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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 1 hour 49 min ago

SUEPO Announces Protest, EPO Distracts From the Scandal, and Readers Spill the Beans

Friday 8th of December 2017 08:40:32 PM

A letter to VP5 (Lutz) made the EPO go ballistic 4.5 years ago

Summary: Readers have sent some additional details regarding the EPO “backstory” that we wrote about this morning

THE EPO is trying to distract (again) from an unprecedented and historic Boards of Appeal scandal that can doom EPO management. Here is what the EPO PR account wrote some hours ago: “Are you interested in applying for the judicial internships at the Boards of Appeal? These are the requirements…”

“Notice/text in German about next week’s protest was posted under the “Munich” section.”The EPO wrote something similar when ILO delivered a truly embarrassing decision regarding Judge Corcoran from the Boards of Appeal.

Understandably — and quite frankly predictably — following the EPO’s refusal (yet again) to obey court orders SUEPO made another call for protest. It’s all in German and it says “Wir versammeln uns am 13.12.2017, um 12.30, vor dem Isar Gebäude um dort für unsere GRUNDRECHTE zu demonstrieren!”

The key point is the date and time (numerics above). SUEPO published this earlier today (apparently this evening/afternoon). Staff is very angry over in Munich and elsewhere, but the above targets Munich staff specifically (this is where Judge Corcoran is based). Notice/text in German about next week’s protest was posted under the “Munich” section.

“Some interesting details about the internal goings-on at the EPO during 2013 have recently come to light from insider sources,” one reader told us. “During 2013 a large amount of material critical of the upper management was circulating internally at the EPO. It seems that Battistelli’s infamous Investigative Unit was set up to investigate and suppress the distribution of such material.”

“During 2013 a large amount of material critical of the upper management was circulating internally at the EPO.”
      –AnonymousWell, Streisand Effect sucks, doesn’t it? We now have that material, which we deem important enough to publish in order to present context for the crackdown on Judge Corcoran (who almost definitely had nothing whatsoever to do with the letter).

A sample of this material which was sent to the Vice-President of DG5 (Raimund Lutz) in June 2013 is shown above. The envelope addressed to VP5 contained a photo of the EPO senior management team with a series of sarcastic captions.

The photo shows the following individuals (from left to right):

1. Alberto Casado (at the time VP2, now VP1)
Caption: Der spanische Trottel
(“The Spanish idiot”)

2. Raimund Lutz (VP5)
Caption: “Der Nazi-Offizier – Nazi-Abteilung”
(“The Nazi Officer – Nazi Department”)

3. Benoît Battistelli (President)
Caption: “Le Roi Soleil – L’OEB c’est moi”)
(“The Sun King – I am the EPO”)

4. Željko Topić (VP4)
Caption: “Der Autodieb”
(“The car thief”)

5. Guillaume “Willie” Minnoye (at the time VP1, now retired)
Caption: “Der grobe belgische Bauer”
(“The uncouth Belgian peasant”)

6. Wim van der Eijk (at the time VP3, now legal member of the Boards of Appeal)
Caption: “Der Ja Sager”
(“The Yes-Man”)

Battistelli’s “Nazi”-fixation seems to come from this kind of material which depicted Lutz, the Vice-President in charge of legal matters, in very unflattering terms as a “Nazi Officer” in charge of the “Nazi Department”. By some kind of weird projection mechanism it seems that Battistelli decided to take revenge on his perceived enemies inside the EPO by smearing them as “Nazis”.

EPO Scandal Spills Over to Irish Media, So It’s Time for the Backstory

Friday 8th of December 2017 08:14:38 AM

Summary: A lot more is being revealed by the media this week (regarding the EPO’s “war on judges”) and now that it’s a more ‘mainstream’ subject we can shed light on the background to it

Background/overview of EPO affairs is essential for getting more people actively involved. We’re aware that many people out there don’t know (or don’t care) what happens at the EPO. They don’t even know that it’s the second-largest European institution. Many don’t even realise that it exists. Over here there’s a cross-section of the population which is up in arms over the European Commission, angered by relatively small ‘scandals’ while turning a blind eye to much bigger scandals.

The latest scandal was covered in 5 articles yesterday, namely:

  1. ILO is ‘Forcing’ Team Battistelli to Compensate the Banned Judge and Give Him Back His Job
  2. Meanwhile in Eponia, Tyrant Battistelli Must be Seeking Advice on How to Refuse to Obey Court’s Orders (Again)
  3. ILO Said Give the Judge His Job Back, But Christoph Ernst’s Administrative Council Will Likely Let Him Go (Unemployed)
  4. Less Than 24 Hours Later the EPO Already Refuses to Obey Court Orders From ILO (Updated)
  5. Battistelli’s EPO is Once Again Caught in Very Gross Violation of the European Patent Convention (EPC)

“The ILO is alive,” said one blog post, “but are the boards too,” a comment continued/inquired.

Here is that comment:

“The board of Appeal Member turned up for work today and the head of EPO security told him that she was under instructions from ”above” to disregard the court order, and he will not be allowed in any EPO buildings”

Should it be true that this judge is not allowed to resume his activity as a member of the boards for at least the period of time he still had to serve when he was suspended, his colleagues of the boards should immediately stop working until the AC has reinstated the rule of law.

Otherwise they would definitely disqualify themselves as judges, and provide even more grounds for the Federal Constitutional Court to deny constitutionality of the european patent procedure for lack of a truly independant judiciary.

The next (and last) comment explained that whatever the EPO does/did to the judge may be a death blow to UPC. To quote:

Look, matey, I know a dead parrot when I see one, and I’m looking at one right now.

Title says it all really. The only way that the UPC could have survived these decisions is if the EPO had immediately followed them in full *and* reappointed the judge. With this on top of the decision of the Enlarged BoA in case no. Art. 23 1/16, I really don’t see how the German Constitutional Court could ever find that the BoA are in any way judicially independent.

For those who haven’t read them yet…
Decision 3958: http://www.ilo.org/dyn/triblex/triblexmain.fullText?p_lang=en&p_judgment_no=3958&p_language_code=EN

Decision 3960: http://www.ilo.org/dyn/triblex/triblexmain.fullText?p_lang=en&p_judgment_no=3960&p_language_code=EN

There’s deep juridical deficit and profound disregard for the principles of the Rule of Law at the EPO, so how can anyone entrust/assign the EPO to deal with “unitary” effect? That would be insane, not just irresponsible.

And speaking of UPC, don’t mind British Team UPC going on about the supposed ‘progress’ in the UK. Even a longtime UPC proponent (Michel Barnier) serves to debunk these people. A British journalist has just said (in effect rebutting this jingoism from Robinson): “The line about the UPC being part of negotiations also puzzling. I was informed by a spokesperson for Barnier that the UPC was not an EU institution therefore not part of the exit negotiations.”

Obviously not. It’s just a lot of noise from Robinson et al lately, among unfortunate admissions that he’s being disingenuous/dishonest (thread) and proud to be self-deluding (as even people from the same sector as him regularly allege). But anyway, we digress.

“There’s deep juridical deficit and profound disregard for the principles of the Rule of Law at the EPO, so how can anyone entrust/assign the EPO to deal with “unitary” effect?”Ireland, which canceled (or ‘indefinitely postponed’) its UPC referendum, has finally caught up with the above scandal (not just the EPO fiasco in general). Yesterday at night we found the latest EPO scandal in Irish media (Irish Times). The Irish media too is now naming Patrick Corcoran. The Register (now with 30 comments on the subject) was the first to do it, in effect ‘unmasking’ him. Desirable or not? We have known the name for a number of years, but we chose to prevent associating the name with the bogus accusations. Perhaps now that ILO sides with Corcoran it will be simpler for the public to accept that he’s innocent.

The Irish Times says that “Mr Corcoran’s central complaint was the EPO president, Mr Battistelli, played a key role in the decision to suspend him and to later continue the suspension. He argued that Mr Battistelli was not a “neutral and disinterested party” because he was the subject of the alleged defamatory attacks.”

Well, in a functioning society he’d be in a straightjacket somewhere. He’s clearly under-qualified (he doesn’t even speak the local language, he lacks education in the domain he deals with and so on) and he turned the pride of Europe — probably world’s best patent office — into the shame of Europe. He did this in just a few years.

To quote further from the Irish Times, which is understandably sympathetic towards Corcoran:

Mr Corcoran argued this was a “manifestly flawed opinion, which was tainted with bias and which breached the principle of due process.

“The president had a personal interest in the matter, and thus should have recused himself before rendering such opinion on account of a real or apparent conflict of interest.”

According to documents disclosed to the ILO tribunal, the EPO’s internal investigative unit alleged Mr Corcoran had, using a pseudonym, made defamatory statements that Mr Battistelli had attempted to “buy votes” by hosting delegates.

It alleged Mr Corcoran also sent a letter to the deputy mayor of Saint-Germain-en-Laye in France, where the president was a town councillor, accusing Mr Battistelli of abuse of power at the EPO.

The tribunal accepted Mr Corcoran’s argument that Mr Battistelli should not have had a decision-making role in the suspension because he was the subject of the alleged defamation.

It said Mr Battistelli had a conflict of interest and said the administrative council erred in not making a ruling to this effect. It said the matter should have instead been handled by the EPO’s second most senior official.

Another new article on the subject comes (again) from IPPro Patents and it’s unique in the sense that it quotes the Central Staff Committee:

The ILO said the situation “casts doubt on the president’s impartiality”. [What an understatement!]

Battistelli is due to leave his post as president of the EPO in mid-2018, but has recently attempted to push through major reforms, including the replacement of permanent employment contracts with five-year fixed term contracts.

In its letter, the CSC said that, prior to the publication of the ILO judgments, “the president of the office managed to convince the administrative council to convene two exceptional budget and finance committee meetings in order to enable him to get his latest proposed reforms approved before the end of his reign”.

It concluded: “The ball is now with the administrative council, which urgently has to answer the following question: should these reforms be left to a president and team having such a record of performance?”

We would like to share with readers some background to this ‘case’. It is connected to another ‘case’ (Els Hardon, a prominent SUEPO official) and has similarities to it, including the bogus “armed Nazi”-themed accusations (Nazi salutes, so-called ‘snipers’ and so on). It’s based on a bunch of lies and the purpose is to distract from real, legitimate abuses of Team Battistelli. The “Nazi” smear is designed only to discredit the so-called ‘whistleblowers’ (if that’s the right term).

“There was also the picture of Željko Topić’s stolen car in the EPO parking. I can’t say who took that one, but I wouldn’t be surprised that it’s a part of the story.”
      –Anonymous“I think that this is the real background to the Hardon/Corcoran affair,” one reader once told us. “From what I can piece together Corcoran was communicating with Hardon stuff on Željko Topić, essentially the articles in the Balkan press. What was communicated, and how it was sent isn’t clear, but from what I heard, it was private communication.

“The material hardly found an audience beyond the INTERNAL, password-protected SUEPO forum. There was juicy stuff [e.g. the Zagreb newspaper articles], but nothing beyond what has come out since, and this forum could hardly be qualified as “public”. These idiots don’t realise that the public enjoying the EPO dirty laundry must have grown a thousand fold since the scandal began.

“There was also the picture of Željko Topić’s stolen car in the EPO parking. I can’t say who took that one, but I wouldn’t be surprised that it’s a part of the story.

“The SUEPO forum went offline exactly at the time the storm began, and never returned since. Coincidence?

“The SUEPO forum went offline exactly at the time the storm began, and never returned since.”
      –Anonymous“This is what they called “publication of defamation”, and probably the reason why Battistelli was actually unable to put together a case before the BOA, but could only provide [falsifiable] data on an USB stick. They would have indicted themselves more than the accused. They must have been somehow hoping that the EBA would have understood what was expected of them.

“As to who said what to whom when, we’ll probably never know.”

Thankfully, the BOA/EBA didn’t fall for it.

“One version of the story I heard,” our reader continued, “is that Battistelli and Željko Topić were attempting to destroy Els Hardon, which explained the targeted intelligence gathering, and Patrick Corcoran merely happened to be collateral damage. Corcoran’s mistake was to use an internal computer for private communication with Hardon, or accessing the SUEPO forum from work. Another version of the story I heard in the initial phase of the scandal is that the EPO public WLAN access points are compromised, and Corcoran used an unencrypted connection from his personal laptop.”

We now know a lot more about the nature of that surveillance.

“So in a sense,” our reader continued, “Corcoran “did” something, but probably nothing which could be sanctioned under actual libel laws before a real court, especially if the information was 1) true and 2) transmitted privately or to a limited audience, and/or 3) previously published elsewhere.”

“Željko Topić’s henchmen realised through their snooping that something was happening, and the Croatian bully went ballistic. Thus the particularly nasty cases against Corcoran and Hardon.”
      –AnonymousThis information had been widely circulated long before that. Years in fact. We saw it too.

Our reader said that “Željko Topić’s henchmen realised through their snooping that something was happening, and the Croatian bully went ballistic. Thus the particularly nasty cases against Corcoran and Hardon. Battistelli and Željko Topić did not even stop a minute to ponder the damage they would inflict upon themselves — and the EPO.

“One or two years earlier there was another period when the SUEPO forum went offline for several months, officially because of a software problem.

“The traffic on the server was mostly in French, and you had some idea of who was posting. It was lively, and much read within the office, but, as usual, most of the posting was done by relatively few members.

“I understand that the earlier eclipse had something to do with another scandal you probably haven’t heard of, and for which all evidence was effectively suppressed. It happened about a decade ago.

“The more is known about these scandals, the more likely it is that law will be upheld and the right people held accountable.”“Someone merely ALLUDED on the forum at the events and the culprit, without actually naming him. The party got wind of this and got on his high horses. He threatened legal action before a German court, with full support of the EPO management. [He is still well in place in the Office]. But a defence would have involved divulging internal information — that’s VERBOTEN — and the enquiry results were unavailable anyway, so the best attitude was to retreat. And I can’t imagine the party going to court and saying “I’m the SOB they’re actually referring to on that squalid little forum”… Without any documentary evidence, [which I naturally hope to lay my hands on one day], it’s pointless to even explain the story as I heard it.”

If someone has more information about that, please do get in touch with us. The more is known about these scandals, the more likely it is that law will be upheld and the right people held accountable.

Battistelli’s EPO is Once Again Caught in Very Gross Violation of the European Patent Convention (EPC)

Thursday 7th of December 2017 09:16:29 PM

In today’s news: Ousted Turkish beauty queen may face jail time over tweet

Summary: The tyranny of the EPO is made abundantly clear for all to see — ILO included — but will there be consequences for repeated violations by Team Battistelli?

IN addition to legal bullying, Judge Corcoran now needs to deal with the fact that the EPO operates outside the rule of law. Blatantly, too. Does anyone even wish to work for such an employer? To him, perhaps, it’s about principles. Battistelli never had the authority to do what he did, after he had brought friends and highly dubious people to the EPO.

So far today we have written 4 articles on this matter alone. The articles are, in order:

  1. ILO is ‘Forcing’ Team Battistelli to Compensate the Banned Judge and Give Him Back His Job
  2. Meanwhile in Eponia, Tyrant Battistelli Must be Seeking Advice on How to Refuse to Obey Court’s Orders (Again)
  3. ILO Said Give the Judge His Job Back, But Christoph Ernst’s Administrative Council Will Likely Let Him Go (Unemployed)
  4. Less Than 24 Hours Later the EPO Already Refuses to Obey Court Orders From ILO (Updated)

One person asked today: “Do I read correctly that his term ends in 2018 anyway?”

One response to that said: “Yes but he’s been angling to ensure that he gets renewed.”

This is from The Register, where most of the comments are slightly off-topic and not from insiders (as the site isn’t a forum for ‘legal’ people but mostly for technical folks). Looking at some of the latest comments on an attorney’s post (which mostly attracts input from other attorneys), people have begun bringing up immunity, the EPC and so on. People are starting to gather information about the EPO disobeying judges.

There is a famous quote of what a politician (USA, 1950’s perhaps) said when caught out having done something morally indefensible, despicable. I tried to find it on Google because I think it fits BB to a T. It fits very well whenever the perp. is a supra-national entity like FIFA, the IOC or the EPO’s AC, an entity not answerable to the laws of any particular jurisdiction.

It goes something like “I violated no Rule. I broke no law. Therefore I did nothing wrong”.

Those citizens of Europe who sit on the EPO’s AC, those who preside over the EPO; if they lack a moral compass they are not qualified to sit in the seat they occupy, and should slink away, mightily ashamed of themselves for abusing basic human rights and the Rule of Law.

VW’s resident manager in the USA just got sent to prison for 7 years, for dissembling on diesel engine emissions. And all the other involved, the string-pullers back at HQ in Wolfsburg? What of them?

Come on Europe. For F’s sake. Set a good example to the rest of the world.

“If one thing is certain,” the next comment said, “it is that none of the AC members will ever voluntarily vacate their seats out of such mundane motivation like respect for democracy, the rule of law or human rights. As history teaches, this will only happen once decent citizens knock on their doors, with the fork in their hand. And this is what is going to happen, some way or the other. Sooner or later.”

At the EPO, without a shadow of a doubt, things have gone totally out of control and it’s almost as if judges exist only for opinions (an advisory role) and ‘king’ Battistelli is the undisputed emperor. “Battistelli might benefit from a free crash course on the elementary principles of law,” said the next comment, alluding to the news about CEIPI:

In his brand new position of President of the Administrative Board of the Centre for International Intellectual Property Studies (CEIPI) Mr Battistelli might benefit from a free crash course on the elementary principles of law, including the issues of separation of powers.
Perhaps will he then start to slowly understand why exerting a leading position at the same time in a patent office which examines patents and in an accademic institution which teaches trainees the basics of the examination procedure before the same patent office is just another form of intolerable conflict of interests.
And if he does not understand by himself, the Administrative Council of the EPO will no doubt explain it to him again. No doubt, really?

We wrote a great deal about the CEIPI debacle, namely:

Here’s some insight about Corcoran’s experience today:

IP-Watch has also an article about the decision of the ILO:

https://www.ip-watch.org/2017/12/06/international-labour-organisation-orders-reinstatement-epo-appeals-judge/

Additionally, they cite the response of the EPO . It begins with:

“The EPO respects the ruling of the ILOAT,” […]

Of course it does … just ask the head of EPO security.

“While the ILOAT has no divisions,” the latest comment said, “its supremacy is enshrined in Article 13 EPC. The EPO president ignoring a direct order from the ILOAT (lifting of house ban) would be a violation of the EPC. It is difficult to imagine that this could be tolerated by the AC but of course many things have been difficult to imagine in the past.”

This would not be the first time that Battistelli stomps on the EPC and gets away with it without any consequences. We covered several examples in the past.

Links 7/12/2017: Qt 5.10, ReactOS 0.4.7, Guix and GuixSD 0.14.0

Thursday 7th of December 2017 08:03:00 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Linux then, and why you should learn it now

    It started back in 1983 with another operating system known as UNIX, first released in 1971. In 1983, the GNU Project was started to create a complete UNIX-compatible operating system, but the project was stalled and had a missing kernel. Around 1987, a UNIX-like operating system for students was released called MINIX, but its licensing prevented it from being distributed freely. Irritated by the licensing of MINIX, Linus Torvalds at the University of Helsinki began working on his own operating system kernel. His kernel was released in 1991, and when combined with the GNU components and open source licensing, it became the Linux operating system we know today.

  • 2018: The year of the open source desktop, browser, and office suite

    It was last year, around this same time, that I predicted a monumental year for open source in 2017. I even went so far as to say open source would finally pass the 5% market share on the desktop. There was a moment when it looked like that was actually going to happen, only to find out it was a bit of false reporting. Even without hitting that magic number, Linux and open source had a stellar year.

    Will that success hold over to the upcoming year? I believe it will, and then some. Let’s gaze into that always questionable crystal ball and see what kind of predictions we can come up with for Linux and open source.

  • Desktop
    • Everything In Its Right Place

      Back in July, I wrote about trying to get Endless OS working on DVDs. To recap: we have published live ISO images of Endless OS for a while, but until recently if you burned one to a DVD and tried to boot it, you’d get the Endless boot-splash, a lot of noise from the DVD drive, and not much else. Definitely no functioning desktop or installer!

      I’m happy to say that Endless OS 3.3 boots from a DVD. The problems basically boiled down to long seek times, which are made worse by data not being arranged in any particular order on the disk. Fixing this had the somewhat unexpected benefit of improving boot performance on fixed disks, too. For the gory details, read on!

  • Server
    • Running storage services on Kubernetes

      If you are looking to adopt the benefits of containers, introduce and support a DevOps culture in your organization, run micro-services or in general try to get corporate IT to provide more immediate value to the business by shortening the time to market, you will at least evaluate Kubernetes. When you adopt it, it won’t be long until stateful applications find their way into the cluster—and with that the need for robust, persistent storage. Will databases be among those applications? Very likely. Or workloads, that share large content repositories or such that consume object storage? In either of those cases, you should definitely take a look at gluster-kubernetes.

    • Bitnami Introduces Kubeapps for Click and Deploy Kubernetes Containers

      At KubeCon, Bitnami demonstrated a tool for deploying pre-packaged Kubernetes containers with the click of a mouse.

    • CoreOS Tectonic 1.8 unites container management across clouds

      Kubernetes is now — no question about it — the dominant cloud orchestration program. With Amazon Web Services (AWS) giving Kubernetes native support, all major clouds now support Kubernetes. This means more than just you can use the same program to manage your containers on different clouds. It also means you can use Kubernetes to manage all your containers on all your clouds in a single, cohesive fashion. This is what CoreOS brings to the table, with its latest release of Tectonic.

    • New Open Platform Helps Enterprises Manage Their Own Cloud Services

      CoreOS on Tuesday announced the release of Tectonic 1.8, a Kubernetes container management platform. Tectonic enables enterprises to deploy key automation infrastructure components that function like managed cloud services without cloud vendor lock-in.

      The CoreOS Open Cloud Services Catalog offers an alternative to cloud vendors’ proprietary services and APIs — the equivalent of cloud-based offerings developed on open source technologies that enable customers to build their infrastructures within the hybrid environments of their choice.

    • What Tech Skills are Hot (React, Cloud) or Not (Linux, Tableau)

      It’s a good time to have experience in React, the JavaScript library used to create user interfaces, according to a study released this week by job search firm Indeed.com. Meanwhile, a growing number of job seekers are touting their Linux skills, but employers are less interested. And Python’s status is, well, complicated, the Indeed study showed.

      Indeed looked at the changes in search terms used by tech workers and by recruiters over the past two years, considering the October 2015 through September 2016 and October 2016 through September 2017 time periods. According to that analysis, React is up 313 percent year over year as a job seeker interest, and 229 percent as an employer interest. Cloud computing skills also appear to be blazingly hot, with interest in Amazon Web Services up 98 percent for job seekers and 40 percent for employers. Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform saw a 31-percent boost in searches by job seekers and a 62-percent jump for employers.

    • Open-Source Cloudify Delivers Multi-Stack Interoperability for Kubernetes & Robust Security, Bridging the Gap Between Application & Network Virtualization
    • Linux on Supercomputers

      Today, I did a presentation about Linux on Supercomputers at the Faculty of Industrial of UNMSM for its annivrsary. It was published the event in the Intranet of the School.

    • 7 Habits of Highly Successful Site Reliability Engineers

      In a recent post, we examined the rise of the Site Reliability Engineer in modern software organizations. But it’s one thing just to be called a SRE; we also wanted to know what it takes to become a great one.

      So we decided to look at some of the characteristics and habits common to highly successful SREs. As in most development and operations roles, first-class technical chops are obviously critical. For SREs, those specific skills might depend on how a particular organization defines or approaches the role: the Google approach to Site Reliability Engineering might require more software engineering and coding experience, whereas another organization might place a higher value on ops or QA skills. But as we found when we looked at what makes dev and ops practitioners successful, what sets the “great” apart from the “good enough” is often a combination of habits and traits that complement technical expertise.

    • Preparing your organization for a future built on blockchain

      In the first part of this review of Blockchain Revolution by Don Tapscott and Alex Tapscott, I presented some of the ways the authors suggest blockchain technology will impact organizations. In particular, I examined the open organization principles (transparency, inclusivity, adaptability, collaboration, community) and the reasons we practice them (building a network of people dedicated to a purpose and sharing the same ethical standards, for example).

      [...]

      Open Networked Enterprises would best suit tasks that are high in complexity but low in repetition. At very low cost, smart contracts enable companies to craft clever, self-enforcing agreements with suppliers and partners. Collections of these agreements will start to resemble working networks, trusted company affiliations, or open organizations. In Blockchain Revolution, the authors mention the work of famous Harvard Professor Michael Porter with regard to this phenomenon. Porter considers these Open Networked Enterprises to have competitive advantages that are difficult to duplicate.

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux Kernel Developer: Kees Cook

      Security is paramount these days for any computer system, including those running on Linux. Thus, part of the ongoing Linux development work involves hardening the kernel against attack, according to the recent Linux Kernel Development Report.

      This work, according to report authors Jonathan Corbet and Greg Kroah-Hartman, involves the addition of several new technologies, many of which have their origin in the grsecurity and PaX patch sets. “New hardening features include virtually mapped kernel stacks, the use of the GCC plugin mechanism for structure-layout randomization, the hardened usercopy mechanism, and a new reference-count mechanism that detects and defuses reference-count overflows. Each of these features makes the kernel more resistant to attack,” the report states.

    • Unikraft: Unleashing the Power of Unikernels

      The team at NEC Laboratories Europe spent quite a bit of time over the last few years developing unikernels – specialized virtual machine images targeting specific applications. This technology is fascinating to us because of its fantastic performance benefits: tiny memory footprints (hundreds of KBs or a few MBs), boot times compared to those of processes or throughput in the range of 10-40 Gb/s, among many other attributes. Specific metrics can be found in these articles: “My VM is Lighter (and Safer) than your Container,” “Unikernels Everywhere: The Case for Elastic CDNs,” and “ClickOS and the Art of Network Function Virtualization.”

      The potential of unikernels is great (as you can see from the work above), but there hasn’t been a massive adoption of unikernels. Why? Development time. For example, developing Minipython, a MicroPython unikernel, took the better part of three months to put together and test. ClickOS, a unikernel for NFV, was the result of a couple of years of work.

    • SPDX identifiers in the kernel

      Observers of the kernel’s commit stream or mailing lists will have seen a certain amount of traffic referring to the addition of SPDX license identifiers to kernel source files. For many, this may be their first encounter with SPDX. But the SPDX effort has been going on for some years; this article describes SPDX, along with why and how the kernel community intends to use it.

      On its face, compliance with licenses like the GPL seems like a straightforward task. But it quickly becomes complicated for a company that is shipping a wide range of software, in various versions, in a whole set of different products. Compliance problems often come about not because a given company wants to flout a license, but instead because that company has lost track of which licenses it needs to comply with and for which versions of which software. SPDX has its roots in an effort that began in 2009 to help companies get a handle on what their compliance obligations actually are.

      It can be surprisingly hard to determine which licenses apply to a given repository full of software. The kernel’s COPYING file states that it can be distributed under the terms of version 2 of the GNU General Public License. But many of the source files within the kernel tell a different story; some are BSD licensed, and many are dual-licensed. Some carry an exception to make it clear that user-space programs are not a derived product of the kernel. Occasionally, files with GPL-incompatible licenses have been found (and fixed).

    • 4.15 Merge window part 1

      When he released 4.14, Linus Torvalds warned that the 4.15 merge window might be shorter than usual due to the US Thanksgiving holiday. Subsystem maintainers would appear to have heard him; as of this writing, over 8,800 non-merge changesets have been pulled into the mainline since the opening of the 4.15 merge window. Read on for a summary of the most interesting changes found in that first set of patches.

    • 4.15 Merge window part 2

      Despite the warnings that the 4.15 merge window could be either longer or shorter than usual, the 4.15-rc1 prepatch came out right on schedule on November 26. Anybody who was expecting a quiet development cycle this time around is in for a surprise, though; 12,599 non-merge changesets were pulled into the mainline during the 4.15 merge window, 1,000 more than were seen in the 4.14 merge window. The first 8,800 of those changes were covered in this summary; what follows is a look at what came after.

    • BPF-based error injection for the kernel

      Diligent developers do their best to anticipate things that can go wrong and write appropriate error-handling code. Unfortunately, error-handling code is especially hard to test and, as a result, often goes untested; the code meant to deal with errors, in other words, is likely to contain errors itself. One way of finding those bugs is to inject errors into a running system and watching how it responds; the kernel may soon have a new mechanism for doing this sort of injection.

      As an example of error handling in the kernel, consider memory allocations. There are few tasks that can be performed in kernel space without allocating memory to work with. Memory allocation operations can fail (in theory, at least), so any code that contains a call to a function like kmalloc() must check the returned pointer and do the right thing if the requested memory was not actually allocated. But kmalloc() almost never fails in a running kernel, so testing the failure-handling paths is hard. It is probably fair to say that a large percentage of allocation-failure paths in the kernel have never been executed; some of those are certainly wrong.

    • Tools for porting drivers

      Out-of-tree drivers are a maintenance headache, since customers may want to use them in newer kernels. But even those drivers that get merged into the mainline may need to be backported at times. Coccinelle developer Julia Lawall introduced the audience at Open Source Summit Europe to some new tools that can help make both forward-porting and backporting drivers easier.

      She opened her talk by noting that she was presenting step one in her plans, she hoped to be able to report on step two next year some time. The problem she is trying to address is that the Linux kernel keeps moving on. A vendor might create a driver for the 4.4 kernel but, over the next six months, the kernel will have moved ahead by another two versions. There are lots of changes with each new kernel, including API changes that require driver changes to keep up.

      That means that vendors need to continually do maintenance on their drivers unless they get them upstream, where they will get forward-ported by the community. But the reverse problem is there as well: once a device becomes popular, customers may start asking for it to run with older kernels too. That means backporting.

    • Linux Foundation
    • Graphics Stack
      • Intel Wants You To Help Test The i965 Mesa Shader Cache, Not Yet Enabled By Default

        Back in early November Intel finally landed its shader cache support for allowing GLSL shaders to be cached on-disk similar to the RadeonSI shader caching that has been present since earlier in the year. But this functionality isn’t yet enabled by default as it still needs more testing.

        Last month I covered some early test results of this Intel i965 Mesa shader on-disk cache within Intel’s Mesa GLSL Shader Cache Is Speeding Up Game Load Times. In my experiences thus far it’s been working out well but currently isn’t used by the Intel driver unless the MESA_GLSL_CACHE_DISABLE=0 environment variable is set.

      • 16-Bit Storage, variablePointers Land For ANV Vulkan Driver

        It’s always great waking up to new features landing in Mesa Git.

        For the past several months Igalia developers have been working on SPV_KHR_16bit_storage and VK_KHR_16bit_storage support for the Intel ANV Vulkan driver. As implied by the name, this is about supporting 16-bit data types in shader input/output interfaces and push constant blocks. This Vulkan “half float” support has now landed in Mesa Git across a number of patches affecting NIR, ANV, and the Intel shader compiler.

      • POCL 1.0 RC1 Adds Experimental CUDA Backend, Full OpenCL 1.2 Support

        One of the most exciting open-source OpenCL projects we have been following in recent years is POCL as “Portable C” for having an LLVM-based portable OpenCL implementation to run on CPUs as well as GPUs now via AMD HSA back-end and a new experimental NVIDIA CUDA back-end. The POCL 1.0 release is finally near.

      • First Batch Of AMDGPU Changes For Linux 4.16: DC Multi-Display Sync, Vega Tuning

        Alex Deucher of AMD sent in today their first batch of feature updates for Radeon/AMDGPU/TTM feature code for DRM-Next, which has already been queued, and will in turn land next year with the Linux 4.16 kernel.

      • Samsung Improving Cairo’s OpenGL ES 3.x Support, May Eye Vulkan In Future

        Back in September there were developers from Samsung’s Open-Source Group adding initial OpenGL ES 3.0 support to Cairo. The GLESv3 upbringing in Cairo is still ongoing and not yet fully vetted, but Bryce Harrington of Samsung OSG has now blogged about this effort.

        While there is the initial support for creating an OpenGL ES 3.0 context with Cairo, as Bryce explains in his new blog post, the work on GLES 3.0 for Cairo isn’t complete. Additional code is still to be written to leverage new GLES3 functionality and they originally started writing this code for their Tizen platform.

      • David Airlie Continues With Holiday Improvements For R600g

        Last month Red Hat developer David Airlie landed shader image support and other GL4 extension work for the R600 Gallium3D driver that is used for older, pre-GCN AMD graphics processors. For those still relying upon these aging GPUs, David Airlie is continuing with improvements on R600g this month.

        In between hacking on the RADV Vulkan driver, David has continued pushing more improvements to this Gallium3D driver that otherwise doesn’t see too much activity these days. In the past few days has been a number of R600 commits to Mesa 17.4-dev Git.

    • Benchmarks
  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Qt 5.10 Released Along With Qt Creator 4.5

        Qt 5.10 is now officially out as the half-year update to the Qt5 tool-kit.

        Qt 5.10 is arriving just a few days late and is a big feature update. Qt 5.10 features many improvements to Qt Quick and QML, initial Vulkan support, support for streaming Qt UIs to WebGL-enabled browsers, OpenGL ES improvements, new functionality in Qt 3D, a new QRandomGenerator as a “high quality” RNG, OpenSSL 1.1 support in Qt Network, embedded improvements, updated Qt WebEngine, and Qt Network Authentication for OAuth/OAuth2 support and Qt Speech for text-to-speech capabilities. There’s a whole lot more as well.

      • Qt Creator 4.5.0 released

        We are happy to announce the release of Qt Creator 4.5.0!

      • Qt 5.10 released

        I’m happy to let you all know that Qt 5.10 has just been released. Qt 5.10 comes with a ton of new functionalities that I’m thrilled to talk to you about.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Outreachy’s finally here !

        It’s been a month since the Outreachy Round 15 results were announced . Yay! my proposal for adding a network panel to GNOME Usage was selected. I am glad to be working on something I personally have been longing for. Moreover, I finally have something to cut down on my Xbox addiction and channelize it into bringing the network panel to life.

      • UTC and Anywhere on Earth support

        A quick post to tell you that we finally added UTC support to Clocks’ and the Shell’s World Clocks section. And if you’re into it, there’s also Anywhere on Earth support.

        You will need to have git master versions of libgweather (our cities and timezones database), and gnome-clocks. This feature will land in GNOME 3.28.

      • UX Hackfest London

        Last week I took part in the GNOME Shell UX Hackfest in London, along with other designers and developers from GNOME and adjacent communities such as Endless, Pop!, and elementary. We talked about big, fundamental things, like app launching and the lock/login screen, as well as some smaller items, like the first-run experience and legacy window decorations.

      • OARS Gets a New Home

        In the last few months it’s gone from being hardly used to being used multiple times an hour, probably due to the requirement that applications on Flathub need it as part of the review process. After some complaints, I’ve added a ton more explanation to each question and made it easier to use. In particular if you specify that you’re creating metadata for a “non-game” then 80% of the questions get hidden from view.

  • Distributions
    • Reviews
      • POP!_OS – Ubuntu, bang, curtain

        POP!_OS is a rather average Gnome spin of a Gnome-based Ubuntu, which itself is a pale shadow of its former self. System76 did create their own operating system, but it is not drastic enough to warrant a special place in the charts as an independent entry – this is true for 94% of all distros – and not good enough in the first place. It does somewhat improve Aardvark, but it’s still a weak offering.

        We had hardware issues before we ever got into the live session, all sorts of hardware problems in the installed system, the ergonomics are awful, Samba performance is flaky, overall system responsiveness is average. Package management and updates are rather robust and good and so is smartphone support, but then you need Gnome extensions and codecs to really experience the desktop as it’s meant to be. All in all, you can accomplish all of this on your own in any which Gnome, or use something that actually has a sane layout and offers genuine productivity, like Plasma or Windows.

        This is an interesting experiment, but ultimately, I can’t see a reason why anyone would prefer this over stock Ubuntu (with Unity, a good ole 14.04 LTS), Plasma or even any other tailored Debian-based Gnome system. The differences aren’t large or important enough, and there are way too many bugs and issues, making it an even more difficult choice. Overall, POP!_OS deserves something like its 4/10 for its debut. There’s only so much you can do with a broken foundation. Well, let’s see how this one evolves. For now, skip.

      • Kali Linux Review: Not Everyone’s Cup of Tea

        In this review of Kali Linux, we try to answer regular questions like what is Kali Linux, what is the use of Kali Linux and whether beginners should use Kali Linux or not?

    • New Releases
      • Lightweight Distro Puppy Linux 7.5 “Xenialpup” Released — Download Now

        If you take a look at our popular list of lightweight Linux distros, you’ll realize that Puppy Linux has found a place near the top. Packaged in small size, this Linux distro is known for its ability to be built using the packages from other distros like Ubuntu and Slackware. To help you revive your outdated machine, the developers of Puppy Linux have shipped the latest release.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
    • Slackware Family
      • Security update for OpenJDK7

        IcedTea release manager Andrew Hughes (aka GNU/Andrew) announced the announced a new release for IcedTea. The version 2.6.12 builds OpenJDK 7u161_b01. This release includes the October 2017 security fixes for Java 7. The announcement page contains a list of the security issues that have been fixed with this release. It is recommended that you upgrade your OpenJDK 7 to the latest version. If you have already moved to Java 8 then this article is obviously not relevant for you.

    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Debian Installer Buster Alpha 2 release

        The Debian Installer team[1] is pleased to announce the second alpha release of the installer for Debian 10 “Buster”.

      • Debian Installer Buster Alpha 2 Released

        The Debian project has issued the second alpha release of the Debian Installer that eventually will be used by Debian 10.0 “Buster”.

        Debian Installer Buster Alpha 2 was released today, three months after the initial installer alpha.

        The unattended-upgrades package is now installed by default for trying to ensure the automatic installation of security upgrades. The installer image now also makes use of the Linux 4.13 kernel, support for EXT4′s 64-bit feature in syslinux, new machine DB entries for some ARM boards, and various other updates.

      • My Free Software Activities in November 2017

        Welcome to gambaru.de. Here is my monthly report that covers what I have been doing for Debian. If you’re interested in Java, Games and LTS topics, this might be interesting for you.

      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu History: Linux Evolves

            For many Linux users, it’s easy to forget what the Linux landscape looked like before Ubuntu. Back then, newbie centric distros didn’t have Ubuntu as their core. Instead, they relied exclusively on, with the exception of Mandriva (Mandrake). In this spirit of remembrance, I want to take a look back at Ubuntu through the years. With Ubuntu’s shift from the desktop into more of an enterprise future, the timing is fitting to see that at one time Ubuntu was very much a desktop focused experience. In the interest of keeping this article focused, I will be touching on Ubuntu releases that offered something unique and interesting to Ubuntu’s features.

          • Centralize Ubuntu server management on Landscape

            The Canonical Landscape tool brings together multiple servers under a centralized management system. It provides Ubuntu server, package and update management and control at scale. With options such as tags, Ubuntu administrators can group servers for updates and other changes.

            The Landscape system seems fit for Ubuntu administrators who need a simple way to manage infrastructure updates. While some more advanced features are not available, it has a smaller learning curve than other products that provide centralized server management, such as Red Hat Satellite. The price is also a low barrier to entry.

          • Ubuntu 18.04 – New Features, Release Date & More
          • Commercetools uses Ubuntu on its next-generation ecommerce platform

            Today’s shoppers are looking for a consistent experience, no matter which channels they use, whether smartphone, tablet, wearable, digital point of sale, (POS), or other. Commercetools helps enterprises to digitally transform their entire sales operations across all channels. The Software-as-a-Service approach, open source philosophy, and strong support of an API and microservices architecture of Commercetools enable the company’s customers to rapidly build highly individual shopping experiences for their own markets, without having to change their whole IT ecosystem in the process.

          • Kernel Team Summary – December 6, 2017

            Every 6 months the Ubuntu Kernel Team is tasked to pick the kernel to be used in the next release. This is a difficult thing to do because we don’t definitively know what will be going into the upstream kernel over the next 6 months nor the quality of that kernel. We look at the Ubuntu release schedule and how that will line up with the upstream kernel releases. We talk to hardware vendors about when they will be landing their changes upstream and what they would prefer as the Ubuntu kernel version. We talk to major cloud vendors and ask them what they would like. We speak to large consumers of Ubuntu to solicit their opinion. We look at what will be the next upstream stable kernel. We get input from members of the Canonical product strategy team. Taking all of that into account we are tentatively planning to converge on 4.15 for the Bionic Beaver 18.04 LTS release.

          • Flavours and Variants
  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Getting started with Turtl, an open source alternative to Evernote

    Just about everyone I know takes notes, and many people use an online note-taking application like Evernote, Simplenote, or Google Keep. Those are all good tools, but you have to wonder about the security and privacy of your information—especially in light of Evernote’s privacy flip-flop of 2016. If you want more control over your notes and your data, you really need to turn to an open source tool.

    Whatever your reasons for moving away from Evernote, there are open source alternatives out there. Let’s look at one of those alternatives: Turtl.

  • ReactOS 0.4.7 released!

    The ReactOS Project is pleased to announce the release of version 0.4.7 as we continue to work on releasing every three months.

    We’re especially pleased to present this release as the very first one that’s been developed in our new Git/GitHub repository. Moving from Subversion to GitHub has proven to be an invaluable way to reach new testers, users and improve the overall awareness of the ReactOS project.

  • ReactOS 0.4.7 Released As The Latest For “Open-Source Windows”

    At the end of October ReactOS 0.4.7-RC1 was released as the newest test release for this open-source operating system project continuing to work on re-implementing the Windows APIs. That official v0.4.7 release is now available.

  • Iguazio releases high-speed serverless platform to open source

    Iguazio Systems Ltd. has raised $48 million and a lot of interest for its platform-independent approach to data analytics. Now the company is releasing some of the underlying serverless computing technology under an open-source license.

    Called nuclio, the platform is claimed to operate at faster-than-bare-metal speed, processing up to 400,000 events per second compared with 2,000 on Amazon Web Services Inc.’s Lambda platform, according to Yaron Haviv (pictured), founder and chief technology officer of iguazio. The application program interfaces that expose the serverless processes run between 30 and 100 times faster than on AWS, Haviv claimed.

  • Genomics AI tool: Google’s DeepVariant released as open source

    A novel artificial intelligence tool that can accurately call out variants in sequencing data was released as open source on the Google Cloud Platform yesterday. The tool, called DeepVariant, was developed during a collaboration between the Google Brain team and researchers from fellow-Alphabet subsidiary, Verily Life Sciences. The release was announced in a press release cross-posted to the Google Research blog and the Google Open Source blog.

  • Friday Hack Chat: Contributing To Open Source Development

    Open Source is how the world runs. Somewhere, deep inside the box of thinking sand you’re sitting at right now, there’s code you can look at, modify, compile, and run for yourself. At every point along the path between your router and the horrific WordPress server that’s sending you this webpage, there are open source bits transmitting bytes. The world as we know it wouldn’t exist without Open Source software.

  • What is really driving open source adoption?

    Open source has come of age. It now represents the fastest growing segment of enterprise IT initiative and it has become the lingua franca for developers.

    This growth and acceptance has occurred despite one of the initial rationales for businesses going the open source route – cost – barely playing a role in these decisions any more.

    As Mike Matchett, senior analyst and consultant at the US-based Taneja Group pointed out, when it comes to cost, open source doesn’t mean “free” in a real economic sense.

  • Oracle open sources Kubernetes deployment, multi-cluster management tools

    Oracle announced at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon it is open sourcing Fn project Kubernetes Installer and Global Multi-Cluster Management, two projects made to aid the development of the next generation of container native applications using Kubernetes.

    Kubernetes is a platform that allows developers to launch container clusters using advanced cloud native capabilities. Oracle originally released Fn, an open-source, cloud agnostic, serverless platform, in October. It comprises four main components, including Fn Server, Fn FDKs, Fn Flow and Fn Load Balancer. The Fn project Installer follows the foot trails of the Fn project, enabling developers to run serverless deployments on any Kubernetes environment.

  • 6 Best Open Source Reddit Alternatives You Must Visit

    A couple of months ago, Reddit announced its plans to stop sharing its main website’s open source code base. The website gave a number of reasons, which weren’t welcomed by the open source community. So, we’ve decided to prepare a list of some free and open source Reddit alternatives that you can give a try. Some of these aren’t much popular, but we thought it’s a good time to spread the world and tell you about these options.

  • Cumulus Networks brings its open source software stack to Voyager

    Telcos have witnessed many years of legacy, closed systems that have stunted development and made it costly to interconnect data centres and networks.The industry is now seeing the commoditisation of hardware and software and the use of open transparanet technologies to drive down costs and provide access to more people.

  • Events
    • KubeCon: CoreOS Tectonic, open source Kubernetes Tools from Oracle, Kasten, and more

      The Cloud Native Computing Foundation kicked off their KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America conference, dedicated to Kubernetes and cloud native technologies, in Austin, Texas today with the announcement of 31 new members, including AppsCode, CA, Datadog, Grafana Labs, InfluxData, HPE and Kasten.

    • FAD I18N 2017

      FAD I18N 2017 was held in Pune India last month. Fedora I18N members met together and there was very exciting and constructive event.

      I talked about IBus 1.6 plans there. I’ve been thinking to implement a new ProcessKeyEvent method to support Korean preedit with X11 applications. Peng Wu now provided a patch of ForwardKeyEvent method instead of the new ProcessKeyEvent method. We will ask the maintainer of ibus-hangul to release the new version to use ForwardKeyEvent.

  • Web Browsers
  • Office Suites
    • OffiDocs, the online Linux environment is a free cloud service to use desktop apps like LibreOffice and GIMP with a web browser

      OffiDocs offers you a complete service so you can work in the cloud with your Linux desktop apps. Thanks to this online platform, you can develop your projects from anywhere and at any time just using your Internet browser.

    • SoftMaker Office 2018 for Linux reaches beta stage

      The German software developer, SoftMaker, has announced the public beta release of its SoftMaker Office 2018 for Linux package. The Linux release comes hot on the heels of the Windows version of the suite which launch just a few weeks ago. Users can expect a re-designed interface which allows users to work with classic menus or ribbons. The company also touts seamless compatibility with Microsoft Office.

    • LibreOffice vs. WPS Office: Which Office Suite Should You Use on Linux

      LibreOffice and WPS Office are two common Microsoft Office alternatives for the Linux platform. There has been several debates as to which of these is the better alternative to Microsoft Office. The debates, surely, are not going to end anytime soon.

      There is no definitive answer here! The choice between the two is completely dependent on the user and the job at hand. LibreOffice and WPS Office both have their pros and cons. After sharing some pros and cons of each office suite, you will be better informed to make your choice should you get caught up in such a dilemma.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
    • Running FreeBSD 12, TrueOS On AMD EPYC

      Back in October I did some basic tests of the BSDs on AMD EPYC while now with having more of our extensive Linux testing of AMD EPYC complete, I went back and did a few fresh tests of the BSDs with an AMD EPYC 7601 processor housed within the Tyan Transport SX TN70A-B8026.

    • SSH Mastery” 2nd ed tech reviewers wanted

      I’d need any comments back by 2 January 2018.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • GNU Guix and GuixSD 0.14.0 released

      We are pleased to announce the new release of GNU Guix and GuixSD, version 0.14.0!

      The release comes with GuixSD ISO-9660 installation images, a virtual machine image of GuixSD, and with tarballs to install the package manager on top of your GNU/Linux distro, either from source or from binaries.

    • GNU Guix / Guix SD 0.14 Released: ARM Port Coming, New Services

      Today marks the release of GNU Guix 0.14 as well as the GNU Guix SD (System Distribution) that is the Linux-based operating system built around this package manager.

      The Guix SD operating system using the GNU Linux-libre kernel with GNU Shepherd init system has seen a lot of work this cycle. In fact, Guix SD 0.14 is the first release where the OS is produced as a ISO-9660 image that works both for a DVD or USB stick. Guix SD also has a new bootloader API to allow it for supporting more than just GRUB, including U-Boot and Extlinux. With these new bootloader options, Guix SD is currently being ported to ARM-based devices.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • Coders Beware: Licensing Issues Abound for Ether Apps [Ed: "When 'free' isn’t free," say lawyers, in what might be little less than FUD about digital currency]

      The Ethereum Foundation promises that ethereum “is both open-source software and Free software after the definition of the Free Software Foundation (so-called FLOSS).” In other words, licensees will generally receive broad rights to run, copy, distribute and improve the software.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • An Open-Source Smartphone Microscope

        A research team led by Wei-Chuan Shih from the University of Houston, USA, reports creating a multicolor fluorescence microscope from a smartphone and a 3-D printer—and they’ve made the computer-aided designs available online for free (Biomed. Opt. Express, doi: 10.1364/BOE.8.005075). The scientists say the smartphone microscope, outfitted with a 3-D inkjet-printed elastomer lens and a polylactic-acid (PLA) housing, could help equip researchers and healthcare providers in developing and rural areas, as well as hobbyists and backpackers, with imaging techniques for diagnostic functions, including detecting waterborne pathogens.

      • Western Digital Gives A Billion Unit Boost To Open Source RISC-V CPU
  • Programming/Development
    • Hazelcast joins Eclipse Foundation to collaborate on open source enterprise Java

      Hazelcast, the open source In-Memory Data Grid (IMDG) with tens of thousands of installed clusters and over 39 million server starts per month, announced it had joined the Eclipse Foundation, bringing extensive Java-driven community experience to a host of open source projects.

      Working collaboratively with other members of the Eclipse community, Hazelcast’s primary focus will be on JCache, the Eclipse MicroProfile and EE4J.

      In particular, Hazelcast will be collaborating with members to popularise JCache, a Java Specification Request (JSR-107) which specifies API and semantics for temporary, in-memory caching of Java objects, including object creation, shared access, spooling, invalidation, and consistency across JVM’s. These operations help scale out applications and manage their high-speed access to frequently used data. In the Java Community Process (JCP), Hazelcast’s CEO, Greg Luck, has been the co spec lead and then maintenance lead on “JCache – Java Temporary Caching API” since 2007.

    • GitLab update: Moving to the next step

      I have good news, after few meetings and discussions with GitLab we reached an agreement on a way to bring the features we need and to fix our most important blockers in a reasonable time and in a way that are synced with us. Their team will fix our blockers in the next 1-2 months, most of them will be fix in the release of 22th of December and the rest if everything goes well in the release of 22th of January. The one left that out of those 2 months is a richer UI experience for duplicates, which is going to be an ongoing effort.

      Apologies for the blockage for those that regularly asked to migrate their project, I wanted to make sure we are doing things in the right steps. I also wanted to make sure that I get feedback and comments about the initiative all around in my effort to make a representation of the community for taking these decisions. Now it’s the point where I’m confident, the feedback and comments both inside and outside of our core community has been largely that we should start our path to fully migrate to GitLab.

    • Khronos Releases SYCL 1.2.1 With TensorFlow Acceleration, C++17 Alignment

      SYCL as a reminder is Khronos’ higher-level OpenCL programming model based on C++. It’s been a while since the last update, but a new point release is now available.

      SYCL 1.2.1 is based on OpenCL 1.2 and improves support for machine learning tasks, supports TensorFlow acceleration, and aligns with the latest C++17 standard. SYCL 1.2 had previously been based on C++11/C++14. The C++17 standard was just firmed up this month.

    • Python data classes

      The reminder that the feature freeze for Python 3.7 is coming up fairly soon (January 29) was met with a flurry of activity on the python-dev mailing list. Numerous Python enhancement proposals (PEPs) were updated or newly proposed; other features or changes have been discussed as well. One of the updated PEPs is proposing a new type of class, a “data class”, to be added to the standard library. Data classes would serve much the same purpose as structures or records in other languages and would use the relatively new type annotations feature to support static type checking of the use of the classes.

      PEP 557 (“Data Classes”) came out of a discussion on the python-ideas mailing list back in May, but its roots go back much further than that. The attrs module, which is aimed at reducing the boilerplate code needed for Python classes, is a major influence on the design of data classes, though it goes much further than the PEP. attrs is not part of the standard library, but is available from the Python Package Index (PyPI); it has been around for a few years and is quite popular with many Python developers. The idea behind both attrs and data classes is to automatically generate many of the “dunder” methods (e.g. __init__(), __repr__()) needed, especially for a class that is largely meant to hold various typed data items.

    • A mini-rant on the lack of string slices in C
    • Simplistic programming is underrated

      I should explain. It is absolutely true that if you deploy a larger vocabulary, if you use longer, more pompous sentences, many people will think you are smarter. The same is true with programming. If you can cram metaprogramming, pure functional programming, some assembly and a neural network into one program, many programmers will be impressed by your skills.

Leftovers
  • International Digital Preservation Day

    The Digital Preservation Coalition’s International Digital Preservation Day was marked by a wide-ranging collection of blog posts. Below the fold, some links to and comments on, a few of them.

  • Google And Amazon Are Harming Consumers And Behaving Like Obnoxious Toddlers

    That decision has only resulted in an ever-escalating game of tit for tat that has started to bubble over in recent months. Around three months ago, YouTube decided to block YouTube from working on Amazon’s Echo Show hardware, pushing the bogus claim it was due to a “broken user experience.” In response, Amazon expanded its blacklist of Google products by refusing to sell Google Nest hardware as well. This was already bad enough, but the escalating game of “who can be the most obnoxious to paying customers” was taken to yet another level this week.

  • Volkswagen executive sentenced to maximum prison term, fine under plea deal

    On Wednesday, a US District judge in Detroit sentenced Oliver Schmidt, a former Volkswagen executive, to seven years in prison for his role in the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal of 2015. Schmidt was also ordered to pay a criminal penalty of $400,000, according to a US Department of Justice (DOJ) press release. The prison term and the fine together represent the maximum sentence that Schmidt could have received under the plea deal he signed in August.

  • Science
    • Boffins foresee most software written by machines in 2040

      Boffins at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory speculate that by 2040 advances in AI disciplines like machine learning and natural language processing will shift most software code creation from people to machines.

      In a paper distributed via ArXiv, “Will humans even write code in 2040 and what would that mean for extreme heterogeneity in computing?”, ORNL researchers Jay Jay Billings, Alexander McCaskey, Geoffroy Vallee and Greg Watson suggest machines will be doing much of the programming work two decades hence.

  • Hardware
  • Health/Nutrition
    • Nothing Protects Black Women From Dying in Pregnancy and Childbirth

      On a melancholy Saturday this past February, Shalon Irving’s “village” — the friends and family she had assembled to support her as a single mother — gathered at a funeral home in a prosperous black neighborhood in southwest Atlanta to say goodbye and send her home. The afternoon light was gray but bright, flooding through tall arched windows and pouring past white columns, illuminating the flag that covered her casket. Sprays of callas and roses dotted the room like giant corsages, flanking photos from happier times: Shalon in a slinky maternity dress, sprawled across her couch with her puppy; Shalon, sleepy-eyed and cradling the tiny head of her newborn daughter, Soleil. In one portrait Shalon wore a vibrant smile and the crisp uniform of the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service, where she had been a lieutenant commander. Many of the mourners were similarly attired. Shalon’s father, Samuel, surveyed the rows of somber faces from the lectern. “I’ve never been in a room with so many doctors,” he marveled. “… I’ve never seen so many Ph.D.s.”

      At 36, Shalon had been part of their elite ranks — an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the preeminent public health institution in the U.S. There she had focused on trying to understand how structural inequality, trauma and violence made people sick. “She wanted to expose how peoples’ limited health options were leading to poor health outcomes. To kind of uncover and undo the victim blaming that sometimes happens where it’s like, ‘Poor people don’t care about their health,’” said Rashid Njai, her mentor at the agency. Her Twitter bio declared: “I see inequity wherever it exists, call it by name, and work to eliminate it.”

  • Security
    • Global law enforcement operation decimates giant Andromeda botnet

      Developed in September 2011, Andromeda, aka Gamarue or Wauchos, is known for stealing credentials from victims as well as downloading and installing up to 80 different secondary malware programs onto users’ systems, including spam bots. Over the last half-year, it has been detected or blocked on an average of more than 1 million machines per month, Europol added.

    • Ex-NSA Worker Pleads Guilty to Taking Classified Data

      Pho worked for the NSA’s Tailored Access Operations Unit from 2006 until 2016 and had access to data and documents that included classified and top secret national defense information. “According to the plea agreement, beginning in 2010 and continuing through March 2015, Pho removed and retained U.S. government documents and writings that contained national defense information, including information classified as Top Secret and Sensitive Compartmented Information,” the DOJ stated.

    • Is blockchain a security topic?

      What’s really interesting is that, if you’re thinking about moving to a permissioned blockchain or distributed ledger with permissioned actors, then you’re going to have to spend some time thinking about trust. You’re unlikely to be using a proof-of-work system for making blocks—there’s little point in a permissioned system—so who decides what comprises a “valid” block that the rest of the system should agree on? Well, you can rotate around some (or all) of the entities, or you can have a random choice, or you can elect a small number of über-trusted entities. Combinations of these schemes may also work.

    • Replacing x86 firmware with Linux and Go

      The Intel Management Engine (ME), which is a separate processor and operating system running outside of user control on most x86 systems, has long been of concern to users who are security and privacy conscious. Google and others have been working on ways to eliminate as much of that functionality as possible (while still being able to boot and run the system). Ronald Minnich from Google came to Prague to talk about those efforts at the 2017 Embedded Linux Conference Europe.

      He began by noting that most times he is talking about firmware, it is with his coreboot hat on. But he removed said “very nice hat”, since his talk was “not a coreboot talk”. He listed a number of people who had worked on the project to “replace your exploit-ridden firmware with a Linux kernel”, including several from partner companies (Two Sigma, Cisco, and Horizon Computing) as well as several other Google employees.

      The results they achieved were to drop the boot time on an Open Compute Project (OCP) node from eight minutes to 20 seconds. To his way of thinking, that is “maybe the single least important part” of this work, he said. All of the user-space parts of the boot process are written in Go; that includes everything in initramfs, including init. This brings Linux performance, reliability, and security to the boot process and they were able to eliminate all of the ME and UEFI post-boot activity from the boot process.

    • Interview: Why are open-source security vulnerabilities rising? [Ed: Snyk is a FUD firm. It has been smearing Free software a lot lately in an effort to just sell its services.]
    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Mecklenburg County won’t pay $23,000 ransom to hackers [sic], manager says

      In a 2 p.m. news conference at the Government Center, Diorio said third-party security experts believe the attack by a new strain of ransomware called LockCrypt originated from Iran or Ukraine. Forty-eight of about 500 county computer servers were affected.

    • The Reason Why This 20-year-old Hacker Breached Uber Will Make You Feel Bad For Him

      In November, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowashahi revealed that the company’s third-party server was compromised in October 2016 and the details of about 57 million customers were leaked. This information was made public after a report from Bloomberg claimed that Uber made a $100,000 payoff to destroy the hacked data.

    • Uber paid to keep data breach secret: report

      The company then paid the hacker [sic] $100,000 to destroy the information, but did not notify those affected by the breach.

    • Mastermind of massive botnet caught because of basic mistake

      A Belarussian man who is said to be behind many of the biggest botnets has been caught, with investigators tracking him down because he used the ICQ number as a primary contact on both public and private websites.

    • US cyberweapons have been stolen and there’s nothing we can do [iophk: "Microsoft Windows TCO]

      The NSA is not sure how many other pieces of its arsenal have been leaked. “The US is battling a rearguard action with respect to its reputation,” says Tim Stevens at King’s College London.

    • Security updates for Thursday
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Jared Kushner By Day: Mideast Peace. Kushner Companies By Night: Donating to a West Bank Settlement.

      As Jared Kushner leads the U.S. government’s effort to develop an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, the Kushner Companies Charitable Foundation is funding a hardline Israeli settlement in the West Bank.

      The charitable fund made a donation of at least $18,000 at the “Master Builders” level to American Friends of Bet El Yeshiva Center, according to a donor book distributed at the group’s annual gala Sunday evening.

      The Kushner family has given money in past years to the group, which funds construction of the Bet El settlement outside the Palestinian city Ramallah, as Haaretz first reported. But this appears to be the first time they’ve done so while Kushner, whose title is senior adviser to the president, is the lead administration official brokering a peace plan.

    • Sucking Liberals into a New Cold War

      Out of fury against President Trump, many liberals have enlisted in the ranks of the New Cold War against Russia, seeming to have forgotten the costs to rationality and lives from the first Cold War, warns William Blum.

    • Flynn’s Secret Text Messages Show Trump Colluded With Russia, Experts Say
    • Killer cop off to jail for shooting unarmed black man in back

      A North Carolina cop who shot an unarmed black man in the back is going to jail for at least 19 years.

      Michael Slager killed Walter Scott in 2015, while an officer with the North Charleston Police Department. He was fired after video surfaced that showed Slager firing at Scott as he fled. It was clear from the footage that Slager was not in any danger: he just wanted to kill Scott.

    • Ex-cop Michael Slager faces 19 to 24 years in prison for shooting death of Walter Scott
    • Franken’s Opportunism on the Iraq War

      A year after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, Franken criticized the Bush administration because they “failed to send enough troops to do the job right.” What “job” did the man think the troops were sent to do that had not been performed to his standards because of lack of manpower? Did he want them to be more efficient at killing Iraqis who resisted the occupation? The volunteer American troops in Iraq did not even have the defense of having been drafted against their wishes.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Malta, journalist’s killers arrested. SMS detonated bomb

      Forensic evidence acquired by the FBI is key to bringing the men accused of being the assassins of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia to justice, for her family and the international public opinion. The afternoon of the 16th October, a few minutes before the white Peugeot 108 rental car in which Daphne was travelling was torn apart by a powerful charge of explosives positioned under the car body, three mobile phones linked to Triq il-Bidnija, the location where the attack took place, communicate amongst themselves. Two phones record the communications of two men waiting for the passage of the Peugeot transporting Daphne home. A third, further away from the location of the explosion, sends an SMS to the transceiver connected to the charger which served as a detonator to the explosive. This triggered two powerful explosions in sequence, and transformed the car into a fireball. For eight weeks a secret investigation has been underway into the men who held those three mobile phones in their hands that afternoon. The Maltese Police are working with the island’s security services, Europol, and three teams of foreign investigators invited by the Labour government of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat – the FBI, Dutch police and Finnish police – to liberate the investigation from any suspicions of political manipulation.

    • Institute of Journalists closes case on Daphne Caruana Galizia: “justice prevailed”

      It really is no mystery why Daphne Caruana Galizia would never join the ‘Institute of Maltese Journalists’.

      Look at them celebrating “justice having prevailed” when three lowlifes were arraigned, accused of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder.

      Their words: “The fact that tonight three people were arraigned in Court following their arrest and subsequent interrogation during these past two days marks a historic moment for the Institute where justice prevails in favour of freedom of the press.”

      Of course no one is happier about this than the prime minister. Look at him gleefully retweeting the journalists’ fawning praise.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Dakota Access Pipeline Company Tries to Sue Environmental Groups Out of Existence

      Courts shouldn’t let companies like Energy Transfer Partners use litigation to intimidate and bankrupt advocacy groups.

      If you want to experience 2017 in a nutshell, check out the billion-dollar lawsuit filed by an oil and gas company against Greenpeace and other environmental groups for their roles in the Standing Rock protests.

      In a 231-page complaint filed by Donald Trump’s old law firm, Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, claims that Greenpeace and its partners are engaged in a criminal network of fraud and misinformation. The paranoiac complaint, which includes references to “wolfpacks of corrupt” environmental nongovernmental organizations and describes Greenpeace as a “putative Dutch not-for-profit foundation,” would be amusing if it weren’t so dangerous.

      It leverages the RICO Act, a statute that was meant for mob prosecutions, and defamation law to wage a scorched-earth campaign against nonprofits that spoke out against the pipeline’s construction near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. Fortunately, as we argue in a friend-of-the-court brief filed yesterday with a coalition of public interest groups, the First Amendment prohibits companies from suing their critics out of existence.

      ETP’s lawsuit rests on two theories, neither of which holds water.

    • Patagonia joins lawsuits challenging Trump’s monument plans

      Outdoor retailing giant Patagonia on Wednesday joined a flurry of lawsuits challenging President Donald Trump’s decision to chop up two large national monuments in Utah could finally bring an answer to the much-debated question of whether presidents have the legal authority to undo or change monuments created by past presidents.

      Until that question is answered months or years from now, the fate of the contested lands in Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments will remain unresolved.

      Proclamations signed Monday by the president allow lands no longer protected as a national monument to be opened up in 60 days to mining, but conservation and tribal groups will likely try to keep that from happening.

    • Climate change already costs us all money, and it’s going to get worse

      Tuesday evening, Columbia University’s Earth Institute hosted a panel that was meant to focus on an issue we’re likely to be facing with increasing frequency: the need to move entire communities that are no longer viable due to rising seas or altered weather. But the discussion ended up shifting to how people in at-risk locations aren’t moving, and the entire governmental structure in the US is focused on keeping them right where they are.

      As a result, the entire US population is already paying for climate change, whether we accept the science behind it or not. And things will almost certainly get worse.

  • Finance
    • How Students Get Banished to Alternative Schools

      In October 2014, less than two months after entering North Augusta High School in Aiken County, South Carolina, Logan Rewis paused to drink from a fountain in the hallway between periods. As he straightened up, water fell from his mouth onto the shoe of his social studies teacher, Matt Branon, who was standing nearby. Logan says it was an accident, but Branon thought Logan had spat at him.

      “My bad,” the 15-year-old with bushy sandy-brown hair and blue eyes says he told Branon after the teacher confronted him.

      Branon, who is also the school’s baseball coach, was incensed. “Freaking disgusting,” he shouted at Logan as the teen walked away. Branon pursued Logan and grabbed the freshman by his backpack.

      “Get your freaking hands off me,” Logan recalls yelling. School officials say he used a different “f” word.

      Though Branon had arguably escalated the conflict, he wasn’t disciplined — but Logan was. In a decision that changed the course of his education and life, the school district banished Logan to its alternative school, the Center for Innovative Learning at Pinecrest.

    • Illinois Legislators Pledge to Deal with ‘Pipeline to Prison’ at Juvenile Correctional Facility

      A top juvenile official testified Tuesday that guards at a southern Illinois youth correctional facility have created a “pipeline to prison” that is hampering the state’s ability to fulfill its juvenile justice mission.

      More than 100 people gathered at a nearly five-hour hearing before the House Appropriations-Public Safety Committee to address reports of violence in Department of Juvenile Justice facilities and the state’s adult prisons.

      Kathleen Bankhead, the state’s independent juvenile ombudsman, focused her testimony on a series of alleged assaults by teenagers on staff at the Illinois Youth Center at Harrisburg in southern Illinois.

      ProPublica Illinois reported in October that guards and other employees there have pursued more criminal charges for youth-on-staff assaults since 2016 than all other state juvenile correctional facilities combined.

    • Bitcoin in the balance: The troublesome quest to reinvent money
    • Bitcoin surpasses $15,000-mark! Here’s a word of advice for retail, HNI investors

      The cryptocurrency hit a 24-hour high of $15,340 per unit and 24-hour low of $12,662.86, as of 10 am IST, data available on coingecko.com suggested.

    • A Bitcoin Frenzy Like No Other Is Gripping South Korea

      So many Koreans have embraced bitcoin that the prime minister recently warned that cryptocurrencies might corrupt the nation’s youth. The craze has spread so far that, in Korea, bitcoin is trading at a premium of about 23 percent over prevailing international rates.

    • Total bitcoin value exceeds cash in UK, Canada, Australia

      The current value of the digital currency bitcoin is estimated at US$180 billion, exceeding the total cash in circulation in the UK and a number of other countries including Australia, it has been claimed.

    • How much energy does Bitcoin consume, and can it improve?

      So the energy cost of Bitcoin is tied to its cash value, not its supply (though the supply and the value have a relationship, obviously). There is a similar (but different) dynamic in play for the reward for block-processing.

    • Bitcoin’s insane energy consumption, explained

      The skyrocketing value of Bitcoin is leading to soaring energy consumption. According to one widely cited website that tracks the subject, the Bitcoin network is consuming power at an annual rate of 32TWh—about as much as Denmark. By the site’s calculations, each Bitcoin transaction consumes 250kWh, enough to power homes for nine days.

      Naturally, this is leading to concerns about sustainability. Eric Holthaus, a writer for Grist, projects that, at current growth rates, the Bitcoin network will “use as much electricity as the entire world does today” by early 2020. “This is an unsustainable trajectory,” he writes.

    • This Guy Dumped 7,500 Bitcoins Worth $100 Million, Now Digging Landfill Site

      What could have been a wealthy fortune for a British man has turned into a task that now requires an extensive amount of hard work. A Newport-based IT worker James Howells claims that he mistakenly dumped his hard drive containing 7,500 Bitcoins back in mid-2013.

      Howells might have started to regret his mistake even more as the value of the cryptocurrency has soared past $14,000. He believes that his hard drive worth millions is buried in a landfill and his recovery plan seems to be like finding a needle in a haystack.

    • Media Downplay Class Warfare as ‘GOP Victory’

      The fallacy of “neutral,” “both sides” journalism rings loud and clear in corporate media reporting on the Republican Party’s tax plan. The GOP bill, passed by the Senate in the early hours of December 2 and described by major media outlets as a “tax cut,” is in reality an explicit handout to large companies and the ultra-rich that will actually increase taxes on working-class Americans.

      But under the cover of a shallow understanding of “balance,” corporate media have internalized the outlandish idea that it is “partisan,” and thus not “neutral,” to acknowledge the undeniably destructive effects of particular political policies. These inconvenient facts are hence not emphasized in news reporting, and cannot be presented alone without being “balanced” with an opposing perspective—even if that contrary view is demonstrably false.

      In the case of the GOP legislation, which will slash the corporate tax rate and add some $1.4 trillion to the national debt, the deception took a variety of forms.

    • Susan, Was It Worth It?

      The hundreds of protesters in D.C. Tuesday chanting “Kill this bill, don’t kill us”at GOP lawmakers who passed the scourge of a tax scam have myriad kindred spirits here in Maine, where voters – many older and with much at stake – have long supported health care access and last month became the first state to pass a ballot initiative to expand Medicare. People are justifiably aiming their fury at perennially coy Susan Collins, who’s earned a reputation as a “moderate” and “independent” Republican by occasionally bending to “constant and intense pressure from her constituents” to do the right thing – most notably, by voting against the latest assault on Obamacare.

      Now, by providing a key vote for tax cuts to billionaires and corporations unfathomably far away on every level from the reality of most Mainers’ lives, she has been deemed “beneath contempt.” Adding insult to injury, she based her vote in part on health care compromises and economic claims that turn out to be specious: Two headlines on her vote describe “promises written in vanishing ink” and ask, “What in the world was Susan Collins thinking?” The result, says one fed-up resident: “This betrayal will not be forgotten.” Evidently.

    • VA cuts program for homeless vets after touting Trump’s commitment

      Four days after Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin held a big Washington event to tout the Trump administration’s promise to house all homeless vets, the agency did an about-face, telling advocates it was pulling resources from a major housing program.

      The VA said it was essentially ending a special $460 million program that has dramatically reduced homelessness among chronically sick and vulnerable veterans. Instead, the money would go to local VA hospitals that can use it as they like, as long as they show evidence of dealing with homelessness.

    • How the Cook County Assessor Failed Taxpayers

      Amid the most tumultuous real estate market since the Great Depression, Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios produced valuations for thousands of commercial and industrial properties in Chicago that did not change from one reassessment to the next, not even by a single dollar.

      That fact, one finding in an unprecedented ProPublica Illinois-Chicago Tribune analysis of tens of thousands of property records, points to a conclusion that experts say defies any logical explanation except one:

      Berrios failed at one of his most important responsibilities — estimating the value of commercial and industrial properties.

    • How We Analyzed Commercial and Industrial Property Assessments in Chicago and Cook County
  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Christie: Warning about Flynn among reasons I was fired from Trump transition

      New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Wednesday he was ousted as head of President Donald Trump’s transition due in part to his opposition to the hiring of Michael Flynn as national security adviser.

      “I thought it was a significant reason,” Christie said at an unrelated press conference at his office in Trenton.

    • Trump Stands By Endorsement of Roy Moore, Accused of Sexual Assault & Harassment

      President Trump is standing by his endorsement of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who has been accused by at least nine women of sexually harassing or assaulting them when they were teenagers. One of the women says Moore removed her shirt and pants, then touched her over her bra and underwear, when she was only 14 years old. She says she recalls thinking, “I wanted it over with—I wanted out. Please just get this over with. Whatever this is, just get it over.” This is Trump, speaking Tuesday.

    • Wagging the Dog in Korea?

      “President’s Trump Card May Be N. Korea If Flynn Is Threat to Him” ran the headline in the Saturday New York Daily News. The Daily News does not use the phrase “Wag the Dog,” but the association is obvious. Wag the Dog was a 1997 film, based on a novel, in which an American President engineers a war in order to distract the public’s attention from a sex scandal (molesting an underage “Firefly Girl.” Roy Moore, take note.)

      The war in Wag the Dog was faked, conjured up by a Hollywood film director (Dustin Hoffman) acting at the behest of a Washington spin doctor played by Robert De Niro. (You want me to fake a war, the director asks? No, no, De Niro assures him. Not a war: a “pageant.”)

      If it is true that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the producers of Wag the Dog must have been tickled pink when their script came true—with one major difference. This time the war was real.

      Wag the Dog was released in December 1997. In January 1998, President Bill Clinton’s Oval Office shenanigans with White House intern Monica Lewinsky were revealed. A grand jury was impaneled to investigate whether the President had lied under oath about the affair. On August 20, 1998, the second day of Lewinsky’s testimony, Clinton launched cruise missiles at suspected Al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan and a factory in Sudan. Clinton claimed that the factory was producing nerve gas for Al-Qaeda. What it was actually producing was medicines. With one blow, the US destroyed the source of half of Sudan’s pharmaceuticals. Former CIA analyst and senior fellow at the Center for International Policy, Professor Melvin Goodman of Johns Hopkins University, is just one authority who maintains that Clinton knew perfectly well that the factory was not producing chemical weapons.

    • Donald Trump, unFounding Father

      Keep on staring just like you’ve been doing, just like we’ve all been doing since he rode down that escalator into the presidential race in June 2015 and, while you have your eyes on him, I’ll tell you exactly why you shouldn’t stop.

      [...]

      To begin with, it’s time to think of Donald J. Trump in a different light. After all, isn’t he really our own UnFounding Father? While the Founding Fathers were responsible for two crucial documents, the Declaration of Independence (1,458 words) and the Constitution (4,543 words), our twenty-first century UnFounding Father only writes passages of 140 characters or less. (Sad!) Other people have authored “his” books. (“I put lipstick on a pig,” said one of his ghostwriters.) He reportedly doesn’t often read books himself (though according to ex-wife Ivana, he once had a volume of Hitler’s speeches by his bedside). He’s never seen a magazine cover he didn’t want to be on (or at least that he didn’t want to claim, however spuriously, he had decided not to be on). He recently indicated that he thought the Constitution had at least one extra article, “Article XII,” which he promised to “protect,” even though it didn’t exist. (My best guess: he believed it said, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved neither to the States respectively, nor to the people, but to Trump and his heirs and there will be no inheritance tax on them.”)

    • Michael Flynn’s Indictment Exposes Trump Team’s Collusion With Israel, Not Russia

      When Congress authorized Robert Mueller and his team of lawyers to investigate “links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump,” opponents of the president sensed that sooner or later, hard evidence of Trump’s collusion with the Russian government would emerge.

      Seven months later, after three indictments that did little, if anything, to confirm the grand collusion narrative, Mueller had former National Security Council advisor Michael Flynn dragged before a federal court for lying to the FBI. The Russia probe had finally netted a big fish.

    • Hanging out with Bernie Sanders: it turns out that standing FOR something is a lot more politically important than merely standing AGAINST Trump

      Vice reporter Eve Peyser spent a weekend on the road with Bernie Sanders, and writes vividly and charmingly about the personal habits and behind-the-scenes homeliness of the famously non-materialistic, idealistic senator.

      But where the story is most charged and vivid is when Peyser ruminates on how Sanders is able to reach out to people — even people who voted for Trump — to articulate a vision of a better America, not grounded in the white supremacist fantasy of the lost “greatness” that he alone can return us to, but a new world, built on solidarity, decency, fairness and mutual aid. It’s a vision that cuts across party lines and speaks directly to the best in all of us.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • EU pushes tech firms to crack down on extremist content
    • Egypt must end censorship for democracy

      Under the presidency of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt has experienced a steep increase in censorship policies from the national government. With a faltering approval rating and an election coming up in 2018, Sisi is trying to ensure his success in the election by suppressing the opposition to guarantee that he runs unopposed. Unfortunately, one of the Sisi administration’s main targets is libraries, some of which have been raided and shut down because they were considered to be “seditious spaces,” according to a report from The Atlantic. Sisi’s attack on libraries is detrimental to both education and democracy in Egypt and must not be permitted.

    • New Era of Censorship Isn’t Limited to Russian Outlets

      Despite RT and Sputnik News conceding to US demands to register as foreign agents, Google has announced its intention to “de-rank” their articles, in a bid to reduce the exposure and reach of content published on both sites. Russia’s foreign ministry subsequently warned such a move would constitute censorship.

      [...]

      As free and unimpaired access to information is a cornerstone of democracy, and since the internet is contemporarily the largest, most-readily available hub of information, it’s unsurprising Google’s announcement has been dubbed an attack on democracy, and triggered an outcry.

    • China toughens web censorship, encourages others to follow
    • Conference lauds openness of Chinese Internet; during a year of unparalleled censorship

      Irony of ironies: Much of the official emphasis at China’s fourth annual World Internet Conference, held in Wuzhen, Zhejiang Province in the east of the People’s Republic, was on the “openness” of the country’s heavily policed Internet. However, it did not escape the notice of many overseas delegates that the conference took place at the end of a year of unparalleled increases in Internet control and censorship in China – although there was little public acknowledgement or debate about that in the Alice Through the Looking Glass world of the “Wuzhen Summit”.

      The World Internet Conference first took place in 2014 under the tutelage of Lu Wei, who, at that time was the man who wielded the iron rod of control over China’s Internet by dint of his role as the head of the PRC’s Cyberspace Administration. In 2015 he actually took the stage at the conference to deny that China imposes any censorship on its domestic Internet. He said, “It is a misuse of words if you say ‘content censorship.’ But no censorship does not mean there is no management.” It was a piece of sophistry worthy of a Ming Dynasty mandarin never mind a communist party apparatchik in the 21st century.

    • Chinese power ‘may lead to global academic censorship crisis’

      China’s “new era” of increased global power poses a threat to academic freedom across the world and could result in global university leaders seeking to appease the country’s Communist Party, experts have warned.

      China’s president Xi Jinping heralded the dawn of a “new era” of Chinese power during a recent speech at the Communist Party congress and said that it was time for his nation to transform itself into “a mighty force” that could lead the world on political, economic, military and environmental issues.

    • Censorship of Pakistani films ‘becoming more politicized’

      The move to give provincial authorities oversight of censorship and film exhibitions has led to greater politicization of censors’ review boards, critics say.

      On November 14, the Punjab Censors’ Board decided to ban the film ‘Verna’, three days before it was due to be released. This meant that the film’s premiere, scheduled just after that, was also canceled.

    • Pakistan: Censorship board lifts ban on film

      Pakistan’s Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC) lifted the ban on film ”Verna” on 16 November 2017, one day before its scheduled opening, reported International Business Times.

      The film was originally reportedly banned for scenes of violence and rape, and in the case of the censor board of Punjab, the portrayal of “government institutions in an undesirable manned”, reported Samaa TV.

      The film was released in Punjab on 18 November after film director agreed to make minor cuts, reported Asia Times.

      Both the ban and its subsequent lifting saw an outburst on social media.

    • Snopes Debunks Fake YouTube Video; Video’s Creator Responds With A Bogus DMCA Notice

      So… that’s the kind of “truth” we’re dealing with, often pronounced “conspiracy theory.” J.K. Sheindlin is the person behind NBT Films and the author of a book that has supposedly blown minds of Islam adherents everywhere, resulting in them renouncing their faith on camera.

      One popular video on NBT’s YouTube channel shows a supposed Islamic man angrily and bitterly decrying the religion after having his eyes opened by Sheindlin’s book. But the video isn’t what it seems: it’s actually footage taken from somewhere else, dealing with an entirely different issue, but with NBT’s fabricated subtitles giving the impression Sheindlin’s book has unconverted another follower of Islam.

    • Broadband monopolies to censor Internet content

      There is a growing consensus within the ruling establishment that the Internet must be purged of oppositional, left-wing, socialist and anti-capitalist ideas, with the ending of net neutrality being yet another major step toward the implementation of Internet censorship.

      The recently released plan by the Federal Communications Commission to abolish net neutrality has evoked mass opposition across the US and around the world.

    • Censorship to set a blaze on social network
    • Furore over ‘suggestive’ painting as petition calls for removal
    • Demanding that galleries get rid of ‘offensive’ works is censorship of the worst kind
    • Threats to Deepika, ban on Padmavati a different kind of censorship: Bombay HC
    • India Cutting Sorry Figure With Threats To Artists: Bombay High Court
    • Corruption, Censorship & Violence: Business Academics Flee Turkey And Azerbaijan

      In early 2016, a group of academics from Turkey published an open letter to the government, condemning military action in the country’s Kurdish region. The group, calling themselves ‘Academics for Peace’, were denounced as terrorist-sympathizers.

      Then, in July 2016, tanks rolled across Istanbul’s Bosphorus Bridge. The Turkish Parliament and the Presidential Palace were bombed. There was violence on the streets of Istanbul and Ankara—the failed coup killed more than 200 people.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Appeals Court Can’t Decide Whether It Should Protect Critic’s Anonymity, Boots Free Speech Case Back To Lower Court

      A rather strange ruling has been handed down by the Sixth Circuit Appeals Court. It’s a ruling that could have an adverse effect on anonymous speech, although it does mitigate the potential damage by booting it back to the lower court for a final determination. But that still might not stop an aggrieved multi-level management company from learning the identity of one of its critics.

      Signature Management Team is the plaintiff/pyramid scheme. John Doe posted a link to a copy of one of SMT’s books on his “Amthrax” blog. SMT filed a DMCA takedown notice with the blog’s hosting service, Automattic. After being served with the notice, Doe removed the link to the copyrighted instruction book.

      This quick concession didn’t stop SMT from suing Doe. It alleged one count of copyright infringement. Doe asserted a fair use defense and alleged copyright misuse, i.e., the use of copyright to silence a critic. He also asserted his right to speak anonymously and argued against being unmasked.

    • Circuit breaker thieves shine light on sheriff’s use of facial recognition

      Who knew that there was money in stolen circuit breakers?

      Late last month, Riverside County prosecutors, east of Los Angeles, indicted two men on charges of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars of circuit breakers from businesses and movie theaters in southeastern California in recent years.

      According to The Desert Sun and court filings that were provided to Ars by that newspaper, the two suspects were identified by a combination of “security footage, facial recognition software, and a license plate scanner.”

    • Mozilla is Funding Art About Online Privacy and Security

      The Mozilla Manifesto states that “Individuals’ security and privacy on the Internet are fundamental and must not be treated as optional.”

      Today, Mozilla is seeking artists, media producers, and storytellers who share that belief — and who use their art to make a difference.

      Mozilla’s Creative Media Grants program is now accepting submissions. The program awards grants ranging from $10,000 to $35,000 for films, apps, storytelling, and other forms of media that explore topics like mass surveillance and the erosion of online privacy.

    • Hayden, NSA, and the Road to 9/11

      Retired Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA and CIA (and now, a national security analyst at CNN), has recently emerged as a leading critic of the Trump administration, but not so long ago, he was widely criticized for his role in the post-9/11 surveillance abuses. With the publication of his memoir, Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror, Hayden launched his reputational rehab campaign.

    • Former NSA spy believes he contracted Parkinson’s from a microwave attack
    • Warrantless Surveillance Can Continue Even if Law Expires, Officials Say
    • White House lets NSA’s warrantless surveillance continue until April
    • The White House just bought four more months for NSA reauthorization
    • How the NSA could spy on any American phone — without congressional approval

      As information technology has become ubiquitous, privacy has become a real concern for the average American. Sophisticated, connected devices make our life easier, giving us easy access to a wide array of services from cheap taxi rides to online shopping. From cell phones and gaming consoles to cars, the objects we use daily are connected in an endless flow of digital information known as the internet of things (IoT).

      This information technology also enables intelligence organizations, law enforcement agencies, corporations, and criminals to unlawfully collect and exploit private information. Americans today are becoming increasingly aware of the perils connected devices hold, and looking for legal mechanisms to protect their basic right to privacy.

    • The High Stakes of Misunderstanding Section 702 Reforms

      In less than a month, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is set to expire. As the clock runs out on one of the U.S. government’s most important counterterrorism and counterintelligence tools, public discussion of the program and possible legislative changes remain mired in misunderstandings, misrepresentations, and political sound bites.

    • Things The Intelligence Community Is Cool With: Backdoor Searches, Skirting Reporting Requirements, Parallel Construction

      More answers have been provided to Senate Intelligence Committee questions (most of those penned by the always-inquisitive Ron Wyden) by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Some, like how often the NSA “incidentally” collects domestic communications, remain unanswered. But the ODNI’s answers [PDF] — given to the Committee in July — have finally been made public. There are a few things worth noting in this rare display of transparency. (By which I mean a lack of redactions, rather than expansive openness by the ODNI).

    • GDPR: 7 Steps to Compliance

      GDPR offers a groundbreaking overhaul of rules first implemented two decades earlier, when the impact on the internet was a mere fraction of what it is today. For consumers, these new rules promise greater data protection. For businesses, however, the rules will require significant overhauls, as the cost of running afoul of rules can be stiff. Here are a few steps to ensure your business is in compliance.

    • Fappening 2017: Private Pictures Of WWE Diva Maria Kanellis Leaked
    • Jeremy Hunt attacks Facebook over app aimed at children

      “Not sure this is the right direction at all,” he tweeted. “Facebook told me they would come back with ideas to PREVENT underage use of their product, but instead they are actively targeting younger children. Stay away from my kids please Facebook and act responsibly!”

    • Evidence That Ethiopia Is Spying on Journalists Shows Commercial Spyware Is Out of Control

      The emails were specifically designed to entice each individual to click a malicious link. Had the targets done so, their internet connections would have been hijacked and surreptitiously directed to servers laden with malware designed by a surveillance company in Israel. The spies who contracted the Israeli company’s services would have been able to monitor everything those targets did on their devices, including remotely activating the camera and microphone.

    • The US Claims It Doesn’t Need a Court Order to Ask Tech Companies to Build Encryption Backdoors

      Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act gives authorities additional powers to compel service providers to build backdoors into their products. Though Section 702 is set to expire at the end of the year, it remains vehemently supported by intelligence agencies, and the current Republican-controlled Congress is generally not the type of crowd to oppose them.

    • Deadline For Linking Aadhaar To Be Extended To March 31. Conditions Apply

      Social activists have asked the Supreme Court to stop the Centre from making the linking of Aadhaar mandatory for bank accounts and mobile phone numbers, contending that it violates people’s right to privacy

    • Deadline for Aadhaar linking may be extended to March 31 but with a rider

      The Attorney General, however, made clear that February 6 next year would remain the deadline for linking Aadhaar for availing uninterrupted mobile services as it had been mandated by the apex court.

    • Germany Preparing Backdoor Law
  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Getting driver’s license puts Arizonans into ‘perpetual criminal lineup’

      But beyond press releases touting its successes, the department does not inform people who have applied for a license that their photos will be scanned perpetually for law enforcement purposes. No such disclosure appears on the license application.

    • Diversion Programs Are Cheaper and More Effective Than Incarceration. Prosecutors Should Embrace Them.

      A new report from the ACLU of Kansas shows how diversion programs can combat mass incarceration.

      When it comes to reducing mass incarceration, some solutions are actually staring us right in the face. That is certainly the case when it comes to diversion programs in the state of Kansas.

      Although diversion can come in many forms, the basic principle is well-established and straightforward: A person charged with a crime fulfills certain requirements, such as completing treatment, paying restitution, or performing community service, instead of being incarcerated and saddled with a lifelong criminal record.

      Put plainly, diversion is a positive tool that should be used in our nation much more frequently. By targeting the underlying problems that led to the crime in the first place, effective diversion programs can improve long-term community safety and reduce recidivism far more effectively than warehousing someone in a prison cell before turning them back onto the streets.

    • NYT: Harvey Weinstein Built “Complicity Machine” to Facilitate His Rape & Sexual Harassment

      The New York Times has published a massive exposé on how disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein built an industry-wide “complicity machine” to allow him to perpetrate rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment for decades. Weinstein is now facing criminal investigation in multiple cities, after more than 100 women came forward to accuse him. The exposé chronicles how he was able to get away with the violence by building a web of lawyers, agents, journalists, editors and publishers to help him cover his tracks and intimidate potential accusers. The piece says Hollywood agents and managers repeatedly sent actresses to private meetings with Weinstein, even though they knew about previous assaults. The article also says Weinstein used his political connections to protect himself, often saying during the Obama presidency, “I know the president of the United States. Who do you know?”

    • Appeals Court: Forcing A Teen To Masturbate So Cops Can Take Pictures Is A Clear Violation Of Rights

      I don’t know which is sadder: the fact that this case — the absolute nadir (so far!) of stupid teen sexting prosecutions — even exists or that the lower court somehow found in favor of the officer (now deceased) being sued.

      A cop engaged in the act of producing child pornography by attempting to force a teen to arouse himself while surrounded by police officers supposedly for the purpose of matching the teen’s erect penis to photos the cop already had in his possession as part of a sexting “investigation.” The officer was told by prosecutors to do this, which shows the twisted logic of this abhorrent request didn’t spring entirely from the mind of Detective David Abbott. He, however, did not turn down the prosecution’s request. The prosecutor who ordered this “production” of evidence was Claiborne Richardson. Unfortunately, he has the sort of immunity cops like Abbott can only wish they had: absolute immunity. Richardson walks away from this with little more than reputational damage.

    • Forcing kid to masturbate for cops in sexting case was wrong, court finds

      A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday in favor of a Virginia man who, as a teen, was once ordered by a lower court to be photographed while masturbating in the presence of armed police officers.

      That warrant was ostensibly part of an ongoing sexting investigation into the then-teen, Trey Sims, who had exchanged explicit messages with his then-15-year-old girlfriend. Her mother reported the incident to the Manassas City Police Department in January 2014.

      Eventually, the detective assigned to the case, David Abbott, obtained a signed warrant to take photographs of Sims’ naked body—including “the suspect’s erect penis”—so that he could compare them to Sims’ explicit messages.

    • Government Documents Show FBI Cleared Filmmaker Laura Poitras After Six-Year Fishing Expedition

      The government recently revealed for the first time that federal agents maintained an open investigation of our client, Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, for six years despite never finding any evidence that she committed a crime or was a threat to national security.

      Coming up empty handed after Poitras had been subjected to dozens of border searches, the FBI finally closed the investigation, according to agency documents we obtained.

      We’ve learned about this fishing expedition through documents we obtained in a Freedom of Information (FOIA) lawsuit filed on Poitras’s behalf to find out why she was constantly being stopped by federal agents during her travels. Border agents detained Poitras at airports over 50 times from 2006 to 2012. The detentions began after she directed and released documentary films about post-9/11 life in Iraq and Yemen that challenged the U.S. government’s narrative about the war on terror.

      Poitras was subjected to hours of questioning, and had her belongings searched and notes seized at U.S. and international airports. Border agents once threatened to handcuff her when she tried to take notes during a stop.

    • Argentinian Government Bans Civil Society Organizations From Attending Upcoming WTO Ministerial Meeting

      The World Trade Organization (WTO), the multilateral global trade body that has almost all countries as members, has been eyeing an expansion of its work on digital trade for some time. Its current inability to address such issues is becoming an existential problem for the organization, as its relevance is challenged by the rise of smaller regional trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) that do contain digital trade rules.

      That’s one reason why some experts are now arguing that the WTO ought to retake leadership over digital trade rulemaking. Their reasoning is that a global compact could be more effective than a regional one at combatting digital protectionism, such as laws that restrict Internet data flows or require platforms to install local servers in each country where they offer service.

    • The Muslim Ban: What Just Happened?

      Here’s what you need to know as the Muslim ban goes into effect.

      Earlier this week, the Supreme Court allowed President Trump’s Muslim ban to go into full effect while it is being litigated. Prior to the court’s Dec. 4 order, large portions of the ban were blocked by preliminary injunctions in the cases of IRAP v. Trump and Hawaii v. Trump.

      Let’s be clear: The fact that the ban is moving forward is devastating for Muslims in the United States and abroad — and for anyone who values the fundamental constitutional principle of religious equality. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment prohibits the government from favoring or disfavoring one religion among others, but that’s precisely what President Trump’s Muslim ban does.

      It’s important to recognize that the Supreme Court did not express any views about the merits of the ban — and in particular, it did not find or suggest that the ban is constitutional or compatible with our immigration laws. We have been challenging this and previous versions of the ban since President Trump started down this path, and the courts that have reached the merits have repeatedly found the bans unconstitutional and illegal. That is one reason why we believe that the ban will ultimately be struck down.

      On Dec. 8, we will be in court, along with our co-counsel from the National Immigration Law Center and the International Refugee Assistance Project and colleagues from Muslim Advocates, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Brennan Center for Justice, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State, fighting to strike down the Muslim ban in its entirety. Here’s what you need to know.

    • Roy Moore and the Triumph of Partisanship

      Partisanship has reached such extremes in U.S. politics that Republicans are prepared to brush aside multiple allegations that Roy Moore preyed on teen-age girls to keep a Democrat from winning in Alabama, writes Michael Winship.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Net neutrality protests start Thursday—how to find one near you

      Net neutrality supporters plan a nationwide series of protests starting Thursday outside Verizon stores, where they will express their opposition to the pending repeal of net neutrality rules.

      You can find local protests by going to this webpage and searching by ZIP code.

      Verizon stores aren’t the only places where there will be protests. In Washington, DC, for example, there will be a protest at the annual FCC Chairman’s Dinner on Thursday. There will be another protest outside the FCC building on December 13, one day before the vote to repeal net neutrality rules. Many protests will be happening on Saturday as well.

    • What Happened To Everyone Complaining About The Length Of The 2015 Net Neutrality Rules?

      If you’ve followed the whole net neutrality debate for a while, you may remember one of the more ridiculous talking points when the 2015 rules were put in place: it was the line that the rules were “400 pages of regulation on the internet.” People kept listing out the page numbers to suggest how crazy it was, and just how much bad stuff the FCC must be doing in “regulating the internet.” Ajit Pai kicked it all off with his tweet with a picture of himself holding the initial version of the rules, complaining that it was “Obama’s 332-page plan to regulate the internet.”

    • The FCC Tried To Hide Net Neutrality Complaints Against ISPs

      When FCC boss Ajit Pai first proposed killing popular net neutrality protections (pdf), he insisted he would proceed “in a far more transparent way than the FCC did” when it first crafted the rules in 2015. That promise has proven to be a historically-hollow one.

      Pai’s agency is already facing numerous lawsuits for refusing to disclose conversations with ISP lobbyists about the plan to kill net neutrality, refusing to disclose net neutrality complaints filed with the agency, refusing to be transparent about a DDoS attack the FCC apparently concocted to downplay the “John Oliver effect,” and for ignoring FOIA requests related to its failure to police website comment fraud during the public comment period.

    • Tom Wheeler slams Ajit Pai’s plan to kill net neutrality rules

      Former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler took aim at his successor’s plan to eliminate net neutrality rules today, saying that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is selling out consumers and entrepreneurs at the behest of major Internet service providers.

      “ISP monopoly carriers have been trying for four years to get to this point,” Wheeler said, pointing to a 2013 story in The Washington Post about how telecoms were trying to “shift regulation of their broadband businesses to other agencies that don’t have nearly as much power as the FCC.”

    • Net neutrality supporters predict tough court battle over FCC’s repeal plan

      The agency, led by Republican Chairman Ajit Pai, will vote next week on scrapping the 2015 net neutrality rules, which prevent internet service providers from blocking or slowing down websites or creating internet “fast lanes.”

    • FCC Boss Lies Again, Insists Net Neutrality Harms The Sick And Disabled

      For a decade now one major ISP talking point against net neutrality is that it hurts the sick and disabled. Verizon, for example, has tried to pretend that net neutrality rules hurt the hearing impaired because it prevents them from getting access to prioritized medical services like video relay or other technologies.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Trademarks
      • Another Reason To Distinguish Alcohol Markets In Trademarks: Actual Infringement Defended By Use Across Alcohol Products

        A brief review of all of the articles I’ve written in these here pages about sweet, delicious alcohol mostly have to do with trademark spats between drink-makers, including many in which I’ve made the point that it’s high time for the USPTO to get a little more subtle when it comes to its alcohol marketplace designations. Beer isn’t wine, and wine isn’t liquor, and the public looking to buy one of those is quite unlikely to confuse one product for another. The focus of many of those posts was how this lack of distinction between the alcohol markets has resulted in too many aggressive trademark lawsuits and threat letters that hardly seemed necessary.

        But there is a flip side to all of this that serves as another perfectly good reason for the USPTO to make a change. Recently, one liquor distiller sued another in what seems like a fairly plausible trademark infringement case.

    • Copyrights
      • EU Parliament Justice Committee Ponders Regulation Of Copyright And Liability In 3D Printing

        Should the European Parliament consider regulation on 3D printing with regard to intellectual property protection and civil liability? Members of the Justice Committee (JURI) today at their session in Brussels were divided with representatives from the Green Party group as well as the conservatives and liberals cautioning against erecting barriers to the technology.

        The rapporteur of the own-initiative report of the committee, Joelle Bergeron, a member of the populist party group “Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy,” listed problems like the potential decline of value of a piece of art once it can be re-produced by anybody, as well as the question of liability for damage from 3D printed spare parts. Several members of the committee also pointed to the potential creation of 3D weapons.

      • The Strange Fight Over Who Should Take John Conyers Spot Atop The Judiciary Committee

        As you may have heard, Rep. John Conyers recently stepped down from his role as Ranking Member (basically top member of the minority party) on the powerful House Judiciary Committee, and this week has announced his retirement, in response to multiple accusations of sexual harassment. That has kicked off something of an interesting and important debate over who should replace him as ranking member on the Judiciary Committee.

        The next in line by seniority is Rep. Jerry Nadler. But right behind him is Rep. Zoe Lofgren. By way of disclosure, I’ll note that I’ve gotten to know Lofgren over the years, and have donated to her election campaign. But even before I’d ever spoken to her, I’ve noted how she remains one of the few people in Congress who seems to consistently do the right thing on basically all of the issues that we care about at Techdirt. You can see our past coverage of stories involving Lofgren. Most specifically on copyright and surveillance, she hasn’t just been on the right side, she’s been leading the way. She is, almost single-handedly, the person who stopped SOPA from passing. She has consistently raised important issues and introduced important bills and amendments concerning copyright, NSA surveillance and the CFAA among other things.

      • Google, Facebook to be excluded from safe harbour provisions: report

        Safe harbour provisions protect internet service providers from court action when their users upload material that violates copyright to their platforms. The only fiat is that the providers must be adopting reasonable steps to get rid of the offending content.

      • Google and Facebook excluded from safe harbour copyright reforms

        The compromise of safe harbour provisions is a win for content creators who have argued that commercial operators monetising content or images not created or owned by them should pay some sort of licence due to the cost incurred creating things such as music, television, films and journalism.

        The Australian Recording Industry Association, Foxtel, the Australian Football League and News Corp are among the groups that have lobbied the government not to include Google and Facebook in extending the provisions.

      • New Police Anti-Piracy Task Force May Get Involved in Site Blocking

        In an effort to tackle online copyright infringement, the Danish Government has set up a new task force of investigators who will exclusively deal with IP [sic] crimes. The new police unit, which is operating on a trial basis, will help copyright holders deter piracy and may also request site blockades in the future.

Less Than 24 Hours Later the EPO Already Refuses to Obey Court Orders From ILO (Updated)

Thursday 7th of December 2017 05:35:54 PM

Familiar attitude: ILO-AT (Tribunal) decisions treated as though they do not exist to Battistelli

Summary: As expected by realists (or pessimists), the EPO continues to act as though it’s above the law and even judges suffer miscarriage of justice against them

THE PREVIOUS posts of ours regarding ILO (3 of them so far today [1, 2, 3]) showed an escalating level of severity. It doesn’t look as though ILO means anything to Battistelli. And it’s getting worse…

Patrick Corcoran (The Register unfortunately unmasked him already) tried to go to work today. First off he went to Haar, but they wouldn’t let him in the building. So, he then turned up at EPO headquarters, the Isar building, and he was told quite specifically that in spite of the ILO-AT judgments the house ban remains.

ILO-AT stated quite clearly yesterday that he should be reinstated immediately.

“They are obviously panicking now,” a source told us, “and I think things will get nasty.”

“First off he went to Haar, but they wouldn’t let him in the building. So, he then turned up at EPO headquarters, the Isar building, and he was told quite specifically that in spite of the ILO-AT judgments the house ban remains.”JUVE’s Mathieu Klos, who recently spoke to Christoph Ernst, optimistically wrote: “I expect reinstatement as a judge. That would both be consistent legally as well as with the new goal of the AC of restoringpeace at @EPOorg (as Chair Christopher Ernst state in a interview with JUVE).”

But does Ernst control Battistelli? Does the Organisation control the Office? Does the Office control Team Battistelli and Battistelli’s cabal? No. The tail wags the dog.

No word from IP Kat yet. The Kat is neutered. Nothing to see here, move along…

“I’m waiting for the IPKat’s reaction to the latest discomfiture before the ILO-AT,” this new comment has just said, speaking “of a certain French executive officer whose name shall not be pronounced and who has maybe deserved a “limogeage”…”

The EPO’s Twitter account has said nothing about it. Like we said at the very start, it had instead posted a distracting tweet about hiring interns for the Boards of Appeal almost at the same time as ILO’s session.

The latest UPC propaganda from the EPO came just a couple of hours ago and said that Europe would be suffering “fragmentation” without it (old FUD pattern regarding Android, Linux and so on).

We don’t suppose that the EPO will say anything about the scandal even though everyone inside and around the EPO speaks about it constantly for more than a day now.

Update: A couple of new comments confirm two of the things we wrote today. One comment has just said: “The board of Appeal Member turned up for work today and the head of EPO security told him that she was under instructions from ”above” to disregard the court order, and he will not be allowed in any EPO buildings.” Another (earlier) comment reaffirms what we wrote earlier today. “The judge is put back in place but is not re-appointed. In january he is not any longer a judge,” it says.

ILO Said Give the Judge His Job Back, But Christoph Ernst’s Administrative Council Will Likely Let Him Go (Unemployed)

Thursday 7th of December 2017 02:35:44 PM

Maybe the “Nazi” isn’t Patrick Corcoran but the career-climbing sociopaths who are out to get him for speaking truth to Power

Benoît Battistelli seems to have a German ‘stooge’ other than Lutz (who allegedly taught him how to escape the law in Munich)

Summary: Another potential EPO scandal in the making, as after waiting for 3 years the illegally-suspended judge might get his job back for only 3 weeks

THE EPO has become so morally void that it’s hard to believe it will ever manage to recruit any talent (talent which is also capable enough to research the employer/job offer).

“It would make ILO look like an utter joke.”Earlier today, on two occasions when we covered the latest from ILO, we also took note of an ongoing legal case in Germany (legal bullying basically) that's already used as an excuse by the Administrative Council to never end the judge's 'limbo'.

A short while ago we showed some public consensus that Battistelli might not obey the ruling but find a loophole (yet again) to pretend that he obeys it while at the same time spitting at ILO’s face. He did it before, so why not again? ILO apparently loves being spat on. It savours the taste of the saliva and even congratulates the EPO for the flavour (right there in the video of the session). It’s appalling. It’s self-insulting and ILO may not even realise that it is digging its own grave right before it turns 100. If it ever gets there…

“Why did it take ILO 3 years to do something? Did it just ‘sit’ on the appeal?”“Judge is reinstated for 3 weeks,” a source has just told us, but the “Administrative Council said it will not re-appoint [any] more this year.”

So for the said judge it might mean 3 weeks inside the Organisation (cast away in Haar now) and then no contract renewal. Got that? It would make ILO look like an utter joke. Yet again. Why did it take ILO 3 years to do something? Did it just ‘sit’ on the appeal? And decided to deliver a pretense of ‘justice’ in an “exceptional” fashion just weeks before the contract’s expiry (rather than several weeks after expiry, i.e. the next ILO session)?

“It’s an utter disgrace not just for the EPO but also for ILO and for Europe.”One cannot help but deem the whole thing a “ploy”. I asked my source, “will they not renew his contract?”

“It ends this month,” my source reassured me. “In October they said would not renew [any] more this year.”

Christoph Ernst was the Chairman at the time. What a Christmas gift for him to give Corcoran. What a wonderful Christian Christoph must be…

What can a judge even practically do in 3 weeks, in an office space he never saw before and after 3 years of an illegitimate suspension? 3 weeks left until Christmas; and until unemployment too? Does Battistelli even recognise Christmas, having already called off many Christian holidays? Will EPO workers (what’s left of them) get a full Christmas vacation next year?

And this, ladies and gents, is EPO ‘justice’. It’s an utter disgrace not just for the EPO but also for ILO and for Europe.

Watchtroll, AIPPI, Bristows and Others Keep Pushing Software Patents Agenda (in Spite of the Ban)

Thursday 7th of December 2017 01:37:52 PM

Summary: Pressure groups and front groups of the patent microcosm (e.g. AIPPI) — sometimes even the patent microcosm acting directly — are still trying to make software patents legitimate, usually behind closed doors, e.g. in private events where only the patent microcosm can debate the subject (no software developers allowed)

WE are gratified to say that 3.5 years after Alice the USPTO is a lot more reluctant to grant patents on software and PTAB often invalidates software patents regardless. Failing that, the courts eliminate software patents (the higher the court, the more hostile toward software patents). This means that applicants are encouraged by the patent microcosm to find workarounds; Peter Glaser and William Gvoth at Watchtroll offered tips to that effect yesterday. Sadly for their bamboozled clients (or people who might naively follow their advice), courts would closely scrutinise patents and manage to figure out that Alice still applies (Section 101 exclusions applicable). Using tricks with semantics might help fool one single examiner, but that doesn’t scale well at PTAB (panels) and courts (judges, juries, expert witnesses, attorneys and so on).

“Using tricks with semantics might help fool one single examiner, but that doesn’t scale well at PTAB (panels) and courts (judges, juries, expert witnesses, attorneys and so on).”Basically, software patents are bunk. They’re finished. Sure, the patent microcosm will attempt to claim otherwise (in order to attract business) and also lobby politicians, but so far these people have not been successful. They also know they’re being watched and some of them like to heckle Techrights.

All these patents on blockchain (we wrote several articles about these) are quite likely worthless and merely a bubble, yet we still see articles like this one from yesterday. “Major financial and software institutions (and even some national governments),” it said, “are pouring money into blockchain-related research. This work has generated a crowded landscape of papers, patents and other references…”

“In reality, patents on financial methods (investment/payment/accounting) are some of the most feeble out there.”A lot of these patents come from the old banking industry. It’s trying to guard its territory and fend off disruptive technologies by claiming monopolies on these (in the form of patents). In reality, patents on financial methods (investment/payment/accounting) are some of the most feeble out there. They’re probably the most sensitive/fragile among all software patents, as various sites of the patent microcosm cared to admit.

It’s not just the case in the US by the way. Fisher Adams Kelly Callinans’s Ernest Graf, for example, has just remarked on the changes in Australia, which is formally ending software patents among other things. “The proposal that patent claims identify an invention’s technical features,” Graf wrote, “is part of the Government’s intention to better define what is appropriate “patentable subject matter”.”

Algorithms are not patentable in Australia. They’re very clear about that.

“AIPPI does not represent software developers; in fact, it’s an enemy of software developers. It represents people and firms like Bristows, who merely prey on software developers.”What about Europe? Well, the EPO is creating a massive bubble of patents which we already know to be invalid based on the EPC and Parliament. This bubble is waiting to explode. Two years ago AIPPI expressed concerns about the situation and the rapid deterioration of the EPO. Bristows’ new report from AIPPI Congress suggests that software patents are still a subject of discussion there. Benjamin Henrion sarcastically wrote this morning that what we have here is “Patentability of Computer-Implemented Inventions, written by the patent community for the goodness of software developers…”

It’s more like a coup. To quote Bristows’ staff which has been pushing hard for software patents for many years (in Europe the EPO likes to say “computer-implemented inventions” in order to dodge the term “software patents”):

But as this year’s resolution recited, that application has in fact been scattered, to the point that none of the US, European, Japanese, Chinese, or Korean patent offices even use the same terminology to describe computer-implemented inventions.

After reaffirming the principle that patents should be available for inventions in all fields of technology, and that computer-implemented inventions should not be excluded per se, the key tenets of AIPPI’s resolution were as follows:

(a) The eligibility of a computer-implemented invention for patent protection should not depend on the prior art or any assessment of novelty or inventive step. In other words, subject matter eligibility should assessed independently of these other requirements.

(b) A claim to a computer-implemented invention should pass the eligibility requirement if it defines an invention in at least one field of technology. Whether a claim does so should be assessed on a claim by claim basis, in relation to each claim as a whole.

The references to a “field of technology” adopt the language of Article 27 of TRIPS and Article 52 of the European Patent Convention. A mooted statement to the effect that a claim should be considered to define an invention in a field of technology only if it makes a novel and inventive contribution to that field of technology was debated, but not adopted in the final resolution. The resolution says nothing further about what it means, in AIPPI’s view, to “define an invention in a field of technology”.

AIPPI does not represent software developers; in fact, it’s an enemy of software developers. It represents people and firms like Bristows, who merely prey on software developers.

Meanwhile in Eponia, Tyrant Battistelli Must be Seeking Advice on How to Refuse to Obey Court’s Orders (Again)

Thursday 7th of December 2017 12:46:58 PM

It’s a lot of fun being above the law (fun for one person anyway, not for anyone else)

Summary: People already speculate about how Battistelli will attempt to come up with excuses for noncompliance (and ongoing violation of the EPC as well as ILO code)

OUR article from early this morning took stock of many other articles about the latest rulings from ILO. As we pointed out at the very start, Battistelli had not implemented or complied with the court’s orders in Holland, so why Switzerland? In fact, as we explained before, Battistelli already defied court orders from ILO as well (e.g. composition of internal committees). Battistelli is a serial offender who, in the “real world”, would be charged with contempt of court. But he’s politically-connected and likes to flaunt “immunity!”

This is no laughing matter. It’s not comical. People’s lives are at stake and EPO scandals may have already cost the lives of half dozen people.

Team UPC’s Robinson asked a few hours ago, “what happens now if the EPO simply refuses to implement the ILO’s orders? Is there any enforcement mechanism? Recall that the EPO suggested it would have simply ignored the Dutch Supreme Court if the ruling there had gone against it.”

Indeed.

And watch the the 6 comments (so far) in Thorsten Bausch’s article. To quote just three of them:

I must say, I was not expecting to hear from the ILO quite so soon. I had supposed there was 10 year pendency in its cases. BB getting a dose of his own “early certainty” medicine? How ironic!

I wonder though, can the President (or the AC) appeal the ILO judgement to a higher instance? And what mechanism is there to enforce an ILO judgement on a supra-national entity like the AC?

No, there is no possibility for either party or intervener to a complaint before the ILOAT to appeal to a higher instance. Article VI, 1. of the Tribunal’s Statute provides:

“The Tribunal shall take decisions by majority vote. Judgments shall be final and without appeal. The Tribunal may nevertheless consider applications for interpretation, execution or review of a judgment.”

This also is an answer to your second question: While there is no possibility for an official benefitting from a Tribunal’s order to enforce a judgment, he or she can file an application for execution. In most cases where international organisations under the juridiction of the ILOAT have tarried over the execution of a judgment, damages then ordered by the Tribunal following a succesful application for execution were substantial.

What sticks in my craw about all of this is that there will be no comeback whatsoever for the “guilty” parties. Indeed, the only ones that will (literally) pay for this whole debacle is the users of the EPO – as they are the only ones who provide the funds with which the EPO will pay the damages and compensation awarded, as well as the (no doubt exorbitant) legal fees for a case that should never have existed in the first place.

With this in mind, I would very much like to see the AC to strip Mr Battistelli of his immunity, so that at the very least the Board of Appeal member that is the subject of the ILO’s judgements can ask a court of law to decide whether any civil torts (or even any criminal offences) have been committed during the course of what has clearly been a vendetta against him.

What the BVerfG will make of all this is anyone’s guess. However, we can be sure that they will have been watching closely.

How can UPC ever become a reality when the system is so defunct and justice is merely a mirage? And to put someone like Battistelli in charge of UPC is the moral equivalent of putting Mugabe in charge of HRW.

To quote another new comment, “the EPO is not a member and is independent of the jurisdiction of any member state. Sounds like someone just wasted a lot of time and money to me on a judgement that will likely be ignored.”

If Battistelli ignores this ruling too, there will be something akin to a gentlemen’s riot at the EPO. We are guessing that this is how Benoît Battistelli and Željko Topić will attempt to dodge compliance with the ruling. The very fact that thugs like Battistelli and Topić are even in positions of power at the EPO is a testament to the sort of mess the EPO is presently in. Kremlin-connected broadcasters such as Russia Today couldn’t ask for a better example of Europe being as defunct as (if not more defunct than) Russian politics, complete with tandemocracy (Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin being the Campinos/Battistelli equivalent).

Battistelli’s ‘Mole’ Lucy Neville-Rolfe is Still Trying to Push Unitary Patent (UPC) Through in the United Kingdom

Thursday 7th of December 2017 12:20:48 PM

She’s formally out, but somehow still in…

Summary: Lucy Neville-Rolfe is back only to tell a bunch of lies about the UPC in British Parliament and Team UPC — the prosecution ‘industry’ which has been driving this entire monster — could not be happier

THE EPO discussion has shifted/moved towards ILO, but let’s not forget that Team UPC — a cabal of nefarious people who perpetually pull every single trick they can — work behind the scenes and try to trick politicians into doing nefarious things. It’s a grand example of political corruption, not just lobbying. We’ve covered examples.

“It’s a grand example of political corruption, not just lobbying.”There may be another “torpedo” (to use JUVE’s word) on the way — one that can kill the UPC for good. No UPC (or anything like it, even a rebrand) should exist for reasons that we’ve been covering here for nearly a decade.

Yesterday we saw over a dozen tweets from Alex Robinson, a proud member of Team UPC who is referring to himself and others who perform this coup as “Team UPC”. It started with this tweet which said that “the Lords Grand Committee agenda is visible here (see link). The #UPC Order is one of 8 items up for discussion – I don’t get the feeling they’ll spend long on it…”

They didn’t.

“Yesterday we saw over a dozen tweets from Alex Robinson, a proud member of Team UPC who is referring to himself and others who perform this coup as “Team UPC”.”Guess who were there to take the lead. It was Lucy Neville-Rolfe. Seriously!

To quote Robinson: “Another peer for the government… giving a bit of a history lesson. “Delighted to be standing here today to see it written down that we are going to ratify” (I think she’s getting ahead of the game here!) [] That was Lady Wilcox. Sounding rather optimistic! Now Baroness Neville-Rolfe is speaking. “Was intimately involved in UPC discussions after many many many years.” Asks for clarification of opening date for London Central Division…”

“Motion agreed unanimously,” he concluded and there’s a lot more there. But UK ratification is not possible and Jo Johnson, who took over Lucy’s job, already said that he’s not in a position to ratify. Robinson isn’t happy about it and Bristows used his words to lie about Johnson’s actual position.

“The timetable may simply say that the entire thing is stuck until 2020 if not later. And it will probably never happen.”“At that point,” he added, “we will be “in a position to ratify” – time for Mr Johnson to get off the fence and show his hand as to whether we WILL ratify or not!”

No, they are not in a position to ratify for plenty of reasons other than some signatures and it’s dishonest to suggest otherwise. Moreover, complaints may be on the way, just like in Germany. The transcript is too long for us to rebut on a point-by-point basis, but it’s basically a salad of lies.

“Here’s the official transcript of yesterday’s @UKHouseofLords discussion of the #UPC order,” he wrote the following day (here is the full text) and Max Walters‏, a British journalist, said: “Strange that none of them seem to know where the court will be. I thought this was well known (Aldgate Tower), unless I’ve missed something?”

There’s no such court as there’s no UPC. But don’t let reality get in the way. It’s not too convenient.

“Sure, they’ll mislead and manipulate politicians in order to get their way (or even vote at 1:30 AM in secrecy), but all that mischief is being watched and it will eventually be reported.”Even Robinson dared to admit the inconsistencies later on when he wrote: “I completely agree, and was puzzled by that when I was watching yesterday. The other thing I find baffling is that Lady Neville-Rolfe asked the question about timing for the opening of the court. She was the IP minister in force when the UPC Agreement was finalised [] one would therefore expect her to be fully aware of the timetable for entry of the agreement into force!”

The timetable may simply say that the entire thing is stuck until 2020 if not later. And it will probably never happen.

As always, when dealing with Team UPC, be careful not to believe them. Sure, they’ll mislead and manipulate politicians in order to get their way (or even vote at 1:30 AM in secrecy), but all that mischief is being watched and it will eventually be reported.

ILO is ‘Forcing’ Team Battistelli to Compensate the Banned Judge and Give Him Back His Job

Thursday 7th of December 2017 06:27:15 AM

But will Battistelli respect judges and obey the law or just snub courts, quite frankly as usual (flaunting immunity with an ongoing case as an excuse)?

Summary: ILO has, for a change, done some justice, but it comes three years too late and the compensation level (after salary got halved) is laughable, especially considering costs associated with legal fees and moral/reputational damage

REMEMBER 2014? Three years before Nazi-affiliated groups were marching the streets of the US and even entered the German ‘Parliament’ (Bundestag)?

Back then the term “Nazi” was pretty serious a thing (it still is, but it has become more banal/mundane) and to accuse a judge of being “Nazi” anything — let alone armed Nazi — can be pretty damaging to one’s career. It makes it hard to garner support/sympathy from one’s colleagues. It’s an effective smear. It’s a powerful discreditisation tactic (alongside “rapist”, “pedophile” etc.). Remember how Battistelli referred to SUEPO, accusing them of performing Nazi salutes and alluding to “snipers” et cetera (again the armed Nazi theme). He actually lied to French politicians about it, right there in front of cameras (we still have footage of it). That’s the very definition of defamation/slander/libel. But hey, this is the EPO we’re talking about here; the ‘king’ can do everything and can away with anything, right?

On Wednesday morning the EPO wrote: “The EPO offers a limited number of internship places for national judges of the EPC contracting states at the Boards of Appeal.”

The EPO desperately needs full-time judges at the Boards of Appeal, but Battistelli just keeps crushing them. He threatens them, punishes them, pushes them out of Town (Munich), and decreases their workspace/workload while increasing demands. Any sane outside observer can see what’s going on here; Battistelli does not want these boards to exist (they pose a threat by highlighting decline in patent quality), but he cannot squash them altogether because that would be the biggest violation yet of the EPC. Some stakeholders have already found the courage to point this out (notably Dr. Thorsten Bausch, whom we’ll mention further down).

We don’t know why the EPO tweeted the above at almost the exact same time as ILO’s 125th session (video here). Well, maybe an attempt to deflect, even though the timing could be just a coincidence?

Either way, the news is already out there. One of our readers said “lovely ILO!”

“Reinstated. Damages,” said another reader only a short time after the session had taken place. I was barely at home throughout the day and therefore I was unable to properly cover it.

“Dear EPO,” another person wrote, “how many lawyers and management experts it takes to spot a conflict of interest? Asking for friend.”

This could either allude to the CEIPI saga or Battistelli’s interference at the Boards of Appeal (including involvement in appointment of chiefs).

We assume that EPO insiders and stakeholders have already read the news elsewhere, but here is a recap/roundup anyway.

The ILOAT delivered 5 judgments regarding the EPO (the other 3 were not about the EPO). Judgment #3972 ended as follows:

For the above reasons,
1. The decision of 25 November 2015 is set aside in the part regarding
confirmation of dismissal for misconduct in accordance with
Article 93(2)(f) of the Service Regulations, as is the same part of
the earlier decision of 1 July 2015.
2. The case is sent back to the EPO in accordance with
considerations 15 and 16, above.
3. The EPO shall pay the complainant 20,000 euros in moral
damages.
4. It shall also pay him 1,000 euros in costs.
5. All other claims are dismissed.
In witness of this judgment, adopted on 2 November 2017,

Mr Giuseppe Barbagallo, President of the Tribunal, Mr Michael
F. Moore, Judge, and Sir Hugh A. Rawlins, Judge, sign below, as do I,
Dražen Petrović, Registrar.

Judgment #3960 as well (same person):

As a result, the impugned decision of 18 March 2016 to reject
the complainant’s request for review of decision CA/D 14/15 of
15 October 2015 extending the complainant’s suspension, as well as
decision CA/D 14/15 must be set aside. The complainant must
immediately be reinstated in his former post, and he is entitled to an
award of material damages in an amount equal to the deductions from
his remuneration made as a result of decision CA/D 14/15 extending
his suspension with reduced pay, plus interest at the rate of 5 per cent
per annum from the monthly due dates until the date of payment.
He is also entitled to an award of moral damages in the amount of
15,000 euros, and to costs in the amount of 5,000 euros.

[...]

For the above reasons,
1. The impugned decision of 18 March 2016 rejecting the complainant’s
request for review of decision CA/D 14/15, as well as decision
CA/D 14/15 itself, are set aside.
2. The complainant shall be immediately reinstated in his former post.

Judgment #3958:

For the above reasons,
1. The Administrative Council’s decision CA/D 12/14 of 11 December
2014 is set aside and so is the impugned decision of 10 April 2015,
insofar as they concern the complainant’s suspension, the imposed
house ban, the relinquishment of EPO property previously at the
complainant’s disposal, and the blocking of his User ID.
2. The Administrative Council’s decision to maintain the complainant’s
suspension pending completion of the disciplinary proceedings
against him (decision taken at the Administrative Council’s
143 rd meeting and communicated to the complainant by a letter of
26 March 2015) is also set aside.
3. The complainant shall be immediately reinstated in his former post.
4. The EPO shall immediately allow the complainant access to the
EPO premises and resources; it shall return to him any EPO
property it requested him to hand over pursuant to decision
CA/D 12/14, and it shall immediately unblock his User ID.
5. The EPO shall pay the complainant 10,000 euros in compensation
for moral injury.
6. It shall also pay him costs in the amount of 5,000 euros.
7. All other claims are dismissed.

The other judgments have been largely ignored by the media because not much happened. Judgment #3896, regarding Mr S. C. F., ends as follows:

Considering the application for interpretation of Judgment 3785
filed by Mr S. C. F. on 19 April 2017 and corrected on 6 June, the reply
of the European Patent Organisation (EPO) of 18 July, the
complainant’s rejoinder of 25 August and the EPO’s surrejoinder of
4 October 2017;
Considering Articles II, paragraph 5, and VI, paragraph 1, of the
Statute of the Tribunal;

Judgment #3895. concerning Mr T. C., yielded a dismissal of the appeal:

Considering the application for interpretation and execution of
Judgment 3694 filed by Mr T. C. on 19 April 2017 and corrected on
6 June, the reply of the European Patent Organisation (EPO) of 18 July,
the complainant’s rejoinder of 25 August and the EPO’s surrejoinder of
4 October 2017;
Considering Articles II, paragraph 5, and VI, paragraph 1, of the
Statute of the Tribunal;
Having examined the written submissions;

[...]

For the above reasons,
The application for interpretation and execution is dismissed.

We don’t know who S. C. F. and T. C. are. We also have not — at least not yet — had the time to properly read through these decisions (some are about 10 pages in length).

The media focused on relatively good news. SUEPO wrote the following announcement titled “SUEPO Central on the Extraordinary Session of the ILO Today” and it said:

Dear colleagues,

In an exceptional session today the Tribunal delivered Judgments 3958 and 3960 in which it ordered the immediate reinstatement of the suspended Board of Appeal member to his former post.

It further ordered the EPO to allow him access to the premises, return any EPO property it had requested him to hand over and immediately unblock his EPO User ID.

The Tribunal further ordered the EPO to pay a sum in costs as well as compensation for moral injury.

SUEPO central

SUEPO got vindicated. Again.

The Register — rightly or wrongly — finally blurted out the name Patrick Corcoran. We’re not sure why Kieren McCarthy decided to put “Nazi” in the headline and then namedrop the judge’s identity. Here are some fragments (it’s a long and detailed article):

The European Patent Office (EPO) has been commanded to immediately reinstate a judge it suspended two years ago and pay him tens of thousands of euros in compensation and damages.

In an extraordinary judgment delivered in public by the president of the International Labor Organization (ILO) in Geneva, the patent organization, its management and its administrative council were all excoriated for their treatment of Patrick Corcoran.

But the sharpest criticism was reserved for EPO president Benoit Battistelli, who for years has been accused of targeting his own staff in an effort to force through unpopular reforms and threatening them with disciplinary action if they resist.

Battistelli was repeatedly chastised by the ILO for his treatment of his own staff, for involving himself in disciplinary proceedings and for forcing the suspension of Corcoran through the EPO’s administrative council despite a clear conflict of interests.

Corcoran’s case is far from the only one – Battistelli has fired no less than four EPO union officials, among others – but it stands out as particularly egregious given the judge’s standing as a member of the EPO’s independent Boards of Appeal.

[...]

That intervention, incidentally, may cause the demise of Europe’s Unitary Patent Court (UPC) after a German patent lawyer pointed to the resulting lack of independence of the Boards of Appeals as evidence that the UPC broke German constitutional law – the case is still being heard but it has prevented it from becoming German law.

[...]

That may not be the end of it either.

The ILO president strongly implied at the public hearing that the decisions against the EPO were going to be repeated in a range of other EPO cases that have been lodged with the ILO.

Earlier this year, the ILO published an extraordinary paper for discussion at a meeting of its governing body later that complained about how the EPO’s management was causing so many complaints that it was undermining its ability to do its job.

The decisions in those cases will be published in January and will almost certainly add more pressure to the current EPO management.

Overall, the ILO’s extraordinary public meeting was a damning verdict on Benoit Battistelli’s presidency.

Don’t miss some of the early comments. “Perhaps they should have added that the moral damages should be paid out of Battistelli’s own pocket and not reimbursed to him,” one person said. The next person wrote: “Is an exceedingly tony suburb of Paris, as befits the birthplace of Louis XIV, and as much a part of Paris as Hampstead would be in London. This is not at all to minimize the brazen and repeated abuses of power Mr Batistelli committed while in office. I hope his departure will lead to reforms in the EPO’s governance.”

“I bet Battistelli . . . . . . did Nazi that coming,” one comment joked. “If Battistelli is going to act like a junior Napoleon, they should put him in charge of the branch office in St. Helena,” joked another reader.

Here is what was probably the first report about it:

He said: “The allegations of bias against the president do not justify derogating from these rules in the present case: in view of the exceptional situation with which the EPO was faced, the president had to communicate both internally and externally. In doing so, he did not cross the boundaries of confidentiality and presumption of innocence.”

But, the ILO tribunal found that “[there] is a conflict of interest on the part of the president.”

It said: “It stems from the fact that the alleged serious misconduct, with which the complainant was charged, might reasonably be thought to have offended the president specifically, directly and individually.”

“This situation, by itself, casts doubts on the president’s impartiality. Considering the whole situation, a reasonable person would think that the president would not bring a detached, impartial mind to the issues involved. The argument raised by the president in his opinion to the council, quoted above, namely that pursuant to the applicable rules the president was acting within his competence and had the power and duty to take all necessary steps to ensure the smooth functioning of the office, is immaterial.

IP Watch wrote about it as well, but sadly it’s behind a paywall. Here is the outline:

In an extraordinary 6 December session, the UN International Labour Organization Administrative Tribunal (ILOAT) handed down five decisions involving the European Patent Office (EPO), one of which reinstated a suspended Board of Appeals judge. The cases are just “the tip of the iceberg,” said the Staff Union of the EPO (SUEPO).

Thorsten Bausch then came out with another long article about ILO (mind the headline). He shows that even EPO stakeholders like attorneys are royally pissed off at Battistelli. He ruined the EPO. To quote Bausch:

The decisions speak for themselves and I highly recommend reading them in full. To cut a long story short, the party that “misbehaved” here was found to be the President of the EPO and the Administrative Council (AC). The facts are quite complex, but in essence, the problem was that the President, who felt defamed and insulted by emails allegedly sent out by this Board member, issued a house ban against this Board Member and requested the AC to suspend him, which the AC did. The Board Member requested a review of this decision, asked the AC to afford him the right to be heard and requested that the EPO President should be excluded from this review process due to partiality. The AC rejected the request for review and continued to involve the EPO President in his advisory capacity for its decision-making process.

There are probably more reports on the way, even in French and German (maybe Dutch).

Will Battistelli comply with this ruling? If not, then maybe it’s about time to seriously consider removing his immunity and putting this thug on trial (maybe in jail). Corsica can have him back; nothing would be more epic (or poetic justice) than exile in Corsica, which he happens to have come from.

International Labour Organisation/ILOAT for UPC Yet Another Problem for Unitary Patent-Style Regime

Thursday 7th of December 2017 05:32:10 AM

It took more than 3 years for ILO to ‘resolve’ a simple/trivial (as per EPC) dispute, as we shall show in our next post


Geneva failed to ‘oversee’ the EPO, so why UPC?

Summary: Seeing systematic misuse and abuse of justice at the EPO, people come to realise that Europe cannot afford to create a structure like the Unified Patent Court (UPC)

Team UPC and EPO management know that the UPC is quite likely a lost cause. It’s not going to happen, but they keep fighting against all the odds. Their writings are extremely generous with words; they would have us believe that everything is on track.

Hours ago Bristows repeated itself regarding something pretty minor which had happened in the UK, conveniently neglecting to say that the UK neither can ratify nor intends to ratify (Jo Johnson implicitly acknowledged last week that they were not in a position to ratify).

“Expect Team UPC to keep screaming and shouting from rooftops about the UPC.”Team UPC has also just published this rubbish anonymously (we are guessing that it’s a Bristows smokescreen/cloak/dissimulation).

“PR stunts gone wrong, UPC. Try again,” Dennis E. Mungai told me about it.

And responding to spin from Bristows staff (at IP Kat), another approved new comment said yesterday that the “more one looks into the UPC, the more one discovers problems.”

Here is the full comment, which relates to the ongoing discussion about dispute resolution and appeals:

In all likelihood it will be the administrative tribunal of the international labour organisation -ILOAT- in Geneva.

It is a well known fact that this “court” is by no means up to the expectations, as it only looks whether the letter of the law and the procedure have been respected. There should be internal mechanisms in the UPC administrative system to look at complaints from staff internally before a member of staff can complain at the ILOAT. The ILOAT does not have the capacity to deal with direct complaints

But before this is possible, staff regulations for the employees of the UPC will have to be decided. Nothing has apparently be published on this topic.

As national judges could be seconded to the UPC, they could de facto remain in their national statute. As it is intended that at least at the beginning the work at the UPC is only part-time, such a situation would not be uncommon. What then about their independence?

The more one looks into the UPC, the more one discovers problems. May be this was a reason to push it through as quickly as possible, so that the problems could be hidden. Once discovered, it would be too late to go back. In one of the official languages of the EPO it is called “fait accompli”. But no doubt it is understandable in lots of languages.

Expect Team UPC to keep screaming and shouting from rooftops about the UPC. Quite frankly, their dishonesty and highly abusive tactics would result only in alienation. They’re already regarded (within their own sector) as a bunch of self-deluding cuckoos.

CEIPI and EPO: The Story So Far

Thursday 7th of December 2017 04:42:15 AM

The French Centre for International Intellectual Property Studies (CEIPI) a glaring example and part of a pattern of Benoît Battistelli’s meddling and nepotism (INPI and beyond)


People in positions of utmost authority at the EPO are even relatives of Battistelli’s friends

Summary: Battistelli’s dubious French connection and Christoph Ernst’s obvious need to step in (not that he would ever do that)

TEACHERS (i.e. staff) of CEIPI are not happy about the Battistelli story. We have, by now (in a matter of days), heard that from several independent sources and we wrote the following articles about it:

Here is a portion of an article which later covered something that we had said beforehand (based on sources close to the action):

A source close to SUEPO noted that no EPO president had ever been appointed at the CEIPI during their mandate. The source said that the union was also concerned that the EPO’s administrative council may not have been duly informed of this move prior the official communication by the CEIPI.

The source said: “At this stage it is unclear if this may (or not) raise new ethical or even legal problems for the Council.”

The source pointed out that the move could have been made to keep Battistelli “active”, to make him a “credible candidate” for president of the Unified Patent Court when it comes into effect.

We have heard similar things. People ought to write letters to Christoph Ernst, urging him to do something about it. If he fails to respond or take action (he can, in theory, ‘discipline’ Battistelli), then he’s complicit by inaction or reluctance to intervene.

It’s sad to see the EPO/Battistelli poisoning institutions outside the EPO. They already corrupt media and academia, as well.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is Calling for Greater Transparency at USPTO and US Patent Courts

Wednesday 6th of December 2017 11:18:16 AM

As independence is not enough when there’s no visibility


Reference: Judicial accountability and independence (UK)

Summary: Digital rights groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation still insist that it is difficult to tackle patents, challenges (e.g. at PTAB) and legal actions given the current tools and publicly available data

THE prevalence of information (Open Access and open data) in conjunction with transparency is essential for justice. It needs to be seen to be assured or verified by independent outsiders. The USPTO wouldn’t rank too badly for open data, but there’s plenty of room for improvement still.

“A lot of people now rely on Google for access to such information (problematic as it demonstrates an element akin to privatisation).”Apple fan sites which keep abreast of Apple’s latest granted patents certainly manage to find out what was approved (this one is from yesterday), but when one only sees the finished ‘product’ it leaves limited room for challenge/opposition. The USPTO has an extensive database and easy-to-search data about granted patents, but little else. A lot of people now rely on Google for access to such information (problematic as it demonstrates an element akin to privatisation).

“As we’ve said since last year, the Board enjoys a 80% approval/reaffirmation rate from the Federal Circuit, so there’s no rift.”What about data other than granted patents? Well, some sites have come into existence to help track dockets and thus patent cases, soon to be used by the EFF, CCIA and so on. The Federal Circuit (CAFC) is hard to observe except when decisions are published (worse than the Supreme Court, SCOTUS, in that regard) and with PTAB dodged using tribal immunity (Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe/Allergan) things get extremely dodgy. There are satellite/proxy entities all around the world, designed purely to complicate and therefore whitewash what many have dubbed a “scam” (hard to trace reassignments back to the source, much like money laundering).

Yesterday, this long article by Vera Ranieri (EFF) spoke about how secrecy (or lack of access to information) impacts cases in the Eastern District of Texas and beyond. To quote:

In a promising step toward transparency, the Eastern District of Texas (the court that sees many of the nation’s patent cases) recently announced an amendment to its Local Rules that would require parties to file redacted versions of documents that contain confidential information. Previously, parties would file whole briefs under seal, without any public version being provided, even if only one word or line in the brief was claimed to be confidential. One of the few ways the public could protest against this improper sealing was to attempt to intervene in cases so as to require the parties and the courts to justify the sealing. But members of the public can’t possibly intervene to unseal in every case. This rule change is a step toward greater transparency.

EFF has, in recent years, worked to push back against oversealing, especially in patent cases where improper sealing is practically routine. We successfully intervened in several cases in order to provide greater transparency to the public.

[...]

EFF has also been pushing for greater transparency in the high profile patent litigation between Allergan (a branded pharmaceutical company) and generic companies who wish to make a lower cost version of the drug Restasis. The litigation took on new interest when Allergan announced it had “sold” its patents to the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe in an attempt to shield the patents from scrutiny at the Patent Office.

[...]

In both the district court case and at the Patent Office, it is clear that parties are often sealing much more information than the law allows. It is only when challenged do they agree to reveal what should have been public in the first place. While we’re glad there has been greater transparency in the cases mentioned above, it should not take EFF (or anyone else’s) intervention before the courts and parties make public what should have been public all along.

Contrariwise, looking at the patent maximalists at Patently-O, they are taking advantage of access to PTAB/Federal Circuit proceedings to cherry-pick cases and often present the PTAB as rife with disputes, controversy, even scandals. Yesterday the blog wrote about three “PTAB decisions [which] seem inconsistent, but the differences can be explained by the fact that each IPR focused on different prior art references (or combinations thereof). Note here that the patentee loses (claims are cancelled) if a claim is found invalid in any one of multiple IPR proceedings. On appeal, the Federal Circuit consolidated the cases and has ruled against the patentee — affirming the Iron Dome and Dish cancellations, but reversing the Board’s nonobviousness decision from Hulu.”

As we’ve said since last year, the Board enjoys a 80% approval/reaffirmation rate from the Federal Circuit, so there’s no rift. Compare that to the sheer disagreement between the Federal Circuit and the Supreme Court, which as far as patents go is extraordinary. The Supreme Court overturned pretty much every single decision from the Federal Circuit.

Another Day of EPO Injustices in Europe and Campinos/Battistelli Connections at CEIPI

Wednesday 6th of December 2017 10:29:46 AM

Forensic ‘justice’ (Stasi-esque)

Summary: ILOAT is scheduled to deliver 5 “exceptional” EPO decisions today (that’s 5 out of 8 in total) and more news from CEIPI is serving to suggest that nepotism has become chronic there too

THE EPO started the morning with its daily (for about a month if not a lot more than that by now) #IPforSMEs nonsense. It’s actually a big day because of ILOAT, not these usual distractions. ILO is to deliver 5 important judgments regarding the EPO later today. Unfortunately, I’m out of the house most of the day today, so I hope that some folks will contact us with legal interpretations of these judgments.

The EPO has, quite evidently, lost touch with justice. Judges themselves are being pushed around in courts and ILO seems so soft on the EPO that many insiders view it as an integral part of the problem, far from a solution. ILO is nearly a century old, yet it’s sinking/drowning in complaints about the EPO and these threaten the very function of ILO! Officials at ILO publicly admitted this.

“The EPO has, quite evidently, lost touch with justice.”Speaking of lack of justice, CEIPI seems to have become a target as well. Hitherto, Campinos has chaired it; he is a former banker who climbed his way up the ladder in the domain of trademarks despite lack of experience and then entered the patent world with virtually no experience at all, owing in part to behind-the-scenes lobbying by Battistelli, who himself had no experience in that area until his mid-fifties. It’s incredible! It’s truly incredible!

One source told us yesterday not to lose sight of another CEIPI person. To quote: “don’t forget the… 3rd French! Teachers may not be happy, but Director General of CEIPI and Campinos’ good friend is taking the CEIPI director’s position at the age of 35… well, you have to collaborate with the devil anyway” (I’m 35 myself).

As a recap, here is what we already wrote about CEIPI:

“Teachers may not be happy, but Director General of CEIPI and Campinos’ good friend is taking the CEIPI director’s position at the age of 35…”
      –AnonymousMeanwhile, questions are also being raised about the dubious UPC. Battistelli is rumoured (by reliable sources) to be exploiting CEIPI as a stationing point for UPC in Paris and the German complaint which likely killed the UPC (for good) has already raised questions about appointment of judges. This comment from yesterday said: “To the question of whether a judge can be independent if there is no reliable judicial review available to him against adverse decisions of his appointing authority, the German Constitutional Court will hopefully give a response.” Imagine a judge basher and judge attacker (against his own rules and despite lack of authority) Battistelli overseeing courts and judges. To use an old analogy, as someone put it earlier this year, “this man should not have been in charge of anything more involved than a hamster cage (without the hamster, because that would have been animal cruelty)…”

Links 6/12/2017: CrossOver 17.0.0, SDDM 0.17.0

Wednesday 6th of December 2017 09:40:03 AM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Buoyant’s New Open Source Service Mesh Is Designed with Kubernetes in Mind

    Today, Buoyant has announced a new, next-gen open source service mesh called Conduit, which was designed to be incredibly fast and lightweight, highly performant, and secure, with real-world Kubernetes and gRPC use cases in mind.

    Ahead of CloudNativeCon + KubeCon 2017 to be held this week in Austin, we spoke to George Miranda, Community Director at Buoyant, the maker of Linkerd. Be sure to catch Buoyant CEO William Morgan’s keynote on Conduit at CloudNativeCon. They’ll also be kicking off the conference with the New Stack’s Pancake Breakfast. Make sure to catch all of Buoyant’s talks at the conference.

  • Google makes AI tool for precision medicine open source

    Google announced Monday an open source version of DeepVariant, the artificial intelligence tool that last year earned the highest accuracy rating at the precisionFDA’s Truth Challenge.

    The open source tool comes as academic medical centers, hospitals, insurance companies and other healthcare organizations are gearing up for if not already embarking on artificial intelligence, cognitive computing and machine learning as well as precision medicine and the genomic sequencing that entails.

    Likewise, Google rivals IBM and Microsoft are all moving into the healthcare AI space while much speculation surrounds Apple and Amazon making forays into the space.

  • Events
    • One Month Left to Submit Your Talk to ELC + OpenIoT Summit NA 2018

      Embedded Linux Conference (ELC), happening March 12-14 in Portland, OR, gathers kernel and systems developers, and the technologists building the applications running on embedded Linux platforms, to learn about the newest and most interesting embedded technologies, gain access to leading experts, have fascinating discussions, collaborate with peers, and gain a competitive advantage with innovative embedded Linux solutions.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Woke up and thought you were in a different reality? Reality Redrawn Challenge launches with a total prize value of $40,000

        It’s not often I get to invite artists and developers to collaborate together so I’m excited to see how they respond to the Reality Redrawn Challenge from Mozilla which launches today. The boundaries between truth and fiction are becoming harder to define, in part because of the proliferation of fake news and other forms of misinformation. Mozilla wants to shed light on this by sponsoring public demonstrations, using mixed reality and other art media that make the power of misinformation and its potential impacts visible and visceral.

        We live in strange times in which legitimate news organizations such as CNN have to launch advertising campaigns to remind people what real information is. Meanwhile social networks that connect millions more people struggle to help them differentiate truth from fiction and to define their unplanned role as media platforms.

        Throughout historic moments of upheaval people have used art to make sense of what appears to be dystopian reality. The west side of the Berlin wall became one of the largest canvases in the world as Berliners attempted to make sense of their divided city, while the east side remained blank as none were allowed to get close enough to paint. I also like to remember that Jazz icon and civil rights activist Nina Simone set an enduring challenge to all artists when she asked “how can you be an artist and not reflect the times?”

      • Mozilla Files Cross-Complaint Against Yahoo Holdings and Oath

        Yahoo Holdings and Oath filed a complaint against Mozilla on December 1, 2017, claiming that we improperly terminated the agreement between Mozilla and Yahoo. Today, in response, Mozilla filed a cross-complaint against Yahoo Holdings and Oath for breach of contract.

        While this is a legal matter and much of it is confidential, as Mozilla, we want to share as much information as we can in the spirit of our values of openness and transparency.

        We will create a wiki page with links to relevant public court documents – over time we expect to add more content as it becomes public.

      • Mozilla Releases Open Source Speech Recognition Engine and Voice Dataset

        After launching Firefox Quantum, Mozilla continues its upward trend and releases its Open Source Speech Recognition Model and Voice Dataset. Well, Mozilla is finally back!

        In the past few years, technical advancements have contributed to a rapid evolution of speech interfaces and, subsequently, of speech-enabled devices powered by machine learning technologies. And thanks to Mozilla’s latest efforts, things look better than ever.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
  • Programming/Development
  • Standards/Consortia
    • Call for Participants for the ANSI Unmanned Aircraft Systems Standardization Collaborative

      The UASSC’s mission is to coordinate and accelerate the development of the standards and conformity assessment programs needed to facilitate the safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) – commonly known as drones – into the national airspace system (NAS) of the United States. The collaborative will also focus on international coordination and adaptability, with the goal of fostering the growth of the UAS market. The group will work to develop a standardization roadmap over the course of a year to identify existing standards and standards in development, as well as related conformance programs, define where gaps exist, and recommend additional work that is needed including a timeline for its completion and organizations that potentially can perform the work. The UASSC will not develop standards.

Leftovers
  • Hardware
    • HP & ASUS Rollout Their ARM-Powered Laptops

      Being announced from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Summit today is the HP Envy x2 and ASUS NovaGo, interesting ARM-powered laptops.

      The HP Envy x2 and ASUS NovaGo are powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 SoC. The Envy x2 has a 12-inch 1080p display, goes for a convertible/2-in-1 laptop design, and 8GB of RAM with 256GB of storage. The ASUS NovaGo meanwhile has a 13.3-inch 1080p screen and also has 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Accused of medical malpractice—a lot? The VA may be the place for you

      The Department of Veterans Affairs has knowingly hired doctors with trails of misconduct allegations, licensing problems, malpractice accusations, and patient settlements, according to a recent USA Today investigation.

      In fact, the newspaper suggests that the VA may actually attract troubled doctors and clinicians because it doesn’t require that they have their own malpractice insurance. Thus, doctors dubbed too risky for private malpractice insurance based on problematic pasts may find relief at the VA, where malpractice claims are paid out using taxpayer money.

      In their investigation, USA Today dug up 15 prior malpractice complaints and settlements against neurosurgeon John Henry Schneider, who was hired in April by the Veterans Affairs hospital in Iowa City, Iowa, with an annual salary of $385,000.

    • New UNCTAD, GIZ Toolbox: How To Achieve Policy Coherence For Local Production And Access To Medicines

      What do investment, trade, intellectual property, health financing, R&D, industrial and medicines regulation policy have in common? They are all important building blocks for the successful promotion of local pharmaceutical manufacturing. As more and more countries are looking into building their own pharmaceutical production capacities, they need to ensure strong policy coherence to be successful.

    • Morals behind anti-vaccination: Vigilance against tyrannical, impure shots

      For years, doctors and health experts have tried in vain to douse the modern anti-vaccine movement with data and science. They’ve showered vaccine-hesitant parents with data on the safety and efficacy of the life-saving injections, plus information on herd immunity and the dangers of otherwise bygone diseases, such as measles. Nevertheless, the efforts largely fail. In some cases, they even backfire; mind-boggling studies have found that repeating myths and misinformation in the process of debunking them can actually reinforce them.

  • Security
    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #136
    • Massive Breach Exposes Keyboard App that Collects Personal Data On Its 31 Million Users

      In the digital age, one of the most popular sayings is—if you’re not paying, then you’re not the customer, you’re the product.
      While downloading apps on their smartphones, most users may not realize how much data they collect on you.
      Believe me; it’s way more than you can imagine.
      Nowadays, many app developers are following irresponsible practices that are worth understanding, and we don’t have a better example than this newly-reported incident about a virtual keyboard app.
      A team of security researchers at the Kromtech Security Center has discovered a massive trove of personal data belonging to more than 31 million users of the popular virtual keyboard app, AI.type, accidentally leaked online for anyone to download without requiring any password.

    • Vortex and Bugware Ransomware Use Open Source Tools to Target .NET Users [Ed: 'News' sites continue to frame Microsoft Windows malware as "open source" to distract from the real culprit]

      A pair of ransomware variants called Vortex and Bugware are encrypting victims’ files by using open source repositories and targeting .NET users, researchers warned. Based on an investigation published by Zscaler, those affected by the two families are being hit with demands that, in the case of Vortex, start at $100 and double within less than a week.

    • 100,000-strong botnet built on router 0-day could strike at any time

      Attackers have used an advanced new strain of the Mirai Internet-of-things malware to quietly amass an army of 100,000 home routers that could be used at any moment to wage Internet-paralyzing attacks, a researcher warned Monday.

      Botnet operators have been regularly releasing new versions of Mirai since the source code was openly published 14 months ago. Usually, the new versions contain minor tweaks, many of which contain amateur mistakes that prevent the new releases from having the punch of the original Mirai, which played a key role in a series of distributed denial-of-service attacks that debilitated or temporarily took down Twitter, GitHub, the PlayStation Network and other key Internet services.

    • Mastermind behind sophisticated, massive botnet outs himself

      The mastermind behind some of the world’s biggest and longest-running botnets has been jailed and his vast criminal infrastructure taken down, in part because of a careless operational security blunder that allowed authorities to identify his anonymous online persona.

      Officials from the Republic of Belarus reported Monday they detained a participant in the sprawling Andromeda botnet network, which was made up of 464 separate botnets that spread more than 80 distinct malware families since 2011. On Tuesday, researchers with security firm Recorded Future published a blog post that said the participant was a 33-year-old Belarusian named Sergey Jarets.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Honduran Riot Police Refuse to Carry Out Crackdown on Opposition Protests After “Illegal” Election

      National police in the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa—including elite U.S.-trained units—refused to impose a nighttime curfew Monday night that was ordered by incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernández after days of protests over allegations of fraud in the country’s disputed election. The move comes after at least three people were killed as Honduran security forces opened fire on the protests Friday night in Tegucigalpa. Protests erupted last week after the government-controlled electoral commission stopped tallying votes from the November 26 election, after the count showed opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla ahead by more than 5 percentage points. The commission now says Hernández has pulled ahead of Nasralla, by 42.98 percent to 41.39 percent, after a recount of suspicious votes. This comes as Nasralla and international observers are calling on the Honduras electoral commission—which is controlled by President Hernández—to carry out a recount. We speak with Allan Nairn, award-winning investigative journalist; Sarah Kinosian, a Honduras-based reporter; and Congressmember Jan Schakowsky, who represents the 9th District of Illinois. Her op-ed published in The New York Times is headlined “The Honduran Candidate.”

    • ‘This Is Very Much a US/Saudi War on Yemen’

      The enormity of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen is staggering. At least 10,000 people have died in the last two years of Saudi war in the country, already among the poorest in the region. The UN says Yemen faces the worst famine the world has seen for decades, with at least 7 million people in need of immediate food aid. More than a half million children suffer from severe acute malnutrition, and millions more lack access to any healthcare at all. This while Yemen faces an outbreak of cholera that’s being called possibly the worst in history.

      Yet Americans have heard little about what’s happening in Yemen, and still less about how it relates to us. Shireen Al-Adeimi is a doctoral candidate and instructor at Harvard University, working to bring attention to the crisis. She joins us now by phone. Welcome to CounterSpin, Shireen Al-Adeimi.

    • Trump Administration to Allow More Cluster Bombs

      The Trump administration has waived a ban on older cluster bombs, paving the way for the U.S. to expand its use of the weapons, which are banned under a treaty signed by over 100 nations. The weapons scatter so-called bomblets over a wide area, exploding into shrapnel that tears through flesh. Some of the bombs fail to explode, effectively becoming land mines that later maim and kill civilians—especially children.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Our Dirty Double Standard for Corporate Polluters

      But one thing we shouldn’t and can’t be thankful for is the double standard by which our society and its so-called “regulatory” agencies treat corporate polluters compared to private citizens. Proof positive is the recent announcement that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has yet to fine anyone for the deaths of more than 3,000 snow geese on Butte’s Berkeley Pit last year. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is supposed to be protecting our public wildlife, had “no comment.”

    • Native American Tribes Join to File Lawsuit Against Trump Attack on Bears Ears National Monument

      Five Native American tribes have joined to file what they are calling an historic lawsuit against President Donald Trump, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and several other members of the administration. The move came just hours after Trump visited Utah Monday, where he announced his plan to open up protected federal lands to mining, logging, drilling and other forms of extraction. The plan calls for shrinking the 1.3 million-acre Bears Ears National Monument by more than 80 percent and splitting it into two separate areas. Trump would slash the state’s 1.9 million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by 50 percent. Bears Ears National Monument was created in 2016 by then-President Barack Obama. President Bill Clinton created the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in 1996. The national monuments were designated under the century-old Antiquities Act, a law meant to protect sacred sites, artifacts and historical objects. We speak with Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk, a member of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and former co-chair of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, and with Bob Deans, director of strategic engagement at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

  • Finance
    • Homeless Samaritan buys home with money from fundraiser

      A homeless man who used his last $20 to fill up the gas tank of a stranded motorist in Philadelphia has bought a home with some of the nearly $400,000 raised for him by the woman he saved.

      “The feeling is indescribable and (it’s) all thanks to the support and generosity that each and every one of you has shown,” Johnny Bobbitt Jr. wrote on a GoFundMe page. “I’ll continue to thank you every single day for the rest of my life.”

      Kate McClure, of Florence Township, New Jersey, ran out of gas on an Interstate 95 exit ramp late one night. Bobbitt walked a few blocks to buy her gas.

    • Rep. Keith Ellison: GOP Tax Bill Would Reorder Society & Create “Hereditary Aristocracy” for Rich

      On Saturday morning, Senate Republicans passed a nearly 500-page tax bill that will have dramatic impacts not only the U.S. tax code, but also healthcare, domestic spending and even oil and gas drilling. The plan would cut taxes by nearly $1.5 trillion. Major corporations and the richest Americans, including President Trump and his own family, would reap the most dramatic benefits. Overall, the bill is expected to add $1.4 trillion to federal budget deficits over the next decade. The bill passed the Senate 51 to 49, with every Democrat voting against the bill and all Republicans voting for it except for Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee. We speak with Minnesota Democratic Congressmember Keith Ellison. He’s the first Muslim member of Congress. Ellison is also the deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee.

    • Consumer Bureau’s New Leader Steers a Sudden Reversal
    • GOP Bill Restricts Suits Against Businesses

      Republican lawmakers are introducing a bill that would slash the amount of time that people have to file civil suits against businesses for injuries and other matters.

      The measure is backed by a host of powerful special interests, including manufacturers, insurers, builders, agriculture, transportation, hospitals, and doctors, among others.

      The proposal would cut the current statute of limitations for several types of civil lawsuits. The statute of limitation for lawsuits involving liability, fraud and injury to character would be reduced from six years to three years. The deadline for suing over injuries caused by property improvements would be cut from 10 years to six years.

    • Plunder Capitalism

      I deplore the tax cut that has passed Congress. It is not an economic policy tax cut, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with supply-side economics. The entire purpose is to raise equity prices by providing equity owners with more capital gains and dividends. In other words, it is legislation that makes equity owners richer, thus further polarizing society into a vast arena of poverty and near-poverty and the One Percent, or more precisely a fraction of the One Percent wallowing in billions of dollars. Unless our rulers can continue to control the explanations, the tax cut edges us closer to revolution resulting from complete distrust of government.

      [...]

      The neoliberal economists who are the shills for the rich, Wall Street, and the Banks-Too-Big-Too-Fail claim, erroneously, that by cutting the corporate income tax rate to 20% all sorts of offshored profits will be brought back to the US and lead to a booming economy and higher wages. This is absolute total nonsense. The money won’t come back, because it is invested abroad where labor costs are lower, if invested at all instead of buying back the corporation’s stock or buying other existing companies. After 20 years of offshoring US manufacturing and professional tradable skills and the incomes associated with the jobs, who is going to invest in America? The American population has no income with which to purchase the goods and services from new investment, and the American population’s credit cards are maxed out.

      All that is going to happen is that Wall Street will calculate the lower tax rate into a higher equity price. Wall Street can do this without any of the offshored earnings coming home. Suddenly, everyone who owns equities will experience a boost in wealth, or the boost has already occurred in anticipation of the handout.

      The deficit-conscious Republicans have put into the Bill for Enhancement of the Rich’s Wealth, cuts in social services in order to “save workers from higher interest rates from budget deficits.” This is more dishonesty. If the Fed lets real interest rates rise to any meaningful amount, derivatives will unwind, and the Fed will have to create trillions more in new dollars to keep its Ponzi scheme in place. The deficit that results from the tax cut will be covered by the Fed purchasing the Treasuries, not by a rise in interest rates.

      What we are witnessing in the US and indeed throughout the western world is the total failure of capitalism. Capitalism is now merely a looting machine. The financial sector no longer supplies capital for production. What the financial sector does is to turn discretionary consumer income into interest and fee payments to banks. Aggregate demand can only grow through debt expansion, and the consumers reach a point where they cannot expand their debt.

    • The Never-Ending Foreclosure

      In retrospect, refinancing their home was a bad idea. But the Santillan family never thought that it would lead them to foreclosure, or that they’d spend years bouncing among hotels and living in their car. The parents, Karina and Juan, never thought it would force three of their four children to leave the schools they’d been attending and take classes online, or require them to postpone college and their careers for years. They did not know they would still be recovering financially today, in 2017. “Having lived through everything I see life differently now,” Karina Santillan, who is now 47, told me. “I’m more cautious—I probably think through financial decisions three, four, five times.”

      In the big picture, the U.S. economy has recovered from the Great Recession, which officially began a decade ago, in December of 2007. The current unemployment rate of 4.4 percent is lower than it was before the recession started, and there are more jobs in the economy than there were then (though the population is also bigger). But for some, the recession and its consequences are neverending, felt most strongly by families like the Santillans who lost jobs and homes. Understanding what these families have experienced, and why recovery has been so evasive, is key to assessing the economic risks the nation faces. Despite ever-sunnier economic conditions overall, the Great Recession is still rattling American families. When the next economic crisis hits, the losses could be even more profound. “There are people who still, to this day, are trying to get back on their feet,” Mark Zandi, the chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, told me. “These households are slowly finding their way back, but they’re still on a journey.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Trump and RNC Back Roy Moore Senate Bid Despite Sex Abuse Accusations

      The Republican National Committee has recommitted money and resources to Alabama’s special election on December 12, after President Trump tweeted his support for Senate candidate Roy Moore. At least nine women have accused Moore of sexually harassing or assaulting them when they were teenagers—one as young as 14. Despite the charges, Trump tweeted Monday, “Democrats refusal to give even one vote for massive Tax Cuts is why we need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama. We need his vote on stopping crime, illegal immigration, Border Wall, Military, Pro Life, V.A., Judges 2nd Amendment and more. No to Jones, a Pelosi/Schumer Puppet!” The Republican Party’s support came as a woman in Florida produced evidence she says proves Moore lied during a campaign rally last month, when he said he did not know any of his women accusers. Registered Republican Debbie Wesson Gibson says she had a consensual relationship with Moore when she was 17 and he was 34. In an interview, Gibson showed The Washington Post a handwritten note she says Moore handed her at her high school graduation in 1981.

    • Roy Moore’s Son Has a Murky Employment Situation With His Dad’s Foundation

      If you look at Caleb Moore’s resume, his current position is assistant executive director at the Foundation for Moral Law, the organization founded by his father, Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore.

      He allegedly has been in that position for three years, previously serving as an information systems specialist at the foundation from May 2013 to May 2014.

      But if you ask the foundation, he is not an employee there and hasn’t been one, at least for the past year.

      The Foundation for Moral Law is no doubt a family affair for the Moores. The president of the organization is Kayla, Roy’s wife. The Washington Post reported that the charity has employed at least two of the couple’s four children, although it’s not clear what their compensation was.

    • A Second Chance: This Amazing Organization Helps Disgraced Pedophiles Rebuild Their Lives By Getting Them Elected To Political Office

      For many pedophiles, it’s impossible to make ends meet. These sex criminals are often shunned both socially and professionally, making it extremely difficult for them to find any sort of gainful employment. But now a group called the GOP is trying to change all that: This amazing organization helps disgraced pedophiles rebuild their lives by getting them elected to political office.

    • Headlines Ignore the Abuse Reports That Make Moore Endorsement Newsworthy

      Headlines typically attempt to draw in readers by including the most relevant or pertinent information, but in the case of breaking news Monday that President Trump had endorsed Roy Moore in next week’s Senate special election in Alabama, the single most important fact of the case—that Moore faces multiple sexual abuse charges—was omitted by the majority of outlets altogether.

      [...]

      FAIR has repeatedly pointed out that only 40 percent of readers read past the headlines, which means most people form their worldview based on how a story is framed. Perhaps editors assumed readers were intimate with the allegations against Moore, that the antecedent was obvious. But recent polls show people are either ignorant or confused, with 89 percent of likely Alabama voters pinning the allegations on “newspapers and the media” and 10 percent having never heard of them at all. Certainly the fact of the president—himself accused by assault by multiple women—throwing his considerable weight behind someone running under a cloud of pedophilia should lead the story.

      Editors perhaps want to avoid harsh or unseemly language. Which is a perfectly fine instinct, if such language is gratuitous or unrelated—but in this case, the depravity and visceral disgust of the crime in question is the story. By skirting the terms “child abuse” or “sexual assault,” media are burying the severity of the major issue at hand: that the most powerful person earth just endorsed a possible child molester. Newspapers aren’t meant to be managers of cognitive dissonance; in theory, they’re conveyors of truthful information. By burying and downplaying what makes this story news, they are protecting people’s feelings rather than plainly stating what’s at stake, and in doing so providing cover for an accused child abuser and his growing list of enablers.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Coronado students protest alleged censorship

      Coronado Middle School journalism students are protesting alleged censorship after, they say, they were forced to cancel a news segment in their student broadcast called “In the News”. The segment covers national and international headlines.

      Students made the announcement in their newscast on Friday. The kids, afraid to speak on camera, told 10News they were forced to make the changes after a broadcast where they mentioned sexual misconduct allegations, amongst people of power, making national headlines.

      [...]

      Parents think the censorship violates the student’s first amendment. They want the segment back in the broadcast.

    • Art exhibition: Is Malaysia a Stalinist regime, asks Pua

      An opposition MP today slammed the authorities for purportedly tampering with an installation at an art exhibition, on the grounds that it contained “communist” elements.

      Calling the reported act a “blatant attempt at censorship”, DAP’s Tony Pua said the irony was that the authorities were acting “precisely like the purported ‘communism’ elements which the artists were accused of portraying”.

      “Are we now like a Stalinist totalitarian regime where the police and other relevant authorities will act like the Big Brother controlling how and what its citizens think?” he said in a statement.

    • Censorship of artworks for trivial reasons must be condemned

      Last month, the Malaysian art community made headlines again when seven artists withdrew themselves from the inaugural KL Biennale after pieces from their installation titled, “Under Construction” were purportedly confiscated by the police the day before the official launch of the exhibition.

      The KL Biennale is a biennial contemporary art exhibition jointly organised by the National Art Gallery and the Ministry of Tourism and Culture (MOTAC). Modelled after the famous Venice Biennale, the KL version was heavily promoted as it featured 103 local artists and 11 international artists.

    • Censorship shall not pass at CSUB

      The American Library Association’s (ALA) Banned Books Week supports First Amendment rights, taking a stand on literature censorship and the freedom to read.

      Banned Books Week is a celebration that was first launched in 1982 by the ALA.

      Students, staff and administrators at CSU Bakersfield don’t officially celebrate Banned Books Week or have a history of challenging or banning publications. Several literary works from ALA’s Banned Books Week 2017 list are available for check out at CSUB’s Walter W. Stiern Library.

      Gabby Rios, a sophomore nursing major at CSUB, chooses to read books that interest her in between classes.

    • This painting might be sexually disturbing. But that’s no reason to take it out of a museum.
    • Metropolitan Museum Defends Balthus Painting After Petition Demands Its Removal
    • Demands that Met Museum Censor Art Deflect Debate from Achieving Justice and Equality
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Intelligence Director Says Gov’t Can Demand Encryption Backdoors Without Having To Run It By The FISA Court

      A set of questions from Senator Ron Wyden — directed at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence — have finally received answers. The answers [PDF] were actually given to the Senate oversight committee in July but have just now been made public.

      Zack Whittaker of ZDNet has taken a look at the answers the ODNI provided and found something that indicates the government can not only compel the creation of backdoors, but can do so without explicit approval from the FISA court.

    • How We Are Monitoring Political Ads on Facebook

      Political ads on Facebook have come under scrutiny since it was revealed that Russia used such messages to try to influence the 2016 U.S. election. But online political ads are often seen only by a small target audience — making it difficult for the public to check them for accuracy. In order to shine a light on political advertising on Facebook, we built a tool that allows Facebook users to automatically send us the political ads that were displayed on their news feeds. (You can install the tool, known as a web browser extension, for Chrome or Firefox.)

      The extension, which we call the Political Ad Collector, is a small piece of software that users can add to their web browsers. When a user logs into Facebook, the extension will collect the ads displayed on the user’s news feed and guess which ones are political based on an algorithm built by ProPublica. Ads that are found likely to be political are made public in a searchable database.

    • Political Ads on Facebook
    • Facebook Allowed Political Ads That Were Actually Scams and Malware

      In September, an ad with the headline, “New Approval Ratings For President Trump Announced And It’s Not Going The Way You Think,” targeted Facebook users in the U.S. who were over 40 and labeled as “very liberal” by the tech company.

      “Regardless of what you think of Donald Trump and his policies, it’s fair to say that his appointment as President of the United States is one of the most…,” ran the text. “Learn more.”

    • Germany Preparing Law for Backdoors in Any Type of Modern Device

      German authorities are preparing a law that will force device manufacturers to include backdoors within their products that law enforcement agencies could use at their discretion for legal investigations. The law would target all modern devices, such as cars, phones, computers, IoT products, and more.

      Officials are expected to submit their proposed law for debate this week, according to local news outlet RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland (RND).

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • No room for dissent in Singapore

      AFTER a short flirtation with openness, the Singapore PM has fallen back on the authoritarianism favoured by his father, as the prosecution of social worker and activist Jolovan Wham will show, said a participant in one of Wham’s vigils who is now under investigation.

    • German Pilots Ground Flights to Protect Afghan Asylum Seekers

      And a new report finds German airline pilots are increasingly grounding flights in solidarity with Afghan refugees whose applications for asylum have been refused. Germany’s government said Monday that pilots have refused to fly at least 222 flights carrying Afghans out of Germany—in some cases delaying their deportations long enough for them to successfully appeal their asylum claims.

    • Internet Censorship Bills Wouldn’t Help Catch Sex Traffickers

      In the most illuminating part of last week’s House subcommittee hearing on the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA, H.R. 1865), Tennessee Bureau of Investigation special agent Russ Winkler explained how he uses online platforms—particularly Backpage—to fight online sex trafficking. Winkler painted a fascinating picture of agents on his team posing as johns, gaining trust with traffickers, and apprehending them. His testimony demonstrated how, with proper training and resources, law enforcement officers can navigate the online platforms where sex work takes place to find and stop traffickers, especially those trafficking children.

      It was a rare moment of clarity in the debate over FOSTA and its sibling bill, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA, S. 1693). Since these bills were introduced, there’s been little discussion of how law enforcement officers use the online platforms that the bills would threaten and how SESTA and FOSTA would make it more difficult for law enforcement to do its work. Winkler made it crystal clear how heavily his work relies on online platforms: “We’ve conducted operations and investigations involving numerous perpetrators and victims. The one constant we encounter in our investigations is use of online platforms like Backpage.com by buyers and sellers of underage sex.”

    • Senator Kamala Harris Serves Up A Not-Completely-Terrible Revenge Porn Bill

      Senator Kamala Harris — famous here mostly for her constant, Quixotic attempts to turn Backpage into a criminal defendant — is now crafting laws at the federal level. Her support for the internet-crippling SESTA is already known. Her next target, apparently, is revenge porn purveyors.

      Harris’ bill [PDF] will likely be remembered more for its too-clever acronym than its content. The ENOUGH Act of 2017 (brace yourself: Ending Nonconsensual Online User Graphic Harassment) is another attempt to criminalize revenge porn at the federal level. The problem is the subject matter is slippery and difficult to nail down precisely enough to avoid First Amendment concerns.

      The bill does make an attempt at narrowly crafting a definition and at least tries to limit the liability of platforms hosting user-generated content, but it still has some issues. For one, the definition of images covered by the act is a bit too vague to prevent the possible criminalization of harmless images.

    • Weinstein’s Complicity Machine
    • New York Ballet Chief Peter Martins Ousted over Sex Harassment Claim

      Elsewhere, the School of American Ballet has removed its longtime teacher Peter Martins, while the school and the New York City Ballet conduct a joint investigation into a sexual harassment claim against him.

    • Hyperloop One co-founder takes leave after sexual harassment accusations

      Shervin Pishevar, a well-known Silicon Valley investor who co-founded Virgin Hyperloop One, has now taken a leave from his professional duties in the wake of recent allegations of sexual harassment and assault.

      According to Bloomberg, five women have recently accused Pishevar of using “his position of power to pursue romantic relationships and unwanted sexual encounters.”

      According to Pishevar’s Tuesday statement, the venture capitalist will immediately step down from Sherpa Capital and Virgin Hyperloop One, as well as give up his board seats at other companies.

    • Court Rules ICE Can’t Detain Immigrant Teens Without Due Process

      ICE locked up immigrant teenagers for months without evidence in violation of their due process rights.

      After five months locked up in detention, F.E.* returned home to Brentwood, New York. “I thought I’d never see my ‘Mami’ again,” the 17-year-old said.

      His offense? Scribbling “503,” the calling code for El Salvador, in his school notebook and allegedly hanging out with the “wrong people” at his high school. Local police, along with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, claimed this implicated F.E. as a gang member, which meant that ICE could arrest him, send him away across the country, and detain him for months — all without notifying his family or giving him a hearing.

      They were wrong.

    • ACLU Files Supreme Court Brief Responding to Government Request to Throw Out Jane Doe Abortion Ruling

      The Trump administration has provided no legal justification for its extraordinary request.

      The ACLU filed a brief last night in the Jane Doe abortion case opposing the Trump administration’s request that the Supreme Court throw out a lower court’s decision that cleared the way for Ms. Doe’s abortion after a month of unconstitutional delay.

      The government’s brief also asked the court to stop Ms. Doe from continuing her challenge to the government’s policy, which still prevents other pregnant immigrant teens from getting abortions while in federal custody. Finally, it asked the court to consider discipline against ACLU lawyers.

      Legal scholars describe the Trump administration’s request as baseless and unprecedented. We believe it was an effort to deflect attention away from mistakes it made in litigating the case and to insulate from court review an unconstitutional policy of coercing pregnant immigrant minors into carrying pregnancies to term against their will.

      Ms. Doe, a 17-year-old who came to the United States without her parents in September, learned that she was pregnant while in federal custody shortly after crossing the border. She immediately said she wanted an abortion, but the government refused to allow her to leave the shelter where she was living for any abortion-related appointments. In response, she filed a legal challenge, alleging that the government’s refusal to allow her to leave the shelter for abortion care constituted a ban on abortion and was thus unconstitutional.

    • Local Lawmakers and Civil Rights Groups Call for Suspending Pedestrian Tickets in Jacksonville

      Several local lawmakers and civil rights organizations have called for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office to suspend all pedestrian ticket writing over concerns officers are targeting blacks and other residents of the city’s poorer neighborhoods.

      Isaiah Rumlin, president of the local chapter of the NAACP, and Reverend Levy Wilcox of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s local branch, said in a news release made public Tuesday that while public safety was a great concern, so was the possibility that the sheriff’s office had been discriminating against African Americans by selectively enforcing sometimes obscure pedestrian statutes.

      The calls from the civil rights organizations come two weeks after the Times-Union and ProPublica reported that a disproportionate number of the more than 2,200 pedestrian tickets issued from 2012 to 2017 had been given to blacks. Those tickets, issued for everything from jaywalking to walking on the wrong side of the road, can have an impact on people’s driver’s licenses and, if unpaid, their credit ratings.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Days Before Doing Verizon’s Bidding, Ajit Pai Gives A Talk At Verizon

      So, either no one at the FCC gives a shit any more or there’s no one there with the slightest perspective on how this might look, but earlier today, Ajit Pai gave a talk at Verizon. Pai, as you know, used to be Verizon’s deputy General Counsel — though that was a while ago, and just because he used to work there doesn’t necessarily mean he would be regulating in their interest. However, basically every move that Pai has taken since becoming chair of the FCC has been exactly what Verizon has asked for, no matter how ridiculous. Given that, you’d think at least someone in his office would have the sense to say “perhaps talking at Verizon just days before giving them a HUGE gift in destroying net neutrality is… not a good look.”

    • AT&T, Whose Ex-CEO Promised To Wreck Net Neutrality, Insists It Won’t Do Anything To Net Neutrality

      AT&T is the latest big broadband player to try to suggest that everyone just calm down a little about this whole thing where the FCC destroys net neutrality. And, sure, some of the reports out there and some of the predictions being made about the impending death of net neutrality are fairly exaggerated. But, there are serious concerns, and AT&T’s decision to set up some strawmen to knock over ignores the importance of the issue.

    • 50,000 net neutrality complaints were excluded from FCC’s repeal docket

      The Federal Communications Commission docket for its repeal of net neutrality rules is missing something: more than 50,000 complaints that Internet customers have filed against their ISPs since the rules took effect in 2015.

      The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) was able to obtain the text of net neutrality complaints from the FCC via a public records request but says it has not been able to convince the FCC to include them in the repeal docket. “It seems to me that the commission is going to great lengths to ignore these documents and not incorporate them into the record,” NHMC General Counsel Carmen Scurato told Ars.

    • Ajit Pai Doesn’t Want You Talking About Court Ruling That Undermines His Bogus Claim That The FTC Will Protect Consumers

      We’ve noted a few times how the attack on net neutrality and consumer broadband privacy protections are just a small part of a massive lobbyist attempt to remove nearly all oversight of one of the least-competitive and least liked business sectors in America. Industry lobbyists (and the lawmakers and policy folk paid to love them) have made it abundantly clear that the goal is to gut FCC authority over broadband ISPs, then shovel any remaining, piddly authority to an FTC that’s not only ill-equipped to handle it, but is currently engaged in a lawsuit with AT&T that could dismantle its authority over large ISPs entirely.

      That FTC lawsuit was filed against AT&T after the company lied about throttling its wireless customers as part of an effort to drive unlimited customers to more expensive plans. Lower courts sided with AT&T’s creative argument that the very Title II common carrier FCC classification AT&T has been fighting tooth and nail against on the net neutrality front — exempted it from the FTC’s jurisdiction.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Trademarks

The Latest Noise About UPC in the UK

Tuesday 5th of December 2017 05:29:04 PM

Summary: With no substantial progress for the UPC anywhere in Europe, Team UPC and the EPO cherry-pick insignificant things and try to come up with sensational claims (as they always do)

UPC and UP (Unitary Patent) advocacy make one seem delusional and pro-UPC (re)tweets make one seem morally bankrupt.

This, however, is exactly what the EPO did a few hours ago, passing on this tweet which said: “Pierre Treichel (EPO) explaines the new uniform protection tool developed by the @EPOorg the #unitarypatent”

“UPC and UP (Unitary Patent) advocacy make one seem delusional and pro-UPC (re)tweets make one seem morally bankrupt.”But there is no Unitary Patent. It’s dead. It’s a lame duck.

The EPO then repeated its paid-for lies, generated on demand to corrupt academia and allegedly influence German courts (mind the timing of the so-called ‘study’).

To make matters worse, Team UPC then joined in, referring even to itself as “Team UPC”. Alex Robinson wrote: “OK #teamupc – Lords are due to discuss the #upc privileges & immunities order tomorrow. Doubt it’ll shed any more light on the Government’s intentions (if it has any…!) but I’ll keep an eye out for anything significant… @weberpatent @CMJewell28 @BirgitC”

“To make matters worse, Team UPC then joined in, referring even to itself as “Team UPC”.”He later wrote about this article of his, which admitted: “The legislation must now go before the House of Lords and then the Privy Council, after which the UK wil [sic] be in a position to ratify the UPC Agreement.”

But it will never be in such a position though. Never. It’s a fata morgana, as someone put it a couple of days ago. It is not compatible with Brexit and this pretty meaningless a stride means nothing whatsoever.

Team UPC at Bristows (Alan Johnson) had only a very short (two sentences) post about it and a tweet. That’s it!

“As a reminder, ILO will deliver “exceptional” rulings about the EPO tomorrow.”Meanwhile, posting a response to Robinson/Bristows at IP Kat (fake headline) someone responded to this question: “So can anyone solve the riddle: To what court or tribunal will UPC staff be able to apply for judicial review in the case of employment disputes?”

The answer: “That bastion of defence of employee’s rights, the ILOAT? The very same one that is snowed under with appeals filed by EPO employees? Oh dear…’

Indeed. The UPC would violate human rights and also, as pointed out in this last comment, the defunct ILO would likely oversee things. As a reminder, ILO will deliver “exceptional” rulings about the EPO tomorrow. Who among our readers will tune in (there’s a live video) and/or read the documents (formal decisions)? We sometimes do that. Be in touch with any information regarding these decisions. We need to cover these and we need informed/professional input.

The EPO Relies on Media Cowardice and Complicity (to Not Report Obvious Issues With Battistelli at CEIPI)

Tuesday 5th of December 2017 05:15:03 PM

Summary: With Battistelli poised to enter CEIPI (against the will of insiders, based on our sources) the media offers nothing but shallow puff pieces, as usual

THE EPO’s management moves from inside (internal) scandals to outside scandals, too. There’s no lack of scandals. After 2,000 EPO articles we’ve lost track of the number of separate scandals. That number probably does not matter as much as ensuring everything gets documented and is searchable.

Recently, Battistelli brought the perception of corruption to CEIPI. We have been writing about this since the EPO mentioned it [1, 2] and earlier today WIPR published this puff piece that repeats the most shallow of possible quotes. Battistelli “will succeed António Campinos, who has chaired the council since 2013. Battistelli was elected as chair for a three-year term.”

“It’s worth noting that the EPO did not disclose the Battistelli/Campinos chair-swapping exercise out of genuine will.”Go ahead and leap to the obvious conclusion then. No? Why not? Fear of the typical threats/legal bullying from the EPO? I happen to know that at WIPR things do not work like in ordinary publishing houses. They actually removed and later on reinstated a censored version of an article about the EPO’s legal threats against me. “It came from above,” as the infamous saying goes.

We wish to emphasise that the EPO absolutely does bully the media. And this, in part, is why reporting about the EPO is so appalling (with few exceptions here and there).

It’s worth noting that the EPO did not disclose the Battistelli/Campinos chair-swapping exercise out of genuine will. It is not about transparency. Uncharacteristically, 4 days later, the EPO’s Twitter account still refuses to even link to this disclosure. We can guess why…

The CEIPI, as it turns out, beat the EPO to it by several days, so it was just a disclosure/face-saving move for the EPO to mention this late on a Friday when everyone is absent (and to never link to it from Twitter, which is unusual and thus rather suspicious; perhaps leaks of internal correspondence can help shed light on the reasoning).

The European Patent Office Enrages the Powerless to Empower the Super-Powerful (Outside Europe)

Tuesday 5th of December 2017 04:51:32 PM

Farmers’ protest against EPO 8 years ago (with inflatable pigs)


Full size (larger)

Summary: The realisation that the European Patent Office (EPO) is a money-making operation rather than a functioning patent office results in public anger that’s targeted not at human rights abuses (which exist aplenty at the Office) but monopolistic aspects

TWO years ago we published leaked evidence that the EPO was discriminating against SMEs. Since then, in order to limit the damage to the EPO’s reputation, the EPO changed PACE somewhat (changing history as much as possible, only after it had been caught).

“The EPO is fast becoming a rubber-stamping operation which in no way offers value for money (to applicants).”This month and last month the EPO posted every single day (except during weekends) something with the hashtag #IPforSMEs. Here is today’s example, muttering something about “invention” and “business case” (marketing/management talk).

In reality, however, the EPO serves multinational corporations such as Monsanto/Bayer (US/Germany) and helps these corporations shield themselves from the masses, including SMEs. Moreover, the EPO is an enemy of farmers (i.e. food), which is why farmers often protest against the EPO (we covered some protests about a decade ago). Here is an article published by British media earlier today to warn about “patenting of plants”. Here are some excerpts:

Thor Kofoed, chairman of C and C’s Seed Working Party, stressed that th “Breeders in Europe currently make around 2000 varieties a year which shows how well the system works. Without this system, 90% of the varieties would disappear in the next 10 years to the economic benefit of a few multinationals. Farmers do not dare to take that chance and we can never accept a movement in that direction,” he concluded. e EPO was ignoring farmers who rely and use these products: “The new system favoured by EPO would be a disaster for farmers and small breeders. Small seed breeders would disappear which would cut the number of plant varieties on the market considerably. Only the big breeders – the multinationals – who can afford to make patent applications would survive.”

C and C accused the EPO of already authorizing patents on naturally occurring products like tomatoes and broccoli, and ignoring the latest Commission advice which recommends not using patents on plants whose DNA belongs to nature.

[...]

“Breeders in Europe currently make around 2000 varieties a year which shows how well the system works. Without this system, 90% of the varieties would disappear in the next 10 years to the economic benefit of a few multinationals. Farmers do not dare to take that chance and we can never accept a movement in that direction,” he concluded.

The EPO has not only enabled patents on life but also on software/algorithms, even in direct defiance of the rules. Earlier today a site of the patent microcosm published this piece titled “2017 European Patent Office Updates,” conveniently excluding any mention of EPO scandals and instead writing about computer programs:

Reflecting recent case law, the revision replaces and expands on its comments concerning user interfaces. The Guidelines now state that user interfaces comprise “features of presenting information and receiving input in response as part of human-computer interaction.” Features that define user input are more likely to have a technical character (and therefore be patentable subject matter) than those solely concerning data output and display, because input requires compatibility with the predetermined protocol of a machine, whereas output may be largely dictated by the subjective preferences of a user.

This change reflects recent case law about what can be considered patentable subject matter. When drafting claims involving a UI, we will be carefully considering input means and structures to help ensure allowance.

These are just software patents, like that infamous old European Patent on progress bars. When will people inside and outside the EPO recognise that patent scope at the EPO has blurred to the point of barely even existing? The EPO is fast becoming a rubber-stamping operation which in no way offers value for money (to applicants). EPO management does not want applicants to find this out (they lie, they attack judges, they punish staff members who speak about it), but applicants eventually find out anyway. And applications have, unsurprisingly, gone down in number (panic over this may result in further decline in fees).

Links 5/12/2017: Qt 5.10.0 RC3, DragonFly 5.0.2 Released

Tuesday 5th of December 2017 04:00:39 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Moscow Government Open-Sources Blockchain Voting Tool

    The government of Moscow is pushing ahead with plans to test blockchain for use in local voting initiatives.

    Last year, officials from Moscow’s government told local media that they were looking into the technology in a bid to reduce the risk of fraud when people are voting on city management issues. The possible use would come as part of its “Active Citizen” e-government project, constituting one of several areas in which blockchain is being explored (including as a basis for a new land registry system).

    Now, according to a Dec. 4 statement, officials have developed a pilot system for tracking votes via blockchain, declaring that the tech would make its ongoing Active Citizen program “more open” according to a translated statement.

  • Orange OCast software goes Open Source release

    OCast is designed to allow viewers to use a smartphone to play videos on devices including TV set-top boxes, TV sticks or TVs and control playback of the video with commands such as pause, fast forward and rewind. With the software, users can browse and explore their content libraries via their preferred interface, either the screen on their smartphone or on their tablet. Moreover, it means that with a single application they can watch content on a mobile or tablet outside or on their TV at home. Beyond video, OCast can also play and control slideshows, playlists and web apps.

  • Orange looks to tempt rivals with open sourced TV software

    Orange is making software that turns smartphones into remote controls open source as it looks to make the technology available to other operators.

    The France-based operator’s OCast software can be added to set-top boxes to enable consumers to use a smartphone to play videos, control playback and browse content libraries on their TVs.

    It said the kit was now available without licence fees to operators and developers.

    Deutsche Telekom is already testing OCast, Orange said.

  • Applying Open Source Strategies to the Data Center

    The open source story is a story about the power of collaboration in spurring innovation. Beyond software, open source allows a tech organization to deliver the most efficient piece of technology in the most efficient way possible at the time. Using an open source methodology, harnessing the power of the ecosystem, lets us deliver innovation in real time. To be clear, when we talk about innovation in this context, we are talking about innovation in delivery, which means finding new ways to reduce cost, increase speed, and make the data center more adaptive.

  • This Interview Was Conducted on an Anonymous, DIY Cell Phone Network

    Most people in the United States—and increasingly, around the world—carry the most sophisticated surveillance devices ever created in their pockets day in and day out. Although smartphones have enabled governments and corporations to track our movements and monitor our conversations with unprecedented ease, these devices are also an incredibly useful personal tool and have become an indispensable part of modern life.

    It’s a crappy trade off, but evidently one that most of us seem OK with. But Denver Gingerich, a programmer based in New York City, doesn’t see why we can’t have our smartphones and our privacy, too.

  • Sopranica: Text And Call Using This Open Source Cellular Network For Complete Anonymity

    Even without the revelations made by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and others, it was known to many that different governments across the world had been long involved in the act of mass surveillance.

    To deal with this privacy trade-off, a New York-based programmer named Denver Gingerich has worked hard to develop an open source cellular network named Sopranica. This DIY network lets one make phone calls, communicate via texts, and browser the web. All this with total privacy and anonymity.

  • 3 ways university classrooms can be more open

    Institutions of higher education stress the importance of student autonomy in academic exploration—yet the typical configuration of university courses does not take full advantage of students’ potential to become actors in their education, rather than just receivers of it. To realize this potential and make university learning more inclusive of—and meaningful for—students, professors could learn a lesson from open organizations.

  • Bitnami Launches Open Source In-Cluster Kubernetes App Environment

    Packaged server application provider Bitnami released Kubeapps, an open source and free application deployment environment that allows enterprises to discover, launch, and manage pre-packaged Kubernetes-ready applications and developer tools from within their Kubernetes cluster.

    Bitnami has contributed to previous Kubernetes projects including Helm, a Kubernetes package manager; Monocular, a search and discovery front-end for Helm Chart repositories; and Kubeless, a configuring application that runs on Kubernetes. The new product builds on these contributions and provides a simple method of deploying applications in a Kubernetes environment.

  • Nudi 6.0 to be open source

    To bridge the gap between latest technology and Nudi, Kannada Ganaka Parishat (KGP) will release Nudi 6.0 as an open source software, making the source code public for the first time.

  • Orange announces the Open Source release of its OCast software technology

    OCast is a software technology that allows you to use a smartphone to play videos on devices including TV set-top boxes, TV Sticks or TVs and control playback of the video (pause, fast forward and rewind, for example). Beyond video, OCast can also play and control slideshows, playlists and web apps.

  • Orange makes OCast TV software open source
  • Events
    • LISA17 Event Report

      LISA is the annual vendor-neutral meeting place for the wider system administration community. The LISA17 program will address the overlap and differences between traditional and modern IT operations and engineering, and offers a highly curated program around three topics: architecture, culture, and engineering.

    • Khmer Translation Sprint Round 2

      After two years it was really time to organize another sprint to move on in Fedoras translation to khmer. I started to organize it back in September. Normally enought time to get it done, but like often here the communication chain was broken and I didnt hear back from the event place if we can do it. So I did hear as I did ask on which date we might delay it. So now the last things had to be organized in very short time. With the consequence also have to have only a short time to make marketing for the event. But the result was not that bad, we have in Cambodia anyway the problem that for a lot of people the Saturday is a normal working day. Especially students, who have during week a normal job, going on Saturday to university. Like Kuylim Tith, he could join us for translation only on sunday. But then he translated like two years ago, a lot.

    • Extraordinary Session 3.x for the #PeruRumboGSoC2018
    • Talking at Cubaconf 2017 in Havanna, Cuba

      My first talk was on PrivacyScore.org, a Web scanner for privacy and security issues. As I’ve indicated, the conference was a bit messily organised. The person before me was talking into my slot and then there was no cable to hook my laptop up with the projector. We ended up transferring my presentation to a different machine (via pen drives instead of some fancy distributed local p2p network) in order for me to give my presentation. And then I needed to rush through my content, because we were pressed for going for lunch in time. Gnah. But I think a few people were still able to grasp the concepts and make it useful for them. My argument was that Web pages load much faster if you don’t have to load as many trackers and other external content. Also, these people don’t get updates in time, so they might rather want to visit Web sites which generally seem to care about their security. I was actually approached by a guy running StreetNet, the local DIY Internet. His idea is to run PrivacyScore against their network to see what is going on and to improve some aspects. Exciting.

    • Fedora returns to HackMIT 2017

      Every year, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) hosts an annual hackathon, HackMIT, for students around the world. Students gathered again for HackMIT 2017 on the weekend of September 16-17, 2017. During the weekend, students form teams with other students and work on projects to compete in various categories. Participants often release their projects under open source licenses at the end of the hackathon.

      The Fedora Project participated as a sponsor for the second year in a row. Justin W. Flory and Mike DePaulo attended as Fedora Ambassadors to represent the project and the community.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Mozilla Quietly Adds Features From Tor Browser to Firefox

        In 2017, the developers at Mozilla have quietly added several features to Firefox that originated from the Tor Project’s Tor Browser. The new features come from the Tor Uplift project, which helps Mozilla integrate patches to Firefox that are used in the Tor Browser. The Tor Uplift project patches to Firefox help increase privacy and security, and the project has been helping improve Firefox since last year.

        Around 95% of the code in the Tor Browser itself comes from Mozilla, as it is based on Mozilla’s Firefox Extended Support Release (ESR). Mozilla, which earlier this month released Firefox version 57, known as Firefox Quantum, has most recently included a feature from the Tor Browser known as First Party Isolation.

      • Mozilla talks up speech-to-text application platform

        Mozilla is on a mission… and it’s a mission designed to ‘empower’ software application developers with tools to help create more STT apps.

        STT you say?

        Yes, that would be speech-to-text applications.

  • SaaS/Back End
    • Intel’s Clear Containers Leads To OpenStack Kata Containers

      Kata Containers is the latest tech in the container space and is an effort hosted by the OpenStack Foundation in conjunction with many participating organizations. The underlying tech for Kata Containers originated from the Intel / Clear Linux Clear Containers project.

      Clear Containers has been around since 2015 and like the Clear Linux distribution has been about delivering a performant Linux containers experience. But it’s not been just about raw speed but also security, to which Clear Containers beefed up their security by supporting Intel VT virtualization.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
    • DragonFly 5.0.2 released

      DragonFly version 5 has been released, including the first bootable release of HAMMER2. Version 5.0.2, the current version, came out 2017/12/04.

    • DragonFlyBSD Now Supports Up To 64TB Of RAM

      DragonFlyBSD now supports up to 64TB of physical memory.

      Up to now DragonFlyBSD has supported up to about 32TB of physical memory but as of today that’s been bumped to now support up to 64TB.

  • Public Services/Government
    • Open-source community stresses worries on new Copyright Directive in open letter to EU

      This week, more than 80 organisations involved in open source software wrote an open letter to the Council of the EU and the European Commission expressing their concerns on the new Copyright Directive as it is currently proposed. According to the signatories, Article 13 in particular will cause irreparable damage to their fundamental rights and freedoms, their economy and competitiveness, their education and research, their innovation and competition, their creativity and their culture.

      Article 13 obliges Internet service providers that store and provide public access to large amounts of works or other subject matter uploaded by their users to ensure the functioning of agreements concluded with rightholders. Where such agreements do not apply, service providers must prevent the availability of the rightholders’ intellectual property on the service. To that purpose, service providers should cooperate with rightholders and implement measures such as the use of effective content recognition technologies.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • IRNAS researchers 3D print ear-shaped vasculature using open source Vitaprint 3D bioprinter

      Researchers from the Symbiolab at the Institute IRNAS in Slovenia have marked a step forwards in their 3D bioprinting research. Using the Institute IRNAS’ open source Vitaprint bioprinter platform, the team has demonstrated its ability to bioprint “freeform perfusable vessel systems in biocompatible hydrogels.”

    • JDRF Initiative Aims to Speed Development of ‘Open Source’ Artificial Pancreas Systems

      For those watching from the outside, who have heard about the benefits that open-protocol closed-loop systems provide but feel intimidated by the technological skill that’s now required, JDRF’s involvement gives hope that these advances will become more mainstream. As Finan says, “Through observing where the community has gone over the past few years, it’s become unignorable that there’s value out there to be harnessed and to be spread out so more patients can use it. So we’re just trying to figure out a way that we can do that safely and with the most efficacy.”

    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Western Digital Transitions to RISC-V Open-Source Architecture for Big Data, IoT

        RiSC-V, the open-source computer core architecture, will be getting a big push from Western Digital in the coming years as the company has pledged to transitioning its own consumption of processors to RISC-V. According to the company Western Digital ships over one billion cores per year, and plans to double that number. And if all goes according to plan, they will all be based on RISC-V.

  • Programming/Development
    • Reflecting on Haskell in 2017

      Alas, another year has come and gone. It feels like just yesterday I was writing the last reflection blog post on my flight back to Boston for Christmas. I’ve spent most of the last year traveling and working in Europe, meeting a lot of new Haskellers and putting a lot of faces to names.

      Haskell has had a great year and 2017 was defined by vast quantities of new code, including 14,000 new Haskell projects on Github . The amount of writing this year was voluminous and my list of interesting work is eight times as large as last year. At least seven new companies came into existence and many existing firms unexpectedly dropped large open source Haskell projects into the public sphere. Driven by a lot of software catastrophes, the intersection of security, software correctness and formal methods have been become quite an active area of investment and research across both industry and academia. It’s really never been an easier and more exciting time to be programming professionally in the world’s most advanced (yet usable) statically typed language.

      Per what I guess is now a tradition, I will write my end of year retrospective on my highlights of what happened in the Haskell scene in retrospect.

    • C++17 Is Now Official

      The final standard of C++17 (formerly known as “C++1z”) is now official.

      The final standard of C++17 has been published as ISO/IEC 14882:2017 and has been published on ISO.org.

      C++17 introduces a number of new language features, support for UTF-8 character literals, inline variables, fold expressions, and more. On the C++ standard library side is parallel versions of the STL algorithms, a file-system library derived from Boost, and other additions.

    • easy gopher-lua bridge
    • Increasing the number of lights in Qt 3D

      While it is possible to draw scenes with almost unlimited numbers of lights using deferred rendering in Qt 3D, the default materials in Qt 3D Extras have been limited to eight lights because they are tied to forward rendering. Although we apply a few tricks that allow you to define more than eight lights in the scene, we only select the eight closest lights when rendering.

    • Qt Company offers 3D interface authoring system

      Emanating from its development bases in Helsinki, Finland and Santa Clara, California, Qt explains that its latest product is a 3D design and development tool for major industrial use cases.

  • Standards/Consortia
    • C++17 Final Standard Is Now Official

      Earlier this year in May, we told you that C++17 standard is now feature complete and expected to ship soon. Well, if you’ve been waiting for the same, that time has finally arrived as the official standard has been published on ISO.org.

Leftovers
  • How Two Guys and an Internet Forum Built a Kickass Computer
  • Apple Forces iPhone Retailers to Spend Millions on Replacing Windows with iOS

    Apple is known as a company that uses its power for all kinds of more or less controversial decisions in its relationship with partners across the world, and a new report from South Korea points to such an example that’s impacting telecom carriers.

    ET News writes that the country’s three largest carriers, namely SK Telecom, KT, and LG Uplus, are being required by Apple to make the switch to a new sales system for the iPhone that would essentially come down to replacing Windows PCs with iOS.

    Apple, however, isn’t just pushing for carriers to replace PCs with iPads to sell service plans and iPhones, but to actually spend their own money for this new system. The company wants this to happen as fast as possible because it aims the new sales system to be ready by the time it opens the flagship store in Seoul in early 2018.

  • Science
  • Hardware
    • HDMI 2.1 specs and features: Everything you need to know

      We should also point out that like 3860-by-2160-pixel video being marketed as 4K (an aspect ratio of 16:9), 7680-by-4320-pixel video will be marketed as 8K. As you can see below, 5K and 10K video are mathematically and grammatically correct.

  • Security
    • Barclays follows UK government in axing Kaspersky products
    • GCHQ: UK Govt Must Drop Russian AV for Secret Systems
    • Security updates for Monday
    • .NET-Based Ransomware Families Encrypt Users’ Files via Open Source Repositories

      Vortex and BUGWARE are both compiled in Microsoft Intermediate Language (MSIL) and have been packed with the so called ‘Confuser’ packer.

    • A look at two ransomware strains using open source code [iophk: "Microsoft malware"]
    • Researchers dissect open-source ransomware programs Bugware and Vortex

      In addition to leveraging open-source code, both cryptors are also compiled in Microsoft Intermediate Language (MSIL) and packed with the Confuser packer, the cloud security company noted in a 1 December blog post.

    • Blockchains Are Poised to End the Password Era

      The massive password heists keeping coming, and one thing is certain: the way we prove our identities online is in need of a major upgrade. A growing chorus of technologists and entrepreneurs is convinced that the key to revolutionizing digital identity can be found in the same technology that runs cryptocurrencies.

    • Microsoft Breaks Down Windows Update on Windows 7, PCs Hit with Error 80248015

      A number of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 systems are experiencing a Windows Update error that prevents them from checking for updates for an unclear reason.

      Posts on the company’s Community forums seem to indicate that the bug first appeared on December 3 and it’s a server-side issue, which means that users might not have anything to do to have this fixed. Instead, Microsoft has remained tight-lipped on the actual cause of the bug, despite the growing number of posts on the said Community thread.

      Checking for updates on the impacted systems fails with error “Windows could not search for new updates,” with some saying that an additional message reading “Windows Update cannot currently check for updates because the service is not running. You may need to restart your computer,” when they click the “Get help with this error” option in Windows Update.

    • Apple’s macOS 10.13.1 Update Brings Back Critical Root Vulnerability
    • Information Commissioner warns MPs over sharing passwords

      “We’re aware of reports that MPs share logins and passwords and are making enquiries of the relevant parliamentary authorities,” said a spokesman for the Information Commissioner.

    • Three Laptop Makers Are Disabling Intel ME

      For years now, security experts warned that Intel’s Management Engine (ME) is at risk of being exploited; ME allows administrators to remotely access a computer and is present within every Intel processor since 2008. Finally – after staying quiet during the period of concern – Intel last month admitted that ME is vulnerable to exploitation. As a result, PC makers are making moves to protect users from said vulnerability. Indeed, Dell, Purism, and Linux PC vendor System76 are all disabling Intel ME on their laptops.

    • ​Computer vendors start disabling Intel Management Engine

      Hidden inside your Intel-based computer is a mystery program called Management Engine (ME). It, along with Trusted Execution Engine (TXE) and Server Platform Services (SPS), can be used to remotely manage your computer. We know little about Intel ME, except it’s based on the Minix operating system and, oh yes, ME is very insecure. Because of this, three computers vendors — Linux-specific OEMs System76 and Purism and top-tier PC builder Dell — have decided to offer computers with disabled ME.

      These ME security holes impact millions of computers. ME supports Intel’s Active Management Technology (AMT). This is a powerful tool that allows admins to remotely run computers, even when the device is not booted. Let me repeat that: If your PC has power, even if it’s not running, it can be attacked. If an attacker successfully exploits these holes, the attacker can run malware that’s totally invisible to the operating system.

    • Get These Laptops With Intel ME Chip Disabled From Dell, System76, And Purism

      Intel ME chip which recently became popular is giving sleepless nights to the security community and PC users around the world.

      Why? Because the vulnerabilities in the Management Engine chip, running a closed source variant of MINIX OS, can allow attackers to take complete control of a system without the users noticing.

    • WebGoat Teaches You To Fix Web Application Flaws In Real-time

      Good day, web developers! Today, we are going to discuss about a super useful application that teaches you web application security lessons. Say hello to WebGoat, a deliberately insecure web application developed by OWASP, with the intention of teaching how to fix common web application flaws in real-time with hands-on exercises. This application can be quite useful for those who wants to learn about application security and penetration testing techniques.

      A word of caution: WebGoat is PURELY FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSE. It turns your system extremely vulnerable to attackers. So, I insist you to use it in a virtual machine in your local area network. Don’t connect your testing machine to Internet. If you are using it in a production environment either intentionally or unknowingly, your company will definitely fire you. You have been warned!

  • Defence/Aggression
    • The crisis in Honduras should matter to the U.S.

      A week after voting in a bitterly contested presidential election, Hondurans still don’t know who their next president will be. The front-runners — incumbent Juan Orlando Hernández and opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla — have claimed victory. According to the country’s election commission, Hernández has a narrow lead with most of the ballots counted. But there is substantial evidence of voter irregularities and fraud, which seemed only to occur after Nasralla had established a significant lead in the vote count.

    • The President of Honduras Is Deploying U.S.-Trained Forces Against Election Protesters

      HONDURAN PRESIDENT JUAN Orlando Hernández, using the specter of rampant crime and the drug trade, won extensive support from the American government to build up highly trained state security forces. Now, those same forces are repressing democracy.

      The post-election situation in Honduras continues to deteriorate as Hernández, a conservative leader and stalwart U.S. ally in Central America, has disputed the result of last week’s vote while working to crack down on protests sweeping the nation.

    • WaPo’s One-Sided Cheerleading for Coup and Intervention in Venezuela

      The only voices allowed in the Washington Post on the subject of Venezuela over the past year have been those calling for the overthrow or sanction of its government. A review of 15 opinion pieces featured in the Post shows voices even remotely sympathetic to the government of President Nicolás Maduro are omitted entirely. For the capitol’s paper of record, Venezuela joins the status of Adolf Hitler or ISIS: a settled evil without any nuance.

    • Apparent Election Theft in Honduras

      In 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton excused a coup in Honduras to stop a possible second term by a progressive president, but the U.S. now sits by as a right-wing president steals a second term, says Rick Sterling.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Court Orders Monitoring Of Dakota Access Pipeline After Keystone XL Spill

      A federal court ordered the United States Army Corps of Engineers and Dakota Access to participate in multiple measures to monitor the oil pipeline constructed on land which under the 1851 treaty belongs to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

      The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia invoked the recent spill of 210,000 gallons of oil from the Keystone XL pipeline in Marshall County, South Dakota, to justify the need for court monitoring.

  • Finance
    • Feds shut down allegedly fraudulent cryptocurrency offering

      The Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday announced that it was taking action against an initial coin offering (ICO) that the SEC alleges is fraudulent. The announcement represents the first enforcement action by the SEC’s recently created cyber fraud unit.

      In recent months, the SEC has been wrestling with what to do about ICOs. US securities laws impose a number of requirements on anyone who offers new investments to the public. ICOs—in which a company offers the public cryptocurrencies that could appreciate in value the way Bitcoin has—look a lot like securities offerings. But most ICOs have ignored the SEC’s requirements.

    • Tax cuts could make it harder to fight the next recession

      By deepening the national debt at a time when the economy doesn’t need help, the tax overhaul threatens to leave Congress with less wiggle room to respond when recovery from the Great Recession eventually dies.

      Normally, presidents ask Congress to borrow vast sums of money to pay for tax cuts when the economy needs to be rescued from trouble. But President Trump is on the verge of enacting a $1.5 trillion tax plan with an economy enjoying its best growth in three years.

    • Asset management startups using blockchain get their own trade body: MAMA

      An international consortium of leading asset management companies, investors, technology and service providers in the Blockchain ecosystem have formed a new industry organisation (if you consider blockchain tech to be an industry…) to “work towards a new vision for asset management using blockchain and other supporting decentralized technologies.” In other words, the asset management industry — which reached $84.9 trillion in value in 2016 and is predicted to almost double to hit $145.4 trillion in 2025 — is about to be massively disrupted by blockchain technologies, and pioneers in this space are clubbing together to promote the tech and push for common standards.

      The Multichain Asset Management Association (or MAMA for short) was recently formed at the first annual M-0 conference in Zug, Switzerland. Initiated by Melonport AG, MME Legal Tax Compliance and Bussmann Advisory with the support of the Swistzerland-based Canton of Zug Economic Affairs, MAMA’s 22+ founding members will function as a trade body. Zug has become ‘ground zero’ for the nascent crypto industry because of its legal oversight over the new financial area.

    • No dissident thoughts allowed in Singapore

      After months of investigations, Singapore police finally dropped a bombshell at the end of November: social worker and activist Jolovan Wham would be charged for organizing public assemblies without a permit, vandalism and refusing to sign police statements.

      Wham, who has spent his career as a social worker fighting for the rights of low-wage migrant workers, has been investigated multiple times by the police for various events deemed to be “illegal” under Singapore’s restrictive Public Order Act.

    • The Winklevoss twins are now Bitcoin billionaires

      Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss won $65 million from the Facebook lawsuit, and invested $11 million of their payout into Bitcoin in 2013, amassing one of the largest portfolios of Bitcoin in the world — 1 percent of the entire currency’s dollar value equivalent, said the twins at the time. Their slice of the Bitcoin pie is now worth over $1 billion after Bitcoin surged past $10,000 last week to now trade at $11,100, according to CoinDesk.

    • Housebuilders issue Brexit plea as poll shows UK reliance on EU workers

      More than one in six people working on housebuilding sites across Britain come from other EU countries, rising to half of site workers in London, according to a new report.

      A survey of 37,000 housebuilding workers across Britain shows 17.7% are from the EU. More than half of those come from Romania, with 12% from Poland and almost 10% from Ireland.

      In London, where housing demand is at its most acute, some building skills are dominated by EU workers, with more than 70% of carpenters, 63% of demolition and groundworks workers, 61% of general labourers, 54% of plasterers, painters and decorators, 44% of bricklayers and nearly 40% of roofers hailing from other EU countries.

    • Apple agrees to pay over $15 billion to Ireland in back taxes

      According to a top Irish official, Apple has agreed to to pay Ireland around $15.4 billion in back taxes.

      “We have now reached agreement with Apple in relation to the principles and operation of the escrow fund,” Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe told reporters before a meeting with European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, per Reuters.

      “We expect the money will begin to be transmitted into the account from Apple across the first quarter of next year.”

    • Ireland expects Apple back tax in escrow account in first quarter, 2018: minister

      Ireland expects iPhone maker Apple to start paying up to 13 billion euros ($15.4 billion) in back taxes into an escrow account in the first quarter of 2018, the finance minister said on Monday.

      [...]

      Both Dublin and Apple have challenged the EU order.

    • A brief history of Bitcoin hacks and frauds
  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Feehery: End of objective reporting
    • George Papadopoulos’ late night with the FBI

      When former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos stepped off a flight from Germany at Dulles Airport outside Washington last July, he had no inkling of the unwelcome surprise in store for him: FBI agents waiting to place him under arrest.

      For the 29-year-old Chicago native, it was going to be a long night.

      Jail records obtained by POLITICO show Papadopoulos was booked in at the Alexandria (Va.) city detention center at 1:45 a.m. the following morning.

      Despite the late arrival at the jail and the fact that Papadopoulos later agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, his Chicago-based defense lawyers Thomas Breen and Rob Stanley said in an interview that the FBI did not attempt to interrogate him right away.

    • Mueller Subpoenas Trump Deutsche Bank Records

      Special prosecutor Robert Mueller zeroed in on President Donald Trump’s business dealings with Deutsche Bank AG as his investigation into alleged Russian meddling in U.S. elections widens.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Google to hire thousands of moderators after outcry over YouTube abuse videos

      Google, which owns YouTube, announced on Monday that next year it would expand its total workforce to more than 10,000 people responsible for reviewing content that could violate its policies. The news from YouTube’s CEO, Susan Wojcicki, followed a steady stream of negative press surrounding the site’s role in spreading harassing videos, misinformation, hate speech and content that is harmful to children.

    • Apple CEO backs China’s vision of an ‘open’ Internet as censorship reaches new heights

      Reading headlines from the World Internet Conference in China, the casual reader might have come away a little confused. China was opening its doors to the global Internet, some media outlets optimistically declared, while others said Beijing was defending its system of censorship and state control.

      And perhaps most confusing of all, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook stood up and celebrated China’s vision of an open Internet.

    • Defiant artists cry foul over censorship, vow not to be silenced

      A GROUP of young Malaysian and Indonesian artists say they will not back down on their right to express themselves after their works were censored and allegedly tampered with at a major arts exhibition in Kuala Lumpur recently.

      The artists from Pusat Sekitar Seni (PSS) withdrew its participation in the Kuala Lumpur Biennale 2017 exhibition at the National Art Gallery a day before its official opening on November 23 after they claimed the show’s curator informed them that several elements in their exhibit had to be taken down.

    • How Russia-gate Rationalizes Censorship

      The Russia-gate hysteria has spread beyond simply a strategy for neutralizing Donald Trump or even removing him from office into an excuse for stifling U.S. dissent that challenges the New Cold War, reports Joe Lauria.

    • Cloudflare’s CEO has a plan to never censor hate speech again

      Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince hated cutting off service to the infamous neo-Nazi site the Daily Stormer in August. And he’s determined not to do it again.

      “I’m almost a free-speech absolutist.” Prince said at an event at the New America Foundation last Wednesday. But in a subsequent interview with Ars, Prince argued that in the case of the Daily Stormer, the company didn’t have much choice.

      Cloudflare runs a popular content delivery network that specializes in protecting clients from distributed denial-of-service attacks. The Daily Stormer published a post mocking a woman who was killed during the white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia in August. That had made a lot of people angry at the Daily Stormer, attracting massive attacks on the site.

    • Home Security Company Says No One Linking To Its Website Is Allowed To Disparage It

      This isn’t even legal in this day and age, but hiding it in a bunch of words users will likely never read is a great way to fly under the federal law radar. This, of course, only lasts until someone points it out on the internet and, while linking to ADT’s site, points out the clause is stupid, the company is stupid for deploying it, and the company’s lawyers are just as stupid for suggesting it/signing off on it.

      To be fair, ADT’s stupid non-disparagement clause isn’t part of the update scriptjunkie received. The moronic “promise” it extracts from site linkers dates back to at least 2014. It predates the federal law banning these clauses, which makes its pre-2016 existence somewhat explicable. But that doesn’t explain why it hasn’t been removed to make the Terms of Use federal law-compliant.

      Considering the amount of effort it would take (next to none) to remove this from the site’s Terms of Use, its continued existence is perplexing, especially in light of ADT’s repeated promise to remove the clause. At the time of this writing, more than 16 hours have passed since ADT promised to remove it and the clause still exists on the Terms of Use page. Even more perplexing is ADT’s explanation/apology, which is actually neither.

    • Angry, Threatening Lawyer Fails To Sue As Promised, Drops His SLAPP Suit

      A couple weeks back we wrote about the somewhat odd decision making of an angry lawyer named Jason Lee Van Dyke, whom we’d also written about years ago for some spectacularly bad lawyering. This year he’s also gotten really really pissed off at three (very different) people: Ken White, Asher Langton and Talib Kweli. The first two have appeared on Techdirt many times. Ken is a criminal defense and First Amendment lawyer. Asher has an astounding ability to sniff out frauds online. And Talib is a musical genius among other things. But, Van Dyke has spent months angrily lashing out about them on the internet (well, the lashing out at Kweli was more recent).

      When we last checked in on him, he was threatening to add those three individuals — plus the Huffington Post — to a fairly obvious SLAPP suit that he had already filed in Texas against an Ohio-based publication called the Mockingbird. Lots of people had pointed out that Texas has a fairly robust anti-SLAPP law, which could lead to Van Dyke having to pay up — and Van Dyke’s response (not atypical from his earlier responses) was to lash out and threaten more lawsuits and to promise violence if he was sanctioned.

    • Facebook and Apple praise China as Beijing introduces strict new censorship, data storage laws

      Top executives at Apple Inc and Facebook Inc managed to find something to praise Beijing for at an internet conference in China this week, even as its Communist Party rulers ban Western social media and stamp on online dissent.

      China’s World Internet Conference attracted the heads of Google and Apple for the first time to hear China vow to open up its internet – just as long as it can guard cyberspace in the same way it guards its borders.

    • Cook Kisses the Ring

      Tim Cook is desperate to hold onto any remaining scraps of the China market. That’s a boon for the country’s model for the internet, and the local players who dominate.

    • Tim Cook touts privacy, security at Chinese conference promoting internet censorship
    • The CEOs of Apple and Google spoke at a conference that critics say makes them ‘complicit actors in the Chinese censorship regime’
    • Apple CEO Tim Cook Brushes Off Senators, Taunts Activists On Chinese Censorship
    • Apple CEO Tim Cook Speaks at Chinese Internet Conference, Praises Partners’ ‘Vision’ for ‘Openness’
    • Apple’s Tim Cook says Developers Have Earned $17 Billion From China App Store
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • German Government Official Wants Backdoors In Every Device Connected To The Internet

      The US Department of Justice is reviving its anti-encryption arguments despite not being given any signals from the administration or Congress that undermining encryption is something either entity desires. The same thing is happening in Germany, with Interior Secretary Thomas de Maizière continuing an anti-encryption crusade very few German government officials seem interested in joining.

    • New Orleans Police Watchdog Warns of Dangers of Expanded Surveillance

      In a stern warning to the New Orleans City Council, the city’s top police watchdog has criticized a plan to expand surveillance without also expanding oversight. The Office of Independent Police Monitor (OIPM) warned that the city is on a path that may lead to abuse, racial discrimination, and fiscal waste.

    • Court Recognizes First Amendment Right to Anonymity Even After Speakers Lose Lawsuits

      Anonymous online speakers may be able to keep their identities secret even after they lose lawsuits brought against them, a federal appellate court ruled last week.

      The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Signature Management Team, LLC v. John Doe is a victory for online speakers because it recognized that the First Amendment’s protections for anonymous speech do not end once a party suing the anonymous speaker prevails. Instead, the court ruled that revealing anonymous speakers’ identities has far-reaching consequences that must be weighed against opposing parties’ and the general public’s rights to learn speakers’ names once they’ve been found to have violated the law. This is good news, because many vulnerable speakers will self-censor unless they have the ability to speak anonymously and thereby avoid retaliation for their whistleblowing or unpopular views.

      The ruling, however, is not all good news for anonymous speech. The test announced by the court sets unmasking as the default rule post-judgment, placing the burden on the anonymous party to argue against unmasking. Additionally, the court expanded the competing First Amendment right of access to judicial proceedings and records—which EFF strongly supports—to a novel right to learn the identity of an anonymous litigant—which we do not support.

    • Top EU Privacy Campaigner Says He Wants Lots Of Money For ‘None Of Your Business’

      In the long-term, it has even more ambitious plans. For example, widening the scope of the noyb organization from privacy to other digital rights such as net neutrality, or related consumer rights, and to set up national NGOs in countries that currently lack local initiatives. Of course, this all requires money. Noyb estimates that it needs a minimum of €250,000 in the start-up period of 2018, while the regular operating costs will be around €500,000 per year. It is hoping a combination of sponsorship and crowdfunding will provide those amounts.

      Raising money will probably be the organization’s biggest challenge. After all, Schrems has shown more than once that he can take on the biggest Internet companies and win. As with those victories, it’s important to note that the legal framework that noyb intends to use may be purely European, but the global nature of the Internet and the companies that serve it means the impacts of any successful legal actions are likely to be felt worldwide.

    • Nadine Dorries admits to unlawful data privacy in her offices

      Reacting to Nadine Dorries’ admission on Twitter that she routinely gives access to her personal Parliamentary accounts to interns, Jim Killock said:

      “On the face of it, Nadine Dorries is admitting to breaching basic data protection laws, making sure her constituents’ emails and correspondence is kept confidential and secure. She should not be sharing her log in with interns.

      “More worryingly, it appears this practices of MPs sharing their log ins may be rather widespread. If so, we need to know.

    • NSA, DOJ Still Aren’t Letting Defendants Know They’re Using Section 702 Evidence Against Them

      The NSA has never taken its evidentiary obligations seriously. The agency is supposed to inform the court and defendants if surveillance-derived evidence is being used against them. (And it’s actually supposed to hand over the evidence as well.)

      This just doesn’t happen. The NSA encourages parallel construction to obscure the true source of evidence used in court cases. The FBI’s access to Section 702 collections makes this much easier. It allows the FBI to present NSA evidence as its own, heading off any scrutiny of the NSA’s programs and collection methods.

      The NSA was always supposed to hand over this information. It’s been mandatory for years. But it doesn’t. After it was reported the NSA has misled none other than the Supreme Court of the United States about its fulfillment of evidentiary obligations, the agency briefly began complying with the law. It issued five notices in the span of a year (2013-2014) before going dark again.

    • Four Aadhaar linking deadlines you should not miss
    • Facebook launches a version of Messenger for young children

      Now Facebook is creating a pipeline for children to become regular users of its products, starting as young as six years old, by claiming to offer an alternative better than what it exists today.

    • You thought targeted Facebook ads were bad for privacy? Wait until you see cross-screen addressable ads…

      Addressable TV employs the same techniques that allowed Cambridge Analytica to target Facebook users with pinpoint precision. A company analyzes viewer data gathered from digital set-top boxes to build up a detailed profile of each household. It can then combine that information with data that it buys from other sources about people living at the address where the set-top box is located. Putting this all together, data analysis companies try to work out what kind of ads will work best for each household. Because the TV transmission is based on set-top boxes, it is then possible to send tailored ads to single households – what is called “one-to-one” advertising in the industry – rather than to everyone watching a broadcast, as in traditional TV advertising.

    • Contactless ticketing set to explode over next 5 years

      The number of mobile users adopting NFC ticketing will exceed 375 million by 2022, up from an estimated 122 million globally in 2017, according to a new report from Juniper Research.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Flash mob by Muslim girls irks social media moral cops

      It seems three burqa clad girls who participated in a flash mob organised as part of the AIDS day awareness programme of health department in Malappuram, are latest victims of the ‘Moral police’ attack in social media platforms.

    • A Dubious Arrest, a Compromised Prosecutor, a Tainted Plea: How One Murder Case Exposes a Broken System

      The case of Demetrius Smith reads like a preposterous legal thriller: dubious arrests, two lying prostitutes, prosecutorial fouls and a judge who backpedaled out of a deal.

      It also delivers a primer on why defendants often agree to virtually inescapable plea deals for crimes they didn’t commit.

      ProPublica has spent the past year exploring wrongful convictions and the tools prosecutors use to avoid admitting mistakes, including an arcane deal known as an Alford plea that allows defendants to maintain their innocence while still pleading guilty. Earlier this year, we examined a dozen such cases in Baltimore.

    • Why America Fails at Gathering Hate Crime Statistics

      In the early hours of June 5, 2015, Gary Bravo was leaving Sammy T’s in downtown Huntsville, Alabama. The club was hosting a gay night because the last of the city’s few gay bars had closed and some downtown bars were picking up the slack.

      As Bravo walked out with two co-workers, they encountered a group of young men. One grabbed Bravo’s friend, and Bravo intervened. The next thing he remembers, someone spun him around, and he was on the ground being punched and kicked while his attackers shouted homophobic slurs. Faggot. Cocksucker.

      “A couple more hits and I would have ended up being brain dead,” he recalled.

    • Malta: Suspects Arrested over Murder of Anti-Corruption Journalist

      In Malta, police have arrested at least eight people in connection with the assassination of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who died in October when a powerful bomb planted in her car exploded near her home. Police will have 48 hours to question the suspects before either charging or releasing them. Galizia was known for her work exposing corruption, tax evasion and organized crime.

    • Sikh youth immolates self at Delhi railway station while passersby film incident

      A 20-something youth set himself afire at a railway station in Delhi, his charred body remained at the platform for over three hours- and all the passersby did was videotape the whole incident.

    • Are Rhode Island Police Implementing Illegal Traffic Ticket Quotas?

      Nobody likes getting pulled over by the police, but when even the police officers making the stops are doing it against their will, something is seriously wrong.

      Welcome to the world of traffic ticket quotas.

      Before Thanksgiving, amid news reports that some police departments in the state were requiring, or strongly recommending, that their officers issue a certain number of traffic tickets each time they were on patrol, the ACLU of Rhode Island warned departments that they faced legal action if they continued the practice. Rhode Island is one of a number of states that has a statute prohibiting law enforcement from implementing ticket quotas as well as arrest quotas.

    • Judge Hands Back $92,000 Taken From Musician By Cops For Failing To Buckle His Seatbelt

      With all apologies to Parhamovich — who got screwed by the civil asset forfeiture system — Wyoming law enforcement couldn’t have asked for a better mark to come passing through their state. Parhamovich disavowed ownership of the money and signed a waiver stating the same thing. That’s a perfect storm of complicity.

      But while we’re still being fair, most Americans aren’t aware law enforcement officers regularly engage in pretextual traffic stops for the sole purpose of warrantless searches and seizures. According to the musician, the cops made it sound like cash was just another form of illegal contraband.

    • Security Researcher Held In Jail For 8 Months Because He Wrote An Angry Blog Post, Released For Now

      Over the past month or so we’ve written a few times about security research Justin Shafer. As you may recall, he first came to our attention, when the Justice Department decided to subpoena the identities of five Twitter users because Shafer had tweeted a smiley emoji at them. No, really. I’m not exaggerating. That’s literally what happened. Shafer saw some Twitter users discussing a case totally unrelated to his own, tweeted an emoji, and the DOJ is demanding the identity of those he tweeted the emoji at.

      [...]

      Of course, immediately after that it also talks about how he can use a computer, but all usage will be monitored. It’s a bit confusing, but it appears that he can use his own computer in very limited ways, if it has monitoring software, but cannot use other computers. And he’s barred from social media (Facebook, Twitter). He’s allowed to blog, if the blog posts “comply” with the rest of the release conditions — including not “providing identifying information” on the people he’s accused of “cyber stalking” or encouraging or inviting “others to contact or harass such persons.” And, generally speaking, it’s probably a good idea for him to refrain from such activity whether or not it was a condition of getting freed.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Democrat asks why FCC is hiding ISPs’ answers to net neutrality complaints

      With a vote to eliminate net neutrality rules scheduled for December 14, the Federal Communications Commission apparently still hasn’t released thousands of documents containing the responses ISPs made to net neutrality complaints.

      The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) request in May of this year for tens of thousands of net neutrality complaints that Internet users filed against their ISPs and for the ISPs’ responses to those complaints. The FCC initially stalled in releasing all of the complaints, saying it would be too “burdensome” for FCC staff. The commission eventually complied with some portions of the request and released more than 60,000 pages worth of consumer complaints.

    • New York AG Provides Tool To Help You Check If Your Name Was Used To Support Killing Net Neutrality

      So we’ve noted several times now how the FCC’s open comment period for its Orwell-inspired “Restoring Internet Freedom” net neutrality proceeding was simply awash in all manner of fraud. From bots that filled the comment proceeding with bogus support from fake or even dead people, to fake DDoS attacks intended to downplay the wash of angry users that flooded to the agency’s website in protest. All of this stuff is more than likely to pop up in the inevitable lawsuits that are filed in the new year after the net neutrality repeal formally hits the federal register.

    • Ajit Pai Attacked Hollywood & Silicon Valley Because Even Republicans Are Against His Net Neutrality Plan

      We were mystified last week when FCC chair Ajit Pai decided to attack both Hollywood and Silicon Valley because some (not all) people in both communities have spoken out against his plans to gut net neutrality. The attacks were weird on multiple levels. Regarding Hollywood, the comments were strangely personal — picking out a list of entertainers, often taking their comments out of context, and attacking them in very personal ways. It was, to say the least, unbecoming of an FCC chair to directly pick on entertainers for voicing their opinions. The attacks on Silicon Valley were… even stranger. First, he claimed that the demand to keep net neutrality was really a ploy by the largest internet companies (i.e. Google & Facebook) to keep their dominant position. But that ignores the fact that without net neutrality, they’re well positioned to further entrench their position. More importantly, it totally ignores the fact that neither Google nor Facebook have been strong advocates of net neutrality (and, in many cases, have pushed back against net neutrality).

    • FCC won’t delay vote, says net neutrality supporters are “desperate”

      The Federal Communications Commission will move ahead with its vote to kill net neutrality rules next week despite an unresolved court case that could strip away even more consumer protections.

      FCC Chairman Ajit Pai says that net neutrality rules aren’t needed because the Federal Trade Commission can protect consumers from broadband providers. But a pending court case involving AT&T could strip the FTC of its regulatory authority over AT&T and similar ISPs.

      A few dozen consumer advocacy groups and the City of New York urged Pai to delay the net neutrality-killing vote in a letter today. If the FCC eliminates its rules and the court case goes AT&T’s way, there would be a “‘regulatory gap’ that would leave consumers utterly unprotected,” the letter said.

    • The F.C.C. Wants to Let Telecoms Cash In on the Internet

      The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission wants to let Comcast, Verizon and other broadband companies turn the internet into a latter-day version of cable TV, in which they decide what customers can watch and how much they pay for that content.

    • Charter brags about big speed boost—after saying Title II stalled investment

      Charter Communications is really excited to tell you about all its new broadband network investments.

      “Increasing Flagship Broadband Speeds; Giving Customers More For Less,” is the title of the company’s latest announcement on this topic. The second-largest cable company in the US has increased its standard download speed from 60Mbps to 100Mbps—”at no extra cost to our customers”—while providing speeds of 200Mbps or 1Gbps in some markets. Gigabit service is available in “Oahu, Hawaii with additional markets to be launched in the weeks ahead,” Charter said.

  • DRM
    • Suppressing The Concerns Over HDCP Content Protection For Intel’s Linux DRM Driver

      Last week I wrote about a Google engineer working on HDCP content protection support for Intel’s Direct Rendering Manager driver on Linux that is also obviously open-source. Understandably, that raised concerns by free software purists not wanting to potentially lock-down their system in any manner to playback protected content on their systems.

      HDCP / content protection / Digital Rights Management remains a very polarized topic for Linux users as can be seen by looking at the 65+ comments to last week’s article about the Intel i915 Direct Rendering Manager driver bits for High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection.

      One user and developer concerned about the possibility of HDCP restricting their rights had inquired on the Intel graphics mailing list. He was seeking to have a Kconfig switch for this HDCP code so it wouldn’t even be compiled into their distribution’s kernel.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • ResearchGate CEO denies scraping accounts from rival site to generate sign-ups

        Ijad Madisch, co-founder and CEO of ResearchGate – the so-called Facebook for scientists – shot down an accusation about a questionable way it may have acquired users in the past. The question was raised by a panel moderator, TechCrunch’s Mike Butcher, at the Disrupt Berlin 2017 conference this morning.

        According to Butcher’s multiple sources, ResearchGate had scraped rival Academia.edu in order to spam their users in an effort to get them to sign up to ResearchGate.

      • Why is it so difficult to the make the case against counterfeiting (or does it just seem so)?

        Moral arguments, equating counterfeiting with stealing, do not seem to go very far with swathes of certain populations (have you had a talk about counterfeiting with a millennial lately?). Criminalizing counterfeiting, and the penal sanctions that go with it, may carry some weight, especially against the middlemen who import and then distribute the counterfeit goods. But the criminal sanction reaches only a small number of offenders. So what strategic measures are left? The United States Chamber of Commerce has chosen to appeal to consumer self-interest, as witnessed in a recent piece written by Kasie Brill, executive director of the Global Brand Council for the U.S. Chamber’s Global Innovation Property Center (GIPC) (“Count Out Counterfeits this Holiday Season: Top Ten Tips to #ShopSafe “).

      • Coalition Against Piracy Wants Singapore to Block Streaming Piracy Software

        The recently-formed Coalition Against Piracy, which counts Disney, Fox, Sony, HBO, NBCUniversal, BBC Worldwide and the Premier League among its members, is demanding greater action against illicit streaming. The powerful group has called on the government in Singapore to not only block ‘pirate’ streaming software but also unlicensed streams from entering the country.

PTAB, Which Invalidates Software Patents, is Still Under Attack Using Lies From Sites Like Patently-O

Tuesday 5th of December 2017 10:18:55 AM

Summary: In an effort to put an end to inter partes reviews (IPRs), which basically reassess the potency/legitimacy of granted US patents, the patent microcosm promotes the canard of patents as “rights” and “property”

THE PTAB has helped put an end to most software patents in the US. In fact, the USPTO now makes it a lot harder to pursue software patents and already-granted US patents get invalidated every day. This is a good thing. Except for the patent microcosm…

Found via this tweet was yesterday’s article about a fashionable new trick for dodging Section 101 and somehow patenting software, essentially by tying computer code to “a car” or something along those lines. “To answer that,” the article said, “and other questions about Autonomous Drive Systems (ADS), we looked at both acquisitions and patents to get a better grasp on where the industry is headed.”

Well, it is certainly trying to make a patent pool out of the mere act of driving, which has over a century of prior ‘art’ (people who actually drive). I already developed some software intended to automate driving and there’s nothing in it which wasn’t already attempted a long time ago. Computer vision is just a branch of computer science and/or mathematics. There’s no room for patents there. Any patents in that area would just stifle/slow down programmers.

The patent microcosm is trying hard to kill PTAB, for the very fact is that PTAB helps end software patents. It even invalidates patents which were granted before Alice.

Several different strategies have been used in an effort to weaken if not altogether eliminate PTAB. One such strategy was misuse of tribal immunity in the US. Josh Landau from CCIA has just revisited the subject. Last night he wrote:

At the House Judiciary Committee’s IP Subcommittee hearing on sovereign immunity, Chairman Issa had a simple request for Phil Johnson, one of the witnesses—to, for the record, “look at the various off-ramp possibilities” for PTAB proceedings. An off-ramp is a way for a patent owner to take their patent and amend it in front of a patent examiner, instead of defending the validity of their claims in an inter partes review (IPR).

Given the factual errors I found in Mr. Johnson’s testimony, I decided to take Chairman Issa up on his request and look at off-ramps in PTAB proceedings. Not a new off-ramp—the ones that already exist and are already being used.

Legislation appears to be on its way to void such tribal immunity and a Federal judge has already ruled against it. But don’t expect the anti-PTAB lobby to rest. Sites like Watchtroll and IAM continue to perpetually attack PTAB and so does Patently-O, which as recently as yesterday (and days beforehand) promoted anti-PTAB papers to influence SCOTUS. It’s not surprising; this anti-PTAB blogger used to attack PTAB almost every day and this latest paper that he links to comes from some dodgy company whose Web site does not even list any services and was generated in a rush using GoDaddy tools. Ron Katznelson’s abstract says:

This paper shows that the Framers empowering Congress to act by “securing for limited Times to … Inventors the exclusive Right to their … Discoveries” understood that the exclusive patent right is not “granted” but is a preexistent right emanating from the inventor – not from Congress. This exclusive right is only secured by statute, as part of the patent bargain in exchange for the inventor’s public disclosure of the invention. Therefore the right adjudicated in administrative validity review of issued patents is a “private right.” It is shown that the notion of post-issuance administrative “error correction” is fiction, as it overlooks the irreversible and uncorrectable exchange of rights upon patent issuance. It is concluded that only Article III courts can extinguish such private rights and that arguments advanced by proponents of post-issuance administrative patent revocation are therefore deficient in supporting the constitutionality of such proceedings.

The abstract alone mentions the word “rights” 5 times, but patents are not rights. That’s just that old and tired canard from Patently-O.

In other news, yesterday came this update regarding Axon/TASER. It’s about the “‘950 Patent [which] is asserted against WatchGuard in a patent infringement lawsuit pending in the U.S. District Court in Kansas.”

This press release [1, 2] says that the USPTO rejected a request to review the patent. Quoting the press release:

Digital Ally, Inc. (NASDAQ: DGLY) today announced that the United States Patent Office has rejected the request of Enforcement Video, LLC (d/b/a WatchGuard Video) to institute an inter partes review (“IPR”) on U.S. Patent No. 9,325,950 (“the ‘950 Patent”). The ‘950 Patent is asserted against WatchGuard in a patent infringement lawsuit pending in the U.S. District Court in Kansas. The lawsuit also involves U.S. Patent Nos. 8,781,292 (“the ‘292 Patent”) and 9,253,452 (“the ‘452 Patent”), the same two patents asserted against Axon Enterprise, Inc. (“Axon,” formerly known as TASER International, Inc.). Digital’s lawsuit against WatchGuard claims infringement of these three patents by WatchGuard’s VISTA WiFi® body camera and its 4RE® Digital HD Panoramic In-Car System. Digital is seeking both damages and an injunction preventing the sale of these products.

This comes to (once again) demonstrate that PTAB does not blindly invalidate everything. It helps assure patent quality, not take away the “rights” [sic] of so-called ‘inventors’.

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