk this morning at Mini-DebConf Hamburg, titled “Help the kernel team to help you”. I briefly described several ways that Debian users and developers can make it easier (or harder) for us to deal with their requests. The slides are up in on my talks page, and video should be available soon.

      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • UbuCon Europe 2018: Analysing a dream [English|Spanish]

            The idea of organising the Ubucon in Xixon, Asturies was set two years ago, while participating in the European Ubucon in Essen (germany). The Paris Ubucon took place and in those days we uderstood that there was a group enough of people with the capacities and the will to hold an European Congress for Ubuntu lovers. We had learnt a lot from German and French colleagues thanks to their respective amazing organizations and, at the same time, our handicap was the lack of s consolidated group in Spain.

          • Flavours and Variants
            • What’s New in Ubuntu MATE 18.04 LTS

              Ubuntu MATE 18.04 LTS has been released and announced by Ubuntu MATE project. As part of official ubuntu flavor, this release features the latest MATE Desktop 1.20.1 as default desktop environment. Also introduces numerous improvements and new features, including better support for HiDPI displays, new desktop layouts, as well as support for indicators in all layouts by default.

              Familiar is new default layout of desktop Ubuntu MATE 18.04. it based on the traditional layout with the menu-bar (Applications, Places, System) replaced by Brisk Menu. Use MATE tweak if you want try out the various desktop layouts.

              Brisk Menu applications menu is now enabled by default in Ubuntu MATE 18.04 LTS, which ships with the Head-Up Display (HUD) feature of the Unity 7 desktop environmentand .MATE Tweak, which now lets you toggle the HiDPI mode more easily and a revamped Ubuntu MATE Welcome screen that now includes browser selection support and system telemetry if you want to help the Ubuntu MATE team improve future releases.

              Ubuntu MATE 18.04 LTS also received several improvements. Among these, we can mention the Caja file manager, which can now encrypt your most precious files, advenced bulk rename, hash checking and advanced ACl properties. Marco window manager, which got hardware acceleration. MATE Dock Applet, which now features icon scrolling and matching

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • 19-year-old Developer at the Forefront of TRON (TRX) Opensource Wallet DApp
  • 19-years-old German developer Spearheads TRON (TRX) Opensource Wallet DApp

    No doubt that Tron community is preparing for mainnet launch, with different ideas coming in from all roads. As part of its readiness, Tron has unveiled its Opensource Wallet DApp developed by 19-year old German developer, Marius Gill, who has been programming since 13 years old.

    The DApp is an outcome of Project Genesis, which was launched in March 2018 purposely to encourage TRON’s community engagement in bringing in new things into Tron ecosystem. The project provides a bonus pool of 2 billion dollars for active members around the world have lent their hands in implementing ideas for the community.

  • Events
    • Collabora and GStreamer spring in Sweden

      Earlier this month, a few of us from Collabora, Olivier Crête, Nicolas Dufresne, George Kiagiadakis and I attended the GStreamer Spring Hackfest in Lund, Sweden. Hosted by Axis Communications (who uses GStreamer in their surveillance cameras for many years now), it was a great opportunity for the GStreamer community to touch base and work on open bugs and pet projects.

      [...]

      As for myself, I mainly worked on (or rather started to work on) split-field interlacing support in GStreamer, adding relevant formats and modes in the GStreamer video library. In addition, as a Meson developer (Nirbheek Chauhan) was present, I took the opportunity to discuss with him the last bit of porting build system of Geoclue to Meson, a side project I’ve been working on. It helped me get it done faster but also helped Nirbheek find some issues in Meson and fix them!

      All in all, my first GStreamer hackfest was an awesome experience (even though I was not feeling well). It was also very nice to hangout and socialize with old and new friends in the GStreamer community after a long time. Many thanks again to Axis for hosting us in their offices! See you at the GStreamer Conference this fall!

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Reality Redrawn Opens At The Tech

        The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose was filled on Thursday with visitors experiencing new takes on the issue of fake news by artists using mixed reality, card games and even scratch and sniff cards. These installations were the results of Mozilla’ Reality Redrawn challenge. We launched the competition last December to make the power of misinformation and its potential impacts visible and visceral. Winners were announced in February.

      • Tangerine UI problems

        I’ve been a big fan of Tangerine for a while, it’s a bank that doesn’t charge fees and does what I need to do. They used to have a great app and website and then it all went a bit wrong.

        It’s now a HTML app for Desktop and mobile. This isn’t the fault of the tools used, but there’s some terrible choices in the app across both.

        [...]

        The overall feel of the app is that its full of spinners, far too cluttered and just to confusing. Hey not everything I’ve built is perfect, but even I can spot some real problems with this app. I pretty sure Tangerine can do better than this.

        And yes, I’m writing this while drinking a beer I recently bought, as shown on my transaction page.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • GCC 9 Drops Support For Older ARM Microarchitecture Versions

      Next year’s GCC 9 compiler release will be eliminating support for older ARM versions.

      Fortunately, ARMv7 and newer is still in great shape given they are still common and even ARMv6 support is also still supported by the GNU Compiler Collection. But as of Friday they dropped support for ARMv3 and older followed by dropping ARMv5 and ARMv5E.

      The dropping of ARMv3 and older even includes finally eliminating the support for ARM2. The ARM2 target in GCC is finally no more.

      This doesn’t come as too much of a surprise though with pre-ARMv4T support being deprecated since GCC 6 and the ARMv5 support being deprecated since GCC 7 last year.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • Congratulations to Tesla on Their First Public Step Toward GPL Compliance

      Conservancy rarely talks publicly about specifics in its ongoing GNU General Public License (GPL) enforcement and compliance activity, in accordance with our Principles of Community Oriented GPL Enforcement. We usually keep our compliance matters confidential — not for our own sake — but for the sake of violators who request discretion to fix their mistakes without fear of public reprisal. As occurred a few years ago with Samsung, we’re thrilled when a GPL violator decides to talk about their violation and works to correct it publicly. This gives us the opportunity to shine light on the real-world work of GPL and copyleft compliance.

      We’re thus glad that, this week, Tesla has acted publicly regarding its current GPL violations and has announced that they’ve taken their first steps toward compliance. While Tesla acknowledges that they still have more work to do, their recent actions show progress toward compliance and a commitment to getting all the way there.

    • Tesla releases some of its software to comply with open source licences

      Tesla is a software-heavy company and it has been using a lot of open source software to build its operating system and features, such as Linux Kernel, Buildroot, Busybox, QT, and more.

      Some of the copyright holders have been complaining that Tesla hasn’t been complying with their licenses.

    • The Software Freedom Conservancy on Tesla’s GPL compliance

      The Software Freedom Conservancy has put out a blog posting on the history and current status of Tesla’s GPL compliance issues.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
  • Programming/Development
    • Announcing git-cinnabar 0.5.0 beta 3

      Git-cinnabar is a git remote helper to interact with mercurial repositories. It allows to clone, pull and push from/to mercurial remote repositories, using git.

    • RcppGSL 0.3.5

      A maintenance update of RcppGSL just brought version 0.3.5 to CRAN, a mere twelve days after the RcppGSL 0.3.4. release. Just like yesterday’s upload of inline 0.3.15 it was prompted by a CRAN request to update the per-package manual page; see the inline post for details.

    • Sony Is Working On AMD Ryzen LLVM Compiler Improvements – Possibly For The PlayStation 5

      One of Sony’s compiler experts has taken to working on some tuning for the AMD Ryzen “znver1″ microarchitecture support within the LLVM compiler stack. This begs the question why Sony is working on Ryzen improvements if not for a future product.

Leftovers
  • Longer talk at MSST2018

    The most important lesson I’ve learned is that this is fundamentally an economic problem; we know how to do it but we don’t want to pay enough to have it done.

    How far into the future should we be looking?

    What do the economics of storing data for that long look like?

    How long should the media last?

    How reliable do the media need to be?

  • Google Drops “Don’t Be Evil” Motto From Its Code Of Conduct

    In 2015, when Google reorganized itself under Alphabet, the new parent company drafted a new motto for itself — “Do the right thing.” However, Google’s own unofficial motto remained “Don’t be evil.” The company kept it as a part of the corporate code of conduct since 2000.

    In the latest development, Gizmodo has uncovered that Google has dropped the “Don’t be evil” phrase from its Code of Conduct. As per the findings, the updated version of the web page, which was first archived by the Wayback Machine, has a significant change.

  • Google Removes ‘Don’t Be Evil’ Clause From Its Code of Conduct

    Google’s unofficial motto has long been the simple phrase “don’t be evil.” But that’s over, according to the code of conduct that Google distributes to its employees. The phrase was removed sometime in late April or early May, archives hosted by the Wayback Machine show.

    “Don’t be evil” has been part of the company’s corporate code of conduct since 2000. When Google was reorganized under a new parent company, Alphabet, in 2015, Alphabet assumed a slightly adjusted version of the motto, “do the right thing.” However, Google retained its original “don’t be evil” language until the past several weeks. The phrase has been deeply incorporated into Google’s company culture—so much so that a version of the phrase has served as the wifi password on the shuttles that Google uses to ferry its employees to its Mountain View headquarters, sources told Gizmodo.

  • Science
    • How heavy use of social media is linked to mental illness

      According to a survey in 2017 by the Royal Society for Public Health, Britons aged 14-24 believe that Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter have detrimental effects on their wellbeing. On average, they reported that these social networks gave them extra scope for self-expression and community-building. But they also said that the platforms exacerbated anxiety and depression, deprived them of sleep, exposed them to bullying and created worries about their body image and “FOMO” (“fear of missing out”). Academic studies have found that these problems tend to be particularly severe among frequent users.

    • Humans Are Dumb At Figuring Out How Smart Animals Are

      The court declined to hear the case, but one judge did say that some highly intelligent animals probably should be treated more like people and less like property.

  • Hardware
    • Popular YouTuber Says Apple Won’t Fix His iMac Pro Damaged While Disassembled

      The damage resulted when they dropped the display while attempting to reattach it to the aluminum chassis. Towards the end of the video, Sebastian also says the iMac Pro requires a new logic board and power supply unit, suggesting there may have been a short circuit that caused damage to internal components as well.

  • Security
    • Purism’s New Purekey OpenPGP Security Token, Windows 10 Now Includes OpenSSH, Vim 8.1 Released and More

      Purism, maker of the security-focused Librem laptops, announced yesterday it has partnered with Nitrokey to create Purekey, “Purism’s own OpenPGP security token designed to integrate with its hardware and software. Purekey embodies Purism’s mission to make security and cryptography accessible where its customers hold the keys to their own security.” You can purchase a Purekey by itself or as an add-on with a laptop order. According to Purism’s CSO Kyle Rankin, “By keeping your encryption keys on a Purekey instead of on a hard drive, your keys never leave the tamper-proof hardware. This not only makes your keys more secure from attackers, it makes using your keys on multiple devices more convenient.”

    • Encrypted Email and Security Nihilism

      Earlier this week, a group of German researchers published an alarm about newly discovered problems with encrypted email that is creating major controversy in the internet security community. This research — published in a snappy-titled report called EFail — is a valuable and important work highlighting the challenges with email security.

      Unfortunately, many of the responses to this report have been close to the line of “security nihilism:” Throwing your hands in the air and saying that because certain important security measures aren’t perfect, we should abandon them altogether. This is harsh and potentially damaging to the best efforts we currently have to protect email and risks leading people astray when it comes to securing their communications. In fact, there are important things that people can do to protect their email. This post examines the controversy, what people should do to secure their email, and how we might do better in the future.

      Email is a widespread communications tool and people generally expect it to be private. But from a security standpoint, the baseline assumption is that email is “like a postcard:” Anything you write in an email can be read by your email provider (e.g., Google, if you use Gmail) and also by the email provider of the person you send mail to. If those providers (or any of their system administrators or lawyers) want to read your mail, or are hacked, or bribed, or coerced by law enforcement into sharing access, the content of your email is easily accessible to them.

    • Most dangerous new cyber security threats [iophk: "Windows TCO, yet neither Microsoft nor Windows get a mention"]
  • Defence/Aggression
    • No monopoly on David Kelly’s death: Miles Goslett responds to David Aaronovitch’s criticism

      As Oborne has demonstrated, Aaronovitch misrepresented my book and portrayed me as an unhinged conspiracy theorist. In fact, the book is intended to be a careful analysis of the Hutton Inquiry into Kelly’s death and the ramifications of that process. Its aim is to show how Tony Blair’s desperate government rode roughshod over the long-established method of inquiry into this event – a coroner’s inquest – and installed its own, less rigorous investigation. As a result key witnesses were excluded, evidence was concealed and loose ends allowed to remain untied. I believe, though I accept I may be wrong, that Aaronovitch began his review with a firmly closed mind. Let me explain why I have arrived at this interpretation.

    • The Donald, Vlad, and the Bibi

      As a general rule, it is pointless to rank world leaders or lesser political figures by measures that track their vileness or how much harm they inflict upon the world.

      Sometimes, though, it can be enlightening to do precisely that – provided it is understood that what is being compared are not so much the character traits of deplorable individuals, but the political lines they advance in the circumstances they confront.

      One such time is now – as Donald Trump is doing his best to launch a “stupid war” against Iran. That expression was candidate Barack Obama’s in 2008; he used it to describe the war George W. Bush and Dick Cheney launched against Iraq.

      Since at least 1945, the United States has only fought stupid wars. Some have been stupider than others, but, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, Democrats and Republicans have supported them all. If Trump does get an Iran War going, count on bipartisan support for it too, though, for sheer stupidity, it would rival and perhaps even exceed the Kennedy-Johnson-Nixon war against Vietnam.

    • Trump: Making America Dread Again

      Trump’s flagrant disregard for the safety of the American people has been punctuated by the proposed elimination of the budget reserved for containing an Ebola epidemic. Earlier this year, Trump pushed through Congress an additional $84 billion for the bloated, unauditable military budget—more than the Pentagon had requested.

      Callous Donald is determined to enable and even abet companies that are spewing dangerous toxics into our air, water, and food-growing areas. Many of these companies have contributed to his campaign. This serial failed gambling czar’s coldblooded personality is anti-law. President Trump and his agency chiefs are violating federal statutory mandates to protect the health and safety of Americans.

    • Whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg: Civil Disobedience Against Vietnam War Led Me to Leak Pentagon Papers

      Whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg was a high-level defense analyst in 1971 when he leaked a top-secret report on U.S. involvement in Vietnam to The New York Times and other publications that came to be known as the Pentagon Papers and played a key role in ending the Vietnam War. We speak with Ellsberg about the recent 50th anniversary of one of the most famous acts of civil disobedience in the United States. On May 17, 1968, Catholic priests and activists broke into a draft board office in Catonsville, Maryland, and stole 378 draft cards and burned them in the parking lot as a protest against the Vietnam War. They became known as the Catonsville Nine. Ellsberg discusses the role nonviolent direct action can play in social movements. Ellsberg says that the ending of the war in Vietnam “relied on a lot of people doing unusual things.”

    • Google, drone murder and the military-intelligence-censorship complex

      The publication of this week’s open letter by leading academics protesting Google’s role in the military’s drone assassination program exposes the close partnership between the major technology giants and the US military/intelligence complex.

      The letter, now signed by nearly 1,000 academics, declares that “Google has moved into military work without subjecting itself to public debate or deliberation, either domestically or internationally.” It adds, “While Google regularly decides the future of technology without democratic public engagement, its entry into military technologies casts the problems of private control of information infrastructure into high relief.”

      In March, Google admitted to helping the Pentagon develop artificial intelligence software to identify objects in video recordings captured by drones, within the framework of a program called Project Maven. While Google claims that the technology is not being used to kill people, the letter’s authors note that the system can be easily modified to identify human beings for assassination.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Revealed: Julian Assange’s embassy guest list in the summer of the Clinton email leak which includes RT reporters, hackers and Michael Moore [Ed: And now Daily Fail participates in selectively associating Wikileaks with crime, Russia etc.]
    • Ecuador Removes Extra Security At Embassy Where Julian Assange Lives

      Ecuador’s president has ordered the removal of extra security at the country’s London embassy — where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been since 2012.

    • Price of Coming Forward: Joshua Schulte’s Past Whistleblowing Comes Back to Haunt Him

      On Tuesday, the New York Times and Washington Post publicly identified the U.S. government’s prime and only suspect in the leaks of CIA documents to the transparency organization WikiLeaks. Joshua Schulte, a former CIA software engineer, has been suspected of being the WikiLeaks source since last year, when authorities raided his Manhattan apartment just one week after the first batch of the documents, known collectively as “Vault 7,” were released last March.

      Vault 7 has been a sore spot in the U.S. intelligence community since it broke, largely because it was the “largest ever publication of U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) documents,” one that detailed the CIA’s global and covert hacking program as well as its arsenal of hacking tools and exploits.

      As MintPress reported at the time, one of the agency’s capabilities revealed by Vault 7 was the CIA’s ability to leave the “fingerprints” of foreign governments on hacks the CIA itself had conducted. The revelation of this capacity cast immediate doubt on the evidence that the Russian government had hacked the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

      In addition, the leak represented an unparalleled embarrassment for the agency, particularly after the high-profile leaks of NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden and the measures taken by the government to prevent a repeat occurrence. The sensitive nature of the case is a likely reason as to why Schulte continues to be in government crosshairs despite the lack of evidence against him.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Clean air, water on voters’ agenda, but not Congress’

      All of which provides a backdrop to the truly bizarre spectacle that took place in a hearing held by the House Science Committee this week. In a hearing meant to focus on technological solutions to climate change (like the hugely popular wind and solar), Republican members of the committee decided to once again raise questions about whether humans were influencing the warming climate, with one Congressman suggesting that the warming-driven rise in our oceans might instead be caused by rocks falling into the seas.

    • Republican Rep. Mo Brooks Blames Coastal Erosion for Rising Seas

      Bridenstine’s new comments came a day after Alabama Republican Congressmember Mo Brooks suggested during a House Science committee hearing that coastal erosion—and not greenhouse gas emissions—is to blame for rising sea levels. Rep. Brooks made the comments as he questioned Philip Duffy, president of the Woods Hole Research Center.

    • ‘Somebody’s Cheating’: 8 Years After Ban, Scientists Urge World Leaders to Find Mysterious Source Behind Skyrocketing CFC Levels

      Despite having been banned, emissions of a chemical found to create holes in the ozone layer have skyrocketed in recent years, according to a new study—leading scientists to wonder whether the pollutant is being secretly manufactured somewhere on Earth.

      Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found that CFC-11 emissions have gone up 25 percent since 2012, although the international community agreed to end production of all chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) by 2010 as part of the Montreal Protocol in 1987.

      “Somebody’s cheating,” Durwood Zaelke, founder of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, told the Washington Post of the new research. “There’s some slight possibility there’s an unintentional release, but…they make it clear there’s strong evidence this is actually being produced.”

    • Most Americans say climate change affects their local community, including two-thirds living near coast

      Roughly six-in-ten Americans (59%) say climate change is currently affecting their local community either a great deal or some, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

      Some 31% of Americans say the effects of climate change are affecting them personally, while 28% say climate change is affecting their local community but its effects are not impacting them in a personal way.

      As is the case on many climate change questions, perceptions of whether and how much climate change is affecting local communities are closely tied with political party affiliation. About three-quarters of Democrats (76%) say climate change is affecting their local community at least some, while roughly a third of Republicans say this (35%).

    • Oh, POLITICO, Please Don’t Publish Garbage — Reality Check For Electric Vehicle Hit Job

      I’ve read many wonderful pieces of work from POLITICO. The outfit has a great crew of political reporters who sometimes break huge and important stories. The op-eds and in-depth political analyses can be superb. From time to time, POLITICO has been the top source I’ve relied on for US political coverage … and funny cartoons.

      That said, I think I’ve read only one piece on the website about electric vehicles … and it was absolute garbage. Actually, garbage is just something useless that needs to be thrown in the trash can, whereas this was worse. This piece, reaching people fairly new to the concept of electric vehicles, misled readers on a critical point or two. Furthermore, think about who the audience reading the article might be — politically involved people with a left leaning. These are people who might one day (if not today) be in a position to make policy, and they are people who might have particular concern (or at least political concern) to push and vote for environmentally friendly policies. Convincing them that electric cars are not greener than gasoline cars is a disservice to society.

  • Finance
    • Trump personally pushed postmaster general to double rates on Amazon, other firms

      Details of Amazon’s contract with the Postal Service are secret, making it difficult for financial experts to assess claims about the relationship. Amazon has said that publicly releasing the contract, which contains detailed information on the company’s delivery systems, would give competitors an unfair advantage.

    • Trump reportedly wants to punish Amazon by trying to double Postal Service rates

      The Postal Service, though it’s lost money for the last 11 years, reported a 11.8 percent year-over-year increase in revenue to $19.5 billion last year, some of which is likely attributable to Amazon’s increased spending in the area. The nature of Amazon and the Postal Service’s deal remains secret.

    • PayPal in talks to buy Swedish small-business platform iZettle for $2.2 billion
    • PayPal to Buy iZettle for $2.2 Billion to Compete With Square

      The deal is the biggest ever for San Jose, California-based PayPal and will help it compete with Square Inc., which made a name for itself by helping small businesses and food-truck vendors conduct credit card and mobile transactions. Founded in 2010 by Jacob de Geer and Magnus Nilsson, iZettle also started out with a mobile-phone gadget for accepting credit card payments. It has since expanded into software and financing services to support small businesses.

    • Lighthizer says NAFTA countries are ‘nowhere’ near reaching a deal

      U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said that after nine months the United States, Mexico and Canada are still far from completing an update of the 24-year-old NAFTA deal with a slew of sticking points looming over the talks.

    • Where next for migrant Roma communities post-Brexit?

      The number of migrant Roma living in the UK is not known. Estimates by the Council of Europe put the figure at 225,000 Roma, which amounts to 0.36% of the entire population. The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, however, claims that the real figure is between 500,000 and 1,000,000, excluding indigenous Gypsies and Irish Travellers. In the wake of Brexit this group faces an uncertain future.

      A recent report of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) on ‘Roma communities and Brexit’ has highlighted what it called “a triple whammy of risks: uncertainty over their future legal status, rising concerns about hate crime, and a potential loss of EU funding for integration and support services”.

      The report’s findings do not come as a surprise. They reveal long-standing concerns of human rights activists, NGOs and public policy think tanks over both the UK response to the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies, on one hand, and the consequences of the Brexit vote, on the other.

    • Why I am not a Liberal and how we need to fight bin Trump and Brexit

      In the year 2000, when post-1989 globalisation was at the zenith of its self-confidence, four of us got together in North London to plan how to respond to what we experienced as a growing problem with the way the world is governed. We felt the need for a serious space to question the suffocating future being offered us, with the socialist left defeated everywhere except Brazil. Along with Paul Hilder, Susan Richards, David Hayes and others, I initiated openDemocracy.

      Perhaps because he confuses my commitment to openness with liberalism, Jan Zielonka, Oxford professor of European politics, has just tagged me as a Liberal; in openDemocracy, in his contribution to a vitally important debate over how to frustrate the hard right. The exchange began in March, when the historian of Liberalism, Edmund Fawcett, called for liberals like himself and leftists to unite in the face of danger. I then responded and welcomed Fawcett’s positive challenge. How to confront the grim international setting matters far more than my personal politics. And new and surprising allies, such as the ex-Director of the CIA, have emerged. I want to take the opportunity to explore the significance of this, especially for the United States as Trump shreds the Iran nuclear agreement.

      But first, I want to be clear about the direction I’m coming from to explain why Zielonka gets me completly wrong. While liberal in my personal views I have never been a ‘Liberal’ politically. I am an advocate and organiser of political openness, which is quite different. The way politics is conducted remains closed, indeed it invents new forms of closure. The brilliant Transformation section of openDemocracy now focuses on this with a coverage that is both granular and general. As its editor Mike Edwards recently argued, an open approach, “runs counter to the realities of modern politics, media and knowledge production, but the other options are much, much worse: a slide into authoritarianism, enforced artificial unity, or permanent division”.

    • Gender Justice at the Heart of the Poor People’s Campaign

      The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, will begin six weeks of actions on May 13 in more than 30 state capitals. Each week will have a different theme, with the first week dedicated to raising up “Children, Women, and People with Disabilities in Poverty.”

      In a recent interview, Rev. Liz Theoharis explained that when she and fellow campaign co-chair Rev. William Barber II first began developing this initiative, they mapped out the poorest communities in the United States. “Our research revealed that the states with the highest overall poverty rates also had the worst voter suppression and the highest number of women and children in need,” she said.

      The campaign teamed up with the Institute for Policy Studies to conduct an extensive audit of key indicators since Dr. Martin Luther King and other leaders launched the original Poor People’s Campaign in 1968. The report, organized around the themes of poverty, systemic racism, militarism, and ecological destruction, integrates issues related to gender justice throughout. Here are five charts which show that while poverty affects all demographic groups in the United States, women (especially women of color) and transgender individuals are particularly hard hit.

    • Yes, neoliberalism is a thing. Don’t let economists tell you otherwise

      Well, this one at least is half-true. Like literally every concept that has ever mattered, the concept of ‘neoliberalism’ is messy, it’s deeply contested, it has evolved over time and it differs in theory and practice. From the start, there has been debate within the neoliberal movement itself about how it should define itself and what its programme should be. And, yes, it’s often used lazily on the left as a generic term for anything vaguely establishment. None of this means that it is Not A Thing. This is something sociologists and historians instinctively understand, but which many economists seem to have trouble with. Having said this, it is possible to define some generally accepted core features of neoliberalism. Essentially, it privileges markets as the best way to organise the economy and society, but unlike classical liberalism, it sees a strong role for the state in creating and maintaining these markets. Outside of this role, the state should do as little as possible, and above all it must not interfere with the ‘natural’ operation of the market. But it has always been part of the neoliberal project to take over the state and transform it for its own ends, rather than to dismantle or disable it. Of course, there’s clearly a tension between neoliberals’ professed ideals of freedom and their need for a strong state to push through policies that often don’t have democratic consent. We see this in the actions of the Bretton Woods institutions in the era of ‘structural adjustment’, or the Troika’s behaviour towards Greece during the Eurozone crisis. We see it most starkly in Pinochet’s Chile, the original neoliberal experiment. This perhaps helps to explain the fact that neoliberalism is sometimes equated with libertarianism and the ‘small state’, while others reject this characterisation. I’ll say it again: none of this means that neoliberalism doesn’t exist.

    • C.F.P.B. Payday Loan Rule Likely Spared Wrath of Congressional Review Act

      There was rare good news for regulatory safeguards this week: The window closed for Congress to pass legislation repealing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule on payday loans, according to advocates of the initiative.

      Stop the Debt Trap, a coalition of labor unions and non-profits, said Wednesday evening that the “legislative clock has expired” on efforts to annul the rule under the Congressional Review Act.

      “Consumer and civil rights advocates are urging the consumer bureau to keep intact the rule, which is set to go into effect summer 2019, and to fulfill the bureau’s responsibility to enforce the law,” the organization said in a statement.

      [...]

      While Congress appeared on Wednesday to officially spare the payday rule, hours earlier, there was an ominous development in Washington for consumer safeguards. In a party-line vote, the Federal Trade Commission voted 3-2 to approve Andrew Smith as head of the agency’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

      Smith has previously served as a lawyer for some of the most recognizable corporations accused of malfeasance, as noted Monday by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • England is restless, change is coming

      My purpose today is to make a big argument about the state of politics in England. Namely, without radical devolution we are not going to achieve social justice.

      I’m pleased to be speaking here at IPPR as recently you produced an important report describing the emergence of Englishness as a political force.

      You were correct to begin a conversation about England. There is a restlessness here. A mounting dissatisfaction which ‘Little Englander’ politics has attempted to colonise. I am going to set out why their narrow message fundamentally misunderstands what is happening.

    • The McCain Cult

      So much time spent on this trifle of a story. Someone named Kelly Sadler, a “special assistant” and “communications aide” to the president stated in a White House meeting May 10 that Sen. John McCain’s opposition to the appointment of Gina Haspel as CIA director was irrelevant.

      “It doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway,” she said, according to a leak—presumably by a White House colleague wanting to embarrass her. And so the liberal media—assiduously avoiding coverage of the unprecedented teachers’ strikes in this country, or the Afghan situation as the U.S.-trained army deteriorates and the Taliban expands, or the situation in Iraq as the anti-U.S. Sadrists take power, or the opening of that record-breaking bridge from mainland Russia to Crimea—dwells on this issue of a Trump aide making a “joke” about McCain’s likely immanent death.

    • Iraq elections final results: Sadr’s bloc wins parliamentary poll

      A political bloc led by Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr has won the country’s parliamentary election, the electoral commission said, ahead of internationally favoured Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s bloc.

      Al-Sadr himself cannot become prime minister as he did not run in the election, but his bloc’s victory puts him in a position to have a strong say in negotiations.

      His electoral list captured 54 parliamentary seats, according to the results released on Saturday.

      The Fatah bloc led by Hadi al-Amiri, who has close ties with Iran, came in second with 47 seats.

    • Trump Jr. met with Gulf adviser who offered help to win election: report
    • Trump Jr. and Other Aides Met With Gulf Emissary Offering Help to Win Election

      The Trump Tower meeting and follow-ups are the first indication that countries beyond Russia may have offered help to the Trump campaign.

    • Tory MPs prepare for snap autumn election as Theresa May hit by Brexit deadlock

      Conservative MPs are preparing for another snap general election as they fear the Brexit deadlock will become insurmountable for the prime minister.

      Some have spoken to their local party associations asking to be readopted as prospective parliamentary candidates in readiness for an autumn election.

      The back-bench MPs acted after meeting Theresa May last week for a private Brexit briefing as she tried to stop a row over Britain’s future customs relationship with the European Union tearing the party apart.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • The Curious Takedown Notices of ‘Tongues of Glass’ Poet Shaun Shane

      The poet going by the name Shaun Shane has come to the forefront again, half a decade after his one-line poem triggered a takedown controversy. In a series of DMCA notices sent to Google, the poet posits that people are using black hat SEO to get to him. Targeted sites include BoingBoing and Techdirt, but also entirely unrelated ones, including the homepage of the company ‘Shaun Shane Bricklaying.’

    • UK government plans new legislation to tame internet’s ‘wild west’

      The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Home Office are jointly working on a white paper that is expected to be published in the autumn.

    • Gruesome Jihadi Content Still Flourishes on Facebook and Google+
    • ‘Blocking Pirate Sites Through Court is Uncertain, Slow and Expensive’

      Fairplay Canada sees its own site blocking proposal as the best option to counter infringing websites. In a reply response to the CRTC, the coalition argues that the ‘alternative’ judicial option is uncertain, costly, and will take a lot of time. The response further criticizes misleading and false comments from the public, while adding more support for its blocking plans.

    • Students take on press censorship, get national coverage

      A study of press freedom at Christian universities conducted by Taylor University students has garnered national coverage.

      Religion News Service, the Washington Examiner, the Student Press Law Center and several other religion and college media news sites have run stories in the last two weeks about the study, which was released on May 1 by the newly formed Student Press Coalition. Taylor students created the SPC in order to publicize their study’s results and make clear they weren’t representing the university.

    • Music streaming service Spotify initiates censorship against R. Kelly and XXXTentacion

      On May 10, global music streaming platform Spotify began a regime of censorship against artists it accuses of “Hateful Conduct.” The same day, singers Robert “R.” Kelly and Jahseh Dwayne Onfroy (known as XXXTentacion) became its first targets.

      Under the new policy, Spotify will censor music that “incites hatred or violence against a group or individual based on characteristics, including race, religion, gender identity, sex, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, veteran status[!], or disability.” Moreover, the announcement goes on, “When an artist or creator does something that is especially harmful or hateful (for example, violence against children and sexual violence), it may affect the ways we work with or support that artist or creator.”

      [...]

      Works by the 20-year-old Onfroy (XXXTentacion), who presently faces charges for battery against a pregnant woman, were given the same treatment, including removal from the Spotify playlist “Rap Caviar,” which has nearly 10 million followers.

      Prior to these acts of censorship, a witch-hunt atmosphere had been whipped up around these two singers in the press and on social media. In the case of Kelly, the group of Hollywood figures known as the “Time’s Up movement” threw their weight behind an existing campaign to “Mute R. Kelly.” The manifesto at muterkelly.org makes clear its disdain for democratic rights:

    • Germany’s Attempt to Fix Facebook Is Backfiring

      The new year was just a day old when Alice Weidel, the 38-year-old co-leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, and Beatrix von Storch, her deputy, came under investigation for inciting hatred on Twitter. Both women had attacked the police in Cologne for tweeting a New Year’s greeting in Arabic: “What the hell is wrong with this country?” von Storch asked in a racially incendiary tweet, accusing the police of supporting what she called “barbaric, gang-raping Muslim hordes of men.” Weidel echoed that sentiment, accusing the police of supporting “knife-stabbing migrant mobs.”

    • Govt to take censorship issue to parliament, says minister

      Federal Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said on Saturday that the censorship issue would be taken to parliament instead of the information minister tendering her resignation in protest.

      Addressing an Iftar dinner she hosted for journalists, she said the government was aware of the problems being faced by some publications and “I have personally been under pressure to resign on the issue. But I thought for how long the ministers would keep stepping down on such issues instead of taking them head-on”.

    • Minister regrets not doing away with media censorship completely

      Information and Broadcasting Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb has said she regrets that her ministry could not do as much as it wished to eliminate the culture of censorship on the media.

      Speaking at an Iftar dinner, hosted by her ministry for the Lahore media, she said that in her short period as the minister she tried her best that the media could be facilitated to the maximum to bring clarity regarding the government affairs.

      She said that she is aware of the concerns and complaints of the media fraternity regarding censorship and sabotage of certain media outlets. She said the government tried its best to do whatever it could to curtail such activities. But, still there was a lot of room for improvement in that regard, she added. The minister pledged that if the PML-N would come to power against after 2018 elections, it would give special attention to the issue.

    • Warframe Moderator’s Authoritarian Censorship Spawns Community Backlash

      Digital Extremes could be looking at some steep community unrest if things don’t get resolved quickly regarding a North American chat moderator for Warframe who has taken the reigns of authority and utilized it to abuse censorship within the community.

    • Prime Minister’s Spokesperson Denounces Church For Censoring Nonconformist Priest

      The Prime Minister’s spokesperson has denounced as “outrageous” an ultimatum by the Church to outspoken priest Mark Montebello that he will be defrocked if he continues speaking out in the media.

      “The Church censors one of its most progressive thinkers,” Kurt Farrugia tweeted. “I had the privilege to work with Fr Mark as deputy editor of It-Torċa…it seems freedom of speech in Malta is a privilege only afforded to conservatives. Outrageous.”

    • Erdoğan ends UK state visit by calling jailed journalists ‘terrorists’

      Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has ended his three-day state visit to the UK by insisting that all the journalists locked in Turkish jails were terrorist criminals, ignoring a warning from Theresa May not to lose sight of democratic values as he sought to defend his country from “the extraordinary pressures of a failed coup and Kurdish terrorism”.

      At a press conference in Downing Street alongside May, Erdoğan made no reference to May’s remarks about human rights, but instead urged her to do more to extradite Turkish exiles from the Gulenist or Kurdish movements, saying that if she did not act act against terrorists, it would come back to bite her.

    • Turkish President Visits UK To Remind Everyone He Still Wants To Punish Critical Speech

      I’m not sure why any nation with at least a passing respect for civil liberties would continue treating Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a world leader worth discussing ideas with. Erdogan rolled into the United States with his entourage of thugs and thought he could have critics beaten and unfriendly journalists tossed from press conferences. He continually petitions other countries to punish their own citizens for insulting him.

      Back at home, Erdogan is jailing journalists by the hundreds, claiming they’re terrorists. A failed coup set off the latest wave of censorial thuggery, with Erdogan bolstering his terrorist claims by pointing to criminal acts like… robbing ATMs. A massive backlog of “insulting the president” cases sit in the country’s court system — a system that’s certainly aware it’s not supposed to act as a check against executive power.

      And yet, world leaders continue to act as though Erdogan is an equal, rather than an overachieving street thug with an amazingly fragile ego. UK Prime Minister Theresa May, hoping to strike a trade deal with Turkey, invited Erdogan to not only discuss a possible deal, but speak publicly.

    • Valve Warns Anime Developers To Censor Sexualized Content On Steam Or They Will Be Removed
    • Steve Stoute Says If R. Kelly & XXXTentacion Music’s Banned, Then Why Don’t People Say ‘We’re F**king No Playing Michael Jackson’
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Revealed: Storyful uses tool to monitor what reporters watch

      Software developed by a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp to help journalists verify content on social media is also being used to monitor the videos and images viewed by reporters who use the tool.

    • The growing threat to privacy from big data forensics and false positives

      It turned out that the ambulance crew who had taken him to the hospital that day were later called to where the murder in question took place. Somehow, the ambulance team carried with them the DNA of the accused man, and left it on the body of the victim. Even though the quantity of genetic material involved was minuscule, today’s DNA amplification techniques are such that it is possible to extract long enough genetic sequences from these kind of situations to allow them to be matched with DNA database entries. Ironically, the very sensitivity of DNA forensic techniques means that cases of innocent people being accused of crimes are likely to become more common. The problem is that we shed and leave our DNA on everything we touch, even where we stand, and so it is possible for it to be picked up and transferred somewhere else – even on to a murder victim.

    • Website leaked real-time location of most US cell phones to almost anyone

      LocationSmart, as the service is known, identifies the locations of phones connected to AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon, often to an accuracy of a few hundred yards, reporter Brian Krebs said. While the firm claims it provides the location lookup service only for legitimate and authorized purposes, Krebs reported that a demo tool on the LocationSmart website could be used by just about anyone to surreptitiously track the real-time whereabouts of just about anyone else.

    • Cambridge Analytica files for bankruptcy amidst “siege” of negative attention

      The Friday court document also notes that the attorney preparing the filing was paid for by Emerdata, a new data analytics firm founded by many of the same people who were formerly involved in Cambridge Analytica. Emerdata, like Cambridge Analytica, is largely funded by the Mercer family, who are well-known Republican donors and Trump supporters. Rebekah Mercer was named as a director to Emerdata in March 2018. What exactly Emerdata does or how it will operate going forward remains a bit of a mystery.

    • GDPR Hysteria

      In another week the GDPR, or the General Data Protection Regulation will become enforceable and it appears that unlike any other law to date this particular one has the interesting side effect of causing mass hysteria in the otherwise rational tech sector.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Labor undecided on support for increased airport ID checks

      The government made its proposal known on Tuesday, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull saying the measure was being advanced because there were “dangerous times” facing the country, according to an ABC report. A sum of $294 million has been set aside to increase security at Australian airports and put in new measures in regional centres.

      Turnbull and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton announced legislation to give the police the power to carry out random identity checks at airports without any cause.

    • TSA Thuggos Turn Into The “Security” Version Of Vindictive Uber Drivers, Secretly Rating You

      This turn of events we’re left with — citizens as docile sheep in the face of our civil liberties being violated — ultimately doesn’t go in a good direction, let’s just say, and it probably won’t end well down the road.

    • $10K Isn’t What It Used To Be — Nor Are Constitutional Rights: Time To Revisit Banking Reporting Requirements

      And Holcombe makes the point that $10K in 1970 dollars would be $65K in today’s.

    • US Immigration Officials Pull Plug on High-Tech ‘Extreme Vetting’

      According to reports, ICE has dropped the requirement to use machine learning or other automated predictive decision-making technologies in its proposals to contractors vying for government business. Instead, ICE will emphasize human oversight of the vetting process.

    • New York workers could get right to ignore bosses emails and phone calls

      That’s if a “right to disconnect” bill sponsored by New York City councilman Rafael Espinal passes. It sets a $250 fine for employers who require staff to answer calls and emails after hours. Espinal’s bill was inspired by a similar law that went into effect last year in France.

    • An Agricultural Movement for People-to-People Reparations Puts Itself on the Map

      On a small plot of land on the outskirts of Chicago, a farm collectively owned by gender-non-conforming immigrants will cultivate produce and a younger generation of food justice activists. That’s the vision that Viviana Moreno, Nadia Sol Ireri Unzueta Carrasco and Jazmín Martinez, organizers and farmers based in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood, are working to turn into reality.

      Catatumbo Collective, as the three call themselves, told Rural America In These Times in an email: “We’re approaching a worker-owned farm through an intersectional and holistic lens that understands that our community’s issues can be addressed in part by sustainable farming and food justice educational programs.”

      Viviana, Ireri and Jazmín have known each other from years of organizing against deportations in Chicago and working in Little Village’s Semillas de Justicia community garden.

      Of Venezuelan and Mexican heritage, the three incorporate their families’ experiences—with land stewardship and NAFTA-driven migration—and the history of campesinos’ and Indigenous peoples’ land struggles into their approach.

    • Socialists and Progressives Just Trounced the Democratic Establishment

      If members of the Democratic Party establishment weren’t already worried, after Tuesday night, they should be. In primaries across the country, at least eight candidates running on explicitly progressive platforms won out, including open socialists and political newcomers who took out longtime incumbents.

      These victories are proof that the recent successes of left challengers are no fluke. Rather, the wins show that voters who are tired of the type of milquetoast, means-tested policies pushed by centrist Democrats are willing to embrace candidates running on bold, redistributive policies. And far from being too far left to win, these candidates have the political winds at their backs.

    • Criminalizing Victims: the Fate of Honduran Refugees

      According to the National Catholic Reporter, Honduran human rights leader and Jesuit priest Fr. Ismael Moreno Coto, who was a friend of slain environmental activist Berta Caceres, plans to meet with members of the US Congress this week in order to “offer a number of suggestions on how the U.S. government can play a constructive role in promoting human rights in Honduras.” He is currently on a 9-city tour of the United States to raise awareness about the state of contemporary Honduran society and the historically negative role that the US has played there, especially in its support and funding of right-wing governments and the Honduran military.

      The Trump administration’s recent decision to suspend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 57, 000 Hondurans who came to the United States after Hurricane Mitch devastated the country in 1998 may have also inspired his visit. Trump’s refusal to renew TPS will affect a total of 300,000 Central Americans and Haitians. The vast majority are perfectly law-abiding members of US society who have now, at the stroke of a pen, been criminalized. It is not outside the realm of possibility that Father Ismael may appeal to American government officials to fight against sending vulnerable people to one of the most dangerous countries in the Western Hemisphere.

    • Time to quell the Lords’ anti-democratic riot

      The constitutional crisis that nobody on the left wants to talk about.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • The decline of Snapchat and the secret joy of internet ghost towns

      When websites become useless, they become a reminder of what was lost when the [I]nternet gained purpose, function, and profit. We are all still searching for an online space where we can yell our secrets and be unseen and disappear. These opportunities now often exist only in dying online spaces, the last place where no one is looking.

    • ISPs and Ajit Pai are really sad about Senate’s vote for net neutrality

      USTelecom claimed to speak on behalf of Internet users, saying that “Consumers want permanent, comprehensive online protections, not half measures or election year posturing from our representatives in Congress.”

    • ‘Uphill Battle,’ But Net Neutrality Defenders Say Victory in House Possible

      Celebrating the ‘historic win’ in the Senate on Wednesday for only the briefest of moments, advocates for the open Internet who have worked relentlessly to reverse an effort by the telecommunications industry and Trump’s FCC to kill net neutrality protections have immediately turned their attention to the U.S. House of Representatives where they say victory is possible if the American people keep up the pressure.

      “The people saying we can’t win on net neutrality in the House are the same people who, just 5 months ago, were saying we could never do it in the Senate,” said Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) on Thursday. “Ignore them. Just keep fighting.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Webinar on Defend Trade Secrets Act
    • Copyrights
      • Police Forces Around Europe Hit Pirate IPTV Operation

        More than 150 law enforcement officers in Italy, Switzerland, Germany and Spain have coordinated to dismantle a large pirate IPTV operation. TV channel sources, which were spread among companies, commercial premises and even private homes, were targeted in dozens of locations. The investigation focused on 49 suspects, five of whom were arrested and taken into custody.

      • Congress wants to extend the copyright on some sound recordings to 144 years

        Hatch merged the bill with the CLASSICS act, which creates a new federal copyright rule for pre-1972 sound recordings; in some cases, this will create a 144 year copyright term for these older recordings. What’s more, it gives an unassailable advantage to the biggest streaming companies like Spotify and Pandora, whose existing music publisher agreements lock in a much lower royalty rate than the statute provides for, something no new competitor will be able to use.

      • Congress’ Latest Move to Extend Copyright Protection Is Misguided

        Twenty years later, the fight for term extension has begun anew. Buried in an otherwise harmless act, passed by the House and now being considered in the Senate, this new bill purports to create a new digital performance right—basically the right to control copies of recordings on any digital platform (ever hear of the internet?)—for musical recordings made before 1972. These recordings would now have a new right, protected until 2067, which, for some, means a total term of protection of 144 years. The beneficiaries of this monopoly need do nothing to get the benefit of this gift. They don’t have to make the work available. Nor do they have to register their claims in advance.

Aurélien Pétiaud’s ILO Case (EPO Appeal) an Early Sign That ILO Protects Abusers and Power, Not Workers

Sunday 20th of May 2018 03:24:08 AM

[Correction: “Alain Prunier” (as named below by Märpel) is actually a mistake. It is in fact Aurélien Pétiaud in the text below.]

Summary: A famous EPO ‘disciplinary’ case is recalled; it’s another one of those EPO-leaning rulings from AT-ILO, which not only praises Battistelli amid very serious abuses but also lies on his behalf, leaving workers with no real access to justice but a mere illusion thereof

The dismissal of SUEPO secretary Laurent Prunier a couple of years ago [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] was the subject of much debate regarding EPO scandals. It happened at the Dutch ‘branch’, not the German one. He was probably Battistelli’s last casualty (among many) that was a staff representative and he was fired in defiance of ‘orders’ from the Administrative Council. This served to reaffirm the view that Battistelli was ‘in charge’ of his ‘supposed’ regulator.

“Well, thankfully, owing to EPO scandals, we nowadays know that ILO too is dysfunctional.”It turns out that there’s another Prunier (see correction above), Alain Prunier Aurélien Pétiaud, whose case [PDF] Märpel has just dug out, remarking on oneself in the form of a third person (like Merpel) that “Märpel may only wonder at what the “L” in “ILO” stands for. It used to stand for “labour”.”

Here’s the key part:

The events concerning Mr Alain Prunier Aurélien Pétiaud are known from all the EPO. They took place in 2014. At the time, Mr. Prunierr Pétiaud found it necessary to protest the way the appeal committee was run under President Battistelli’s orders. It was run as a purely rubber-stamping affair and since the members chosen by staff were in minority, cases were lost. Mr. Prunierr Pétiaud protested and took a courageous decision: on each case he took the time to write a minority opinion (see judgment point 16), thereby documenting the malfunctioning of the committee.

President Battistelli was not amused and simply increased the workload to a point where there was no time to write these opinions and still attend the sessions. Mr. Prunierr Pétiaud refused and publicly explained why he took that decision, in agreement with SUEPO. To all EPO staff, it was clear that this was a political message and not a refusal to carry out his duties.

But AT-ILO found differently.

Well, thankfully, owing to EPO scandals, we nowadays know that ILO too is dysfunctional. In many ways and aspects. As noted earlier this month, the ILO nowadays lies on behalf of Battistelli and the EPO. It makes one wonder if ILO defends labour from abuses of power or simply defends powerful people from ‘pesky’ workers who challenge abuse of power.

LOT Network is a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Sunday 20th of May 2018 02:47:53 AM

Summary: Another reminder that the “LOT” is a whole lot more than it claims to be and in effect a reinforcer of the status quo

THE idea that we need to fight patent injustice by hoarding more patents was always a laughable one. The IBM-led OIN, for example, had us believing that it would somehow tackle the issue by making patents “defensive” (that can never be; it’s just not how patents actually work).

There’s an old saying along the lines of, to understand what an organisation stands for just check who’s running it. At the EPO it would be Battistelli and at the USPTO Iancu, part of the patent microcosm.

“There’s an old saying along the lines of, to understand what an orgnisation stands for just check who’s running it.”The LOT Network charm offensive and puff pieces aren’t over yet. We’re seeing Susan Decker’s Bloomberg piece licensed and reposted even more than a week later; we responded to it a couple of times before and 3 days ago we saw Wayne Williams in Beta News issuing another belated LOT Network puff piece in which he said:

Ken Seddon is the CEO of the non-profit patent protection network LOT. The organization’s members include Google, Red Hat, Lenovo, Pega and other big players, as well as dozens of startups in areas such as transportation, blockchain, and software.

Startups are disproportionately impacted by patent trolls and we chatted with Ken about how a smart, assertive IP strategy can help protect their businesses.

“Startups”-themes nonsense is the typical thing we also hear from Battistelli’s EPO. It’s pure marketing, trying to quell dissent from those who suffer the most. LOT Network is led by Google, which has a massive number of patents; all the key members are large companies, not SMEs (the term typically favoured in Europe).

“LOT Network is no solution to software patenting; it merely perpetuates all the same problems.”Ken Seddon the famous scientist (with an OBE) died earlier this year. The above Seddon, however, “drafted over 300 patent applications while at Motorola and Intel, and managed all US patent prosecution at Intel,” according to his official biography (later today we’ll remark about Intel’s patent policy). He is also connected to IPO and AIPLA, two front groups of patent maximalists. They — like Intel — promote software patents. That tells us what LOT Network really boils down to. LOT Network is no solution to software patenting; it merely perpetuates all the same problems.

‘Nokification’ in Hong Kong and China (PRC)

Sunday 20th of May 2018 01:59:32 AM


Picture by Or Cohen

Summary: Chinese firms that are struggling resort to patent litigation, in effect repeating the same misguided trajectories which became so notorious in Western nations because they act as a form of taxation, discouraging actual innovation

LAST week we wrote about how Coolpad had resorted to litigation using patents. Months prior we took note of this strategy, which basically revolved around the idea of leveraging patents rather than products. IAM, the patent trolls’ lobby, says about Coolpad that “its patent portfolio is largely unproven” (not to mention small compared to that of companies it takes on ). To quote:

Earlier this year, Coolpad filed a number of Chinese patent infringement complaints against Xiaomi. IAM reported these stories largely based on local media accounts. But last week Coolpad sought to ramp up the pressure by ensuring that the story, and key details about the accused Xiaomi products, reached the global financial press in the run-up to Xiaomi’s potential $10 billion Hong Kong IPO. On 10th May, one week after Xiaomi announced its flotation plans, Coolpad held a press conference in Hong Kong to update the media on its dispute with Xiaomi.

If Coolpad is attempting to build a business on top of litigation, then it won’t go very far. The company is already in the red and it seems to be struggling, unlike Xiaomi.

“If Coolpad is attempting to build a business on top of litigation, then it won’t go very far. The company is already in the red and it seems to be struggling, unlike Xiaomi.”There are similar companies in the West. After Microsoft entryism, for example, Nokia is like a patent troll using or merely exploiting standards bodies as Trojan horses. No doubt Nokia used to make stuff. Now it’s mostly “licensing” (the brand, patents etc.) and IAM quotes Soininen of Nokia as saying: “The reason for me to put the results of my R&D into a standard is because I have a patent and I know that I can get a fair and reasonable return on it…”

That’s just misuse of those “FRAND” euphemisms, “fair” and “reasonable” (more like SEP). IAM later wrote this article about these “fair” and “reasonable” patents:

An exclusive new study commissioned by IAM has revealed that Nokia’s merger with Alcatel-Lucent means it is now one of the leading players in the Internet of Things (IoT) domain. However, Samsung has the dominant position in the field, with second-place Qualcomm a long way behind. Last year, IP analytics platform Relecura produced research examining the IoT landscape from a patent perspective. Using an IAM-commissioned updated report and additional data from IP platform ktMINE, we inspect the current state of the IoT sector.

A lot of these ‘IoT’ patents (not all) are reducible to software and would thus be invalid in Western courts. Not so in China, which officially permits software patents. But according to Jacob Schindler from IAM, those relying on the possibility of dragging Chinese companies into US courts and in for a surprise:

There are a host of challenges when it comes to trying to assert US patents against a Chinese legal entity. A recent court filing by Dutch telecom KPN, which is suing Oppo, Vivo and OnePlus in the District of Delaware, underlines what looks to be a new normal: it may be two years before a defendant domiciled in China can even be served process.

There is only one way to serve process to an entity in China: the Hague Service Convention’s Article 5 procedure. That means going through a national central authority, which in the case of China is the Ministry of Justice. China formally objects to the service of process by private individuals as well as service of process by mail – so there is no getting around the central government.

[...]

KPN launched 11 patent assertions in January 2017, including the one against Oppo, Vivo and OnePlus. Another of those cases targetted Shenzhen-based TCL. But importantly, TCL has US subsidiaries which KPN was able to name in that complaint.

The TCL case proceeded fairly quickly. On 22nd March 2018, Judge Stark knocked out the sole patent-in-suit, US 6,212,662 (“Method and devices for the transmission of data with transmission error checking”), on Section 101 grounds. The ‘662 patent is also the only patent asserted against Oppo, Vivo and OnePlus. KPN has appealed to the circuit court.

Notice the use of Section 101 — a subject we shall tackle separately later today. Much/many of these lawsuits are fool’s errand; many of today’s granted patents are dubious at best.

CIPU is Amplifying Misleading Propaganda From the Chamber of Commerce

Saturday 19th of May 2018 06:25:07 PM

Summary: Another lobbying event is set up to alarm lawmakers and officials, telling them that the US dropped from first to twelfth using some dodgy yardstick which favours patent extremists

THE USPTO is improving patent quality as per rulings from higher up (the courts) and instructions from the management. This should really be celebrated, but this may mean many layoffs among patent lawyers, who became accustomed to an abundance of patents and lawsuits. As we shall show in later posts, Watchtroll still rants quite a lot and yesterday it resorted to citing the Center for Intellectual Property Understanding (CIPU), a lobby group of patent maximalists. This, in turn, props up those infamous lies (rebutted here before) from the Chamber of Commerce.

“The US did not drop at all; they measure the wrong thing to intentionally influence the outcome in favour of the patent microcosm, conflating innovation with the number of patents…”It’s just another one of those lobbying events. To quote: “The event was the first Washington gathering in recent history to re-introduce the idea of what innovation policy is, and how it impacts intellectual property (IP) rights. A group of almost 100 key innovation and IP influencers from government, business, and academia met to strategize on reversing the decline in innovative output that has recently seen the US drop to 12th place in patent rankings from the sixth edition of the International IP Index published by the Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC) at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.”

The US did not drop at all; they measure the wrong thing to intentionally influence the outcome in favour of the patent microcosm, conflating innovation with the number of patents and similar things (the headline speaks of “US innovation policy” but actually measures it in terms of patents or “IP”). They trash-talk their own country with the sole intention of changing the law to harm that country.

This is tiring old nonsense. Quite a few scholars already debunked it, but one scholar, Dennis Crouch, is still happy to promote it at the behest of patent maximalists and days ago he was still reprinting USPTO press releases to fill up space. He posted this ‘shopping list’ of patent lawyers:

Individuals Listed by Firm:

Alston & Bird LLP — Chris Lightner — Altanta , GA
Ballard Spahr LLP — Charley F. Brown — Altanta , GA
Ballard Spahr LLP — Jason T. Fletcher — Altanta , GA
Ballard Spahr LLP — Michele A. Kliem — Altanta , GA
Ballard Spahr LLP — Galit Levitin — Altanta , GA
Ballard Spahr LLP — Scott D. Marty — Altanta , GA
Ballard Spahr LLP — Sandra Sciascia-Zirger — Altanta , GA
Ballard Spahr LLP — D. Brian Shortell — Altanta , GA
Ballard Spahr LLP — Sommer S. Zimmerman — Altanta , GA
Ballard Spahr LLP — Wendy Ann Choi — Atlanta, GA
Ballard Spahr LLP — John Chionchio — Philadelphia, PA
Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP — David Atkinson — Denver, CO
Carter, DeLuca, Farrell & Schmidt, LLP — Jason B. Scher — Melville, NY
Cozen O’Connor — Kyle Vos Strache — Philadelphia, PA
CreatiVenture Law, LLC — Dennis JM Donahue III — St. Louis, MO
Davis Wright Tremaine LLP — Jonathan Tolstedt — Seattle, WA
Dentons US LLP — Roman Tsibulevskiy — Washington, DC
DLA Piper LLP — Tim Lohse — East Palo Alto, CA
DLA Piper LLP — Jeff Clark, MD — Boston, MA
Duane Morris — Joaquin Hernandez — Boca Raton, FL
Edam Law PLLC — Edmar M. Amaya, LL.M. — Miami, FL
Eversheds Sutherland LLP — Josh Aronson — Atlanta, GA
Faegre Baker Daniels LLP — Dan Schwartz — Chicago, IL
Faegre Baker Daniels LLP — Kathryn Warner — Denver, CO
Faegre Baker Daniels LLP — Steven Wiemer — Denver, CO
Faegre Baker Daniels LLP — Ryan Duebner — Denver, CO
Faegre Baker Daniels LLP — Bob O’Loughlin — Denver, CO
Fleit, Gibbons, Gutman, Bongini & Bianco, PL — Gary S. Winer — Coral Gables, FL
Foley & Lardner — Joseph F. Janas — Chicago, IL
Foley & Lardner — Roger Rozanski — Chicago, IL
Foley & Lardner — Charles Carter — Milwaukee, WI
Foley & Lardner — John Lazarus — Milwaukee, WI
Foley & Lardner — Lisamarie Collins — Milwaukee, WI
Holland & Hart — Jennifer Junkin — Salt Lake City, UT
Holland & Hart — Dick Schulze — Reno, NV
Holzer Patel Drennan — Rachel Carnaggio — Denver, CO
Husch Blackwell — Marriam Lin — St. Louis, MO
Interdigital Holdings, Inc. — John B. Gillick, Jr. — Wilmington, DE
Interdigital Holdings, Inc. — Damian C. Hamme — Wilmington, DE
IP Services — John Tolomei — Palatine, IL
Jin and Vidhani Consultancy LLP — Dr. Dinesh Vidhani — Tallahassee, FL
Jin and Vidhani Consultancy LLP — Dr. Yonghao Jin — Tallahassee, FL
Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP — Stephen Dew — Altanta , GA
Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP — Brett Mellor — Denver, CO
Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP — Torrey Spink — Denver, CO
Law Office of Nora M. Tocups — Nora M. Tocups — Decatur, GA
Lewis Rice — Kirk A. Damman — St. Louis, MO
Lowenstein Sandler LLP — Ben Kimes — Palo Alto, CA
Lowenstein Sandler LLP — Sam Noel — Centerville, UT
Lowenstein Sandler LLP — Steven Tam — Palo Alto, CA
Lowenstein Sandler LLP — Cicero Brabham — Roseland, NJ
Lowenstein Sandler LLP — Joseph Jones — Roseland, NJ
Lowenstein Sandler LLP — Jonathan Wolfsberger — Palo Alto, CA
Lowenstein Sandler LLP — Kevin Grange — Palo Alto, CA
Lowenstein Sandler LLP — Kevin O. Grange — Centerville, UT
Lowenstein Sandler LLP — Sam Noel — Centerville, UT
Lowenstein Sandler LLP — Cicero Brabham — Roseland, NJ
MBCB Attorneys — Jonathan Yates — Bloomington, IN
McDonald Hopkins LLC — Mark C. Guinto — Cleveland, OH
McDonell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff — Emily Miao — Chicago, IL
Medtronic — Tiffany Parcher — Boulder, CO
Mohr IP Law — Devin Miller — Salt Lake City, UT
Neal Gerber Eisenberg — Michael Harlin — Chicago, IL
Patterson + Sheridan LLP — Matthew Seeley — Houston, TX
Perkins Coie LLP — Kevin John Patariu — San Diego, CA
Pham IP Group — Frank Pham — Houston, TX
Poly-Med, Inc — Mary Anthony Merchant, JD, PhD — Atlanta, GA
Quarles & Brady — Justin DeAngelis — Chicago, IL
Quarles & Brady — Erin Fox — Chicago, IL
Rabicoff Law — Kenneth Matuszewski — Chicago, IL
Rosenbaum IP — Ben Rotman — Northbrook, IL
Schwegman Lundberg Woessner — Michael R. Mischnick — Minneapolis, MN
Smith, Gambrell & Russell LLP — Thomas Wiseman — Washington, DC
Smith, Gambrell & Russell LLP — Greg Kirsch — Altanta , GA
Southeaster IP Consulting LLP — John R. Sweet — Altanta , GA
Stinson Leonard Street, LLP — Judy Carlson — Kansas City, MO
Stinson Leonard Street, LLP — David Kim — Kansas City, MO
The Richards Law Firm LLC — William B. Richards — New Albany, OH
Thomas Hostermeyer — Richard T. Timmer — Atlanta, GA
Tom F. Pruitt PLLC, Retired — Tom Pruitt — Nacogdoches, TX
Vedder Price — Sudip Mitra — Chicago, IL
Vitaley, Vickrey, Niro & Gasey LLP — Oliver Yang — Chicago, IL
WilmerHale — Ben Fernandez — Denver, CO
Womble Bond Dickinson LLP — Dan Ovanezian — Palo Alto, CA
Womble Bond Dickinson LLP — Bill Jacobs — Palo Alto, CA

What have the above individuals actually done? They “reported 50 or more hours of patent pro bono service to a regional patent pro bono program.” They basically aided patent maximalism under the guise of “pro bono” (free). Their volunteer work can end up causing lawsuits and there may be real victims. Look at the comments; it’s only 4 comments from the same person — rants about Alice that are totally tosh. This is just what we have come to expect from patent maximalists.

Patent Law Firms That Profit From Software Patent Applications and Lawsuits Still ‘Pull a Berkheimer’ to Attract Business in Vain

Saturday 19th of May 2018 12:08:05 PM

These patents and lawsuits would still be a waste of time and money

Summary: The Alice-inspired (Supreme Court) 35 U.S.C. § 101 remains unchanged, but the patent microcosm endlessly mentions a months-old decision from a lower court (than the Supreme Court) to ‘sell’ the impression that everything is changing and software patents have just found their ‘teeth’ again

“The Berkheimer Memorandum,” wrote Marks & Clerk’s Julian Asquith and Tobias Eriksson in their headline just a little while ago, is “Good news for software patents in the US” (perpetuating the old hype, such as "Berkheimer Effect" and ‘pulling a Berkheimer’). The USPTO offered a consultation after Berkheimer and there are still months to go. Quoting Marks & Clerk:

The Berkheimer memorandum, issued by the USPTO on 19 April 2018, is good news for applicants of US software-related patents.

In summary, an examiner at the USPTO is now obliged to factually prove that any “additional features” of a claim are well-understood, routine, and conventional in order to support an “abstract idea” rejection. Hence, if a claim is novel and inventive, it should now be easier to show that it is also patent eligible (i.e. that it relates to patentable subject-matter).

It is widely acknowledged that the patenting of software-related inventions became more difficult in the US following the decision in 2014 of the US Supreme Court in decision known as “Alice” (Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International).

That in no way changes Alice, only burden of proof associated with it. In that regard, not much will happen.

“That in no way changes Alice, only burden of proof associated with it. In that regard, not much will happen.”On May 1st Robert Curylo wrote about “Loopholes In The USPTO’s Berkheimer Memo”. To quote: “Rejections of patent claims under 35 U.S.C. § 101 are often criticized when examiners take an “I know when I see it” approach rather than applying any objective standards for assessing patent eligibility. However, in an April 19, 2018, memorandum, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office imposes new limitations on rejecting patent claims as ineligible for being directed to abstract ideas without significantly more.”

But there are still loopholes there, albeit the paywall puts them out of view. Several days ago in IAM’s sponsored ads/’analyses’ (Baker Donelson in this case) the lawyers were ‘pulling a Berkheimer’ (even months later). As they put it:

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has recently provided additional guidance to its examiners on the issue of subject-matter eligibility, which could make it easier for applicants to overcome rejections under 35 USC Section 101. The memorandum, issued on April 19 2018, addresses the limited question of whether an additional claim element (or combination of additional claim elements) represents well-understood, routine and conventional activity.

But again, Alice itself isn’t being sidelined; so the law remains more or less the same (if that memorandum leads to any material changes to guidelines at the end).

What we see above are “sales pitches” rather than honest analysis/advice.

A Year After TC Heartland the Patent Microcosm is Trying to ‘Dilute’ This Supreme Court’s Decision or Work Around It

Saturday 19th of May 2018 11:38:24 AM

Microsoft and IBM would certainly want a patent litigation resurgence and so would their lawyers


Downtown Dallas, Texas

Summary: IAM, Patent Docs, Managing IP and Patently-O want more litigation (especially somewhere like the Eastern District of Texas), so in an effort to twist TC Heartland they latch onto ZTE and BigCommerce cases

THE TC Heartland decision — an historic and important Supreme Court decision — has had a profound effect on enforcement of patents granted by the USPTO; it became a lot harder to reach plaintiff-friendly courts. This meant that, overall, it became even harder to enforce questionable patents, such as software patents.

“Bearing in mind the limitation in terms of diversity of sources/views (IAM, Patent Docs, Managing IP and Patently-O are all cornerstones of patent maximalism), we still decided to cover it here.”The past week has been relatively quiet on the patent front and it can be seen as a positive thing because the patent microcosm is coming to grips with the demise of patent maximalism. Patents that are on abstract ideas, for example, lost their teeth. Notably software patents, which we shall remark on later this weekend.

Of relevance to TC Heartland, more so on its one-year anniversary, were a couple of new cases. These received coverage from sites of patent maximalists (unfortunately the mainstream media does not cover patent news unless it can name-drop “Apple” or something like that… which helps ‘sell’ the story). Bearing in mind the limitation in terms of diversity of sources/views (IAM, Patent Docs, Managing IP and Patently-O are all cornerstones of patent maximalism), we still decided to cover it here. We wish to highlight what they are doing; they’re slanting it in their favour.

The one-year anniversary was noted by IAM just before the weekend. Its main proponent of software patents and patent trolls decided to spin it as “East Texas adjusts” (whatever that means, the numbers speak for themselves). To quote the summary outside the stubborn paywall: “As if prompted by the looming first birthday of the TC Heartland decision, in the last ten days the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has issued a flurry of opinions filling in many of the gaps left unanswered by the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on patent venue. Those recent decisions have largely placed further bounds on patent owners in determining where they can bring a suit. At the start of this week the court issued its decision in In re: ZTE ruling that the burden of proof with regards to venue lies with the patent owner, not the defendant.”

This is what we shall cover here, unfortunately based on sites like IAM (the patent microcosm dominates coverage on this subject).

As last noted a couple of days ago in Patently-O, patent law actively discriminates against foreign firms. As they aren’t primarily based in the US there’s this assumption that they can be dragged into just about any court, even the more/most notorious ones. This isn’t really fair. They paid the same application/maintenance fees as US (domestic) firms.

After TC Heartland, moreover, there’s still this discussion about where a company can sue another company using patents (they prefer dragging the accused to notorious, plaintiff-friendly courts, notably the Eastern District of Texas). Several days ago Andrew Williams (Patent Docs) wrote about In re ZTE:

The Federal Circuit next analyzed the question of which party bears the burden. Interestingly, the Court could not find a case in which the issue had been addressed in its 37-year history. However, prior to the formation of the Federal Circuit, the regional circuits handled challenges to venue in patent cases by placing the burden on Plaintiffs. Even though this precedent might not have been binding on the Court, it was persuasive. Moreover, the Court noted that the restrictive nature of the patent-specific venue statute (as opposed to the more general venue statute of § 1391) supports placing the burden on the Plaintiff. Correspondingly, the Court held that “as a matter of Federal Circuit law, that upon motion by the Defendant challenging venue in a patent case, the Plaintiff bears the burden of establishing proper venue.”

This was highlighted not only by Williams but also Kevin E. Noonan, who 70 minutes later wrote about In re BigCommerce, Inc. “This is a considerable restriction on the already limited venue options open to plaintiffs, which limited proper venue to states where the defendant resides (its state of incorporation),” Noonan opined. From his post:

This is a considerable restriction on the already limited venue options open to plaintiffs, which limited proper venue to states where the defendant resides (its state of incorporation) or “where the defendant has committed acts of infringement and has a regular and established place of business.”

The case arose in the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division, where respondents Diem LLC and Express Mobile Inc. individually filed patent infringement suits against BigCommerce. BigCommerce filed a motion to dismiss for improper venue in the Diem case, and a motion to transfer in the Express Mobile case; each of these motions was denied by the District Court. As noted in the Federal Circuit’s Order, “[i]t is undisputed that BigCommerce has no place of business in the Eastern District of Texas” (rather, its registered office and headquarters is in Austin, which is in the Western District of Texas). Nevertheless, the Diem court ruled that “a domestic corporation resides in the state of its incorporation and if that state contains more than one judicial district, the corporate defendant resides in each such judicial district for venue purposes” and the Express Mobile court found nothing in plaintiff’s argument that distinguished this reasoning.

[...]

The Court’s Order also reviewed and rejected three arguments from respondents. The first was that the use of “resides” in earlier Supreme Court cases (including Stonite) is in tension with later Supreme Court cases (including Fourco). The Federal Circuit rejected this argument almost out of hand, saying that the Court did not address the issue in Fourco at the judicial district level of granularity, “and set a necessary but not necessarily sufficient condition for corporate residence for venue under § 1400(b)” (emphasis in order). The second argument, that modern business circumstances counseled a “more flexib[le]” approach was “a non-starter,” the panel stating that “‘[t]he requirement of venue is specific and unambiguous; it is not one of those vague principles which, in the interest of some overriding policy, is to be given a ‘liberal’ construction,” quoting Olberding v. Ill. Cent. R.R. Co., 346 U.S. 338, 340 (1953), as cited in Schnell v. Peter Eckrich & Sons, Inc., 365 U.S. 260, 264 (1961), and saying that “[s]uch policy-based arguments are best directed to Congress.” Finally, the order addresses the question generally regarding how venue should be properly decided in multi-judicial district states. First, the proper district for venue would be the district in which the defendant has a principal place of business (if there is such a place in the state), citing Galveston, H. & S.A. Ry. Co. v. Gonzales, 151 U.S. 496, 504 (1894). And the Court noted that a “principal place of business” is not the same as “a regular and established place of business” as required by other aspects of the statute, the order citing Hertz Corp. v. Friend, 559 U.S. 77, 93 (2010). In the absence of a “principal place of business” in a state in which a defendant is incorporated, the “default’ should be the judicial district in which the corporation has its registered office or agent, calling this a “universally recognized foundational requirement of corporate formation.”

Managing IP‘s Michael Loney wrote about BigCommerce as follows, in conjunction with that other (aforementioned) case:

The plaintiff bears the burden of proving venue in patent cases and venue is only proper for a corporation registered in a multiple district-state in the district where it has its principal place of business, the Federal Circuit ruled in ZTE and BigCommerce

The Federal Circuit has granted two petitions for writ of mandamus that shed light on patent venue post-TC Heartland.

At Patently-O, BigCommerce was mentioned by Dennis Crouch, who said:

The same panel that recently decided In re ZTE (Fed. Cir. May 14, 2018) (Judges Reyna, Linn, and Hughes) have now also decided another improper venue mandamus action: In re BigCommerce, Inc. (Fed. Cir. May 15, 2018).

BigCommerce focuses on the issue of proper venue in multi-district states. The potential confusion comes from the Supreme Court’s central holding in TC Heartland that “a domestic corporation ‘resides’ only in its State of incorporation for purposes of the patent venue statute.” BigCommerce is a Texas Company, but its HQ is in Austin (E.D.Texas) and argues that the Supreme Court’s statement was incomplete. Now, on mandamus, the Federal Circuit has sided with BigCommerce — holding that the rule is more nuanced for multi-venue states.

[...]

The Federal Circuit’s decision here has to be correct, and the only difficulty is the loose Supreme Court wording in TC Heartland.

This is the job of lawyers; they try to twist the law or to cherry-pick decisions, (mis)interpreting them to mean whatever the client (i.e. money) wants. In this case, the Supreme Court’s wordings are being ‘artistically’ (to put it politely) interpreted to make life harder for defendants.

Microsoft Attacks the Vulnerable Using Software Patents in Order to Maintain Fear and Give the Perception of Microsoft ‘Safety’

Saturday 19th of May 2018 10:36:40 AM

While Microsoft sells ‘protection’ from itself and its patent trolls [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17]

Summary: The latest patent lawsuits from Microsoft and its patent trolls (which it financially backs); these are aimed at feeble and vulnerable rivals of Microsoft

THE whole ‘new’ Microsoft delusion clearly fails to impress/charm actual GNU/Linux geeks. They aren’t buying any of it (example from today [1, 2]). Microsoft’s patent attacks on GNU/Linux are being brought up as well. Based on US patent office records, in addition to Microsoft boosting sites, the gold rush for patents carries on and Microsoft has been busy attacking rivals using patents. Yes, this is the ‘new’ Microsoft — same as the ‘old’ Microsoft. It’s using patents on GUIs — a subject we shall cover later this weekend in relation to Apple — to go after competitors. A guest post by Sarah Burstein, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Oklahoma College of Law, was published some days ago to remark about the underlying patents:

Microsoft accused Corel of infringing five utility patents and four design patents. The four design patents all claimed designs for particular elements of the Microsoft Office graphical user interface (GUI).

[...]

Corel initially denied infringing these design patents but, early last year, it amended its answer to admit infringement and dismiss most of its defenses, stating that, “to properly develop and prove out those defenses will simply cost more than the damages could rationally be in this case.” By the time of trial, the only remaining issues were damages, whether Corel had pre-suit notice of three of the design patents, and willfulness.

In its Rule 50 motions, Corel argued that Microsoft was not entitled to recover its “total profits” under 35 U.S.C. § 289 because Corel had not applied the patented designs to any articles of manufacture.

We recently wrote quite a few articles about it. It’s almost only one site that has been covering that (Law 360); somehow all the “tech” press doesn’t seem to mind. Last weekend we argued that maybe that just doesn’t fit the “Microsoft loves Linux” narrative they constantly foist if not impose on readers. Notice how, in order to win cases more easily, Microsoft targets relatively poor and weak companies, especially at times of trouble, e.g. TomTom; the last thing Microsoft wants is a lengthy legal battle that sees Microsoft’s patents invalidated.

“…the last thing Microsoft wants is a lengthy legal battle that sees Microsoft’s patents invalidated.”Meanwhile — while Microsoft sues rivals like Corel using lousy patents — the patent trolls of Microsoft also attack Microsoft's rivals, who struggle in court because some software patent survived back in January. In Finjan, Inc. v SonicWall, Inc. (according to Docket Navigator):

The court denied defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s [Finjan] willful infringement claims for failing to sufficiently allege egregious conduct through defendant’s licensing negotiations.

Remember that Finjan is financially backed by Microsoft and it has gone after pretty much all of Microsoft’s competitors in the security space. Of course it doesn’t go after Microsoft; the same goes for Nokia, whose latest words and actions we shall cover separately later this weekend.

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The AsteroidOS project has released version 1.0 of its open source, Linux-based smartwatch distribution. Designed for after-market installation on “Wear OS by Google” (formerly Android Wear) watches, AsteroidOS can now be dual booted on seven different models. The release follows the late March announcement of an OpenWatch Project for building Android based open source custom ROMs on Wear OS watches. Read more

Best Linux Laptops of 2018

There was a time, not so long ago, when Linux was seen as an outcast operating system, and indeed one that was labelled as a ‘cancer’ by Microsoft’s former CEO Steve Ballmer. Times have now changed as the operating system - which launched in September 1991, has made some serious inroads in the server market, then in the cloud – not forgetting that it underpins the most popular ecosystem out there: Android on smartphones. Because none of the main notebook vendors – bar Dell – offer Linux as an OS option, this leaves other smaller companies the ability to carve a niche for themselves. Read more

Red Hat and Fedora News

Free/Open Source AI Projects

  • How open-source computing is making AI affordable
    computing and the cloud have brought many previously unaffordable IT options to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The same is becoming true of artificial intelligence (AI), although it brings new challenges to all sizes of company. Even though many of the commercial, high-profile products are aimed at Global 2000 companies, and others marketed at SMEs are perhaps heavier on hype than intelligence, the smarter smaller organisations can learn, build on and use AI techniques right now, with those same open-source and .
  • Free Ebook Offers Insight on 16 Open Source AI Projects
    Open source AI is flourishing, with companies developing and open sourcing new AI and machine learning tools at a rapid pace. To help you keep up with the changes and stay informed about the latest projects, The Linux Foundation has published a free ebook by Ibrahim Haddad examining popular open source AI projects, including Acumos AI, Apache Spark, Caffe, TensorFlow, and others. “It is increasingly common to see AI as open source projects,” Haddad said. And, “as with any technology where talent premiums are high, the network effects of open source are very strong.”