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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 3 hours 16 min ago

Links 21/10/2014: Debian Fork Debate, New GNU IceCat

6 hours 58 min ago

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Why Contribute to an Enterprise Open Source Project?

    It would be difficult to find a better example of the former scenario than the OpenDaylight project. With a focus on software-defined networking and network functions virtualization, OpenDaylight launched in April 2013 as a collaborative open source project hosted by The Linux Foundation. Since then, it’s taken off like a rocket.

  • Events
    • Asia’s Largest Convention on Open Source is Back

      The much-awaited convention on open source technology, Open Source India, fondly known as OSI Days, is back and registration for passes has begun. The 11th edition of Open Source India will be held at the NIMHANS Convention Center, Bengaluru from 7th to 8th November, 2014.

    • A Seat at the Big Kids’ Table at Ohio LinuxFest

      Ohio LinuxFest isn’t just another excuse to travel. It’s a means for us to fulfill ourselves, and to get honest, tangible feedback for what we do and for what others are doing. It’s a place where ideas are sounded, bent, crumpled and turned until they either come out of the crucible perfect…or useless.

      That’s what our gatherings are about.

      They are about excitement and promise. They​ are about making sure the next generation has a real chance to put the first human footprint on Mars. They are a chance to insure they have the tools and the curiosity to take something apart and then make it better. This next generation will cure diabetes; they will make cancer an inconvenience and not a death sentence.

  • Web Browsers
  • SaaS/Big Data
    • OpenStack Juno is out, Debian (and Ubuntu Trusty ports) packages ready

      This is just a quick announce: Debian packages for Juno are out. In fact, they were ready the day of the release, on the 16th of October. I uploaded it all (to Experimental) the same day, literally a few hours after the final released was git tagged. But I had no time to announce it.

    • How OpenStack powers the research at CERN

      OpenStack has been in a production environment at CERN for more than a year. One of the people that has been key to implementing the OpenStack infrastructure is Tim Bell. He is responsible for the CERN IT Operating Systems and Infrastructure group which provides a set of services to CERN users from email, web, operating systems, and the Infrastructure-as-a-Service cloud based on OpenStack.

    • Creating scalable, intelligent storage solutions with OpenStack

      Managing complexity and the sheer volume of storage requirements within the corporate environment today is one of the greatest challenges facing IT departments. The growth of business data and the insatiable demand for storage has been a catalyst for developing a new approach to enterprise storage in the cloud.

  • Funding
    • Mirantis Pulls Down Huge $100 Million Funding for OpenStack Efforts

      Mirantis, which has steadily remained a nimble player in the OpenStack cloud computing arena, has just nailed down a massive $100 million Series B funding round led by Insight Venture Partners. The financing is being billed as the largest Series B open source investment in history.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
  • Openness/Sharing
    • Open source baby robots – a moonshot project

      In his TEDx Talk Fabricating open-source baby robots, Oudeyer explains that scientists also use fabrication to build new knowledge of the world around us. Scientists build large scale aquariums to understand ocean behavior and construct large computer simulations to understand spiral galaxies.

    • Democracy And FLOSS

      How can you have transparency with non-Free software running the system when you can’t see the code? How can there be accountability with non-Free software when you can’t see the code? These things are about more than source code, but to really start being accountable and transparent, the code has to be trusted by everyone. Only opening the code can do that. Free Software is also about the rights of the user of the software. Non-Free software always restricts what a user can do with his own hardware and how a user uses the software on his hardware and the information therein. FLOSS acknowledges the ownership of the hardware and data. For real democracy, governments and citizens should use Free Software, FLOSS, Free/Libre Open Source Software. Nothing else will do.

    • Open Access/Content
      • 5 open access journals for open source enthusiasts

        The ever rising cost of academic journals is a major burden for researchers. Academic libraries cannot always keep up with increases in subscription fees causing libraries to drop journals from their collection. This makes it harder for students and professors to quickly and easily access the information they need. Inter-library loan requests are an option but they do take time. Even if it only takes a few days to fill an inter-library loan request, that is still time wasted for a researcher that has a deadline. While there is no single, quick fix to the problem with the academic journal prices, there is a movement applying the open source way to academic research in an attempt to solve the problem—the open access movement.

    • Open Hardware
  • Programming
    • Facebook’s Hack Language Making Progress To Advance PHP

      Earlier this year Facebook launched the Hack language powered by their HipHop Virtual Machine (HHVM) and being based off PHP. Good progress is being made on enhancing the language with interest in the project continuing to grow inside and outside of Facebook.

  • Standards/Consortia
    • Malayalam opentype specification – part 1

      This post is a promised followup from last November documenting intricacies of opentype specification for Indic languages, specifically for Malayalam. There is an initiative to document similar details in the IndicFontbook, this series might make its way into it. You need a Malayalam unicode font supporting traditional orthography to correctly display most of the examples described in this article, some can be obtained from here.

Leftovers
  • Hardware
    • Mac Mini receives lower repair score than 2012 model after iFixit teardown

      THE IFIXIT TECHNICIANS have torn open the 2012 Apple Mac Mini and given it a lower repairability score than the previous generation of just six out of 10.

      The 2012 Mac Mini was awarded eight out of 10 by the iFixit handymen, but the updated model received two fewer points because the machine cannot have its RAM upgraded as the unit is soldered fast to the logic board inside.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • When ‘Washington Is Broken’ Isn’t the Story

      There’s no real reason to think that the US Surgeon General could do much to calm people’s irrational fears about Ebola. Nonetheless, the wall-to-wall coverage of Ebola on TV news has served as a reminder that the country does not currently have one, thanks to so-far successful efforts to block the nomination of Vivek Murthy. But explaining his nomination as a problem of “Washington dysfunction” misses the point.

  • Security
  • Finance
    • Athens v Munich: why homelessness hits rich cities as hard as poor ones

      In Athens, it’s caused by an economy in crisis; in Munich, by an economy that’s booming. The result, though, is the same – a worsening homeless problem that doesn’t reflect a city’s wealth

      [...]

      Through seven years of deep recession, Greece’s GDP has sunk by a quarter. The official unemployment rate here is 27%, including 52% of under-25s. That means some 180,000 (probably many more) of Athens’ 670,000 residents – and maybe more than 1 million of the 4 million-odd people who live in the greater Athens urban area – are now without work.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying
    • Spending for ALEC Member Tillis Breaks All Records in NC Senate Race

      The Koch brothers’ new Super PAC, Freedom Partners Action Fund (FPAF) — launched this summer — has announced a huge new seven-figure ad buy attacking Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC). The ad buy makes the North Carolina Senate race between Hagan and Republican state Speaker of the House Thom Tillis all-time number one in outside spending, at $55.7 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP).

      Spending is on track to surpass $100 million, according to the Christian Science Monitor. Nearly $8 million was spent there (in party and non-party independent spending) just in the last week, according to the Campaign Finance Institute.

  • Censorship
  • Privacy
    • How Edward Snowden Changed Journalism

      “Citizenfour,” the new documentary about Edward Snowden, by Laura Poitras, is, among other things, a work of journalism about journalism. It opens with quotations from correspondence between Poitras and a new source who identifies himself only as Citizenfour. This source turns out to be Snowden. Soon, Poitras and Glenn Greenwald, at the time a columnist for the Guardian, travel to Hong Kong to meet Snowden in a hotel room.

    • Apple May Want To Protect Your Phone Data From Snooping, But It’s Snarfing Up Your Local Desktop Searches

      So, Apple got plenty of kudos from security and privacy folks in deciding to encrypt mobile phone data, but over on the desktop side, apparently the message hasn’t quite gotten through. Instead, it appears that the latest Mac operation system has the company automatically sending all of your desktop searches back to Apple. These aren’t internet searches, but just what you’re searching for locally.

    • Apple’s Mac computers can automatically collect your location information

      Apple has begun automatically collecting the locations of users and the queries they type when searching for files with the newest Mac operating system, a function that has provoked backlash for a company that portrays itself as a leader on privacy.

    • Australian spookhaus busted for warrantless tap of own phones

      Australia’s Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (AIGIS) has found that the nation’s Australian Security and Intelligence Agency (ASIO) spied on itself in contravention of local laws.

    • FBI Wants To Know If Applicants Have Been Downloading Unauthorized Content

      Earlier this year, FBI Director James Comey suggested that the FBI might consider backing off its policy of refusing to hire anyone who has used marijuana in order to find competent computer folks who can deal with online crimes. After some backlash (and some support) for those statements, Comey quickly backed down, claiming it was all just a joke.

    • Everybody Knows FBI Director James Comey Is Wrong About Encryption, Even The FBI

      FBI Director James Comey is apparently a likable guy, but if he’s going to attack encryption, it might help if he actually understood it better than, say, the editorial board of the Washington Post, who recently argued against “backdoors” in technology, and for a magical “golden key” — as if the two were somehow different. We wrote a quick take on Comey’s Brooking’s talk last week, but the deeper you dive into his talk the more and more evident it is that he not only doesn’t quite understand the issues he’s talking about, but that he doesn’t even seem to understand when his own statements conflict with each other.

    • FBI Director Continues His Attack On Technology, Privacy And Encryption
    • New Zealand Police Raid Home Of Reporter Who Embarrassed Gov’t Officials & Was Working On Snowden Documents

      Over at The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Gallagher note that Hager was also working with them on some Snowden documents as they concerned what was happening in New Zealand. As you may recall, right before the election, Greenwald had used some Snowden documents to show that Prime Minister Key had lied about mass surveillance — leading Key to petulantly lash out with ad hominems at Greenwald, referring to him as a “loser.” Greenwald made it clear that they would likely be revealing more about New Zealand’s activities — and now wonders if that might be another reason why Hager was raided, once the government figured out who Greenwald was working with.

    • Police in Washington, DC Are Using the Secretive ‘Stingray’ Cell Phone Tracking Tool

      Back in 2003, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) in Washington, DC was awarded a $260,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to purchase surveillance technology called Stingray — a contraption the size of a suitcase that simulates a cell phone tower and intercepts mobile phone calls and text messages.

    • Chinese government launches man-in-middle attack against iCloud

      GreatFire.org, a group that monitors censorship by the Chinese government’s national firewall system (often referred to as the “Great Firewall”), reports that China is using the system as part of a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack on users of Apple’s iCloud service within the country. The attacks come as Apple begins the official rollout of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus on the Chinese mainland.

    • Who’s Lying About Whisper?

      The denials are strong, but 1 & 2 above can’t both be true. That means someone is lying, and based on what I’ve seen so far, and looking at who has what incentives, that someone is Whisper.

      The additional information about Whisper working with the Department of Defense, and likely the Chinese government, are also huge stories on their own.

    • RT interview about GCHQ

      Here is my recent inter­view on RT dis­cuss­ing the UK listen­ing post, GCHQ, its pros­ti­tu­tion to America’s NSA, and the fail­ure of oversight…

  • Civil Rights
    • FF Launches Updated Know Your Rights Guide

      If the police come knocking at your door, the constitution offers you some protection. But the constitution is just a piece of paper—if you don’t know how to assert your rights. And even if you do assert your rights…what happens next? That answer may seem complicated, but protecting yourself is simple if you know your rights.

    • Know Your Rights
    • Police Officer Blames Everyone Else But Police Officers For The Public’s General Distrust Of Law Enforcement

      The cop who always laid a few extra licks on an “uncooperative” arrestee still does so… only there’s a good chance the punches/baton swings/taser bursts have been captured on “tape.” The cop who always performed a little extracurricular searching during routine traffic stops continues to do so… only now he’s being served with civil rights lawsuits and the dashcam recording of his illegal efforts is splashed all over the news thanks to the plaintiff’s lawyer.

      If the public no longer implicitly trusts the police to be the “good guys,” the problem isn’t the public. It’s the cops who take money from citizens just because local laws say they can. It’s the multiple agencies who feel the only way to handle the drug problem is as violently as possible. It’s cops who shoot people’s pets, rather than allow the animals’ owners to restrain them. It’s officers who constantly “fear for their lives” endangering the lives of citizens around them with careless use of deadly force. This is what’s changed the public’s perception of law enforcement. Sure, some of it may be based on bad info and careless hyperbole, but a majority of the damage done to the reputation of law enforcement has been inflicted by the officers themselves.

    • Parents May Be Liable for What Their Kids Post on Facebook, Court Rules

      Parents can be held liable for what their kids post on Facebook , a Georgia appellate court ruled in a decision that lawyers said marked a legal precedent on the issue of parental responsibility over their children’s online activity.

      The Georgia Court of Appeals ruled that the parents of a seventh-grade student may be negligent for failing to get their son to delete a fake Facebook profile that allegedly defamed a female classmate.

    • Dangerous Rulings: Georgia Court Says Parents May Be Liable For What Their Kids Post On Facebook
    • Cops Won’t Help You: 7 Things I Saw as a Real Slasher Victim

      Maksim Gelman, noted crack addict and man-about-town, flipped out in February of 2011 and stabbed his stepfather to death over an argument about a Lexus. During the next 28 hours he would fatally stab two more people (a woman he had a crush on and her mom), kill a fourth by running him down with a car, and wound several more innocent New Yorkers via random stabbings.

      [...]

      We still weren’t moving. The cops told me it was because there were other officers on the tracks so they’d had to cut the power. But, again, none of them came near me to render first aid. The only guy who did was a passenger named Alfred Douglas. He stuck his bare hand on the biggest wound, on my head, and staunched the bleeding. Eventually, somebody gave him napkins. I’m not sure how much those helped, but I am sure Alfred saved my life.

    • How to Drive a Colleague to His Grave and Sleep Easy at Night

      Walter Pincus, the Washington Post’s long-time CIA correspondent–he makes it clear to Grim that he doesn’t appreciate it when people refer to him as a “CIA stooge”–knows quite a bit more about drug-trafficking and Latin America, enough that he knows how to greet charges that CIA assets were running drugs–not with denial, but with a blithe shrug…

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • Google Continues To Try To Appease Hollywood, Though It Is Unlikely To Ever Be Enough

        But, here’s the thing: as we said when Google first came out with this report, it will never be enough for the legacy guys in Hollywood. That’s because they incorrectly blame Google for their own inability to adapt to the changing market. They blame their diminishing revenue on Google, and even as Google makes it harder and harder to find unauthorized content, that revenue isn’t going to come back… so they’ll still blame Google. But Google was never the problem. The legacy entertainment industry and its political supporters will continue to point to search results that don’t exist and search terms that are never used as some sort of “proof” because that’s what they do. Rather than adapt, they really just want Google to do things for them. And for whatever reason, Google is doing more and more… and it’s unlikely to ever please the likes of James Murdoch, because Google “not doing things” was never the real problem.

Criminal Microsoft is Censoring the Web and Breaks Laws to Do So; the Web Should Censor (Remove) Microsoft

11 hours 6 min ago

Microsoft Windows is a weapon of (cyber) war

Summary: Microsoft is still breaking the Internet using completely bogus takedown requests (an abuse of DMCA) and why Microsoft Windows, which contains weaponised back doors (shared with the NSA), should be banned from the Internet, not just from the Web

So Microsoft spreads its lies in the media again and one of the lies we hear too often is that Microsoft obeys the law and Free software is “hacking” (they mean cracking) and a tool of “pirates” or whatever the bogeyman du jour may be. Well, actually, the very opposite is true. Criminals use Microsoft Windows to bombard sites (as they have been doing against several of my Web sites — including Techrights — for well over a month now) and if justice was to be upheld, Microsoft Windows would be banned by ISPs. Microsoft is claiming that it is upholding the law but actually, in reality, it breaks the law; it is not even a veiled action. It’s very blatant and a serious violation of several laws. This is a valid claim at many levels and today we’ll assemble some relevant new evidence and patiently connect it. This post is relatively long, but it covers a lot of ground, so please bear with us and keep reading.

“With its bogus takedown requests, Microsoft has turned DMCA into more of a joke. It also shows how hostile Microsoft has become towards FOSS.”Chris Pirillo, a longtime proponent of Microsoft with deep links to the company (not just his MVP title), has just had a video censored by Microsoft. Yes, Microsoft has once again issued a bogus takedown request against Google, as it did before (repeatedly). Microsoft is a criminal company because here too there is illegal action being taken by Microsoft. These bogus takedown requests, as per DMCA, are clearly a violation of the law. Microsoft does not want to obey the law (it sees itself as above the law or exempt from the law), so law itself probably isn’t much of a deterrent. Here is a new report from Wired. It is titled “Microsoft Serves Takedown Notices to Videos Not Infringing on Anything” and it says:

Microsoft’s never-ending war on software piracy caused some collateral damage this week. The victims? A handful of prominent YouTube video bloggers.

The bloggers—including LockerGnome founder Chris Pirillo and FrugalTech host Bruce Naylor—took to Twitter on Tuesday, with the hashtag #Microstopped, to complain that they had received erroneous copyright infringement notices for videos that were often several years old. The notices were filed under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the U.S. law that seeks to control access to copyrighted material on the net.

The funny thing here here is that Pirillo is the target. How many people without the ability to protest publicly and loudly had the same thing done to them by Microsoft? We may never know. Censorship of evidence of censorship (e.g. channel bans) and other circular scenarios often kick in and become cynically applicable.

Pirillo would not sue Microsoft for breaking the law in this case because he is in Microsoft’s pocket, but will Google finally use the law against Microsoft? Enough is enough. Microsoft has done this to Google for years!

Microsoft’s censorship does not quite stop here. There is another new story which speaks about how Github will deal with takedown requests from now on. Remember that Microsoft censors GitHub this way, essentially damaging FOSS projects by altogether purging them.

GitHub explains its policy change as follows: “The first change is that from now on we will give you an opportunity, whenever possible, to modify your code before we take it down. Previously, when we blocked access to a Git repository, we had to disable the entire repository. This doesn’t make sense when the complaint is only directed at one file (or a few lines of code) in the repository, and the repository owner is perfectly happy to fix the problem.”

Mike Masnick said, “kudos to Github and its lawyers for recognizing that sometimes you have to let in a little legal risk for the good of the overall community.”

With its bogus takedown requests, Microsoft has turned DMCA into more of a joke. It also shows how hostile Microsoft has become towards FOSS.

Another new report from Wired says that “Conficker remains, six years later, the most widespread infection on the internet.” This report is titled “How Microsoft Appointed Itself Sheriff of the Internet” and it explains how in the midst of Internet chaos, caused by Microsoft Windows having back doors, Microsoft just decided to hijack a huge portion of the Internet, breaking it altogether (a lot of UNIX/Linux-based systems affected, including millions of services being down for days). This was an unbelievable and probably unprecedented abuse by Microsoft. A judge got bamboozled and Microsoft fooled the press into distracting from its serious abuses against No-IP. There ought to have been a massive lawsuit. As the author Robert McMillan explains: “For the past 15 years, Durrer has worked as the CEO of a small internet service provider called No-IP. Based on Reno, Nevada, the 16-person company offers a special kind of Domain Name System service, or DNS, for consumers and small businesses, letting them reliably connect to computers whose IP addresses happen to change from time to time. It’s used by geeks obsessed with online security, fretful parents monitoring nanny cams in their toddler’s bedrooms, and retailers who want remote access to their cash registers. But it’s also used by criminals as a way of maintaining malicious networks of hacked computers across the internet, even if the cops try to bring them down.”

It was actually Microsoft that took them down. Microsoft is a criminal company and it used its own abuses as an excuse to break other people’s network. Here we are talking about the company that cannot even patch its systems to stop zombie PCs (with back doors that enabled them becoming zombies). Here again we have Microsoft failing to patch Windows and instead breaking it:

Microsoft has withdrawn an update released this past Tuesday due to user reports of system reboots after installation.

The update released as described in Microsoft Security Advisory 2949927 added SHA-2 hash algorithm signing and verification for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. It was one of three proactive security feature updates released on Tuesday in addition to the eight patches of Windows and Office.

Microsoft makes it impossible to close the latest back door which it already told the NSA about, so people with Windows on their PC will be unable to boot or simply stay ‘infected’ with the latest back door. It’s all binary, so there is nothing they can do; they can’t even apply their own patch. As another source put it: “Microsoft has pulled one of the updates from its most recent Patch Tuesday release and recommends anyone who downloaded the fix should uninstall it.

“The update added support for the SHA-2 signing and verification functionality to Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 machines with the intent of improving security over the more vulnerable SHA-1 hashing algorithm.”

Microsoft Windows is simply unfit for use. Techrights, for example, has been under DDOS attack for over a month now. We know the offending machines. They all are Microsoft Windows PCs that got hijacked (from many different countries). The total number of IP addresses banned in the latest DDOS purge (so far today) is nearly 2,000. That’s a lot of Microsoft Windows zombies (with over 1200 IPs banned in just half a day). When will this operating system be banned by ISPs for facilitating DDOS attacks? How many Web sites can withstand attacks from so many zombies PCs and for how long? This is indirectly Microsoft’s fault, not just the attacker’s (the botmaster’s) fault because Windows does what it was designed to do; it has back doors. It can be commandeered remotely. This is clearly incompatible with the Internet.

Free software does not have such issues, but distributions that make their source code freely available to anyone can at least be checked for back doors, perhaps with the exception of binary Red Hat distributions like RHEL, which may have some back doors since around the start of the millennium, i.e. the same time Microsoft Windows got them (reportedly 1999), based on an IDG report and one from Beta News that said at the time: “It appears that Microsoft Windows is not the only operating system on the market that has a backdoor for those users who know the magic words. While Red Hat officials downplayed its seriousness, a team at Internet Security Systems, Inc. reports the security hole allows an intruder to access and modify files on systems running the most recent version of Red Hat Linux.”

Speaking of Red Hat, we are saddened to see it taking a stance of silence on the whole systemd issue. Red Hat is very much complicit in it, but it refuses to say anything. In fact, criticism of systemd is now being treated almost as taboo in Debian mailing lists because systemd‘s creator has shrewdly personified the issue and made it political, eliminating any chance to have truly technical debates about systemd. Personally, I worry the most about the number of bugs it would introduce, opening the door for exploitation. It replaces too many mature components. Microsoft’s propaganda network 1105 Media keeps spreading negative articles about FOSS because of such feuds (the systemd fued), so we don’t wish to feed this fire right here. Well, at least not right now.

Incidentally, also on the subject of security, here is a good new article titled “Enough! Stop hyping every new security threat” (especially against FOSS).

The author explains that “now it has reached a fever pitch, with proactive marketing of individual exploits with supercool names — Shellshock, Heartbleed, Sandworm — some of which even have logos.”

“Logos for malware,” he asks, “Really?” Microsoft partners did the logo work to help demonise FOSS and stir up a debate about FOSS security as a whole (because of one single bug!). There have hardly been any stories (i.e. evidence) that the Bash bug and OpenSSL bug resulted in some disaster or meltdown.

The bottom line is, proprietary software such as Windows has back doors and causes stormy weather on the Web (DDOS attacks). It’s Microsoft Windows that should be taken down as part of takedown requests, not innocent videos, whole networks (like No-IP) and FOSS code (GitHub) that Microsoft maliciously and deceivingly (against the law) calls offending and tries to take down.

Microsoft ‘Loving’ GNU/Linux and Other Corporate Media Fiction

12 hours 9 min ago

True quotes from Microsoft below, click to read in full.

Summary: Microsoft has bullied or cleverly bribed enough technology-centric media sites to have them characterise Microsoft as a friend of Free/Open Source software (FOSS) that also “loves Linux”

THE CORPORATE media is not in the business of informing the public. To the mainstream media the public is not the client; corporate partners are the clients whereas audience (the public) is the product on sale. It was just so easy to be reminded of this trivial observation because Microsoft is a good example. It was so easy to see it since Monday morning when the media decided to herald all sorts of utterly absurd claims. But let’s go a little further back than 2 days and see just how Microsoft games the media and tries to fool the whole world, or merely to aggravate/rile up the opposition, which in itself can work magic, as long as journalists are willing to play along at risk to their reputation.

Earlier this month we wrote about the latest FOSS event that Microsoft had infiltrated, essentially stealing the show. The media only spoke about Microsoft; the event was supposed to be about something else. Days ago we also learned about Microsoft infiltrating All Things Open again, as it had done in previous years (we covered that at the time). Watch an eyewitness account from FOSS Force:

Actually, I enjoyed watching Microsoft’s spokesperson squirm while trying to make the case that “Microsoft is an open source company” before an audience that was politely not buying it. I also found it somewhat enlightening to watch an open core company show its true colors, revealing itself to be a proprietary firm merely riding the open source bandwagon. As for Oracle, developer level technical discussions on Java and MySQL can only be beneficial.

Microsoft will never get tired of lying; it probably aims for/targets low-hanging fruit, i.e. people who “want to believe” or Microsoft partners who really wish to think that Microsoft is now ethical. It’s a PR charade and it is utterly shameless. It’s a disservice to everyone except Microsoft; it’s an insult to truth.

Watch how Information Week, a Microsoft-friendly media site, smears FOSS these days and helps Microsoft’s EEE (Embrace, Extent, Distinguish) of Docker. This is utterly preposterous, but if repeated often enough it may end up fooling the gullible. This is perhaps the ultimate goal.

Around the same time we noticed Maria Deutscher writing this pro-Microsoft puff piece titled “Microsoft continues open source love affair with Apache Storm endorsement”. Here is the opening part:

Colorful Sonoran Desert StormMicrosoft Corp., the poster child of proprietary software, has developed a sudden appetite for open-source technologies. Barely three days after revealing plans to make future versions of Windows Server compatible with the Docker container engine, which currently only runs on Linux, the Redmond giant is rolling out support for Apache Storm for its Azure infrastructure-as-a-service platform.

No, Microsoft is trying to close down (or “contain”, to use the terminology of Docker) what’s open inside a closed/locked-down, proprietary environment with surveillance and back doors. That’s what’s happening. Non-technical journalists are easier to fool and they just blindly print whatever Microsoft says. Deutscher later wrote another pro-Microsoft puff piece. It is titled “Microsoft expands open source reach”, but lest we forget Steve Ballmer stating: “I would love to see all open source innovation happen on top of Windows.”

Windows is proprietary. Microsoft just loves power and money, it does not love FOSS and it never will. It’s an anathema to Microsoft. But one can always count on Microsoft boosters to support the narrative that Microsoft now “loves” FOSS and “loves” GNU/Linux, which Microsoft merely wants contained (to contain Linux, like a farmer contains sheep for the imminent slaughter).

Several shallow reports, including some from Microsoft boosters like Microsoft Peter and Jordan Novet in Redmond, actually stated that Microsoft “loves Linux”, presumably quoting the liar in chief, Mr. Nadella (more of his lies we will cover in a separate post another day). IDG went as far as posting the click bait “Microsoft (hearts) Linux” and “Microsoft now loves Linux.” This is not journalism; it’s entertainment. Some of these entertainment-type headlines came from Microsoft-friendly news sites which were previously paid by Microsoft. The corporate media has seemingly turned to fiction, satire, clickbait etc. and much of it is known to be tied to Microsoft itself.

“Microsoft has been steadily making adjustments to its processes and preferences to become more open,” wrote one person from Redmond, “and to move more quickly to support technologies that could be of interest to its many customers, even when they’re not Microsoft-built.”

That’s done in order to bring them to Microsoft and make them locked in and spied on, by Microsoft and its special partner the NSA. Here we have the corporate media distorting reality, portraying the company that is threatening, blackmailing, suing and slinging mud at Linux as “loving” Linux. There is not even much of a potent attempt to challenge these claims. It’s like an abusive husband explaining to a court that he beats up his wife because he loves her. Any decent person would interrupt such nonsense and wouldn’t just let it go unchallenged.

Speaking of massive failure by the corporate press, see this new garbage from Kate Bevan at the British bankers’ media (Financial Times), suggesting that Microsoft should hijack Android:

Here’s a blue-sky suggestion for Mr Nadella: sit down with Jeff Bezos at Amazon to develop a good fork of Android. Microsoft has a compelling services offering but an almost non-existent platform for these services, despite the quality of the Lumia handsets. Amazon has compelling content with its Prime video but seems unable to get consumers to buy its Fire devices.

For smaller providers, a Microsoft-Amazon-style joint venture would be a great way to become part of an ecosystem out of Google’s reach. I suspect consumers would find that attractive. How about it, Satya and Jeff?

How low can the Financial Times stoop? This is not journalism, it’s Microsoft jingoism disguised as analysis. Sadly, today’s corporate media is full of such nonsense and in the next post we will show how the press likes to demonise FOSS over security matters while totally ignoring the issues with proprietary software having back doors ‘baked in’.

India May be Taking Bill Gates to Court for Misusing His So-called ‘Charity’ to Conduct Clinical Trials Without Consent on Behalf of Companies He Invests in

15 hours 12 min ago

Summary: Bill Gates may finally be pulled into the courtroom again, having been identified for large-scale abuses that he commits in the name of profit (not “charity”)

THE Gates Foundation is run and controlled by a rude and arrogant sociopath masquerading as a “philanthropist”. Based on the latest news [1, 2, 3], he doesn’t like his next-door neighbours in the US and does not obey the law (he is facing fines for it), so what chance is there that he will like some strangers in a place like Africa or India and and that he will ever obey African or Indian laws? He keeps getting richer every year, but much of the press (part of which he bribes) portrays him as a giver. Bribing politicians and newspapers is not “charity”, but when you pay the newspapers they might as well paint it as anything that suits them. Besides, it’s common to just call the “bribes” something like “campaign contributions” (among other euphemisms) to make it seem lawful, ethical, and acceptable.

Earlier this year a publication that had been bribed by Gates finally dared to criticise him for something. It mostly stopped doing that after he had bribed it, so this was the exception. But it was a flawed critique. It should already be broadly and widely understood that Gates uses ‘charity’ for tax-free investments in dubious work that requires, for example, high-risk clinical trials, casting it “charity”. Making it look like “charity” has the benefit of not having to operate like a standard business and be subjected to the same rules/laws. The Gates-bribed publication correctly pointed out that Gates was “boosting his fortune by another £9.6bn last year,” but it neglected to say he he avoids paying tax. Instead it focused on Microsoft and other companies. Here is a half-truth (or half lie): “Gates says he pays his personal taxes. Great.”

No, he doesn’t.

He puts it in a shell that helps him evade tax. A shame really that writers cannot see something so obvious…

The writer carries on: “But he made all that money from Microsoft which, like other tax-avoiding technology giants such as Amazon, Facebook and Google, uses sophisticated systems to shift paper profits around the planet and evade the designs of governments.”

This is another half-truth (or half lie). Gates actually makes a lot of his money not from Microsoft but from investment in very controversial companies that greatly harm society. We gave dozens of examples over the years.

The author continues: “Indeed, so extreme are its methods the company was used as a case study in a Senate investigation into US corporate tax avoidance, which found one example of offshoring profits through a tiny Puerto Rico office alone saved it $4m a day in taxes.”

What about the (mis)use of charity to evade tax? Well, a Gates-funded paper would not want to mention that. Here comes some shameless fawning: “Gates has every right to do what he wants with his wealth. It is to his credit he is giving away so much, persuading other billionaires to do the same and championing causes close to his heart – although as others have pointed out, even this is not immune to tax advantages. His determination to push vaccinations and prevent malaria is laudable. But if he wants to discuss development, preach about poverty and tell nations how to spend taxpayers’ money, he should put his own house in order first.”

What a complete hogwash. There are so many factual errors in this paragraph. It’s purely marketing garbage and those being lured to read the article are going to end up indoctrinated and brainwashed, as if Gates is some kind of “saint” and the “evils” are just some large corporations that people supposedly envy (and it should be noted that Gates remains deeply involved in the law-breaking Microsoft that’s as criminal an entity as ever before). Not only Microsoft dodges tax, Bill Gates does too. To make matters worse, he exploits poor people to make even more money whilst avoiding tax. Microsoft puts offshore billions of dollars to avoid tax and Gates dodges taxation by pretending that his business is a “charity”.

“The trial is years overdue and possible belated to the point where irreversible damage is done.”Just how much of a “charity” is the Gates Foundation? Well, today we’ll turn our attention to some recent news.

Some years ago we wrote about children dying in India after Gates had experimented on them. GlaxoSmitheKline was involved and remember that GlaxoSmitheKline is very much connected to Gates in numerous ways. Well, back in August in the corporate Indian media there was this article which said: “Earlier this month, taking a serious view of the death of seven tribal girls in the context of the observation studies, the Supreme Court asked the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to explain how permissions were given.

“The SC bench of justices Dipak Misra and V Gopala Gowda asked the Centre to produce relevant files that pertained to the grant of licence for trial of the HPV vaccine in India. The court also asked the Centre to appraise it of steps taken on the report of the parliamentary committee.”

Suffice to say, the Gates apologists are trying to paint this as the anti-vaccine movement with its claims of conspiracies to infect/sell. But the truth may be somewhere in between. What we saw in India was a clinical trial with low risk of litigation (for example in case a subject dies). As Andrew Powell from Wales pointed out in the comments: “‘A wise dog never poops on his own doorstep’. A man, known for his philanthropic and ethical character, finds it essential or preferable for his American company to guinea-pig his new drugs on people living on the other side of the world. What made him rule out testing it on Harvard Sophomores?”

This is like in the movie Constant Gardener, which is a very strong movie with a long-lasting impression to be left (based on my own experience and others’).

The corporate media us usually too shy to touch such a topic because of the anti-vaccine hysteria that’s often so irrational or taken out of context where concerns are more or less valid. Based on the article above, the “committee found that the objective behind the observation studies in India primarily was to collect and record data on the effect of the vaccines on the minor subjects.”

So, it was after all a clinical trial. Unbelievable. How can Gates and his corporate partners get away with it? The legal challenge/potential trial is years overdue and possibly belated to the point where irreversible damage is done. Here is what Activist Post wrote about this along with other sites like Natural Society:

Furthermore, though absent from most mainstream U.S. media outlets, the Economic Times of India published their report in August 2014, stating that young tribal girls were tested with HPV vaccines. This involved not a handful of children, but 16,000 individuals in Andhra Pradesh, India, where they were given the Gardasil vaccine.

KP Narayana Kumar reported that within a month of receiving the vaccine, many of the children fell ill, and by 2010, five of them had died. Another two children were reported to have died in Vadodara, Gujarat, where another 14,000 tribal children were vaccinated with another brand of the HPV vaccine, Cervarix, manufactured by GlaxoSmitheKline (GSK), who incidentally, has been accused of dumping polio virus into a Belgium river.

Consent forms to administer the HPV vaccine were ‘illegally’ signed by wardens form youth hostels, showing that the Gates’ prey on the indigent without parents. For those who had parents, most were illiterate, and the true potential dangers of the vaccines were not explained to them.

SAMA, an organization in India which promotes women’s health discovered this insidiousness, and reported it, but only now will Gates and his cronies have to answer for their misdeeds. Approximately 120 girls reported epileptic seizures, severe stomach cramps, headaches, and mood swings, of those who did not die. Other girls receiving the Gardasil vaccine have experienced infertility.

To truly understand what Gates is doing here one can rent the movie The Constant Gardener (2005). It is tough to watch, but there is an educational angle/value to it. This whole thing is despicable and it helps show that Gates is above the law, internationally. He sort of “harvests” the world’s poorest people in his ruthlessly capitalistic aspiration to enhance his political power and increase his wealth. Expect Gates to pull some political strings to pull out of this court ‘nuisance’. The rich are above the law when they can typically just pay their way out. Remember that Gates was arrested as a teenager and freed on bail because his father was very affluent; this was not the last time that Gates got out of trouble with the law just because he was wealthy. It’s a systemic problem and a relatively poor country like India is unlikely to be potent enough to convict Gates. It did, however, find Microsoft guilty for tax evasion. That was over half a decade ago.

The Problems With Legal Workarounds, Patent Scope, and Expansion of Patent Trolls to the East

16 hours 24 min ago

Summary: Patent trolls are in the news again and it’s rather important, albeit for various different reasons, more relevant than the ones covered here in the past

THE relentless attempts to redefine “patent troll” — attempts which can be largely attributed to patent trolls themselves (and their lobbyists, such as Bill Gates’ and Nathan Myhrvold’s lobbyists) — were covered here in past years and we continue to see much of the same now that politicians are said to be going after “trolls” (an elusive ‘reform’ that will go almost nowhere). The remedy will most likely necessitate some kind of scope limitation; this scope should be a debate around patents, not the aggressor’s scope or scale. The world’s biggest trolls are often not characterised in the corporate press as “trolls” at all. It is a form of propaganda or a game of words that defames small players and glorifies larger players that engage in the very same behaviour.

As the troll-tracking Steph put it the other day, we cannot rely on politicians. “I’m on record many, many times agreeing that legislation is not the way to curb patent trolling,” she explained. “It’s right there in the name of the offender: “troll”. It may slow them down temporarily, but overall, anyone called a “troll” is going to come back swinging a few months or years later with a whole new set of workarounds. It’s impossible to stay fully head of them with laws.” Whereas by going after the patents themselves would help eliminate abuse, no matter if the abuser is as large as Microsoft or as small those many no-name trolls. Nathan Myhrvold (shown above) is already seeing his massive patent troll imploding (lots of layoffs) and litigation rates have gone down considerably just after the Alice ruling. It was about patent scope. According to those who pursue reform only targeting patent trolls, “It’s been reported in a few places that a recent Lex Machina report states that patent litigation is down 40% from last year. Of course, the patent trolls are trying to use these inaccurate reports to argue that the patent troll problem is essentially solved.”

This is untrue. The reality is, the Alice ruling seemingly weakened many of them. They were reliant on software patents, based on statistics acquired some years back. It shows that by pursuing changes around patent scope we can achieve many of the overall goals; it’s a domino effect.

In other interesting news, China is said to be turning into quite the hotbed of patent trolls and Glyn Moody writes: “The Chinese government’s move is part of a larger story that recapitulates America’s own evolution from a “pirate” nation that fuelled its industrial revolution by ignoring the law and appropriating Western Europe’s patented ideas, to one using the same legal instruments against European companies.”

Here we have yet another reason to narrow the scope of patents. Trolls are a symptom of a scope too broad and China can take advantage of it. Not only trolls are impeded by elimination of “abstract” patents (which include software patents); everything in the patent system (universally) is affected by that, irrespective of the size of the plaintiff.

Links 20/10/2014: Cloudera and Red Hat, Debian 7.7, and Vivid Vervet

Monday 20th of October 2014 11:50:48 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • Samsung and Intel Stay Committed to Chromebooks

      Samsung has announced its new Chromebook 2, a good looking model that joins a slew of new Chromebooks arriving in the market. With the holiday season approaching, it’s looking like portable computers running Chrome OS and featuring very low price points will be very big sellers.

  • Server
    • The Companies That Support Linux: DataCentred

      Companies are increasingly turning to cloud services to build and deliver their applications, but those that want to use an open source cloud may find it more difficult to set up and maintain. Service-providers such as UK-based DataCentred can more efficiently set up an enterprise cloud using open source software, at scale.

  • Kernel Space
    • EXT4 In Linux 3.18 Has Clean-ups, Bug Fixes

      With Linux 3.18-rc1 having came one week early, the EXT4 file-system pull request didn’t end up landing until today. However, the EXT4 changes aren’t overly exciting for the 3.18 merge window.

    • Kernel prepatch 3.18-rc1
    • Linux Kernel Working Towards GNU11/C11 Compatibility

      For now it looks like the Linux kernel is going to explicitly declare itself as using the GNU89 dialect of the C89 standard but over time the code is being made to compile under C11.

    • Graphics Stack
      • NVIDIA’s NVPTX Support For GCC Is Close To Being Merged

        The NVPTX back-end code for GCC that’s going to allow OpenACC 2.0 offloading support for NVIDIA GPUs with GCC is close to materializing within the mainline code-base.

      • LIBINPUT INTEGRATION IN KWIN/WAYLAND

        Today I pushed my outstanding branch to get libinput support into kwin_wayland. Libinput is a very important part for the work to get a full Wayland session in Plasma which means we reached a very important milestone. As the name suggests it allows us to process input events directly. KWin needs to forward the input events to the currently active application(s) and also interpret them before any other application gets them. E.g. if there is a global shortcut KWin should intercept it and not send it to an application.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
  • Distributions
    • New Releases
    • Screenshots
    • Red Hat Family
      • Ex-Microsoft man takes up arms for Red Hat’s open-cloud crusade

        So where does Red Hat turn? Microsoft – that’s where.

        Red Hat in September hired Harry Mower as senior director, developer programs and evangelism.

        Mower has been an evangelist and outreach manager for Microsoft since 2006, on media, telecoms and entertainment. His job, to expand uptake and adoption of Microsoft technologies.

      • Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst on the impact of cloud and mobile

        So I asked Whitehurst if the cloud had already won the war for IT infrastructure, but he gave me a more nuanced response than I expected: “I think there’s a new architecture combining computing and storage in an easily managed centralized data center,” he said. “Scaling out that architecture… That’s clearly winning.”

        “What’s less clear,” he continued, “is whether the traditional enterprise-owned-and-managed data center on premise will serve that, or will it be the public cloud or something in between? That’s still far from resolved.”

      • Red Hat Collaborates With SAP to Deploy Mobile Data Management Cartridge for SAP® SQL Anywhere on OpenShift
      • Cloudera and Red Hat Forge Big Data Alliance

        Cloudera, the leader in enterprise analytic data management powered by Apache Hadoop, and Red Hat, Inc., the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, today announced an alliance to deliver joint enterprise software solutions including data integration and application development tools, and data platforms. By integrating a broad range of products and technologies, Cloudera and Red Hat will help customers harness the fast changing big data life cycle with open, secure and agile solutions.

      • Fedora
        • Rejuvenate your Fedora desktop with Moka

          Moka started as a single Linux desktop icon theme, but over time it has gradually evolved into an entire project & brand identity that provides quality designs to people. Moka is about personalization and its goal is to provide an assortment of style options to allow you to customize your experience.

    • Debian Family
      • Users/Developers Threatening Fork Of Debian GNU/Linux
      • “Fork Debian” Project Aims to Put Pressure on Debian Community and Systemd Adoption

        The Debian project decided to adopt systemd a while ago and ditch the upstart counterpart. The decision was very controversial and it’s still contested by some users. Now, a new proposition has been made, to fork Debian into something that doesn’t have systemd.

      • Debian 7.7 Is Out with Security Fixes

        The Debian project project has announced that Debian 7.7 “Wheezy” is now out and available for download. This is the regular maintenance update, but it packs quite a few important fixes.

      • Debian 7.7 Released With Various Bug-Fixes
      • Updated Debian 7: 7.7 released

        The Debian project is pleased to announce the seventh update of its stable distribution Debian 7 (codename “wheezy”). This update mainly adds corrections for security problems to the stable release, along with a few adjustments for serious problems. Security advisories were already published separately and are referenced where available.

      • Derivatives
        • Elive Is an Interesting Debian-Based Distro with a Beautiful Enlightenment Desktop

          Elive, a Linux distribution based on Debian which uses the Enlightenment desktop environment to provide a unique user experience, has just reached version 2.3.9 Beta and it’s ready for testing.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • UNITY PRIVACY INDICATOR 0.4 RELEASED WITH NEW PRIVACY SETTINGS

            For those not familiar with Privacy Indicator, this is an Ubuntu AppIndicator especially created for Unity, which allows you to control various privacy aspects.

            Until this release, the indicator could be used to enable / disable Dash online search results and Zeitgeist logging (and also clear the Zeitgeist log), clear recently used files (which show up in the Nautilus or Nemo “Recent” sidebar item for instance) and to show or hide your real name on the Unity panel.

          • V is for Vivid

            Release week! Already! I wouldn’t call Trusty ‘vintage’ just yet, but Utopic is poised to leap into the torrent stream. We’ve all managed to land our final touches to *buntu and are excited to bring the next wave of newness to users around the world. Glad to see the unicorn theme went down well, judging from the various desktops I see on G+.

            And so it’s time to open the vatic floodgates and invite your thoughts and contributions to our soon-to-be-opened iteration next. Our ventrous quest to put GNU as you love it on phones is bearing fruit, with final touches to the first image in a new era of convergence in computing. From tiny devices to personal computers of all shapes and sizes to the ventose vistas of cloud computing, our goal is to make a platform that is useful, versal and widely used.

          • Ubuntu 15.04 Codename Announced: Vivid Vervet

            The development codename of an Ubuntu release takes the form “Adjective Animal”. Initially these weren’t in alphabetic order – until Dapper DRAKE (6.06).

          • Ubuntu 15.04 Is Codenamed After A Monkey: Vivid Vervet
          • Ubuntu 15.04 Vivid Vervet due in 2015

            Canonical plans to release Ubuntu 14.10 Utopic Unicorn on Friday, October 25th. The following week work will begin on the next major update to the open source operating system.

          • Ubuntu 15.04 Is Called Vivid Vervet
          • Happy Birthday Ubuntu!

            Today is Ubuntu’s ten year anniversary. Scott did a wonderful job summarizing many of those early years and his own experience, and while I won’t be as articulate as him, I wanted to share a few thoughts on my experience too.

          • Flavours and Variants
  • Devices/Embedded
    • Linux-optimized IP core promises 4200 DMIPS

      Synopsis announced an “HS38″ version of its Linux-focused DesignWare ARC core IP with a new ARCv2 ISA and support for 2.2GHz, 4200 DMIPS speeds at 28nm.

      Synopsis acquired its Linux-optimized line of DesignWare ARC 32-bit RISC/DSP cores when it bought semiconductor IP vendor Virage Logic back in 2010 shortly after Virage acquired ARC International. Since then Synopsis has released several DesignWare ARC HS processor designs, most recently with the HS36.

    • Phones
Free Software/Open Source
  • FOSS and the Fear Factor

    “Clickbait” is also the term Google+ blogger Alessandro Ebersol chose to describe the Bloomberg account.

    “I could not see the point the author was trying to make, except sensationalism and views,” he told Linux Girl.

    “The author is wrong,” Ebersol charged. “He should educate himself on the topic. The flaws are results of lack of funding, and too many corporations taking advantage of free software and giving nothing back.”

    Moreover, “I still believe that a piece of code that can be studied and checked by many is far more secure than a piece made by a few,” Google+ blogger Gonzalo Velasco C. chimed in.

    “All the rumors that FLOSS is as weak as proprietary software are only FUD — period,” he said. “It is even more sad when it comes from private companies that drink in the FLOSS fountain.”

  • Discourse

    Discourse is an open-source project, hosted at GitHub (see Resources), licensed under the GNU General Public License, version 2. It is backed by Atwood’s company, which has the fantastic name of Civilized Discourse Construction Kit, Inc., and it aims to profit through installing and supporting Discourse.

  • Events
    • We’re Hosting an OpenDaylight HackFest in Japan

      The OpenDaylight Project has quickly grown to become a global community, with more than 250 contributors working to advance open SDN and NFV from all corners of the world. This includes 11 ambassadors worldwide and OpenDaylight User Groups in six cities across three countries. We are excited to host our first OpenDaylight HackFest in Japan in less than two weeks, and the good news is that it’s free to attend.

  • SaaS/Big Data
    • Chief Architect of Cloudera on growth of Hadoop

      Doug Cutting is founder of numerous successful open source projects, including Lucene and Hadoop, and currently the chief architect at Cloudera and sits on the Board of the Apache Software Foundation.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • Is Oracle’s Cloud Strategy Really Open, Or Are Doors Locking?

      Oracle recently made its Oracle OpenStack for Oracle Linux distribution generally available, and has been loudly beating the war drums on the OpenStack front. As I recently noted, It seems inevitable that there will soon be an OpenStack market shakeout soon, and big players like Oracle and HP may remain standing as that happens, especially in light of their experience supporting enterprise customers.

    • Free and Open Source Electronic Signature in Costa Rica

      The LibreOffice component designed by the University of Costa Rica (UCR) is similar to similar software enhancements currently used for electronic signatures in other countries.

  • Business
    • Semi-Open Source
      • The Inherent Dishonesty Inside Open Source

        Then there is so-called ‘openwashing’ i.e. providing trace elements of open source somewhere on a business model so that a company can attest to and demonstrate its philanthropic side. Purists argue that there is a big difference between opening your data and making it available; the open source list of besmirching malpractice is a long one.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • Following GCC, Clang Looks To Default To C11

      Earlier this month I wrote about GCC 5 looking to default to GNU11/C11 over GNU89 for its GCC 5 release. That change ended up landing in SVN so the GNU Compiler Collection is finally providing C11 support by default. Last week the LLVM/Clang developers began discussing a similar move.

    • October 2014 GNU Toolchain Update

      The optimization works more effectively with link time optimization enabled. The optimization is similar to the ICF optimization performed by the GOLD linker, but it works at a different level and it may find equivalences that GOLD misses.

    • Emacs 24.4 Has Built-In Web Browser, Improved Multi-Monitor Support

      A new release of Emacs is out today and it’s quite a big update with new functionality for this popular and extensible text editor.

    • Emacs 24.4 released

      Version 24.4 of the Emacs text editor is now available.

  • Programming
    • EU Code Week – more than just coding, more than just a week

      Last week was the second ever EU code week. With over 3000 events across the EU and beyond, this was by far the most successful such event ever. But more importantly: it meant hundreds of thousands of children and adults have tried this out for the first time – and realised it is creative, rewarding and fun. Hundreds of thousands have had their first taste of a new opportunity. Hundreds of thousands have learned it’s not just for guys, and not just for geeks. Hundreds of thousands have started on a new life skill – one that could empower and open doors for the rest of their lives.

    • LLVM Gets Bindings For Google’s Go

      Another feature for the upcoming LLVM 3.6 release are bindings for Google’s Go programming language.

    • PHP 5.6.2 and 5.4.34 Update for Critical Security Flaws

      PHP is widely deployed across the Internet and is the language used to power much of the world’s leading Content Management Systems (CMS) and blogs (including this one).

  • Standards/Consortia
Leftovers
  • Health/Nutrition
    • US Army withheld promise from Germany that Ebola virus wouldn’t be weaponized

      The United States has withheld assurances from Germany that the Ebola virus – among other related diseases – would not be weaponized in the event of Germany exporting it to the US Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases.

      German MFA Deputy Head of Division for Export Control Markus Klinger provided a paper to the US consulate’s Economics Office (Econoff), “seeking additional assurances related to a proposed export of extremely dangerous pathogens.”

      Germany subsequently made two follow-up requests and clarifications to the Army, according to the unclassified Wikileaks cable.

    • FLASHBACK: When Conservative Media Didn’t Care Bush’s Bird Flu Czar Had No Medical Experience

      Fox News continues to lead the conservative attack on Ron Klain, whom President Obama appointed as the administration’s Ebola coordinator, termed by some a “czar,” to help direct the government’s response to the rare virus and its arrival in Dallas, Texas.

  • Security
  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying
  • Privacy
  • Civil Rights
    • Idaho officer’s pay cut after he shot pet dog

      A northern Idaho police officer who shot a pet dog has had his pay reduced by $3.15 to $31.02 per hour.

    • Official Sources May Be the Only Sources

      New York Times investigative reporter James Risen is taking a stand. Despite being hounded by both the Bush and Obama administrations to reveal his sources, he has vowed to go to jail rather than abandon his pledge of confidentiality.

    • FedEx Ground Says Its Drivers Aren’t Employees. The Courts Will Decide

      Five days a week for 10 years, Agostino Scalercio left his house before 6 a.m., drove to a depot to pick up a truck, and worked a 10-hour shift delivering packages in San Diego. He first worked for Roadway Package System, a national delivery company whose founders included former United Parcel Service (UPS) managers, and continued driving trucks when FedEx (FDX) bought RPS in 1998. FedEx Ground assigned Scalercio a service area. The company, he says, had strict standards about delivery times, the drivers’ grooming, truck maintenance, and deadlines for handing in paperwork, and deducted money from his pay to cover the cost of his uniform, truck washings, and the scanner used to log shipments.

    • President Of Israel Says Israel Is A ‘Sick Society’

      But one voice echoing popular global sentiment is surprising – the President of Israel. Israel President Reuven Rivlin says Israel has become a “sick society” that lacks human decency and is unable to engage in dialogue with Arabs due to racial animosity and prejudice – a rather stunning indictment by a head of state of his own country.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality
    • What is net neutrality all about?

      Waiting in line can feel like a sacred responsibility, with each line member poised to prevent cutting and ensure fairness. Other times, cutting is just part of the game, like when you’re at the airport and have to wait for every platinum, gold, and silver club member to board before taking your seat.

      “Net neutrality” is about what kind of lines we should have on the Internet. Supporters of net neutrality think all online information should be treated equally — no cutting. Opponents argue that fast lanes and priority access would actually make the Internet better.

    • The Future of the Internet – 20 Years Ago

      Netscape Navigator was released 20 years ago today. Thank you to everyone who supported us at Netscape & built the Web with us then and now!

      That was posted by a certain Marc Andreessen. You probably know him as a successful venture capitalist, but before that, he was one of the people who helped popularise the Web. He did that by creating the Mosaic browser back in 1993 – first for Unix, and later for the Apple Macintosh and Windows (version 3.1). Mosaic was written at the University of Illinois, and was freely available for non-commercial use. But once the appeal of a graphical Web browser became evident, it was natural for people to start to think about turning it into a business.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • Kim Dotcom Must Reveal Everything He Owns to Hollywood

        Kim Dotcom has failed in a bid to keep his personal finances a secret from Hollywood. They will now be revealed to the studios, but the public will remain in the dark. In a separate High Court ruling, Dotcom was refused a judicial review after being denied access to documents to assist with his extradition battle.

      • Illegal Copying Has Always Created Jobs, Growth, And Prosperity

        Throughout history, those who have copied the most have also always been the most prosperous, and for that reason. Bans on copying, like the copyright and patent monopolies, are just plain industrial protectionism.

Links 20/10/2014: 10 Years Since First Ubuntu Release

Monday 20th of October 2014 01:27:26 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Server
    • IBM Tweaks Power-Linux Discount Deal In Europe

      IBM has made it pretty clear that it wants more Power Systems customers to adopt Linux for certain parts of their workloads in addition to selling more Power8 systems to customers with Linux workloads that might otherwise buy X86 systems. IBM’s European unit is actually doing something about it to try to push Linux.

    • Sharing Power Systems: An IBM i And Linux Story

      If you want to have a conversation with IBM’s Doug Balog about i on Power, be prepared for Linux on Power to be part of the discussion. The two are inseparable when you’re the person running the Power Systems business, which, by the way, is exactly what Balog does. The reason i and Linux are inseparable is because they are each very good at different things and they need one another to be good at everything.

    • OVH taps open source Power8 architecture, OpenStack for cloud platform

      Hosting provider OVH has launched a cloud service based on IBM’s Power8 processor architecture, an open source architecture tailored specifically for big data applications, and OpenStack.

      OVH, which serves 700,000 customers from 17 datacentres globally, said it wanted to provide a robust public cloud service tuned for database workloads and has tapped a combination of IBM and OpenStack-based technologies in this pursuit.

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 3.18-rc1

      So when I released 3.17, I said that I’d extend the merge window to
      three weeks due to travel.

      I clearly lied.

      Because here we are, the usual two weeks later, and I’ve already
      pushed out 3.18-rc1.

      What happened is that not only did I merge actively despite travels -
      I was out of communication just for a couple of days (almost, but not
      entirely, due to flights – the hotel in DÃsseldorf lost all internet
      for a day too). But perhaps more importantly, people seem to have
      aggressively sent in their pull requests, because rc1 contains more
      than linux-next did a couple of days after 3.17.. So holding it up
      another week just seems pointless.

      That said, I realize that people might have taken my statements at
      face value, and planned with that in mind. I hate it when I get pull
      requests really late in the merge window, but having closed it as per
      the regular schedule, I also understand that somebody might have
      planned on sending their pull request a bit later. It’s ok. Grovel a
      bit, and explain what’s up, and you can almost certainly guilt me into
      taking stuff.

      Also, maybe I just missed something due to jetlag (hmm. yes, let’s
      call it “jetlag”, that sounds so much better than “core incompetence
      and bad planning”), so if you feel unfairly overlooked, send me a note
      explaining how I’ve unfairly wronged you.

      There is also at least one pull request that I am hoping to get asap
      and planning on still pulling, ie I’m very much still hoping to get
      overlayfs finally merged. But there were a few last-minute questions
      from Al. Assuming that all works out, that’s an expected late pull.
      Not worth holding up the rc1 release for one known straggler, though.

      So there you have it. The merge window is closed, but with room for
      excuses and possible missed requests. As usual, the shortlog is much
      too big to post (core stats: roughly 74% drivers, 10% architecture
      updates, the rest networking, filesystems, core kernel, documentation,
      include files, tool updates…), and the appended is my “mergelog”
      which as usual credits the people I pulled from, which is not at all
      necessarily the same as the people writing the code.

      Go forth and test,

      Linus

    • Linus Torvalds Releases Linux Kernel 3.18 RC1 a Week Early

      Linus Torvalds has surprised everyone and launched Linux kernel 3.18 RC1 ahead of time. A new development cycle has started and it will take a few weeks to see what some of the major features added are.

    • Graphics Stack
  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • Five Best Linux Desktop Environments

      Whether you’re customizing your Linux install or choosing a distro to go with, one of your many options is the desktop environment you use. There are tons to choose from, all with different benefits and features. There may be no one single best, but this week we’re looking at five of them, based on your nominations.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Upcoming KDE Applications 14.12 release prep

        In preparing for the upcoming releases of KDE Applications 14.12 (2014 Month 12) I realized the other day that we have an interesting situation. For Qt4 based applications there’s libkdeedu which contains the kvtml parsing and manipulating code and also a handful of .kvtml files that KAnagram and KHangMan use to get their word lists.

      • Marble Atlas Review – Alternative to Google Earth

        Marble is a 3D virtual globe application which features various map views, Internet services integration for geographical and meteorological data, satellite views, routes suggestions, plugins.

      • KDE Telepathy 0.9.0 Released

        Today we released the 0.9 series of KDE Telepathy, a multiprotocol instant messaging client for Plasma.

        Amongst the many bugfixes the following features are worth highlighting.

      • What do you require from KTracks?

        In the last posting we presented the vision of KTracks, the KDE tool to track GPS based activities, and discussed personas (the target users) and scenarios in which it is applied.

      • DigiKam 4.4.0 Review & Ubuntu Installation

        It’s been a while since I had a look at DigiKam, and even though I’m not much into using a specialized application for organizing and keeping track of photos, I decided to have a look at the state of this popular and feature-complete photo manager for KDE.

      • Calligra Gemini – now also for Linux

        Some people may remember earlier this year when Krita Gemini became (to my knowledge) the first open source software to become greenlit on Steam. For those who don’t, yeah, that really happened Wink Krita Gemini was a project created in cooperation between the KDE community’s Calligra team, the little software consultancy KO GmbH, and a large semiconductor manufacturer named Intel, who had some devices they needed to be able to show off. Krita Gemini is available on the Steam store, though not yet for Linux (as it turns out, Steam packaging for Linux is even more awkward than building stand-alone installers for Windows, an odd sort of situation for us used to sensible package managers)

  • Distributions
    • New Releases
      • Parsix OS Is an Interesting GNOME and Debian 7.0 “Whezzy” Blend

        The Parsix operating system uses only the GNOME and Debian packages from the stable branches. The developers aim to provide a complete and bug free Linux distribution, at least as much as humanly possible. The fact that the OS is based on Debian “Wheezy” helps a lot, especially because it’s now a Long Term release and it comes with all the latest security updates.

    • Slackware Family
      • Porteus 3.1 RC1 Is a Bleeding Edge Slackaware-Based Distro with Linux Kernel 3.17

        Porteus is a special operating system that is designed to be very fast and feature all kind of bleeding edge features. It’s also optimized to run from all sorts of mediums, not just hard disks. It’s built on Slackware and it’s extremely small, a characteristic that is determined by the fact that it’s always loaded completely in the memory.

    • Red Hat Family
      • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.6

        Red Hat has reached version 6.6 of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. This latest version comes nearly four years after the launch of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 in 2010. It enhances system performance, administration, and virtualization functions whether operating on bare metal, building out your virtual infrastructure, or using the open hybrid cloud.

      • oVirt 3.5 Rolls Out

        This past week was the KVM Forum, a three-day event in Düsseldorf that brought together the entire KVM community, which included oVirt users and developers. The October 16th oVirt Workshop, a free-of-charge event co-located with the KVM Forum, focused on the oVirt datacenter platform and its use in business and academic worlds.

    • Debian Family
      • Derivatives
        • Tails 1.2 : Video Review and Screenshot Tours

          Tails 1.2 is released and announced by Tails developers bring with new feature and improvement. As we know, Tails is a live linux distribution based on debian and focused to preserve your privacy and anonymity. It helps you to use the Internet anonymously and circumvent censorship almost anywhere you go and on any computer but leaving no trace unless you ask it to explicitly.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Meizu MX4 Pro Spotter Running Ubuntu Touch

            For now, we don’t know which device will be running Ubuntu Touch, but due to the fact that Meizu MX4 Pro has been postponed to November, it may be it. The MX4 Pro uses a 5.4 inch display with 1536 x 2560 resilution, a 20 MPX rear camera + a 13 MPX front camera, a Samsung octa-core Exynos 5430 CPU and 3 GB of RAM.

          • Ubuntu 14.10 “Utopic Unicorn” Arrives in a Few Days

            When Ubuntu hits the Final Freeze point the developers stop pushing updates and changes, and everyone focuses on the major bugs and problems that haven’t been fixed yet. An exception can be made if something really terrible happens, but that wasn’t the case until now and it’s unlikely to occur.

            Now, Ubuntu 14.10 (Utopic Unicorn) is scheduled to arrive on October 23, this Thursday. Users will be offered the chance to upgrade their systems, but this is an intermediary release and it’s not likely that many users will take this step. The Ubuntu LTS release was just six months ago and not too many users are going to exchange the five years of support for 14.04 with just nine months for 14.10.

          • Ubuntu Turns 10, Happy Birthday!

            Mark Shuttleworth announced Ubuntu 4.10 “The Warty Warthog Release” on October 20, 2004. It’s hard to believe that a decade has passed since then, but we are now getting ready for Ubuntu 14.10 “Utopic Unicorn.”

          • It has been 10 years since Ubuntu 4.10. Happy Birthday Ubuntu!
  • Devices/Embedded
    • OpenTAC – an automation lab in a box

      I’ve previously covered running LAVA on ARM devices, now that the packages are in Debian. I’ve also covered setting up the home lab, including the difficulty in obtaining the PDU and relying on another machine to provide USB serial converters with inherent problems of needing power to keep the same devices assigned to the same ser2net ports.

Free Software/Open Source
  • Twitter Client Talon (Classic) Reaches Its Token Limit, Unpublished From Play Store And Going Open Source

    Twitter imposes a limit of 100,000 authorization tokens per app, which has resulted in the untimely death of apps like Falcon Pro in the past. According to Talon dev Luke Klinker, he has been planning for this event, and that’s one of the reasons Talon Plus was developed as a separate app and not just an update to the original one. It now has its own set of 100,000 tokens to run through until it too dies at the cruel hands of Twitter’s API.

  • Free Software is Europe’s second chance

    While Free Software was not born in Europe, the relative disadvantage of the European I.T. sector compared to the U.S. can be greatly mitigated by enabling Free and Open Source Software models across the I.T. ecosystem and the industries increasignly relying on software as one of their core components. It is important to realize that the objective of building a Europe-based I.T. industry as strong or as rich as the U.S. one is a delusion. You cannot turn back the time, and the circumstances that led to the booming of the U.S. I.T. sector cannot be replicated entirely. I am aware the European Commission was sold on the idea that somehow we could replicate America’s crazy software patent system and that somehow this would strengthen our economy. I am curious to see where that will end, but I’m very pessimistic in that regard.

  • Events
    • Organizer Confirms Both POSSCON and ‘Great Wide Open’ in 2015

      This year IT-oLogy, the organization behind the annual POSSCON conference in Columbia, South Carolina, cancelled the event in order to focus on launching the Great Wide Open (GWO) conference in Atlanta. At the time, some expressed fear that this might signal the end of the Palmetto State event, that Great Wide Open actually meant a move and new name for the conference. At the same time, others were speculating that GWO would be a one-off event, essentially making it a one year move by POSSCON to Atlanta, which would then return to its native home in Columbia, which is where IT-oLogy is headquartered.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Firefox Hello Not Working and Mozilla Claims the Bug is Invalid

        Mozilla announced the Firefox 34 Beta release on October 17 and a key highlight is the new Firefox Hello feature. Firefox Hello is supposed to enable users to simply use the browser to be able to call each other.

      • Firefox 34 Beta Allows Video and Audio Calls to Google Chrome and Opera Users

        Mozilla is out with a new Firefox version, but this time it’s the first Beta for the new 34 branch. If you think that this is yet another boring release, you better think again because it comes with some cool features.

      • On a quest for a new logo and open design at Mozilla

        Sean Martell understands this. As Art Director for Mozilla, he’s one part of a team behind Mozilla’s visual design. Lately, he’s been involved in redesigning Mozilla’s iconic logos. Instead of working behind closed doors, Martell and his colleagues have opened up the design process to get the help of the wider Mozilla community.

  • BSD
  • Project Releases
    • " rel="nofollow">littler 0.2.1

      The main change are a few updates and extensions to the examples provided along with littler. Several of those continue to make use of the wonderful docopt package by Edwin de Jonge. Carl Boettiger and I are making good use of these littler examples, particularly to install directly from CRAN or GitHub, in our Rocker builds of R for Docker (about which we should have a bit more to blog soon too).

    • Enca 1.16

      As a first tiny project in this HackWeek, Enca 1.16 has been just released. It mostly brings small code cleanups and missing aliases for languages, but fixes also some minor bugs found by Coverity Scan.

  • Openness/Sharing
Leftovers
  • Science
    • 35 Years Ago Today, Spreadsheets Were Invented

      On this day in 1979, a computer program called VisiCalc first shipped for the Apple II platform, marking the birth of the spreadsheet, a now-ubiquitous tool used to compile everything from grocery lists to Fortune 500 company accounts.

  • Health/Nutrition
  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression
    • The Authorization to Use Military Force and the Demise of the US Senate

      If any of the mainstream media are to be believed, you would think that the future of the country, the very foundation of our Republic and what’s left of its democracy hung by a thread on the results of the upcoming 2014 Congressional election, especially Republican control of the Senate.

    • The Ukraine, As We Know It, Is Gone Forever
    • You mean the ’30-year war?’

      His remark borders on pathological. To say nothing of its being diplomatically irresponsible and its potential to inflame the determination of extremists. Consider, too, what Panetta crassly disregards — the effect of his words on the morale of the tens of millions of people in the Middle East who yearn for a more peaceful future.

    • Civilians in Pakistan Become Victims of US’s War on Terror

      A new report published by the UK Bureau of Investigative Journalism demonstrates that more than one thousand innocent people in Pakistan appeared to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, becoming victims of the US’s latest war on terror, Alice Slater, New York Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation told RIA Novosti.

    • ‘Only 84 of 2,379 killed by drones were Qaeda terrorists’

      The CIA drones strikes in Pakistan have killed as many as 2,379 people since 2004, but only 84 of the victims have been named al Qaeda terrorists, a report has revealed.

    • Only 84 of 2,379 US drone attacks victims in Pakistan confirmed Al-Qaeda militants – report
    • Good War and Bad Peace: Perpetual War and the Erosion of Liberty

      There is no mention, however, of the fact that perhaps it is the drone war and the armed intervention by the U.S. military or paramilitary (CIA, for example) that is fomenting this hatred and is propelling the drive to savage anything American.

    • The poison pens of Washington – memoirs by former US Secretaries of Defence and directors of CIA

      Here in the US, you write a memoir. Those penned by the former (or just as likely by a ghost writer) are almost invariably tedious, as trite and unreadable as the average campaign manifesto. But when it comes to retrospectives by the great and good, then even a president should fasten his seat belt. Just like Barack Obama right now.

    • “Hundreds of thousands of Iranian fighters” prepared to fight ISIL to the death if so ordered

      The Commander of Iran’s Basij (volunteer) forces Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi said “hundreds of thousands of Iranian fighters stand ready to be dispatched to the battlefields in the region to fight against the terrorists and Takfiri groups, especially ISIL “, according to Fars news agency. “Furthermore they will fight to the death if so ordered”, the general added.

    • Birth of ISIS, ISIL linked to 2003 Iraq war

      Kashmir Watch is reproducing its 2003 article in which the editor has observed that Iraq War will escalate the situation to many countries and involve Arab fighters to join Al Qaeda network which is nowadays shaped as IS, ISIL or ISIS.

    • The lack of transparency in drone attacks

      Afghanistan is the most drone bombed country in the world. The US has been using its Predator and Reaper drones to kill people in Afghanistan since November 2001.

    • What Went Wrong

      The American-led invasion and occupation of Afghanistan is proving to be a failure.

    • 13 Years of Permanent War: Unite Peace and Climate Movements

      This month of October presents us with 13 years of permanent war for profit or, as the warmongers call it, the “war against terror”. This “operation” is killing and maiming millions of people especially in the oil rich Middle East. Simultaneously these Juggernaut nations “of the willing” are choking Mother Earth to death—polluting the air we breathe, the water we drink, the soil that spawns our food, and eradicating millions of species.

    • Guelph-based political commentator facing firearms charges

      Several online news sources have reported that Garrow is a former CIA agent with access to top-level military officials. Many of Garrow’s claims are related to information he says is derived from these unnamed sources, whose anonymity he has sworn to protect.

    • Global Humanity in Search of Peace, Not War

      We, as Americans, need to ask ourselves what all this is about? Why is our government so provocative toward Islam, Russia, China, Iran? What purpose, whose purpose is being served? Certainly not ours…………Where do we go from here? If not to nuclear destruction, Americans must wake up. Football games, porn, and shopping malls are one thing. Survival of human life is another. Washington, that is, “representative government,” consists only of a few powerful vested interests. These private interests, not the American people, control the US government. That is why nothing that the US government does benefits the American people.

    • Islamic State: Britain’s top diplomat says endgame is regime change in Syria
    • Report: US Airstrikes in Syria ‘Kill 10 Civilians’

      Double standard? US claims charges of civilian deaths in Syria are unfounded, claims avoiding deaths ‘not done in the history of warfare.’

    • McCain: US Must Use Ground Troops and Strike at Assad

      Republican Senator John McCain has changed his position on the Islamic State forces, which he is reported to have formerly believed should be armed and trained by the US.

      ​SenatorMcCain has called for the UnitedStates to launch war on SyrianPresident Bashar al-Assad and to launch ground troops against Islamic State group.

    • Classified Internal CIA Study Shows that Its Covert Arming of Foreign Forces Is Often Ineffective
    • CIA Report: Arming Rebels, Without Support, Rarely Works
    • CIA Study: Arming rebels seldom works
    • C.I.A. Study of Covert Aid Fueled Skepticism About Helping Syrian Rebels

      The Central Intelligence Agency has run guns to insurgencies across the world during its 67-year history — from Angola to Nicaragua to Cuba. The continuing C.I.A. effort to train Syrian rebels is just the latest example of an American president becoming enticed by the prospect of using the spy agency to covertly arm and train rebel groups.

    • CIA Report: The CIA Is Fucking Useless
    • CIA Study: Arming Syrian Rebels Won’t Work; Obama Does It Anyway
    • CIA classified review: Covertly arming insurgents doesn’t work
    • CIA Presence in Syria to Support Extremists Denounced
    • CIA Study: Arming Rebels Rarely Works
    • CIA’s Own Study Finds Intervention Is Ineffective
    • CIA study critical of aid to rebels
    • CIA Says Its Often Not Effective to Arm Rebels
    • Syria: What Might Have Been

      The Obama administration, like its predecessors, has used strategic leaks to the press to buttress arguments in which officials are (theoretically) hamstrung by secrecy laws. Usually the Obama administration has done so in order to look tougher than critics give the president credit for being, but in today’s New York Times they’ve taken the opposite tack: a leak designed to support the president’s instinctive caution on Syria. Unfortunately for Obama, the attempt to spin his Syria policy merely reveals just how little the president understands about military strategy and the Middle East.

    • Arming Rebels Doesn’t Work
    • Turkey Decides to Hit Kurdish Rebels Instead of ISIS

      Airstrikes target the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and not the Islamist militants fighting for control of Kobani, a Kurdish city in Syria near the Turkish border

    • ISIS: Turkey Bombs Kurdish Rebels and Not Islamic State, Turkey’s President Calls PKK and ISIS ‘The Same’
    • Turkey lets US strike Islamic State from its bases
    • Former bin Laden Hunter Says Islamic State Needs US To Intervene

      In recent media appearances, ex-chief of the CIA’s bin Laden unit, Michael Scheuer, came out strongly against the latest American military campaign in Iraq. Echoing past criticisms, thoroughly voiced in his books Through Our Enemies Eyes, Marching Toward Hell, and Imperial Hubris, Scheuer offers a case against the new Iraq intervention based on his 20+ years of experience as a US intelligence officer, as well as an intimate and detailed knowledge of Islamic extremism.

      In Scheuer’s view, another US military intervention in the Middle East against groups such as the Islamic State (IS) will not meet its stated objectives, and will fall into the same errors made in past operations of a similar character. Continuing this policy, he says, will only help to motivate and radicalize Muslims the world over, and will provide exactly the impetus IS needs to step up their drive to establish a long-sought Islamic caliphate in the Levant region.

    • “Arming the Rebels” Has Pretty Much Never Worked
    • CIA: When We Arm Rebels, It Almost Never Works
    • CIA Report: Giving Rebels Weapons Without Direct Support Rarely Helps
    • CIA report says lessons to be learned from Nicaragua and Cuba when dealing with Syria
    • Obama’s Effort to Train Syrian Rebels to Fight ISIS Won’t Work: CIA
    • Does Arming Rebels Ever Work?
    • C.I.A. Study of Covert Aid Fueled Skepticism About Helping Syrian Rebels
    • 3 Bloody Reasons the CIA Should Stop Secretly Arming Rebels Around the World

      In a still-classified internal review, the CIA detailed how its previous efforts to covertly arm and train insurgents around the world were rarely successful. The report strongly suggests the agency’s 67-year history of clandestine operations should inform the Obama administration’s not-so-secret efforts to vet and create a Syrian rebel force to fight the Islamic State and the military of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

    • CIA warned arming Syrian “rebels” unlikely to succeed
    • CIA Admits That Funding Rebels Doesn’t Work

      The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) gave us the term blowback, and then spent their career encouraging it with foreign interventions. Now, the CIA has found that another one of their habits doesn’t lead to good effects in the real world.

    • Building a new Syrian army would cost billions, report says

      Analysis gives insight into what U.S. President Barack Obama’s long-term game plan could be in regards to Syria and the Islamic State.

      [...]

      But few specific details have been released on how the $500 million will be spent. Earlier this week, the New York Times reported on a still-classified CIA review that said arming and training rebels rarely works, which makes Pollack’s analysis even more relevant.

    • America’s Jihad

      It is apt to recall the present Jihad bogeyman arose from the Mujahideen, which was formed by the CIA as a guerrilla force against the Russians in Afghanistan. The “clash of civilizations,” as neocon historians refer to the “war on terrorism,” was a contrivance; not the result of an inexorable historical law. By the end of the First World War much goodwill existed between the Entente and the Arabs who had fought together against the Ottoman Empire, with the expectation that the Arab states would achieve independence, thanks to the heroic efforts of T. E. Lawrence and the Arabic fighters. Their guerrilla war against the Turks had been crucial to the war effort, although subsequently besmirched by Zionist propagandists.[1] Thanks to Zionist machinations, the Entente had spoken with a forked tongue to the Arabs while making a contrary promise to the Zionists to back a Jewish state in Palestine in return for Jewish influence supporting the Entente cause, by then in a predicament, in the USA. The result was the Balfour Declaration and the needless prolongation of the war[2] so that the Zionists and the messianists could get their nose poked into Palestine until such time as being able to dump themselves en masse after the Second World War.

    • Pentagon denies reports Islamic State has chemical weapons

      On Wednesday, the New York Times published an article about chemical weapons disposal in Iraq, noting that IS militants now control Al Muthanna, a former Iraqi chemical weapons manufacturing complex south of Samarra.

    • Israel’s ‘Moral Hazard’ in Gaza

      The passage in the British House of Commons of a resolution favoring recognition of a Palestinian state, coming on the heels of the Swedish government’s announcement of its intention to extend such recognition, is the latest indicator of European disgust with Israeli policies.

    • Panetta Sparks Debate Over U.S. Nuclear Strike on North Korea
    • US was ‘prepared to use nuclear weapons against North Korea’ if troops crossed border

      The US was prepared to use nuclear weapons if North Korean forces crossed the border into South Korea, the former CIA Director and Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has claimed in his memoir.

    • ‘US-led air assault against IS to solve America’s economic problem’

      The US-led air assault against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is just to “serve the US’ own interest” and “solve America’s economic problem”, a Syrian official said here Thursday.

      A Syrian diplomat, who declined to be named, alleged that America “takes money from Saudi Arabia” for every strike against the IS, which have failed to yield any tangible result so far.

      Terming the brutal jihadist group Islamic State as a “creation” of the US, the official said the IS “gets support” from Turkey, and described Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan as the “caliph” of the Al Qaeda-inspired group that has beheaded two American journalists and two British nationals so far.

    • Op-Ed: Egyptian planes reportedly bomb Islamists in Benghazi

      According to some reports, Egyptian warplanes are bombing Islamist positions in the eastern city of Benghazi that is under the control of an umbrella group of Islamist militias. CIA-linked General Haftar sill controls the airport on the outskirts.

    • Op-Ed: Libyan clashes continues as UN seeks a ceasefire agreement
    • Obama’s Dumb War

      If Barack Obama owes his presidency to one thing, it was the good sense he had back in 2002 to call the Iraq War what it was: “dumb.”

      Now, with scarcely a whisper of debate, Obama has become the fourth consecutive US president to bomb Iraq — and in fact has outdone his predecessors by spreading the war to Islamic State targets in Syria as well. With the Pentagon predicting that this latest conflict could rage for three years or longer, Obama is now poised to leave behind a Middle East quagmire that closely resembles the one he was elected to end.

    • Bashing Obama To Make Way for Hillary

      Three years ago, during the height of the Occupy movement, I was ejected from a Congressional hearing for allegedly “assaulting” Leon Panetta, then Secretary of Defense and former Director of the CIA. He was testifying to the House Armed Services Committee about “lessons learned by the Department of Defense over the preceding decade.” I jumped out of my audience seat to tell him that young people were paying the price of those “lessons,” and we were sick of the government funding war instead of education. The baseless assault charges against me were ultimately dropped.

    • Risen Doubts Book Will Provoke Leak Probe

      A new book from The New York Times journalist says a Lebanon bunker may store nearly $2 billion in loot.

    • Billions set aside for post-Saddam Iraq turns up in Lebanese bunker

      Stuart Bowen, who investigated corruption in Iraq, says US and Iraqi governments ignored appeals to recover money

    • Iraq: US Official Tracks Missing Money To Lebanon
    • Missing Iraqi Cash Ended in Lebanon Bunker, report
    • US official: ‘$1.6bn in stolen Iraqi funds hidden in Lebanese bunker’

      More than $1.6 billion in Iraqi funds had been stolen and moved to a bunker in rural Lebanon for safekeeping, the former Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen told James Risen, investigative journalist for the New York Times.

    • Greed, Power, and Endless War
    • For James Risen, a Struggle That Never Ends

      Readers of this blog may know that I’m particularly interested in the situation involving James Risen, a Times investigative reporter who is at risk of going to jail to protect a confidential source from his 2006 book, “State of War.”

    • A war on truth?

      A new book by New York Times veteran national security reporter James Risen provides a partial answer. According to Risen, the United States has pursued destructive self-defeating policies which have led the world astray.

      U.S.-led post-9/11 policy has been irrational because it is driven by a constant state of fear which has distorted perceptions and priorities. Pay Any Price: Greed, Power and Endless War is important reading for those who believe we must question the narrative set forth by government powerbrokers and amplified by the mainstream media.

      Perhaps the greatest cost of anti-terror mania has been its erosion of press freedoms and a generalized chilling effect on speech. Democracy 101 teaches that good governance requires vigorous and robust open debate so that people may make well-informed and well-reasoned choices.

    • Speed Read: James Risen Indicts The War On Terror’s Costly Follies

      In his new book, ‘Pay Any Price,’ reporter James Risen reports how billions were lost and American rights were infringed when the government went to war on terror.

    • Shameful Side of the War on Terror

      In “Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War,” James Risen, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter for The New York Times, sets out to portray the many seamy sides of the war on terror during the past 13 years.

      Those willing to overlook his occasionally lumpy prose will be rewarded with a memorable chronicle of the long-range consequences of the panicky reaction of top American officials to the Sept. 11 attacks, from lost billions in taxpayer dollars to the lost life of a former torturer and the smashed dreams of an intelligence whistle-blower.

    • James Risen Subpoena Faces New Review

      The Justice Department is using new guidelines to reconsider whether to demand testimony from New York Times reporter James Risen in connection with a leak case against a former CIA officer, a federal prosecutor said Friday.

    • Hawkish PM Stephen Harper And Party Vote To Authorizes Air Strikes In Iraq

      Canada’s hawkish PM Stephen Harper and his Conservative majority voted this week to authorize airstrikes against the Islamic State (ISIS) militant group in Iraq, which according to many reports were initially trained by the American CIA and are getting their weapons from another western ally Saudi Arabia, begging the question who is really responsible for ISIS’s sudden rise of extremism.

    • Blackwater Founder Wants Mercenaries to Fight ISIS War

      The Islamic State (ISIS) is massacring people in the strategic town of Kobani along the Syrian-Turkish border, indicating that American airstrikes on the terrorist group were not effective. Big-named pundits like Bill O’Reilly and Steven Colbert have been arguing about whether mercenaries should fight America’s war against the Islamic State (ISIS). Now, the ex-chief of the mercenary company formerly known as Blackwater has waded into the debate, and (no surprise) he says absolutely they should.

    • How One Man’s Illness May Have Changed The Course Of Middle Eastern History

      His illness might have made the Shah more willing to abdicate the throne, which he did in early 1979. The author raises the possibility that the cancer may have made the Shah’s decision-making more erratic while sapping his will to cling to power. He may have been “able to give only part of his energy to fighting for Iran’s life, since he was fighting for his own.”

    • The Man Behind “Unmanned”

      I’m not a military strategist, but I knew from common sense that it was not possible for drone strikes to target terrorists with pinpoint accuracy and avoid killing innocent people. The idea that there was some magical piece of weaponry that was going to solve all of our problems got my antennae up immediately.

    • War By Remote-Control

      Attacks by US drones have often been presented as forensic, however, only one in 25 victims in Pakistan have been identifiably associated with al-Qaeda. There have been about 400 US drone attacks in Pakistan. Secret CIA documents recording the identity, rank and affiliation of people targeted and killed in strikes in 2006-08 and 2010-11 were leaked to the McClatchy news agency in April last year. Hundreds of those killed were identified simply as Afghan or Pakistani fighters, or as “unknown”. Of these killed, only 2% might be top commanders. Its not like the Pakistani government is oblivious to these attacks. In the past the US has used its drones to kill militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas in exchange for Pakistani help in targeting al-Qaeda members. In 2013 the New York Times reported that the first known US drone strike in Pakistan, on 17 June 2004, had been part of a secret deal to gain access to Pakistani airspace. The CIA agreed to kill the target, Nek Mohammed, in exchange for permission for its drones to go after US enemies.

    • Florida activists resist Raytheon

      On October 17, activists organized to speak out against the defense contractor Raytheon, which recently received a $251.1 million contract to provide the U.S. Navy with Tomahawk cruise missiles for the following year. The Tomahawk cruise missile has been an integral part of the Obama administration’s military strategy due to its ability to kill large numbers of alleged combatants from faraway distances, without requiring “boots on the ground.” Florida is no stranger to the military-industrial complex. Raytheon, General Dynamics, Honeywell, and Lockheed Martin can all be found within Pinellas County alone.

    • With US-led air strikes on Isis intensifying, it’s a good time to be an arms giant like Lockheed Martin

      Last month American warships fired $65.8m worth of Tomahawk missiles within just 24 hours of each other

    • Anti-war protesters return to engine factory in Shenstone

      Around 100 anti-war protesters held a demonstration at a military engine factory in Staffordshire they claim is supplying weapons to Israel.

    • Gaza and the Bipartisan War on Human Rights

      During and after Israel’s war on Gaza, bipartisan congressional majorities have worked to undermine war crimes investigations by the United Nations and human rights groups

    • If we must have a hugely invasive national security state, let’s at least listen to it

      I am no fan of America’s national-security state, which continues to grow steadily larger, more intrusive, and increasingly dismissive of civil liberties. The NSA has removed all expectations of privacy in digital communications, and the TSA is, at best, inept security theater. The Department of Homeland Security’s “If you see something, say something” campaign imagines a terrorist around every corner, while the CIA is busy spying on Congress and torturing away the rule of law.

    • Shaping the Vietnam Narrative

      Controlling the narrative is a key tool for propagandists who realize that how people understand a foreign conflict goes a long way toward determining their support or opposition. So, the U.S. government’s sanitizing of the Vietnam War is not just about history, but the present, as Marjorie Cohn writes.

    • Who Supported the Khmer Rouge?

      According to journalist Elizabeth Becker, U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski “himself claims that he concocted the idea of persuading Thailand to cooperate fully with China in its efforts to rebuild the Khmer Rouge.” Brzezinski said, “I encouraged the Chinese to support Pol Pot. I encouraged the Thai to help the D.K. [Khmer Rouge government-in-exile of Democratic Kampuchea]. The question was how to help the Cambodian people. Pol Pot was an abomination. We could never support him, but China could.” In fact, U.S. support went well beyond encouraging others to rebuild the Khmer Rouge.

    • No, Chemical Weapons in Iraq Do Not Prove That Bush Was Right to Invade

      Bush’s approval ratings, which peaked at 70% during the March 2003 invasion, had plummeted to 48% by the time the CIA weighed in. The Administration could have used an example of, “Look, we were right!” But rather than tout the discovery of remnants chemical weapons from the 1980s, the Pentagon went to extreme lengths to cover it up. The harm these weapons posed to U.S. troops was unanticipated and the injuries they were suffering were an embarrassment.

  • Transparency Reporting
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife
    • The Man Who Tricked Chemtrails Conspiracy Theorists

      On October 1, Chris Bovey—a 41-year-old from Devon, England—thought he’d troll the chemtrails camp. During a flight from Buenos Aires to the UK, his plane had to make an emergency landing in São Paulo and dumped excess fuel to lighten the load. Since he had a window seat, Chris decided to film all the liquid being sprayed out of the wing next to him.

      Touching down, he uploaded the video with a caption that suggested it could be evidence of chemtrails, hoping to mess with a couple of friends who he knew might fall for it. The video now has 1.1 million views, nearly 20,000 shares, and dozens of comments telling viewers to “wake the F up,” or accusing naysayers of being “stupid paid shills.”

      He then claimed (falsely) that he’d been detained at Heathrow upon arrival, been interrogated by the authorities, and had his phone confiscated. That riled everyone up even more, with “conspiraloon” (Chris’s term) website NeonNettle.com picking up the story and reporting it as evidence of chemtrails.

    • Sao Paulo could go dry in mid-November

      Dilma Pena, chief executive of the state-run water utility, told the city council Thursday that supplies are guaranteed only until mid-November unless it can tap the last of the water in its Cantareira reservoir. The four-lake complex that supplies half of Sao Paulo has already been drained of 96 percent of its water capacity amid Brazil’s worst drought in eight decades. Regulators have so far refused to allow Cia. de Saneamento Basico do Estado de Sao Paulo, known as Sabesp, to use the rest on concern it’s mismanaging supplies.

    • Oil prices are at a 4 year-low now but assuming that they will continue to fall is risky business

      Oil prices have been falling for a while now and have touched a four-year low. As per the data published by the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell, the price of the Indian basket of crude oil touched $ 82.83 per barrel on October 16, 2014.

  • Finance
    • Ending a 36 year, 17+ Trillion Dollar U.S. Government Ponzi Scheme
    • The Tory message to disabled people: you’re just not worth it

      Lord Freud’s comments on the minimum wage articulates what we already know – that this government sees disabled people as less than human

    • How a Hong Kong Newspaper Became an Occupy Movement Flashpoint

      To the anti-Occupy protesters, Apple Daily has become a sort of avatar for everything they dislike about the movement – and particularly for the charge that the Occupy protests are sponsored by nefarious foreign forces. On Chinese social media sites, Apply Daily founder Jimmy Lai Chee-ying is rumored to have ties to the CIA, and to be funneling CIA funds to the Occupy protestors. In an interview with South China Morning Post, Lai dismissed the idea that he is personally influencing the movement. Lai said that he had not donated any money to the founders of the Occupy Central movement, although he has donated to pro-democracy politicians in the past and is friends with several of them.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying
    • Vote all you want. The secret government won’t change.

      The people we elect aren’t the ones calling the shots, says Tufts University’s Michael Glennon

    • Twitter – You’ll like it because we say you will.

      I’ve a policy of blocking any user who promotes their Tweets. Looks like I’ll be blocking the random strangers too. I think Twitter, like other online services will quickly realise that users have a plethora of other options open to them. Social media is transient and the next FB or Twitter is just around the corner (as well as the plethora of options already available). Having these type of “features” is no bad thing, but take away people’s ability to remove them and you’ll find your user-base looking elsewhere.

    • Our Exclusive Interview with German Editor Turned CIA Whistleblower

      Fascinating details emerge. Leading US-funded think-tanks and German secret service are accessories. Attempted suppression by legal threats. Blackout in German media.

    • German journo: European media writing pro-US stories under CIA pressure (VIDEO)

      German journalist and editor Udo Ulfkotte says he was forced to publish the works of intelligence agents under his own name, adding that noncompliance ran the risk of being fired. Ulfkotte made the revelations during interviews with RT and Russia Insider.

  • Censorship
  • Privacy
    • NSA Documents Suggest a Close Working Relationship Between NSA, U.S. Companies

      The documents, published last week by The Intercept, describe “contractual relationships” between the NSA and U.S. companies, as well as the fact that the NSA has “under cover” spies working at or with some U.S. companies.

    • The NSA’s Moonlighting Problem
    • Peter Carey: ‘Privacy should be a human right, but we’ve been tricked out of it – it’s easy to give information away. It is sort of evil’

      Double Booker winner Peter Carey was always unimpressed by the decision to open the prize up to American authors. “I find it unimaginable that the Pulitzer or the National Book award would ever open their prizes up to Britons and Australians,” he says. The “old Booker” had a “particular cultural flavour”, he adds. “I think there was, and there is, a real Commonwealth culture. It’s different. America doesn’t really feel to be a part of that.” As for this year’s America-expanded award, Carey was rooting for the eventual winner, and fellow Australian, Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North – “a serious guy who can really write”.

    • How cloud computing – and other new technology – could lead to the destruction of humanity

      It isn’t just about cloud computing, though, but big data and other emerging technologies too. Big data is the name given to a new breed of analytic technologies, which can take disparate bits and bytes of data in order to make links that conventional analytic software cannot – something that will dovetail well with neuromorphic computing. And it can do this in real-time, as well – there’s no need to extract existing alpha-numeric information from an operational database into a separate system, it can do it in seconds, on-the-fly.

    • Mark Udall Touts NSA Reform (and Dings Obama) in Bid to Save Senate Seat

      Sen. Mark Udall is reminding Colorado voters that he opposes the government’s mass spy apparatus, and that he’s willing to take on President Obama as he endeavors to pull it back.

    • Edward Snowden talks privacy in the golden age of signal communication (VIDEO)

      Government whistleblower and former system administrator for the CIA, Edward Snowden, gave an extended virtual interview over the weekend at the New Yorker Festival about his current situation and why he chose to reveal certain government secrets that changed the way we think about privacy in America. During his hour-long chat with Jane Mayer of The New Yorker Snowden advised those who really want to protect their privacy will want to stop using such services as Dropbox, Google and Facebook. He also said to search for “encrypted communication services” because they “enforce your rights.” He gave a few examples such as SpiderOak instead of Dropbox, and alternative phone services like Silent Circle and RedPhone. He covers a lot more ground as well.

    • President Nixon offered to illegally wiretap Mayor John Lindsay for Gov. Nelson Rockefeller: report

      A new biography of Rockefeller, ‘On His Own Terms,’ by Richard Norton Smith reports the proposal, which is based on previously undisclosed material.

    • Police departments using private funds to buy spy tech originally developed for the CIA

      In 2007, as it pushed to build a state-of-the-art surveillance facility, the Los Angeles Police Department cast an acquisitive eye on software being developed by Palantir, a startup funded in part by the Central Intelligence Agency’s venture capital arm.

    • WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Fears Ecuadorian Embassy in London is Bugged: Reports

      The founder of WikiLeaks Julian Assange has fears that the embassy of Ecuador in London, where he has been staying since 2012, is under auditory surveillance, Daily Mail reported.

      Julian Assange “is most likely under auditory surveillance,” WikiLeaks founder’s lawyers said in a statement filed in the Court of Appeal in Sweden on Friday, the newspaped said. Assange’s lawyers also added that his confinement in the embassy is a “deprivation of liberty.”

    • Kickstarter Suspends Anonabox Security Appliance Project

      The Anonabox episode serves to highlight the simple fact that there is a great hunger in the marketplace for easily deployed privacy solutions.

    • Tomgram: Laura Poitras and Tom Engelhardt, The Snowden Reboot

      In these years, as power drained from Congress, an increasingly imperial White House has launched various wars (redefined by its lawyers as anything but), as well as a global assassination campaign in which the White House has its own “kill list” and the president himself decides on global hits. Then, without regard for national sovereignty or the fact that someone is an American citizen (and upon the secret invocation of legal mumbo-jumbo), the drones are sent off to do the necessary killing.

    • New York Times: Snowden-Boosting Documentary Causing Headaches for ‘Hollywood Obama Backers’
    • Secrecy policy doesn’t make sense

      The government has become the arbiter of who gets information and who doesn’t.

    • Subjecting press freedom to the spook of national security

      The conditions under which journalists work are becoming more dangerous as governments around the world clamp down on their freedom in the guise oaf safeguarding national security, writes TITUS MBUYA

    • Secure Email and Cloud Alternatives to Gmail and Dropbox

      While there is no denying that end-to-end encryption beefs up security and helps protect data from being snooped by third parties, it’s definitely not a silver bullet that can guarantee a completely secure way to communicate on the Internet. That said, it’s always a good idea to go for services that offer an extra layer of security because after all it’s likely you’ll use them for storing and sending sensitive data like your own personal information.

    • “Mistaken U.S. practices” discourage China to resume cyber-security talks

      The ongoing cyber-war between USA and China has gone more intense. Reportedly, top Chinese diplomat in his statement to John Kerry, US Secretary of State, said that owing to “mistaken U.S. practices”, it would be difficult resuming cyber-security cooperation between USA and China.

    • Decentralize to Protect Your Rights

      Writing in her ground-breaking book, History of the American Revolution, Mercy Otis Warren – known as the Muse of the Revolution – asked why people were so willing to obey the government and answers that it is supineness, fear of resisting, and the long habit of obedience.

    • Surveillance Reform Theater

      The concept of a secret golden key for authorities is a zombie idea from the 1990s. I’m talking about what’s known in cryptographic circles as “key escrow.” Under key escrow vendors create a built-in decryption password (also known as a decryption key) that’s held in escrow. When law enforcement agents supply a court order they can acquire the corresponding decryption key.

    • Top NSA critic could lose seat

      Critics of the government’s spy agencies are worried that Colorado’s hotly contested Senate race could end the public career of one of their best allies in Congress.

    • Fed-backed Twitter study draws fire

      Commissioner Ajit Pai — one of two Republicans on the five-member commission — warned in a Washington Post op-ed on Saturday about a National Science Foundation study of people’s communications on Twitter, which he said amounted to government monitoring of people’s speech.

    • ‘What they fear is light’ — Greenwald tells the Snowden story

      Glenn Greenwald’s No Place To Hide is not just a thrilling account of the award-winning journalist’s “cloak-and-dagger” encounter with National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden, but a clinical and impassioned analysis of the danger posed by the US’s vast surveillance state.

      Greenwald, no tech-head, nearly blew his opportunity for the dramatic scoop because of his delays in installing a computer encryption program for communication with Snowden, until guided mouse-click by mouse-click by the whistleblower.

    • Did PH and the US gang up on Carlos Bulosan?

      Last year, the scholars wrote about the files they obtained that showed the FBI had its eye on Bulosan between 1946 and 1956.

      The FBI ultimately determined Bulosan was not a member of the Communist Party.

    • The governmnt & freedom

      Since 2001, Comey’s agents have written more than half a million of their own search warrants and their targets don’t even know what was done to them. He will argue that if the evidence from these agent-written warrants is not used in court, there is no harm to the unknowing victim and, hence, no foul. Yet the Constitution was written to keep the government from interfering with our natural rights even when it does so in secret — because no government violation of inalienable rights is harmless.

    • Lawmakers probing NSA face German secrecy hurdles

      German lawmakers probing the NSA following Edward Snowden’s revelations have hit a hurdle: their own government.

      Officials have refused to hand over dozens of German intelligence documents detailing the extent to which the country’s spy agencies cooperated with their U.S. counterparts.

    • Russia founds Snowden media prize

      The media community has founded the first prize in the sphere of mass communications, naming it after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

  • Civil Rights
    • Obama Could Reaffirm a Bush-Era Reading of a Treaty on Torture
    • What’s Holding Up Release Of The CIA ‘Torture Report’?
    • Tortured Libyans allege UK spied on legal talks

      Lawyers for two Libyan men, rendered and tortured with alleged British complicity, have demanded the government publish secret policies detailing when the communications of lawyers and journalists may have been intercepted.

      The issue emerged during a legal claim against the government by Abdel Hakim Belhaj and Sami Al-Saadi. Both men and their families were kidnapped and returned to Libya to face punishment in 2004, following years of anti-regime activity.

    • Blowing the Whistle on CIA Torture from Beyond the Grave

      In the fall of 2006, Nathaniel Raymond, a researcher with the advocacy group Physicians for Human Rights, got a call from a man professing to be a CIA contractor. Scott Gerwehr was a behavioral science researcher who specialized in “deception detection,” or figuring out when someone was lying. Gerwehr told Raymond “practically in the first five minutes” that he had been at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo in the summer of 2006, but had left after his suggestion to install video-recording equipment in detainee interrogation rooms was rejected. “He said, ‘I wouldn’t operate at a facility that didn’t tape. It protects the interrogators and it protects the detainees,’” Raymond recalls.

    • Senate Report Ignores Bush Administration’s Role in CIA’s Torture Program

      A Senate Intelligence Committee (SIC) report on the CIA and the “enhanced interrogation” methods used in the Iraq War fails to place any blame on George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, or the administration’s top lawyers, reported McClatchy.

    • U.S. Senate inquiry into harsh CIA tactics sidesteps Bush role
    • Senate refuses to blame Bush, senior aides in CIA torture investigation

      A classified US Senate probe into the CIA’s post-9/11 detention and interrogation program does not evaluate the role of former President George W. Bush or top administration officials in approving abuses including torture, according to a new report.

    • Bush, Obama ‘complicit’ in CIA torture program: Eric Draitser

      Draitser also argued that the US is not simply a country with a president and it is the head of an Imperial system that justifies torture, genocide, and war.

    • Obama could follow Bush-era reading of torture treaty

      When the Bush administration revealed in 2005 that it was secretly interpreting a treaty ban on “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” as not applying to CIA and military prisons overseas, President Barack Obama, then a newly elected Democratic senator from Illinois, joined in a bipartisan protest.

      Obama supported legislation to make it clear that U.S. officials were legally barred from using cruelty anywhere in the world. And in a Senate speech, he said enacting such a statute “acknowledges and confirms existing obligations” under the treaty, the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

    • 25 years ago: US role exposed in failed Panamanian coup

      On October 13, 1989, US President George H.W. Bush repeated a call for the overthrow of the regime of Gen. Manuel Noriega in Panama. Ten days earlier, on October 3, a coup attempt against Noriega ended in disaster, resulting in the roundup of scores of “rebels” and execution of many of the leaders. For months, Bush had been publicly urging Panamanian military forces to overthrow Noriega, declaring in May, “I would love to see them get him out.”

    • An undocumented history

      The United States has had a long standing tradition of intervention in Guatemala. In 1954, the U.S. government aided the overthrow of the democratically elected Guatemalan President, Jacobo Arbenz . Arbenz had confiscated a large portion of land belonging to the United Fruit Company that was not being cultivated, offering the company the amount they had declared on their taxes . The company, with support from the U.S. State Department, countered with a figure more than 13 times that amount .

    • End America’s perverse embargo against Cuba
    • Jesse Jackson Says It’s Time for US to End Cuban Embargo

      The Rev. Jesse Jackson has called for an end to the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States on Cuba over the last 52 years, in an op-ed published on Tuesday by the Chicago Sun-Times.

      “The implacable opposition of the U.S. government to Cuba’s presence in hemispheric meetings has practically offended all our neighbors,” said Jackson, who acknowledged that this policy of strangulation against the Caribbean island has operated to isolate Washington.

    • End America’s perverse embargo against Cuba
    • The Economic War on Cuba: Western Media Remains Silent as Obama Extends U.S. Embargo
    • Jesse Jackson Describes U.S. Policy against Cuba as Cold and Old-Fashioned War

      U.S. Reverend Jesse Jackson called to end the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba over the last 52 years, as published on Tuesday by the Web site of the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper.

      “The implacable opposition of the U.S. government to Cuba’s presence in hemispheric meetings has practically offended all our neighbors,” underlined Jackson, who acknowledged that this policy of strangulation against the Caribbean island has contributed to isolate Washington.

      Jackson, a prominent civil rights activist and a Baptist pastor, who was a candidate to the presidential primaries of the Democrat Party in 1984 and 1988, assured that the blockade against Cuba should have been lifted decades ago.

    • Stop The US Blockade Of Cuba Now – OpEd

      And for the last 52 years, U.S. imperialism has maintained this blockade, this economic war against the government and the people of Cuba.

      Why? Because since the 1959 Revolution, the people of Cuba have shown the world, particularly the people of Latin America and Africa, that despite being a small country; despite a legacy of cruel, colonial rule; despite one dictator after another ruling with an iron grip to serve U.S. corporations; despite racism so powerful that the last of those dictators, who was Black, could not even go onto the U.S. hotel’s beaches — despite all of that, an organized people led by determined revolutionaries could break U.S. imperialism’s grip.

    • CIA Never Makes Mistakes, Only Coups

      The USA Governor (Presidential Envoy) Paul Premier to Iraq after the invasion of 2003 said in an interview with the Arabia TV Satellite lately that the CIA never mistakes. This in our view is the biggest lie ever broadcasted to the world by any American official. Although lies are part and parcel of the USA foreign and even internal policies strategies for decades but to lie shamelessly in the face of the whole world shows the degree of ignorance of the USA past and present officials.

    • My Last Talk with Gary Webb

      His Dark Alliance series was attacked not for what it said

    • CIA-backed war against Nicaragua, integrity of U.S. media subject of new film
    • WPost’s Slimy Assault on Gary Webb

      Jeff Leen, the Washington Post’s assistant managing editor for investigations, begins his renewed attack on the late Gary Webb’s Contra-cocaine reporting with a falsehood.

      Leen insists that there is a journalism dictum that “an extraordinary claim requires extraordinary proof.” But Leen must know that it is not true. Many extraordinary claims, such as assertions in 2002-03 that Iraq was hiding arsenals of WMDs, were published as flat-fact without “extraordinary proof” or any real evidence at all, including by Leen’s colleagues at the Washington Post.

      A different rule actually governs American journalism — that journalists need “extraordinary proof” if a story puts the U.S. government or an “ally” in a negative light but pretty much anything goes when criticizing an “enemy.”

    • The CIA and the art of the ‘un-cover-up’

      In late 1996, John Deutch, at the time director of the CIA, traveled to a town meeting in South Central Los Angeles to confront a community outraged by charges that the Agency had been complicit in the importing of cocaine into California in the 1980s. Amid heated exchanges, Deutch publicly pledged an internal investigation by the CIA’s inspector general that would “leave no stone unturned.”
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    • Fiction review: ‘A Brief History of Seven Killings,’ by Marlon James

      A Brief History of Seven Killings explores the possibility that the assassination attempt was part of the CIA’s destabilization campaign against Jamaica’s socialist-leaning government. The novel consists of first-person vignettes from more than 20 characters. These include a dead politician, a CIA station chief and rival gang leaders. Marley fades into the background, a foil for the others’ actions.

    • The alternative to neo-liberalism ― Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj

      The countries comprising the ‘Triad’ 9 (especially its Anglo-Saxon core – Triad is a term used by Samir Amin to refer to the US, Western Europe and Japan) would be extremely unhappy with us for setting a bad example to other countries and regions. If we move decisively against neo-liberalism, then it would be extremely naïve of us to assume they would not respond as they responded

      to Iran in the early 1950s (the CIA engineered a coup to displace Mohammad Mossadegh, the democratically elected, widely popular Prime Minster of Iran who had the “temerity” to nationalise Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now BP). Mossadegh was replaced by the Shah of Iran. The emergence of conservative militant Islam in West Asia is due in large part to continual attempts by the US and Britain to undermine and displace progressive secular leaders who attempted to wrest back control of their country’s resources that has been monopolised by these colonial/imperialist powers),

      to Cuba since 1960,

      to Chile in 1973 (the CIA sponsored a coup that deposed President Salvador Allende after months of economic sanctions – refusal to buy Chilean copper, and a boss’ strike. President Allende died of gunshot wounds in his Presidential Palace on 11 September 1973, the day of the coup. Tens of thousands of leftists and labour activists were butchered by Augusto Pinochet’s regime in the subsequent weeks)

      and to Afghanistan in the 1970s (the CIA worked with Pakistani intelligence to create a militant Islamic response against the left-leaning governments that replaced the Afghan monarchy in 1973. This eventually morphed into the Taliban).

      We have to factor in the probability that members of the Triad would promote racial and religious sectarianism to sabotage our efforts to build a society based on a different model.

    • Answers sought on CIA role in ‘78 JFK probe

      In the end, the House Select Committee on Assassinations reported in 1978 that it believed the assassination was probably the result of a conspiracy, although it couldn’t prove that, and its conclusions are disputed by many researchers.

    • Was RFK a JFK Conspiracy Theorist?

      What did the attorney general know, and when did he know it?

    • Jackie Kennedy believed Lyndon Johnson killed JFK

      It has been widely reported that Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, widow of President John F. Kennedy, shared with family members she was certain that Kennedy’s Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson, arranged to have her husband murdered.

      Soon that conclusion will be heard in the late First Lady’s own words, because audio tapes, recorded of discussions with historian and close family associate, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., between March and June 1964, will be released and excerpts featured on an upcoming ABC News program in November marking the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas.

    • Book Review: ‘The Hidden Hand: A Brief History of the CIA’

      Whoa! This implies that the world’s best interests are those of the U.S.; that the CIA with all its predispositions and preconceptions could actually improve the situation; which ignores the fact that the CIA, among other U.S. institutions, helped create many if not most of these “armed insurrectionists” in the first place. It makes one wonder why they do not know very much about them, as they were convenient at the time, but then allowed to disappear from the radar so that in the future they could become another valuable convenient evil ‘other’ that the U.S. and the CIA had to do battle with.

    • Giving terror events less frightening names may ease fears

      Acts of terror are primarily intended to 1) degrade trust by a people in the ability of their government to defend and protect them and 2) deliver blows to the economy and bleed critical resources into protecting against attacks.

    • US Defense Secretary Panetta’s memoirs reveal poor judgment

      Leon Panetta, after twenty months as U.S. Secretary of Defense and before that two years as director of the CIA, has brought forth memoirs. The volume is blunt in criticizing others, including President Barack Obama. This imitates Robert Gates, Panetta’s immediate predecessor at the Pentagon.

      Cabinet members, including defense secretaries, have published memoirs but not while the administration in which they served was still in power. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has also brought out a book. However, her committee document is more diplomatic, calculating and careful in distancing herself from the president while simultaneously expressing loyalty.

    • Yemen unravels

      President Barack Obama cited Yemen as a model for U.S. operations against the Islamic State last month, not long after he told an interviewer that the intervention in Libya was his greatest foreign policy regret. In fact, the two countries offer similar lessons in the deficiencies of Obama’s strategy. By backing local forces with airpower in Libya, the United States and its allies were able to overthrow a murderous regime — but, as Obama acknowledged, the failure to assist with building a state afterward has facilitated Libya’s collapse into chaos.

    • New Evidence Links CIA to APA’s “War on Terror” Ethics

      New information may soon be revealed by the Senate Intelligence Committee’s yet-to-be-released report on the CIA’s post-9/11 abusive and torturous detention and interrogation operations. But what already has been clear for a long time – through reports from journalists, independent task forces, congressional investigations, and other documents – is that psychologists and other health professionals were directly involved in brutalizing “war on terror” prisoners in U.S. custody. Of particular note, contract psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen have been identified as the architects of the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques,” which included waterboarding, stress positions, exposure to extreme cold, sensory and sleep deprivation, and isolation.

    • The Absurd Illusions of a Shining City on a Hill

      The average natural born citizen in any country is continuously indoctrinated into the national culture starting about the time they begin understanding the meaning of words. There’s one country in particular where reality is staring the public in the face, but the truth has been grossly distorted for decades by government, and mass media, bias and propaganda. If the citizens would suddenly see the truth, instead of what they’ve been conditioned to believe, they would find themselves in a strange and bizarre foreign land that’s contrary in many ways to their personal beliefs regarding home. For those who experience this sudden revelation, as soon as the truth is realized, it’s likely to provoke a profound and immediate sense of disbelief. Like emergency room personnel making insensitive jokes, laughter at some point becomes a self-defense mechanism for offsetting continuous parades of the absurd realities and outright horrors. This is all happening while the general population takes great pride in having a capitalist-democracy as their social-economic model for the stated purposes of providing equal rights, freedom, justice for all, and an all-inclusive participation in the political system. While in all truth, the capitalist-democracy in question has been corrupted directly by the legislation in place and the collective society’s inability to keep the system working for its stated and intended purposes.

    • U.S. denial of soldiers’ injuries is outrageous

      IN A POWERFUL and Pulitzer-worthy scoop, the New York Times has just revealed a new outrage upon America’s sense of decency–by catching government officials in the act of breaking faith with the men and women who volunteered to fight for us in faraway lands.

    • Washington Week on Human Rights: October 14, 2014

      KERRY TO CAIRO Secretary of State John Kerry is in Cairo today to participate in an international conference of 50 nations pledging $5 billion to rebuild the Gaza Strip. He met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Monday to press the former military leader to adopt greater democratic reforms. Last week, Human Rights First urged Secretary Kerry to publicly raise concern over the Egyptian government’s ongoing human rights abuses during his visit and to leave no doubt that the United States expects the Egyptian government to end its widespread and counterproductive human rights violations. Instances of violence and terrorism in Egypt have increased since President Sisi took power and began a violent crackdown on political opponents, fueling radicalization and shutting down avenues for peaceful political dissent. and several other advocacy organizations signed a letter organized by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) that was sent to officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security. According to reports from detainees, workers have allegedly taken mothers from their cells in the middle of the night to engage in sexual acts and have groped women in front of children. An ICE spokesperson said that the department has a zero tolerance for all forms of sexual abuse or assault and that the accusations will be investigated.

    • Should she have declined the Nobel Peace Prize?

      To be fair to her, Malala did not ask for the Nobel Peace Prize, nor did she lobby for it. In all probability, her handlers did, because for them, it was the crowning glory of the agenda they have been pursuing through her ever since she was whisked away from Pakistan. Intelligent as she is, I wonder if the thought has ever occurred to her for even a moment that she is being exploited.

    • Malala becomes lightning rod for anger over neglect of her hometown
    • Our Opinion: Standing up for the children

      When the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Malala Yousafzai, most people stood up and applauded the decision. Here was a young woman who faced down the Taliban by going to school everyday and received a bullet in the head for her efforts. Since recovering from the 2012 attack that nearly took her life, Yousafzai has been a tireless advocate for the rights of girls and women.

    • THE CONTROVERTIAL NOBEL PRIZE FOR PEACE

      George Galloway, a renowned British politician says, ‘If Malala had been murdered in a US drone strike, the UK media would never have told you her name.’ Someone commenting upon the Nobel Prize awarded to Malala said, ‘If Malala is blessed with the Nobel Prize just because the Taliban tried to murder her, an award must also be given to Abeer Qasim Hamza al-Janabi.’ Abeer was a 14-year-old Iraqi girl. She was gang raped by five U.S. Army soldiers and killed in her house in Yusufiyah (Iraq) in 2006. She was raped and murdered after her parents and six-year-old sister Hadeel Qasim Hamza were killed.

    • The other Pakistani girl: Malala got the Nobel peace prize; here is why Nabila won’t

      Last week, the Nobel Peace Prize committee announced two winners: Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai and India’s Kailash Satyarthi for their struggle for the rights of children. While for most Indians K Satyarthi’s name was a bit of a mystery, Malala was already a widely known international figure, her personal story documented on magazine covers around the world.

    • Why not Malala?… By Faiza
    • America’s fear

      The collective effect of these and other fears is debilitating. The powerful can-do optimism that has helped drive this country to almost incomprehensible successes is sapped by the anxiety of suspecting that America can’t quite get it done anymore.

    • Controversial town hall meeting on Islam to be held in Edmond

      Alton Nolen, who was fired before the alleged attack, was charged with the crime and Blair told KOCO he feels Nolen’s recent conversion to Islam should not be overlooked.

    • Temple University symposium to focus on role music played in slavery’s underground railroad

      A symposium at Temple University will focus on the role music played in the underground railroad that was used to help American slaves escape the South for northern states or Canada.

      The Rev. Joe Williams, pastor of Mount Airy United Fellowship church, explains that some that some songs still sung by churchgoers today actually contained coded messages for slaves, KYW-TV reported Sunday.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality
  • DRM
    • Nintendo Bricks Wii U Consoles Unless Owners Agree To New EULA

      Nintendo: it protects what it believes it owns with great vigor. The company has rarely missed an opportunity to make sure that other people are not allowed to alter or mess with the stuff Nintendo insists is Nintendo’s. In an apparent effort to maximize the irony combo-meter, Nintendo also has been known to make sure that customers don’t mess with or alter the properties those customers actually own, such as online support for games that Nintendo decided to alter long after purchase… just because.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • SCMP.com page views double after paywall lowered for Occupy Central coverage

        Hong Kong English-language newspaper the South China Morning Post has reported a large spike in traffic to its website, scmp.com, since it lowered its paywall to give readers free access to its coverage of the Occupy Central protests.

        Page views have increased by 110 per cent from 28 September, the first day of the protests, until 17 October, compared to the preceding three weeks. Unique users have jumped 45 per cent over the same time period, the paper told Mumbrella.

      • Led Zeppelin loses first court battle in “Stairway to Heaven” lawsuit

        Led Zeppelin lost the first court battle in a lawsuit that alleges the legendary British band stole parts of the iconic song “Stairway to Heaven.”

        The suit, filed in June by the heirs of Randy Craig Wolfe or “Randy California,” founding member of the band Spirit, was filed in Pennsylvania. “Under what’s known as the ‘effects test,’” Billboard explained, “Michael Skidmore, the trustee for the Wolfe trust (and evidently, a Massachusetts resident), can bring his action in Pennsylvania if he alleges an intentional tort, the plaintiff felt the brunt of the harm there, and the defendants aimed their conduct there.”

        The band filed a motion to have the suit dismissed because they are all British and have no ties to Pennsylvania. Unfortunately for Led Zeppelin, “U.S. District Court Judge Juan Sánchez has now denied the motion to dismiss or transfer without prejudice,” The Hollywood Reporter stated. However, the judge gave no specific reasoning.

        The lawsuit’s defendants include Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and their music companies.

        There is an oft-told story surrounding the writing of “Stairway to Heaven,” holed up in a cabin in Wales.

How Patent Lawyers Analyze Alice v. CLS Bank

Monday 20th of October 2014 10:14:15 AM

Summary: Breaking down a patent lawyer’s analysis of a Supreme Court’s decision that seemingly invalidated hundreds of thousands of software patents

SHORTLY after the Alice v. CLS Bank ruling we gave several dozens of examples where patent lawyers either denied the impact of this ruling/decision on software patents or simply downplayed it. We now know that they were wrong — not necessarily lying — as software patents are being squashed by the patent office and the courts. Lawsuits have almost halved in number. The same thing happened after In Re Bilski; in sheer numbers (number of articles), patent lawyers tried to impose/project their will onto the law, overriding what’s true and what shall become legal practice. It’s rather appalling. They capture the system. Since many journalists quote these people (especially in the corporate media), it matters a lot.

“These “legal” publications tend to be more like cults of subcultures where the reality can be vastly different from that which everyone else observes.”Despite all this evidence, some patent lawyers would rather continue to ignore the facts or simply lie (at the very least distort). The other day Kelley Drye & Warren LLP published a so-called ‘analysis’ in a legal publication. These “legal” publications tend to be more like cults of subcultures where the reality can be vastly different from that which everyone else observes. David W. Long, from the Washington (DC) office of this firm, wrote this:

Patent System Benefits From Supreme Court Guidance In Alice v. CLS Bank

Benefit, right? Tell us more.

This case primarily impacts software- or computer-implemented inventions. Alice dealt with a patent on a generic computer implementing a conventional business practice of using a third-party intermediary (clearing house or escrow agent) to mitigate the “settlement risk” that a party cannot fulfill its obligation in a transaction. Each side’s consideration is exchanged once the intermediary receives the required consideration from both sides. The issue presented was whether someone could patent using generic computer components to implement “the abstract idea of intermediate settlement” that is a long-standing “fundamental practice” and “building block of the modern economy.” The Court said no.

Right. No means no. Go on then.

The short answer is: incrementally. There’s nothing earth shattering about Alice.

Except the invalidation of many software patents? Right, let’s just ignore that.

The Court applied prior decisions to a new set of facts, resulting in incremental guidance on this nuance issue. The bigger impact of Alice is that it resolved a stalemate in the Federal Circuit appeals court that is tasked with developing patent law.

CAFC has been thoroughly discredited in this area and it was found to be corrupt. It’s quite a miracle that it continues to exist, albeit some corrupt people got ousted.

Here, the Federal Circuit judges agreed that the patent claims were invalid, but they disagreed as to why and, thus, gave no guidance to practitioners. Stalemates and attendant uncertainty often happen in these gray mushy areas, so it’s significant that the Supreme Court decision breaks the stalemate to keep progress flowing.

The problem is, none of the judges (or justices) actually understands computers properly; none can write a computer program. Why are people with a fancy gown, a wooden hammer (gavel, but probably no longer a wig) deemed more competent to rule on matters such as software patents and APIs than technical folks who most likely don a T-shirt and a portable music player? Legal threatre is doing a great deal of damage to the technical community and this hurts customers (that’s everyone) too.

There has been incremental development on what is an unpatentable abstract idea, and that development should continue. So far, the Court has addressed patent eligibility in cases that involved well-known, or old, abstract ideas: Bilski was about financial hedging, and Alice was about third-party intermediaries to settle a financial contract. The really interesting question is: what do the courts do when someone develops a wholly new abstract idea?

If it’s abstract, then it does not matter if it’s new.

When someone first intuited, for example, that 2+2=4 and 2*2=4 and 22=4, this was a completely new insight. While it may have contributed greatly to society to know, it is still a fundamental building block that could not be patented from day one. If it were patented, you couldn’t build a car or anything else without paying a license fee every time that fundamental mathematical relationship was used. So we may see interesting developments in the way courts handle generic computer implementation of new abstract ideas, though such case law development will be a marathon, not a sprint.

Mathematics was not much of a new insight. It was only formalised at some later stage, using some particular notation, e.g. decimal numbers (base 10). At no stage was a patent suitable and just because we encode mathematics in binary form now (or let machines do so) does not mean we are entitled to patents.

Some patents will have this issue, but that’s par for the course since any patent might be challenged on any number of grounds, such as prior art or definiteness. The news is that Alice gave us helpful tools that practitioners can use in evaluating patents, and we will see development in this area near term. Already, we’re seeing that more district courts are invalidating patents on this ground at the motion-to-dismiss stage, which is very early in the litigation process compared to the practice before Alice.

So here he is admitting that Alice v. CLS Bank did in fact change things. Why not take this further and state that software patents are now in trouble or perpetual demise? Well, granted, as even Mr. WatchTroll himself (IP Watchdog) admitted a couple of months ago, if you tell the “legal community” that software patents (or any patent type for that matter) are going away, you’re likely to be ridiculed or chastised. The problem is, the press likes to quote people who are patent lawyers for insight on patent law.

The bottom line is, whenever reading some so-called ‘analysis’ from patent lawyers about software patents, be careful. They are not writing like journalists but more like marketing people trying to attract potential clients. In the corporate press, so-called ‘journalists’ treat these ‘marketing people’ as credible authority on these subjects.

Is It Google’s Turn to Head the USPTO Corporation?

Monday 20th of October 2014 09:36:06 AM


Photo from Asian Pacific Fund

Summary: The industry-led USPTO continues to be coordinated by some of its biggest clients, despite issues associated with conflicting interests

IT IS no longer just rumour or suspicion that USPTO nominates Lee as new director. This is possibly going to result in an appointment, showing us yet again that corporate stewards are truly in charge of the government, not just in the United States. Industrial bodies are full of “revolving door”-type scenarios and altercations.

This probably is not as bad as nominating Philip Johnson (it didn't go down well) or David Kappos from IBM (both big and vocal proponents of software patents), but it’s still not a good thing, either. As we showed in past years, Google had hired many patent lawyers rather than fight software patents; Michelle Lee may therefore be part of the problem. Not much is known about her to Wikipedia. He career at Google was very short (going back to when Google hired patent lawyers) and her career before this is not even mentioned. We wrote about her when she was appointed and even in 2012 when sources said she might lead a Silicon Valley patent office (hence software patents). According to a USPTO press releases, “Lee worked as a computer scientist at Hewlett-Packard” (a proponent of software patents). But much of the private sector stuff is usually omitted. To quote this press release: “Prior to becoming Director of the Silicon Valley USPTO, Lee served two terms on the USPTO’s Patent Public Advisory Committee, whose members are appointed by the U.S. Commerce Secretary and serve to advise the USPTO on its policies, goals, performance, budget and user fees.”

A site that acts as a CCIA front (as well as CCIA itself) and which wrote about her before has worked with Google and for Google, so no wonder it endorses Michelle Lee. CCIA is more concerned about patent trolls but not about abuse by its members (such as Microsoft), so it continues to treat only small abusive companies as the problem, e.g. for lack of evidence. Here is what the CCIA front said:

The White House announced yesterday that it’s nominating current Deputy Director Michelle Lee to be Director of the USPTO. By all accounts, she’s done a good job during a difficult time at the USPTO. This is definitely a smart move by the Administration.

How about appointing someone who is not supporting software patents and has not come from companies that accumulate software patents? Well, that might be too “revolutionary” for the USPTO and for the White House to do.

The EPO’s Public Relations Disaster Amid Distrust From Within (and EPO Communications Chief Leaves): Part VII

Monday 20th of October 2014 09:06:00 AM


Jesper Kongstad. Photo from the Nordic Patent Institute.

Summary: Amid unrest and suspicion of misconduct in the EPO’s management (ongoing for months if not years), Transparency International steps in, but the EPO’s management completely ignores Transparency International, refusing to collaborate; the PR chief of the EPO is apparently being pushed out in the mean time

KONGSTAD was the subject of our coverage before. We mentioned him in previous parts of exclusive EPO scandal stories. Mr Jesper Kongstad had already been mentioned in several past posts because he’s suspected to have played a role in an inadequate appointment, potentially motivated by nepotism. The suspicion is not a one-man whisper campaign. Staff at the EPO too seems to be concerned. The EPO is not new to scandals.

As we showed some weeks ago, the EPO’s management had oversight dismantled (related original documents are to be found here) and later on we were told about a letter to Kongstad from Cobus de Swardtz [PDF], the Managing Director of Transparency International (TI), which calls itself a “global coalition against corruption”.

There was a lot more to come, but we chose to sit aside for a while, letting things take their natural course without publicising anything in particular. The silence needed to be broken when the letter was circulated internally. The following document was published some weeks ago, which basically means that its contents are freely available to quite a lot of people. We too received a copy. At the time, Transparency International had already waited a few weeks (after it sent a letter to the Chairman of the Administrative Council) and the Administrative Council did not respond. As far as we know, Kongstad never responded. Administrative Council seems to prefer to just keep quiet about it. The interesting thing is that Transparency International was invited by the EPO staff representatives to examine the governance of the EPO. This is public knowledge. Kongstad must either be very arrogant or he has something to hide.

In the future, in order to facilitate public pressure on the Administrative Council, we are going to reveal for our European readers some contact details so that they contact their national representatives on the Administrative Council in relation to the various issues concerning EPO governance. Details of the national delegates can be found in the EPO’s Web site. They are mostly the heads of national patent offices who are subject to instructions from the competent government Ministry. Any kind of public campaign should also target the corresponding government Ministries and/or Prime Ministers as that is where the buck really stops at a national level.

The following is a portion from a letter we got hold of. The letter provides some background and contains references:

EPO & Transparency

Summary

Transparency International (TI) critically examines how national political systems all around the world address corruption risks and foster integrity. They publish and encourage best practice in integrity and expose the effects of conflicts of interest and lack of transparency. Recently, TI also assessed how the EU institutions deal with ethics, how they ensure transparency and accountability, and how they ultimately prevent corruption. The Central Staff Committee suggested to the EPO Administrative Council that a similar study be done for the EPO. TI has signaled its interest in the matter. But until now the Council cloaks itself in silence.

The governance of the EPO

The EPO still has the governance system that it was created with. Oversight is in the hands of the Administrative Council. The Heads of the national delegations in the Administrative Council are almost without exception heads of national patent offices. The delegates are in a situation of conflict of interests since the EPO is at the same time the main competitor and a major source of income for the national patent offices. The meetings of the Administrative Council and the majority of its documents are not open to the public. Maybe significantly the Office has started to publish the salaries of its staff, but the salary and benefits of the President are not disclosed, not even to the Administrative Council.

The European Patent Organisation sets its own financial regulations, independent from national or European law1. Adherence to these rules is controlled by a Board of Auditors of consisting of three individuals who are appointed by and reporting to the Administrative Council, on 5-year renewable contracts. Their reports (CA/20/yy) tend to be rather mild and the (few) critical comments are routinely ignored by the Office. The most recently appointed auditor is a close co-worker of Mr Battistelli from his time in the French patent office. Maybe not surprisingly, the most recent Audit report (CA/20/14) is even milder than usual. An attempt by the Brimelow administration to strengthen the audit system through the creation of an Audit Committee2 was supported by Mr Battistelli in his function of Chairman of the Council, but annulled by him as soon as he became President of the Office3. Note that the Organisation’s immunity blocks third parties from effectively challenging its financial decisions. The Staff Committee challenged the decision of the Office to use a direct placement procedure in favour of an external consultancy. The Board of Auditors even agreed that an invitation to tender would have been justified. Even if clearly justified, the complaint was recently dismissed by ILO-AT as irreceivable4.

______
1 Article 50 EPC
2 Bossung, Otto. “The Return of European Patent Law in the European Union”.
IIC 27 (3/1996). Retrieved June 30, 2012.
3 CA/140/08 «Audit Committee: possible models», resp. CA/55/11, «Disbanding the audit committee»

Immunity, or impunity?

The lack of transparency and the lack of truly independent financial and political control would seem to pose a serious risk for the integrity of the EPO and consequently for the European patent system. This is particularly worrying at a time that the EPO is to be given the additional responsibilities for the Unitary Patent. The staff representation has repeatedly requested a discussion on, and a modernisation of, the governance of the Organisation5, thus far to no avail.

Transparency International

Transparency International is a global civil society organization that aims at stopping corruption and promoting transparency, accountability and integrity at all levels and across all sectors of society6. TI has developed a methodology to assess how well national governments ensure the integrity of their institutions. The beauty of the methodology is that it is systemic. It does not rely on leaks and/or scandals but assesses whether the necessary legislation and mechanisms are in place to prevent, detect and combat corruption, and abuse of power. They check how well these mechanisms function in practice. An adapted version of this methodology has been used to assess various EU institutions. For the EU institutions Transparency International found that the EU has done a lot to put their house in order in recent years, but that strong foundations are being undermined by complex rules, complacency, and a lack of follow-up7.

What is the Council waiting for?

With a letter dated 6 June 20148 the Central Staff Committee (CSC) again raised the issue with the Chairman of the Administrative Council. The CSC drew the attention of the Council to the report of Transparency International on the EU Institutions and suggested that a similar study be done for the EPO. We note that the EU institutions cooperated with the Transparency study. Transparency International has reacted to the letter of the CSC9. It has offered its support and experience in promoting a culture of integrity and good governance in the EPOrg. Just recently Transparency International sent a reminder of its letter to the Council.

[...]

_____
4 ILO-AT 3343
5 CA/93/07 «Governance of the EPO: a staff perspective»,
6 http://www.transparency.org/whatwedo?gclid=CJWu5eC5tsACFa7KtAodXRoA2A
7 http://www.transparencyinternational.eu/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/EUIS_press_release.pdf
8 http://www.epostaff.org/archive/sc14139cl.pdf
9 see annex

The Transparency International story has been reported via another channel. The investigation was ignored. To quote WIPR: “A staff committee at the European Patent Office (EPO) has said its requests for the office’s governance to be assessed by a corruption specialist have been ignored, WIPR can reveal.

“The office’s central staff committee (CSC) said it had recommended to its supervisory body that anti-corruption organisation Transparency International (TI) carry out a study on the everyday running of the office, to ensure accountability.

“The CSC said its own attempts at convincing the Administrative Council (AC) were ignored, and has revealed that a letter sent directly to AC chairman Jesper Kongstad from TI has also yet to receive a response.

“TI’s letter, seen by WIPR, was sent in July this year and said the EPO’s governance has at times come under criticism.”

That basically sums up how the EPO’s management behaves; the modus operandi is to ignore or destroy any regulatory apparatus or oversight, External ones are ignored, internal ones are brutally (but almost silently) squashed.

There is probably no harm in waiting for while as there may be a follow-up by Transparency International. For the time being the situation is clear; an external audit is being ignored by the Administrative Council. Jesper Kongstad doesn’t appear to have made any response.

“For the time being the situation is clear; an external audit is being ignored by the Administrative Council.”Curiously enough, as also reported by WIPR just a few weeks later, there was a “[m]ysterious departure for EPO communications chief” (i.e. PR). “According to sources,” says the article, “a recently uncovered trademark application at the German Patent and Trademark Office in Schröder’s name bearing the words “f**k the US” may have been a contributing factor.”

A source tells us a slightly different story however. Some believe that Battistelli is planning to maneuver another French “crony” (Vincent Bénard, formerly of Airbus) into this key PR position, meaning that the previous occupant of the position, Oswald Schroeder, had to be “eliminated”. Whether he was set up or fell into a trap due to his own stupidity one cannot say for sure. “Oswald Schröder left “by mutual consent” on October 10,” says the article. It seems like he got pushed out. One just need to put some of the details found within the article together.

Battistelli’s regime can now tighten its grip and surround itself with more cronies that can perhaps push out challenges, such as Transparency International’s.

Links 18/10/2014: Debian Plans for Init Systems, Tails 1.2

Sunday 19th of October 2014 12:39:03 AM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source Leftovers

Links 18/10/2014: New ELive, Android Expansion

Saturday 18th of October 2014 07:58:45 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Why you should buy computers with Linux preinstalled
  • Italian consumers shouldn’t have to pay for software they don’t want – Letter to Regulators

    FSFE and Italian consumer association ADUC, along with Italian group ILS, are asking regulators to take concrete steps to protect Italians from being forced to pay for software they do not want or need. Italy’s High Court ruled in September that computer vendors must reimburse customers for the price of unwanted non-free software that comes pre-installed on PCs and laptops. Today, FSFE, ADUC and ILS have sent a letter to the Italian competition authorities, calling on them to ensure that vendors will comply with the High Court’s decision, and respect the rights of their customers.

  • The Advantages of Computer Hardware Designed For Linux

    When you buy a computer with Linux pre-installed, like when you buy from Apple, you can be sure that the hardware works beautifully with your chosen operating system. OK, so the hardware may not have been designed specifically to run Linux, but the computer vendor has chosen that hardware specifically because it DOES work well with Linux — any Linux!

  • Desktop
    • Sager NP2740 Review – A Linux Powerhouse

      I was looking for something powerful to stream some games on, but also light enough that it was not going to feel like a brick next to my Chromebook. Since Linux is my OS of choice, having reasonable Linux support is also on my list of desires. Because of this I wanted to stay away from ATI graphics cards and nVidia cards with optimus.

  • Server
  • Kernel Space
    • Feature-creep will ensure that systemd stays

      Nussbaum was, no doubt, sincere in what he said. But his remedy to avoid what has become a major issue for many Debian users can only be used for so long.

    • Linus admits cocking up the Linux community

      Systemd developer Lennart Poettering recently described the Linux community as “not a friendly place to be in” with open source community mailing lists are rife with language and even stronger opinions which has descended into death threats. Torvalds, in a “fireside chat” with Intel’s Dirk Hohndel at LinuxCon Europe, insisted that “to become a kernel developer, you need to enjoy a certain amount of pain,” but also acknowledged a “metric s—load” of mistakes he wishes he could fix.

    • Video: Linux Kernel Developers Respond to Concerns About Community Culture

      Shortly after a live Q&A with Linux creator Linus Torvalds at LinuxCon and CloudOpen Europe on Wednesday, the kernel developer panel took the stage for a roundtable discussion. LWN Editor and panel moderator Jon Corbet didn’t beat around the bush; he asked the panelists to first respond to systemd developer Lennart Poettering’s controversial post in which he called the open source community “a sick place.” The developers’ responses were varied, but Linaro developer Grant Likely’s thoughts perhaps drew the most audience applause.

    • Linux developers and users should be civil while disagreeing passionately

      I’m not sure how I missed the post below by Lennart Poettering on Google+ back on October 6. Reading it as left me somewhat discombobulated since I wrote about how diverse points of view and passion make Linux stronger a few days ago. Unfortunately, I did not take into account the need for civility even in passionate disagreements, and I think I downplayed how out of hand things have gotten among some Linux developers. My apologies to my readers for not taking the issue seriously enough.

    • Graphics Stack
      • AMD’s Radeon R9 285 On Linux Offers Good OpenCL Performance

        In complementing this week’s Linux review of the AMD Radeon R9 285 and follow-up articles with some extra GPU scaling tests and Catalyst AI Linux benchmarks, here’s some more OpenCL R9 285 “Tonga” performance numbers under Ubuntu compared to what was shared in the original Linux review.

  • Applications
    • Proprietary
      • Corel AfterShot Pro 2.1

        Corel has updated its AfterShot Pro software to Version 2.1. Available free to registered users, the 2.1 update introduces a number of new features and enhancements including new HDR tools for Mac and Linux, support for more than 17 new raw camera profiles, an improved Highlight Recovery Tool, as well as various performance and stability enhancements. Newly supported cameras include the Canon SX50 HS, the Fujifilm X-T1, X-E1, X-E2, X-Pro1, X-M1, X100S and X20, the Nikon D4s, D3300, 1 V3, 1 J4, Coolpix P330 and Coolpix A, and the Pentax Q, 645Z and K-500.

    • Instructionals/Technical
      • Install PXE Server On CentOS 7
      • How to create and use Python CGI scripts
      • ffs ssl

        You search “how to set up https” on the Googs and click the first link. It takes you here which tells you how to use StartSSL, which generates the key in your browser. Whoops, your private key is now known to another server on this internet! Why do people even recommend this? It’s the worst of the worst of Javascript crypto.

    • Wine or Emulation
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Qt 5.4 Beta Available

        I am extremely happy to announce that Qt 5.4 Beta is now available for download. There are a lot of new and interesting things in Qt 5.4 and I will try to summarize the most important highlights in this blog post.

      • KDE FRAMEWORKS 5.3 AND KDE PLASMA 5.1 FOR FEDORA ARE READY!

        Fedora KDE SIG is happy to announce that latest version of KDE Frameworks 5 have just reached stable repositories of Fedora and brand new version of KDE Plasma 5 is now available in the our Plasma 5 COPR.

  • Distributions
    • New Releases
    • Screenshots
    • Gentoo Family
      • For Gentoo Linux Initiates, Iron Penguin May Be Too Heavy

        Gentoo Linux is very easy to use provided you do not progress beyond the live session using the most recent Iron Penguin release. If you actually proceed with installing Gentoo onto a hard drive, prepare for some steep learning curves and lots of manual labor.

    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Derivatives
        • Leave No Trace Online or Offline with the Tails 1.2 Linux-Based OS

          Tails is, above all else, a Linux distribution and is based on Debian. It shares some of the characteristics of the Linux base, but it integrates a unique collection of applications that are available for users who want to remain anonymous.

        • Tails 1.2 has been released

          If you have a Tails USB lying on your desk somewhere it’s time to plug it in, boot to it, and upgrade it (with the built in updater of course). Yes, the team behind Tails have released version 1.2 of their incognito liveUSB distribution.

        • Elive 2.3.9 beta released

          The Elive Team is proud to announce the release of the beta version 2.3.9

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Interview: Thomas Voß of Mir

            Mir was big during the space race and it’s a big part of Canonical’s unification strategy. We talk to one of its chief architects at mission control.

          • Best YouTube Players for Ubuntu

            If you’re a geek, nerd, or a programming prodigy, a command line YouTube player will give you plenty of bragging rights. MPS-Youtube is a fabulous player that lets you search and play videos from YouTube, download them, and even view comments all using just your command line. Written in Python, the text interface is used for sifting through the videos. Then, once you’ve chosen the video you want to play, the software then hooks into mplayer or mpv to show you the video. Though this won’t work on a full sans-X11 terminal, it will surely give you the thrills of doing the latest things in a cool old school sort of way.

  • Devices/Embedded
    • Raspberry Pi time-lapse camera

      We love the Raspberry Pi camera. It’s a lovely little piece of kit that is as versatile as the Pi and it doesn’t even take up any of the USB slots. We’ve done a bit of time-lapse photography in the past but that was using a proper camera attached to the Pi – now we’re doing it with just the Pi camera and a lot less code thanks to the picamera Python module.

    • HP to shutter webOS cloud services

      The company says it’s given the few owners of webOS devices three years of service since canning the software, but that “The user count has dwindled to the point where it is no longer viable to keep the services running.”

    • Phones
      • Tizen
        • Tizen Developer Summit Shanghai Device Giveaways – Intel NUC / MinnowBoard MAX / Gear 2
        • Modular smartwatch runs Tizen on Edison

          A startup is prepping a modular “Blocks ” watch that runs Tizen on an Atom-based Intel Edison module, and houses modular components in the watchband links.

          Samsung’s Tizen-based Gear S, Gear 2, and Gear 2 Neo are no longer the only Tizen-based smartwatches on the planet. A startup called Blocks, inspired by the modular smartphone concept from Phonebloks and Google’s related Project Ara , has announced a modular smartwatch that runs Tizen on an Intel Edison module. The Blocks watch houses modular components in each link of the watch wristband, which can be snapped and unsnapped using plug connectors.

      • Android
        • Android Exec Says Google Will Loosen Reins on Watches, TVs and Cars Over Time

          “It’s not some Google-way-or-the-highway kind of thing,” the company’s vice president of engineering Hiroshi Lockheimer said in an interview on Tuesday. His comments came as Google rolled out Android 5.0, a.k.a. Lollipop, which is designed to power a wide range of other devices beyond the usual phones and tablets.

        • Mobile pico projector does surround sound too

          A mobile, Android A/V robot on Kickstarter called the “Keecker” offers surround sound, a pico projector, a panoramic camera, sensors, and 1TB of storage.

        • Will Android and Chrome marry?

          The WSJ reported that “Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google’s vice president of engineering for its Android mobile-operating system, is now also overseeing the engineering team behind Google’s Chrome operating system.” The paper believes that is a sign that Sundar Pichai, Google’s senior vice president in charge of Android, Chrome and Apps since 2013, plans on merging the two operating systems sooner rather than later.

        • All current Nexuses, including Nexus 4 and 2012 Nexus 7, will get Lollipop

          Google’s official Android Lollipop announcement this morning originally didn’t mention some older Nexus devices—namely, the Nexus 4 and the 2012 Nexus 7. However, Google has confirmed to us that those older devices will indeed be getting Android 5.0, as will the Nexus 5, 2013 Nexus 7, Nexus 10, and the Google Play Edition devices.

Free Software/Open Source
  • Open source moves from accepted to expected

  • Lessons learned developing Lynis, an open source security auditing tool

    If you’ve been involved with information security for more than a decade, you’ve probably heard of Rootkit Hunter or rkhunter, a software whose primary goal is to discover malware and local exploits on Unix and Linux.

  • Events
    • Videos: LinuxCon Europe 2014

      Here’s Linus with Intel’s Chief Linux and Open Source Technologist, Dirk Hohndel on the next 12 months of the Linux kernel:

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Mozilla and Telefónica Partner to Simplify Voice and Video Calls on the Web

        Mozilla is extending its relationship with Telefonica by making it easier than ever to communicate on the Web.

        Telefónica has been an invaluable partner in helping Mozilla develop and bring Firefox OS to market with 12 devices now available in 24 countries. We’re now expanding our relationship, exploring how to simplify communications over the Web by providing people with the first global communications system built directly into a browser.

      • Mozilla’s Firefox Hello Service Brings Skype-like Features to the Browser

        For months now, Mozilla has been experimenting with streaming media and video features for Firefox. The Firefox for Android Beta 33, for example, featured a send-to-device streaming scheme that allowed users to stream videos on a mobile device to a TV or second screen.

  • SaaS/Big Data
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
  • Public Services/Government
    • Netherlands receives Undesa award for its approach to e-government

      Undesa’s Global e-Government Forum is one of the UN initiatives to promote e-government. The international meeting was organised for the third consecutive year, the first two having taken place in Seoul, South Korea. The forum promotes smart governance. It focusses on sustainable development, open government and network society. The organisers also aim to get countries exchange ideas and experiences.

    • Dutch Parliament Urges Government to Get More Open Source and Spend Less Money

      The Dutch parliament is pushing for the use of more open source software in the country and is holding the government responsible for the failure to better implement the already existing policies.

    • Dutch Parliament urges increase of open source

      The Dutch government must increase its use of open source software, recommends the the country’s parliament. It wants to make open standards mandatory and use open source when equal to or better than proprietary solutions for all ICT projects over 5 million euro.

    • The Low Country Aims Higher

      The Netherlands, alone, has seen billions of Euros squandered each year due to failed ICT projects. It is so easy to sign a cheque and hope problems will disappear but that abstraction allows a lot of waste such as paying for permission to run computers the government owns outright. By using FLOSS a huge slice of costs is eliminated. Better management will take care of the rest but opening ICT projects to competition surely reduces costs and promotes local businesses boosting GDP and tax-revenue. ICT that is a revenue generator rather than a cost is the pot of gold for governments everywhere. ICT should not be a conveyor-belt of money flowing to M$ and “partners”. That’s not the purpose. Finding, modifying, creating and distributing information as efficiently as possible is the only valid justification for money spend on ICT.

    • Still more open source in Sweden’s Alingsås

      Strengthened by experience, the Swedish municipality of Alingsås is increasingly turning to open source solutions, announced Göran Westerlund, head of the municipal IT department. “Open source is reducing our dependence on specific ICT suppliers”, Westerlund says.

    • Open source central to e-health project Danish Syddjurs

      Open source and HL7, an open standard for healthcare IT solutions, are key elements in a tender for an e-health telemedicine project to be implemented at the Danish municipality of Syddjurs. “By using open source, we aim to encourage the development of new functionalities”, says Frederik Mølgaard Thayssen, IT project leader.

  • Openness/Sharing
Leftovers
  • Security
  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression
    • Massive Growth in Non-Existent Crime

      It is lead news in every outlet of the mainstream media today that there is a massive increase in terrorism – as everyone can plainly see from all the bodies littering our streets.

      I can also tell you that there is a massive increase in the threat of deadly asteroids about to hit Britain and destroy us all. My unimpeachable evidence for the existence of this massive asteroid threat is my own anti-asteroid activity. I and my dedicated team have visited 268 sites this year where we thought an asteroid was about to strike. That represents a 40% increase on our activity last year and therefore the media can say a 40% increase in the asteroid threat.

  • Censorship
    • Journalists turn to Google Groups for content distribution

      The new pooling mechanism will be opened to more journalists after an evaluation period has concluded, it will be interesting to see whether the new system is able to subvert censorship attempts by the current and succeeding administrations.

  • Privacy
    • Tor Browser 4.0 is released

      This release also features an in-browser updater, and a completely reorganized bundle directory structure to make this updater possible. This means that simply extracting a 4.0 Tor Browser over a 3.6.6 Tor Browser will not work. Please also be aware that the security of the updater depends on the specific CA that issued the www.torproject.org HTTPS certificate (Digicert), and so it still must be activated manually through the Help (“?”) “about browser” menu option. Very soon, we will support both strong HTTPS site-specific certificate pinning (ticket #11955) and update package signatures (ticket #13379). Until then, we do not recommend using this updater if you need stronger security and normally verify GPG signatures.

    • F.B.I. Director to Call ‘Dark’ Devices a Hindrance to Crime Solving in a Policy Speech
  • Civil Rights
    • Terrorism Bill: The French Senate Adopts The Law Eroding Liberties

      After two days of debate, the French Senate just passed the “Terrorism” Bill [fr] on its first and only reading. While some senators have courageously fought against the intrusive provisions led by the Minister of Interior, Bernard Cazeneuve, La Quadrature du Net regrets that the truncated1 legislative debate has failed to correct the unsuitable and dangerous provisions [fr] of this text. It will be examined by a Joint Commission in the coming weeks, where it will likely be adopted without any substantial change.

    • MO ALEC Leader Says Right to Work Is Solution to Ferguson

      Yet a leader of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in Missouri, House Speaker Tim Jones, says he has the solution to unrest in Ferguson: bust the unions.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality
    • HBO goes online and it doesn’t want net neutrality

      It seems to be the beginning of the end of the cable television in the US. Yesterday entertainment giant HBO announced they will start offering Internet subscription without requiring any cable subscription.

      Today CBS, yet another leading TV network, announced their move to the Internet. The TV network launched a new video on demand and live streaming service for the CBS Television Network, called CBS All Access. The service is available immediately via a web browser, iOS or Android apps.

Another Fresh Blow to Software Patents (and With Them Patent Trolls)

Thursday 16th of October 2014 09:21:16 PM

Summary: Another new development shows that more burden of proof is to be put on the litigant, thus discouraging the most infamous serial patent aggressors and reducing the incentive to settle with a payment out of court

THERE have been some victories recently against software patents. The patent lawyers have become either silent or rude. Well, the rude and shameless IP Watchdog is apparently upset by Steph, the patent trolls tracker who writes: “I don’t often get in fights on Twitter, but when I do, it’s with IP Watchdog because he’s a bully (only sometimes, but still) or with inventors who feel that any attempt at curbing patent trolls will adversely affect them and their ability to sue people who infringe on their ideas.”

As Pogson pointed out today, software patents are rapidly eroding in the US and last month there was an important development that Cory Doctorow draws attention to only now, spurring these remarks from Mike Masnick who wrote:

Judges Want To Make Life Harder On Patent Trolls: Want Them To Actually Have To Explain What Infringement Happened

I’d missed this one, but Cory Doctorow over at BoingBoing points our attention to the fact that, last month, the Judicial Conference voted to make a little-noticed change in patent lawsuits that should serve to make life more difficult for patent trolls. The details here are more complex than necessary, but the short version is that, under current rules, to file a patent infringement case, the initial complaint can be almost entirely bare bones: basically naming the plaintiff, defendant, patent and saying there’s infringement, but providing no real details on the infringement. That aids patent trolls, who often will file questionable lawsuits without even telling the defendant where the infringement occurs — leading defendants to have to go into the case a bit blind, and making it more appealing to just settle.

Earlier today IDG published an article by Simon Phipps. It relates to the above and days that “patent trolls have one fewer legal loophole to hide behind” (not just classic trolls, but also megatrolls like Microsoft, which often refuses to publicly disclose even patent numbers).

Things just keep getting better on this front.

Links 16/10/2014: New Android, SSL 3.0 Flaw

Thursday 16th of October 2014 08:57:26 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • New platform for open source in SA

    A new organisation wants to promote the use of open-source software in South Africa’s public and private sectors.

    “Not using this software in South Africa is detrimental to our economy and skills development,” says Open Source Software for South Africa (OSSSA) founder Charl Botha.

    Open-source software is software that does not conform to traditional software licence models and can be used and distributed freely.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Firefox 33 Has Been Added To The Default Repositories Of Ubuntu 14.04, Ubuntu 12.04 And Derivatives

        And it has been already added to the default repositories of Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr, Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin, being available for both the two systems and their derivatives: Linux Mint 17 Qiana, Linux Mint 13 Maya, Pinguy OS 14.04, Elementary OS 0.3 Freya, Elementary OS 0.2 Luna, Deepin 2014, Peppermint Five, LXLE 14.04, Linux Lite 2.0 and others.

      • Mozilla to Disable SSL 3.0 in Firefox, Heralds “the End of SSL 3.0″

        “Another day, another vulnerability found in a critical piece of Internet infrastructure,” reported Jon Buys here on OStatic this week, as news arrived that Google has found that SSL 3.0 is vulnerable to a man-in-the-middle attack, which means someone could possibly snoop on secure communications between browsers and servers. The report detailing the POODLE vulnerability was published by Google last month, but is making headlines this week.

  • SaaS/Big Data
    • OpenStack Juno Brings Big Data to the Cloud

      The 10th milestone release of the open-source cloud platform debuts with 310 new features and 3,200 bug fixes.

    • A cultural shift towards dynamic cloud environments

      Mark Hinkle is on the forefront of all things open source and cloud. He is currently responsible for Citrix efforts around Apache CloudStack, Open Daylight, Xen Project, and XenServer. At the All Things Open Conference, Mark’s Crash Course In Cloud Computing will teach how to pragmatically adopt cloud practices and gain cloud value.

    • Hortonworks Data Platform 2.2 Sharpens Focus on Enterprise Needs

      As the Strata Conference kicked off this week, Hortonworks announced its HDP 2.2 platform with general availability next month. HDP version 2.2 lets organizations adopt a modern data architecture with Hadoop YARN at the core.

  • Databases
  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • New OpenJDK 7: Update 71 with lots of fixes

      Oracle’s patch & release cycle culminated in two updates of their Java (runtime and development kit) since the last release of OpenJDK for which I provided packages. Today, we can enjoy a new IcedTea and therefore an updated OpenJDK which synchronizes to Oracle’s October security patch release (which offers Java 7 Update 71).

  • BSD
    • Linux-Turned-FreeBSD Distro Comes Up With A New Software License

      While the likes of SprezzOS as the “most beautiful and performant” Linux and OSu as the ultimate operating system have disappeared at the end of the day and are no longer providing comic relief or interesting ambitious debates to Linux users, that other distribution based on Ubuntu and then turned into a FreeBSD distribution is still standing. They’re out with an update today and have introduced their own open-source license.

    • Changes Coming For OpenBSD 5.6

      OpenBSD 5.6 is expected to be released at the start of November and with this release will come a large number of changes.

    • Quick look: PC-BSD 10.0.3

      PC-BSD 10.0.3 is based on FreeBSD 10. This release of PC-BSD includes Cinnamon 2.2.14, Chromium 37.0.2062.94, Nvidia driver 340.24, bug fixes for the AppCafe UI, support for full disk encryption, and a number of other bug fixes and improvements. You can read a full list of changes in the PC-BSD 10.0.3 release notes.

    • FreeBSD 10.1 RC2 Moves the Project Closer to Stable Release

      A new Release Candidate for FreeBSD 10.1, an operating system for x86, ARM, IA-64, PowerPC, PC-98, and UltraSPARC architectures, is now out and ready for testing. The developers are getting really close to the final versions, which should land very soon.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
  • Project Releases
    • man-pages-3.75 is released

      I’ve released man-pages-3.75. The release tarball is available on kernel.org. The browsable online pages can be found on man7.org. The Git repository for man-pages is available on kernel.org.

  • Public Services/Government
    • Fallout From Munich
    • Munich sticks with Free Software

      On Tuesday, Munich’s first mayor finally reacted to an inquiry by the Green Party (in German) related to rumours regarding a possible switch back to a Windows-based desktop environment. The answer to the inquiry shows that there is no factual basis for the claims made by first mayor and second mayor. An evaluation of the IT infrastructure and -processes is underway. FSFE calls on the city council to include vendor independence as well as interoperability as factors in the investigation, since they were central reasons for Munich to switch to Free Software in the first place.

      [...]

      In this manner, the employee-survey “Great Place to Work” from late 2013, used by Reiter and Schmid in their criticisms towards the Free Software used in the city, included various facets of the IT structure not related to software, ranging from hardware to support and telecommuting. It does not, however, offer any information on a possible relation of the employees’ problems with Free Software. This information is currently unavailable, as Reiter says within the answer.

    • Munich Mayor Still Wants to Find Out If Linux Is Economical

      Munich finished the transition to Linux from Windows and everything seemed to work just fine, at least until the current Mayor made a few comments about the possibility of returning to proprietary software. He has detailed some of his opinions and he appears to be a lot more moderate towards this issue.

  • Openness/Sharing
    • Why Hardware Wallets are the Future (And Why They Have to Be Open Source)

      Your computer isn’t secure. Those of you reading this from your fortified Plan 9 Tor Box can stop reading here, but for the rest of you, it’s simply true. Your computer is riddled with security vulnerabilities, and so is your phone. If an attacker wants access to your machine, or if you download even one piece of software that either is or is carrying malware (see: any download from cnet.com or its ilk), you’re in an enormous amount of trouble.

    • The value of an open source dividend

      James Love, one of Managing IP’s 2014 most influential people in IP, explains why paying innovators to share knowledge, data and technology makes sense for business and society

  • Standards/Consortia
    • Khronos Adds GLUS 2.0 To The OpenGL SDK

      GLUS is short for the Graphic Library UtilitieS and is a cross-platform, cross-graphic utility library. The open-source GLUS C library provides hardware and operating system abstractions plus other functionality. GLUS isn’t limited to OpenGL but also targets the OpenGL ES and OpenVG APIs too.

Leftovers
  • Security
  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression
    • Fox’s The Five Distorts History On Bush Administration WMD Claims

      The hosts of Fox News’ The Five distorted the history behind the rationale for the U.S. war in Iraq by reshaping an investigative report by the New York Times.

    • Drone Strikes in Afghanistan Are Killing Civilians: They Must Not Remain Secret

      After exhaustive research and interviewing more than 50 sources Unama found 11 civilians were killed in a drone strike. Despite this compelling evidence, Isaf data shows only three civilians died.

    • Use has risen dramatically since 9/11

      In their book, Hill and Rogers dramatically recount a March 2011 drone attack in Pakistan which killed 42 people and injured 14. Though later claimed by U.S. officials to be a meeting of terrorists, what had been targeted was in fact a jirga – a consensual decision-making meeting in which the local community had gathered to discuss a dispute over a local mine.

    • Shenstone: Act of Witness against drones

      As part of the International Week of Action Against Drones, members of Pax Christi and Friends of Sabeel UK joined with staff and students from Queen’s Theological College, Birmingham, and members of Birmingham churches in an ‘Act of Witness’ outside UAV Engines, the Elbit Factory at Shenstone, near Lichfield. The Israeli owned factory manufactures the engines for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones) which are used for military purposes. The group regularly meet there to protest against the use of these military drones to kill innocent people. They were also used in Israel’s recent war on Gaza, where the loss of life and devastation have shocked many throughout the world.

    • ‘Drones shouldn’t decide who lives or dies’

      University of Johannesburg law Professor Hennie Strydom on Wednesday advised against the use of programmed drones and robots during conflicts.

      “The concern is that the critical functional use of force is controlled by a computer,” he told reporters in Johannesburg.

    • SA professor warns against drone, robot attacks

      University of Johannesburg law Professor Hennie Strydom on Wednesday advised against the use of programmed drones and robots during conflicts

    • John Oliver, Ben Affleck and the Game of Drones: Part II

      As a talk show host and stand-up comedian, Bill Maher pushes the envelope to stay topical, relevant and interesting. He never issued a blanket fatwa on all Muslims, but correctly pointed out that some-if not most-of the major conflicts in the world are rooted in Islam.

    • Another Attempt to Prostitute Religion in the Service of American Hegemony

      Rather than joining this governmental initiative—which conveniently serves to blur cause-and-effect—America’s clergy and their laity should be forming a nationwide interfaith justice movement to confront the “intolerance, division, and hate” sown by our government in our name. It is our government’s violent imperialistic policies that have sown “hate” and bred militant groups like the Islamic State and blowback violence. The need for such a clergy and laity movement is painfully clear, and long overdue.

    • Comment: If drone strikes continue in Afghanistan, the lack of transparency must not

      Afghanistan is the most drone bombed country in the world. The US has been using its Predator and Reaper drones to kill people in Afghanistan since November 2001.

    • US citizen shot dead in Riyadh

      A gunman has opened fire on two American employees of a US defence contractor, killing one and wounding the other at a petrol station in Saudi Arabia’s capital.

    • War without end: 12 years of US drone strikes in Yemen

      The “Yemen model” is one of perpetual violence. The limits of what can be done in the name of “counterterrorist” action often appear boundless.

    • Yemeni sues Germany over US drone strikes

      A relative of two men killed by a US drone strike in Yemen has brought a court case against the German government, alleging it was complicit in the attack by allowing a US air base on German soil.

    • Yemeni sues German government over US drone strike
    • Drone victims sue German government for facilitating strikes in Yemen

      A Yemeni man, whose nephew and brother-in-law were killed in a 2012 drone strike, has travelled to Germany to sue the government for facilitating drone strikes of the sort in which his relatives died.

    • Yemeni man sues Germany over U.S. drone strikes
    • Yemeni man sues German gov’t over US drone strikes
    • Yemeni man sues German government over base used for US drone strikes that killed 2 relatives
    • Yemeni man sues Germany over deadly drone strike

      A Yemeni man has filed a lawsuit against Berlin for facilitating deadly assassination drone strikes carried out in his country by Washington.

      The lawsuit was filed on Wednesday by Faisal bin Ali Jaber, who claims his brother-in-law, Salim bin Ahmed Ali Jaber, and nephew, Waleed, were killed in a U.S. assassination drone strike in a Yemeni village in August 2012.

    • UK To Fly Reaper Drones Over Iraq To Battle IS

      The drone is being deployed outside Afghanistan for the first time, as the Kurds call for support in the Syrian town of Kobani.

    • Qualifying Child Labour

      Children should be in schools learning to be fit to face the big bad world when they become adults. When they are not studying, they should be playing and discovering that life can be fun too. Extreme poverty however still deprives a great many children from these privileges and pleasures of life, and no effort can be nobler than to try and end this miserable predicament. Two cheers then for the Nobel committee for bringing the focus back to fighting child labour. The last cheer we will hold back for the committee`™s unwarranted political bias in choosing to condemn only the atrocities against children by the Talibans, and not show equal concern or condemnation at the killing, maiming and terrorising of numerous other unnamed children in these same battlefields by Drone raids by the armies of the West fighting the Talibans. Malala richly deserves the award, but we also wish in commending the girl for her bravery in her fight against the savagery of the Talibans, the Nobel committee also had at least a word of condemnation against the Drone raids which have killed and terrorised indiscriminately.

    • Malala Yousafzai, Kailash Satyarthi, and the four Nobel truths
    • In Malala’s hometown not everyone likes her fame

      Ahmed Hayat Yousafzai, a Birmingham-based Pakistani lawyer hailing from Swat, says that Malala’s story appears to be eyewash. “By championing the case of Malala, the West has tried to cover many of its human rights abuses, like killing and maiming scores of children and women in drone attacks in the tribal regions,” he said.

      So far, Yousafzai argues, neither the western powers nor Malala and her advisor father have spoken about hundreds of kids being killed in drone strikes.

      “What to talk of drone victims, they did not even speak about the 15-year old Aitzaz who had saved lives of hundreds of students by stopping a suicide bomber from attacking his school,” he added. Knowing about the prevailing resentment against Malala in Swat, her family members and school management feel uneasy to talk on her behalf. “It really hurts to hear people talking so critical of her.

    • Pakistan, U.S. appear once again to be cooperating on drone strikes

      A series of CIA drone strikes launched last week against Taliban insurgents in Pakistan’s northwest tribal areas provide the clearest demonstration yet that the U.S. intelligence agency and Pakistani security forces are once again cooperating on defeating the insurgents.

    • Bureau project wins bronze at Lovie awards

      Bureau project Where The Drones Strike has won bronze in the ‘Best News Website’ category at the fourth annual Lovie awards.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife
    • Swedish energy giant reveals reward wish

      UPDATED: Sweden’s state-owned energy company Vattenfall says it wants 43 billion kronor in compensation from Germany, after nuclear power provided by the firm was phased out by Angela Merkel’s government.

  • Finance
    • Governments are souring on treaties to protect foreign investors

      IF YOU wanted to convince the public that international trade agreements are a way to let multinational companies get rich at the expense of ordinary people, this is what you would do: give foreign firms a special right to apply to a secretive tribunal of highly paid corporate lawyers for compensation whenever a government passes a law to, say, discourage smoking, protect the environment or prevent a nuclear catastrophe. Yet that is precisely what thousands of trade and investment treaties over the past half century have done, through a process known as “investor-state dispute settlement”, or ISDS.

    • International trade ISDS provisions make a mockery of nation’s laws

      One of the public policy paradoxes of the past quarter-century is why the centre-left governments of advanced economies have supported trade policies that undermine the very environmental and labor protections they fight for at home. Foremost among these self-subverting policies have been the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions included in every significant trade deal the United States has signed since Ronald Reagan’s presidency. Under ISDS, foreign investors can sue a nation with which their own country has such treaty arrangements over any rules, regulations or changes in policy that they say harm their financial interests.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying
    • Fabrication in BBC Panorama’s ‘Saving Syria’s Children’

      On further viewings, however, this scene in particular is strikingly odd. The young men are quiet and mostly static until spotting the camera upon them, at which point the central figure (Mohammed Asi) raises his arm and the group instantly becomes animated and begins groaning in unison.

      Mohammed Asi begins to sway and lurch, the boy in the black vest suddenly pitches onto his side, the boy in red raises his head and peers quizzically around, while the boy in the white shirt rises effortlessly to his feet. As the camera pulls back a boy in a yellow ‘Super 9′ t-shirt rises from the floor, flailing his head and torso and rolling his eyes as a team of medics sweeps dramatically in.

    • BBC Propaganda

      Please read and consider very carefully this brilliant dissection of the BBC’s propaganda blitz on Syria, at the time when the security establishment were trying to propel us into war against Assad, before they decided it was just as profitable to have a war against Assad’s enemies. For the security establishment and arms industry, any dream will do.

    • Chuck Todd Disqualifies a Senate Candidate

      Bad campaign journalism can be bad in a lot of different ways. It can tell us, based on this or that poll, that there are “top tier” candidates deserving our attention. It can focus on “gaffes” and advertising instead of the issues. It almost always refuses to acknowledge the existence of candidates not affiliated with the two major parties.

    • Fox Attack On Obama Administration For Not Saying “Jihad” Ignores Similar Bush Policy

      Fox News’ Megyn Kelly dishonestly criticized the Obama administration for allegedly endorsing an anti-terror handbook which advises against referring to terrorists as “jihadis,” as it “emboldens them,” failing to mention that the Bush administration made a decision to stop using the word “jihadist” to describe terrorists in 2008.

  • Privacy
    • Tor Weekly News — October 15th, 2014
    • Anonymous Browsing: Open Source Tor Project Router Wins Kickstarter, Now Give One to Every American

      Anonabox is an open source networking device that you plug in to your router or modem that will anonymize all your network traffic through the Tor Project anonymity network. The Kickstarter for Anonnabox has 8,490 backers as of Wed., with $552,620 pledged against a $7,500 goal. It seems people want this product.

    • ‘Hostile to privacy’: Snowden urges internet users to get rid of Dropbox

      Edward Snowden has hit out at Dropbox and other services he says are “hostile to privacy,” urging web users to abandon unencrypted communication and adjust privacy settings to prevent governments from spying on them in increasingly intrusive ways.

      “We are no longer citizens, we no longer have leaders. We’re subjects, and we have rulers,” Snowden told The New Yorker magazine in a comprehensive hour-long interview.

    • UN Report Finds Mass Surveillance Violates International Treaties and Privacy Rights

      The United Nations’ top official for counter-terrorism and human rights (known as the “Special Rapporteur”) issued a formal report to the U.N. General Assembly today that condemns mass electronic surveillance as a clear violation of core privacy rights guaranteed by multiple treaties and conventions. “The hard truth is that the use of mass surveillance technology effectively does away with the right to privacy of communications on the Internet altogether,” the report concluded.

    • Australia’s defence intelligence agency conducted secret programs to help NSA

      Australia’s defence intelligence agency has conducted secretive programs to help the US National Security Agency hack and exploit computer networks, according to documents published by the Intercept.

    • Cognitive Dissonance about the FBI and NSA at 60 Minutes

      60 Minutes, which has been harshly criticized for running puff pieces for the NSA and FBI recently, is at it again. Last night, they ran two unrelated yet completely conflicting segments—one focusing on FBI Director Jim Comey, and the other on New York Times reporter James Risen—and the cognitive dissonance displayed in the back-to-back interviews was remarkable.

    • Here are Snowden’s first emails about the NSA leaks

      Six months before the world knew the National Security Agency’s most prolific leaker of secrets as Edward Joseph Snowden, Laura Poitras knew him as Citizenfour. For months, Poitras communicated with an unknown “senior government employee” under that pseudonym via encrypted emails, as he prepared her to receive an unprecedented leak of classified documents that he would ask her to expose to the world.

    • These Are the Emails Snowden Sent to First Introduce His Epic NSA Leaks
    • GCHQ more dangerous to privacy than NSA – Snowden

      Edward Snowden has warned that Britain’s GCHQ spy agency is a bigger threat to privacy than the NSA, as it uses illegally collected information in criminal prosecutions and, unlike in the US, has relatively few constitutional checks on its activities.

      Speaking by Skype video linkup to a London festival, Snowden also emphasized why it shouldn’t be up to the citizen to justify why they need a right to privacy – something that forms the core of his beliefs and decision to go against the law.

    • NSA Documents Suggest a Close Working Relationship Between NSA, U.S. Companies
    • FBI Director: Encryption Will Lead to a ‘Very Dark Place’

      FBI Director James Comey says the spread of encryption, aided by Apple and Google’s new security measures, will lead to “a very dark place” where police might not be able to stop criminals.

      To avoid that, tech companies need to cooperate and build surveillance-friendly systems when police comes knocking at their door, Comey said on Thursday during a speech in Washington, his first major speech since becoming director last year.

    • New Zealand Cops Raided Home of Reporter Working on Snowden Documents

      Agents from New Zealand’s national police force ransacked the home of a prominent independent journalist earlier this month who was collaborating with The Intercept on stories from the NSA archive furnished by Edward Snowden. The stated purpose of the 10-hour police raid was to identify the source for allegations that the reporter, Nicky Hager, recently published in a book that caused a major political firestorm and led to the resignation of a top government minister.

      But in seizing all the paper files and electronic devices in Hager’s home, the authorities may have also taken source material concerning other unrelated stories that Hager was pursuing. Recognizing the severity of the threat posed to press freedoms from this raid, the Freedom of the Press Foundation today announced a global campaign to raise funds for Hager’s legal defense.

    • Revealed: how Whisper app tracks ‘anonymous’ users

      The company behind Whisper, the social media app that promises users anonymity and claims to be the “the safest place on the internet”, is tracking the location of its users, including some who have specifically asked not to be followed.

      The practice of monitoring the whereabouts of Whisper users – including those who have expressly opted out of geolocation services – will alarm users, who are encouraged to disclose intimate details about their private and professional lives.

    • Banks harvest callers’ voiceprints to fight fraud

      You hear it every time you phone your bank about a lost credit card or an unexpected charge. You may realize your bank is recording you, but did you know it could be taking your biometric data, too?

  • Internet/Net Neutrality
    • 2015 will be the year you can buy HBO content without a TV subscription

      HBO CEO Richard Plepler told investors attending a Time Warner meeting today that the company will begin offering an online-only subscription for its content in 2015. Unlike the HBO Go service that the company currently offers, a TV subscription wouldn’t be required to access shows under the new plan.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • Pirates Become Biggest Political Party in Local Czech Election

        The Czech Pirate Party has booked several surprise wins in the local elections. The party gathered 5.3% of the total vote in the capital city of Prague and became the biggest political party in Mariánské lázně, with 21%. As a result, there is a good chance that the city may soon have a Pirate mayor.

How the Corporate Press Deceives and Sells Microsoft Agenda

Thursday 16th of October 2014 06:47:07 AM

Summary: Various new examples of media propaganda that distorts or makes up the facts (bias/lies by omission/selection) and where this is all coming from

THE corporate press (or mass media) continues to disappoint in a very major way. It looks like the more one reads it, the less well-informed one becomes. Why? Because the corporate press has clients. These clients are not readers; they are companies to which the readers’ brains are being sold. The business model is selling of agenda. Although counterintuitive at first sight, this observation is not novel; many people have pointed out the same thing in areas other than technology. Today we’ll present some examples from this week alone.

Florian Müller an Expert… Lobbyist

Slashdot was once a grassroots-type Web site. It promoted FOSS. But it grew into something else. Now it’s the very opposite. It seems to be more interested in repeatedly quoting a mass-mailing Microsoft lobbyist (Florian Müller) and even Slashdot‘s front page (plus original content), which is now owned and run by the Microsoft-friendly Dice, gives him a platform. This seems like a joke, but it’s not. Slashdot now offers the platform for people whose role is spreading Microsoft propaganda and bashing FOSS. The only amazing thing is that some people still trust Slashdot just because back in the days it had some credibility (before hiring prolific Microsoft boosters).

Free Software is Pedophilia?

“Slashdot now offers the platform for people whose role is spreading Microsoft propaganda.”Speaking of propaganda, Matt Lee, Free software ideals, and even the FSF were the other day slandered by the Telegraph, which engaged in defamation by associating Free software with pedophilia (the article was corrected only after numerous complaints that I had initiated in social media after a headsup from our reader). The Telegraph was perhaps worrying that Free software people can sue for libel. What the heck is wrong with the press? How low can one stoop?

Microsoft is an Open Source ‘Cloud’ Company?

Then there is the tabloid called ZDNet (owned by CBS, known in part for the Gamergate scandal as of late). It is now offering Microsoft a marketing service, helping an Embrace, Extend, and Extinguish move against Docker (other corporate media did the same thing). Microsoft-friendly sites like these generally try to help Microsoft (the author, Matt Asay, once tried working for Microsoft) and this is clearly part of a scheme to control servers. According to this article by an Australian Microsoft booster, Salesforce, an opponent of Microsoft, has just liaised with this special NSA partner, ensuring that Salesforce offers no security or privacy at all.

Microsoft is Dominant in Servers, According to Microsoft-funded Firms

Watch the latest Forrester propaganda, trying to cast Microsoft as having “three-quarters of the mass-market servers”; complete nonsense. Here is a quote from the aforementioned article from News Corp. (aiding Microsoft’s plot): “Linux is the dominant tech underpinning at giant Web companies, but the server version of Microsoft’s Windows runs about three-quarters of the mass-market servers in use at big companies in the U.S. and Western Europe, according to Forrester Research.”

Complete nonsense. Selective reporting reveals not only bias but also a desire to lie. GNU/Linux has the lion’s share of this market. It is the job of Microsoft-bribed firms like Forrester to distort reality and the Gartner Group, according to Robert Pogson, is also doing that right now by casting GNU/Linux as “others”.

As Pogson puts it: ““Others” is a convenient category to put things in when stuff you don’t care about happens. GNU/Linux is something I care about but not Gartner. They lump GNU/Linux in with all that other stuff that’s not from M$, Apple, or Google but, hey, I can subtract.”

Nokia Dead Not Because of Microsoft or Its Mole Elop?

Finally, revisionism too can be found in the media. Here is AOL rewriting the history of Nokia. As our reader put it: “He’s got to distract from Jolla and from the Nokia board’s involvement in covering up Elop’s contract where Elop was granted tens of millions as a condition for selling Nokia to Microsoft. The paper industry is in decline due to a combination of union busting and actively closing *profitable* paper mills, in addition to competition from questionable logging in Brazil.”

Not the Exception

The above are the types of examples that we see every week, but it’s only now that we decided to gather and give to our readers some examples of these, collected in just the past few days. The problem is systemic.

The corporate press is just too damn hard to trust when it comes to technology because it operates on bribes these days; advertising deals, talking points from firms that are paid by companies, agenda for sale (press releases), and media ownership that comes with all kinds of strings attached. All in all — and not to sound too cynical — this means that one should be cautious, never blindly trusting the corporate media on such matters. Informing readers is not the goal; it may sometimes be a side effect, but only if it aligns with the goal (which is increasing revenue).

When selecting articles for circulation in sites like tuxmachines.org we give equal weighting to blogs and mailing lists because these tend to be more reliable and accurate than some printed papers, authored by people who are clueless on the subjects they cover for a publication whose goal is to serve some hidden interests.

Vista 10 is Still Vapourware, But We Already Know It Will Increase Surveillance on Its Users and Contain Malicious Back Doors

Thursday 16th of October 2014 05:55:42 AM

“In the face of strong competition, Evangelism’s focus may shift immediately to the next version of the same technology, however. Indeed, Phase 1 (Evangelism Starts) for version x+1 may start as soon as this Final Release of version X.”

Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

Summary: The villainous company which makes insecure-by-design operating systems will continue to do so, but in the mean time the corporate press covers only bugs in FOSS, not back doors in proprietary software

After the vapourware tactics of Vista (for 5 years!) as well as the terrible (worse than Vista) Vista 8 and Vista 7 we already know Microsoft’s dirty tactics too well. Microsoft admitted to using these tactics when it falls behind the competition. Now that Microsoft faces embarrassment from the majority of the population, which is women, it sure needs a good distraction from negative publicity that started with infiltration.

Vista 9, vapourware for a year and a half now, already looks like garbage and at this stage it remains vapourware. Microsoft already jumps ahead to the next imaginary generation of vapourware, which will go further in providing the NSA with back doors and remote surveillance features. China was right to ban present generations of Microsoft Windows because it becomes more spyware-filled all the time and it is also known that the NSA engages in espionage against China. Here is a new article about how Windows servers and other Windows devices got hijacked in Hong Kong. It is suicidal to use Windows unless one is a partner of Microsoft and South Korea too has just suffered severely for depending on Windows. Pogson says: “I expect Korea will have to redo everything and get it right this time. Let’s hope they demand GNU/Linux be used for on-line/financial transactions and to protect data but failing that let’s hope they make GNU/Linux optional and the people can decide. There’s something refreshing about a whole country aroused about insecurity with that other OS on the check-list of things to fix.”

Korea and China are both planning to move away from Microsoft. This is well overdue.

According to several new reports, despite the NSA leaks that embarrassed Microsoft (and caused some nations to abandon Microsoft), Microsoft will increase spying in future versions of Windows and even previews spy on the users. As one author put it: “Back in 2012 with the release of Ubuntu 12.10 the EFF, Richard Stallman and countless other privacy advocates led vocal campaigns against Canonical for including Amazon results in the dash, the issue was that Amazon would know everything you were typing into the dash. Now however Microsoft are targeting early users of their Windows 10 Operating System in a much more egregious way.”

Here is more about Windows: “For the more liberal minded regarding privacy who are reading, thinking this is just for the purposes of improving the product then you should also know that Microsoft state they will share this data with third parties and also that they will use your data to send your advertisements about their new products and updates. The third parties that Microsoft mention also include law enforcement. They say “we may access, disclose and preserve information about you when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary to: 1. comply with applicable law or respond to a valid legal process from competent authorities, including from law enforcement or other government agencies; 2. protect our customers, for example to prevent spam or attempts to defraud Microsoft’s customers, or to help prevent the loss of life or serious injury of anyone; 3. operate and maintain the security of out products and services, including to prevent or stop and attack on our computer systems or networks; or 4. protect the rights or property of Microsoft, including enforcing the terms governing the use of the services – however, if we receive information indicating that someone is using our products or services to traffic in stolen intellectual or physical property of Microsoft, we will not inspect a customer’s private content ourselves, but we may refer the matter to law enforcement…”

Windows is a massive security risk and one that no nation should take. Not even the US; all back doors are bound to be used by cyber criminals who are not associated with any government (or with a friendly government) at one point or another.

We are still seeing Microsoft-affiliated media calling for more severe criticism of GNU Bash, but how about Windows shell vulnerabilities like this new one?

A class of coding vulnerabilities could allow attackers to fool Windows system administrators into running malicious code because of a simple omission: quotation marks.

The attack relies on scripts or batch files that use the command-line interface, or “shell,” on a Windows system but contain a simple coding error—allowing untrusted input to be run as a command. In the current incarnation of the exploit, an attacker appends a valid command onto the end of the name of a directory using the ampersand character. A script with the coding error then reads the input and executes the command with administrator rights.

Microsoft booster Andrew Binstock continues to trash-talk FOSS security ,but why is he not commenting on back doors in Microsoft software? Lies by omission. Bloomberg also publishes poorly-researched articles while it misuses the word “hacker” to confuse readers. How about back doors in proprietary software? Will Coverity ever cover this, or will it keep its focus on flaws in FOSS for writers like Richard Adhikari to single out FOSS as the problem? To quote Adhikari’s new article:

Open source developers apparently don’t adhere to best practices such as using static analysis and conducting regular security audits, found Coverity’s Spotlight report, released Wednesday.

The Coverity Scan service, which is available at no charge to open source projects, helped devs find and fix about 50,000 quality and security defects in code last year.

Microsoft’s circle of partners would rather debate and hype up FOSS bugs using codenames/brands that are all of a sudden being assigned for bugs (for increased press coverage), but discussions about back doors are out of scope.

Here we have Europol advocating back doors. The Europol boss says: “I hate to talk about backdoors but there has to be a possibility for law enforcement” (i.e. back doors).

Once upon a time (even 1.5 years ago) people who spoke about back doors were called paranoid and nutty. It is Free software advocates who have the last laugh now because they were right all along.

It should be known by now that back doors are being used for ransom and blackmail, even murder. Even Europol recognises this.

Windows should generally be avoided by everyone. No server should ever run Windows because it’s dangerous for everyone. Only fools would host a site using a back-doored operating system, which in turn puts its visitors at risk.

“Only fools would host a site using a back-doored operating system, which in turn puts its visitors at risk.”It is now being reported that NATO was silly enough to use Windows and it paid the price, potentially resulting in loss of life. The article “Microsoft Windows Zero-Day Vulnerability “CVE-2014-4114″ Used to Hack NATO” should note that NSA is told about this before Microsoft even issues a patch.

In summary, do not use Windows. It is not secure and this is part of the design. Microsoft has no intention of correcting this. In terms of security and privacy, Windows continues to get only worse over time.

Links 15/10/2014: KDE Plasma 5.1 is Out, GOG Reaches 100-Title Mark

Wednesday 15th of October 2014 10:13:05 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • 7 free tools every network needs

    From device discovery to visibility into systems, networks, and traffic flows, these free open source monitoring tools have you covered

  • Free Bassel Khartabil

    Apparently, working for a free and open Internet also caught the attention of the Syrian government, which sadly wasn’t as enamored with Bassel’s work as was Foreign Policy magazine. On March 15, 2012, Bassel was detained in a wave of arrests in the Mazzeh district of Damascus, Syria.

  • Proud Sponsors of the 2014 New Zealand Open Source Awards

    Catalyst are once again delighted to be the main organisers and Platinum sponsors of the awards. Don Christie, Director of Catalyst and the chair of the NZOSA judging panel states “As New Zealand’s and Australasia’s leading open source company Catalyst and our clients benefit hugely from the generosity of spirit that is represented by the open source software community. These awards are an acknowledgement of that spirit and one small way in which we can recognise and promote the open source software community in general.”

  • Women in Open Source award open for nominations
  • Five open source alternatives to popular web apps

    Remember when Sun Microsystems proclaimed that “the network is the computer”? Many people guffawed at that proclamation. What was once a clever slogan is now a reality thanks to the proliferation of web-based applications.

    Chances are you use more than a couple of web apps in your daily life—email, storage, office applications, and more. What’s great about web apps is that you can use them anywhere and with any computer or mobile device. On the other hand, with most of those apps you’re locked in a closed ecosystem. Or worse, you may be handing over the rights to your content and your files when you agree to the terms of service. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

  • Open source startup targeting DevOps-defined networking

    A software startup debuted this week proposing software-defined networking to Docker, the open source software for creating Linux application virtualization containers.

    SocketPlane was founded by former Cisco, Red Hat, HP, OpenDaylight and Dell officials. In the open source world, their names are well known: Madhu Venugopal, John Willis, Brent Salisbury and Dave Tucker.

  • SDN News: Flexible NEC Pricing, HP Cloud, Industry Predictions and More

    The above are just a sampling of this week’s SDN and NFV news, attesting to the industry interest in the emerging technologies, interest that was further evidenced by yesterday’s announcement from Dell’Oro Group that SDN datacenter sales will grow more than 65 percent this year. “With architectures ratified and production deployments under way, network security appliances and Ethernet switches will continue to comprise the majority of SDN’s impact, with SDN gaining a foothold outside of the major cloud providers,” the research firm said while hawking a for-sale report.

  • Setting the SDN Agenda

    So what are going to be the hot topics of debate this week? I’ve been here a day, sitting in on the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) workshop and chatting to a number of companies with a vested interest in SDN’s future success, and there are a number of debates likely to rage all week:

  • Events
    • Why Open Source is Replacing Open Standards

      “Companies are now as the norm using open source to shed comunity R&D, to do collective innovation, particularly at the infrastructure layer, for almost every aspect of technology, not just Linux – SDN, IOT, network functions virtualisation, cloud computing, etc. What you have seen as a result is this proliferation of organisations who facilitate that development, on a very large professional scale. That’s a permanent fixture of how the tech sector operates. We launch a new one of these about every 3 months. Next year we’ll have many many more of these type of projects.”

    • Open Networking Foundation Foresees Open-Source Software as Route to Network Standards in 2015
  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Firefox 33 Has Been Officially Released. How To Install Firefox 33 On The Most Popular Linux Systems

        Also worth mentining, Firefox 33 comes with optimizations for session respore, JavaScript and HTML5 enhancements, search suggestions on either the Firefox Start (about:home) and new tab (about:newtab) pages, a new CSP (Content Security Policy) backend, support for connecting to HTTP proxy over HTTPS and new features for developers.

      • Firefox 33 gets released with Openh264

        Today Firefox 33 has been released, among it’s main features is OpenH264, an open source, Cisco provided solution for viewing H.264 content over webRTC. OpenH264 is a free H.264 codec plugin that Firefox downloads directly from Cisco. Cisco published the code to Github making it open source. Mozilla and Cisco have set up a process where the binary is verified to be built from the source on Github so that users trust the integrity of the binary that is shipped with the browser.

      • Firefox 33 Officially Released

        Mozilla has just released Firefox 33, the next iteration of the famous Internet browser. As it was to be expected, users will find an assortment of features and various changes that really make the update worthwhile.

      • Mozilla Releases Firefox 33.0 for Android, Linux, Mac, and Windows

        Mozilla has updated its Firefox browser for both mobile (Android) and desktop (Linux, Mac, Windows) platforms, bringing it to version 33.0. The update adds some new features to revamp the video streaming and viewing experience for users, apart from assorted bug fixes and performance improvements.

      • Send videos from Firefox for Android straight to your TV

        We make Firefox for Android to give you greater flexibility and control of your online life. We want you to be able to view your favorite Web content quickly and easily, no matter where you are. That’s why we’re giving you the option to send supported videos straight from the Web pages you visit in Firefox for Android to streaming-enabled TVs via connected devices like Roku and Chromecast.

      • Play Awesome Indie Games Directly in Firefox Including the Award-Winning FTL

        Today, we’re announcing a promotion with Humble Bundle, one of the real innovators in game distribution, that brings eight hugely popular Indie games including the award-winning FTL directly to Firefox users. This promotion only runs for two weeks, so jump straight into the action here!

      • Mozilla and Humble Bundle Launch Game Collection Than Runs in the Browser

        In a surprising move today, Mozilla and Humble Bundle have partnered up to provide a new collection of games, but with a twist. With the help of some new technologies, it’s now possible to play some of the new games just in the browser.

      • Play Cool Games in Firefox, and Name Your Price for Them
  • SaaS/Big Data
  • CMS
  • Healthcare
    • Liberia: The Impact of Open Source Software in the Fight Against Ebola in Liberia

      Over the years there have been several discussions and literature over the impact of open source software (OSS) on economic development. Countries, international organizations including the United Nations, the USAID, the British DFID, have all touted the benefits of open source software on economic development, especially on developing countries. Yet, in Liberia, the discourse has not been as ubiquitous and widely embraced as it has been in other countries or in the literature. While open source software has made some progress in permeating the Liberian society over the years (Mozilla Firefox, Apache Webserver, PHP, Java, MySQL), its impact has not been felt as much as it has been in recent times.

  • BSD
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • For Ada Lovelace Day, highlighting FSF sysadmin Lisa Maginnis

      Today is Ada Lovelace Day, when we share stories of women in technology and their achievements.

      The holiday is named after a 19th-century English mathematician who is considered by many to be the first programmer. Though generations passed before her contribution was fully acknowledged, she was a pioneer both as a scientist and as a challenger of rigid gender roles. For this Ada Lovelace Day, we’re profiling Lisa Maginnis, who is the FSF’s senior systems administrator.

      As the leader of the technical team, Lisa is responsible for choosing, configuring, and maintaining the FSF’s office computers and servers. She uses extensive knowledge of hardware, networking, and electrical engineering to maintain a complex array of all-free software. An alert system sends text messages to her OpenMoko if servers have problems, and she’s no stranger to urgent after-hours trips to the office to get something back online.

    • New Autoconf Archive mirror at available github.com

      There is now a brand-new mirror of the GNU Autoconf Archive’s Git repository available at https://github.com/peti/autoconf-archive that those who enjoy this sort of thing can use to submit patches to the Archive by means of a Pull Request instead of going through Savannah’s patch tracker.

    • OpenACC 2.0 With NVIDIA PTX/CUDA Support Is Closer For GCC

      For the past year Code Sourcery / Mentor Graphics has been working with NVIDIA to bring OpenACC 2.0 support to GCC and to allow for this heterogeneous parallel programming API to be taken advantage of with NVIDIA GPUs from GCC. This work is closer to finally being realized for allowing OpenACC programs to be compiled with GCC and target NVIDIA GPUs on Linux.

  • Public Services/Government
  • Openness/Sharing
    • Open Source Biotech: Fund Anti-Cancer Research and Make Drugs Cheaper at the Same Time

      This is a very cool crowdfunding campaign – you can help create a new cancer drug and at the same make it much cheaper. How? The researchers will not patent the drugs. Like polio vaccine, which was never patented, therefore it was widely available. Check out the website and the video. I loved it and made a donation of $50, because I find projects like this can change the existing paradigm in healthcare when the existing drugs are just deadly expensive. I encourage you to support the project and share it with your friends.

  • Programming
    • undertaker 1.6
    • Apple Might Be Divesting Its Stake In LLVM

      Some weeks ago on Twitter a follower had mentioned a rumor that Apple was forcing its compiler developers to focus less on general LLVM work and to basically spend their time on Apple’s new Swift project. While there’s been a general slowdown of direct Apple contributions to LLVM, there’s the latest sign today they might be divesting their interest somewhat in direct management of this open-source compiler infrastructure.

Leftovers
  • Polly Toynbee, Counter-Revolutionary

    I have never been a great fan of Russell Brand’s media persona, and for a revolutionary to be shacked up with Jemima Khan’s millions is perhaps some kind of extended exercise in post-modern irony as performance art. But Brand’s perception that the neo-con political parties are all the same is absolutely correct, and his is almost the only voice the media will broadcast saying it. When I have been saying precisely the same thing for a decade it is not news. News, apparently, lies not in what is said, but whether or not it is a celebrity who says it.

  • The Digital Ripple Effect

    We must acknowledge that with any evolution in communications technology, there are those seeking to corrupt, misuse and exploit channels for sinister purposes and nowhere is this more prevalent than the Web. Privacy, cyber terrorism, online security and data theft are wedged firmly into the social consciousness of many Europeans and their complexity can further deter those who lack even a basic understanding of the issues. But like any societal ill, there is a treatment.

    [...]

    The company behind the FireFox browser – whose guiding principles are the promotion of openness, innovation & opportunity on the Web – run a Webmaker programme, which provides tools, events and teaching guides designed to train the informed Web creators of tomorrow. However, a more powerful byproduct of this is the building of an online/offline community, based around the processes that increase participation, accountability and crucially, trust.

  • Health/Nutrition
  • Security
  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression
    • NRA’s Ted Nugent Calls For The “Evil Carcasses” Of Obama And Other Democrats In Gun Groups Pitch

      Ted Nugent called for “freedom” or the “evil carcasses” of President Obama and other progressive politicians in a Facebook post where he told followers to support the National Rifle Association and discredited gun advocate John Lott’s Crime Prevention Research Center.

    • Somerset woman guilty on 2 of 3 federal charges for NSA drone protest

      A Somerset woman and two co-defendants were acquitted on one charge but convicted on two others, albeit with reduced penalties, related to a recent drone targeting protest outside the National Security Agency office at Ft. Meade, Maryland.

      Manijeh Saba of Franklin Township, and Ellen Barfield and Marilyn Carlisle, both of Baltimore, spoke openly in court for nearly three hours, showing photographic evidence of NSA drone targeting, naming names and mourning children killed by drones, and asserting their First Amendment rights and Nuremberg justifications.

    • Local peace activist jailed

      A local peace activist is spending 90 days in a Syracuse-area jail for protesting the country’s use of drone warfare.

      Jack Gilroy of Endwell was one of 31 people arrested during an act of civil disobedience outside of the Hancock Airbase near Syracuse in April of last year.

    • Expert: Military intervention not the answer for Middle East violence

      Foreign military intervention heightens problems in the Middle East, internationally recognized expert Rami Khouri said.

    • Killing for Peace

      Since 9-11-01, the United States, by any objective assessment a globe-girdling military empire, has been sucked into an ongoing global civil war between brutal extremists (often fighting among themselves) and those, including us, they perceive as their mortal enemies. We are rightfully outraged by cruel beheadings videotaped for Internet distribution. The beheaders and suicide bombers are equally outraged by our extensive military presence in their ancestral homelands and drone attacks upon weddings.

      Meanwhile, though the government of our mighty empire can read our emails and tap our telephones, the worldwide nonviolent movement to bring about positive change somehow flies completely under its supposedly all-seeing radar screens. The peoples of the earth are overwhelmingly against war, and they want their fair share of the earth’s resources and the possibilities of democratic governance.

    • The Madness of Endless War

      Our media narrows discourse and fans the flames by only allowing U.S. citizens to see through the narrow lens of exceptionalism, polarization and violence. Fear mongers, legion in our culture, insist that adherents of ISIS are hardly human. But we should keep their humanity in our hearts even as we abhor their acts, just as we ought to abhor our own descent into torture and extra-judicial killings. People do not do what those ISIS fighters do without having been rendered desperate and callous by some painful sense of injustice. As Auden wrote, “Those to whom evil is done/do evil in return.” The question for us is how we can best respond to evil without rationalizing our own evil behavior.

    • Killer drones, killer robots

      War is becoming faceless. Warfare in general is becoming increasingly automated. There is a race to develop weapons that can be used without human intervention. Killer drones and robots are such weapons.

    • Fighting extremism with extremism

      In his speech last month to the United Nations, President Obama summoned foreign leaders to join his “campaign against extremism.” While his clarion call was spurred by beheadings by the terrorist group the Islamic State, Mr. Obama has repeatedly invoked the “extremist” threat since taking office in 2009. However, the president’s own record makes it tricky for him to pirouette as the World Savior of Moderation.

      [...]

      Although Mr. Obama campaigned in 2008 criticizing the bellicosity of his predecessor, he has bombed seven nations since taking office. Mr. Obama justified pummeling Libya in 2011 so that that nation would not become “a new safe haven for extremists” — but there are far more violent terrorists there now than before the United States intervened. Mr. Obama has written himself a blank check to expand bombing in Iraq and Syria owing to extremist perils — even though the U.S. government previously covertly armed some of the same extremists it is now trying to destroy. The notion that the U.S. government is entitled to bomb foreign lands based solely on the president’s decree — regardless of congressional opposition — would have been considered extremist nonsense by earlier generations of Americans.

    • U.S. drones kill 8 in Pakistan’s tribal region as strikes surge

      At least 110 people have been killed in 16 American drone strikes in Pakistan so far this year, according to the Washington-based think tank New America Foundation, which has documented at least 2,174 deaths as a result of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004. It includes at least at least 258 civilians, but the actual figure is thought to be higher.

    • Drone supporters, opponents gather outside air base on Saturday

      Members of local VFW 917 gathered once again to support the 107th Airlift Wing drone program at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station on Saturday.

      “It’s not just getting the program,”said Les Carpenter, retired Air Force. “When you get it, you have to support it.”

      He was joined by Army veterans Sgt. Major Vince Canosa, Bill McKewon, and Post Chaplain Eugene Ashley.

      “We come out once a month and then for beer and bologna sandwiches at the VFW,” Carpenter said.

      The members held signs at the station entrance: ISIS beheads with knives, we behead with tomahawks (in reference to the ballistic missile), Predators vs. Aliens, coming soon to a border near you, and KILL FOR PEACE.

    • America’s counter-terrorism lie: Waging war with secret rules, hypocrisy and worse

      Our latest bombings in the Middle East remind us of a scary truth: Here’s what the “war on terror” is really about

    • International Human Rights: -Dispelling the Myths

      There is now a growing international movement for developing an international convention on drones and similar technology.It is time that based on the evidence available we move the international system to start putting the brakes.

    • Pakistan says NATO helicopters violated its airspace

      Two gunship helicopters belonging to the NATO-led international coalition forces have violated the airspace of Pakistan, according to security officials.

      The officials quoted by local media agencies have said that the helicopters remained in the Pakistani territory for at least ten minutes.

    • Pakistan says NATO helicopters violated its airsprace
    • Pakistan, U.S. appear once again to be cooperating on drone strikes

      A series of CIA drone strikes launched last week against Taliban insurgents in Pakistan’s northwest tribal areas provide the clearest demonstration yet that the U.S. intelligence agency and Pakistani security forces are once again cooperating on defeating the insurgents.

    • Niger Is key to West Africa’s future security

      Following the lead of Ethiopia, Chad, and Djibouti, Niger has recently permitted the US and France to operate drones from an air base in its capitol, Niamey. The US military will also be establishing a second drone base in the northern desert city of Agadez, not far from the Algerian border. A major security partner of the US, Algeria’s security forces have already had success in scaling up surveillance and patrol along their border with Niger.

    • Obama’s War and the Limits of Reason

      In recent weeks, Obama has “reluctantly,” for the 7th time since taking office, begun bombing a predominantly Muslim country (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Iraq, and now Syria), testing, once again, the “limits of reason.” This begs the question: How far beyond such limits is our political-military elite willing to reach to initiate militarism in our name?

    • In the last days of ‘Operation Protective Edge’ Israel focused on its final goal — the destruction of Gaza’s professional class

      The spectacle of disproportionate force wielded against exclusively civilian targets in the heart of Gaza City had only begun.

  • Finance
  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying
    • CBS News Sacrifices All Journalistic Integrity To Be Pure PR For CBS PrimeTime TV?

      We’ve written a few times now about Walter O’Brien, the claimed inspiration for the CBS primetime TV show Scorpion. As our reporting has shown, a very large number of the claims about O’Brien’s life simply don’t check out when you look into the details, and in many cases appear to be flat out false. As we’ve said repeatedly — though people keep bringing this up — we don’t care at all about Hollywood folks exaggerating a “based on a true story” claim. What concerns us is (1) the journalistic integrity of those engaged in promoting the false claims about Walter O’Brien for the sake of a TV show and (2) the fact that O’Brien has been using this to promote his own business, which may lead people to giving money to him under questionable pretenses. Each time I write about him, more people who have known him in the past come out of the woodwork to repeat the same claims: nice enough guy, but always massively exaggerating nearly everything.

    • WSJ Vilifies Efforts To Increase Corporate Political Transparency As “Partisan Agitprop”

      The Wall Street Journal is dismissing efforts to convince corporations to be more transparent about their political contributions as “partisan agitprop,” despite the fact that the conservative justices of the Supreme Court reaffirmed the need for such transparency in 2010′s Citizens United decision.

    • Randa Redux: Federal Judge OK’s Dark Money Coordination in WI

      Wisconsin candidates can now coordinate with “dark money” nonprofits that accept secret, unlimited donations and run sham “issue ads,” under a ruling from the same federal judge who blocked the criminal coordination investigation into Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker earlier this year.

    • ISIS in Texas?! ABC Fails an Easy Factcheck

      The thing about factchecking is that the person making a claim actually has to have evidence that what they’re saying is true; if they can’t produce any, then there’s not much left to say. Honestly believing that something false is true, or a spokesperson insisting that a lawmaker stands by a claim, doesn’t actually matter. But ABC manages to cloud up an issue that should be crystal clear.

    • “Kill the Messenger’’ is the kind of movie that gives newspaper editors bad dreams

      The three most influential papers in the country at the time — the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and the Washington Post — apparently were embarrassed by critics who accused them of missing the story and reacted by devoting resources to essentially knock it down.

  • Censorship
    • How Australia’s New ‘Anti-Terror’ Censorship Law Could Cover Up Botched Intelligence Operations

      As we reported a few weeks ago, Australia has passed a dreadful “anti-terror” law that not only allows the authorities to monitor the entire Internet in that country with a single warrant, but also threatens 10 years of jail time for anyone who “recklessly” discloses information that relates to a “special intelligence operation.” But what exactly will that mean in practice? Elizabeth Oshea, writing in the Overland journal, has put together a great article fleshing things out.

    • The new ASIO laws: some examples to consider

      The parliament has passed legislation that permits the Attorney General to authorise certain activities of ASIO and affiliates as ‘special intelligence operations’. We can only assume that ASIO will seek such authorisation when its operatives plan to break the criminal or civil law – the whole point of authorising an operation as a special intelligence operation is that participants will be immune from the consequences of their unlawfulness. It will also be a criminal act to disclose information about these operations.

  • Privacy
    • Silk Road Judge Won’t Examine FBI’s Warrantless Server Hacking; Dismisses Suppression Motion On ‘Privacy Interest’ Technicality

      Judge Katherine Forrest has shot down Ross Ulbricht’s defense team’s motion to suppress evidence it claims was acquired illegally by the FBI. The FBI asserted in its response to the motion that Ulbricht had expressed no privacy interest in the alleged Silk Road servers located in Iceland. The FBI further claimed that it needed no legal permission (i.e., a warrant) to hack foreign servers during criminal investigations.

    • TTIP’s threat to our privacy and culture

      TTIP (the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) is a trade agreement currently being negotiated behind closed doors between the United States and the European Union. The agreement is supposed to “increase trade and investment” but there are significant concerns around its potential negative impact on democracy, the rule of law, innovation, culture and privacy.

    • Press coverage from Don’t Spy On Us event
    • Anonabox bundles OpenWrt with Tor for anonymous Web browsing
    • Anonabox Promises Total Online Anonymity That’s Easy, Open Source, and Cheap

      Nobody likes giving up their privacy. But as much as we complain about it, relatively few of us are willing to put time, money, or effort into consistently protecting our privacy online. And it’s not like it’s that hard, relatively speaking: the Tor Project offers excellent, free software that lets you browse the Internet in complete anonymity, if you use it properly. With Tor, data you send over the Internet are encrypted and stripped of any identifying information (namely, your IP address) before reaching their destination. It’s one of the most reliable methods that you can use to protect your identity online. However, it does take some amount of experience to use, along with a conscious decision to choose security over convenience. If that sounds like too much work (and it sure sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it?), the Anonabox could be exactly what you need.

    • Tiny $51 Tor router runs OpenWRT Linux

      A Kickstarter project called “Anonabox” offers a tiny Tor router for anonymous Internet use, running OpenWRT Linux on a MediaTek MT7620n WiFi chipset.

      The Anonabox is a “completely open source and open hardware” networking device that provides anonymous Internet access and encryption, says Chico, Calif.-based project leader August Germar on the Anonabox Kickstarter page. The device has already blasted past Germar’s $7,500 funding goal, which was intended to “help us move out of our garage, into full production.” With the $340,000 the Anonabox has garnered so far, Germar should be able to afford some nicer digs, indeed.

    • Edward Snowden’s girlfriend living with him in Moscow, film reveals

      She was still in Hawaii when news broke from Hong Kong that he was the whistleblower. Days earlier, authorities, suspicious about his prolonged absence from work, had visited their home.

      On her blog, subtitled, ‘Adventures of a world-travelling, pole-dancing superhero,’ she wrote that she felt “sick, exhausted and carrying the weight of the world”. Shortly afterwards, she took the blog down.

      The two appear to have been together since at least 2009, living part of the time near Baltimore before moving to Hawaii in 2012.

    • Silk Road Judge Won’t Examine FBI’s Warrantless Server Hacking; Dismisses Suppression Motion On ‘Privacy Interest’ Technicality
    • NSA Finally Releases Keith Alexander’s Financial Disclosure Documents; National Security Remains Uncompromised

      The CIA and Office of the Director of National Intelligence both complied. Keith Alexander, via the NSA’s refusal to turn over the documents, is the lone holdout.

    • Edward Snowden: It was worth it

      NSA leaker Edward Snowden on Saturday defended his disclosure of reams of classified information and said his actions were worth fleeing his seemingly idyllic life in Hawaii and ending up in hiding in Russia, where he was joined by his girlfriend in July.

    • After allegations that the service was hacked, Dropbox blames unrelated services

      News that Dropbox credentials had been obtained and leaked by an unknown attacker spread on Reddit yesterday, just days after Edward Snowden advised people to ditch Dropbox, Google and Facebook. Dropbox quickly reacted to the the allegations that it had lost the data and said that 3rd parties were responsible for losing the users data, unrelated to Dropbox.

    • Grooming Students for A Lifetime of Surveillance

      The same technologists who protest against the NSA’s metadata collection programs are the ones profiting the most from the widespread surveillance of students.

    • Privacy International files criminal complaint on behalf of Bahraini activists targeted by spyware FinFisher

      Privacy International today has made a criminal complaint to the National Cyber Crime Unit of the National Crime Agency, urging the immediate investigation of the unlawful surveillance of three Bahraini activists living in the UK by Bahraini authorities using the intrusive malware FinFisher supplied by British company Gamma.

    • Privacy International Files Criminal Complaint Against FinFisher Spyware Company

      Techdirt has been reporting on the disturbing rise in the use of malware by governments around the world to spy on citizens. One name that keeps cropping up in this context is the FinFisher suite of spyware products from the British company Gamma. Its code was discovered masquerading as a Malay-language version of Mozilla Firefox, and is now at the center of a complaint filed in the UK…

  • Civil Rights
    • Vladimir Putin is no saint, but G20 is a club full of sinners

      Among its least savoury members is a feudal state that regularly murders people. Saudi Arabia beheads individuals for the crime of sorcery, among other things. Don’t try to hold a church service there unless it’s of the approved variety – the Saudis officially go in for a medieval, hard-line interpretation of Islam. It’s the country that won’t even let women drive cars. Adultery? Compared with Saudi Arabia, Russia is a bastion of democracy, a beacon of equality, a paragon of human rights.

    • Being Malala

      Recipients of humanitarian awards often invite controversy. In Pakistan, religious and political identities are valued more than the contributions of such recipients. Malala Yousafzai may have the Nobel Peace Prize, but she remains the target of criticism from Pakistani conservatives and also many ‘progressives’.

    • Sanctifying Malala: The Nobel Prize and Moral Alibis

      Those getting it will always be marred by the contradictions any peace prize suggests. The greatest of all remains the fact that the dynamite guru – Alfred Nobel himself – did as much for the cause of war as he decided his profits would supposedly do for peace. Peace was a sentimental afterthought. Many winners of the prize have since kept this legacy alive: that of war maker turned peace maker; a fair share of hypocrisy, with a good share of feigned sincerity.

    • Missing Malala’s Message of Peace: Drones Fuel Terrorism

      On October 10, Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai–who received worldwide attention after being attacked by the Taliban for her advocacy for girls’ education–was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Indian activist Kailash Satyarthi. Yousafzai’s work on educational equity is well-known. But less well-known is what she said to Barack Obama about how his wars were undermining the fight against terrorism.

    • Nobel for Malala and Kailash

      Malala has not restricted her struggle to sending girls to school. She has stood up for children killed in drone attacks and has expressed her determination to get the prime ministers of India and Pakistan to sit together in dialogue. When meeting with President Obama, she spoke against war and militarization. Perhaps if the Nobel committee had awarded Malala for her anti-war spirit, it would have delivered a strong message to the war-torn world in keeping with the spirit of Sir Alfred Nobel.

    • The (Socialist) Malala Yousafzai the US Media Doesn’t Quote

      Now that Malala Yousafzai has won her hard-earned and well-deserved Nobel Peace Prize, she and her amazing, tragic story is back in the spotlight. Per usual, nevertheless, the corporate media has taken this positive development and exploited it, in the service of US imperialism.

    • The Malala you won’t hear about

      Ben Norton describes how U.S. news outlets have selectively reported only the aspects of Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai they want you to see.

    • This Year’s Nobel Peace Prize Winners Are Radicals

      It has been suggested that the recipients of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize are “safe choices” because they advocate for the rights of children and for the fair and respectful treatment of girls and women. Advocacy for an end to child labor, for universal education, for strong trade unions, for economic justice and social democracy, and for an end to war and violence should not be controversial.

    • Nabila Rehman: The Other Girl Who Deserves a Nobel Prize

      Is the global world in oblivion when it comes to Nabila because her story puts a face to what we often call ‘war victims’? Are we too insensitive to see the consequences of war and refuse to acknowledge the fact that these civilians are not even given the basic right to live, forget everything else. “When I hear that they are going after people who have done wrong to America, then what have I done wrong to them? What did my grandmother do wrong to them? I didn’t do anything wrong,” said Nabeela in her testimony. Well, no one has bothered to answer that question.

    • The other Pakistani girl: Malala got the Nobel peace prize; here’s why Nabila won’t

      Last week, the Nobel Peace Prize committee announced two winners: Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai and India’s Kailash Satyarthi for their struggle for the rights of children. While for most Indians K Satyarthi’s name was a bit of a mystery, Malala was already a widely known international figure, her personal story documented on magazine covers around the world.

    • A tale of two Pakistani girls: Malala Yousafzai and Nabila Rehman

      We all know about Pakistan’s braveheart Malala Yousafzai — the girl who defied Taliban and stood up for education and rights of girls in war ridden Pakistan. Recently, Malala received Nobel Peace Prize for her bravery alongwith Kailash Satyarthi and her ‘AWorldAtSchool’ campaign has received record number of petitions. But, do we know about Nabila Rehman — the girl who lost her grandmother due to a drone attack while her sisters were injured. Her only question to US senators being, ‘What was our fault’ which was largely ignored by most of the politicians.

    • We can learn more from Malala Yousafzai’s youthful wisdom than Obama’s messages

      A year ago, Malala met President Obama, who is himself a Nobel Peace Prize winner from 2009, and in another act of boldness, she told him that his drone policy was fueling terrorism.

      “Instead of soldiers, send books. Instead of sending weapons, send pens,” she said.

    • Again the Peace Prize Not for Peace

      The Nobel Peace Prize is required by Alfred Nobel’s will, which created it, to go to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” The Nobel Committee insists on awarding the prize to either a leading maker of war or a person who has done some good work in an area other than peace.

    • Somalia: The security situation remains fragile

      Al-Shabaab militants, who only two years ago controlled a broad swathe of Somalia, have been retreating from more than 20,000 advancing AMISOM troops as well as Somali government soldiers, whom the German army is helping to train. In early September a US drone killed al-Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane.

    • Montreal spends $110,000 on private lawyers to fight challenge to anti-protest bylaw

      As the city of Montreal tightens its belt-buckle and is cutting budgets, two Montrealers who are challenging the city’s regulations around demonstrations are questioning the amount of resources the city is putting in to defend the bylaws.

      “It seems like there is room for austerity measures around everything except repression,” said Julien Villeneuve, better-known as Anarchopanda, in an interview.

    • NYPD Officer Takes Cash From Man During Stop-And-Frisk; Pepper Sprays Him When He Asks To Have It Returned

      Apparently it’s OK to take money from uncharged individuals during stop-and-frisks as long as it’s: a) not very much money, and b) it’s vouchered at the station.

      What went unaddressed was the officer’s use of pepper spray to shut up both Joye and his sister, who were both asking for the return of the money taken by Montemarano.

    • Video Shows Cop Stealing Man’s Money, Then Pepper Spraying Him

      An NYPD officer stands accused of stealing more than $1,000 in cash from a Brooklyn man during a police stop.

      In a video obtained by the New York Times, an unnamed officer forces 35-year-old Lamard Joye against a fence surrounding a Coney Island basketball court and removes what appears to be a handful of cash from Joye’s pocket at the six-second mark.

    • Secret Courts – A silent start

      There are 2 major issues with the existence of secret courts. Firstly, it removes one of the fundamental tenets of the right to a fair trial – that the trial be conducted in public. As recently as 2011 in a landmark hearing (Al Rawi) the Supreme Court of the UK upheld the principle of open justice. The removal of this openness means that the accused can either never hear evidence which helps to convict them, removing them of the ability to accurately refute that evidence; or alternatively it means that they too are restricted from talking about certain aspects of the trial in public meaning that even if found to be innocent, they have restrictions placed on their freedom of speech.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality
  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Street Demonstrations In 21 European Countries Held To Protest Against TAFTA/TTIP; Another ACTA Revolt Brewing?

      Last month, the European Commission refused to accept a request to allow an official EU-wide petition called a European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) to take place. This was a curiously maladroit move by the Commission: it would have been easy to allow the petition against TAFTA/TTIP and CETA to proceed, thank the organizers once it was completed, file it away somewhere and then ignore it. Instead, by refusing to allow it to take place, the European Commission has highlighted in a dramatic manner the deeply undemocratic way in which so-called trade agreements are conducted.

    • Copyrights
      • Teen Pirates Pay For Movies More Often Than Non-Pirates

        A new study carried out in Australia has found that most 12-17 year-old teens are not online pirates, with around 74% abstaining from the habit. However, those that do consume illegally tend to buy, rent and visit the movies more often than their non-pirating counterparts.

      • Police Drop Charges Against Industrial-Scale ‘Pirate’

        A raid and subsequent arrest hailed by the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit as one of their most significant yet has taken an unexpected twist. After being accused of masterminding an “industrial scale” sports streaming operation, a UK man has had all of the charges against him dropped.

      • City Of London Police Drove 200 Miles To Arrest And Jail ‘Industrial’ Level Pirate… Only To Have Case Fall Apart And All Charges Dropped

        We’ve certainly questioned the efforts by the City of London Police to set themselves up as the legacy entertainment industry’s private police force. Over the past year or so, the police operation (which, yes, represents just one square mile of London, but a square mile with lots of big important businesses), has demonstrated that it will be extremely aggressive, not in fighting criminal wrongdoing, but in protecting the private business interests of some legacy companies, often with little to no legal basis. It also appears that the City of London’s famed Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) is not particularly technology savvy, and seems to just accept what big record labels, movie studios and the like tell it.

      • European Court Of Justice To Consider Legal Ramifications Of Offering Open WiFi

        Lawyer Martin Husovec has a post detailing an important case that has been referred to the EU Court of Justice, which could have a tremendous impact on legal liability for those who offer open WiFi in the European Union.

With .NET Foundation Affiliation Xamarin is Another Step Closer to Being Absorbed by Microsoft

Tuesday 14th of October 2014 10:59:12 PM

A vow till death

Summary: Xamarin is not even trying to pretend that separation exists between Microsoft and its work; yet another collaboration is announced

MICROSOFT’S OFFICIAL partner Xamarin, the Mono company founded by Microsoft MVP Miguel de Icaza with people of Microsoft background, funding from Microsoft-linked sources, Microsoft-copyrighted code with Microsoft licences and Microsoft APIs (all groomed all along by Microsoft and its media moles) is in some headlines again. It all started this morning when my wife told me about “that Microsoft guy” publishing a blog post. It’s Miguel de Icaza who wrote:

We are launching the official .NET Foundation forums to engage with the larger .NET community and to start the flow of ideas on the future of .NET, the community of users of .NET, and the community of contributors to the .NET ecosystem.

Michael Larabel later covered this:

Miguel de Icaza of GNOME/Mono fame who is heading Xamarin to push .NET software for multiple platforms using Mono, passed along some .NET Foundation news. In particular, the .NET Foundation Forums have been established for allowing the .NET community to collaborate and “start the flow of ideas on the future of .NET”, according to Miguel. Those forums are part of DotNetFoundation.org.

“Mono may be fine for Microsoft; it’s an utter disaster and a dangerous trap for everyone else.”This is just more openwashing of .NET and Miguel de Icaza, as always, helps it. Mono is not just promotion of proprietary software; it is promotion of Microsoft APIs, Microsoft patents, generally poor technology, and a Microsoft Trojan horse in the technical world. Based on some new figures just released by Unity3D (which turns out to be secretly spyware), very few GNU/Linux users are foolish enough to install Mono (and Unity3D). They measure that at 0.1% of the whole!

Mono may be fine for Microsoft; it’s an utter disaster and a dangerous trap for everyone else. A quick smell test of the capital (money) and where it comes from (Microsoft-linked VC or Microsoft-funded Novell) should serve as a clue; only Microsoft benefits.

The EPO’s Protection Triangle of Battistelli, Kongstad, and Topić: Part VI

Tuesday 14th of October 2014 09:29:23 PM

Summary: Jesper Kongstad, Benoît Battistelli, and Zeljko Topić are uncomfortably close personally and professionally, so suspicions arise that nepotism and protectionism play a negative role that negatively affects the European public

THE scandals at the EPO are numerous and longstanding. Oversight is minimal if not inexistent and there is lots to be worried about. In this part of the series we wish to focus on Mr Jesper Kongstad. He is not quite what it seems on the surface. As we are going to show in later parts (weeks ahead), Kongstad became a target of interest in an ongoing investigation from the outside (Battistelli has already eliminated inside overnight).

“Oversight is minimal if not inexistent and there is lots to be worried about.”The Kongstad situation will today be mentioned in brief. It will be covered without yet mentioning that investigation (intentionally unnamed) as there are some ongoing developments that would be better off covered when it’s all finished and concluded. There is no longer a problem in mentioning the Kongstad situation as the information about earlier links to the Croatian SIPO is publicly accessible. Kongstad’s close links to Battistelli have also been mentioned on the IPKat blog which said three months ago: “Back in 2010, when Benoît Battistelli was first appointed as President of the European Patent Office (EPO), there was a certain lack of transparency in the election process. As a blog post by IAM Magazine reported at the time, mischievous rumours quickly emerged from the EPO staff union newsletter (PDF link) to fill the vacuum of information regarding the circumstances of Mr Battistelli’s appointment.

“Battistelli’s original contract was negotiated in secret with Mr Jesper Kongstad, the then Acting (and now actual) Chairman of the Administrative Council. It was rumoured, intriguingly, that the contract specified that Mr B’s place of employment was the Parisian suburb of Saint Germain-en-Laye (the town of which he was deputy major, the spiritual home of football team Paris Saint-Germain and the birthplace of Louis XIV, the Sun-King), and that it contained an annex granting him full pension rights at the end of his five-year contract. While Merpel, whose nine lives invariably make any sort of pension annuity unaffordable since the pension must last so much longer than expected, can see the attraction of having full pension rights after a relatively short employment stint, she wonders what advantage or reason could lie behind deeming Mr Battistelli’s place of employment to be 700 km west of where his office is actually located, if there is any substance behind that improbable rumour. The union newsletter, SUEPO Informs, also reported that Mr Kongstad refused to show the final contract negotiated with Mr Battistelli to the Administrative Council (‘AC’), despite repeated requests by its apparently quite powerless members.”

The EPO’s staff representatives have initiated contact with investigators by now. This was mentioned very briefly in the print version of the article published in “Die Welt” on the 24th of August (entitled “Stress at the Munich Kremlin”). We covered this before, so it’s not completely secret that outside investigators may be starting to show an interest in the EPO’s mysterious conduct (or misconduct).

Our sources have more to say about this. Their research indicates that the EPO President Benoît Battistelli, formerly the Director of the French INPI, and the Chairman of the Administrative Council, Jesper Kongstad, who is the current Director of the Danish Patent and Trademark Office, have long-standing professional connections with Topić. This gives rise to the suspicion that Battistelli and Kongstad are putting professional and/or personal loyalties before the public interest in this matter and are colluding to prevent any independent investigation of Topić’s appointment.

The 2009 annual report of the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office records details of a study visit of senior Croatian officials of the authorities for the enforcement of intellectual property rights to the partner Danish institutions in Copenhagen and a return visit by Danish officials to the partner Croatian institutions in Zagreb. It also includes this mention of a “twinning project” between the Danish Patent and Trademark Office and the Croatia SIPO which took place in the context of a European Union Assistance Project [PDF].

The Web site of the Danish PTO confirms the existence of the Croatia twinning project. The Danish PTO website also provides evidence of co-operation between the Danish PTO and the Croatian SIPO going back as far as 2004.

A further spicy detail in this saga is the fact that Topić’s former deputy at the Croatian SIPO, Ms. Romana Matanovac Vučković, has been working as a consultant on an EU-funded project co-administered by the Danish PTO.

According to her personal Web site: “Since 2013, she has been cooperating with Pohl Consulting & Associates GmbH from Berlin and the Danish Patent and Trademark Office as a consultant in the project of legal assistance in the field of intellectual property at Kosovo, also funded by the European Union.”

The EU Kosovo project has a budget of ca. 1 million Euros [1, 2]. Ms. Matanovac Vučković was previously a deputy Director of the Croatian SIPO under Topić (ca. 2005-2008). During that period, she was also Croatia’s “alternate representative” to the EPO’s Administrative Council as confirmed by the following extract from the EPO Official Journal 2008: “During her time at the Croatian SIPO, Ms. Matanovac Vučković acted as head of an official body under the SIPO’s remit which was called the “Council of Experts on Remunerations for Copyright and Related Rights”. This appointment was controversial in Croatia and it was alleged to be unlawful due to a “conflict of interest” because Ms. Matanovac Vučković had previous worked for the Croatian Composers’ Society (HDS) and the private company “Emporion” which was involved in managing musical royalty payments. According to informed sources, her previous employment should have disqualified her from an appointment to the Council of Experts. It was claimed in the Croatian press that Ms. Matanovac Vučković only secured the position due to her connections with the Croatian President Ivo Josipović.”

Sources (in Croatian) can be found here and the English translation was published by us last week.

More information is to follow next week, reinforcing the allegation that the EPO’s abuse goes all the way to the very top.

Corporate Media Confirms the Demise of Software Patents in the United States; Will India and Europe Follow?

Tuesday 14th of October 2014 08:47:16 PM

Summary: It has become increasingly official that software patents are being weakened in the United States’ USPTO as well as the courts; will software leaders such as India and Europe stop trying to imitate the old USPTO?

YESTERDAY we wrote about the measurably huge decline in the number of patent lawsuits in the US. There is some more good news in the form of figures.

Andrea Peterson, writing for the Bezos-owned Washington Post, says that “Software patent approval rates sink in months following Supreme Court case”. The patent lawyers, understandably, are stressed about this. They spent so much time attacking the decision or trying to characterise it as anything but a game changer. We gave dozens of examples at the middle of this year. Here again are a couple of patent lawyers using a straw man: “it is doubtful that all software, computer-implemented and business method inventions will be affected by Alice. For example, software inventions that improve the functioning of a computer, or improve other technical fields, may still be eligible for patent protection. Still, while the full effect of Alice is yet to be determined, entities seeking to patent inventions directed to software, computer implementations, and business methods, need to ensure that inventions are sufficiently innovative and directed to concrete ideas.”

“The patent lawyers, understandably, are stressed about this.”Mike Masnick already caught the news from the morning and wrote: “The impact of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Alice v. CLS Bank continues to reverberate around the industry. We’ve already noted that courts have been rapidly invalidating a bunch of patents, and that related lawsuits appear to be dropping rapidly as well. And, now, a new analysis from a (pro-patent) law firm suggests that the US Patent Office is rejecting a lot more software patents as well.”

Software superpower India does not have software patents, but after meeting executives from Microsoft (which has enormous influence over the Indian government), Amazon, Facebook and other patent aggressors it looks like things may change. According to this article about Modi’s trip to the US:

The US-India Joint Statement signed during Modi’s visit to the US has opened the doors for two Indian laws that have been passed by the Indian Parliament. One is on patents – the Indian Patents Act – that contain some measures to keep drug prices low for the people, which the US and its pharmaceutical industries have been trying to change for the last decade. The second is on nuclear liability, again anathema to the US nuclear industry.

Here is a little something about privacy too: “The Modi visit is also important for what he did not raise with the US government. There was no mention of the NSA spying in India, which included the BJP as well. There were six political entities in the world that the NSA spied upon officially, and one of them was the BJP. India is also one of the 33 countries that have signed a 3rd Party agreement with NSA giving it access to our telecommunications and Internet infrastructure. That means India not only allowed NSA to spy on any entity or any person in India but also provided them the physical access required for such spying. Modi not only did not utter one word of protest against such spying against his own party, but also made clear his intention to continue such relationship under Defence and Homeland Security clauses of the Joint Statement.”

It is sad to say this, but India seems to be assimilating to the US system when it comes to patents and also when it comes to militarisation and surveillance.

As we showed before, the corrupt EPO is bringing Europe closer into alignment with the corporations-run USPTO while the USPTO itself is moving away from software patents these days. We covered this aspect of the situation several weeks ago.

Our next post will focus on some more scandals from the EPO.

More in Tux Machines

In wake of Anonabox, more crowdsourced Tor router projects make their pitch

Last week, Ars reported on the story of Anonabox, an effort by a California developer to create an affordable privacy-protecting device based on the open source OpenWRT wireless router software and the Tor Project’s eponymous Internet traffic encryption and anonymization software. Anonabox was pulled from Kickstarter after accusations that the project misrepresented its product and failed to meet some basic security concerns—though its developers still plan to release their project for sale through their own website. But Anonabox’s brief campaign on Kickstarter has demonstrated demand for a simple, inexpensive way to hide Internet traffic from prying eyes. And there are a number of other projects attempting to do what Anonabox promised. On Kickstarter competitor Indiegogo there’s a project called Invizbox that looks almost identical to Anonabox—except for the approach its team is taking to building and marketing the device. Read more

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Phoenix Is Trying To Be An Open Version Of Apple's Swift

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Google Chromebook quietly takes aim at the enterprise

Google's Chromebook is a cheap alternative to a more expensive Windows or Mac PC or laptop, but up until recently it lacked any specific administrative oversight tools for enterprise IT. While IT might have liked the price tag, they may have worried about the lack of an integrated tool suite for managing a fleet of Chromebooks. That's changed with release of Chromebook for Work, a new program designed to give IT that control they crave for Chromebooks. Read more