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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 1 hour 43 min ago

EPO Staff Representatives Help Prevent Seventh Suicide Under Benoît Battistelli

Friday 29th of September 2017 01:57:13 PM

And these are the sorts of people whom Battistelli assaults

Summary: The utterly bad working atmosphere at the EPO has almost just led to another suicide; the person in question is now in hospital

“Another suicide has just been avoided at EPO (Rijswijk, NL) on Thursday 28 September.”

This is what we are learning today. It does not exactly surprise us given what we are hearing from insiders. We even wrote about about a related subject yesterday (not the same person). The staff responsible for occupational health certainly knows about all this trouble. The windows have already been bolted shut at that building, preventing further incidents like staff jumping out during working hours.

“Does the EPO mention it anywhere at all — internally or externally — this time around?”Will the EPO mention this incident? Of course not. When the suicides do happen (which — let’s face it — happens a lot) the EPO only mentions it internally and calls suicides "passing away".

Does the EPO mention it anywhere at all — internally or externally — this time around? Readers, please let us know.

At Twitter, the EPO has just continued the "SMEs" lie and promoted this event (at EPOPIC in Bulgaria the EPO will be promoting the UPC — in the form of sessions — even though the Unitary Patent is dead/dying).

They just don’t seem to care if the present trajectory (master plan of Battistelli) has accomplished nothing but brain drain, depression, and destroyed reputation that took almost half a century to earn.

“We have heard about similar incidents/stories; Battistelli cannot just dismiss or excuse the problem. To make matters worse, he actively wastes money producing face-saving denials of the problem (often in the form of so-called ‘studies’), thus further contributing to his complicity in a cover-up.”We don’t want to say too much about the above incident, but the staff representatives (i.e. SUEPO or the Central Staff Committee, which are overlapping) deserve credit in preventing a suicide. This “would have been [the] 7th (suicide) in the past 5 years under PD HR Bergot and Battistelli, her protector),” we have learned. “The colleague is currently hospitalised but safe.”

The person in question has been “working in a directorate where the director in charge is very much known for putting down far too high production pressure on his staff and acts deliberately as a sort of “Vollstrecker” (being sick is not an excuse for him when it comes to production targets).”

We have heard about similar incidents/stories; Battistelli cannot just dismiss or excuse the problem. To make matters worse, he actively wastes money producing face-saving denials of the problem (often in the form of so-called ‘studies’), thus further contributing to his complicity in a cover-up.

Links 29/9/2017: Krita 3.3.0, Tails 3.2, Amos Yee is Free

Friday 29th of September 2017 12:17:32 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • Best Linux Distros for the Enterprise

      In this article, I’ll share the top Linux distros for enterprise environments. Some of these distros are used in server and cloud environments along with desktop duties. The one constant that all of these Linux options have is that they are enterprise grade Linux distributions — so you can expect a high greater degree of functionality and, of course, support.
      What is an enterprise grade Linux distribution?

      An enterprise grade Linux distribution comes down to the following – stability and support. Both of these components must be met to take any Linux distribution seriously in an enterprise environment. Stability means that the packages provided are both stable to use, while still maintaining an expected level of security.

      The support element of an enterprise grade distribution means that there is a reliable support mechanism in place. Sometimes this is a single (official) source such as a company. In other instances, it might be a governing not-for-profit that provides reliable recommendations to good third party support vendors. Obviously the former option is the best one, however both are acceptable.

  • Server
    • Microservices and containers: 5 pitfalls to avoid

      Because microservices and containers are a match made in heaven, it might seem like nothing could go wrong. Let’s get these babies into production as quickly as possible, then kick back and wait for the IT promotions and raises to start flooding in. Right?

      (We’ll pause while the laughter subsides.)

      Yeah, sorry. That’s just not how it works. While the two technologies can be a powerful combination, realizing their potential doesn’t happen without some effort and planning. In previous posts, we’ve tackled what you should know at the start. But what about the most common problems organizations encounter when they run microservices in containers?

    • This Week in Numbers: Container Storage Preferences for Kubernetes

      The types of logical storage structures used in today’s Kubernetes deployments offer some deeper revelations into the nature of workloads being deployed. Block storage is king, having been cited by two-thirds (66 percent) of respondents in our survey for The State of the Kubernetes Ecosystem as being involved with their Kubernetes implementations.

      Few deployments are relegated to only one type of logical storage, so it is telling that just fewer than half of the respondents (46 percent) cited file storage as the type they’re using. Newer, cloud-native applications with microservices architectures and that utilize databases or data structures, typically don’t need a file system because they are not interacting with data through an operating system. A 46 percent figure is quite high, signaling that more integration with older application types is taking place.

      Object storage is used by 29 percent of respondents, which is relatively high compared with adoption rates for object storage that we’ve seen in the past. Since object storage is scalable, developers working on distributed systems likely have experience with it already. In addition, object storage is often used to deliver static content for websites, which is also a common type of workload for Kubernetes.

    • Patch CDK #1: Build & Release

      Happens all the time. You often come across a super cool open source project you would gladly contribute but setting up the development environment and learning to patch and release your fixes puts you off. The Canonical Distribution of Kubernetes (CDK) is not an exception. This set of blog posts will shed some light on the most dark secrets of CDK.

  • Kernel Space
    • Building the kernel with clang

      Over the years, there has been a persistent effort to build the Linux kernel using the Clang C compiler that is part of the LLVM project. We last looked in on the effort in a report from the LLVM microconference at the 2015 Linux Plumbers Conference (LPC), but we have followed it before that as well. At this year’s LPC, two Google kernel engineers, Greg Hackmann and Nick Desaulniers, came to the Android microconference to update the status; at this point, it is possible to build two long-term support kernels (4.4 and 4.9) with Clang.

    • The rest of the 4.14 merge window

      As is sometimes his way, Linus Torvalds released 4.14-rc1 and closed the merge window one day earlier than some might have expected. By the time, though, 11,556 non-merge changesets had found their way into the mainline repository, so there is no shortage of material for this release. Around 3,500 of those changes were pulled after the previous 4.14 merge-window summary; read on for an overview of what was in that last set.

    • Notes from the LPC scheduler microconference

      The scheduler workloads microconference at the 2017 Linux Plumbers Conference covered several aspects of the kernel’s CPU scheduler. While workloads were on the agenda, so were a rework of the realtime scheduler’s push/pull mechanism, a distinctly different approach to multi-core scheduling, and the use of tracing for workload simulation and analysis. As the following summary shows, CPU scheduling has not yet reached a point where all of the important questions have been answered.

    • Testing kernels

      New kernels are released regularly, but it is not entirely clear how much in-depth testing they are actually getting. Even the mainline kernel may not be getting enough of the right kind of testing. That was the topic for a “birds of a feather” (BoF) meeting at this year’s Linux Plumbers Conference (LPC) held in mid-September in Los Angeles, CA. Dhaval Giani and Sasha Levin organized the BoF as a prelude to the Testing and Fuzzing microconference they were leading the next day.

      There were representatives from most of the major Linux distributors present in the room. Giani started things off by asking how much testing is being done on the stable kernels by distributors. Are they simply testing their own kernels and the backports of security and other fixes that come from the stable kernels? Beyond the semi-joking suggestion that testing is left to users, most present thought that there was little or no testing (beyond simple build-and-boot testing) of the stable kernels.

    • Linking commits to reviews

      In a talk in the refereed track of the 2017 Linux Plumbers Conference, Alexandre Courouble presented the email2git tool that links kernel commits to their review discussion on the mailing lists. Email2git is a plugin for cregit, which implements token-level history for a Git repository; we covered a talk on cregit just over one year ago. Email2git combines cregit with Patchwork to link the commit to a patch and its discussion threads from any of the mailing lists that are scanned by patchwork.kernel.org. The result is a way to easily find the discussion that led to a piece of code—or even just a token—changing in the kernel source tree.

      Courouble began with a short demo of the tool. It can be accessed by typing (or pasting) in a commit ID on this web page, which brings up a list of postings of the patch to various mailing lists; following those links shows the thread where it was posted (and, often, discussed). Another way to get there is to use cregit; navigating to a particular file then clicking on a token will bring up a similar list that relates to the patch where the symbol was changed. Note that the Patchwork data only goes back to 2009, so commits before that time will not produce any results.

    • Stable kernels 4.13.4, 4.9.52, 4.4.89, and 3.18.72
    • Linux 4.13.4

      I’m announcing the release of the 4.13.4 kernel.

    • Linux 4.9.52
    • Linux 4.4.89
    • Linux 3.18.72
    • Graphics Stack
      • Initial Meson Build System Support Lands In Mesa

        Landing in Mesa 17.3-dev Git yesterday is initial support for the Meson build system! Initially, this Meson build support just works for the Intel ANV and Radeon RADV Vulkan drivers.

        Meson is the latest build system catching the interest of open-source/Linux developers. Meson has already been widely deployed throughout the GNOME camp among other areas due to its faster build times when using the Ninja back-end on Linux, better support for Windows, and less clunky than Autotools.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Neon: the naked KDE

        I had nothing to complain about the technical part of KDE Neon Live run. It was smooth and fast. There were no glitches or unexpected delays (apart from one – I cannot remember the exact details).

        However, the lack of the very basic software makes me stop from recommending this distribution to the beginners. It may be a good distribution for those users who know their way in the Linux world well, who are confident in what they need and how to get it themselves.

        Do you recognise yourself in the first or the second category of Linux users?

      • Krita 3.3.0

        Less than a month after Krita 3.2.1, we’re releasing Krita 3.3.0. We’re bumping the version because there are some important changes, especially for Windows users in this version!

      • KGraphViewer 2.4.2

        KGraphViewer 2.4.2 has been released.

      • Nextcloud gets End to End Encryption

        Today is a special day for Nextcloud and me because Nextcloud gets a cool and important new capability. This is end to end encryption for file sync and share. Nextcloud supports server side encryption for a long time and all file transfer over the internet is encrypted with

      • Last Week Development in Elisa

        I have focused on keyboard navigation and correct handling of focus. Some preliminary work is already integrated with more to come. I hope to soon be able to use Elisa only with the keyboard and am starting to enjoy the progress so far. This is quite different from the last two years where only mouse and touch screen were usable to interact with Elisa.

      • Plasma secrets: task manager tweaks

        Recently, I have been having a lot of fun with the Plasma desktop. It all started with Zesty Zapus, a phenomenal release that redeemed KDE. In fact, I’ve boldly proclaimed that my next serious box to use Linux will be running Kubuntu, most likely the upcoming 2018 LTS. It hasn’t been this merry since roughly 2006 or so. Happy days.

        With so much time and pleasure spent on Kubuntu, I’ve dubbed the perfect distro, and then, I’ve also shown you how to deftly pimp it into sweet submission, as well as graced you with a few more tips and tricks that should make your Plasma experience sweeter still. Now, we will discuss another less known feature in this desktop environment, and that’s the task manager. Shall we.

        [...]

        Plasma desktop is way ahead of anything else in the Linux world right now. Yes, there are still glaring issues and annoying bugs, like the file copy timestamp for Samba shares or the ability to play media from remote devices, but overall, it’s shaping up to be an excellent product. There’s a lot of thought and attention to detail, and layer upon layer of smart, intelligent functionality packaged in an elegant and presentable way. I’m really really liking this.

        Well, hopefully, today’s little guide gives you even more reasons to try Plasma. It started with a revelation that is Kubuntu 17.04, then I’ve shown you how to pimp this desktop for everyday use, and given you a wealth of tricks that should make the experience even more enjoyable. Finally, we have these task manager tweaks. Well, if you have a request for anything else, don’t be a stranger. Shout, happy KDE, and may Plasma be with you.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • 4 features that make GNOME 3.26 worth the switch

        Of all the releases of the GNOME desktop, in recent years, I cannot think of one that was as anticipated as is GNOME 3.26. What is strange about this is that there are no major, ground-breaking features added to this upcoming release. While there are some subtle shifts in design, and a few small additions, the buzz for GNOME 3.26 is, without a doubt, there. My suspicion lies in the one-two punch of this 33rd release of the GNOME desktop and Ubuntu migrating back to GNOME. The anticipation of 3.26 is likely also bolstered by the fact that GNOME has become one of the most stable and polished desktop on the market.

      • Eolie Web Browser for GNOME – The Simplest Web Browser

        There will also be a question of the target audience and the number of options that will be proposed in the future. If a browser like Vivaldi has found its way to the giants, it is that it is aimed at all confirmed users. As can be seen with Web, a good integration with the rest of the GNOME environment will not be enough to be adopted, and it will not only have to propose all the usual functionalities but also propose new ones which could no longer happen.

  • Distributions
    • Clear Linux Squeezes More Performance Out Of Intel’s Core i9 7960X, 7980XE

      Earlier this week we published our launch-day benchmarks of the Core i9 7960X and Core i9 7980XE. Those Linux benchmarks were done with Ubuntu, but for those wondering what the maximum performance looks like for these high-end desktop processors, here are some comparison results with Intel’s own Clear Linux distribution.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • ​SUSE Studio merges with Open Build Service

        When SUSE first introduced SUSE Studio in 2010, it was a radical change. You could build your own Linux distribution without being a Linux expert. Today, we use custom Linux images inside containers, virtual machines (VM), and every cloud worth its name every day. So SUSE is updating SUSE Studio by merging it with its Open Build Service (OBS) to create a better tool for bundling packages with Linux distributions to deliver customized Linux images. The new product’s name will be SUSE Studio Express.

      • When Microsoft met SUSE: This Windows-Linux partnership gets stronger every day [Ed: "Linux purists hated that partnership". Not Linux. Not purists. GNU. And people who value freedom.]

        Linux purists hated that partnership. But my, how things have changed! Today, Microsoft has joined The Linux Foundation; all the major Linux distributions, including Debian and Red Hat are available on Microsoft’s Azure cloud; and Microsoft recently joined the Open Source Initiative.

    • Red Hat Family
      • Red Hat Launches ‘Open Innovation Labs’ Facility in Singapore

        Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) has unveiled a new facility in Singapore that will serve to help Asia-Pacific customers adopt open source and DevOps approaches in their information technology applications, ExecutiveBiz reported Tuesday.

        The company said Monday the first Red Hat Open Innovation Labs hub in the region will facilitate collaboration between IT teams, consultants, engineers and subject-matter experts in efforts to drive companies’ digital transformation.

      • Maxta hyper-converged SW flips off VMware for Red Hat

        Red Hat Virtualization is based on open-source KVM. Maxta executives said the goal is to provide an easy migration path for customers to move from ESXi to RHV. Maxta MxSP software runs on x86 servers, and is sold stand-alone or packaged on appliances by resellers.

      • Smart Card Support in Red Hat Enterprise Linux

        Recent Red Hat Enterprise Linux releases see an expansion in support of the smart card related use cases. However customers usually have a mixed environment and standardize on a specific version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux for period of time. It is important to understand the evolution of the smart card related feature to plan your deployment and understand what capabilities are available in what version of the operating system.

      • Red Hat launches Linux platform for SAP software environments

        Open source solutions provider Red Hat has announced the launch of Red Hat Enterprise Linux for SAP Solutions, an enterprise Linux platform optimised for running SAP software deployments.

        Red Hat Enterprise Linux for SAP Solutions aims to provide a smoother path for organisations seeking to integrate or merge their heterogeneous SAP software environments, offering a single, standardised platform for big data analysis and management projects.

      • Why Ansible is the future of Red Hat—and automated devops

        Ansible is the Rodney Dangerfield of Red Hat’s software portfolio: It, too, “don’t get no respect.” Despite the Ansible automated configuration management tool helping to sell Red Hat’s hybrid cloud story, delivering six deals worth more than $1 million and one deal worth over $5 million, not a single analyst in the latest financial call bothered to check on Ansible’s progress. Why? They’re fixated on OpenShift, and perhaps rightly so. OpenShift is Red Hat’s most obvious successor to the Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) throne.

      • Maxta adds Red Hat in plan to help customers dodge ‘VMware tax’

        Hyper-converged infrastructure maker Maxta has announced it now supports the Red Hat Virtualization hypervisor and can allow customers to migrate data from VMware to Red Hat or run VM in both environments.

      • ORock Technologies Named to Red Hat Certified Cloud and Service Provider Program
      • Finance
    • Debian Family
      • Derivatives
        • Knoppix 8.1 Now Available For A Retro Linux Experience In 2017

          Knoppix 8.1 is now available although no release announcement has yet to hit the wire. As it’s been some years since last trying out Knoppix, I decided to fire up this new release.

          With recalling fond memories of Knoppix during its early height as being the first/best Debian live CD but somewhat fading away in recent years, I was curious to try out Knoppix 8.1 when being alerted to it by a German Phoronix reader.

        • Tails 3.2 is out

          This release fixes many security issues and users should upgrade as soon as possible.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Canonical drops 32-bit Ubuntu Desktop Live ISOs
          • Ubuntu Is Dropping 32-Bit Images, But the Rest of the Flavors Will Keep Them

            In a follow-up email to a discussion from May when Ubuntu Desktop team discussed the possibility of removal of the 32-bit (i386) installation images from the servers, developer Dimitri John Ledkov confirmed the decision today.

          • Ubuntu Is Dropping 32-bit Desktop Images

            You won’t be able to download Ubuntu 17.10 32-bit desktop builds, as Ubuntu is dropping 32-bit builds of Ubuntu 17.10 desktop entirely.

          • It’s Official: Ubuntu 17.10 Is Killing 32-Bit Desktop ISO
          • Ubuntu 17.10 won’t have a 32-bit installation option

            LINUX DISTRO of choice for many, Ubuntu, has announced it is to drop support for 32-bit installations in favour of pure 64-bit loveliness.

            Starting with the upcoming release of Ubuntu 17.10, due next month, Ubuntu will be putting into action a request from Canonical dude Dimitri John Ledkov, reports OMG Ubuntu.

          • Paper Theme And Icons Looks Great On Ubuntu/Linux Mint

            Paper theme and icons are designed for Linux desktop environment, this suite is inspired by Material design created by Sam Hewitt, icons are based around the use of bold colors and simple geometric shapes. Each icon has been meticulously designed for pixel-perfect viewing at any size. Both theme and icons are lightweight and well-managed doesn’t eat system resources, the theme is modern and icons with most flat design and minimal use of shadows for depth. Paper has been developed primarily with modern GTK3 (GNOME-based) desktop environments in mind, legacy-toolkit and GTK2 environments will not provide an ideal experience, as much of the visual design relies on modern GTK3+ widgets. This suite is released under the terms the GNU General Public License GPL v3.

          • The New HUD on Artful MATE Beta

            The Heads-Up Display (or, HUD) is now a star feature on Ubuntu MATE 17.10 Beta. It got improved a lot on Beta and it’s amusing! On Alpha version, the HUD appears after some taps on Super+Alt buttons, and this would be difficult for many Unity users. But now on Beta version, the HUD appears by single tap on Alt button, making it easier for us and closer to Unity’s HUD. The big change is the HUD is now placed locally on every window! See the GIF animation and pictures below.

          • ULauncher: A Light And Fast App Launcher For Linux

            Available for Ubuntu 17.04 Zesty/16.04 Xenial/14.04 Trusty/Linux Mint 18/17/other Ubuntu derivatives

          • Ubuntu 16.04 LTS selected for Samsung ARTIK Gateway modules

            The Samsung ARTIK platform is a fully integrated chip to cloud and production-ready Internet of Things solution, designed to help companies accelerate their product development process, reduce time to market, and improve total cost of ownership for their IoT products. Through the new partnership, the Samsung ARTIK 5 and 7 family of modules will now incorporate Ubuntu 16.04 as its primary Linux distribution, combining Ubuntu distribution with ARTIK customization, platform software and the ARTIK integrated development environment.

          • Flavours and Variants
            • System76 Pop!_OS Beta Ubuntu-based Linux distribution now available to download

              Next month, a new era of Ubuntu begins. Unity is dead, and GNOME 3 takes over as the default desktop environment. While this change was for the best, it was still shocking for many. For a company like System76, for instance, that sells computers pre-loaded with Ubuntu, this was problematic. Why? Well, the company essentially lost control of the overall user experience by relying on vanilla Ubuntu. It was being forced to follow Canonical’s path.

              To solve this, and regain some control, System76 has been developing its own operating system called “Pop!_OS.” No, it is not reinventing the wheel here — it will still use Ubuntu as a base, and GNOME will be the desktop environment. The company is customizing the operating system, however, with things like fonts, themes, and icons, to create something truly unique. This could lead to an improved user experience. Today, the first official beta of the operating system becomes available for download.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Open-source community pushing big data into AI realm

    What’s the surest way to advance a technology in a short time? Give it away — to an open-source community. Seminal big data software library Apache Hadoop gained momentum in open source, and today, most disruptive big data development is springing from open source as well.

  • Yahoo! search! results!, recommendations!, ad! flinging! code! is! now! open! source!

    Oath, the Verizon-owned parent of Yahoo!, has forsworn control of Yahoo!’s search code, known as Vespa, and turned it into an open-source project.

    Having nothing at all to do with scooters, the software provides a way to query structured and unstructured data, to organize and rank results, and to write data at scale. It’s a system for running computations on large data sets in real-time.

  • The Ground Zero Open Source Project (GZOSP): an Android Oreo Base for Custom ROM Development

    Ground Zero ROMs, the ROM development team that brought us the popular custom ROMs Tesla, Tipsy, and Validus, has provided a central Android Oreo repository from which custom ROMs can be built without having to start from scratch (meaning straight from AOSP). The idea of the Ground Zero Open Source Project (GZOSP) is to give custom ROM builders a better starting point with both the necessary AOSP code and the CAF (Code Aurora Forum, Qualcomm’s own repository which is useful for non-Nexus devices with Snapdragon SoCs) code to build for a wide variety of devices.

  • OpenDaylight Nitrogen Released Providing SDN Modularity

    Nitrogen is the seventh major release from OpenDaylight and follows the Carbon release that debutedin June 2017. OpenDaylight first started in April 2013 as a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project, with the goal of building an open SDN platform.

    OpenDaylight Nitrogen had the shortest release cycle of any OpenDaylight release, as part of an effort to better synchronize with OpenStack, OPNFV and ONAP networking efforts.

  • Faculty Receive National Science Foundation Grant for Software Research

    “Open source software builds upon itself,” says Randy Bradley, an assistant professor of information systems and supply chain management.

  • Open Sourcing Vespa, Yahoo’s Big Data Processing and Serving Engine

    Ever since we open sourced Hadoop in 2006, Yahoo – and now, Oath – has been committed to opening up its big data infrastructure to the larger developer community. Today, we are taking another major step in this direction by making Vespa, Yahoo’s big data processing and serving engine, available as open source on GitHub.

  • Yahoo search secrets unveiled as Vespa tool becomes open source

    Oath, the company born of the Yahoo-AOL merger, releases Vespa data processing engine’s source code.

    Vespa, the tool used to power search on the Yahoo network of sites, was yesterday released on GitHub by Oath for any curious developers or companies to take a look.

    Although Yahoo web search has mostly been powered by Bing in recent years, Vespa technology is used within the network of Oath sites itself, such as Flickr, Yahoo.com, Yahoo News, Yahoo Sports, Yahoo Finance and Yahoo Gemini.

  • Transitions in Leadership

    Serving as president of the Open Source Initiative over the past few years has been a joy and an honor, and if I write a memoir someday I’m sure these will stand out as some of the best and brightest years in a long and happy open source career. It has been a delight to collaborate closely with so many people I admire greatly, including Deb Bryant, Molly de Blanc, Richard Fontana, Leslie Hawthorne, Mike Milinkovich, Simon Phipps, Josh Simmons, Carol Smith, Paul Tagliamonte, Italo Vignoli, and Stefano Zacchiroli.

    I’m incredibly proud of what the organization has accomplished in that time, continuing stewardship of the open source license list, and growing our individual membership and affiliate programs which provide a path for the entire open source community to have a say in the governance of the OSI.

    [...]

    It gives me great pleasure to share the news that the OSI board has elected Simon Phipps as the next president. Having Simon at the helm will help make the transition particularly easy, since he served as OSI president before me. I’ve known Simon for many years, long before either of us was involved in the OSI, and one thing that has always impressed me is the way he consistently engages with new ideas, championing the relevance of open source in the ever-changing modern world. He also gave the best talk that I’ve ever seen explaining the four software freedoms and advocating for software freedom (at a conference in Oslo in 2011).

  • Open source is quietly powering a virtual revolution in some countries

    Sacatepéquez, Guatemala. You won’t find the village of El Rosario and its corrugated iron and breeze-block houses on any printed map. Ironically, you can find El Rosario on Google Maps but the village itself doesn’t have internet access. Such a luxury is a number of bus rides away and not a journey you’d want a child to take alone.

    Reducing the educational limitations for kids who grow up in places like El Rosario requires breaking vicious cycles that are generations-old: “The kids that don’t finish primary school end up working in the fields with their fathers,” says Sandra Castro, a teacher at the local school, Escuela Nacional El Rosario. “Our desire is to change that.”

    One non-profit educational technology organisation that’s helping to effect that change in El Rosario and all over the world is Learning Equality. It’s an organisation that uses open source software and low-cost hardware to bring quality education to offline communities in the remotest parts of the world – and it’s gearing up to release its second-generation educational platform, called Kolibri.

  • Events
    • Learning from Scratch: Kids Day at Open Source Summit

      At this year’s Kids Day workshop at Open Source Summit in Los Angeles, The Linux Foundation collaborated with LA MakerSpace.org to provide kids with an introduction to coding ideas and approaches. The LA MakerSpace is heavily influenced by the maker culture, so they have a very hands-on approach when it comes to teaching coding.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Mozilla Accelerates Firefox 57 with Quantum Speed Boost

        The race for internet browser supremacy is accelerating once again, with Mozilla’s latest open-source Firefox browser. The new Firefox Quantum browser, which is currently available as a beta, is two times faster than the Firefox 52 release which debuted in March 2017.

        Firefox Quantum is actually the Firefox 57 release, but Mozilla developers have decided that the speed gains in the upcoming browser milestone are so noteworthy that it should have a unique name as well. Mozilla has been incrementally adding features to Firefox over the past year to help speed up the browser, in an effort to provide better performance than Google’s rival Chrome browser.

      • Firefox 56.0 Is Ready Ahead Of The Big Quantum Update

        The final Firefox 56.0 binaries have hit the mirrors ahead of its official announcement to come. Firefox 56.0 brings more improvements while Firefox 57 “Quantum” will be a huge update.

        Firefox 56.0 has a variety of smaller updates, is the last release to support legacy add-ons before mandating WebExtensions, support for rel=”preload” for preloading content, various developer API changes, and more. With Firefox 56, media is no longer auto-played when opened in a background tab.

      • Firefox 56 Released, But All Eyes Are on Firefox Quantum

        The latest update to the browser isn’t exactly packed with changes but it does include a new search function in the settings area to make it faster to find specific options or preferences.

      • Screenshots, Send Tabs and more! Today’s faster Firefox provides upgraded features for all users

        When our intrepid user research team goes into the field and observes Firefox users in the wild, they find that users have all sorts of creative solutions to do things that the browser doesn’t already do, like email links and screenshots to themselves and others, as a way to get things done.

        We want Firefox to be the absolute best way to get things done, so we stuffed a ton of new features into today’s release.

  • Databases
    • Oracle Shows Off MySQL 8 Release Candidate

      After over a year of development, open-source database is now on the path toward general availability.

      Back in September 2016, Oracle first announced the open-source MySQL 8.0.0 milestone release and has been quietly iterating and developing the next generation database ever since.

      On Sept. 25, at long last Oracle debuted the first official Release Candidate (RC) for the MySQL 8.0 release, kicking off the final stabilization period before general availability. The MySQL 8.0 release also marks a numbering leap forward, as the current generally available release is version 5.7.19. MySQL 5.7x first became generally available in 2015, after two years of development effort.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • LibreOffice community celebrates 7th anniversary

      I wanted to take a moment to remind people that 7 years ago the community decided to make the de facto fork of OpenOffice.org official after life under Sun (and then Oracle) were problematic. From the very first hours the project showed its effectiveness. See my post about LibreOffice first steps. Not to mention what it achieved in the past 7 years.

      This is still one of my favourite open source contributions, not because it was sophisticated or hard, but because it as about using the freedom part of the free software:
      Replace hardcoded “product by Oracle” with “product by %OOOVENDOR”.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
    • SAP Cloud Is Embracing the Open Source World [Ed: No, it does not. SAP is wholly proprietary, it just uses GNU/Linux as the underlying platform.]

      SAP is making inroads in the open source world. The software heavyweight announced today at the SAP TechEd 2017 conference that it is joining the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) and the Open API Initiative (OAI). SAP CTO Bjoern Goerke will join the CNCF governing board, and the company said it will be a major contributor to the group.

      Both CNCF and OAI are part of the Linux Foundation. CNCF is home to Kubernetes, the open source project that acts as an orchestration layer for containers. OAI is focused on creating, evolving, and promoting a vendor neutral description format for ReST APIs. ReST stands for Representational State Transfer, an architectural style for designing networked applications.

    • DH2i DxEnterprise adds Linux support to improve availability [Ed: But it's not "Linux". It's a proprietary blob in DrawBridge, stuck like a tumor inside GNU/Linux]
    • Nokia first to contribute open source software to accelerate adoption of software-defined fixed access networks [Ed: start by ending patent aggression]
  • BSD
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • FSF Blogs: Friday Free Software “New Friends” Directory IRC meetup: September 29th starting at 12:00 p.m. EDT/16:00 UTC

      Tens of thousands of people visit directory.fsf.org each month to discover free software. Each entry in the Directory contains a wealth of useful information, from basic category and descriptions, to providing detailed info about version control, IRC channels, documentation, and licensing info that has been carefully checked by FSF staff and trained volunteers. When a user comes to the Directory, they know that everything in it is free software, has only free dependencies, and runs on a free OS. With almost 16,000 entries, it is a massive repository of information about free software.

  • Public Services/Government
    • Open source and the public sector

      The U.S. government continues to devote resources to advancing the country’s technology by utilizing a mixture of “proprietary, open source, and mixed source code” when building out federal solutions, according to the Federal Source Code Policy.

      In 2016, the government launched code.gov and with it, a pilot program that required agencies to release at least 20 percent of new custom-developed code as open-source software. The code.gov website is a platform built to “support reuse and public access to custom-developed Federal source code” and houses code from 25 separate agencies.

      This strategic move originally began in 2014, when the White House launched the U.S. Digital Service as part of its mission to improve public sector technology. The group’s Digital Services Playbook outlined how to manage and improve all publicly facing digital services and stressed the importance of adhering to these guidelines if contributing to the public sector.

    • New Joinup version removes complexities

      Making it easier for users to find what they are looking for, that is a key feature of next weeks’ update of Joinup, the European Commission’s collaboration platform for digital government professionals.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • 9 open source license management rules for startups

      Open source software can be a double-edged sword for startups. It can be a startup’s lifeblood, because it helps you innovate rapidly without starting from scratch. But, as they say, open source software is free like a puppy is free: The true cost of open source software is obeying open source licenses.

      Misuse of open source software can delay or derail investment and corporate exit opportunities. But you can easily comply with open source licenses if you follow these simple rules.

    • Open Source Pioneer Bruce Perens: Facebook’s New GraphQL License Too Restrictive

      Less than a week ago, I published an opinion that the uncertainty around Facebook’s plans for licensing the GraphQL API specfication meant it was time to halt all GraphQL API development until Facebook was more forthcoming about its intentions. That analysis was published in the wake of some significant controversy surrounding Facebook’s choice to license its React framework using a license called BSD+Patents. There is a BSD+Patents license listed as one of the official open source licenses that’s endorsed by the Open Source Initiative. However, Facebook’s patent grant that went with the license was deemed to be too restrictive such that two influenctial members of the open source community — the Apache Software Foundation and WordPress founer Matt Mullengweg — openly rejected it.

      [...]

      However not everyone agrees and one person who says that the OWFa 1.0 license is still too restrictive when it comes to adopting GraphQL is Bruce Perens, one of the co-founders of the open source software movement and the original author of the official open source definition. In my interview of Perens, he points out that there’s a proviso in section 8.6 that deems implementations of GraphQL as compliant “so long as all required portions of the Specification are implemented.” In other words, if you find something in the specification that you don’t need for your implementation and you leave it out, you’ve also lost your license to use the spec. According to Perens, there’s a “middle ground” that Facebook should try instead. I’ve reached out to Facebook and am still awaiting comment. In the mean time, watch the interview, or, if you prefer, you can listen to or download the audio version as well.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
Leftovers
  • The Coming Software Apocalypse

    There were six hours during the night of April 10, 2014, when the entire population of Washington State had no 911 service. People who called for help got a busy signal. One Seattle woman dialed 911 at least 37 times while a stranger was trying to break into her house. When he finally crawled into her living room through a window, she picked up a kitchen knife. The man fled.

    The 911 outage, at the time the largest ever reported, was traced to software running on a server in Englewood, Colorado. Operated by a systems provider named Intrado, the server kept a running counter of how many calls it had routed to 911 dispatchers around the country. Intrado programmers had set a threshold for how high the counter could go. They picked a number in the millions.

  • Deus ex machina: former Google engineer is developing an AI god

    Intranet service? Check. Autonomous motorcycle? Check. Driverless car technology? Check. Obviously the next logical project for a successful Silicon Valley engineer is to set up an AI-worshipping religious organization.

    Anthony Levandowski, who is at the center of a legal battle between Uber and Google’s Waymo, has established a nonprofit religious corporation called Way of the Future, according to state filings first uncovered by Wired’s Backchannel. Way of the Future’s startling mission: “To develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on artificial intelligence and through understanding and worship of the Godhead contribute to the betterment of society.”

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Homeopathic detox: Med school quietly flushes quack science after criticism

      University of California, Irvine—a school long known for embracing “alternative medicine”—has undergone a potent detox: the clinical arm of the institution quietly flushed homeopathy from its online list of medical services, the Los Angeles Times first reported.

    • As Broadband Usage Caps Expand, Nobody Is Checking Whether Usage Meters Are Reliable

      Despite the hype surrounding Google Fiber and gigabit connections, vast swaths of the U.S. broadband industry are actually becoming less competitive than ever. As large telcos like Windstream, Frontier, CenturyLink, and Verizon refuse to upgrade aging DSL lines at any scale, they’re effectively giving cable providers a growing monopoly over broadband in countless markets. And these companies are quickly rushing to take advantage of this dwindling competition by imposing entirely arbitrary, confusing and unnecessary usage caps and overage fees in these captive markets.
      The benefits of these pricey limitations are two fold: they allow cable providers to not only jack up the price of service, but they’re an incredible weapon against the looming threat of streaming video competition. Caps and overage fees make using streaming alternatives notably more expensive, helping to protect legacy TV revenues. But cable operators are also exempting their own streaming services from these caps (as Comcast did with the launch of its own, new streaming platform this week), while still penalizing competitors. This kind of behavior is just one of several reasons why net neutrality rules are kind of important.

    • UK’s top supplier of supermarket chicken fiddles food safety dates

      The largest supplier of chicken to UK supermarkets has been tampering with food safety records in moves that could dupe consumers into buying meat past its use-by date.

      An investigation by the Guardian and ITV News recorded undercover footage of workers altering the slaughter date of poultry being processed at a 2 Sisters Food Group plant. The group produces a third of all poultry products eaten in the UK and supplies top grocers including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer, Aldi and Lidl.

      When informed of the evidence, all five retailers responded to say they would launch immediate investigations.

    • In Midst of Opioid Crisis, an Addiction Medication Program for Federal Prisons Fizzles

      In the spring of 2014, as rising rates of opioid misuse and fatal overdoses were capturing the nation’s attention, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) was working on a national initiative to expand access to addiction medications known as medication-assisted treatments, or MATs. The ONDCP had just come under the direction of Michael Botticelli, President Obama’s new drug czar, whose background in public health rather than law enforcement signaled to some that a shift was happening in federal drug policy.

      A memo circulating among top staff at the Bureau of Prisons at the time stated that the White House was “eager” to include federal prisoners in its national drug treatment initiative. The federal prison system’s substance abuse programs were not working for the vast majority of prisoners with opioid use disorders, so, the memo said, MAT should be provided as an additional option in federal prisons for the first time. A small number of jails and state prisons already had MAT programs, and the ONDCP had pushed for a federal program since late 2013.

    • Disparity In Access To Medicines Spurs “Humanitarian” Patent Licensing [Ed: So they grab monopolies, denying access to drugs, then relinquishing/lowing price, calling themselves altruistic]

      “There are shameful access disparities around the world” to life-saving medicines, Harvard University Global Access in Action project Co-Director Quentin Palfrey said at a 26 September Center for Strategic and International Studies event in Washington, DC. And while some of the challenges to fuller access involve pricing, getting medicines to poorer countries or populations means overcoming the obstacles of insufficient research and development (R&D) incentives, access barriers and polarised politics, he said.

    • Use Competition Law For Wider Access To Cheap Medicines?

      The topic of access to medicines has gained momentum in recent years as high prices of new medicines affect developing countries and developed countries. The role of competition legislation in preventing market abuses and monopoly situations has been pointed to as a possible lever to facilitate access to generic medicines and balance the potential negative effects of intellectual property protection.

  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • While US, North Korea Both Make Threats, Only One Has Killed Millions of the Other’s People

      For the consumer of US corporate media, the idea of a nuclear armed North Korea is a terrifying threat. Almost every day for the last two weeks, print and television media have amped up the potential danger of a devastating military strike from the isolated peninsular nation.

      “North Korea Keeps Up Its Provocations,” read a headline at The Atlantic (9/14/17). “North Korea Threatens to ‘Sink’ Japan, Reduce US to ‘Ashes and Darkness,’” reported CNBC (9/14/17). Vox (9/22/17) told readers “Why North Korea’s Latest Threats Are Far More Serious Than Its Typical Bluster.”

      The North Korean government is not operating in a vacuum. Yet the reasons for North Korea’s militarization—the country has the fourth largest army in the world—and the historical context for its conflict with the United States are seldom honestly discussed in corporate media.

      The Korean War, in which the United States invaded the North on behalf of South Korea, claimed the lives of over 2 million North Koreans. The US dropped as many munitions as it had dropped on the entire Pacific Theater in World War II—a four-year conflict ranging over tens of millions of square miles, as opposed to the 46,541 square miles of North Korea—and the war has never been officially ended.

    • What Went Wrong With France’s Deradicalization Program?

      When Vallat returned to France in 1994, he began visiting a Salafi mosque his GIA friends had recommended. Salafism, an ultraconservative, fundamentalist strain of Islam that aspires to emulate the Prophet Mohammed and return to the religion’s supposed original ways, has been known to breed jihadists. At the mosque, he was told that modern-day Islam was a domesticated product of colonization, and that true Islam was that of combatants, of sacrifice, of blood. Anyone opposing the jihadists must be annihilated, he was told. He read the Koran and began learning Arabic.

      Several months later, Vallat left France for an al-Qaeda base camp in Taliban-controlled territory in Khalden, Afghanistan, where he trained alongside Chinese, English, Yemeni, Malian, Turkish, Tunisian, Algerian and Filipino fighters in the “wild west,” as he called it: no state, no laws, just tanks, guns, and explosives. “There, they think only about death—how to kill and who to kill,” Vallat said.

    • Ex-Drone Warrior: Don’t Give the CIA Authority to Deploy Killer Robots in Afghanistan

      I used to work in the United States drone program. I did not “push the button” or guide the missiles, but I was one of the many faceless technicians who executed the so-called War on Terror from my home state of California. What I learned during my time in the Air Force drone program ultimately made me want to leave it in 2012: The U.S. drone program is immense and powerful in its scope, and in urgent need of more extensive transparency, oversight, and accountability.

      Since the drone program began, the U.S. military has been keen on keeping data related to it under wraps. Due to the near-absence of official information, drone strike statistics answer few questions and raise many more. For example, when the Obama administration released the first official estimates of those killed in strikes during President Obama’s presidency, they only included those that took place outside the conventional wars in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan, leaving human rights advocates and media organizations trying to fill in the blanks.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • ‘The last place on Earth’: how Sumatra’s rainforest is being cleared for palm oil

      A palm oil company is continuing to clear forest in a fast-diminishing elephant habitat in Indonesia’s Leuser ecosystem despite being the subject of two reports into illegal deforestation, according to a prominent environmental organisation.

      The Rainforest Action Network (RAN) published a study in July accusing plantation owner PT Agra Bumi Niaga (ABN) of growing oil palms on illegally deforested land in the Leuser ecosystem, in Aceh province, northern Sumatra.

      This was the second time in six months that the company had been accused by RAN of clearing rainforests in one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet. The NGO stepped up its focus on ABN’s nearly 2,000 hectare (4,942 acres) concession, which sits within the Leuser ecosystem, after the Aceh government banned forest clearance for palm oil plantations in the area in June 2016.

      Since the Guardian reported on the investigation, the remaining forest in ABN’s nearly 2,000 hectare concession has been reduced from 420 hectares to just 54 hectares. RAN says its latest evidence from satellite imagery and field reports shows ABN cleared 18 hectares of forest in June and razed another 12 hectares in July, seemingly ignoring concerns from campaigners, government and businesses further down the supply chain.

    • Underwater in Puerto Rico: Islanders Struggle With Debt While Desperate for Hurricane Relief

      Today we bring you a conversation with Javier Morillo, president of SEIU Local 26 in Minnesota. Morillo is originally from Puerto Rico, and offers his thoughts on how to wrest control of Puerto Rico from Wall Street and how to best assist islanders devastated by hurricanes. He also talks about Target workers winning a $15 minimum-wage victory.

    • Irma and María: Shedding Light on Puerto Rico’s Colonial Reality

      But Puerto Rico is no stranger to crisis. Before Irma’s and María’s devastating pitstops in the Archipelago, Puerto Rico was (and still is, even more so now) undergoing one of the most detrimental financial and socio-political crises of its contemporary history. With an unaudited $74 billion debt under its belt, and $49 billion in pension obligations, with decades of illegal bond issuances and trades and an overly-advertised tax haven, Puerto Rico was/is almost literally drowning. Neoliberal policies, such as draconian budget cuts and extreme austerity measures, have been in the works towards the precarization of Puerto Rican livelihood. Governor Rosselló, an unelected and antidemocratic Fiscal Control Board, and Judge Laura Taylor Swain are all trying to oversee and command Puerto Rico simultaneously, going back and forth on the Archipelago’s fiscal management and debt restructuring processes.

    • Scientific Study Predicts Global Mass Extinction Event Possible by 2100

      The planet has experienced five mass extinction events. The worst, the Permian Mass Extinction event 252 million years ago, annihilated more than 95 percent of all life on Earth. It coincided with a significant increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2).

      The Permian Mass Extinction is the perfect example of what happens when you inject too much CO2 into the atmosphere. The way in which the oceans absorbed this CO2, and subsequently acidified, was the primary kill mechanism for that event.

  • Finance
    • Ads don’t work so websites are using your electricity to pay the bills

      Pirate Bay and Showtime turned to forcing unknowing visitors to mine cryptocurrency, using computers rather than eyeballs on ads to generate money

    • Lawyers Gearing Up To Hit UK With Corporate Sovereignty Claims Totalling Billions Of Dollars Over Brexit

      We’re not hearing much about corporate sovereignty — also known as “investment state dispute settlement” (ISDS) — these days. It’s definitely still a problem, especially for smaller countries. But the big fights over the inclusion of corporate sovereignty chapters in the two global trade deals — the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement — have been put on hold for the moment. That’s for the simple reason that both TPP and TTIP are in a kind of limbo following the election of Donald Trump as US President with his anti-free trade platform.

    • Lloyd’s of London eyes £3.4bn hit from hurricane claims

      Lloyd’s of London says it is expecting net losses of $4.5bn (£3.4bn) on policies covering the Caribbean and Florida after hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

      The world’s largest specialist insurance market forecast a surge in claims from wild weather events in the second half of the year following a benign first six months of 2017.

    • IAB Tech Lab investigates blockchain’s potential with new working group

      IAB Tech Lab has launched a Blockchain Working Group to investigate different applications of blockchain technology and establish standards and best practices for the digital advertising industry, according to a company blog post. As part of the project, IAB Tech Lab will solicit feedback from different industry players as it does for other successful initiatives like its Content Taxonomy Standards.

    • A Gift to Rich Families Like His, Trump’s Push to Repeal Estate Tax Denounced as ‘Shameful’

      In President Donald Trump’s sales pitch for his newly-unveiled tax plan on Wednesday, he told a crowd in Indianapolis that the proposal includes “historic tax relief” for middle-income Americans. But a key tenet of the plan is the repeal of the estate tax, which would only offer a tax break to the wealthiest Americans. A group of millionaires are among those speaking out against the repeal.

      The Patriotic Millionaires denounced the Bush-era tax cuts, and now they’re back with a letter to Congress, demanding that it uphold the estate tax. The tax, they say “was introduced a century ago when economic inequality had reached such historic levels that it was considered a threat to national stability. We suffer the same level of imbalance today, making preservation of the estate tax a top priority for patriotic Americans.”

      Only about 5,000 families—or 0.2 percent of Americans—pay the estate tax, as it only applies to fortunes greater than $5.5 million that are transferred or inherited. In a video posted to social media, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) explained the tax, which if kept in place would generate $275 billion in revenue by 2026, and what a repeal would really mean for working families.

    • If Trump were really President, he’d Forgive Puerto Rico’s Debts and Rescue it

      I’m not sure what Donald Trump thinks the job of president consists of. One task is to swing into action when 3.4 million Americans are living without electricity, 40% of them without potable water, and hundreds of thousands without shelter. When some 80% of its agricultural crops were wiped out. This is an apocalyptic scenario. We can’t even know what is going on very much because there is no wifi most places. Some entire towns haven’t been heard from! A dam may fail, endangering 70,000 people. It will take decades to rebuild.

      As Daniel Gross (@grossdm) wrote on Twitter, “More US citizens live in Puerto Rico than live in the Dakotas, Vermont, Wyoming, and Alaska combined. I don’t see Congress lifting a finger.”

    • Trump’s strategy for selling his tax reform plan is to outright lie about it

      The tax reform plan Donald Trump announced yesterday (pdf) is a dream for many of his wealthy Republican backers. It will likely let them keep millions of dollars away from the Treasury by eliminating the alternative minimum tax (which essentially prevents rich people from claiming too many tax breaks) and the estate tax, while slashing the rates rate paid by corporations and by the richest individuals.
      It’s not going to work out so well for two other crucial constituencies, however: GOP deficit hawks and Trump’s millions of working-class voters.

    • Toxic effects of Brexit being felt as relationships fracture

      Speaking at last week’s Dublin Economics Workshop in Wexford, financial writer and commentator Frances Coppola spoke of how Brexit had reactivated atavistic forces on both sides of the English channel.

      There was a faction in the Brexit camp, she said, that was pushing for a hard Brexit, not to further the UK’s independence from the EU, but in the hope that a disorderly departure might damage, or even unravel, the European project.

      Equally, there were forces in Europe that were revelling in casting the UK in the role of Ozymandias, Shelley’s poetic metaphor for a doomed empire.

    • Target’s $15 an hour move ‘blows up’ minimum wage myths
    • Chicago’s Bankruptcy Boom

      ProPublica’s analysis of racial disparities in bankruptcy revealed a skyrocketing number of filings in Chicago’s black neighborhoods. But most of the cases will fall apart before the debts are wiped away.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Zuckerberg defends Facebook against Trump attack
    • Mark Zuckerberg: I regret ridiculing fears over Facebook’s effect on election

      Mark Zuckerberg said he regretted dismissing concerns about the Facebook’s role in influencing the US presidential race, his latest acknowledgement that misinformation on the platform has affected elections.

    • Prankster tricks Jared Kushner’s lawyer into believing he had Lego fetish porn on his private server

      Jared “Go Daddy” Kushner is in the news for using his private server to conduct White House business. It’s only a crime if you are a Democrat, so he has nothing to worry about, but that didn’t stop prankster @sinon_reborn from convincing Kushner’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, that he was Kushner and had been emailing porn through the server.

    • Republican Governors Association Sets Up Partisan News Site & Forgets To Tell Anyone As It Pumps Out ‘News’

      I like to assume that everyone is as tired as I am of the term “fake news.” The term, which once seemed to have a fairly coherent meaning, has since been co-opted by pretty much everyone to mean any number of things that mostly amount to “news I don’t like.” That’s incredibly annoying, as is all of the partisan mold that has grown upon this now dead and useless term.
      That said, one does struggle to find different terminology to use when referring to a very strange thing the Republican Governors Association did when it set up a site that purported to be a “news site”, but which only served as a GOP governors propaganda outfit, while forgetting to tell anyone who was behind it all.

    • With New D.C. Policy Group, Dems Continue to Rehabilitate and Unify With Bush-Era Neocons

      ONE OF THE most under-discussed yet consequential changes in the American political landscape is the reunion between the Democratic Party and the country’s most extreme and discredited neocons. While the rise of Donald Trump, whom neocons loathe, has accelerated this realignment, it began long before the ascension of Trump and is driven by far more common beliefs than contempt for the current president.

      A newly formed and, by all appearances, well-funded national security advocacy group, devoted to more hawkish U.S. policies toward Russia and other adversaries, provides the most vivid evidence yet of this alliance. Calling itself the Alliance for Securing Democracy, the group describes itself as “a bipartisan, transatlantic initiative” that “will develop comprehensive strategies to defend against, deter, and raise the costs on Russian and other state actors’ efforts to undermine democracy and democratic institutions,” and also “will work to publicly document and expose Vladimir Putin’s ongoing efforts to subvert democracy in the United States and Europe.”

    • Spanish legal experts critical of state response to referendum

      Legal experts in Spain have harshly criticized the response of the central government and the state attorney general to the independence referendum planned for October 1. In an article in ‘El País’ newspaper on Tuesday, former high court judge, Baltasar Garzón, accused Mariano Rajoy’s government of using legal prosecution as “a weapon” in what he considers “an abusive use of the institutions, especially the courts.”

      Nor is Garzón alone in his criticisms of the state authorities. According to the spokesman of an association representing Spanish judges, the attorney general’s actions are “totally disproportionate and putting fundamental rights at risk.” Talking on the Antena 3 television channel, the spokesman for Judges for Democracy (Jueces para la Democracia in Spanish), Ignacio González Vega, said that the attorney general’s comments on ordering the arrest of Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, were “threatening” and merely “add fuel to the fire.”

    • Yet Another Major Russia Story Falls Apart. Is Skepticism Permissible Yet?

      LAST FRIDAY, most major media outlets touted a major story about Russian attempts to hack into U.S. voting systems, based exclusively on claims made by the Department of Homeland Security. “Russians attempted to hack elections systems in 21 states in the run-up to last year’s presidential election, officials said Friday,” began the USA Today story, similar to how most other outlets presented this extraordinary claim.

      [...]

      They were one small step away from demanding that the election results be nullified, indulging the sentiment expressed by #Resistance icon Carl Reiner the other day: “Is there anything more exciting that the possibility of Trump’s election being invalidated & Hillary rightfully installed as our President?”

      So what was wrong with this story? Just one small thing: it was false.

    • Twitter finds hundreds of accounts tied to Russian operatives
    • A top Democratic senator briefed by Twitter on Russia and the 2016 election called the company’s explanation ‘frankly inadequate’

      Sen. Mark Warner delivered a full verbal lashing of Twitter on Thursday for providing “inadequate” details to Congress about the misinformation spread on its platform by Russian sources during the 2016 presidential election.

      Hours after Twitter briefed Warner’s aides and others on the Senate Intelligence Committee — a panel that is investigating the Kremlin’s potential meddling in U.S. politics — Warner said he felt that Twitter did not grasp the seriousness of the panel’s probe.

      At issue for Warner is the fact Twitter searched its records based only on information already unearthed by Facebook.

    • Russia investigation to probe “foul corners” of 4Chan and Reddit

      A congressional committee probing Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election could broaden its investigation to look at Reddit and 4Chan as potential tools of clandestine activity, according to a congressional aide.

    • Supreme Court’s Gorsuch criticized over Trump hotel speech

      President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court appointee Neil Gorsuch gave a speech to a conservative group on Thursday at a hotel in which Trump has a financial interest, drawing criticism from protesters outside the building and the top Senate Democrat.

      About 50 demonstrators appeared outside the Trump International Hotel located just blocks from the White House, saying Gorsuch’s speech called into question his impartiality as the high court potentially weighs cases involving the Republican president, including some involving the hotel itself.

      “There’s a reason we questioned his independence during his confirmation hearings,” Senator Chuck Schumer said in a statement.

    • President Trump, We’ll See You in the Supreme Court
  • Censorship/Free Speech
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • DC Court Says Metro Police Need Warrants To Deploy Stingrays

      Another warrant requirement for Stingray use has been established. Again, it’s not a federal decision, so jurisdiction is limited, but there’s now another case to cite when fighting warrantless Stingray use in federal courts.

      This decision comes from the DC Appeals Court (very much not the DC Circuit Court of Appeals). The case involves the Metro PD’s use of a Stingray to track two phones: the suspect’s and one he had stolen. The lower court handed the government a win. After pointing out there was plenty of time (around 10 hours between report of crime and Stingray deployment) to obtain a warrant (thus no exigent circumstances exception), the court decided the evidence derived from the tracking fell into the “inevitable discovery” exception since the tracking of the stolen phone would have led officers to the suspect.

      The problem is the officers testifying for the Metro PD could not say for sure which phone they were tracking: the suspect’s or the phone he had allegedly stolen from the victim. The lower court cut the cops some slack, allowing for the possibility of they were tracking a phone (the victim’s) the suspect had no privacy interest in.

    • Org response to conviction of Cage Director for terror offences

      ORG has responded to the conviction of Cage Director Muhammad Rabbani, who was found guilty of terror offences for refusing to hand over passwords to the police at Heathrow airport.

    • Accused NSA Leaker Stuffed NSA Report in Her Pantyhose: Docs
    • ‘I felt really hopeless’: NSA leak suspect Reality Winner explains why she smuggled a classified report

      A redacted transcript of an interview between FBI agents and Reality Winner, the 25-year old NSA contractor who allegedly leaked a classified report to a news outlet, revealed that she smuggled the report out of the NSA complex in Fort Gordon, Georgia by folding it into her pantyhose.

    • Alleged NSA leaker told FBI she stuffed documents in her pantyhose, feds say

      A young woman charged with leaking U.S. secrets to a news organization told FBI agents she was frustrated with her job as a government contractor when she tucked a classified report into her pantyhose and smuggled it out of a National Security Agency office in Georgia, according to court records.

    • Accused NSA leaker was angry over Fox News always being on in the office
    • Alleged leaker Reality Winner said she stuffed NSA report in her pantyhose
    • Accused NSA leaker told feds she smuggled docs in pantyhose
    • Alleged leaker Reality Winner said she stuffed NSA report in her pantyhose
    • NSA Leaker Told FBI That She Was Triggered By Fox News Being On At Her Workplace
    • Accused NSA leaker Reality Winner says she smuggled classified docs in her pantyhose: Documents
    • Reality Winner Tells FBI How She Smuggled Documents Out of NSA
    • Superaccurate GPS Chips Coming to Smartphones in 2018

      We’ve all been there. You’re driving down the highway, just as Google Maps instructed, when Siri tells you to “proceed east for one-half mile, then merge onto the highway.” But you’re already on the highway. After a moment of confusion and perhaps some rude words about Siri and her extended AI family, you realize the problem: Your GPS isn’t accurate enough for your navigation app to tell if you’re on the highway or on the road beside it.

      Those days are nearly at an end. At the ION GNSS+ conference in Portland, Ore., today Broadcom announced that it is sampling the first mass-market chip that can take advantage of a new breed of global navigation satellite signals and will give the next generation of smartphones 30-centimeter accuracy instead of today’s 5 meters. Even better, the chip works in a city’s concrete canyons, and it consumes half the power of today’s generation of chips. The chip, the BCM47755, has been included in the design of some smartphones slated for release in 2018, but Broadcom would not reveal which.

    • How to Use Signal Without Giving Out Your Phone Number

      Just a few years ago, sending encrypted messages was a challenge. Just to get started, you had to spend hours following along with jargon-filled tutorials, or be lucky enough to find a nerd friend to teach you. The few that survived this process quickly hit a second barrier: They could only encrypt with others who had already jumped through the same hoops. So even after someone finally set up encrypted email, they couldn’t use it with most of the people they wanted to send encrypted emails to.

      The situation is much better today. A number of popular apps have come along that make encryption as easy as texting. Among the most secure is Signal, open-source software for iOS and Android that has caught on among activists, journalists, and others who do sensitive work. And probably the most popular is WhatsApp, a Facebook-owned platform with encryption setup derived from Signal. For me, the spread of encrypted chat apps means that, with very few exceptions, all of my text messages — with friends, family, or for work — are end-to-end encrypted, and no one even has to understand what a “public key” is.

      But there is a major issue with both Signal and WhatsApp: Your account is tied to your phone number.

    • Stunning: Taser wants to turn the public and their smartphones into its big data posse of police informants

      The submission of tips from the public isn’t new, or in itself necessarily problematic. What is more troubling here is the fact that Axon wants to become the gatekeeper for such information, encouraging the public to send photos and videos to the company, which will then forward them to the police. That begs the question whether all such public tips will be passed on automatically. For example, suppose a video showed police brutality – perhaps using one of Taser’s weapons to shock or even kill people, a common enough occurrence, as a major Reuters report revealed. Would Axon pass on that possibly incriminating evidence as a matter of course, or does it reserve the right to use its “discretion” in such cases?

    • U.S. to Collect Social Media Data of Immigrants
    • Trump Creates Second-Class Citizens

      It’s interesting that the constitution of USA will be side-stepped again by regulation rather than modifying the constitution.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • The Juggalos’ fight for freedom

      The ICP thought it was a hoot at first. But it soon got serious. Juggalos have been fired from their jobs for liking the ICP on Facebook. Others lost custody of their kids, couldn’t join the army or were harassed by the police. An ICP ‘Hatchetman’ decal on your car can be enough for the police to search it. And Juggalos who commit crimes can be slapped with years of extra time.

    • Federal Judge Says Indiana’s Vehicle Forfeiture Laws Are Unconstitutional

      The case springs from an arrest and seizure made last September when the plaintiff was pulled over by Indianapolis law enforcement. Finding a small amount of marijuana on the driver, the Indy PD felt justified in claiming his entire vehicle as its own. Not content to be screwed out of a car for his personal use stash, Leroy Washington enlisted the help of defense lawyer Jeff Cardella. They filed a class action lawsuit challenging the state’s forfeiture law on behalf of the hundreds of drivers whose cars have ended up in the possession of Indiana law enforcement — all without being convicted of any criminal activity.

      Seizing cars is something Indiana law enforcement does frequently. According to the stats quoted by the judge, the state seizes around 11 cars a week. Once the vehicles are in the law enforcement’s possession, drivers are forbidden from seeking to regain their property until the state says it’s OK to do so. And it’s generally in no hurry to do so. It can hold the vehicle for six months before starting forfeiture proceedings, forcing car owners to find other transportation while their vehicles sit in impound lots.

    • Embracing New Cultures: Sweden Condones Child Marriage for Immigrants

      Despite clearly contradicting Swedish law, underage immigrant wives have been repeatedly allowed to stay with their husbands by Sweden’s local municipalities, which defend their decisions by citing humanitarian issues.
      An immigrant crisis of unprecedented proportions has brought with it problems which Sweden hadn’t known previously, such as polygamy and underage brides. Recently, two juvenile immigrant girls in Karlskrona were reported to be staying with their husbands. Neither of the girls was separated from their adult men, even though minors are not allowed to tie the knot in Sweden.

      One of the cases involves an underage wife who came to Karlskrona with her husband and a small child. In the other case, the girl was pregnant upon arrival. Despite these obvious violations of Swedish law, Karlskrona Social Committee chairperson Ingrid Hermansson of the Center Party defended the municipality’s decision. The rule of the thumb in such cases, the community acts “for the child’s best” interest.

    • Corporate Media Analysts’ Indifference to US Journalists Facing 70 Years in Prison

      It’s strange, then, that the attack on the press that kicked off the Trump administration—the arrest and subsequent threatening of two journalists with 70 years in prison—has been met with total silence from most of these same outlets. Aaron Cantú, Santa Fe Reporter staff writer and editor at the New Inquiry (and a contributor to FAIR.org), and professional photographer Alexei Wood are both facing decades in prison for the act of covering the January 20 unrest in DC—charged with felony rioting for little more than being in the proximity of window-breaking and brick-throwing. (Prosecutors initially brought and then dropped felony charges against six other reporters, though how their cases differ from Cantú and Wood’s is unclear.)

    • Judge Peels Off Layer of CIA Torture Secrecy

      Nearly three years after the Senate chronicled how the CIA tortured detainees, a federal judge ordered the government Wednesday to disclose certain documents referenced in the report.

      The American Civil Liberties Union’s attorney Dror Ladin applauded another crack in the secrecy of the discredited CIA program.

      “We’re very pleased that the court rejected the CIA’s attempt to hide records concerning the agency’s unlawful actions,” Ladin said. “It’s essential that the public learn the full truth of the shameful torture carried out in our name.”

      On Dec. 9, 2014, the U.S. government revealed only a heavily redacted, 524-page summary of a study carried out by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence of the CIA detention and interrogation program.

    • Ten Facts About Torture

      The United States must never again resort to the use of torture. Here are ten facts about torture that everyone must know.

    • FBI has 1,000 open investigations into violent white supremacy, domestic terror: Agency chief
    • Donald Trump is a ‘racist KKK and Nazi sympathiser’, says Labour MP

      Donald Trump is a “racist Ku Klux Klan and Nazi sympathiser”, a Labour MP has said.

      David Lammy, a former higher education minister, vowed to “chain myself to the door of Number 10” if plans to welcome the US President on a state visit to the UK go ahead.

      Mr Lammy wrote on Twitter: “If Trump comes to the UK I will be out protesting on the streets. He is a racist KKK and Nazi sympathiser.”

    • Police Chief Takes To Facebook To Complain About A Journalist Committing Journalism

      Cops and the press can be best friends. In some cases, they are. Anytime an officer shoots or beats someone, at least one obliging outlet steps up to publish the department’s statement as well as any criminal history they’ve been able to dig up on the shooting/beating victim. And if the police aren’t willing to turn over criminal records, some outlets will do the heavy lifting for them.

      But they can also be antagonists. Generally speaking, law enforcement is a closed shop. It usually takes diligent efforts by journalists to pry loose documents pertaining to misconduct or misbehavior. State laws tend to make this more difficult than it should be by granting law enforcement agencies tons of public records exemptions.

      It’s this strained relationship being highlighted in an incredibly ill-advised Facebook post by the Aurora (IL) Police Department, penned by police chief Kristen Ziman. As Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery pointed out on Twitter, it’s not every day you witness a police department berate a journalist for practicing journalism.

    • ‘Without Investment, People of Color Never Will Be Able to Catch Up’

      The piece ends with a source’s comment that this is “unambiguously good news.” Somewhere in between, you might catch the notes that “inequality remains high” and “yawning racial disparities remain,” but the story’s framing encourages you to see those as asterisks.

      Much media coverage presents the economic well-being of non-white Americans as an afterthought, or a tangent from an overall picture. And if those groups’ fortunes are out of step with those of white people, the implication is that they’ll catch up with time. Whatever positive trends there are will naturally “trickle down” to them at some point. But this implication is wrong, and it would be important to understand why it’s wrong, even if black and Latinx people were not on course to be the country’s majority.

    • Police Union Complains That Public Got to See Them Roughing Up Utah Nurse

      The head of the Salt Lake Police Association has watched the country’s outrage over the videos showing a nurse getting arrested for refusing to draw a man’s blood without a warrant and has decided the correct response is to complain that the public got to see what its officers did.

      Union head Stephen Hartney sent a letter to the city’s mayor and police chief to complain video of the brief arrest of nurse Alex Wubbels has made “pariahs” of Det. Jeff Payne and his watch commander at the time of the incident, Lt. James Tracy.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
  • Intellectual Monopolies

Battistelli’s Club Med at the EPO – Part II: António Campinos, Benoît Battistelli and the Angolan Connection

Thursday 28th of September 2017 06:56:34 PM

Summary: Background information about the recent trend towards “validation agreements” with non-European developing countries

A FEW hours ago the EPO retweeted this Adams & Adams tweet which says: “During its annual Africa IP Network Week, the firm co-hosted the Africa Patent Examination Summit with @EPOorg.”

“During Battistelli’s term of office the EPO has been busy concluding so-called “validation agreements” with developing countries outside of Europe.”Now is therefore a good time to continue our series (see part 1) about Battistelli’s ‘Club Med’ at the EPO.

The research team has been exploring some possible connections which were suggested by the EPO’s recent “validation agreements” with developing countries such as Angola (but not limited to it). The following text is focused on the EPO validation agreement with Angola, whose background will probably be explained in future posts (beyond this series).

During Battistelli’s term of office the EPO has been busy concluding so-called “validation agreements” with developing countries outside of Europe. The “patent industry” has praised these efforts as an example of “thinking outside the confines of the continental map” and has touted them as “a game changer for European patent applicants”.

“By a strange coincidence most of the validation agreements so far have been with former French colonies or protectorates such as Morocco, Tunisia, Cambodia and Laos.”The stated objectives of these agreements are to enhance the technical capacities of national patent offices and improve their ability to raise patent awareness among national innovators.

By a strange coincidence most of the validation agreements so far have been with former French colonies or protectorates such as Morocco, Tunisia, Cambodia and Laos.

More recently it has been noticed that Battistelli appears to be intent on expanding the scope of his global mission.

“Shortly afterwards, Mr. Camati travelled to Lisbon where he paid a visit to the Portuguese National Intellectual Property (INPI) and was received by the INPI Director-General, Mrs. Leonor Trindade, who is reputed to be a loyal supporter of Battestelli on the EPO’s Administrative Council.”In May 2017 a bilateral co-operation agreement was signed with Angola (epo.org link) when the Director-General of the Institute of Industrial Property of Angola (IAPI), Mr Dário Camati, visited the EPO headquarters in Munich.

Shortly afterwards, Mr. Camati travelled to Lisbon where he paid a visit to the Portuguese National Intellectual Property (INPI) and was received by the INPI Director-General, Mrs. Leonor Trindade, who is reputed to be a loyal supporter of Battestelli on the EPO’s Administrative Council.

Further research into these matters and into Angolan-Portuguese connections and domestic Portuguese politics has led to a number of interesting insights. Part III will be published soon.

Microsoft is Doing to ‘Open Source’ (OSI) What it Did to W3C

Thursday 28th of September 2017 04:09:03 PM

“Mind Control: To control mental output you have to control mental input. Take control of the channels by which developers receive information, then they can only think about the things you tell them. Thus, you control mindshare!”

Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

Summary: The corporate/mainstream media keeps telling us that Microsoft has changed and can now be trusted within its competition, but this media merely plays along with an expensive PR campaign which is intended to shift attention and systematically launder Microsoft’s reputation

THE OSI is responsible for the term “Open Source” and thus the FSD. Jargon and history aside, even though OSI has become pretty irrelevant (it does not do much enforcement of the brand anymore), it still represents something pretty important. It was only a matter of time before Microsoft managed to sneak in (the requirement is basically little more than a payment).

“It was only a matter of time before Microsoft managed to sneak in (the requirement is basically little more than a payment).”We are not interested in writing about Microsoft. We would rather focus on the EPO and patents in general. But seeing what happened to the mainstream media, we cannot keep silent. It not only promoted proprietary Microsoft software in “Linux” (or “open”) clothing but also engaged in rather gross revisionism and misrepresentation of the Free/Open Source software community. It’s almost as though the mainstream media now actively and consciously participates in a PR campaign.

Earlier today the head of the FSFE wrote a couple of tweets. The first one said: “Microsoft is doing a mini-”survey” @OpenSourceLx on their “relationship” with Linux.”

Notice the tongue in cheek-like tone. “Send me your answers,” he wrote, “I’ll use the best ones.”

“Watch what Microsoft does with patents and see what it is doing in Munich, too. There’s no doubt about it; Microsoft attacks GNU/Linux.”“Finally got round to filling in the Microsoft survey,” he wrote later (there are photos with these tweets).

As one can tell, FSFE does not like Microsoft and people out there don’t like Microsoft either. But based on what the mainstream media tells us, we’re supposed to think or believe otherwise. Hence the necessity of this post. Watch what Microsoft does with patents and see what it is doing in Munich, too. There’s no doubt about it; Microsoft attacks GNU/Linux.

The mainstream media, conveniently enough, rarely writes about these attacks. It certainly looks the other way every time Microsoft sends some patent trolls to attack rivals. What happened to investigative, independent journalism? No money in it?

The mainstream media was certainly right on the scene to mention Microsoft joining (i.e. paying) the OSI. We posted links to many articles about it; it’s in our daily links (with some accompanying commentary). It went further with all these ridiculous characterisations of Microsoft as an “Open Source company” which now “loves Linux”. Obviously a lot of people out there raised their eyebrows and shrugged. “This isn’t true,” they said to themselves. The media, moreover, tried to get across the message that FOSS geeks are now “OK” with Microsoft. Even Tim Bray wrote a post to that effect the other day (we argued about it and he eventually accepted my point).

“As these lies keep spreading around the Web people might be misled and therefore a rebuttal may be needed, not just in commenting sections/replies (almost all the comments we have seen are against Microsoft as readers are rejecting the assertions made by the articles’ authors).”Geeks are not “OK” with Microsoft, but a lot of marketing is supposed to give us the impressions that things have changed and only “radicals” still “hate” (they use that word to describe reactionary distrust) Microsoft. Today we even saw LWN writing about it, linking to the party which Microsoft has just paid (obviously it can only say positive things; it’s being paid to do that).

As these lies keep spreading around the Web people might be misled and therefore a rebuttal may be needed, not just in commenting sections/replies (almost all the comments we have seen are against Microsoft as readers are rejecting the assertions made by the articles’ authors). The media keeps writing about it, even today [1, 2], so it’s hard to keep track of all the nonsense and rebut it all in one place. It’s now scattered everywhere. In one example from today Microsoft and/or gullible reporters are trying to reframe “Linux” as just a “feature” of Windows. How about this for a headline today?

On Windows, PowerShell vs. Bash comparison gets interesting

We are saddened to see this. So is Richard Stallman, who is reading Techrights and recently had the opportunity to comment (in the mainstream media) on things like the above.

Microsoft PR money (or covert ‘bribes’) to supposedly FOSS-centric organisations can show that we’re not any more immune/robust to subversion than W3C was (the DRM crisis). “Microsoft loves Linux” is nothing but an expensive PR campaign designed to disguise/distract from a patent attacks (like the Novell deal of 2006). I spent many years of my life refuting their lies about that.

“Microsoft PR money (or covert ‘bribes’) to supposedly FOSS-centric organisations can show that we’re not any more immune/robust to subversion than W3C was (the DRM crisis).”As I put it yesterday, I had stopped writing articles about Microsoft a few years back. But I find it hard when they (1) attack GNU/Linux secretly and (2) bribe media for PR. Meanwhile, Microsoft is blackmailing GNU/Linux for billions of dollars; what does the media say? Hey, let’s focus on millions of dollars it invests in W3C-type entryism and frame it as “altruistic”.

This morning we saw Mike Milinkovich‏ (Eclipse Foundation chief) linking to this article. Responses to apologists of this move are more revealing than the apologists. Just see the comments; “since Microsoft is now paying your foundation,” I told him, “you would rather think it won’t stab you in the back like it did W3C” (the DRM thing).

“Now they have effectively kill[ed] the web, they move on to OSS,” one comment said.

“No amount of sponsorship will make the Halloween documents from Microsoft disappear down the memory hole,” said another comment. “This is just another EEE play” (Embrace, Extend, Extinguish).

“Meanwhile, Microsoft is blackmailing GNU/Linux for billions of dollars; what does the media say? Hey, let’s focus on millions of dollars it invests in W3C-type entryism and frame it as “altruistic”.”I added: “How can we ignore Microsoft blackmailing Free software and GNU/Linux using software patents in 2017?”

Citing a famous video that we used before, another person wrote [1, 2]: “Sir Humphrey Appleby explains why Microsoft is joining the Open Source Initiative: You have to get behind someone in order to stab them in the back. Windows and Office are proprietary. Microsoft doesn’t respect user freedom” (or even openness).

In 2017 Microsoft’s strategy is:

  1. Pass patents to trolls.
  2. Blackmail/’monetise’ GNU/Linux
  3. Bring money to LF/OSI/Linux OEMs
  4. “That’ll keep em quiet!” (3)

Microsoft is now behaving like Monsanto or Saudi Arabia. It now gives money to those who criticised it and pays the media to commission ‘articles’ (PR) while gagging itself when it comes to criticism (biting the hand that feeds). Quite a few writers who cover GNU/Linux now need to wear a badge (or add a disclosure) to the effect of (partly) “Microsoft-funded” because those who pay them to write articles are receiving a lot of money from Microsoft. That includes the Linux Foundation, which sometimes ‘forgets’ to add disclosures.

Based on comments that I have seen online (not so-called ‘journalists’ paid/commissioned by Microsoft-funded organisations), people aren’t falling for the PR campaign. Not many people bother reading comments, however, so the PR might still be effective.

“Paying the media to relay messages (and sometimes graphics/banners) like “Microsoft loves Linux” may be a waste of money.”Microsoft will learn the hard way that GNU/Linux users aren’t stupid enough (or stupid as Microsoft needs them to be). Maybe MBAs who make technology choices are sometimes gullible enough, but not technical people. Paying the media to relay messages (and sometimes graphics/banners) like “Microsoft loves Linux” may be a waste of money. It sometimes only angers if not enrages those who truly care about — not merely exploit — GNU/Linux.

Here is one comment from Phoronix:

Microsoft is charging Android manufacturers $1B/yr for Linux patents, and giving a couple million back in PR (and to keep that revenue stream going). And if you don’t think that Microsoft’s lawyers are working on figuring out how its contributions in software and dollars can be used to claim ownership, then you’re probably too young to remember the thousands of companies that Microsoft consumed to get where it is. Remember, patent law allowed a company to take away the lawn string trimmer (“Weed Eater”) from the man that invented it. It’s not about logic or what’s right, it’s what lawyers do.

Whatever you read about Microsoft these days, be careful. They’re pouring a lot of money into PR and a charm offensive. They are literally paying to relay lies about themselves. There’s a whole industry which does just that and in the US alone it’s valued at over a trillion dollars.

The Effects of ILO and the EPO on Disability

Thursday 28th of September 2017 03:12:09 PM


Guy Ryder, Director-General of ILO

Summary: A bunch of tweets with documents in them, berating both ILO and the EPO for mistreatment and further harm to EPO workers with disabilities

THERE are numerous Twitter accounts that belong to EPO employees. We sometimes mention those*. In fact, we have just done an article about the most dishonest Twitter account, the official account of the EPO and thus the management’s mouthpiece. It’s a verified account with plenty of fake "followers" (it still seems to be buying some).

Someone amongst our readers who are past and present EPO staff told us about this Twitter account, which judging by the posts (tweets) belongs to an EPO person. It helps highlight the effect of ILO's inability or unwillingness to rein in, inhibiting the EPO’s abuses. Here are some among many tweets (there are just over a thousand), starting with older ones:

The @Administrative @Tribunal of the @ILO has limited my term to 30 days in my case concerning occupational illness- my employer had 90 days pic.twitter.com/f0hJUgIPuM

— Anette Koch (@AnetteKoch) May 8, 2017

The employer's reply comprises 28 pages and 30 annexes (drafted by two specialized external lawyers in Geneva). #violation #of #Article6ECHR https://t.co/f4IaPMYsId

— Anette Koch (@AnetteKoch) May 8, 2017

The #Admin. #Tribunal of the #ILO granted my employer a term 3x as long as mine and limited mine to 30 days, despite proven chronic illness.

— Anette Koch (@AnetteKoch) May 13, 2017

#Employment #medical view (cf. photo) on 30-days ignored by #Admin. #Tribunal of the #ILO pic.twitter.com/oI7fmLIEZc

— Anette Koch (@AnetteKoch) May 13, 2017

After my last 30-days term by the #ILO #Tribunal my #occupational illness was found to have worsened (additional disc protrusion C7/Th1). pic.twitter.com/vy8ms13lqP

— Anette Koch (@AnetteKoch) June 21, 2017

Mijn juridische situatie is volkomen absurd: #ILOTribunal en mijn werkgever zullen blijven schuilen achter hun #immuniteit #Art3en6EVRM

— Anette Koch (@AnetteKoch) June 21, 2017

#EPO was invited, on 9-3-2017 by #ILO #Tribunal, to file a surrejoinder pic.twitter.com/Xdadc3cUeI

— Anette Koch (@AnetteKoch) September 7, 2017

#ILO #Tribunal allowed a term of at least 85 days to the #EPO, from 9 March to 2 June 2017, while my last term was restricted to 30 days. pic.twitter.com/vdeNaOEL5c

— Anette Koch (@AnetteKoch) September 7, 2017

#ILO #Tribunal immediately allowed an extension to the #EPO for reply, cf. #EPO's surrejoinder, last section of page 2 (below). #Art6ECHR pic.twitter.com/aSf65347La

— Anette Koch (@AnetteKoch) September 25, 2017

Again #EPO was allowed a term of > 80 days (at least 89) by #ILO #Tribunal, from 15 June to 12 September, cf. photos (this and last tweet). pic.twitter.com/Mj2JYj7FME

— Anette Koch (@AnetteKoch) September 25, 2017

Complainant's last term was restricted to 30 days by #ILO #Tribunal, despite her illness (or just because of it?). #no_fair_trial #Art6ECHR

— Anette Koch (@AnetteKoch) September 25, 2017

We are going to keep an eye on this account for further updates. It captures the misfortune worker have had, having worked at the EPO for a long time only to be mistreated and illegally punished (after Battistelli had finished exploiting them).

We have, thus far, heard from about half a dozen EPO workers with health problems. These range from depression to chronic illnesses (sometimes disabilities). These are not rare cases; as we pointed out earlier this year, 40% of EPO workers have Upper Limb Disorder (ULD). It’s a taboo subject in Battistelli’s EPO.
_____
* They are typically anonymous accounts because of the atmosphere of intimidation — further exacerbated by illegal surveillance — at the EPO.

The EPO Continues to Lie About the UPC and About SMEs, Even Several Times Per Day Now

Thursday 28th of September 2017 02:31:03 PM

Summary: The extent of the EPO’s distortion of facts and misrepresentation of stakeholders keeps peaking, with lies ranging from patent quality to desirability of the UPC

THE EPO is in disarray. Despite the fact that the UPC (which Battistelli bet on) is going nowhere — unlike Battistelli who is going away in summer — the EPO is now sending the judges to exile. Earlier today it wrote: “At the beginning of October 2017 the Boards of Appeal are moving to a new location. All details about it here: http://bit.ly/2uV6VRR” (epo.org link).

The EPO isn’t giving up. The UPC is effectively dead (or dying). Even the mainstream media starts to accept it and law firms with stakes in the UPC have begun suggesting that the UPC should get scrapped (for them to start again from scratch). This is in spite of the EPO already polluting European media with money (for puff pieces). Earlier today the EPO wrote: “Looking for an all-encompassing guide for the Unitary Patent? Download the “Unitary Patent Guide” from our website http://bit.ly/2xuHsjV pic.twitter.com/GKCFsDZJiD” (epo.org link).

See how detached (from reality) they are? They already market something that does not exist.

“Brexit has thrown into doubt the future of the Unitary Patent Court,” according to this new article, whose title may be a little misleading because just like the Scottish media that's composed by Team UPC (who needs journalists when you can just give the platform to lobbyists, who do it for ‘free’?), this one is composed by Gill Grassie? Is she a journalist? No. “Head of Contentious IP at Brodies LLP…”

To quote some bits:

Brexit has thrown the future of the Unitary Patent Court, the first truly pan-EU patent system, into doubt and its immediate fate now lies in the hands of Scottish MSPs, who are debating the matter at Holyrood.

The Unitary Patent Court (UPC) is intended to improve the current European patent system, under which parties have to litigate patent disputes in individual national courts in the relevant member state.

[...]

Regardless of Brexit, it will allow Scotland’s SMEs, and its burgeoning tech and life sciences sectors, to obtain pan-EU coverage of their inventions and at what should be affordable costs.

The alternative is to be left behind and be forced to rely on the old, more cumbersome EU patent system if patent protection over the whole EU and the UK post-Brexit is required.

Notice that same old “SMEs” line and the nonsense about UPC being desirable. It’s not. It’s desirable to the writer and her employer, that’s for sure. And they produce nothing but paperwork.

Regarding that “SMEs” nonsense, which we last mentioned last night (there are rebuttals too), yesterday the EPO kept promoting this lie; they do it several times per day now. “Patents help small businesses thrive,” the EPO wrote. “It’s not only us who believe that. These 12 SMEs stand as proof: bit.ly/SMEstudies2017 #IPforSMEs pic.twitter.com/UxsIe6HRij” (12 carefully cherry-picked SMEs or patent trolls, chosen for propaganda purposes).

Then again this morning the EPO wrote: “In collaboration with renowned IP experts, @EPOorg has published a set of 12 case studies on SMEs from across Europe. http://ht.ly/GVNN30fsLqe” (completely insulting, unscientific ‘studies’ and not from “renowned IP experts”, whatever IP means, probably patent maximalists).

Quality of patents at the EPO continues to slide. There are now CRISPR patents at the EPO — a point we recalled in light of this report from yesterday:

On September 18, 2017, District Judge Vernon Broderick (S.D.N.Y.) denied Petitioner George Schlich’s (“Schlich”) petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1782 for discovery from Respondents The Rockefeller University, Luciano Marraffini, Vedder Price P.C., and Thomas Kowalski, for use in opposition proceedings pending before the European Patent Office (“EPO”).

Schlich is Intellia’s European patent agent and claims that Intellia’s co-founder and her colleagues are the rightful inventors of CRISPR/Cas9. The Broad Institute, Inc. (“Broad”) is a research institute that works with partner institutions, including The Rockefeller University. Intellia filed four oppositions with the EPO seeking revocations of Broad’s PCT patents, arguing that under European law, the patents are not entitled to claim the benefit of the filing date of U.S. provisional applications because they do not name the very same inventors as the provisional applications, and thus, are rendered invalid by intervening prior art. Broad argued that under U.S. law, complete identity of inventors is not required in order to obtain the benefit of the earlier applications.

So the EPO’s misguided policy is already having an effect overseas, too. We wrote about 70 million dollars in 'damages' last night and today there’s this report suggest that to one giant $2,500,000,000 for a patent is not enough. These are the sorts of companies that drool over the UPC. To quote:

District of Delaware says addition sanction in is not warranted in Idenix v Gilead “given that the result of that misconduct is a cure for a potentially-fatal disease afflicting millions of people around the world, and given that the jury’s damages award is already the largest damages verdict ever returned in a patent trial”

These patents, suffice to say, have massive collateral damage. If upheld (like these ridiculous CRISPR patents), many thousands if not millions of poor people can die in decades to come.

Patents are not some entertaining funny game; the implications of patent policy can decide who lives and who dies.

European Patent Expired, But $70,000,000 in ‘Damages’

Thursday 28th of September 2017 12:04:06 AM

Summary: Injunctions and other legal actions turn out to be useful for companies like Amgen, but what about ordinary European companies?

EARLIER this week, Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP (more specifically, the firm’s Andrew D. Cohen and Irena Royzman) published in a couple of lawyers’ sites [1, 2] an article about a now-expired EPO patent, noting that it’s about an Epogen (“EPO”) patent at EPO. To quote:

In one of the first Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act (BPCIA) litigations to reach trial, a jury on Friday awarded Amgen $70 million in damages for Pfizer’s infringement of one of Amgen’s expired patents protecting Epogen®. Notably, the damages relate to product that Pfizer is not yet approved to sell in the United States. The jury found that Pfizer’s subsidiary Hospira, in manufacturing its proposed biosimilar ahead of FDA approval, was not protected by the statutory safe harbor covering pre-marketing regulatory uses (35 U.S.C. § 271(e)(1)).

“The Court examined the EPO file history in detail,” another article said today about another patent, which left us wondering how much was actually in the file's history now that examination is done in a rush (imagine how much that would cost when done at this level and these sky-high hourly rates). To quote IP Kat:

The Court examined the EPO file history in detail. In the text of the original patent application, the claims extended to the entire class of antifolates. It was subsequently limited by the patentee to ‘pemetrexed’, and finally to ‘pemetrexed disodium’. These changes to the claims were consistent with changes to the EP ’508 description. The Court noted that these changes were a ‘clear delineation of patent protection’, for only pemetrexed disodium. Other compounds, such as pemetrexed diacid were therefore excluded from the scope of the EP ’508 claims. Further, while Fresenius’ product has the same therapeutic effect as Alimta, the association of pemetrexed disodium associated with tromethamine could not also be considered an obvious substitution of the expression pemetrexed disodium in combination with vitamin B12. Any form of direct infringement, including on the basis of equivalents was excluded. Further, there was no indirect infringement – the SmPC of the generic product indicated that reconstitution and dilution would happen in a glucose solution, rather than a saline solution as specified in the claims of EP ’508.

We are not bashing EPs or patents in the domain of chemistry. We are, however, demonstrating the implications of EPs going to court. Imagine what hundreds of thousands of dubious EPs, combined with a UPC-like regime, would entail.

EPO Now a Megaphone of IP Europe, a Front Group of Patent Maximalists

Wednesday 27th of September 2017 11:50:39 PM

Also see: IP Europe’s UPC Lobbying and the EPO Connection


Photo credit: Keltie Ireland‏

Summary: In a desperate effort to restore so-called ‘demand’ for patents and for the UPC, the EPO now pretends to speak for SMEs (but it’s lying about the views of SMEs)

THE EPO scandals have apparently taught the EPO nothing about association. The EPO has already associated itself with all sorts of nefarious entities. It doesn’t contribute much to its image.

“The EPO has already associated itself with all sorts of nefarious entities.”Earlier today the EPO was propping up this greenwashing tweet, just shortly after we had explained the 'logic' behind it (it’s purely marketing). But that’s not the worst part.

The worst part is probably EPO choosing to retweet not one but two (the following day) bits of nonsense from IP Europe, which is a nefarious front group that promotes patent extremism (we wrote many articles about it over the years, even a week ago). They promote an EPO lie. It is being retweeted by EPO communications staff as though they coordinate these lies. Is the EPO in the bar again? The EPO is retweeting Twitter accounts which suggest that it’s deeply in bed with truly corrupt lobbying groups. Appalling to say the least. They even use the same hashtags as the EPO, e.g. “SMEmanifesto”.

“They also link to a “case study” of the EPO, pinging patent maximalists such as Rubén Bonet.”“How #SMEs across Europe use patents to their advantage,” they say, but the examples given are purely propaganda, where patent trolls are being framed as “SMEs”. They also link to a “case study” of the EPO, pinging patent maximalists such as Rubén Bonet.

The EPO itself posted additional things about it. “How can SMEs unlock the untapped value of their IP? Read 12 case studies of European SMEs,” it said. Which 12 case studies? Not what people might expect. It wrote about an “Irish #startup [that] established itself as a global leader in the hospital sector thanks to its #IPstrategy” (interesting timing given the latest news from Ireland, which walks away from the UPC).

As someone explained in a comment yesterday, “European SMEs under the UPC will [be] faced [with] increased pressure” as it’s them who would suffer the most. Here is the comment in full:

Let us be clear, the companies that stand to benefit from the UPC will be those that: are well resourced; have commercial operations in numerous EU Member States; and operate in an area of technology where enforcing patents (or “clearing the way” / defending infringement suits) is an important part of doing business.

It is perfectly possible that some SMEs might see the UPC as an opportunity to “move up to the big league”, and may therefore be optimistic about the system.

On the other hand, those SMEs that (choose to) remain small, or operate in only a small number of countries, have every reason to fear the advent of the UPC. It is simply not designed for them. Indeed, some features of the Unitary Patent Package, such as the EUR20k fee for an invalidity defence and changes to jurisdiction (ie ultimately giving the UPC exclusive jurisdiction over all EPs), could prove to be a nightmare for those SMEs that do not have the pockets (or the stomach) to “play with the big boys”.

This is where I think that politicians involved in this project have wildly miscalculated. That is, they seem to have assumed that all (or most) SMEs will seize the opportunity the UPC offers to expand their horizons. However, my experience leads me to believe that both practical and psychological factors will lead to only a relatively low percentage of SMEs taking this route.

Then there is the thorny issue of what happens to SMEs that are only in the embryonic stage that are hit with an infringement suit at the UPC. What will be the survival rate of such SMEs? Will it be higher or lower than at present? As far as I can see, the clear answer is that the survival rate will go down.

So the lessons are clear. European SMEs under the UPC will faced increased pressure to either grow (quickly) or get lucky (ie avoid actions at the UPC) to survive. We shall just have to wait to see how SMEs respond to such “evolutionary pressure”… but the overall prognosis looks far from promising at present.

For the EPO to continue spreading this lie that UPC would good for SMEs serves to reinforce the view of chronic lying. Finding a dozen or so SMEs (among tens of thousands) isn’t just unscientific; it’s offensive to the vast majority of SMEs, which the EPO is happy to misrepresent.

“The EPO will probably continue down this route, which leads neither to the UPC (a failed project) nor growing “demand” for “products” at the EPO.”Keltie Ireland‏ (based in Galway) wrote today: “Miguel Herrera of the European Patent Office @EPOorg explaining what can and cannot be patented in Europe @MedicalTechIre #medtech #patents pic.twitter.com/UEQEN3jZQb”

“It does not matter what the European authorities say,” I responded, as the “EPO enables patents on anything. Quality dead.”

The EPO will probably continue down this route, which leads neither to the UPC (a failed project) nor growing “demand” for “products” at the EPO. Battistelli has truly ruined the Office. He also alienated stakeholders, not just his staff.

The Unitary Patent (UPC) is Now Rotting in Ireland

Wednesday 27th of September 2017 11:14:17 PM

Summary: It is now the Republic of Ireland, one of the few countries in the EU which use English, that has its prime minister discovering doubts about the UPC and shelving the UPC referendum

TEAM UPC is quite shallow and it’s rather revealing. Always look at what it is trying to distract from, not what it is actually saying. We gave many examples to that effect.

Bristows, for instance, keeps writing about Scotland these days, even though Brexit means Scotland cannot do anything about the UPC. Strictly speaking, it cannot participate. The Unitary Patent spin from Bristows is again focused on Scotland (third time in a month) probably because England or the UK as a whole does absolutely nothing towards the UPC (no progress). It even abandoned or left it out of its agenda — a fact that Team UPC intentionally ignored at the time and continues to ignore.

Bristows’ Fiona Nicolson wrote: “The next step regarding this draft legislation is for the Justice Committee to report to the Scottish Parliament on the draft, setting out its recommendation that it be approved. The deadline for this is 29 October 2017.”

But Brexit means this is a no-go, not to mention other challenges including Germany’s.

What are they trying to distract from? Perhaps this. Or this article. “Ireland’s #UnifiedPatentCourt referendum seemingly indefinitely delayed,” Luke McDonagh wrote, “more uncertainty for the system #patents…”

“Like everywhere else,” I told him, “UPC is pretty much dead now.”

He liked my response, so he too probably agrees. As an academic he is very familiar with this topic. It’s his area. The article in question has only this part about the UPC:

Mr Varadkar also examined whether a referendum was required to enshrine the office of Ceann Comhairle in the Constitution but decided against it. The Cabinet was also discussing a possible vote on Ireland’s participation in the Unified Patent Court but is to seek further clarity before proceeding with any such vote.

The UPC hopefuls say: “Irish Government to “seek further clarity” before proceeding with a referendum on participation in the #UnifiedPatentCourt #UPC”

Benjamin Henrion responded with “further certainty for software patent trolls.”

What does Team UPC say? Not much. Not until a few hours ago when Andrew Bowler published this blog post (or article) that was later withdrawn on the face of it. It was posted again under another URL (we have compared the text, it’s identical). It says “although the government yesterday set out an indicative timeline for seven referendums to be held in the next two years, the UPC referendum was not among those. Leo Varadkar, the Republic of Ireland’s Taoiseach (prime minister), confirmed that the government had decided to defer making a decision on the timing of that referendum. The reason for that decision is not yet clear, one report stating that the government is seeking ‘further clarity’.”

This time, for a change, they did not altogether ignore it. Without Ireland in the UPC they might as well give up on English as an official language. Or abandon the UPC altogether.

Links 27/9/2017: Birthday of GNU

Wednesday 27th of September 2017 10:10:16 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • 6 steps to perfecting an open source product strategy

    Suppose you have an open source software idea that you want to spread quickly. To gain users, you must make sure your product is both well-made and has all of the right features. You also need to make sure people understand why your project exists and why they should be interested.

    Although recent trends in “DevOps” highlight the need for operations and development experience to blend together, seeing development, product management, and marketing ideas merge is perhaps even more powerful. This is the way I crafted Ansible in the early days—and I believe it grew quickly because of that focus.

  • Verizon’s Oath Open Sources Yahoo’s Vespa Search Technology

    Oath, the Verizon division that combines AOL and Yahoo, has released source code from Vespa, a tool acquired by Yahoo with the acquisition of the search engine AlltheWeb. The technology crunches data and is used to power Yahoo search services. The idea is to build out a network of developers to use the technology.

  • Yahoo open-sources Vespa, its most important software release since Hadoop

    Oath, the subsidiary of Verizon Communications Inc. that was created when the company acquired Yahoo Inc. earlier this year, said today it’s open-sourcing some of its most important internal software for executing web searches and generating recommendations and targeted advertisements.

    The software is called Vespa, and Oath said it’s used to tackle the tricky problem of deciding what to show users in response to input such as text typed into a search box. Oath said it actually uses Vespa to power more than 150 applications, including its popular photography website Flickr.com, Yahoo Mail and some aspects of the Yahoo search engine, such as local results, answers to questions and image searches. Vespa also powers Yahoo’s advertising, handling more than 3 billion native ad requests every day.

  • Don’t Miss These Free Guides to Running a Successful Open Source Program

    At organizations of all types, launching and maintaining successful open source programs has become a business priority. A strong open source program office helps to ensure that open source is supported, nurtured, shared, explained, and leveraged. With such an office, organizations can establish and execute on their open source strategies in clear terms.

    With all this in mind, The Linux Foundation and The TODO Group (Talk Openly Develop Openly) have published a free collection of detailed open source guides to aid companies developing open source programs. The guides are available to you now, and this is the first in a series of articles that can introduce you to the value of the guides.

  • 7 Heated Debates from Free and Open Source Software History

    Unix was born in 1969 as an operating system that its owner, AT&T, could not sell for profit. That changed in the early 1980s, when AT&T received permission to commercialize Unix.

  • Bossies 2017: The Best of Open Source Software Awards

    Open source software isn’t what it used to be. The term used to conjure images of the lone developer, working into the night and through weekends, banging out line after line of code to scratch a personal itch or realize a personal vision. But with each passing year—and every new survey of the open source landscape we call our Best of Open Source Software Awards, or Bossies—those images of the lone visionary get a little hazier.

  • Seahorse Goes Open Source! Data Analysts Can Get More from the Free BI Tool Powered by Apache Spark

    Piotr Niedźwiedź, deepsense.ai’s CTO and co-founder, explains, “Seahorse hit 10,000 users this year and the number is still growing. From the beginning, we made the tool highly accessible for everyone, offering it at no cost and easy to download in two versions. Now we’re ready to make it fully open.”

  • Events
    • APIStrat Conference Workshops Cover API Integration, Security, Testing, and More

      The API Strategy & Practice conference (APIStrat) – taking place Oct. 31 through Nov. 2 in Portland – features three days of technical sessions, keynotes, and more, including several workshops providing hands-on learning opportunities. These sessions cover topics such as RESTful API integration, OpenID Connect, API security, and REST API testing.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Firefox Quantum Next Generation Web Browser Launches November 14, Beta Out Now

        Mozilla recently put up a dedicated website for its next-generation Firefox web browser, Firefox Quantum, which promises to be twice as fast than current versions and come with numerous performance improvements.

      • New Film, Magazine: The Uncertain Future of Artificial Intelligence and IoT

        What happens when AI virtual assistants can mimic our voices, learn our habits, and double as our drinking buddies?

        It’s a future that doesn’t seem far off. It’s also a future Mozilla is exploring in a new short film and with a new bi-annual magazine.

        Today, Mozilla is releasing a short film commissioned from Superflux titled “Our Friends Electric,” and launching a new magazine titled DING, to explore the impact of connected devices on our lives, our society, and our future.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • Happy birthday to GNU: celebrating 34 years of the free software movement!

      Since the birth of GNU, a rich collaborative community of developers and activists has sprung up and is still going strong, fighting against proprietary software, software patents, Digital Restrictions Management, and other threats to our freedom and privacy.

      We’re a little too busy to party like we did for GNU’s 25th birthday and 30th birthday, but we couldn’t possibly let the birthday pass without cake.

  • Public Services/Government
    • Italy organises digital transformation hackathon

      On 7 and 8 October, Italy’s governmental Digital Transformation Team is organising a country-wide hackathon, inviting software developers, IT experts and students to help make public-sector software more accessible and easier to use. The developer meetings are scheduled to take place in 25 cities across Italy.

    • PostgreSQL, open source software bringing security, innovation, performance and savings

      Federal agencies continue to be caught between the need to innovate and reduce costs, all while maintaining performance and strong security. This conundrum has driven the adoption of open source software in government, which not only saves money for the government, but also offers more reliability and agility – and better security.

    • EC to launch new Joinup version next week

      Joinup, developed under the Commission’s ISA² Programme, offers access to more than 2800 interoperability solutions for public administrations. This includes solutions available in the collections of more than 40 standardisation bodies, public administrations and open source software repositories. The platform makes it possible for public services and the private sector to work together on IT solutions. In addition, the Joinup portal helps eGovernment professionals exchange best practices, and aggregates news, studies and benchmarks on government digitisation in the 28 EU Member States and 4 EFTA countries.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • It looks free, but it may come at a cost: the impact of open source on M&A deals [Ed: Lawyers hate FOSS. They only like it when they can profit from FUD about it.]
    • Facebook performs successful license surgery on React, GraphQL

      Facebook on Tuesday freed its React JavaScript library and its GraphQL query language from its unloved license scheme.

      As promised last week, React 16 underwent licensing replacement surgery to remove Facebook’s controversial BSD + Patents license and replace it with the more welcome MIT license.

      The operation was deemed necessary because, as Facebook engineering director Adam Wolff put it on Friday, the social network had failed to convince the developer community that its BSD + Patents license was compatible with open source requirements.

      GraphQL, which exists as a specification that’s available for implementation, has also been revised. The specification has been put under the Open Web Foundation Agreement (OWFa) v1.0 and Facebook’s GraphQL implementation is now available under the MIT license.

  • Programming/Development
    • HHVM 3.22

      HHVM 3.22 is released! This release primarily contains bug fixes, performance improvements, and supporting work for future improvements. Packages have been published in the usual places; see the installation instructions for more information.

    • HHVM 3.22 Brings More Performance Improvements, Bug Fixes

      HHVM 3.22 is now available as this alternative PHP implementation and what serves as the basis for Facebook’s Hack programming language.

      While HHVM 3.22 supports PHP5/PHP7, keep in mind Facebook recently announced they are eventually abandoning their PHP focus in favor of focusing HHVM on their Hack language. HHVM 3.24 will be the last release focusing on PHP compatibility while support may still work beyond that for some time, but Hack is Facebook’s focus.

Leftovers
  • Siri and Spotlight will now use Google, not Bing, for Web searches

    As of today, searching the Web with Siri or Spotlight on iOS and macOS devices will show you results from Google, not Microsoft’s Bing search engine. This ends a Bing integration that was introduced in iOS 7 back in 2013.

  • Giving you more characters to express yourself

    Interestingly, this isn’t a problem everywhere people Tweet. For example, when I (Aliza) Tweet in English, I quickly run into the 140 character limit and have to edit my Tweet down so it fits. Sometimes, I have to remove a word that conveys an important meaning or emotion, or I don’t send my Tweet at all. But when Iku Tweets in Japanese, he doesn’t have the same problem. He finishes sharing his thought and still has room to spare. This is because in languages like Japanese, Korean, and Chinese you can convey about double the amount of information in one character as you can in many other languages, like English, Spanish, Portuguese, or French.

  • Science
    • Scientists Discover Some of the Oldest Signs of Life on Earth

      The Torngat Mountains in northeastern Canada are full of life. Reindeer graze on lichen, polar bears prowl the coastlines, and great whales swim in the offshore waters. Scientists patrol the land, too, looking for the oldest rocks on the planet, which were formed almost 4 billion years ago, when the Earth was just an infant world.

      Back then, the landscape would have been very different. The Earth was a hellish place that had only just acquired a firm crust. Its atmosphere was devoid of oxygen, and it was regularly pelted with asteroids. There were no reindeer, whales, polar bears, or lichen. But according to new research, there was life.

  • Hardware
  • Health/Nutrition
    • Bernie Sanders Leans Into Planned Parenthood at the CNN Health Care Debate

      SENS. LINDSEY GRAHAM and Bill Cassidy faced off against Sens. Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar at a CNN town hall Monday night, just hours after their last-ditch effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act collapsed.

      Earlier that evening, Sen. Susan Collins had become the third Republican to publicly reject the Graham-Cassidy repeal effort but at Monday night’s debate, Graham vowed to “press on.”

      Graham and Cassidy pitched their plan, while Sanders, a Vermont Independent, used the debate to articulate his single-payer proposal, while Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, joined him in defending the gains of Obamacare and picking apart Graham-Cassidy.

    • Bureau awarded grant to investigate global superbug threat

      The Bureau has been awarded a prestigious €130,000 grant from the European Journalism Centre for a year-long project investigating the global problem of superbugs.

      We secured the award with a proposal to investigate how the growth of drug-resistant infections can threaten health systems and stop us meeting global development goals to eradicate epidemics of disease. As part of the project we will report from some of the world’s poorest and wealthiest countries, highlighting solutions as well as problems.

      The Bureau was one of seven organisations awarded a total of €800,000 for news coverage raising awareness to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) using distinctive storytelling ideas, new engaging content forms and emerging data journalism techniques.

    • Could recent hurricanes cause reemergence of cholera in Puerto Rico?

      The Caribbean has a long history with cholera, a severe diarrheal illness associated with high mortality. Throughout the 19th century, cholera epidemics were relatively common and were noted to occur in three waves associated with global pandemics.

      During this period there was a confluence of factors promoting disease in the Caribbean, including the degraded health conditions linked to the Atlantic slave trade and colonial rule, as well as frequent contact with individuals or groups arriving from Europe, Africa and elsewhere. In 1855-56 Puerto Rico experienced a major cholera outbreak, despite local efforts to undertake preventive measures, including quarantine.

      The emergence of cholera in Haiti in 2010 is a poignant reminder that the Caribbean remains susceptible to outbreaks. Specifically with respect to Puerto Rico, there are several potential concerns.

    • TIMELINE: The GOP’s failed effort to repeal ObamaCare

      For months, Republicans agonized over their ObamaCare repeal-and-replace effort.

      It was declared dead in the spring. Then revived and passed in the House. It appeared dead in the Senate this summer, but came back to life.

      But this week it met its demise — at least in the immediate future. The vehicle they were using to avoid a Democratic filibuster expires at the end of the month, and Republicans won’t be voting on another ObamaCare repeal bill this week.

  • Security
    • Source: Deloitte Breach Affected All Company Email, Admin Accounts

      Deloitte, one of the world’s “big four” accounting firms, has acknowledged a breach of its internal email systems, British news outlet The Guardian revealed today. Deloitte has sought to downplay the incident, saying it impacted “very few” clients. But according to a source close to the investigation, the breach dates back to at least the fall of 2016, and involves the compromise of all administrator accounts at the company as well as Deloitte’s entire internal email system.

    • Security breach exposes data from half a million vehicle tracking devices

      The exposed data, which includes customer credentials, was unearthed through a misconfigured Amazon AWS S3 bucket that was left publically available, and because it wasn’t protected by a password, could allow anyone to pinpoint locations visited by customers of the vehicle tracking firm.

    • CCleaner backdoor infecting millions delivered mystery payload to 40 PCs

      At least 40 PCs infected by a backdoored version of the CCleaner disk-maintenance utility received an advanced second-stage payload that researchers are still scrambling to understand, officials from CCleaner’s parent company said.

    • Will the Equifax Data Breach Finally Spur the Courts (and Lawmakers) to Recognize Data Harms?

      This summer 143 million Americans had their most sensitive information breached, including their name, addresses, social security numbers (SSNs), and date of birth. The breach occurred at Equifax, one of the three major credit reporting agencies that conducts the credit checks relied on by many industries, including landlords, car lenders, phone and cable service providers, and banks that offer credits cards, checking accounts and mortgages. Misuse of this information can be financially devastating. Worse still, if a criminal uses stolen information to commit fraud, it can lead to the arrest and even prosecution of an innocent data breach victim.

      Given the scope and seriousness of the risk that the Equifax breach poses to innocent people, and the anxiety that these breaches cause, you might assume that legal remedies would be readily available to compensate those affected. You’d be wrong.

      While there are already several lawsuits filed against Equifax, the pathway for those cases to provide real help to victims is far from clear. That’s because even as the number and severity of data breaches increases, the law remains too narrowly focused on people who have suffered financial losses directly traceable to a breach.

    • New breach, same lessons

      The story of recent breaches at the credit-rating agency Equifax, which may have involved the personal details of nearly 150 million people, has probably just begun, given the confusion that still surrounds events. But it’s brought the security of open source software to the fore yet again, and highlighted the ongoing struggle organizations still have with cybersecurity.

    • Apache “Optionsbleed” vulnerability – what you need to know [Ed: The security FUD complex came up with a buzzword: Optionsbleed. But it fails to (over)sell this hype.]
    • Google Android and Apple IOS Update for Critical Wi-Fi Vulnerabilities
    • Average Cyber-Crime Cost to Global Businesses Rises to $11.7M: Report
    • Exclusive: N.Y. regulator subpoenas Equifax over massive breach

      New York state’s financial services regulator has issued a subpoena to Equifax Inc (EFX.N) demanding it provide more information about the massive data breach the credit-reporting firm disclosed this month, a person familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

      New York’s Department of Financial Services (DFS) sent the subpoena to Equifax on Sept. 14, said the person, who declined to be named because the matter has not been made public.

    • Deloitte Hit By Cyberattack That Compromised Client Information & Decided To Basically Tell Nobody At All

      In the wake of the Equifax breach, there has been some discussion about just how quickly companies should publicly disclose when they have been victims of security breaches that reveal client information. In the case of Equifax, the company had essentially been sitting on the knowledge that it was attacked since July before going public in early September. Something like two months, in other words. While most people agree that victim companies should have some time to get their houses in order before opening the window shades, two months seemed like a lot, given the severity of the attack and the number of potential victims among Equifax’s clients.

    • Another Banking Trojan Adds Support for NSA’s EternalBlue Exploit [Ed: Powered by Microsoft Windows back doors]
    • TalkTalk once told GCHQ: Cyberattack? We’d act fast – to get sport streams back up

      Prior to its disastrous 2015 mega hack, UK ISP TalkTalk had told British spies at GCHQ that should an attack occur, its main focus would be to restore “online sports streaming”, according to the head of operations at the country’s National Cyber Crime Unit.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Who controls Trident? A brief look at the operation of Britain’s nuclear weapons

      One of the most common myths around the system is that the United States has control over the UK’s Trident missile system, that is not the case.

      It’s often said that the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons system is not ‘independent’ or that the UK doesn’t have the ability to use the system without the US agreeing to it, in reality the UK does retain full operational control over the system.

      One common argument is that the US can simply ‘turn off’ the GPS system and therefore can stop the UK using Trident, this is also a myth, Trident isn’t guided by satellite.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Indonesia prepares to divert Bali-bound flights in case of volcanic eruption

      Indonesian authorities are preparing to divert flights to 10 airports across the country in case an increasingly active volcano on the holiday island of Bali erupts and disrupts travel.

      Officials have warned that Mount Agung in eastern Bali could erupt at any time, prompting several countries including Australia and Singapore to issue travel advisor for one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations.

      “Ten airports will serve as alternatives for flights bound for Bali’s Ngurah Rai airport in case it is closed because of volcanic ash,” Transportation Minister Budi Karya said in a statement on Wednesday.

    • Scientists Urge ‘System Change’ to Avoid Catastrophic Climate Change

      If the world is to have a serious chance of limiting global warming to the internationally-agreed 2 ℃ limit this century, the transition to renewable energy should happen much more rapidly than current efforts, according to a new study in the journal Science.

      The study, by scientists at the universities of Manchester, Sussex, and Oxford, and published on September 22, finds that to meet their carbon emission pledges under the Paris Agreement, governments around the world need to trigger rapid, simultaneous changes across key sectors like electricity, transport, heat, industrial, forestry, and agriculture.

    • Sixth mass extinction of wildlife also threatens global food supplies

      The sixth mass extinction of global wildlife already under way is seriously threatening the world’s food supplies, according to experts.

      “Huge proportions of the plant and animal species that form the foundation of our food supply are just as endangered [as wildlife] and are getting almost no attention,” said Ann Tutwiler, director general of Bioversity International, a research group that published a new report on Tuesday.

    • Portuguese kids crowdfund to sue EU countries for climate inaction

      Six Portuguese children are lined up to sue for stronger climate action through the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), a legal charity revealed on Monday.

      The Global Legal Action Network (GLAN), based in London, launched a crowdfunding campaign through CrowdJustice to bring a case against countries signed up to the ECHR. It is aiming to raise £350,000 ($475,000).

      Lawyers plan to target at least 22 of the 47 signatories to ECHR, including Germany, France, Poland, Turkey, Russia and the UK. While the precise demands are to be determined, they will seek faster emissions cuts and limits on fossil fuel extraction.

      “This case intends to build on the successes which have been achieved through climate change litigation across the world so far,” said lead counsel Marc Willers QC, of Garden Court Chambers.

  • Finance
    • Profits vs. Puerto Rican Lives: Trump Admin Blocks Aid from Reaching Devastated Island

      One week after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, President Donald Trump says he will visit the island next Tuesday, even as most of the 3.5 million U.S. citizens who live there remain in the dark, without access to power, clean water, food and fuel. Facing withering criticism, Trump held a press conference Tuesday and denied he has neglected the disaster. His administration also denied a request from several members of Congress to waive shipping restrictions to help get gasoline and other supplies to Puerto Rico as it recovers, even though the Department of Homeland Security waived the Jones Act twice in the last month following hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which hit the mainland United States. We speak with Democracy Now! co-host Juan González and with former New York State Assemblyman Nelson Denis, who wrote about the Jones Act in The New York Times this week in a piece headlined “The Law Strangling Puerto Rico.” His book is called “War Against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America’s Colony.”

    • Brexit Diary: What does Donald Tusk mean by “realism”?

      In other words, Tusk believes the UK becomes more “realistic” the closer it comes to accepting that the only “real” alternative to a hard Brexit is no Brexit.

    • The architecture for sharing tokens across blockchains promises traction

      In April, the Cosmos project raised about $17m in half an hour on the promise to someday let users freely share tokens among Bitcoin, Ethereum and other popular blockchain protocols.

      On Friday at the Global Blockchain Summit in Shanghai, China, the Switzerland-based nonprofit behind it committed that Ethereum support is high on its development roadmap.

      One of the problems with blockchain platforms is that there are so many – from JP Morgan’s finance-focused Quorum to The Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric. As the wars for dominance are still young, it’s not clear yet how many players will stick around, Jacob Eberhardt, a computer science PhD student at Technical University of Berlin in Germany studying Blockchain, told The Register.

    • Sadiq Khan suggests Labour may back second referendum on Brexit

      London Mayor Sadiq Khan has suggested Labour may back a second referendum on the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.

      Mr Khan hinted he would press for a commitment to a further national vote – on whether to accept any Brexit deal reached – to be included in the next election manifesto.

      The vow came as Kezia Dugdale, Labour’s former leader in Scotland, said the public had the right to have its say in a second referendum.

      Meanwhile, Andrew Gwynne, Labour’s election chief, and a Corbyn ally, refused to rule out a further vote, saying: “Who knows where we will be at the end of this process?”

    • U.S. Middle Class Gets Richer, But Wealthy Do Even Better

      Most American families grew richer between 2013 and 2016, but the wealthiest households pulled even further ahead, worsening the nation’s massive disparities in wealth and income.

      The median net worth of all American families rose 16 percent last year from 2013 to $97,300, according to a Federal Reserve survey released Wednesday. The median is the point where half of families fall below and half above.

      The figures echo recent data released earlier this month from the Census Bureau that also showed middle-class incomes rising. For roughly the first five years of the economic recovery that began in 2009, higher-earning households reaped most of the gain. But in 2015 and 2016, the low and falling unemployment rate has helped push up pay at all income levels. Rising home prices have also restored some wealth to middle income families.

      But the Fed report starkly illustrates the depth of the nation’s wealth and income gaps. The disparities exist along lines of income, race and ethnicity, and between cities and rural dwellers.

    • Jeremy Corbyn pledges to tear up Thatcher’s economic legacy and replace it with ‘new common sense’ model

      Jeremy Corbyn will use his flagship conference speech to promise a “new common sense” model for British life that will overturn 30 years of liberal free market economics.

      The leader will set out policies to pull up the foundations of the existing model, in place since Margaret Thatcher reshaped Britain in the 1980s and adhered to by Labour until Mr Corbyn came to office.

      In particular, he will point to the Grenfell Tower disaster as a “tragic monument” to a model of government that has become “brutal and less caring” over the last three decades.

    • Uber Shutting Down U.S. Car-Leasing Business

      Uber Technologies Inc. on Wednesday confirmed it is shutting down its U.S. auto-leasing business, months after it discovered it was losing 18-times more money per vehicle than previously thought.

    • EU lawmakers prepare critical resolution on Brexit

      The European Parliament is preparing a draft resolution that is critical of progress in the Brexit negotiations, particularly on the rights of EU citizens living in the U.K., according to three officials familiar with the text.

      The draft resolution, drawn up by the Parliament’s political groups, will be discussed on Thursday at the Conference of Presidents, the main decision-making body in the assembly. The text, which is subject to change, will then be voted on by MEPs next week in the Strasbourg plenary session.

      Ahead of those discussions, the U.K.’s Brexit Secretary David Davis is scheduled to meet Parliament President Antonio Tajani Wednesday as part of an effort by U.K. ministers to communicate directly with top EU officials and national governments about the contents of Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech in Florence last week.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Naomi Klein: Trump’s like the fatberg – horrible, noxious, hard to dislodge
    • Trump appears to deletes tweets backing Strange after primary loss

      President Trump on Tuesday apparently began deleting his tweets supporting Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.) in Alabama’s Senate primary after Strange lost the race to former state Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore.

      Trump had tweeted about Strange several times in the days leading up to the primary, including the day of, but those tweets had disappeared as of Tuesday night.

    • The White House as Donald Trump’s new casino

      [...] he ran many of them using excess debt, deception, and distraction, while a number of the ones he guided personally (as opposed to just licensing them the use of his name) – including his five Atlantic City casinos, his airline, and a mortgage company – he ran into the ground and then ditched. He escaped relatively unscathed financially, while his investors and countless workers and small businesses to whom he owed money were left holding the bag. [...]

    • America Wasn’t Built for Humans

      Tribalism was an urge our Founding Fathers assumed we could overcome. And so it has become our greatest vulnerability.

    • Is Your Senator Enabling Donald Trump’s Warmongering?

      President Trump shocked the world when he used his first address to the United Nations to talk about obliterating a country of 25 million people. “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” the commander in chief told the assembled diplomats last week. “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”

      At every turn in a speech like none in the history of the American presidency, Trump outlined a belligerent agenda that raised the prospect of clashes, interventions, and wars with North Korea, Iran, Venezuela and a host of other countries.

      Trump kept up the saber rattling after he left the podium, tweeting: “Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!” The North Koreans read that as a declaration of war. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters on Monday that was a misread.

    • Spain sends in police reinforcements in Catalonia vote run-up

      The Spanish government has sent thousands of police officers to Catalonia in the run-up to Sunday’s planned referendum.

      Spain’s central government insists the vote is illegal, and is determined to stop it from going ahead.

      But Catalan officials say if the “yes” camp wins, they will declare independence within days.

      With five days to go until the October 1 vote, the clash between Catalonia’s pro-separatist government and Madrid is increasingly being played out in the arena of logistics and international opinion.

    • Angela’s ashes: 5 takeaways from the German election

      Angela Merkel will remain German chancellor. That widely anticipated outcome was about the only unsurprising element of Sunday’s German election.

      The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) finished much stronger than most observers dared predict, becoming the first unabashedly racist, anti-foreigner party to sit in Germany’s parliament since the days of Hitler.

      The Social Democrats (SPD) all but imploded, opting to go into opposition to lick their wounds rather than risk another “grand coalition” with Merkel. The Free Democrats, back in parliament after four years in the wilderness, along with the Greens, finished slightly better than projected, opening the door to a three-way tie-up with Merkel’s conservatives. Previously considered a long shot, the combination Germans call “Jamaica” now looks like the only option left to form a government.

      Here are five takeaways from Sunday’s election.

    • Corbyn speech: Idolised leader enthralls those who have seen the light

      Jeremy Corbyn was up on stage for minutes before the chanting died away. He stood there, awkwardly smiling out at the hall as it serenaded him with his name. The seconds ticked by.

      Amid all the chaos and self-harm of Brexit, it can be difficult to remember the things this country does well, but instinctive cynicism about politicians is certainly one of them. Sure, these are party supporters. They’ve taken time off work to be at a party conference and are, by virtue of that single fact, not normal or healthy individuals. They are the core tribalists, those who have given themselves over to the cause. But let’s not pretend that this phenomenon is limited to the hall. We saw it throughout the summer at music festivals. We see it online. There is a terrible new tradition taking hold in Labour, of something approaching hero worship.

    • Jared Kushner signed up to vote in New York elections as a woman

      Jared Kushner’s publicly available New York voter registration records show that the president’s son-in-law ticked the “female” box when he signed up in 2009.

      The Trump regime is obsessed with the discredited notion of widespread voter-fraud. The evidence they’ve shown for this alleged fraud largely consists of minor administrative errors, like people who register to vote in a new state without informing the old state that they’ve moved (other supposed problems are even more dubious, like two people with common names like “John Smith” who share a birth date being registered to vote in different places).

    • Trump’s deleted tweets present legal liabilities

      President Donald Trump’s prolific Twitter feeds may be a lifeline to his political base, but they remain an ongoing legal liability due to dozens of deletions.

      Since Trump took office in January, his @realdonaldtrump account has deleted 41 posts, including three on Tuesday pertaining to the Senate GOP primary in Alabama that found Trump backing the losing Republican in the race, according to archives kept by the nonprofit journalism website ProPublica.

    • Roy Moore Wins Runoff in Alabama, Beating Trump-Supported Candidate

      President Donald Trump and the Republican leadership suffered a series of humiliating losses Tuesday, starting with the collapse of their Obamacare repeal efforts and culminating in the victory of Roy Moore—a pistol-waving Christian “theocrat” who believes communities in the United States are being overtaken by Sharia law—over the Trump- and McConnell-backed candidate Luther Strange in Alabama’s special election primary.

      So humiliating was Moore’s victory that Trump swiftly began deleting tweets he had sent over the past several days urging his supporters to turn out for Strange, who the president had taken to calling “Big Luther.”

    • Fake news writer in 2016 presidential election found dead

      A writer of fake political news who previously said he felt responsible for President Trump’s election has died near Phoenix, police said Tuesday.

      Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Mark Casey told The Associated Press that Paul Horner was found dead in his bed earlier this month.

      Casey said there was “evidence at the scene” that “suggested this could be an accidental overdose.”

      The cause of Horner’s death has not yet been finalized.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Washington Abuses NSA Mass Surveillance Program to Maintain Global Power

      After September 11 the US declared war on terror implying that any means could be used in order to protect American citizens. In 2013 the scandal broke when details of extensive US surveillance were exposed and now there are good grounds for believing that terrorist threat might be only a pretext for control.

      [...]

      The NSA is currently conducting surveillance on more than 100,000 foreign nationals outside the United States, several senior US officials revealed on Monday. US officials claimed so-called Section 702 authorities have helped stymie cybersecurity threats and disrupt terror plots.

    • This former NSA spy station explodes with Berlin street art

      I’m at Berlin’s Teufelsberg Field Station, a former listening post for the US National Security Agency, known for its giant white bubbles on top of the facility that look like a collection of moons. Abandoned for many years, Teufelsberg is taking on a new lease on life as an art exhibition space.

    • Google Pulls YouTube From Amazon Echo: All About Control Or Just More Corporation On Corporation Violence?

      If you haven’t heard, something slightly strange happened in the tech world a few days ago. Suddenly, and seemingly without warning, Google decided to break YouTube for the Amazon Echo Show product. The Show is the Echo product that comes with a small display screen where you can… you know… watch videos. YouTube used to work on the product, and was even showcased by Amazon when it demonstrated the product at tech shows, but now all you get is Alexa’s monotone voice letting you know “Currently, Google is not supporting YouTube on Echo Show.”

    • US Intelligence Unit Was Blocked From Tracking Terrorists

      As images of bloody civilians fleeing London Bridge filled newsfeeds last June 3, US intelligence and law enforcement officials raced to help investigate an unfolding terrorist assault on America’s closest ally.

      But one group of officers uniquely situated to help was shut out: officials in the Treasury Department bureau that tackles financial crimes and terrorist financing. In the first frantic moments of an attack, the bureau’s databases of banking records can yield invaluable clues about who the killers are, who else is in their cells, and whether more attacks are imminent.

    • [Older] Case Study: Your Tweet Can and Will Be Used Against You

      Police and security services are increasingly outsourcing intelligence collection to third-party companies which are assigning threat scores and making predictions about who we are.

      The rapid expansion of social media, connected devices, street cameras, autonomous cars, and other new technologies has resulted in a parallel boom of tools and software which aim to make sense of the vast amount of data generated from our increased connection. Police and security services see this data as an untapped goldmine of information which give intimate access to the minds of an individual, group, or a population.

      As a result, the police have the ability to enter and monitor our li

    • GPS freaking out? Maybe you’re too close to Putin

      Throughout several days in the end of June, over 20 ships reported problems with GPS reception in the Black Sea. According to experts, the problems were probably a result of an attack on the GPS infrastructure.

    • Technology preview: Private contact discovery for Signal

      Using this service, Signal clients will be able to efficiently and scalably determine whether the contacts in their address book are Signal users without revealing the contacts in their address book to the Signal service.

    • Taking Privacy Seriously: Leaving Google Behind

      Recently, I made the decision to become a little more secure on the internet. I don’t have much to hide except maybe bank account info, but I was struck by a Glenn Greenwald quote from a TED Talk he gave about privacy.

    • Update: EFF Lawsuit Results in Release of More FISC Opinions

      The government has released eleven secret court orders and opinions as a result of an EFF lawsuit seeking to make significant decisions by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) public.

      The documents, which you can read here, primarily deal with requests by U.S. intelligence agencies to access business records from private companies or to obtain non-content records about phone calls and Internet communications under two provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

      We’ve known for years that the intelligence community has abused these authorities—which ostensibly authorize the collection of records or surveillance on individual targets—to engage in mass surveillance. Most famously, the NSA used FISA’s business records authority to collect the call records of millions of Americans. And, from 2004 to 2011, the government also used FISA’s Pen Register/Trap and Trace provision to collect Internet metadata of Americans in bulk.

      Although Congress passed the USA FREEDOM Act in 2015 to prohibit these bulk collection programs, it had long been suspected that the intelligence community had used these authorities to collect other types of information in bulk.

    • If data is the new oil, are tech companies robbing us blind?

      Data is the new oil, or so the saying goes. So why are we giving it away for nothing more than ostensibly free email, better movie recommendations, and more accurate search results? It’s an important question to ask in a world where the accumulation and scraping of data is worth billions of dollars — and even a money-losing company with enough data about its users can be worth well into the eight-figure region.

    • Russia tells Facebook to store data locally or get out

      Russia’s communications watchdog has told Facebook that it will have to store the data of Russian users locally or else face closure next year.

    • Russia Threatens to Shut Facebook Over Local Data Storage Laws

      President Vladimir Putin signed a law in 2014 that requires global internet firms to store personal data of Russian clients on local servers. Companies ranging from Alphabet Inc.’s Google to Alibaba Group Holding Ltd complied, while others like Twitter Inc. demanded extra time to evaluate the economic feasibility of doing so.

    • The Data Tinder Collects, Saves, and Uses

      Under European law, service providers like Tinder are required to show users what information they have on them when requested. This author requested, and this is what she received: [...]

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • The DOJ illegally obtained the identities of donors to a legal defense fund I started 5 years ago. Here’s why I’m suing them now and felt strongly motivated to become a plaintiff.
    • British News Channel Touts Amazon Bomb Materials Moral Panic That Ends Up Being About Hobbyists And School Labs

      Moral panics take many forms, from Dungeons & Dragons being a lure to satanism in the eyes of parents to the wonderful theory that playing chess would turn children into violent psychopaths. What these moral panics tend to share in common is the extraction of seemingly nefarious details on a subject which, out of context, are interpreted in a demonizing manner and then exported for public consumption. Thus the public gets often well-meaning but highly misleading information on the terribleness of some innocuous thing.
      This practice continues to this day, often times helped along by a media environment desperate for clicks and eyeballs. A recent example of this would be British media’s Channel 4 News finding that Amazon’s algorithm had a habit of recommending a combination of products together that appeared designed for terrorist-style explosives.

    • Singapore teen blogger Amos Yee walks free in US

      Singaporean teen blogger Amos Yee was released from US detention Tuesday after a court upheld a decision to grant him asylum.
      Photos showed Yee, who has been jailed twice in native Singapore for critical views on race and religion, leaving a US immigration facility in downtown Chicago with a friend and his belongings stuffed in a plastic bag. A photo posted on his Facebook page was captioned: “Amos Yee is now a free man.”

    • DHS says it will force everyone who’s ever immigrated to the USA to hand over social media

      A new DHS policy that will go into effect on Oct 18 will force everyone who’s ever been naturalized as a US citizen or who is currently residing in the USA on a Green Card (I currently reside in the USA on a Green Card) to hand over “social media handles and aliases, associated identifiable information and search results” for permanent scrutiny in our government files.

    • DHS To Officially Require Immigrants’ Files To Contain Social Media Info

      As the report notes, the policy shift was inspired by a terrorist attack the searches might have done little to prevent. The pilot programs rolled out December 2015, meaning the planned intrusiveness expansion predates President Trump’s grandiose border plans.
      This is bound to have a chilling effect on Americans who don’t even plan to travel out of the country. Anyone spending much time interacting with immigrants/visa holders/permanent residents on social media can expect to have their sides of conversations revealed by these searches, even if they’re natural-born US citizens located well outside the DHS’s Constitution-free zones. The latent threat of exposed convos could steer US citizens away from engaging with anyone whose nationality might not be 100% American.
      The new rule is silent on the subject of passwords, but it’s pretty clear reluctance to turn over this info will result in “incomplete” searches of immigrants’ devices. The best case scenario is they’re free to go… without their devices. The worst case is hours of detention while CBP/ICE agents attempt to talk detainees into handing over this information.

    • US Homeland Security Will Start Collecting Social Media Info on All Immigrants October 18th

      The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is expanding the kinds of information that it collects on immigrants to include social media information and search results. The new policy, which covers immigrants who have obtained a green card and even naturalized citizens, will take effect on October 18th.

    • Notice of Modified Privacy Act System of Records. [iophk: "very broad, all-encompassing categories of individuals affected by this"]

      5) expand the categories of records to include the following: country of nationality; country of residence; the USCIS Online Account Number; social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results; and the Department of Justice (DOJ), Executive Office for Immigration Review and Board of Immigration Appeals proceedings information;

      [...]

      (11) update record source categories to include publicly available information obtained from the internet [sic], public records, public institutions, interviewees, commercial data providers, and information obtained and disclosed pursuant to information sharing agreements;

      [...]

      CATEGORIES OF INDIVIDUALS COVERED BY THE SYSTEM: [...]

    • Survey Reveals How Racism Impacts the Lives of Black Americans

      “The Lives and Voices of Black America on Politics, Race and Policy” was commissioned by Ford Foundation via In Our Own Voice: the National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda. The survey tapped 1,003 Black people ages 18 and up from July 18 through August 7 and asked about their views on racism, the current political landscape and the policies that impact their lives every day.

    • Native American Rape Survivors Tell How Deck Is Stacked Against Them

      WHITE EARTH RESERVATION, Minn.—Candice (not her real name) awoke with a start. Someone was pulling down her sweatpants. It was a male friend.

      “Stop!” she shouted.

      He kept groping her. She kicked him and he fell off the bed. She dashed out of the bedroom, tripping and tumbling down the stairs. Gripped with fear, she heard his footsteps behind her in the dark and forced herself to stand upright as she staggered out to the porch.

    • Colin Kaepernick’s Long Victory

      It is amazing how quickly and willingly so many people, when pressed by a discomforting situation, will take on a societal self-policing role that favors power and condemns anyone asking necessary questions. This phenomenon exploded after September 11, goaded on by the likes of Bush’s press secretary Ari Fleischer, who famously warned us all to “watch what we say.”

      That voluntary silence, that timorous obsequiousness to power, was a huge part of the reason the Bush administration was able to lie the country into war in Iraq. Why don’t you support the troops? Why do you hate America? These obnoxious broadsides were greeted with an enthusiastic “Yeah!” by those who tend toward self-policing, because doing so feels safer, because belonging feels good.

    • UK treatment of foreign nationals ‘could colour’ MEPs’ view on Brexit

      The European parliament’s Brexit coordinator has warned the home secretary that Britain’s recent treatment of foreign nationals could “colour” MEPs’ attitudes to whether they approve a future Brexit deal.

      Guy Verhofstadt, a former Belgian prime minister, has written to Amber Rudd to express leading MEPs’ concerns about a series of incidents highlighted by the Guardian, including the threat to deport a Japanese woman who lives with her Polish husband in London.

    • Oklahoma Is Imprisoning So Many People It Can’t Hire Enough Guards To Keep Up

      In July of this year, some 150 prisoners at the Great Plains Correctional Facility in Tulsa, Okla., rioted. The riot reportedly developed after a fight between prisoners and lasted for about eight hours. Two prison guards were taken hostage before the prisoners were corralled and returned to their cells.

      The incident immediately led to calls for a guard increase. In January, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections announced it had a shortage of correctional officers relative to the state’s growing prison population. Oklahoma has the second highest per-capita incarceration rate in the country, and the highest rates of incarceration for both women and black men.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • After Backlash, Verizon Will Give Rural Data Users A Bit More Time To Get The Hell Off Its Network
    • Mission Accomplished: Ajit Pai’s FCC Declares Wireless Competition Issues Fixed

      The FCC is required by law to offer an annual report on the state of competition in the broadband industry. Depending on who’s in power, and how eager they are to downplay the lack of said competition to the benefit of industry, these reports often provide comical insight into how the regulator fiddles with data to justify policy apathy. Under George W. Bush’s presidency, the FCC declared the wireless industry perfectly competitive. Under the Obama administration, the FCC refused to state one way or the other whether the sector is competitive. Neither party has what you’d call courage when it comes to calling a spade a spade.

    • It’s time for Congress to fire the FCC chairman

      FCC chairman Ajit Pai is genuinely one of the nicest people in Washington. He’s smart, personable, and the kind of guy you’d want to have a beer with. But nice guys don’t always make good policy (I’ve been bipartisan on this), and Pai’s record means real danger for American consumers and the internet itself. If you believe communications networks should be fast, fair, open, and affordable, you need ask your senator to vote against Pai’s reconfirmation. Now.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Patented Seeds Are Terrible—Here’s How We Can Regain Ownership of Our Crop Genetic Resources

      We Americans value the freedom to do what we want with our property. These days, our freedom of action in regard to what we own is increasingly being eroded and constrained by the expansion of corporate power and the evolving legal dimensions of ownership.

      Nowhere has this tendency to limit freedom to operate come into sharper focus than in farming. A farmer may buy a John Deere tractor, but ownership of the copyrighted software—without which the tractor cannot run and cannot be repaired—is retained by the company. According to Deere, the farmer has “an implied lease” to operate the tractor but is prohibited from making any repair or change involving use of the copyrighted code.

    • UN Technology Bank To Build IP Infrastructure In LDCs; Private Sector Funds Needed

      A new United Nations Technology Bank for least-developed countries aimed at growing technology transfer and intellectual property infrastructure across the 48 poorest nations became operational at last week’s annual UN General Assembly in New York. The bank’s creation represents the first target of the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved.

    • G7 ICT Ministers: Free Data Flows, More Access To Data, But IP Protection Nonetheless

      Openness, security and the support for innovation through the empowerment of small and medium companies are the three core points of the joint statement of the G7 ICT Ministers after their two-day meeting in Turin, Italy ending today. While the host, Italian Minister of Economic Development Carlo Calenda, heavily underlined the need to avoid in digitalisation policies the mistakes made in globalisation, many topics of the final statement point to highly familiar commitments, with better protection of intellectual property being one.

    • 5 Shocking Things Nobody Tells You About Getting Tattoos

      But not even your skin is immune to the laws of intellectual property [sic], and getting a pop culture tattoo might just land you a real tricky cease-and-desist order.

    • Copyrights
      • Yet Another Developer Sees That Free Can Work For Video Games As Both An Anti-Piracy Strategy And As Promotion

        We’ve made the argument for some time that there are ways to use giving away free content in order to both stave off the threat of video game piracy and to garner greater attention for the product. For all of the congratulations we heap on game developers for simply not completely freaking out over the fact that piracy exists, far too few of those developers go on to actually take advantage of what freely given away products can do for them. But there are those out there who get it, including Indie Gala, a studio that is essentially giving away its product as it stands for free, both because it wants gamers to get clean copies of the game from clean sites and in order to drive those gamers to the Early Access Steam version of the game.

Battistelli Follows German Law Only When It Suits Him, Three Holidays Just Canceled

Wednesday 27th of September 2017 05:40:35 PM

King Battistelli ‘kills’ Corpus Christi and All Saints’ Day

Summary: EPO workers can wave goodbye to Corpus Christi and All Saints’ Day, not just Reformation Day

THE EPO scandals keep piling up.

Weeks ago we wrote about one holiday being ignored by the so-called 'King Batistelli' and yes, indeed, it’s confirmed now. (epo.org link)

“Battistelli continues to demonstrate that the EPO crisis is one of his own making.”Thousands of people will be forced to go to the Office while everybody else is on holiday. It’s worse than working on a Sunday. But wait, it gets worse as Battistelli “strikes again,” as one reader told us. “Just because his Majesty decided not to recognise Reformation Day, he assumes that the German federal post will also work. However, this is in contradiction to Rule 134(1) EPC.”

This in its own right was pretty serious and very bad. And now (as of today), two public holidays in 2018 will also no longer be recognised. Corpus Christi and All Saints’ Day are gone too! This had to be decided yesterday after a hearing of staff representatives, according to a reader. “EPO staff reps could confirm the President´s intention to cancel public holidays Corpus Christi and All Saints’ Day. However, there has been no official communication about a final decision,” our reader explained.

What a way to attract top talent to the Office. Or show something other than abject disregard for the law. Battistelli continues to demonstrate that the EPO crisis is one of his own making. One might joke that he is intentionally sabotaging the EPO to give rise to UPC.

Links 26/9/2017: Ataribox runs GNU/Linux, Firefox Quantum, Microsoft Pays OSI

Tuesday 26th of September 2017 11:52:33 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Baidu puts open source deep learning into smartphones

    A year after it open sourced its PaddlePaddle deep learning suite, Baidu has dropped another piece of AI tech into the public domain – a project to put AI on smartphones.

    Mobile Deep Learning (MDL) landed at GitHub under the MIT license a day ago, along with the exhortation “Be all eagerness to see it”.

    MDL is a convolution-based neural network designed to fit on a mobile device. Baidu said it is suitable for applications such as recognising objects in an image using a smartphone’s camera.

  • ​Mirantis launches multi-cloud Kubernetes with AWS Support

    Kubernetes is continuing to become the default container orchestration program. The latest proof of this is Mirantis making it easier than ever to manage hybrid clouds across Amazon Web Services (AWS), OpenStack, and bare metal with Kubernetes in the latest version of its Mirantis Cloud Platform (MCP). With Kubernetes-enabled MCP, it can manage multi-cloud self-service Kubernetes clusters through its new Containers-as-a-Service (CaaS) functionality.

  • Change Healthcare Adopts Linux Hyperledger Fabric

    US-based healthcare IT firm Change Healthcare is developing a blockchain solution for enterprise-scale use in healthcare. The solution will enable payers and providers to boost revenue cycle efficiency, improve real-time analytics, cut costs, and create innovative new services.

  • Change Healthcare rolls out enterprise blockchain for hospitals, payers
  • Yahoo is giving a critical piece of internal technology to the world — just like it did with Hadoop

    Oath, the Verizon-owned parent company of Yahoo, is releasing for free some of its most important internal software, which the company has long used to make recommendations, target ads and execute searches.

  • Verizon Reveals the (Faded) Secrets of Yahoo Search

    hree months after acquiring Yahoo, Verizon is giving away the secrets of Yahoo’s search engine. Today, Oath, the Verizon-owned company born of the merger between AOL and Yahoo, released the source code of a data-crunching tool called Vespa, which has long-powered search and other features across the Yahoo empire. Now that it’s open source, any company or individual can use or modify Vespa to power its own products or websites.

  • Open source drives digitalisation

    Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, data analytics, high performance computing and digital transformation all benefit from open source technologies, says Nile Brauckmann, CEO of SUSE.

  • [haiku-development] Beta1 release roadmap (again)
  • Haiku OS Is Gearing Up For Its Long-Awaited Beta Release

    The BeOS-inspired Haiku operating system is finally gearing up for its long-awaited beta milestone.

    Haiku OS developer Adrien Destugues took to the mailing list this weekend to work out a release roadmap for the beta milestone for this project.

  • Events
    • Clouds and Puppies at Open Source Summit: Day 3 in 5 Minutes

      Yes, there were Puppies on Day 3 at the Open Source Summit, and they called it Puppy Pawlooza. In this five-minute video summary, I’m joined by Jono Bacon, leading community strategist and curator of the Open Community Conference.

      The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) kicked things off with a bunch of announcements Wednesday morning. Aside from Oracle and Ticketmaster joining the foundation, both Lyft and Uber announced projects entering the CNCF. Lyft’s project is Envoy, an edge and service proxy, and Uber’s is Jaeger, a distributed tracing system.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Firefox takes a Quantum leap forward with new developer edition

        Earlier this year we wrote about Project Quantum, Mozilla’s work to modernize Firefox and rebuild it to handle the needs of the modern Web.

        Today, that work takes a big step toward the mainstream with the release of the new Firefox 57 developer edition. The old Firefox developer edition was based on the alpha-quality Aurora channel, which was two versions ahead of the stable version. In April, Mozilla scrapped the Aurora channel, and the developer edition moved to being based on the beta channel. The developer edition is used by a few hundred thousand users each month and is for the most part identical to the beta, except it has a different theme by default—a dark theme instead of the normal light one—and changes a few default settings in ways that developers tend to prefer.

      • Start Your Engines – Firefox Quantum Lands in Beta, Developer Edition

        Engines are important, both in cars and in browsers. That’s why we’re so revved up this morning – we’re releasing the Beta of a whole new Firefox, one that’s powered by a completely reinvented, modernized engine. Since the version number – 57 – can’t really convey the magnitude of the changes we’ve made, and how much faster this new Firefox is, we’re calling this upcoming release Firefox Quantum.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • Public Services/Government
    • ProPublica Seeks Source Code for New York City’s Disputed DNA Software

      ProPublica is asking a federal court for access to the source code for New York City’s proprietary DNA software, which some scientists and defense lawyers contend may be inaccurate in matching a defendant to a complex sample of genetic material. Known as a pioneer in analyzing the most difficult evidence from crime scenes, the New York City medical examiner’s office has processed DNA samples supplied not only by local police, but also by about 50 jurisdictions nationwide.

      Employees developed the disputed software — known as the Forensic Statistical Tool, or FST — to analyze evidence consisting of multiple people’s DNA and determine the likelihood that a suspect’s DNA was present. According to the medical examiner’s office, FST was used in about 1,350 criminal cases from 2011 until this year, when it was phased out. The office has long kept the source code secret, successfully opposing requests in court by defense attorneys to examine it.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • Facebook’s About Face

      Thirty-five days after publicly stating, in response to objections from the Apache Software Foundation among others, that the company would not be re-licensing its React library, Facebook on Friday announced that it was re-licensing its React library. It was a surprising but welcome reversal for many in the industry, including Automattic’s Matt Mullenweg.

      Ten days ago, Mullenweg published a piece that was at once understanding and blunt announcing that React would be excised from WordPress related projects. The problem was not Automattic – their general counsel saw little problem with the license – but given the breadth of WordPress’ distribution, the decision was made to remove the software because of the uncertainties surrounding its license. As bad as it was being banished from Apache Software Foundation projects, this was worse. Depending on whose numbers you use, WordPress can account for something close to one in four websites.

      Given such extensive and escalating costs, the burden of proving the offsetting benefits to a patent clause required by virtually no one else in the industry presumably became too great, at which point the only rational decision would be to re-license the asset – difficult as such backtracking may have been.

    • Facebook Relents on React.js License Issue
    • Facebook Relents to Developer Pressure, Relicenses React
  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
  • Programming/Development
    • The 7 stages of becoming a Go programmer

      After your initial run on A Tour of Go, you start thinking “Now, how can I make this language behave more like an object oriented language…?” After all, you are used to that stuff. You want to make robust code. You want polymorphism.

      “There has to be a way!” You say, and you find struct embedding. It allows you to cleverly delegate methods from the enclosing object to the embedded object without having to duplicate code. Great!

      Of course, this is not true. Struct embedding only allows you to delegate method calls. Even if it looks like you are doing polymorphic method dispatch, the relationship is not IS-A. It’s HAS-A, so the receiver of the method call is not the enclosing object: The receiver is always the embedded object to which the method call was delegated to.

    • How strong are your programming skills?
Leftovers
  • Science
    • WORK AND THE LONELINESS EPIDEMIC

      Like thousands of others, we survived the storm and the many dark days that followed because of the kindness of strangers who brought food, water, and comfort. Hurricane Andrew forged a deep sense of connection and community in South Florida as the nation rallied around us and as we supported each other. But slowly, as normal life resumed, the distance between people returned. We went back to our homes, our work, our schools, and our lives, and once again we grew apart.

      Looking today at so many other places around the world ravaged by disasters of all kinds, I think about how often tragedy brings us together — and how fleeting that connection often is.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Over 439,000 people were arrested in the US last year for simple possession of marijuana

      One person gets arrested for marijuana possession every 71 seconds in the United States, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual Crime In the United States (CIUS) report. This is great news to drug cartels, police departments, racists, corrupt politicians, the prison industry, and the involuntary rehab clinic racket. It’s bad news for everybody else.

      “Arresting and citing nearly half a million people a year for a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol is a travesty,” said Morgan Fox, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Despite a steady shift in public opinion away from marijuana prohibition, and the growing number of states that are regulating marijuana like alcohol, marijuana consumers continue to be treated like criminals throughout the country. This is a shameful waste of resources and can create lifelong consequences for the people arrested.”

    • Trump DOJ Nominee Pushed Scientology-Based Detox Program
    • The Post-Antibiotic Era Is Here. Now What?
    • NHS hospitals need £500m bailout to cope with coming winter crisis with thousands of patients at risk, says Labour

      Hospitals must be given a £500m bailout to cope with the coming winter crisis or face putting thousands of patients at risk, Labour has said.

      New analysis shows 10,000 people will be stuck for too long in A&E waiting rooms every day if the situation continues unchecked against a backdrop of growing waiting lists and cancelled operations.

      Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth accused Theresa May of “burying her head in the sand” over the unprecedented demand on the health service after patients faced the worst winter on record last year.

    • Under Cover of Graham-Cassidy, Senate GOP Moving to Gut Major CFPB Rule

      In the middle of a consequential week for the future of American health care, Senate Republicans are hoping to sneak through a controversial nullification of a key rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

      Republican leaders are whipping to secure the votes to overturn a rule CFPB finalized in July, which would protect financial companies from class-action lawsuits and deny consumers a day in court. The rule is among the most consequential actions the CFPB has taken since its founding.

      An added wrinkle here: executives for both Wells Fargo and Equifax, both accused of ripping off millions of consumers, will testify in Senate committees next week. Both companies have used arbitration clauses in an attempt to deny consumers access to the courts. By getting the arbitration vote out of the way before the hearings, Republicans can avoid having to hand a gift to financial companies while Wells Fargo and Equifax sit squarely in the public spotlight. With Obamacare repeal sucking up all the oxygen, this week offers a perfect cover.

      “This rush toward a vote in the Senate is a cynical attempt to roll back an important consumer protection before anyone gets straight answers from Equifax and Wells Fargo about the damage they’ve done to the financial lives of millions of Americans,” said Lisa Donner, executive director of Americans for Financial Reform.

    • How to Win a War on Drugs
    • Deluded billionaire gives UC Irvine $200M to study homeopathy and “alternative” therapies

      …and the LA Times thinks it’s swell, singing the praises of semiconductor baron Henry Samueli, a true believer in homeopathy and “integrative medicine,” whose gift to the UC system comes with the stipulation that it only be used to study discredited garbage…forever.

  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Senator Calls for Heads to Roll at the Pentagon for $64M Wasted on a ‘Hangar Queen’

      If you contract to the tune of $64 million for a counternarcotics plane and it never flies, should you keep your job?

      That’s what Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, wondered in a Sept. 20 letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis blasting the Defense Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration for their seven years of work on a “hangar queen,” as the senator called it.

      The ATR-42-500 aircraft was adopted for the joint-agency Global Discovery Program aimed at curbing the opium trade in war-torn Afghanistan. But it became the subject of probes for waste by inspectors general for both the Justice and Defense departments.

    • The Spiritual Roots of War

      Maybe, like me, you’ve been thinking — or trying not to think — about war. You can feel it lately. Bloodlust sings triumphantly, punching air, marching from country to country.
      To understand war, I think you must understand people.

      War is just the manifestation of inner conflict. When there is an ideal that people aspire to, but cannot quite reach, then there is anger, fear, rage, envy, and all the rest. People seek scapegoats, enemies, sacrificial lambs. More than anything, they are seeking the causes of their own impurity, because it’s very hard for humans to believe, deep down, that they are anything but innately superior. So in a simple way, war is born from the pursuit of an unreachable ideal. This is the story of Germany, Italy, Japan, the USA, Sparta, Russia, and so on.

    • World War III With China

      For the past 50 years, American leaders have been supremely confident that they could suffer military setbacks in places like Cuba or Vietnam without having their system of global hegemony, backed by the world’s wealthiest economy and finest military, affected. The country was, after all, the planet’s “indispensible nation,” as Secretary of State Madeleine Albright proclaimed in 1998 (and other presidents and politicians have insisted ever since). The U.S. enjoyed a greater “disparity of power” over its would-be rivals than any empire ever, Yale historian Paul Kennedy announced in 2002. Certainly, it would remain “the sole superpower for decades to come,” Foreign Affairs magazine assured us just last year. During the 2016 campaign, candidate Donald Trump promised his supporters that “we’re gonna win with military… we are gonna win so much you may even get tired of winning.” In August, while announcing his decision to send more troops to Afghanistan, Trump reassured the nation: “In every generation, we have faced down evil, and we have always prevailed.” In this fast-changing world, only one thing was certain: when it really counted, the United States could never lose.

    • Brazil’s Latest Outbreak of Drug Gang Violence Highlights the Real Culprit: the War on Drugs

      ON JULY 1, 2001, Portugal enacted a law to decriminalize all drugs. Under that law, nobody who is found possessing or using narcotics is arrested in Portugal, nor are they turned into a criminal. Indeed, neither drug use nor drug possession are considered crimes at all. Instead, those found doing it are sent to speak with a panel of drug counsellors and therapists, where they are offered treatment options.

      Seven years after the law was enacted, in 2008, we traveled to Lisbon to study the effects of that law for one of the first comprehensive reports on this policy, and published the findings in a report for the Cato Institute. The results were clear and stunning: this radical change in drug laws was a fundamental and undeniable success.

      While Portugal throughout the 1990s was (like most western countries) drowning in drug overdoses along with drug-related violence and diseases, the country rose to the top of the charts in virtually all categories after it stopped prosecuting drug users and treating them like criminals. This stood in stark contrast to the countries that continued to follow a harsh criminalization approach: the more they arrested addicts and waged a “War on Drugs,” the more their drug problems worsened.

    • North Korea seeks help from Republican analysts: ‘What’s up with Trump?’
    • Death Cult Spiral

      It’s intriguing to hear people calling capitalists in Russia “oligarchs” when according to scholars the whole United States is considered an oligarchy today(1). And when the corporate media and corporate politicians– run by the US oligarchs–tell them about the “Russian threat”, they repeat it like they were born yesterday; “I don’t trust Russian oligarchs”, “we shouldn’t work with Russian oligarchs” and so on.

      As it is repeated to us by the corporate media as well as by government officials, the word “oligarch” concocts otherness and unknown insidiousness of criminality and inhumanity. There is a hypnotic spell to some of the words that are used against “enemies” of the western hegemony (2). In the case of Syria, so many such words were displayed: “barrel bombs”, “chlorine bombs”, “prison camp”, “torture prison”, “Syrian crematory”, “butcher”, “dictator”, “regime” and so on. Thanks to many dedicated activists, journalists, and most of all Syrian people who have been released by the west backed terrorists from the occupied territories, today we recognize that those words embody the disingenuous and deceptive process of demonizing the Syrian government (3), (4), (5), (6) and (7). Considering the fact that 1/2 million have died in the west orchestrated assault against Syria, the use of those terms alone in the cultural sphere indicates a reprehensible, manipulatively cultish quality in our society.

      But getting back to Russia, the Russian oligarchs were the products of US political intervention that destroyed the Soviet Union (8), (9). The US didn’t only mess with their political process but they destroyed it (10). The US backed Yeltsin’s violent coup killed thousands, while selling out the federation to the “oligarchs” (8).

      But Putin wasn’t all for selling everything (11). That is the reason why Putin is “evil” according to the voice of the US oligarchs who are backing the US oligarchy. Not enough oligarchy for them, I reckon.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Disconnected by Disaster—Photos From a Battered Puerto Rico

      Five days after Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, its devastating impact is becoming clearer. Most of the U.S. territory currently has no electricity or running water, fewer than 250 of the island’s 1,600 cellphone towers are operational, and damaged ports, roads, and airports are slowing the arrival and transport of aid. Communication has been severely limited and some remote towns are only now being contacted. Jenniffer Gonzalez, the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico, told the Associated Press that Hurricane Maria has set the island back decades.

    • Trump Needs to Turn His Attention to Puerto Rico

      I’m not sure what Donald Trump thinks the job of president consists of. One task is to swing into action when 3.4 million Americans are living without electricity, 40 percent of them without potable water, and hundreds of thousands without shelter. When some 80 percent of its agricultural crops were wiped out. This is an apocalyptic scenario. We can’t even fully know what is going on because there is no wifi most places. Some entire towns haven’t been heard from! A dam may fail, endangering 70,000 people. It will take decades to rebuild.

      As Daniel Gross wrote on Twitter, “More US citizens live in Puerto Rico than live in the Dakotas, Vermont, Wyoming, and Alaska combined. I don’t see Congress lifting a finger.”

    • Puerto Ricans Call for Aid Amid Catastrophe: “We’re American Citizens. We Can’t Be Left to Die”

      Six days after Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico, 3.4 million U.S. citizens in the territory remain without adequate food, water and fuel. But as the massive crisis became clear over the weekend, President Trump failed to weigh in, instead lashing out at sports players who joined in protest against racial injustice. It took the president five full days to respond, with comments that appeared to blame the island for its own misfortune. We examine the dire situation in Puerto Rico with Yarimar Bonilla, Puerto Rican scholar, who wrote in The Washington Post, “Why would anyone in Puerto Rico want a hurricane? Because someone will get rich.” And we speak with Puerto Ricans in New York who have been unable to reach loved ones after nearly a week.

    • The U.S. Faces a Higher Risk of Floods

      Cities on America’s Atlantic coast are likely to see more flooding. It won’t just be catastrophic inundation, delivered by hurricane: it could also be routine, fine weather nuisance flooding.

      And that will happen not just because of sea-level rise, driven by global warming, but by another factor: in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, the coastal lands are sinking, declining by up to 3mm a year, according to a new study in Scientific Reports.

    • Exxon, under pressure from investors, prosecutors, commits to methane reduction

      On Monday, oil and gas giant ExxonMobil announced that it would voluntarily take extra steps to reduce methane emissions during a three-year program aimed at some of its US-based facilities. The company declared that it would use more thorough leak detection and repair processes, as well as upgrade facilities with better equipment.

    • Puerto Ricans Worry: Which Trump Will Show Up For The Devastated Island?

      President Trump is basking in the “tremendous reviews” his administration is getting from Puerto Rican officials over its early handling of the island’s recovery efforts after Hurricane Maria brought widespread devastation to the US territory.

      But privately, officials worry that the president’s full focus may not be with the island, and that he will stop short of giving it the complete support it needs to deal with catastrophe, viewing the island through a “territory mindset” and accepting failings that would not fly in mainland states.

      Those quiet concerns were bubbling up even before Trump’s Monday night tweets, which focused on the island’s broken infrastructure and debt to Wall Street, promising food and water but falling short of offering to restore the power grid and inject money into the hurting island.

  • Finance
    • World Trade Organization Public Forum: Moving Beyond Friends Or Foes

      On the programme, over a hundred sessions are scheduled, organised by international organisations, governmental and non-governmental organisations, and private sector actors. Buzzwords for sessions this year include the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and how trade can help reach them; global value chains; inclusive trade; electronic commerce; inclusive growth; and small and medium size enterprises.

    • Decoding Labour’s Brexit position part 12,675

      Probably he is thinking about the latter. It’s impossible to really know, because Labour’s Brexit message is cloaked in secrecy and purposefully broad language, but this is the most likely goal. Whether it is done, as Starmer says, via a free trade deal or through a unique EEA-style treaty is ultimately immaterial. The same consequences will be involved. You will need to harmonise your economy with the EU’s in high value areas, like cars, banking, insurance and tech. There will be no taking back control there and Britain will be unlikely to have any say over regulations it must adopt. In exchange, it will be free to do what it likes in other areas.

    • Donald Tusk: ‘No sufficient progress yet’ in Brexit talks

      European Council President Donald Tusk said Tuesday that there is “no sufficient progress yet” on Brexit negotiations between the U.K. and EU, “but we’ll work on it.”

      Tusk gave a short statement outside No. 10 Downing Street after a meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May. The European Council is to decide at a summit next month whether “sufficient progress” has been made in the Brexit talks — another round of which began Monday — to decide whether negotiations can move on to discussing future relations.

      Given the rocky state of the negotiations, Tusk said: “If you asked me, and if today member states asked me, I would say there’s no sufficient progress yet, but we’ll work on it.”

    • The EU Withdrawal Bill has serious implications for devolution

      The EU Withdrawal Bill has exacerbated the already serious tensions between the UK and the devolved Governments over Brexit and creates an urgent need to reset intergovernmental relations.

      The EU Withdrawal Bill will take the UK out of the European Union (EU) while providing that all European law be imported into domestic law to avoid a regulatory black hole after Brexit.

      The bill creates wide-ranging powers for ministers to amend this huge body of ‘retained EU law’ to ensure it will be ‘operable’ outside the EU and to reflect the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement.

    • Uber is not as popular as you might think

      The firm immediately took to the public petitions site Change.org, reproducing its own press release in the form of a petition to “Save your Uber in London”. Have I misunderstood the meaning of a public petition, or is a company producing a petition to protect its own profits something of a confused perversion of this long-standing mode of political participation?

    • Trump finally responds to Puerto Rico crisis, saying island has ‘massive debt’

      It took Donald Trump five full days to respond to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria on the lives of 3.5 million Americans in Puerto Rico, and when he finally did so his comments on Twitter were so devoid of empathy it threatened to spark a new controversy.

    • David Attenborough: Brexiteers “probably don’t understand” facts

      Brexiteers like Michael Gove who dismissed expert warnings “probably don’t understand” the evidence and have reacted in a knee-jerk fashion, David Attenborough has said.

      In an interview with Greenpeace’s investigative and news platform, Unearthed, the 91-year-old broadcaster and naturalist compared Brexit to “spitting in each other’s faces” and called the referendum “an abrogation of parliamentary democracy” because of a lack of facts.

      Recalling Brexiteer Michael Gove’s claim that “people in this country have had enough of experts”, Attenborough said: “That’s a cry from somebody who doesn’t understand what they’re saying – that’s what that means.

    • Gitcoin Launches Today, Pushing Open-Source Forward With Cryptocurrency Bounties
    • Uber to announce it’s leaving Quebec due to stricter government rules

      Just days after the company warned it may leave the province, Radio-Canada has confirmed Uber will cease operations in Quebec.

      Last week, an Uber statement said “new and challenging” provincial regulations “significantly threaten” the company’s ability to continue operating.

      Jean-Nicolas Guillemette, director general of Uber Quebec, is expected to make the announcement at an 11 a.m. ET news conference today in Montreal.

      On Friday, Transport Minister Laurent Lessard agreed to renew a pilot project, implemented last year, that allows the ride-hailing company to operate in the province.

      But he introduced stricter conditions, including a requirement that drivers undergo 35 hours of training, 15 more than the previous requirement.

    • Michel Barnier’s significant comments today on a possible transition period

      Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator for Brexit has today made some significant comments on the transtion period asked for (begged for) by Theresa May in her Florence speech.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Dismayed by Trump, Head of Drug Enforcement Administration to Leave
    • Larry Lessig’s Latest Big Challenge: Fixing The Way We Elect A President

      Over the last few years, Larry Lessig has not shied away from trying to bring about change to the corruption he sees in our political system with “big” projects. Rather than chipping away at ideas, Lessig has been announcing huge, almost impossible plans, generating lots of attention and hoping that they either create real change, or at the very least, create discussion on the topics he’s attacking. So far, even he admits that most of those projects have been less than successful in achieving their goals. Back in 2014, there was his attempt to build a crowdfunded SuperPAC with the goal of ending SuperPACs (supporting candidates who would change campaign finance). While they raised a lot of money, Lessig admitted that the organization failed to make a real difference in the elections it participated in. Then there was the plan to call a new Constitutional Convention (which continues to garner discussion to this day, but mainly from those ideologically opposed to Lessig). And, of course, the failed campaign to be the Democratic nominee for President, where his main goal was to get into the debates — only to have the Democrats change the rules to keep him out.

    • Zinke: One-third of Interior employees not loyal to Trump

      Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Monday that nearly one-third of employees at his department are not loyal to him and President Donald Trump, adding that he is working to change the department’s regulatory culture to be more business friendly.

      Zinke, a former Navy SEAL, said he knew when he took over the 70,000-employee department in March that, “I got 30 percent of the crew that’s not loyal to the flag.”

      In a speech to an oil industry group, Zinke compared Interior to a pirate ship that captures “a prized ship at sea and only the captain and the first mate row over” to finish the mission.

    • Donald Trump Is Running America Like It’s a Casino

      Theoretically, we still live in a republic, but the question is: Who exactly represents whom in Washington? By now, I think we can take a reasonable guess. When the inevitable conflicts arise and Donald Trump must choose between business and country, between himself and the American people, who do you think will get the pink slip? Who will be paying for the intermeshing of the two? Who, like the investors in his bankrupt casinos, will be left holding the bag? At this point, we’re all in the Washington casino, and it sure as hell isn’t going to be Donald Trump who takes the financial hit. After all, the house always wins.

    • Jared Kushner conducted White House business with personal e-mail

      Don’t expect President Donald Trump to be tweeting “Crooked Jared” anytime soon. Trump called his presidential rival, Hillary Clinton, “Crooked Hillary” during the presidential campaign and afterward because she used private e-mail to conduct government affairs when she was secretary of state. The Justice Department did not press charges against Clinton, although Trump vowed to if he was elected.

    • Tom Brady, Other Former Trump Supporters Find President ‘Divisive’

      The Donald Trump rally was to endorse Republican Sen. Luther Strange in Alabama on Friday night, but the news coming out of it and dominating the weekend cycle had nothing to do with the election. “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners—when somebody disrespects our flag—to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!’ ” Trump bellowed in a digression, referring to Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who in opposition to police brutality started the “Take a Knee” protest last season during the playing of the national anthem.

    • The implosion of the German political class
    • Angela Merkel Wins Fourth Term as German Chancellor, But Far Right Rises

      The good news is Angela Merkel made history last weekend by winning her fourth straight election as chancellor of Germany. The bad news is the anti-immigration nationalist party, AfD (Alternative fur Deutschland), made significant gains with a 13 percent showing, putting a far-right party in parliament for the first time in over 50 years. The AfD is now the third-largest voice behind Merkel’s CDU (Christian Democratic Union), and their Bavarian sister party, the CSU (Christian Social Union).

    • Frauke Petry, co-chair of the far-right AfD, reportedly quits the party

      Frauke Petry was not in attendance when the Alternative for Germany (AfD) convened in Berlin on Tuesday to discuss the formation of a parliamentary group and choose parliamentary speakers. The party co-chair was in Dresden, where German news agency dpa quoted her as confirming that she will quit the party.
      “It’s clear that this step is coming,” she told dpa, although she did not set a date for when she would leave the AfD.
      On Monday, in a joint appearance with lead candidates Alice Weidel and Alexander Gauland after the AfD entered the Bundestag with 94 seats, Petry surprised her fellow party leaders by announcing she would vote as an independent. She said her decision was based on her belief that.extremist statements made by other party leaders precluded it from exercising “constructive opposition.” Petry won her seat in parliament outright in her local district.

    • Ajit Pai should be fired, petition says before Senate re-confirmation vote

      Net neutrality advocacy group Free Press is gathering signatures on a petition to “fire” Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, who needs a re-confirmation vote from the Senate in order to continue serving on the FCC.

      The Senate’s Republican majority will almost certainly ensure that Pai gets a new term. But Free Press’s petition likely won’t go unheeded by Democratic senators, who plan to criticize Pai’s positions on net neutrality and broadband consumer privacy rules before the Senate vote.

    • In Ivanka’s China, business ties shrouded in secrecy

      It is no secret that the bulk of Ivanka Trump’s merchandise comes from China. But just which Chinese companies manufacture and export her handbags, shoes and clothes is more secret than ever, an Associated Press investigation has found.

      In the months since she took her White House role, public information about the companies importing Ivanka Trump goods to the U.S. has become harder to find. Information that once routinely appeared in private trade tracking data has vanished, leaving the identities of companies involved in 90 percent of shipments unknown. Even less is known about her manufacturers. Trump’s brand, which is still owned by the first daughter and presidential adviser, declined to disclose the information.

    • WPost Pushes More Dubious Russia-bashing

      Some people are calling the anti-Russian hysteria being whipped up across the U.S. mainstream news media a new “golden age of American journalism,” although it looks to me more like a new age of yellow journalism, prepping the people for more military spending, more “information warfare” and more actual war.

    • How Facebook fought to keep political ads in the shadows
    • Facebook, Google and Twitter face proposed bill targeting shadowy political ads

      The bill would require digital platforms with more than 1 million users to create a public database of all “electioneering communications” purchased by a person or group who spends more than $10,000 on political ads online. In addition to storing a digital copy of the ad, the database would include a description of the targeted audience, the ad’s view count, the date and time the ad ran, its price, and contract information for the purchaser.

    • Joe Biden will deliver news briefings via Amazon Echo and Google Home
    • Donald Trump brands Princess Diana “crazy” but says he ‘would have slept with her anyway’ in newly-surfaced audio

      Donald Trump branded Princess Diana “crazy” but claimed he ‘would have had sex with her anyway’ in newly-surfaced audio of a radio interview.

      The billionaire businessman made the controversial comments during an interview on American “shock jock” Howard Stern’s radio show.

      The claims came to light last year when the then-presidential candidate denied ever saying he could have “nailed” the tragic royal .

    • Members Of Trump’s Admin Team Using Private Email Accounts Because Of Course They Are

      It’s not as though anyone isn’t aware of their responsibility to use official government email accounts for official government business. There’s a duty to preserve records that goes hand-in-hand with FOIA law. Those who choose to do business this way are either lazy or devious. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be one or the other.
      At this point, the criticisms that paved the way to Trump’s win can almost all be levied against the new administration. All we’re really waiting for is someone to show up with a birth certificate showing Donald Trump isn’t a natural-born US citizen.

    • Russian operatives used Facebook ads to exploit America’s racial and religious divisions

      The batch of more than 3,000 Russian-bought ads that Facebook is preparing to turn over to Congress shows a deep understanding of social divides in American society, with some ads promoting African American rights groups, including Black Lives Matter, and others suggesting that these same groups pose a rising political threat, say people familiar with the covert influence campaign.

      The Russian campaign — taking advantage of Facebook’s ability to send contrary messages to different groups of users based on their political and demographic characteristics — also sought to sow discord among religious groups. Other ads highlighted support for Democrat Hillary Clinton among Muslim women.

    • US And Russia Quietly End Diplomatic Tailspin

      After months of angry statements, diplomatic expulsions and shuttered consulates, US and Russian officials have quietly put an end to the tit-for-tat retaliations between the two sides, and US officials are now considering reviving a Russian proposal from March to strengthen military-to-military contacts.

      The improvement in relations follows talks between Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly last week.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • This Troll From Singapore Will Be Released From US Jail After Having His Asylum Upheld

      Amos Lee, a controversial blogger from Singapore who has been held in US detention for 10 months, will be freed on Tuesday after a federal appeals court upheld an immigration judge’s decision to grant him asylum.

      According to Yee’s lawyer Sandra Grossman, the court upheld a judge’s earlier ruling on the grounds that he would be persecuted if he returned to his native country, whose laws allow the government to restrict freedom of speech and expression. Yee had previously been jailed twice in Singapore on charges that included spreading obscenity and “wounding racial or religious feelings” before he flew to Chicago in December, where he was detained at O’Hare Airport.

      He had been in US custody ever since, despite a March ruling from Chicago immigration judge Samuel Cole, who noted that Yee had “suffered past persecution on account of his political opinion and has a well-founded fear of future persecution in Singapore.” The Department of Homeland Security then opposed that ruling, sending the case to appeals court, which ruled last Thursday that Yee should be freed.

    • People Are Worried About DHS Plans To Gather Social Media Info

      Federal officials are planning to collect social media information on all immigrants, including permanent residents and naturalized citizens, a move that has alarmed lawyers and privacy groups worried about how the information will be used.

      The Department of Homeland Security published the new rule in the Federal Register last week, saying it wants to include “social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results” as part of people’s immigration file. The new requirement takes effect Oct. 18.

      DHS and US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    • Rohingya Ethnic Cleansing (Once Again) Demonstrates Why Demanding Platforms Censor Bad Speech Creates Problems

      We keep pointing to examples like this, but the examples are getting starker and more depressing. Lots of people keep arguing that internet platforms (mainly Facebook) need to be more aggressive in taking down “bad” speech — often generalized under the term “hate speech.” But, as we’ve pointed out, that puts tremendous power into the hands of those who determine what is “hate speech.” And, while the calls for censorship often come from minority communities, it should be noted that those in power have a habit of claiming criticism of the powerful is “hate speech.” Witness the news from Burma that Rohingya activists have been trying to document ethnic cleansing, only to find Facebook deleting all their posts. When questioned about this, Facebook (after a few days) claimed that the issue was that these posts were coming from a group it had designated a “dangerous organization.”

    • Netizen Report: Germany’s New Social Media Law Puts a Price on Hate Speech

      Global Voices Advocacy’s Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in internet rights around the world.

      A new German law set to take effect in October will impose fines on social networks if they fail to remove “manifestly unlawful” hate speech within 24 hours of being posted.

      Under the Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz, called the NetzDG for short, companies have up to seven days to consider the removal of more ambiguous material.

    • A Nation of Snowflakes

      The American left is waging war on free speech. That’s the consensus from center-left to far right; even Nazis and white supremacists seek to wave the First Amendment like a bloody shirt. But the greatest contemporary threat to free speech comes not from antifa radicals or campus leftists, but from a president prepared to use the power and authority of government to chill or suppress controversial speech, and the political movement that put him in office, and now applauds and extends his efforts.

      The most frequently cited examples of the left-wing war on free speech are the protests against right-wing speakers that occur on elite college campuses, some of which have turned violent. New York’s Jonathan Chait has described the protests as a “war on the liberal mind” and the “manifestation of a serious ideological challenge to liberalism—less serious than the threat from the right, but equally necessary to defeat.” Most right-wing critiques fail to make such ideological distinctions, and are far more apocalyptic—some have unironically proposed state laws that define how universities are and are not allowed to govern themselves in the name of defending free speech.

    • DOMAINS ARE POWER

      Top-level domains, or TLDs, sit at the top of the domain hierarchy. In 1985, there were just seven TLDs: .com, .org, .net, .edu, .gov, .arpa, and .mil. Today, there are more than 1,000 TLDs running the gamut from .uk to .gucci. One of them is .cat.

      See, I was looking to get married, my fiancée’s (now wife’s) name is Cat, and we wanted a fun domain name.

    • Spanish Civil Guard closes website of a major pro-independence organisation

      The Spanish Civil Guard has closed the website of the pro-independence organisation ANC (Catalan National Assembly), the organisation’s president, Jordi Sànchez, has confirmed on Catalan news channel 324. Sànchez condemned this decision by Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy as an attack against freedom of expression, the rule of law and democracy.

      Sànchez said that the ANC’s computer staff were “already working to restore this information that the Spanish state wants to hid” and that many exterior experts have expressed solidarity with the ANC to guarantee the working of freedom of expression; “they’ve collapsed the phone lines”, he added.

    • Former president Mas, three ministers required to pay 5.2 million over 2014 unofficial referendum

      The Court of Accounts has imposed a joint and several liability of 5.2 million euros on the former president of Catalonia, Artur Mas, and three of his ministers for using public funds in the unofficial independence referendum on 9th November 2014.

      This Monday the conclusion of the court’s inquiry was communicated to the legal representatives of Mas, his vice-president Joana Ortega, former ministers Irene Rigau and Francesc Homs and seven others who participated in the organisation of the 2014 vote. The proceedings had been opened follow a complaint from the SCC (Catalan Civil Society) and the Association of Catalan Lawyers for using public funds for the unofficial referendum.

    • Game over for ‘discredited’ Catalan referendum, Spanish officials say

      Spanish authorities have done enough to discredit and prevent a planned referendum this Sunday on independence in Catalonia, two senior government officials told Reuters on Monday, though they may now let a secession “party” happen.

      “There may be a party on Sunday at which, on squares and in streets, some voting stalls may be installed and a mock vote may take place. But it will not be a referendum,” one of the officials said on condition of anonymity.

      The officials said Catalonia lacked a proper election commission, ballots boxes, ballot papers, a transparent census and election material, and other material needed to hold the vote.

    • Twitter defends decision not to remove Trump tweet threatening North Korea
    • China fines tech giants for not censoring banned content ahead of October’s party congress
    • Trump Turns to the ‘Southern Strategy’ Once Again to Attack NFL Players Taking a Knee During the National Anthem

      NFL players, coaches, and owners yesterday responded to the president’s racial code words in an inspiring show of solidarity.

      If Donald Trump is not a white supremacist, his actions and words show a great deal of comfort with the values of white supremacy.

      He did not want Blacks living in his buildings or handling his money. His comparison of the Washington monument to confederate monuments built to honor people who killed American soldiers for the right to own other human beings shows an ignorance of and an unwillingness to deal with the truth about America’s past and current history of racism.

      His encouragement of police brutality and championing of unconstitutional stop and frisk policies are not race neutral.

    • Some Georgetown Law students and faculty plan to protest speech by Attorney General Jeff Sessions
    • The Idiot’s Guide to Censorship
    • WhatsApp disruption in China as censorship controls tightened
    • WhatsApp service disrupted in China as censorship tightens
    • China disrupts WhatsApp as censorship stepped up ahead of major Communist Party congress
    • China blocks WhatsApp
    • China Has Blocked Most WhatsApp Service as Screws Tighten on Internet Use
  • Privacy/Surveillance
  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Canada will start reporting when it uses intelligence obtained through torture

      Canada’s intelligence agencies will be required to tell the public when it acts on or shares information that was obtained by torture.

      The new ministerial directives, issued by Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale on Monday, will create new rules on how three national security agencies use, request, or disclose intelligence to foreign governments known to engage in torture.

      “We’ve limited the scope of the use of information,” Goodale told reporters Monday.

      The new rules don’t ban torture-tainted intelligence altogether, and still allow intelligence services to use this information if there is an imminent risk of attack.

    • Saudi Arabia Agrees to Let Women Drive
    • Saudi Arabia driving ban on women to be lifted

      Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has issued a decree allowing women to drive for the first time, state media say.

    • Poland’s Duda acts to avoid head-on clash with Brussels

      Polish President Andrzej Duda said Monday he had scrapped proposals to dismiss all judges on the Supreme Court, a move that may defuse tensions with Brussels over the government’s plans to tighten control over the judiciary.

      The proposal is however expected to deepen a rift with Jarosław Kaczyński, Duda’s mentor and the leader of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party. It could also lead to a split inside the ruling party, hitherto strongly unified behind the legislation, seen by the EU as an abuse of the rule of law.

      Duda on Monday presented his own versions of two draft bills that in July he had refused to sign into law. One of the laws sought to do away with a council nominating new judges and move the power to select members of the National Judiciary Council from judges’ organizations to parliament.

    • One of Rio de Janeiro’s Safest Favelas Descends Into Violence, the Latest Sign of a City in Chaos

      The Governor of Rio de Janeiro, Luiz Fernando Pezão, admitted that his administration could no longer cope on Friday as he requested the assistance of the Brazilian military to help bring the situation in Rocinha, one of the city’s largest favela, under control. Hours later, some 950 heavily-armed soldiers dramatically descended on the favela on foot and in armored personnel carriers and helicopters.

      Rio de Janeiro is once more making the headlines for the wrong reasons. Homicidal violence is back in the city with a vengeance. Shooting broke out Rocinha in earlier this month less than a week after a gun battle between rival factions of the same drug gang, ADA or Friends of Friends, disturbed a peaceful Sunday morning in the seaside neighborhood.

    • How Sudan Got Off Donald Trump’s Latest Travel Ban List

      Indeed, Sudan has precious little lobbying capacity. But it has a friend in the right place: The United Arab Emirates recently began lobbying on Sudan’s behalf in Washington, putting its considerable capital to work. The diplomatic favor comes as Sudan has stepped up its on-the-ground involvement in the war in Yemen, giving the Saudi- and UAE-led coalition the kinds of boots on the ground those nations are uninterested in risking themselves, preferring to wage an aerial campaign instead.

      “Sudan is doing the UAE’s dirty work,” explained one well-placed U.S. government source not authorized to speak publicly about the situation. In exchange, UAE ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba has put his substantial diplomatic weight behind the Sudanese government. Otaiba is particularly close with White House adviser Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law. Kushner plays a leading role in setting Mideast policy for the administration.

    • Muslim surgeon who volunteered to treat Manchester bomb victims stabbed in neck outside mosque in ‘hate crime’

      A Muslim surgeon who treated Manchester Arena victims said he has forgiven a man who stabbed him in the neck outside a mosque in a hate crime attack.

      Consultant Nasser Kurdy, who operated on those injured in the outrage in May, was stabbed from behind with a knife as he walked into Altrincham Islamic Centre in Hale, Cheshire just before 6pm yesterday.

      The 58-year-old victim suffered a three centimetre wound to the back of his neck and was taken to Wythenshawe Hospital for treatment, where he works as a consultant orthopaedic surgeon.

    • America has a racial demagogue for a president
    • Good Blacks, Bad Blacks: From Washington and DuBois to Morgan Freeman and Colin Kaepernick

      White America, for the most part, makes a critical distinction between “good” and “bad” Black Americans – and a related distinction between “good” and “bad” Black behavior. It goes way back.

      During the 1960s, for example, Muhammad Ali was a “good Negro” when he seemed to be just a happy-go-lucky wise-cracking Olympic Gold Medal winner named Cassius Clay. Most whites still approved of Clay when he defeated the “bad Negro” Sonny Liston to become heavyweight champion. Liston struck most whites as an urban thug.

      But when Clay became Ali, a proud Black nationalist who refused induction to help the white U.S. imperialists kill brown-skinned peasants in Vietnam, he became a “bad Negro.” White America preferred non-militant Black fighters like Floyd Paterson and Joe Frazier to the magnificent Black Nationalist Muhammad Ali.

      The great Black Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown was a “good Negro” as long as he was setting new records while staying silent politically on and off the gridiron. Brown lost his luster in White America one year after he left football and called the Muhammad Ali Summit, bringing some of the nation’s top Black athletes to Cleveland to voice support for Ali’s refusal to be drafted. Among the courageous sportsmen who came in for white criticism for attending Brown’s 1967 summit were Boston Celtics great Bill Russell and future NBA superstar Lew Alcindor, who would later change his name to Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

    • Daily Reads: Trump’s New Travel Ban Is Still Incoherent; Washington Ignores Puerto Rico’s Humanitarian Disaster

      Donald Trump signed a new executive order yesterday banning almost all travel from seven countries and restricting travel from Venezuela. According to Slate’s Joshua Keating, the new order also includes North Korea and Chad. The administration hopes that the addition of non-Muslim-majority countries will blunt criticism of the measure as grounded in religious discrimination, but Keating says “it’s not a very effective counterargument.” He also wonders how Chad got on the list, given that “the most recent State Department Country Reports on Terrorism was mostly positive about Chad’s counterterrorism efforts.”

    • A Georgia Man Facing Execution Was Convicted By A Juror Who Wondered If “Black People Even Have Souls”

      Keith Tharpe is set to be executed in Georgia on Tuesday for the 1991 murder of his sister-in-law Jaqueline Freeman.

      Tharpe’s lawyers are fighting for his execution to be stopped on the grounds that “racism played a pivotal role” in his death sentence.

      They asked the US Supreme Court on Saturday to stop the execution, saying that one of the jurors who voted to have Tharpe executed later admitted that his decision was influenced by Tharpe’s race.

      The juror, Barney Gattie, was interviewed by Tharpe’s lawyers from the Georgia Resource Center in 1998 as part of his post-conviction appeals process, according to Tharpe’s petition.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Prepare For An Epic Bullshit Sales Pitch For The Competition-Killing Sprint, T-Mobile Merger

      For much of this year, Sprint and its Japanese owner Softbank have been buttering up the Trump administration in the hopes it will sign off on a merger between Sprint and T-Mobile. Sprint tried the same merger back in 2014, but found the attempt wisely blocked by regulators because it would have killed one of just four major wireless competitors in the space. Said buttering up has involved letting Trump falsely claim responsibility for murky Softbank job creation claims that were originally planned years ago, have nothing to do with the merger, and even less to do with Donald Trump.
      Obviously the wireless market is enjoying a bit of a resurgence lately courtesy of T-Mobile, which has been giving bigger competitors fits by simply listening to what consumers want (fewer hidden bullshit fees, no contracts, cheaper international roaming) and providing it. In turn, wireless consumers have notable improvements in the last year or two, including AT&T and Verizon being forced to bring back unlimited data plans they had previously tried to claim consumers didn’t want. It’s a resurgence that wouldn’t have happened if regulators hadn’t blocked AT&T’s own attempted takeover over T-Mobile back in 2011.

    • European Commission Backed Study Confirms Canada Among the Most Expensive for Broadband Internet Access

      The European Commission has released a new study it commissioned on broadband pricing in Europe and several other leading countries. It confirms yet again what Canadian consumers have long suspected: Canada is among the most expensive countries in the developed economy world for broadband Internet services. The study, which provides data on the 2016 retail pricing for consumers throughout the EU, Canada, the U.S., Japan, South Korea, Norway, and Iceland, found Canadians consistently face some of the most expensive pricing regardless of speed or whether the packages include local telephone and television services. The survey was conducted over a two-week period in October 2016 and included retail pricing for five major Canadian ISPs: Bell, Shaw, Rogers, Videotron, and Telus. The data includes procedures to account for one-off fees and other discounts.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Form Meeting Function: When Copyright Covers More (Or Less) Of Your Software Than You Think

      Okay, I admit it – in my youth, I spent more than my fair share of time playing video games, either at home or in arcades with friends. I will also neither confirm nor deny that I enjoy playing far more sophisticated ones with my kids nowadays. The evolution of computer software over my lifetime (especially when it comes to video games) has been extraordinary, to say the least. That said, I also have the luxury of appreciating such entertainment from a legal perspective, having counseled game developers and publishers regarding the protection and commercial exploitation of their intellectual property rights in video-game properties.

    • Keith Jones: Don’t forget importance of intellectual property [Ed: Why does this site keep letting law firms write articles that are obviously shameless self-promotion and lies?]

      What about future developments which weren’t limited to software routines – should they be dealt with differently? And what about the two acquired patents? There was a suspicion these were being infringed.

    • A CRISPR patent pool – are we any closer? [Ed: There should be no patents on CRISPR in the first place]

      A plan to launch a CRISPR patent pool has only attracted a few patent holders so far. Robyn Trigg and Marc Döring examine how it would work, and whether it will take off

    • Trademarks
    • Copyrights
      • Julia Reda MEP Likened to Nazi in Sweeping Anti-Pirate Rant

        The debate over copyright and enforcement thereof is often polarized, with staunch supporters on one side, objectors firmly on the other, and never the twain shall meet.

        As a result, there have been some heated battles over the years, with pro-copyright bodies accusing pirates of theft and pirates accusing pro-copyright bodies of monopolistic tendencies. While neither claim is particularly pleasant, they have become staples of this prolonged war of words and as such, many have become desensitized to their original impact.

        This morning, however, musician and staunch pro-copyright activist David Lowery published an article which pours huge amounts of gas on the fire. The headline goes straight for the jugular, asking: Why is it Every Time We Turn Over a Pirate Rock White Nationalists, Nazi’s and Bigots Scurry Out?

      • Canadian ISP Bell Calls For Pirate Site Blacklist in NAFTA Hearing

        In order to make the NAFTA trade agreement “work better”, Bell, Canada’s largest telecommunications company, is recommending that the Government commits to stronger intellectual property enforcement. The company envisions a system where all ISPs are required to block access to pirate sites, without court intervention.

      • Canada Pushes Back Against U.S. Copyright Demands in NAFTA

        The third round of negotiations over the modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is underway right now in Ottawa, and EFF is there to represent you. It’s been a frustrating few days so far. Before explaining why, we’ll skip straight to what you probably want to know: how close are the parties to a deal, and what do we know about what’s in it?

      • Ottawa NAFTA Round Turns to Copyright
      • Infojustice: Ottawa NAFTA Round Turns To Copyright

        Civil society organizations, including internet freedom and information justice advocates from the US and Canada (Mexico was largely absent due to the earthquakes), gathered in Ottawa over the weekend to provide the public forum on NAFTA issues that the formal negotiation has yet to sponsor. The Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic teamed with American University’s Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property, OpenMedia and the Electronic Frontier Foundation to discuss public interest concerns with the E-Commerce and copyright provisions of the potential agreement.

      • Scientific Publishers Want Upload Filter To Stop Academics Sharing Their Own Papers Without Permission

        Back in March of this year, Techdirt wrote about ResearchGate, a site that allows its members to upload and share academic papers. Although the site says it is the responsibility of the uploaders to make sure that they have the necessary rights to post and share material, it’s clear that millions of articles on ResearchGate are unauthorized copies according to the restrictive agreements that publishers typically impose on their authors. As we wrote back then, it was interesting that academic publishers were fine with that, but not with Sci-Hub posting and sharing more or less the same number of unauthorized papers.
        Somewhat belatedly, the International Association of Scientific Technical and Medical Publishers (STM) has now announced that it is not fine with authors sharing copies of their own papers on ResearchGate without asking permission. In a letter to the site from its lawyers (pdf), the STM is proposing what it calls “a sustainable way to grow and to continue the important role you play in the research ecosystem”. Here’s what it wants ResearchGate (“RG”) to do:

      • Hidden 2015 European Commission Report on Copyright Infringement
      • Why shouldn’t copyright law apply on the Internet?

        Every so often, you hear copyright industry lobbyists ask “why copyright law shouldn’t apply on the Internet”, suggesting that the Internet is a lawless land with regard to people sharing what they like. They have a point, but not the point they think: Our laws have checks and balances that prevent enforcement against sharing culture and knowledge in the offline world, and there’s no reason why these check-and-balance laws shouldn’t apply online too.

EPO Lies About the UPC, Violations of Human Rights, and ‘Green’ European Patents

Tuesday 26th of September 2017 04:41:46 PM

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

Dr. Glyn Moody

Summary: The charm offensives of the EPO’s management have become ever more desperate and detached from reality — to the point where even the EPO’s Chief Economist Yann Ménière is acting like a marketing stooge

THE EPO is lying across the Atlantic today. As we anticipated earlier this autumn, the same old lies of the EPO travel to Canada and CIPO takes pride in it. It just wrote to the EPO: “thank you for coming to the #Gatineau roadshow on the Unitary #Patent & Unified Patent Court!”

“They tell to each other what they want to believe rather than what is true.”The right-hand liar of Battistelli (Margot Fröhlinger) goes to Canada to lie to Canadian people about the prospects of the UPC and she probably won’t face any refutation, mostly because it’s an echo chamber-type event. They tell to each other what they want to believe rather than what is true. A couple of days ago Josep Maria Pujals‏ joked at Bristows by writing: “Sagrada Familia (2022) completed before UPC?”

Josep Maria Pujals‏ is a registered patent agent and he too doesn’t believe what Team UPC is saying. Surveys have shown that most patent professionals generally know that Team UPC is lying, but few are brave enough to say it out loud, in public.

“The UPC ambitions have brought nothing but an assault on patent quality (European Patents are no longer what they used to be) and a disarray which culminated in serious violations of human rights.”In an effort to push the UPC, the EPO is nowadays propagating old lies about SMEs. What the EPO means by “SMEs” is mostly NPEs (patent trolls whose main/sole existence is litigation) and yesterday the EPO did this again. Will it ever stop?

The UPC ambitions have brought nothing but an assault on patent quality (European Patents are no longer what they used to be*) and a disarray which culminated in serious violations of human rights. Yesterday SUEPO published: “Staff representative in Germany – a risky Job?” (courrierinternational.com, 21-09-2017). The .pdf paper version of the article published in French by courrierinternational.com is available here. Original article is in German and published by Süddeutsche Zeitung on 03 July 2017 (paid-subscription article).”

“As if low-quality patents can someone be excused by so-called ‘green’ (supposedly ‘ethical’) patents…”We are waiting and hoping for an English translation of this article, which is in French. This article asserts that in Germany it has become dangerous to stand for labour rights. It never looked as though Merkel cared enough, either. She did not respond to letters regarding the EPO and Battistelli is effectively immune from German law, so there’s probably not much that she can do. Even if she really, genuinely wanted to…

Meanwhile, as of last night, the EPO published this greenwashing “news” item (warning: epo.org domain) which cites Battistelli’s ‘economic’ protégé, Mr. Ménière. Yesterday’s nonsense from the EPO would have us believe that, from an economic perspective, having a monopoly on climate change mitigation techniques would be beneficial. Restricting/limiting competition? How is that saving the planet? To quote:

The EPO’s Chief Economist Yann Ménière highlighted the latest developments in climate change mitigation technologies (CCMTs) in Europe and presented the European Patent Office’s activities in this area. These include the recent publication of a joint policy brief with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), which shows that the number and commercial value of CCMT inventions has been increasing globally over the past decade. The EPO has also created a dedicated tagging scheme for patent documents related to low-carbon technologies, enabling users to retrieve these technologies in the Office’s extensive public databases, and making it possible to map sustainable technologies, identify trends, and produce facts and evidence for policy and business decisions.

So the Abu Dhabi-based IRENA now participates in the old strategy of greenwashing (last mentioned two months ago) a violator of human rights. As if low-quality patents can someone be excused by so-called ‘green’ (supposedly ‘ethical’) patents…
_______
* Yesterday the EPO advertised the release of “[t]his year’s third edition for the Patent Information News magazine,” which in page 2 has a section about “quality report”, i.e. dissemination of lies about the EPO’s patent quality (it nosedived, so Battistelli now relies on "alternative facts" and bogus definitions of "quality").

Dying Computer Giants Turn Patents Into an Extortion Racket

Tuesday 26th of September 2017 03:19:22 PM

Not just Microsoft and Qualcomm but also IBM and HP

Summary: The Palo Alto, California-based HP Inc. (Hewlett-Packard), whose revenue and operating income are sinking (staff also laid off), sends patents to China while IBM continues to drum up software patents while blackmailing rivals with these

EARLIER this year we wrote about the Center for Intellectual Property Understanding, a new front group that’s mostly connected to IBM. They have become the biggest software patents propagandists (louder than Microsoft) and yesterday IAM gave Schecter the platform again (as does Watchtroll, very routinely). It’s more of that patent maximalism lobby, disguised as “education” or “understanding” (indoctrination). To quote the opening part:

Earlier this year a group of senior IP figures, led by Bruce Berman, launched the Center for IP Understanding (CIPU), a non-profit organisation focused on increasing awareness of the impact of IP on society. Later this year CIPU, together with Chicago-Kent College of Law, will hold the first IP Awareness Summit which will address the role of IP understanding in innovation, ideas and value creation.

In this guest post IBM’s chief patent counsel and CIPU board member Manny Schecter explains why all IP stakeholders should throw their support behind efforts to improve the public’s understanding of IP.

Remember that nowadays IBM is just litigating (attacking) companies; we covered many examples of it. We typically see it raised above the surface only when firms refuse to pay IBM ‘protection’ money, whereupon the matter goes to court (i.e. publicly visible).

In the meantime, based on the same site and the same date, HP is selling a lot of patents to Chinese patent parasites. China quickly became a major hub for patent trolls.

Well, as expected from any failing company, the patents end up being put on auction for trolls to cause terror (with blackmail). Remember that HP also swept up many patents from companies that it bought, e.g. Palm. To quote the blog:

On Friday, Ocean Tomo announced the first public patent auction under its latest platform, dubbed Ocean Tomo Bid-Ask Market (OTBA). More than 1,000 rights owned by HP Inc will go under the hammer between now and 20th October; they’re grouped into 45 separate lots across a range of mostly computing-related technology areas. The unique selling point of OTBA is evidently that it is less seller-driven than traditional auction formats, allowing potential buyers to efficiently post anonymous bids.

[...]

OTBA, with its emphasis of providing service to buyers as well as sellers, may go some way toward addressing these concerns. If we see some of these HP assets come under Chinese ownership, it could be a sign that auctions, done right, may eventually find more success in one of Asia’s key buyer markets.

How do existing and former IBM/HP workers feel about those patents of theirs (which they applied for and got granted) ending up as ammunition of patent trolls? The only “friendly” or “defensive” patent is one that does exist in the first place. Red Hat should pay attention because it too can be taken over (even a hostile takeover bid).

Microsoft Brings Its GNU/Linux-Hostile Patent Scheme to China

Tuesday 26th of September 2017 02:34:44 PM

Summary: Microsoft reiterates its intention to only offer ‘protection’ (or indemnification) for GNU/Linux users who pay Microsoft monthly fees while going further and hinting that it may send additional patents to trolls

THERE are still some people out there — not Richard Stallman, obviously — who have fallen for the lie and PR campaign which says “Microsoft loves Linux”. Some people, like Red Hat and Canonical (or Linux Foundation) staff, are paid not to understand, or at least to keep silent about it.

“As Bruce Perens recently explained, OIN exists to protect software patents from Linux rather than protect Linux from software patents.”On the surface it may seem like Microsoft’s patent aggression against GNU/Linux is no more. But that’s purely an illusion. We habitually show how Microsoft-connected patent trolls attack vendors who distribute GNU/Linux. They don’t always know who’s behind the trolls because the aggressors try to keep it complicated. It’s a shell game. Intellectual Ventures, for instance, has literally thousands of shell entities around it (one of these defames me).

Earlier today we found this press release about a firm from China (Guangzhou Automobile Group). No FOSS or Linux news site has caught it (so far). “By joining Open Invention Network,” (OIN) says the firm, “we are demonstrating our commitment to open source software, and supporting it with a pledge of patent non-aggression.”

The concept of “patent non-aggression” is OK, but OIN is next to worthless for Linux. As Bruce Perens recently explained, OIN exists to protect software patents from Linux rather than protect Linux from software patents. It’s an IBM front. It won’t oppose software patents (don’t even ask it about those) and it cannot do anything about patent trolls, by its own admission. That’s why Microsoft prefers using trolls — to distance itself from the negative publicity associated with patent aggression.

Here is a portion from the press release:

Open Invention Network (OIN), the largest patent non-aggression community in history, announced today that Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC Group), has joined as a community member. As owner of China’s fastest-growing auto brand, GAC Group is demonstrating its commitment to open source software (OSS) as an enabler of electronic vehicle systems.

More interesting, however, is this article published this morning by a patent trolls’ Web site. “Microsoft expands Azure IP Advantage to China,” the headline says. As we explained earlier this year in many articles (at least 13 [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13]), we expect that Microsoft will sic its patent trolls on rivals unless they pay protection money (in the form of Azure rents). We have already covered evidence of this. Here is the latest (emphasis ours, “NPE” is a euphemism for patent troll):

There are three key components to the Azure IP Advantage programme, which was rolled out back in February. First, the company’s uncapped indemnification policy was expanded to cover open source technologies; second, 10,000 Microsoft patents have been made available to customers for deterrent and defensive purposes; and finally, Azure customers can receive a ‘springing licence’ should Microsoft ever transfer patents to an NPE.

But the fine print noted that Azure IP Advantage was not yet available in China. Azure services in the country are operated by a Beijing-based company called 21Vianet, an independent entity. The unique arrangement meant a couple of extra hoops to jump through before the programme could take effect. But it will do just that at the start of next month, so from then on the Azure IP offering will be identical across all of the product’s international markets.

Do not believe for a moment that this is good news. Like we said earlier this year, it’s another Novell-like attempt to create two classes of GNU/Linux, “safe” (hosted by Microsoft) and “unsafe”. Microsoft isn’t stupid. We oughtn’t be stupid, either.

Rodney Gilstrap Dubbed “America’s Worst Patent Judge” Having Long Facilitated Trolls for Gains

Tuesday 26th of September 2017 02:04:07 PM

When the courtroom is treated like the reception desk of a business rather than carrier of justice

Summary: In an effort to feed the litigation ‘industry’ (and hospitality around it) Rodney Gilstrap has subverted the rule of law and is being called out on it

WE DO NOT believe in judge bashing (it’s not an honourable thing to do unless there is demonstrable misconduct as in the case of Randall Rader). However, prominent US politicians themselves are calling Gilstrap “reprehensible” (and explained why earlier this year). We last wrote about it some days ago because even courts above Gilstrap’s are losing their patience.

A few days ago an article by Mike Masnick called Gilstrap the “Patent Trolls’ Favorite Judge” and noted that the court above his own “Can’t Just Ignore The Supreme Court To Keep Patent Cases In Texas” (same thing we wrote at the time). To quote some bits:

A few weeks ago, we noted that Judge Rodney Gilstrap, a judge in East Texas who is infamous for handling approximately 25% of all patent cases in the entire country, appeared to be ignoring the Supreme Court in an effort to keep all those patent cases in his own docket. You see, earlier this year, in an important case, the Supreme Court said that the proper venue for a patent lawsuit to be brought should be where the defendant “resides” rather than just wherever they “do business.” Previously, patent trolls had said that the lawsuits could be brought wherever a company did business — which, with internet firms, meant anywhere — allowing them to file in their favorite court in East Texas. The Supreme Court said “that’s not what the law says.”

But Gilstrap tried, somewhat creatively, to twist himself around those rules, by arguing that all sorts of other factors could be used to determine “residence” — basically including (again) if you had any connection to that jurisdiction at all — and thus continue to allow East Texas to be an acceptable venue. We listed out those factors in the earlier post, but don’t need to do so again, because the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has already weighed in and said “nope, that’s not how it works.”

Today, BoingBoing wrote about this too and this was sent to us by readers, who are eager to see us mentioning it again because Gilstrap is, in effect, the trolls’ ‘mole’ in Texas. Here is what BoingBoing wrote:

America’s worst patent judge gets a scorching language lesson from the appeals court

Judge Rodney Gilstrap serves the Eastern District of Texas court, the venue from which patent trolls have extorted billions in useless menaces money from US industry; Gilstrap hears 25% of the patent cases brought in the USA, and has a track record for making epically terrible rulings.

But Gilstrap and the Eastern District are under threat, thanks to a series of rulings (including a Supreme Court ruling) that holds that patent holders have to sue alleged infringers in the place where they “reside” and not just in some place where their products are available (which, in the internet age, is everywhere).

Gilstrap tried to get around this, allowing a troll to bring another case to the Eastern District of Texas by making up a nonsensical “residency test” that would keep the racket alive.

We too are tempted to bash this judge, but in order to avoid hypocrisy (it’s usually Watchtroll who is judge-bashing) we prefer to show how other sites are bashing him. He probably deserves this. He did this to his own reputation.

Links 26/9/2017: Linux 4.14 RC2, Mesa 17.1.10, Red Hat’s Results Published

Monday 25th of September 2017 11:23:54 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • 10 Tips For First Time Linux Users

      ​New to Linux? Never fear, a superior operating system is here! You’ll go from asking everyone for help to re-compiling your own kernel in no time! (Relevant XKCD).

    • Are These the Toughest Linux Operating Systems to Install?

      It’s important to keep in mind that no matter the Linux operating system you choose to install, what matters is getting it onto your computer and using it. Sure, there may be benefits or drawbacks to whatever setup you pursue, but that’s just how Linux is: various by nature.

      What’s really important is choosing something that best suits you. If you want a high level of flexibility, then by all means, use something like Arch Linux. And if you want something more automated, that’s fine as well. It’s still Linux, after all.

    • FreeType Improvements For The Adobe Engine

      With FreeType 2.8.1 having been released last week, a lot of new code landed in the early hours of today to its Git repository.

      The code landed includes the work done this summer by Ewald Hew for Google Summer of Code (GSoC 17) adding support for Type 1 fonts to the Adobe CFF engine. Type 1 is an older, less maintained font format.

  • Server
    • Future Proof Your SysAdmin Career: Advancing with Open Source

      For today’s system administrators, the future holds tremendous promise. In this ebook, we have covered many technical skills that can be big differentiators for sysadmins looking to advance their careers. But, increasingly, open source skillsets can also open new doors.

      A decade ago, Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst predicted that open source tools and platforms would become pervasive in IT. Today, that prediction has come true, with profound implications for the employment market. Participating in open source projects — through developing code, submitting a bug report, or contributing to documentation — is an important way to demonstrate open source skills to hiring managers.

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 4.14-rc2

      I’m back to my usual Sunday release schedule, and rc2 is out there in
      all the normal places.

      This was a fairly usual rc2, with a very quiet beginning of the week,
      and then most changes came in on Friday afternoon and Saturday (with
      the last few ones showing up Sunday morning).

      Normally I tend to dislike how that pushes most of my work into the
      weekend, but this time I took advantage of it, spending the quiet part
      of last week diving instead.

      Anyway, the only unusual thing worth noting here is that the security
      subsystem pull request that came in during the merge window got
      rejected due to problems, and so rc2 ends up with most of that
      security pull having been merged in independent pieces instead.

    • Linux 4.14-rc2 Kernel Released
    • Graphics Stack
    • Benchmarks
      • Intel Announces Early 8th Gen Core Processors, Coffee Lake

        Intel has rushed up the announcement of their 8th Gen Intel Core desktop processors following a recent leak. We can now confirm that these new Intel CPUs are en route to retailers, they have already arrived for testing, and will be benchmarked under Linux on Phoronix once that secondary embargo expires.

      • Intel Core i9 7980XE Linux Benchmarks: 18 Core / 36 Threads For $1999 USD

        Besides the embargo expiring this morning on the Intel Core i9 7960X, the Core i9 7980XE Extreme Edition processor is also now fair game. Here is our look at the Linux performance for this 18 core / 36 thread processor within a single 165 Watt package.

      • Intel Core i9 7960X Linux Benchmarks

        While Intel previously announced the expanded Intel Core X-Series line-up including the Core i9 7960X and Core i9 7980XE processors, only today is the performance embargo expiring as these CPUs begin to ship to further battle AMD’s Ryzen Threadripper line-up. Here is today’s launch-day Linux benchmarks of the Core i9 7960X.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • 5 Great Linux Desktop Environments You Haven’t Heard Of

      Although popular, these desktop environments (DE) are just a sample of what’s currently available. Better still, it’s so easy to make the change. Unlike Windows and macOS, you can change the desktop user interface by simply installing a new one. Unhappy with the way your preferred Linux distro looks? You don’t have to switch distros, just switch desktops!

      The following five desktop environments (and, to be precise, shells) are under the radar, but definitely worth a look.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Qt 5.10 Alpha in testing for KDE neon

        Qt 5.10 got an alpha release last week and rumours are there’s lots of interesting new stuff for Plasma developers and other parts of KDE.

        Packages are available in KDE neon but hidden away in the testing repository because there is inevitably some breakage. Random bits of QML such as the clock above and Kirigami seem to be unhappy. Please do test but expect breakage and fixes to be necessary.

      • KTextEditorPreviewPlugin 0.1.0

        The KTextEditorPreviewPlugin software provides the KTextEditor Document Preview Plugin, a plugin for the editor Kate, the IDE KDevelop, or other software using the KTextEditor framework.

        The plugin enables a live preview of the currently edited text document in the final format. For the display it uses the KParts plugin which is currently selected as the preferred one for the MIME type of the document. If there is no matching KParts plugin, no preview is possible.

      • Quick Look at KDE Plasma 5.11

        KDE released Plasma 5.11 beta version at 14 September 2017. The new star feature here is Plasma Vault, an ability to protect your folder with password. You can try it on the latest KDE neon before the Plasma finally released next October. Here is a quick look to the new things on KDE Plasma on neon dev-unstable.

  • Distributions
    • Reviews
      • BackSlash Linux Olaf

        While using BackSlash, I had two serious concerns. The first was with desktop performance. The Plasma-based desktop was not as responsive as I’m used to, in either test environment. Often times disabling effects or file indexing will improve the situation, but the desktop still lagged a bit for me. My other issue was the program crashes I experienced. The Discover software manager crashed on me several times, WPS crashed on start-up the first time on both machines, I lost the settings panel once along with my changes in progress. These problems make me think BackSlash’s design may be appealing to newcomers, but I have concerns with the environment’s stability.

        Down the road, once the developers have a chance to iron out some issues and polish the interface, I think BackSlash might do well targeting former macOS users, much the same way Zorin OS tries to appeal to former Windows users. But first, I think the distribution needs to stabilize a bit and squash lingering stability bugs.

      • A Quick Review Of Parabola Linux Distribution

        ​There is free software and then there is software that is entirely free as in freedom (libre). These distros are ready-to-use full systems whose developers have followed the Guidelines for Free Systems Distribution as put forward by the Free Software Foundation.

      • Antergos 17.9 Gnome – Ghost riders in the Tux

        Antergos 17.9 is a weird distro, full of polarities. It comes with a weak live session, and it does not really demo what it can do. The installer is good, robust, and if offers some neat tricks, including extra software and proprietary graphics driver. I’m really impressed by that. The installed system behaved reasonably, but with some oddities.

        Hardware support isn’t the best, most notably touchpad and what happened after waking from suspend. On the other hand, you get good smartphone and media support, a colorful and practical software selection, a moderately reasonable package manager with some tiny dependency hiccups, pretty looks, okay performance, and nowhere does it advertise its Archness. Much better than I expected, not as good as it should be. Well, taking everything into consideration, I guess it deserves something like 7.5/10. Antergos needs a livelier live session, more hardware love out of the box, and a handful of small tweaks around desktop usability. Shouldn’t be too hard to nail. Worth watching.

    • New Releases
      • LibreELEC (Krypton) v8.1.2 BETA

        This is the third beta for our 8.2 release. It addresses minor findings related to the Samba bump: we now detect and avoid invalid Samba v3 configurations, old samba.conf.sample templates are overwritten with the new v4 template, and remote SMB shares are mounted using SMB2 or where possible SMB3. The release also adds support for the Raspberry Pi IQAudIO Digi+ board and a Xiaomi BT remote, and includes security fixes for the Blueborne Linux/BlueZ vulnerability. This is hopefully the final 8.1.x beta release; next will be 8.2.0.

    • Arch Family
      • Manjaro Linux Phasing out i686 (32bit) Support

        In a not very surprising move by the Manjaro Linux developers, a blog post was made by Philip, the Lead Developer of the popular distribution based off Arch Linux, On Sept. 23 that reveals that 32-bit support will be phased out.

        In his announcement, Philip says, “Due to the decreasing popularity of i686 among the developers and the community, we have decided to phase out the support of this architecture. The decision means that v17.0.3 ISO will be the last that allows to install 32 bit Manjaro Linux. September and October will be our deprecation period, during which i686 will be still receiving upgraded packages. Starting from November 2017, packaging will no longer require that from maintainers, effectively making i686 unsupported.”

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • SUSE Linux turns 25: From business distro leader to cloud power

        Today, SUSE, the oldest Linux business still running, is a long, long way from its humble beginnings. Then, the first SUSE Linux was a German port of Patrick Volkerding’s Slackware, the world’s longest surviving Linux distribution.

      • Enterprise open source comes of age

        In the age of digitalisation and data centre modernisation, open source has come of age.

        This is demonstrated by the growth that enterprise open source software provider SUSE has enjoyed over the last months.

        “SUSE is in good shape,” says Nils Brauckmann, CEO of SUSE. “In the last year, revenue grew at 21%, and it was profitable growth.”

        Business is positive going forward, he adds, with SUSE now part of the larger mothership Micro Focus group following the completion this month of the HPE Software spin merger.

        “Micro focus is now the seventh-largest pure-play software vendor in the world, with revenues approaching $4,5-billion,” Brauckmann points out.

    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu Touch OTA-2 Rolls Out for Ubuntu Phones, Including Nexus 4 & Nexus 7 2013

            The UBports community has released this past weekend the second OTA (Over-the-Air) update to supported Ubuntu Phone devices, bringing support for some old devices that were requested by the community, as well as a set of new features.

          • UbuCon Europe 2017

            I’ve been to many Ubuntu related events before, but what surprises me every time about UbuCons is the outstanding work by the community organising these events.

            Earlier this month, I was in Paris for UbuCon Europe 2017. I had quite high expectations about the event/location and the talks, especially because the French Ubuntu community is known for hosting awesome events several times a year like Ubuntu Party and Ubuntu install parties.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Packet radio lives on through open source software

    Packet radio is an amateur radio technology from the early 1980s that sends data between computers. Linux has natively supported the packet radio protocol, more formally known as AX.25, since 1993. Despite its age, amateur radio operators continue to use and develop packet radio today. A Linux packet station can be used for mail, chat, and TCP/IP. It also has some unique capabilities, such as tracking the positions of nearby stations or sending short messages via the International Space Station (ISS).

  • Change Healthcare Releases Healthcare Blockchain Solution
  • Change Healthcare Introduces Enterprise Blockchain for Healthcare
  • Be Nice: Hyperledger’s Brian Behlendorf Offers Tips for Creating Sustainable Open Source Projects

    The Linux operating system was created some 26 years ago by a young Finnish engineer, and it now powers the global economy. Not only has Linux survived for more than quarter of a century, it continues to grow its influence and dominance.

  • American International University, West Africa Extends Curriculum as Open Source Initiative Member

    The Open Source Initiative® (OSI), the global non-profit formed to educate about, and advocate for, the benefits of open source software and build bridges among different constituencies in the open source community, announced today that The American International University, West Africa’s (AIUWA) has joined the organization as an Affiliate Member. AIUWA is a unique educational instituion of higher education, combining degree-seeking programs, along with professional development and certification. The program’s mandatory academic and professional courses enable students to graduate with both academic credentials and professional qualifications. AIUWA also serves as a center for health, management, and information technology research and development in Africa.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Adding More Policy Firepower to the Mozilla Network

        In June, Mozilla launched a new fellowship that brings together policy experts from around the world to advance crucial tech policy efforts. Today, we are excited to announce the appointment of seven advisors to help steer this fellowship into the future. We are also announcing one new fellow, bringing the cohort to 11 fellows from four countries who are already up to great work.

        Over the past three months, Mozilla’s Tech Policy Fellows have been digging into their projects to keep the Internet open and freely accessible to all. With most fellows joining directly out of government service, they’re continuing to move forward some of the urgent policy efforts they had been leading, and working to avoid any backsliding that might come with government transitions.

        The fellows’ work is focused on protecting net neutrality, advancing policies around artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, promoting affordable broadband service for vulnerable communities, and more. Amba Kak is our most recent addition, starting this month to work on promoting net neutrality in India.

        To advance this work, the fellows are meeting with policymakers inside and outside of government; they’re keynoting major events and giving press interviews about the importance of these topics; and in the coming weeks, they’ll share more about their work with the Mozilla network on our network blog.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • Funding
    • MongoDB’s Mongo Moment [Ed: Ridiculous. The "journalist" writing about MongoDB here has received many paychecks from the company.]
  • BSD
    • 23 Years of FreeDOS

      This eBook contains the voices of many of the users who contributed their stories, as well as the history of FreeDOS. Many individuals have helped make FreeDOS what it is, but this eBook represents only a few of them. I hope you enjoy this collection of 23 years of everything FreeDOS!

    • Call for testing: OpenSSH 7.6

      OpenSSH 7.6p1 is almost ready for release, so we would appreciate testing
      on as many platforms and systems as possible. This is a bugfix release.

    • OpenSSH 7.6 Is Ready For Testing & Finishes Gutting SSHv1

      OpenSSH 7.6 will be hitting the streets soon.

    • New FreeBSD Committer

      So in a sense I have been part-time part of the FreeBSD Community for nearly 15 years as well. FreeBSD has reached Tier-1 status within KDE now, with the KDE FreeBSD CI, which much stronger upstreaming happening, and with Tobias and Raphael following new releases pretty closely. I’ve been pushing and prodding at our ports tree a lot, and chasing CMake releases (and reporting bugs), and trying to get some KDE KF5-based applications into the official ports tree. So I’m happy to now receive a FreeBSD ports commit bit, with Tobias and Raphael acting as mentors. I won’t pretend this will immediately lead to Qt 5.9 and KDE Applications 17.latest in the official FreeBSD ports tree, but it increases the (direct) effort we can expend on it.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • Richard Stallman says Microsoft’s Linux love-in is a ploy to ‘extinguish’ free software

      GNU OS CREATOR Richard Stallman has slammed Microsoft’s Windows 10 subsystem for Linux as an attempt to “extinguish” free software.

      Microsoft, a company whose ex-CEO famously slammed Linux as a “cancer”, has a new found “love” for open source software, having last month released its hell-over-freezing subsystem that lets Windows 10 users run various GNU/Linux distros and software.

      Unsurprisingly, some are sceptical about Microsoft’s new-found enthusiasm for Linux and open source software, including free software advocate, and founder of GNU OS Richard Stallman.

      Speaking to Tech Republic, he said Microsoft’s decision to build a Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) amounts to an attempt to extinguish free, open source software.

      “It certainly looks that way. But it won’t be so easy to extinguish us, because our reasons for using and advancing free software are not limited to practical convenience,” he said.

      “We want freedom. As a way to use computers in freedom, Windows is a non-starter.”

      “The aim of the free software movement is to free users from freedom-denying proprietary programs and systems, such as Windows. Making a non-free system, such Windows or macOS or iOS or ChromeOS or Android, more convenient is a step backward in the campaign for freedom.”

    • Microsoft’s Linux enthusiasm may not help open source

      Microsoft has been hitting the headlines lately with its enthusiasm for Linux – but Open Source’s messiah Richard Stallman is less than impressed.

      Vole has been building a Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) with its chums in Canonical. But Stallman thinks this amounts to an attempt to extinguish software that users are free to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve.

      “It certainly looks that way. But it won’t be so easy to extinguish us, because our reasons for using and advancing free software are not limited to practical convenience,” he said.

      “We want freedom. As a way to use computers in freedom, Windows is a non-starter.”

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Free the Seed: An Open Source Approach to Food Crop Seed

      We Americans value the freedom to do what we want with our property. These days, our freedom of action in regard to what we own is increasingly being eroded and constrained by the expansion of corporate power and the evolving legal dimensions of ownership.

      Nowhere has this tendency to limit freedom to operate come into sharper focus than in farming. A farmer may buy a John Deere tractor, but ownership of the copyrighted software—without which the tractor cannot run and cannot be repaired—is retained by the company. According to Deere, the farmer has “an implied lease” to operate the tractor but is prohibited from making any repair or change involving use of the copyrighted code.

    • Synthace raises a £7.3m Series A to bring open source to biotech

      Synthace, a UK startup using open source technology to make process in biotechnology move faster, has raises a £7.3m Series A round. New investors White Cloud Capital, Amadeus Capital Partners and Eleven Two Capital participated alongside existing investors that included Sofinnova Partners, SOSV and Bioeconomy Capital.

      The Company’s Antha operating system replaces processes which are currently done, almost, by hand.

      CEO Tim Fell says the company came out of the desire to better engineer biology: “Our need to heal, feed, fuel and manufacture for a growing population can be met by unlocking the near infinite power of biology but only by bringing software abstraction and more automation to biological R&D and manufacturing, and by enabling biologists to build atop their collective work. That is what the Antha platform does.”

    • Runway to Open Source Machine Learning Research
  • Programming/Development
    • Accelerate Application Modernization with Node.js

      Node.js is much more than an application platform. In a 2016 Forrester report, the research firm talked with several Node.js users and developers to better understand the growth of Node within global enterprises across all a range of industries.

    • GitLab v10 Integrates with Kubernetes

      It’s been six months and two million downloads since GitLab released version 9.0 of its developer-centric integrated application development platform. The company kept busy in the time since, polling nearly 1,000 users at client companies like VMWare, Sony and Ticketmaster to find out what capabilities their developers needed to power up the most enterprise-worthy GitLab release yet.

Leftovers
  • Apple replaces Bing with Google as search engine for Siri and Spotlight

    Apple is ditching Bing and will now use Google to power the default search engine for Siri, Search within iOS (iOS search bar), and Spotlight on Mac.

  • Science
    • Australia to launch its own Space Agency

      Australia is to establish its own space agency with the federal government set to announce plans for the agency as it looks to cash in on the growing global space industry estimated to be worth $400 billion.

  • Hardware
  • Health/Nutrition
    • New Research Links Flint Water Crisis to ‘Horrifyingly Large’ Spike in Fetal Death Rates

      Shedding new light on the human costs of the ongoing Flint water crisis—as well as underscoring the need for regulatory oversight—a new working paper links the city’s now infamous switch from the Detroit system to the Flint River as a water source with a decrease in fertility rates and a spike in fetal death rates.

      The paper (pdf) from researchers from the University of Kansas and West Virginia University is the first to look at lead-poisoned water’s impact on fertility and birth outcomes. It compares birth and fetal death rates, which refers to miscarriages after 20 weeks of gestation, in Flint with those in other Michigan cities from 2008 to 2015—before and after the 2014 water switch.

    • Ohio Community Confronts the Opioid Crisis Head-On

      Devon Applegate’s life in Scioto County, Ohio, has paralleled one of the worst drug epidemics this nation has ever seen. During his 19 years, he’s watched as opioid pills, dispensed by doctors to seemingly anyone who walked through their doors, destroyed the lives of many people in his community and throughout Ohio.

      The problem grew to a scale that it is now part of a nationwide crisis, leading the Trump administration to contemplate declaring a state of emergency. Southern Ohio is one of the opioid epidemic’s epicenters, and the problem continues to grow. In 2016, 4,050 Ohioans died from unintentional drug overdoses—a thousand more than the year before.

    • Unitaid Official Explains How ‘Breakthrough’ HIV Medicine Pricing Deal Brings Best To The Neediest

      In the midst of the high-level meetings of the annual United Nations General Assembly last week, health officials from the UN and foundations announced what they called a breakthrough pricing agreement that will speed the availability of “the first affordable, generic, single-pill HIV treatment regimen containing [the key compound] dolutegravir to public sector purchasers in low- and middle-income countries at around $75 per person, per year.” A senior official at Unitaid, the drug purchasing mechanism that helped reach the deal, explained to Intellectual Property Watch how it came about and why this is significant.

  • Security
    • Security updates for Monday
    • CCleaner malware may be from Chinese group: Avast

      Security company Avast says it has found similarities between the code injected into CCleaner and the APT17/Aurora malware created by a Chinese advanced persistent threat group in 2014/2015.

    • Capsule8 Raises New Funds to Help Improve Container Security

      Container security startup Capsule8 is moving forward with beta customer deployments and a Series A round of funding, to help achieve its vision of providing a secure, production-grade approach to container security.

      The Series A round of funding was announced on Sept. 19, with the company raising $6 million, led by Bessemer and ClearSky, bringing total funding to date up to $8.5 million. Capsule8 first emerged from stealth in February 2017, though its’ core technology product still remains in private beta as the company fine-tunes the platform for production workload requirements.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Dozens of Civilians Killed When U.S. Bombed a School And a Market in Syria

      U.S. military aircraft bombed a school and a crowded marketplace in attacks that killed dozens of civilians in Syria this March, according to a new report from Human Rights Watch. Titled “All Feasible Precautions?: Civilian Casualties in Anti-ISIS Coalition Airstrikes in Syria,” the report investigated two airstrikes conducted in and around the northern Syrian city of Tabqa. Investigators who visited the sites and interviewed locals and survivors found that the strikes had caused huge numbers of civilian deaths. The documentation adds to a drumbeat of criticism about a U.S. air campaign in Syria that has already been accused of inflicting massive civilian casualties in support of ground operations against Islamic State by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

      The attacks documented in the report include a March 20 airstrike that targeted a school housing displaced people in the suburban town of Mansourah, outside of Tabqa, as well as another strike that hit a packed marketplace in Tabqa City two days later. Investigators from Human Rights Watch visited the sites of both attacks this July and collected the names of at least 84 civilians who had died in the bombings, including 30 children. While witnesses who spoke to investigators acknowledged that there had been Islamic State members, along with their families, around the areas of the bombings, they also said that there had been many civilians nearby who had no connection to the group.

    • Vote by Iraqi Kurds Adds to Tensions

      It is a foregone conclusion that the independence vote will receive at least 90 percent support. It is also certain that the vote will not immediately change the legal status of the Iraqi Kurdish region from the semi-autonomy it already enjoys. But the possible overreaction of Baghdad and its neighbors to the vote has injected fear and uncertainty about what happens after Monday.

    • As Israel backs Kurdish independence, Palestinians may reap the benefit
    • Kurds vote in independence referendum
    • There Is No Rehabilitating the Vietnam War

      Since the day it ended, in 1975, there have been efforts to rehabilitate the Vietnam War, to make it acceptable, even honorable. After all, there were so many sides to the story, weren’t there? It was so complex, so nuancical. There was real heroism among the troops.

      Of course, all of this is true, but it’s true of every war so it doesn’t redeem any war. The Vietnam War is beyond redemption and must be remembered and condemned for the calamity that it was. The Vietnam War was “one of the greatest American foreign policy disasters of the twentieth century.”

      Those are not the words of a leftist pundit or a scribbling anti-American. They are the words of H.R. McMaster, the sitting National Security Advisor to the President of the United States.

    • North Korea asserts its right to shoot down U.S. bombers
    • US says it’s not pushing for regime change in NKorea

      The Trump administration clarified Monday that it’s not seeking to overthrow North Korea’s government after the president tweeted that Kim Jong Un “won’t be around much longer” and Pyongyang interpreted it as a declaration of war.

      Ratcheting up the rhetoric further, the North’s top diplomat also argued Monday that Trump’s comment gives it the right to shoot down U.S. warplanes in international airspace.

    • Senate Passes Defense Bill That Would Bolster Nuclear Weapons Programs

      The Senate approved a massive defense policy bill by a vote of 89 to 9 on Monday that is raising concerns about nuclear weapons proliferation amid rising tensions between the United States and countries such as North Korea and Russia.

      The Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), an annual piece of “must-pass” legislation that shapes dozens of policies at the Pentagon, would authorize $640 billion in discretionary defense spending and an additional $60 billion for overseas military operations, such as the ongoing war efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.

      What’s the value of $700 billion? It’s more than twice the size of Denmark’s entire economy, and the same amount of money that the government spent bailing out banks during the financial collapse in 2008. Both the Senate and House versions of the bill name amounts that exceed President Trump’s request for military funding by tens of billions of dollars.

      The numbers put forth in the defense authorization bill set the bar for future defense spending legislation and policy determinations. As an authorization bill, this legislation does not actually permit the expenditure of those funds; an appropriations bill is needed for that.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Climate Armageddon Revisited

      Massive hurricanes (Harvey, Irma, Maria) and torrential flooding (Houston, Sierra Leone, Bihar-India, Assam-India, Nepal, Mumbai, Southern Asian Noah’s Ark territory) are only telltale signs, minor events in a bigger picture, like canaries in the proverbial mineshaft, warning of a much larger canvas painted with darkened hues, threatening like the distant rumbling of an upcoming mega storm.

      In that regard, it’s unmitigated insanity to ignore the bellwethers of Armageddon when big time trouble brews, like now. Ominous changes in the planet’s ecosystem are so blatant that anybody ignoring these warning signals should be slapped on the back of the head: Wake up and pay attention!

      After all, Greenland’s entire surface turned to slush for the first time in scientific history, raising the question of whether a tipping point is at hand, in turn, raising sea level by a lot. According to the climate models of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), Greenland’s entire ice sheet was not expected to turn 100% slushy for decades to come. Surprise, surprise, it’s here now!

    • While Trump Stokes Division, Warnings Against Ignoring Ongoing Crisis in Puerto Rico

      “No matter what crazy stuff Trump is up to now let’s keep in mind Puerto Rico really needs our attention and help.”

      Those are the words of Mark Ruffalo this weekend as the actor and social justice activist echoed the concerns of many that the president’s incendiary comments over recent days are serving to distract people from the severe crisis in the U.S. island territory, where power remains out for much of the island and residents are growing increasingly worried over the scale of the damage left by Hurricane Maria.

      As journalist David Sirota tweeted, “Houston & FL are destroyed, Puerto Rico is in crisis & Trump wants u to be mad not at his climate denialism but instead at NFL players.”

      In an interview with the Washington Post on Sunday, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz described the disaster in her city and across Puerto Rico—elsewhere described as “apocalyptic”—by saying, “There is horror in the streets… People are actually becoming prisoners in their own homes.”

    • China puts US on notice over solar panel trade curbs ahead of Trump trip

      Beijing sent a tempered warning to Washington against trade curbs on the weekend after a US agency concluded that imports of Chinese solar panels had hurt two American manufacturers.
      China’s Ministry of Commerce called on the United States to “exercise caution” on trade restrictions and rejected the US International Trade Commission’s ruling on Friday that the cheap imports were responsible for the woes of the two companies.

      The commission now has two months to review the case and make recommendations, such as tariffs, to US President Donald Trump. If Trump does not take action he could be seen as failing to meet his “America First” protectionist agenda; if he does, it could overshadow his planned trip to China later this year.

      In a statement on Saturday, Wang Hejun, director of the ministry’s Trade Remedy and Investigation Bureau, said the commission’s ruling ignored strong opposition from other countries, US state governments, and “downstream” solar enterprises.

    • A pile of trash in the ocean has grown to the size of France—and some people want it recognized as a nation

      There’s a country-sized problem in the north Pacific Ocean: a patch of trash has grown to the size of France. So the environmental charity Plastic Oceans Foundation has paired up with the news and entertainment publication LadBible to campaign for it to be recognized as an official country.

      The campaign claims that, under Article 1 of the 1993 Montevideo Convention on the rights and duties of states, a country must be able to: define a territory, form a government, interact with other states, and have a permanent population. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch has borders (sort of), and it’s easy to create a government and institutions for interacting with others. Now with former US vice president Al Gore signing up as the country’s first citizen and more than 100,000 signing the petition to be granted citizenship, the campaign has submitted its application earlier this month to the United Nations to recognize the Trash Isles as the world’s 196th country.

      The project is the brainchild of advertising professionals Michael Hughes and Dalatando Almeida, according to AdWeek. Designer Mario Kerkstra helped create a flag, a passport, currency (called debris), and stamps.

    • The U.S. government fails Puerto Rico once again.

      But PROMESA is essentially an austerity measure. The financial oversight board charged with PROMESA’s implementation has proposed slashing public spending, further eroding the island’s worn safety net. “The plan includes cuts to the University of Puerto Rico, a reduction in pension benefits and a $550 million reduction in the island’s annual health care budget,” Marketplace reported in March.

      The federal government has long treated Puerto Rico like a vestigial organ, despite the fact that its 3.4 million residents are U.S. citizens. Puerto Rico needs aid, but it needs more than that; it needs equal recognition. It should be recognized as a state and funded accordingly—and if Congress isn’t willing to do that, it should end over a century of colonial rule and recognize the island’s independence.

    • Dubai starts tests in bid to become first city with flying taxis

      Dubai staged a test flight on Monday for what it said would soon be the world’s first drone taxi service under an ambitious plan by the United Arab Emirates city to lead the Arab world in innovation.

      The flying taxi developed by German drone firm Volocopter resembles a small, two-seater helicopter cabin topped by a wide hoop studded with 18 propellers.

      It was unmanned for its maiden test run in a ceremony arranged for Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed

    • Hot, isolated, and running out of supplies, parts of Puerto Rico near desperation

      In the heat and humidity here in the central mountains, Meryanne Aldea fanned her bedridden mother with a piece of cardboard Sunday as the ailing woman lay on her side, relieving a large ulcer in her back.

      The 63-year-old mother, Maria Dolores Hernandez, had cotton stuffed in her ears to keep flies out, since her now screenless windows were letting all sorts of bugs in. The gray-haired diabetic woman spoke with her daughter about her worries: that she would run out of prescription drugs, that they were almost out of generator fuel to keep her insulin refrigerated and to run the fans at night. With all the heat, she feared that her ulcer would become infected.

    • Chevron Rejects Push From Muslim Shareholders to Divest from Myanmar, Site of Ethnic Cleansing

      The world watches as the crisis continues in Myanmar, where the Muslim Rohingya minority faces barbaric acts of ethnic cleansing.

      The international community is increasingly critical of leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s resistance to intervention.

      But as the Nobel Laureate sits on her hands, a small Muslim-led investment firm led an effort to get a U.S. oil giant profiting from Myanmar’s fossil fuel wealth to divest in protest of the atrocities.

      The Virginia-based Azzad Asset Management started engaging in shareholder activism in 2015, a rarity among Islamic finance firms.

  • Finance
    • DeVos Says Defrauded Students Are After ‘Free Money’

      But perhaps none of that occurred to sheltered billionaire Betsy DeVos, speaking to wealthy Republicans at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in northern Michigan. These defrauded students are not seeking free money, but a chance to start again with nothing after being ripped off by cruel scam artists. Free money would be something like being born the daughter of Edgar Prince, who became a billionaire industrialist. Betsy DeVos is a disgrace.

    • Target to raise its minimum wage to $11 per hour, promising $15 by 2020
    • Why We Must Raise Taxes on Corporations and the Wealthy, Not Lower Them

      When Barack Obama was president, congressional Republicans were deficit hawks. They opposed almost everything Obama wanted to do by arguing it would increase the federal budget deficit.

      But now that Republicans are planning giant tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, they’ve stopped worrying about deficits.

      Senate Republicans have agreed to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, which means giant budget deficits.

    • Bridge over troubled legal water? Legal issues of the Brexit transition period

      Compared to famous Florentines, Theresa May’s recent speech on the UK’s Brexit plans inevitably owed more to Machiavelli than Leonardo da Vinci. Nevertheless, it gave a rough indication of the basic legal architecture that the UK government would like to govern its relationship with the EU for a transition period after Brexit Day. I have previously summarised and commented upon the main points of the Florence speech, but there is more to say on this legal framework – and also on the rules which would apply to EU27 citizens in the UK during the transition period.

    • Brexit bonanza: Lawyers encouraging corporations to sue UK & EU member states

      Brexit could become a money-making machine for law firms that make millions when corporations sue nation states via trade and investment agreements. Not only are these law firms paving the way for Brexit-related corporate claims against the UK, they are also building up the UK as a gateway for more investor claims against EU countries in the future.

    • John Oliver on monopolies, anti-trust and the death of real competitive markets

      Lax anti-trust enforcement is destroying American democracy, growth and equality; it laid waste to minority-owned small businesses and “fleeced” the middle class, creating its own parallel “justice” system and laying waste to whole industries, with the complicity of the Democratic party (and the $1,000/hour expert “consulting” by superstar economists), and there’s no end in sight, from Yahoo to Whole Foods.

    • Brexit diary – After Florence

      What should we make of it?

      In respect of the Brexit negotiations, the speech has made little difference. The position before the Florence speech is more-or-less the position today. The only concrete proposal, that of a security treaty, was welcome but not directly relevant to the current negotiations.

      [...]

      But if the speech was not in itself a failure, the speech was about failure.

      The request – which may or may not be granted by EU27 – for a two year transition on current terms is an implicit admission of the UK government’s failure to date on Brexit.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Ukraine-born billionaire with biz ties to Russian oligarchs is funding Trump’s legal defense via the RNC

      The RNC account in question has been historically used to pay for the RNC’s own legal bills, but just last month paid over $300,000 to help cover Trump’s personal legal expenses, Federal Election Commission filings reveal.

      Oh, and that same fund also paid about $200,000 to attorneys representing the President’s dumbest son, Don Jr.

    • Facebook Fail Is Blow for Silicon Valley Cult of Founder Control
    • Obama warned Zuckerberg about fake news on Facebook: report

      Obama reportedly pulled Zuckerberg aside at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Peru in November and warned him that unless he cracked down on fake news, it would only get worse in the next election.

    • Facebook Anonymously Admits It IDed Guccifer 2.0 in Real Time

      But 26 paragraphs later, WaPo reveals a detail that should totally change the spin of the article: in June, Facebook not only detected APT 28’s involvement in the operation (which I heard at the time), but also informed the FBI about it (which, along with the further details, I didn’t).

    • Kushner used private email account for White House business: Politico
    • Lawyer: Kushner used personal email for some WH messages

      President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, used his personal email account on dozens of occasions to communicate with colleagues in the White House, his lawyer said Sunday.

      Between January and August, Kushner either received or responded to fewer than 100 emails from White House officials from his private account, attorney Abbe Lowell said in a statement that confirmed Kushner’s use of a personal address in the first months of the administration.

      The use of a private email account to discuss government matters is a politically freighted issue that factored prominently in last year’s presidential election. Trump repeatedly attacked Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton for setting up a private email server as secretary of state, a decision that prompted an FBI investigation that shadowed her for much of the campaign.

      In Kushner’s case, Lowell said, the emails to and from his private account usually involved “forwarded news articles or political commentary and most often occurred when someone initiated the exchange by sending an email to his personal, rather than his White House, address.”

    • Watchdog: Ivanka Trump used personal email account for government business

      Ivanka Trump used a personal email account to communicate with a member of President Trump’s administration, a watchdog group said Monday.

      American Oversight obtained documents through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that show Ivanka Trump, a senior White House adviser to her father, used a personal email account to contact Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Linda McMahon in February.

      Ivanka Trump wrote that she wanted to “explore opportunities to collaborate” with McMahon’s department on “women’s entrepreneurship,” according to the emails released under FOIA.
      “Dina [Powell, the White House deputy national security director] and I are very excited about your focus on women’s entrepreneurship and would love to assist you in any way we can,” Ivanka Trump wrote.

      The documents show Ivanka Trump exchanged the emails with McMahon about a month before she became an official government employee, though she had been involved with high-level meetings within the administration. However, Ivanka Trump copied her chief of staff, Julie Radford, on the emails. In them, Radford has a White House email account.

    • Western Propaganda in Southeast Asia

      It is all done in a fully barefaced manner. Those who are not part of this world could never even dream about such a ‘perfect’ design.

      You come to your club, in my case to The Foreign Correspondent Club of Thailand (FCCT), and immediately the long arm of indoctrination begins stretching towards you.

      You place yourself on a comfortable couch, and soon after get fully serviced. You get instructed, told what to think and how to formulate or modify your ideas.

      You are periodically shown movies about “corruption and immorality” in China. You get encouraged to participate in some public discussions that are, among other things, trashing the anti-Western president of the Philippines.

    • Report: Jared Kushner used private email for White House business
    • How digital media fuels moral outrage – and what to do about it

      But in today’s online attention economy, attending to the outrageous feels less like writing a check and more like setting up an automatic withdrawal. Open Facebook or Twitter, and you are likely to be greeted by a bottomless feed of outrage-triggering stimuli on matters both momentous and trifling, all handpicked just for you by an artificial intelligence that gets smarter each time you click, tap, and scroll.

    • Facebook’s Ad Scandal Isn’t a ‘Fail,’ It’s a Feature

      Here’s the hard truth: All these problems are structural. Facebook is approaching half-a-trillion dollars in market capitalization because the business model — ad-targeting through deep surveillance, emaciated work force, automation and the use of algorithms to find and highlight content that entice people to stay on the site or click on ads or share pay-for-play messages — works.

      The trouble is Facebook’s business model is structurally identical whether advertisers are selling shoes, politics or fake diet pills, and whether they’re going after new moms, dog lovers or neo-Nazis. The algorithms don’t know the difference, and Facebook’s customers are not its users.

    • Iceland’s ‘Pirate’ Politician Won’t Run After Government Collapses In Pedophilia Scandal

      Nearly one year after she first took office in 2009, the Icelandic parliamentarian and co-founder of the populist Pirate Party worked with WikiLeaks to release a video of a U.S. helicopter gunning down a group of civilians and journalists in Baghdad. She became a fierce critic of American-led wars, a vocal advocate for radical transparency and a prime target for U.S. intelligence services, which subpoenaed her private Twitter messages.

    • “Those People:” Trump plays to White nat’lism from N. Korea to NFL

      He actually said “those people.”

    • MSNBC Goes Full Dr. Strangelove

      Oh, in addition to his crimes against humanity, Negroponte also endorsed Hillary Clinton, who obviously shared his interest in perpetuating mass suffering among nonwhite, non-loyal Hondurans. And she trumpeted his endorsement loudly, as she did with Henry Kissinger. Not that there’s anything tone-deaf about that.

      It turns out that old John Negroponte was very impressed with Trump’s speech—only Benjamin Netanyahu was more girlish in his excitement. But surely Jack Jacobs, decorated war hero, would call out the insanity of threatening to commit war crimes in a speech at The United Nations. And Williams teed it up for him, asking Jacobs how America could start to “walk back” Trump’s Jack D. Ripper idiocy.

    • Split exposed in German far-right as co-leader storms out

      Frauke Petry, the co-leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) said on Monday she would not be part of the parliamentary group of her anti-immigrant party and stormed out of a news conference without answering questions.

      Petry’s surprise announcement came after the AfD shocked the German establishment by scoring 12.6 percent in the national election on Sunday, meaning it will be the first far-right party to enter the German parliament in more than half a century.

    • Angela Merkel, Reluctant Leader of the West, ‘Has Gotten the Taste for It’
    • Support grows for second Brexit vote

      Support for a second referendum on Brexit is growing among British voters, amid diminishing optimism about the U.K.’s future outside the European Union and waning confidence in London and Brussels’ handling of the divorce negotiations, according to a detailed new poll shared exclusively with POLITICO.

      Just over half of those surveyed said they back some form of a second referendum, with the most popular scenario being a vote to either accept the government’s Brexit deal, or to stay in the EU — an option backed by 34 percent. That is up from 28 percent in a similar survey in March, according to new findings from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research (GQRR). In the earlier survey, 45 percent of people backed a second referendum — although these figures include public votes that would still mean the U.K. leaves the EU under either outcome.

    • The White House as Donald Trump’s New Casino

      During the 2016 election campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly emphasized that our country was run terribly and needed a businessman at its helm. Upon winning the White House, he insisted that the problem had been solved, adding, “In theory, I could run my business perfectly and then run the country perfectly. There’s never been a case like this.”

      Sure enough, while Hillary Clinton spent her time excoriating her opponent for not releasing his tax returns, Americans ultimately embraced the candidate who had proudly and openly dodged their exposure. And why not? It’s in the American ethos to disdain “the man” — especially the taxman. In an election turned reality TV show, who could resist watching a larger-than-life conman who had taken money from the government?

      Now, give him credit. As president, The Donald has done just what he promised the American people he would do: run the country like he ran his businesses. At one point, he even displayed confusion about distinguishing between them when he said of the United States: “We’re a very powerful company — country.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • 68 Things You Cannot Say on China’s Internet

      Song Jie, a writer in central China, knows what she can and cannot write in the romance novels she publishes online. Words that describe explicit sexual acts are out, of course. So are those for sexual organs. Even euphemisms like “behind” or “bottom” can trigger censorship by automatic software filters or a website’s employees.

      “Basically,” she said, “the sex scenes cannot be too detailed.”

      Other prohibitions inside China’s Great Firewall, the country’s system of internet filters and controls, are trickier to navigate, in part because they are subjective and even contradictory. And there are more and more of them.

      While China has long sought to block access to political material online, a flurry of new regulatory actions aims to establish a more expansive blockade, recalling an earlier era of public morality enforced by the ruling Communist Party.

      In a directive circulated this summer, the state-controlled association that polices China’s fast-growing digital media sector set out 68 categories of material that should be censored, covering a broad swath of what the world’s largest online audience might find interesting to read or watch.

    • How The RIAA Helped Pave The Way For Spain To Undermine Democracy

      This might seem like a harsh title, but let’s go back a bit into history. In 2010, at the direct urging of the RIAA, the US government, in the form of ICE, suddenly decided that it could seize domains right out from under websites with zero due process. Specifically, the RIAA gave ICE a list of websites that it insisted were engaging in piracy. It later turned out that this list was completely bogus — and the seized domains included some music blogs and a search engine — and when ICE asked the RIAA to provide the evidence (incredibly, many months after seizing the domains…), it turns out that they had none. Even with all of this, ICE kept one blog’s domain for over a year, while denying that site’s lawyer even the chance to talk to the judge overseeing the case — and (even more incredibly) kept two other sites for five whole years.
      The RIAA, who was directly quoted in the affidavit used to seize these domains (including falsely claiming that a non-RIAA song, that was personally given to the site by the independent artist in question, was an RIAA song and infringing) later tried to downplay its role in all of this, while still insisting that seizing entire domains based on flimsy claims and zero evidence was a perfectly reasonable strategy.

    • French Ministry of Interior v. Indymedia: An absurd and shocking act of censorship

      Last Thursday, the French Ministry of Interior ordered two Indymedia websites, one in Nantes and the other in Grenoble, to take down an anonymous tract claiming responsibility for fire arson in a police hangar the previous night. According to the government, the hosted text constitutes a “provocation to terrorism”. The two Indymedia sites decided to take down the litigious content, in order to avoid being put on the secret blocking list sent by the government to major ISPs in France to censor websites. While the text has also been relayed on the websites of traditional news outlets, the latter have apparently not been subject to the government’s takedown request.

    • China’s Censors Pull Revered Director’s Film Days Before Release, Outraging Industry

      Marketing efforts and ticket presales for Feng Xiaogang’s ‘Youth’ were already well advanced when authorities suddenly blocked its release, offering no explanation.

      Youth, the 17th film from renowned Chinese filmmaker Feng Xiaogang, had been billed as a possible commercial and critical return to form. But a sudden heavy-handed censorship decision may have just laid such hope to waste.

      A sweeping period drama set during the upheavals of 1970s China, the film was well received at its world premiere during the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month, with critics praising its balance between Feng’s auteurist and crowd-pleasing impulses — traits that once earned him the nickname of “China’s Spielberg.” Commercial prospects for Beijing studio Huayi Brothers, the film’s lead producer (which could use a hit), were also thought to be strong, as the film was set to open Sept. 29, just prior to a lengthy national holiday period in China.

    • Twitter Censorship: Government Removal Requests
    • The New Censorship
    • China Blocks WhatsApp, Broadening Online Censorship
    • WeChat claims it stores all user data and could even ‘disclose’ it to the Chinese government
    • Banned Books Week: Unveiling NCAC’s Book Censorship Action Kit

      “Banning books? That doesn’t happen in the United States.”

      Unfortunately, attempts at censorship don’t only happen in places like China or Iran.

    • Banned Books Week: ‘In 2017, censorship comes from an outraged public’
    • Why We Need to Have Access to Banned Books

      This week is the American Library Association’s official Banned Books Week, where we celebrate books that have survived troubled times, literary shunning and, occasionally, potential legal persecution.

      Oddly enough, most of the books that faced so much trouble are ones we now consider essential to the literary sphere.

      As we (or at least I) celebrate Banned Books week by buying out Barnes and Noble’s entire stock, we should remember that without these books, the world at large could have a much narrower worldview.

    • Where to Celebrate Banned Books Week 2017!
    • Panel celebrates freedom to read
    • Remain vigilant on Chinese censorship, says academic
    • Blazing saddles dim memory in new dark age of censorship, witch-hunts
    • China’s cyber watchdog imposes top fines on tech firms over censorship
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Is the NSA Doing More Harm Than Good in Not Disclosing Exploits?

      The current debate surrounding the Vulnerabilities Equities Process (VEP) — the process by which the U.S. government decides whether to disclose newly discovered software vulnerabilities or keep them secret for possible use — is admittedly rather tedious. One side accuses NSA of “exploit hoarding” and insists the agency should disclose more discovered vulnerabilities in the interest of public safety. The other side counters that the government should retain a responsible amount of so-called zero-day exploits and that it discloses them when reasonable. Both sides, however, often talk past the obvious point that there will always be vulnerabilities the NSA needs to retain for national security reasons. Even those who encourage the NSA to prioritize defense over retention of vulnerabilities for offensive use should acknowledge that disclosure of a vulnerability makes us more secure only if it is either already in the hands of — or independently discovered — by an adversary.

    • Accused NSA leaker Reality Winner seeks release from jail
    • Accused NSA Leaker Reality Winner Seeks Release From Jail
    • Accused Georgia NSA leaker appearing in court this week to ask for release
    • ePrivacy Campaign starts today, act now!

      A decisive vote for our online privacy will take place in the European Parliament in two weeks. If we do not act now, companies will be allowed to monitor us for business purposes and without our consent (through the analysis of our emails, calls and Internet usage, online tracking and geolocation). La Quadrature du Net starts today an awareness campaign, so that anyone can contribute to this fight for our rights: eprivacy.laquadrature.net.

      There are two weeks left to convince the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs’) in the ‘Civil Liberties’ Committee (LIBE) to protect our privacy. On 11 October, they will vote their draft report on the ePrivacy Regulation. This report will be the basis on which the Parliament will approach this key Regulation before negotiating it with the Council of the EU (made of the government of each Member State).

    • Campaign group chief found guilty of refusing to divulge passwords

      The international director of the campaign organisation Cage has been convicted of a terrorist offence after refusing to hand over passwords to his mobile phone and laptop.

      Muhammad Rabbani, 36, was found guilty at Westminster magistrates’ court of wilfully obstructing police when he refused to cooperate at Heathrow airport last November. The test case could affect the way thousands of suspects stopped at UK airports and ports every year interact in the future with anti-terrorist officers.

      Rabbani was given a conditional discharge for 12 months and ordered to pay £620 in costs. His lawyers plan to appeal to the high court on the grounds that existing police powers do not sufficiently protect privacy or legally privileged material.

    • Traveler who refused to give device passwords to police found guilty of obstruction in UK court

      A UK court has reaffirmed the power for state agents to use sweeping counterterrorism legislation to require travelers hand over the passwords for their digital devices for their contents to be searched at borders.

      A London court today found Muhammad Rabbani guilty of willfully obstructing the police by failing to hand over device passwords and the PIN code for his smartphone after he had been detained at a UK airport.

    • The race to save online privacy: what happens when quantum computers can break all our crypto?

      Although many people are well aware of the many threats to their privacy, there is an underlying assumption that the use of strong encryption will always be available to mitigate those problems. Governments will doubtless continue to push for backdoors in encrypted Internet services like WhatsApp. But even if they do get their way by some misfortune, there are open source implementations that will remain beyond the reach of any government. As soon as commercial offerings are compromised, free software versions can step in for those who want such protection.

      [...]

      Even if new encryption methods are introduced for future protection, there’s nothing to stop people using quantum computing to expose information that has been protected using today’s crypto. For example, the NSA or GCHQ might be storing encrypted emails and communications of interest that they have swept up as part of their global surveillance. Those might be impossible to read today, but in a few years’ time, when quantum computers are available to deep-pocketed intelligence agencies, the latter will be able to eavesdrop on all those conversations we thought were guaranteed to be private, which could have some interesting consequences in years to come.

    • NSA-Developed Crypto Technology No Longer Trusted For Use In Global Standards

      One of the most shocking pieces of information to emerge from the Snowden documents was that the NSA had paid RSA $10 million to push a weakened form of crypto in its products. The big advantage for the NSA was that it made it much easier to decrypt messages sent using that flawed technology. A few months after this news, the National Institute of Standards and Technology announced that it would remove the “Dual Elliptic Curve” (Dual EC) algorithm from its recommendations. But of course, that’s not the end of the story. Betraying trust is always a bad idea, but in the security field it’s an incredibly stupid idea, since trust is a key aspect of the way things work in that shadowy world.

    • NSA Encryption War – if they win do we lose?

      Security agencies like the NSA are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

      We want their protection but we don’t want to give them the tools and access they need to protect us. Abuse is obviously a big concern here and if the movies can be believed, we have good reason to be worried.

      This debate is going to rage on until there is more convergence between cybercrime and cyber terrorism. We are already seeing cyber terrorists leveraging the web more than ever before.

      Once we start seeing remotely controlled loss of life, public opinion will no doubt swing to wanting to give the security agencies the tools and access they need.

    • Woman charged after uploading nude picture of friend getting dressed to Facebook

      A 22-year-old woman faces two years in prison after being charged with taking a nude photograph of her friend while she was getting dressed and then unlawfully uploading it to Facebook without her permission.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Trump doubles down on NFL rant, clearly has no idea how all this works

      If there’s anything constructive to take from Donald Trump’s continuing crusade against black athletes in the NFL protesting racial injustices in America, it’s that he seems to have lost touch with reality.

      Less than 24 hours after his initial, poorly received remarks that took the league’s protesting players to task, the 45th president of the United States is using his favorite social media platform to double down. In a pair of Saturday tweets, he seems to suggest that he’s somehow empowered to fire NFL players.

    • Freezing immigrants’ bank accounts makes Britain look more and more dystopian

      There’s a flashback in one of the early episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale, the TV version of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel, where June, the protagonist, tries to pay for a coffee under the new regime and her card is declined. She discovers that every woman’s bank account has been frozen, and she is now entirely reliant on her partner for money. Deprived of money, she realises, there is even less chance she can flee. It is a remarkable reminder of the way the state can control the population with the click of a button.

      The government’s decision to force banks and building societies to freeze the accounts of failed asylum seekers, foreign national offenders and visa overstayers has a ring of The Handmaid’s Tale – only in this case, Theresa May really wants them to leave. As home secretary, she oversaw the creation of “hostile environment” for illegal immigrants, including requiring landlords to check their tenant’s immigration status, and a “deport first, appeal later” policy.

    • #TakeaKnee Sunday as NFL Teams and Players Rebuff President Trump

      Sunday is game day for the National Football League and the hashtag #TakeaKnee is going viral as people across the nation see how players and teams respond to calls by President Donald Trump to punish players who do so.

      For the earliest round of games that began at 1:00 pm (EST), dozens of players knelt while many teams chose to stand with arms locked together in a show of solidarity (see below).

      Despite that the NFL has been a vocal (and official) sponsor of the U.S. military for years—acting mostly as a high-profile promoter and recruitment center for the Pentagon—a wave of protest initiated last year by players trying to draw attention to racism and police violence has swept the league into the political conversation this week after Trump, first at a rally on Friday night and then in a series of weekend tweets, called on team owners to fire or suspend players for voicing their views on social issues.

    • 10 Clarifying #TakeaKnee Tweets to Beat Back Idiotic Arguments by Right-Wingers

      With #TakeaKnee going viral on Sunday as NFL players push back against threats by President Donald Trump, those who support the president’s position that professional athletes—and especially black or brown professional athletes—should just do as they are told and not speak their minds were infecting the social media hashtag with a variety of racist and otherwise ill-considered arguments about why “millionaire players” shouldn’t have or express political views. (Also, it’s all about the flag and misguided pro-war patriotism, aka freedom.)

    • NFL Players Kneel During National Anthem At Ravens and Jaguars Games In Protest of Trump and Racism

      Dozens of NFL players and staff took a knee during the national anthem Sunday at the first game after President Donald Trump criticized the practice at a rally in Alabama. The game was between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Baltimore Ravens in London.

    • Why the World Feels Like It’s Going Crazy

      Is it just a coincidence that the US, UK, and Germany (not to mention Turkey, Hungary, and so on) have all swung hard right in the last year or so? That suddenly one day, the citizens of three of the world’s richest countries woke up and decided collectively on extremism, for no underlying, connected, shared reason? Does that sound plausible? I think that the opposite is true: to any reasonable person, there is now a sharp trend very clearly visible. And as with any trend, there must be a cause.

    • Violent Crime in U.S. Rises for Second Consecutive Year
    • Torturing Detainees Is Immoral and Ineffective, Says UN Human Rights Chief

      A Manual for Investigative Interviewing to abolish torture among detainees suspected of crime is in the pipeline, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said today.

      At an event held on the sidelines of the General Assembly, Al Hussein slammed the practice of torture and called upon countries to abolish it entirely. In recent years, numerous studies have shown that information obtained through torture is not reliable, and from the interrogator’s perspective, even counterproductive. This is in part because flagrant abuse of human rights provokes anger among communities.

      “This destruction of public trust is profoundly damaging. When added to the perception that police abuses and humiliation of specific communities is tolerated – based on economic, geographic, ethnic, religious or other distinctions – it will certainly exacerbate tensions and may lead to serious violence,” Al Hussein said.

    • NFL spokesman: ‘This is what real locker room talk is’

      NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart made a not-so-subtle jab at President Trump during a conference call with reporters on Monday.

      “Looking at yesterday, everyone should know, including the President, this is what real locker room talk is,” said Lockhart, who served as press secretary under President Clinton. “We don’t seek to get into political debates or relish being in the middle of it, but extraordinary statements from our clubs and owners demonstrate just how deeply we believe in our players and in our game.”

    • NFL Owners and Executives Who Protested Donald Trump Are the Biggest Hypocrites Yet

      AS 3.5 MILLION AMERICANS languished without power in Puerto Rico this weekend, President Donald Trump turned his attention instead to NFL players who had decided to take a knee during the national anthem to protest injustice, bigotry, and police brutality in the U.S.

      “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” the president bellowed at a rally for a special election in Alabama. The owners who fired players, Trump said, would quickly be among the most popular men in America.

      Trump directed some of the harshest words of his presidency not at ascendant neo-Nazis or even opposition politicians, but peaceful NFL stars, many of them black, taking a knee to bring attention to a cause they care about deeply. What makes this so unique is that it wasn’t a Joe Biden hot mic moment: It was an intentional attack on free speech.

    • Police posed a greater danger to journalists than demonstrators in St. Louis

      Last weekend, I covered the protests in St. Louis along with Ellie Cherryhomes, one of my fellow photojournalism students at MU, and several other press photographers and videographers from news outlets across the country.

      People had gathered in the streets to protest the acquittal of police officer Jason Stockley, who fatally shot motorist Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011. As in Ferguson in 2014, the protests came from a community hurt by police killings. It’s important to note that for the vast majority of this past weekend, the protests were peaceful. Police, in turn, were relatively restrained in their behavior — until Sunday night.

    • All The NFL Players Who Protested National Anthem In Week 3

      During the third week of the National Football League season, the NFL responded to President Donald Trump’s comments slurring players, who take a knee during the national anthem to protest injustice, police brutality, and systemic racism. The owners and coaches linked arms to show Trump he would not divide them. But there were several players, who took stronger action and continued to engage in the tactic of taking a knee.

      Taking a knee started with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick during the 2016 preseason. He declared, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” (He was referring to police who gun down black men and face nearly zero consequences for their actions.)

    • Diane Abbott urges end to online abuse of BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg

      Diane Abbott has called for an end to online abuse of the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg, and asked why it is female journalists and politicians that so often find themselves in the firing line.

      The shadow home secretary said she was saddened to hear that Kuenssberg was being accompanied by a security guard at Labour conference after facing a backlash from some Jeremy Corbyn supporters over claims of bias.

      Asked if she would call on supporters not to indulge in online abuse, Abbott, who faced more attacks than any other politician during the recent election campaign, said: “Oh definitely. Don’t do it. Just don’t do it. There is a positive case to make on Jeremy online, make that positive case. You don’t have to be abusing other people.”

    • Texas Schedules Execution but Refuses DNA Tests That Could Prove a Man’s Innocence

      When hunters walking in the piney woods of Sam Houston National Forest in East Texas found the body of 19-year-old Melissa Trotter on January 2, 1999, her jeans were torn and her shirt was pulled up. There was tissue damage on her face from scavenging animals and a length of pantyhose, which had been used to strangle her, was tied around her neck.

      Trotter had been missing since December 8, 1998, when she disappeared from the Montgomery County community college where she was a first-year student. Three days later, on unrelated warrants, the police arrested Larry Swearingen, a 27-year-old unemployed electrician with a young family and a history of run-ins with the law. Police suspected Swearingen was Trotter’s killer. He had been seen talking with Trotter two days before her disappearance outside a local store near Lake Conroe, which abuts the national forest. On the day she went missing, he was seen chatting with her in the college library.

      After the body was found some three weeks later, Swearingen was charged with Trotter’s kidnapping, sexual assault, and murder. There was little in the way of hard evidence to back up the charges. In addition to the two times he was seen talking to Trotter prior to her disappearance, the state pointed to a lie he told, claiming he didn’t know who Trotter was, and to a letter he wrote while jailed in which he pretended to be someone else and claimed knowledge about the murder that officials said only the killer would know.

    • People Power Is Taking the Voting Rights Fight to Kris Kobach

      The ACLU’s 50-state voting rights campaign will start in Kansas, where Kobach’s voter suppression efforts have created chaos.

      Donald Trump is obsessed with proving that voter fraud is a huge problem in the United States, not only to justify his false claim that he won the popular vote but also, and more importantly, to legitimize an attack on voting rights.

      To do this, Trump has turned to Kris Kobach, Kansas’s secretary of state and a longtime opponent of voting rights. He tapped Kobach to lead a voter fraud commission that has drawn scrutiny for trying to collect personal data about every voter in the country, promoting blatant falsehoods about supposed instances of voter fraud in the 2016 election, sanctioning voter suppression, and operating in secrecy in violation of federal law.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Trademarks
      • Velcro’s Hilarious Trademark Lesson Video Actually A Good Lesson In Just How Stupid Trademark Law Has Become

        So, you’ve probably heard stories in the past about the fear some trademark lawyers have about “genericide” — where their product’s name becomes so attached to the product that it’s considered generic and the trademark no longer applies? Think kleenex and xerox for example. We’ve found, over the years, that people get a bit too worked up about this, leading trademark lawyers to make some really dumb demands along the way to try to “prevent” what is generally impossible to actually prevent. We also often see people claim (falsely) that this means companies are required to stop any and all uses of their mark, even when not infringing (or, even worse, seeing people falsely claiming that the same thing applies to copyright). Either way, the company Velcro has taken… well… quite a unique approach to the fact that everyone calls their most famous product “velcro” — even when made by competitors. They made an absolutely hilarious “We are the World”-style video begging you not to call it Velcro and telling you, in no uncertain terms, that they it’s “fucking hook & loop.” Really.

    • Copyrights
      • Is the alt-right’s use of Pepe the Frog “fair use?”

        What can you do when your favorite frog gets away from you?

        When Matt Furie drew Pepe the Frog for a short-lived magazine in 2005, he had no way of knowing the character would become a mascot for the so-called “alt-right,” a loose coalition of far-right groups that veer toward white nationalism.

      • INTERVIEW WITH DELIA BROWNE

        Delia Browne is head of Australia’s National Copyright Unit, which provides specialist copyright advice to Australian schools and the technical and further education (TAFE) sector, and conducts negotiations with collecting societies on behalf of them. In that role she led the successful education law reform efforts in 2005-2006 which resulted in the introduction of free educational use copyright exceptions. She is one of the co-founders and President of Peer 2 Peer University, and also one of the people who drew up the Cape Town Declaration on Open Education.

      • Italian Supreme Court confirms availability of copyright protection to TV formats

        TV formats may be incredibly valuable, and be sold in franchise in several countries. As a result, also disputes relating to TV formats may be complex, lengthy and with uncertain outcomes, as the current litigation relating to The Voice, for example, demonstrates [here and here].

        In addition to the complexities of individual cases, a further difficulty is defining what kind of legal treatment TV formats are subject to in the first place. Discussion of the type of protection available has been, in fact, rather contentious in a number of countries.

      • Book Review : What if we could reimagine copyright?

        The contributors to this volume do not always agree on what copyright ought to ‘do’ or how far it should ‘go’ but they all concur on one thing: copyright should strive to defend and protect ‘the public interest’. Reading these last three words, you have might have had the following instinctive response: ‘Oh dear, not that thing again’. If you have, do not worry, the editors have accounted for your frustration in their introduction.

      • Belgium Wants to Blacklist Pirate Sites & Hijack Their Traffic

        Draft proposals from Belgium’s Deputy Prime Minister could see the country taking a tougher line against pirate sites. In addition to building a blacklist of infringing sites and associated proxies, Kris Peeters envisions local ISPs diverting Internet traffic away from pirate sites and towards legitimate content sources.

      • How Much Money Can Pirate Bay Make From a Cryptocoin Miner?

        In a surprise move, The Pirate Bay decided to add a cryptocurrency miner to its website last weekend. The notorious torrent site wanted to see whether this could replace the ads on the site. A controversial idea, but how much money can a site like The Pirate Bay make through mining?

Links 25/9/2017: XFree KWin, FreeBSD 10.4 RC2

Monday 25th of September 2017 12:53:55 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
  • Server
    • Microservice architecture takes a whole new approach to infrastructure

      With services like Netflix, Uber, YouTube, and Facebook, most people are used to apps that respond quickly, work efficiently, and are updated regularly. Patience is no longer a virtue, and thanks to apps like the ones mentioned above, when people use applications, they expect blistering speeds and uninterrupted service. If you do not provide that, users aren’t exactly starved for choice; it takes less than a minute to delete an app and download something else as a replacement.

    • Clear Linux Project Announces the Next Generation of Intel’s Clear Containers

      Intel’s Clear Linux and Clear Containers teams are happy to introduce the next-generation of Intel’s Clear Containers project, version 3.0, which bring many important new features and performance improvements.

      Rewritten in the Go language, Intel Clear Containers 3.0 introduces support for leveraging code used for namespace-based containers and better integrates into the container ecosystem, allowing support for Docker container engine and Kubernetes. It also improves the compatibility with the POSIX family of standards.

      “Today’s release presents a generational and architectural shift to utilize virtcontainers, a modular and hypervisor agnostic library for hardware virtualized containers. Clear Containers 3.0 is written in Go language and boasts an OCI compatible runtime implementation (cc-runtime) that works both on top of virtcontainers, and as a platform for deployment,” said Amy L Leeland, Technical Program Manager, Intel Corporation.

    • “Spaceborne” Linux Supercomputer Starts Running In Space, Achieves 1 Teraflop Speed

      About one month ago, the HPE’s Spaceborne Computer was launched into the space using SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft. This beast was launched as a result of a partnership between Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and NASA to find out how high-performance computers perform in space. Now, this supercomputer is fully installed and operational in ISS.

      The performance experiment will be carried out for one year, which is roughly the time it will take for a spacecraft to travel to Mars. At the moment, lots of calculations for space research projects are carried out on Earth, but this brings in an unavoidable factor of latency.

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 4.14 Is Up To Around 23.2 Million Lines Of Code

      While I usually look at the Linux kernel code size following each merge window, I am a few days late this time around due to busy Xeon/EPYC benchmarking and XDC2017. Anyhow, Linux 4.14 is showing some weight gains but nothing too bad.

      Linux 4.14 has been another busy cycle with a lot of happenings from finally seeing Heterogeneous Memory Management merged to a lot of other new core functionality plus the always fun and exciting changes and new support happening in driver space. See our Linux 4.14 feature overview for a rundown on the new functionality.

    • Will Blockchain Race to the Front of the Disruption Line in IoT?

      The group, founded in 2015, is the fastest-growing project in the history of the Linux Foundation according to Hyperledger Executive Director Brian Behlendorf. This project has reached out to various industries in addition to IoT, industries which also are adopting IoT including healthcare.

    • Graphics Stack
      • Intel Prepping Support For Huge GTT Pages

        Intel OTC developers are working on support for huge GTT pages for their Direct Rendering Manager driver.

      • Keith Packard’s Work On Better Supporting VR HMDs Under Linux With X.Org/DRM

        Earlier this year Keith Packard started a contract gig for Valve working to improve Linux’s support for virtual reality head-mounted displays (VR HMDs). In particular, working on Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) and X.Org changes needed so VR HMDs will work well under Linux with the non-NVIDIA drivers.

        A big part of this work is the concept of DRM leases, a new Vulkan extension, and other changes to the stack.

      • SDL 2.0.6 released, introduces Vulkan support

        The cross-platform development library has seen the release of its latest version. Quite a few exciting changes this time around, including support for Vulkan and more types of gamepads.

        SDL [Official Site] is something that has been used in quite a diverse array of projects and plenty of game ports that have made their way to Linux have taken advantage of it. The latest release has its fair share of general improvements but most noticeable is the implementation of Vulkan support. This hopefully will make it easier for developers to take advantage of the Vulkan API and help it gain more traction.

      • X.Org Foundation Has Become A Khronos Adopter

        The X.Org Foundation board announced during this week’s XDC2017 summit that they have officially completed the paperwork to become a Khronos adopter.

        The X.Org Foundation is now considered a pro-bono adopter for The Khronos Group so that the community-based open-source drivers targeting Khronos APIs for conformance can submit conformance test results and become a certified implementation.

      • NVIDIA Making Progress On Server-Side GLVND: Different Drivers For Different X Screens

        While NVIDIA isn’t doing much to help out Nouveau, at least the company is contributing to the open-source Linux graphics ecosystem in other ways. In addition to presenting at XDC2017 this week on the Unix device memory allocator API and DeepColor / HDR support, they also presented on server-side GLVND.

        Server-side GLVND is separate from the client-side GLVND (OpenGL Vendor Neutral Dispatch Library) that evolved over the past few years and with modern Linux systems is supported both by Mesa and the NVIDIA binary driver. Server-side GLVND can help PRIME laptops and other use-cases like XWayland where potentially dealing with multiple GPU drivers touching X.

      • Nouveau Developers Remain Blocked By NVIDIA From Advancing Open-Source Driver

        Longtime Nouveau contributors Martin Peres and Karol Herbst presented at this week’s XDC2017 X.Org conference at the Googleplex in Mountain View. It was a quick talk as they didn’t have a whole lot to report on due to their open-source NVIDIA “Nouveau” driver efforts largely being restricted by NVIDIA Corp.

      • X.Org Server 1.20 Expected Around January With New Features

        X.Org Server 1.19 is already almsot one year old and while X.Org is currently well off its six month release cadence, version 1.20 is being figured out for an early 2018 release.

        Adam Jackson of Red Hat who has been serving as the xorg-server release manager held a quick session on Friday at XDC2017 to figure out what’s needed for X.Org Server 1.20. His goal is to see X.Org Server 1.20 released in time for making the Fedora 28 version. For that to happen nicely, he’s hoping to see xorg-server 1.20 released in January. The Fedora 28 beta freeze is the middle of March so there is still time for the 1.20 release to slip while making the F28 Linux distribution update.

      • The State Of Intel’s GPU Virtualization Pass-Through On Linux

        Wrapping up our XDC2017 coverage for this annual X.Org developer event that took place this past week in Mountain View, Zhenyu Wang of Intel presented on their ongoing work for mediated GPU virtualization pass-through support on Linux, Intel GVT.

  • Applications
    • Security Tools to Check for Viruses and Malware on Linux

      First and foremost, no operating system is 100 percent immune to attack. Whether a machine is online or offline, it can fall victim to malicious code. Although Linux is less prone to such attacks than, say, Windows, there is no absolute when it comes to security. I have witnessed, first hand, Linux servers hit by rootkits that were so nasty, the only solution was to reinstall and hope the data backup was current. I’ve been a victim of a (very brief) hacker getting onto my desktop, because I accidentally left desktop sharing running (that was certainly an eye opener). The lesson? Even Linux can be vulnerable.

      So why does Linux need tools to prevent viruses, malware, and rootkits? It should be obvious why every server needs protection from rootkits — because once you are hit with a rootkit, all bets are off as to whether you can recover without reinstalling the platform. It’s antivirus and anti-malware where admins start getting a bit confused.

      Let me put it simply — if your server (or desktop for that matter) makes use of Samba or sshfs (or any other sharing means), those files will be opened by users running operating systems that are vulnerable. Do you really want to take the chance that your Samba share directory could be dishing out files that contain malicious code? If that should happen, your job becomes exponentially more difficult. Similarly, if that Linux machine performs as a mail server, you would be remiss to not include AV scanning (lest your users be forwarding malicious mail).

    • cmus – A Small, Fast And Powerful Console Music Player For Linux

      You may ask a question yourself when you see this article. Is it possible to listen music in Linux terminal? Yes because nothing is impossible in Linux.

      We have covered many popular GUI-based media players in our previous articles but we didn’t cover any CLI based media players as of now, so today we are going to cover about cmus, is one of the famous console-based media players among others (For CLI, very few applications is available in Linux).

    • You Can Now Transform the Atom Hackable Text Editor into an IDE with Atom-IDE

      GitHub and Facebook recently launched a set of tools that promise to allow you to transform your Atom hackable text editor into a veritable IDE (Integrated Development Environment). They call the project Atom-IDE.

      With the release of Atom 1.21 Beta last week, GitHub introduced Language Server Protocol support to integrate its brand-new Atom-IDE project, which comes with built-in support for five popular language servers, including JavaScript, TypeScript, PHP, Java, C#, and Flow. But many others will come with future Atom updates.

    • 10 Best Free Photo Editors For Linux

      Linux has come a long way in terms of the applications that are available for the platform. Whatever your specific needs are, you can be sure that there are at least a few applications available for you to use. Today, we’ll look at 10 free photo editors for Linux, and I must say, there are a lot of image editing tools available. This post selects just 10 of these awesome tools and talks about them briefly looking at what makes them stand out. In no particular order, let’s get started.

    • Instructionals/Technical
    • Games
      • Digging for riches and falling onto spikes in SteamWorld Dig 2, now available for Linux

        It hooked me in way more than I though it would, I could hardly stop myself playing. Image & Form have created such a fantastic world to explore that’s rammed full of imagination and personality throughout. A solid Linux release and a pleasantly surprising game.

      • Linux version of ‘The Coma: Recut’ removed at release after taking pre-orders

        Sadly it seems the Linux version of The Coma: Recut [Official Site] vanished at release, even after taking pre-orders.

        We all know all too well that pre-orders have inherent risks attached to them. This is especially true when it comes to Linux releases. Steam is full of cases of developers pulling out Linux support right on release without any prior indication.

      • Rusted Warfare, the sweet 2D RTS has a new major release with tons of goodies

        Do you love RTS games? Rusted Warfare [Steam] is one you seriously need to look at. This sweet 2D RTS works great on Linux and just had a huge update.

        The first major new feature is a replay system. You can now re-watch previous online games, but the icing in the cake is that you can jump in at any point and take over the game. I’m hoping they roll that out to offline battles too, as it sounds great.

      • Rise to Ruins updated with an overhauled combat system along with bows and arrows

        The village building god game Rise to Ruins [Official Site] has expanded once again. This latest development release ‘InDev 28 Unstable 3′ overhauls the combat system. Ranged attacks are now possible!

        For those unfamiliar with the title, it mixes up a few genres to create a pretty unique game. It has elements of a god sim, a city builder and tower defence and it’s really quite fun. It has multiple game modes to choose from, with the ability to customize things to your liking.

      • Improve Your Mental Mettle with These Open Source Puzzle Games

        The puzzle genre often tests problem-solving skills enhancing both analytical and critical thinking skills. Word completion, pattern recognition, logical reasoning, persistence, and sequence solving are some of the skills often required to prosper here. Some games offer unlimited time or attempts to solve a puzzle, others present time-limited exercises which increase the difficulty of the puzzle. Most puzzle games are basic in graphics but are very addictive.

      • SDL 2.0.6 Released With Vulkan Helpers, DRM/KMS Driver

        SDL 2.0.6 was released on Friday as the latest feature update for this widely-used library that allows for more cross-platform portability of applications and games centered around input, audio, and video helpers.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Adapta Theme is Now Available for the #KDE Plasma Desktop

        A new port brings the Adapta GTK theme to the KDE Plasma 5 desktop for the first time, news that will please fans of its famous flat stylings.

      • A New Project To Let You Run Qt Apps With GTK+ Windowing System Integration

        A Norwegian developer has developed a new Qt platform abstraction plug-in to let Qt applications make use of GTK+ for windowing system integration. The Qt apps rely upon GTK+ as a host toolkit to provide GTK menus, GTK for input, and other integration bits.

      • Announcing the XFree KWin project

        Over the last weeks I concentrated my work on KWin on what I call the XFree KWin project. The idea is to be able to start KWin/Wayland without XWayland support. While most of the changes required for it are already in Plasma 5.11, not everything got ready in time, but now everything is under review on phabricator, so it’s a good point in time to talk about this project.

      • XFree KWin: Ridding KDE’s Wayland Compositor Of X11 Dependencies

        Martin Flöser (nee Gräßlin) has announced the “XFree KWin” project. This isn’t to be confused with XFree86 but rather is about ridding KWin optionally of X11/X.Org dependencies.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Ant is a Flat GTK Theme with a Bloody Bite

        Between Arc, Adapta and Numix it kind of feels like Linux has the whole flat GTK theme thing covered.

        But proving their’s always room for one more is Ant.

      • Bad News for Users of TopIcons Plus

        The development of the popular TopIcons Plus GNOME extension has been put on pause.

        Offering a convenient way to access indicator applets and system tray icons from the GNOME top bar, the extension has proven popular with GNOME Shell users, especially as GNOME 3.26 removes the legacy tray entirely.

  • Distributions
    • New Releases
      • [Stable Update] 2017-09-23 – Kernels, Mesa, PulseAudio, GST, Python, Haskell

        what a week we had. With this update we have removed most of our EOL tagged kernels. Please adopt to newer series of each, when still be used. PulseAudio and Gstreamer got renewed. Also most of our kernels got newer point-releases. Series v4.12 is now marked as EOL.

        Guillaume worked on Pamac to solve reported issues within our v6 series. The user experience should be much better now. Latest NetworkManager, Python and Haskell updates complete this update-pack.

        Please report back and give us feedback for given changes made to our repositories.

      • A new Subgraph OS Alpha ISO is available for download.

        This is a release mainly targeting some bugs that were present in the last available ISO.

        We are working on some major new features that aren’t done yet or aren’t yet robust enough to be included in a release to users. Some of those new features are described below.

        We really should have released an ISO sooner than this as there were some annoying bugs that got in the way of new users trying Subgraph OS for the first time. We’ve setup a new, more aggressive release schedule and should be making non-release ISO builds available as we produce them monthly.

      • NuTyX 9.1 available with cards 2.3.3.0

        The NuTyX team is please to annonce the 9.1 release of NuTyX.

        NuTyX 9.0 comes with kernel lts 4.9.23, glibc 2.25, gcc 6.3.0, binutils 2.28, python 3.6.0, xorg-server 1.19.2, qt 5.8.0, plasma 5.9.4, kf5 5.31.0, gnome 3.22.2, mate 1.18.0, xfce4 4.12.3, firefox 54.0.1, etc….

        New Isos are available in 32 bits and 64 bits. sizes are respectively 246 MB and 247 MB on http://downloads.nutyx.org

        This is a maintenance release of the 9.0 branche of NuTyX. It is possible to make an upgrade of your system without problems. It’s no need to reinstall your NuTyX. If the automatic upgrade process is activate, it will be done at next shutdown.

        Available graphical interfaces are: kde5, gnome, mate, xfce4, lxde, flwm, jwm, ratpoison, blackbox, fluxbox, openbox, bspwm, icewm, twm, etc.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • OpenSUSE fonts – The sleeping beauty guide

        Pandora’s box of fonts is one of the many ailments of the distro world. As long as we do not have standards, and some rather strict ones at that, we will continue to suffer from bad fonts, bad contrast, bad ergonomics, and in general, settings that are not designed for sustained, prolonged use. It’s a shame, because humans actually use computers to interface with information, to READ text and interpret knowledge using the power of language. It’s the most critical element of the whole thing.

        OpenSUSE under-delivers on two fonts – anti-aliasing and hinting options that are less than ideal, and then it lacks the necessary font libraries to make a relevant, modern and pleasing desktop for general use. All of this can be easily solved if there’s more attention, love and passion for the end product. After all, don’t you want people to be spending a lot of time interacting, using and enjoying the distro?

        Hopefully, one day, all this will be ancient history. We will be able to choose any which system and never worry or wonder how our experience is going to be impacted by the choice of drivers, monitors, software frameworks, or even where we live. For the time being, if you intend on using openSUSE, this little guide should help you achieve a better, smoother, higher-quality rendering of fonts on the screen, allowing you to enjoy the truly neat Plasma desktop to the fullest. Oh, in the openSUSE review, I promised we would handle this, and handle it we did! Take care.

    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Flavours and Variants
            • System76′s Pop!_OS Linux to Get a Beta Release Next Week with HiDPI Improvements

              System76 is getting ready to unleash the first Beta release of their upcoming Pop!_OS Linux distribution, which should be available to download next week based on the Ubuntu 17.10 Final Beta.

              It appears that System76′s development team recently dropped focus on the Pop!_OS Installer, which they develop in collaboration with the elementary OS team, to concentrate on fixing critical bugs and add the final touches to the Beta release. They still need to add some patches to fix backlight brightness issues on Nvidia GPUs.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • This open-source Android app is designed to detect nearby credit card skimmers

    Protecting our data is a constant battle, especially as technology continues to advance. A recent trend that has popped up is the installation of credit card skimmers, especially at locations such as gas pumps. With a simple piece of hardware and 30 seconds to install it, a hacker can easily steal credit card numbers from a gas pump without anyone knowing. Now, an open-source app for Android is attempting to help users avoid these skimmers.

  • Events
  • Web Browsers
  • CMS
    • Best Self-Hosted CRM Apps

      Customer relationship management or simply CRM is a term or specifically an approach to managing and analyzing the interaction of your current customers and leads. The CRM software allows you to manage the customer data, customer interaction, automate sales, manage client contacts and employees, customer support etc. In this article we will cover some of the best self-hosted CRM applications which you can install on a CRM Linux VPS and use for managing your company.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
  • Licensing/Legal
    • Facebook to Relicense React Under MIT [Ed: as we hoped [1, 2]]

      Facebook has decided to change the React license from BSD+Patents to MIT to make it possible for companies to include React in Apache projects, and to avoid uncertain relationship with the open source community.

      Adam Wolff, an Engineering Director at Facebook, has announced that a number of projects – React, Jest, Flow, and Immutable.js – will soon start using the more standard MIT License instead of BSD+Patents. The reason provided is “because React is the foundation of a broad ecosystem of open source software for the web, and we don’t want to hold back forward progress for nontechnical reasons.” While aware that the React’s BSD+Patents license has created “uncertainty” among users of the library, prompting some to select an alternative solution, Facebook does not “expect to win these teams back” but they still hope some will reconsider the issue. The change in license will become effective when React 16 will be released next week.

      Regarding other projects, Wolff said that “many of our popular projects will keep the BSD + Patents license for now”, while they are “evaluating those projects’ licenses too, but each project is different and alternative licensing options will depend on a variety of factors.” It seems from this clause that Facebook plans to get rid of the BSD+Patents license entirely, but they need to figure out the best option for each project.

      [...]

      Facebook’s plan to switch to a standard license MIT, supported by Apache, completely solves this problem with React and several other projects. It remains to see what happens with the license of other Facebook projects, and how much this license issue has affected how React is perceived by the community.

  • Programming/Development
Leftovers
  • How the oldest IT company IBM is discovering its India story

    In the last 12 months, IBM India has worked in many ways to address the Indian market. The most visible change has been the induction of Karan Bajwa from Microsoft India as the India-focused managing director, while Narayanan will focus on exports. That apart, there has been an overhaul of the company’s strategy, embracing open source [...]

  • Microsoft are looking at opening a London flagship store at Oxford Circus

    A report in Retail Week (paywalled) says that the ink is drying on a deal that will see Redmond take root in Oxford Circus, which, if you know London even slightly, you’ll realise is about 15 seconds from Apple’s Magic Fairy Dell on Regent Street.

  • Science
    • Screens and teens: survival tips for parents on the technology battlefield

      Snapchat (like all social media channels) is addictive. Many studies have proved the link between a “like” on a post and a dopamine hit to our brains. “I think parents should consider banning Snapchat in the house,” says Anne Longfield. “It is just so pervasive into the child’s psyche. It’s really geared to making children worry about maintaining friendships, about being seen to maintain friendships and then about isolating them if they drop off. Being a teenager is difficult enough without worrying about your social standing.” Snapchat can also reveal where your child actually is in the real world, unless it is switched to “ghost” mode, and on the home page kids automatically see news updates from The Sun, E! News, MailOnline and more without subscribing, which might explain the skew in interest towards the Kardashians rather than, say, North Korea.

  • Hardware
    • iFixit’s iPhone 8 teardown finds a smaller battery and lots of glue

      The popular repair site wrapped up its breakdown of the iPhone 8 on Friday, finding that the 8’s internals, unsurprisingly, look a good deal like those of last year’s iPhone 7. There are some small changes—more adhesive strips surrounding the battery, a slightly redesigned Lightning connector, the use of standard Phillips screws in some spots instead of obtuse tri-point screws—but most of the more immediately apparent changes, like the new Qi wireless charging coil, were announced by Apple when it revealed the new phone earlier this month.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Until Elected Officials Champion Medicare for All, They Can Expect Nurses at Their Offices — and in Their Seats

      Here’s what nurses know about the body of our country: healthy leadership is required to pass healthy legislation, and that makes for a healthy society. If our leaders don’t have the political will to fight for healthy legislation — Senator Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All Act, S.1804 being a prime example — then we are, as a country, fundamentally unwell. And it’s our duty, as nurses, to facilitate healing.

      To that end, over 1,000 nurses from across the country assembled this week in San Francisco for the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee (CNA/NNOC) convention. We gathered in solidarity to set the upcoming goals for our organization, and to learn — both from each other and from speakers including Senator Sanders, Dr. Jane O’Meara Sanders, California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, Nina Turner, Van Jones and Eve Ensler.

    • 7Up gets a new ingredient in Mexico—meth

      7Up—the lemon-lime soda sometimes thought to be named for its original seven main ingredients—now has a troubling eighth ingredient in Mexico: methamphetamine.

      Health professionals in Arizona are warning travelers to the Mexicali area to be aware of possibly contaminated sodas there. The warning comes days after medical toxicologists and emergency doctors received reports of soda tampering in the area.

      According to the Attorney General of the State of Baja California, seven people were sickened and one died from the spiked soft drinks. Officials requested that merchants there suspend sales of 7Up and clear the product from their shelves. And an investigation is now in progress to figure out how the illicit stimulant got into the soda.

    • Just in time for open enrollment, HHS will limit healthcare.gov availability on Sundays

      The Trump administration has come under attack from critics who say that it is intentionally undermining the Affordable Care Act, through regulatory actions. It shortened the enrollment period, withdrew money for advertising and cut the budget for navigator groups, which help people shop for plans.

      And now HHS is closing the site for a substantial portion of each weekend — for maintenance, officials said. That is the same time that many working patients — the prime target group for ACA insurance — could be shopping for their insurance, critics noted.

    • Sunday Hours: Obamacare Website To Be Shut Down For Portion of Most Weekends

      The Trump administration plans to shut down the federal health insurance exchange for 12 hours during all but one Sunday in the upcoming open enrollment season.

      The shutdown will occur from 12 a.m. to 12 p.m. ET on every Sunday except Dec. 10.

      The Department of Health and Human Services will also shut down the federal exchange — healthcare.gov — overnight on the first day of open enrollment, Nov. 1. More than three dozen states use that exchange for their marketplaces.

      HHS officials disclosed this information Friday during a webinar with community groups that help people enroll.

    • The right is storming women’s clinics

      ANTI-ABORTION demonstrators invaded three clinics around the country on September 15, physically forcing their way in and refusing to leave in a coordinated escalation of the right-wing attack on women’s right to choose.

      The national anti-choice group Created Equal called on members to participate in identical actions in Sterling Heights, Michigan; Alexandria, Virginia; and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

      Demonstrators entered clinics in order to perform a “Red Rose Rescue,” imitating a harassment tool popularized by Canadian anti-choice activist Mary Wagner, in which the antis approach women in the waiting room of clinics, hand them red roses and attempt to talk them out of having abortions.

    • Calls to #StopBetsy After Education Secretary Takes ‘Horrific Step Back’ on Title IX

      Sexual assault survivors and their supporters are appalled by the Trump administration’s decision on Friday to roll back federal protections for students who are assaulted on college campuses.

      After months of meeting with “men’s rights” groups and taking steps to overhaul enforcement rules for Title IX, the federal law barring sex-based discrimination in schools, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos suspended current guidelines and issued new ones that enable schools to increase standards of proof when disciplining students accused of sexual misconduct—guidance that experts, advocates, and survivors warn “will have a devastating impact on students and schools.”

    • China Signed a $300 Million Lab-Grown Meat Deal with Israel

      China has signed a trade agreement with Israel worth $300 million that will see the country import lab-grown meats produced by three companies: SuperMeat, Future Meat Technologies, and Meat the Future. This move is part of China’s ongoing effort to address its most pressing environmental problems.

    • Unlike Most of Senate GOP, McCain Is a ‘No’ on Bill That Analysis Shows Would Kill Tens of Thousands by 2027

      The Republican Party’s last-ditch effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act was dealt a major blow Friday when Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced that he “cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal,” which analysts have called the most “brutal and deadly” version of Trumpcare yet.

      Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is expected to bring the legislation to the floor for a vote before the end of next week.

      Physicians and public health researchers Drs. Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein estimated in an analysis released Friday that, if passed, the Graham-Cassidy repeal bill could kill tens of thousands of people per year.

  • Security
    • DHS tells 21 states they were Russia hacking targets before 2016 election
    • Joomla patches eight-year-old critical CMS bug

      Joomla has patched a critical bug which could be used to steal account information and fully compromise website domains.

      This week, the content management system (CMS) provider issued a security advisory detailing the flaw, which is found in the LDAP authentication plugin.

      Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) is used by Joomla to access directories over TCP/IP. The plugin is integrated with the CMS.

      Joomla considers the bug a “medium” severity issue, but according to researchers from RIPS Technologies, the problem is closer to a critical status.

    • Joomla! 3.7.5 – Takeover in 20 Seconds with LDAP Injection

      With over 84 million downloads, Joomla! is one of the most popular content management systems in the World Wide Web. It powers about 3.3% of all websites’ content and articles. Our code analysis solution RIPS detected a previously unknown LDAP injection vulnerability in the login controller. This one vulnerability could allow remote attackers to leak the super user password with blind injection techniques and to fully take over any Joomla! <= 3.7.5 installation within seconds that uses LDAP for authentication. Joomla! has fixed the vulnerability in the latest version 3.8.

    • In spectacular fail, Adobe security team posts private PGP key on blog

      Having some transparency about security problems with software is great, but Adobe’s Product Security Incident Response Team (PSIRT) took that transparency a little too far today when a member of the team posted the PGP keys for PSIRT’s e-mail account—both the public and the private keys. The keys have since been taken down, and a new public key has been posted in its stead.

    • Hackers Using iCloud’s Find My iPhone Feature to Remotely Lock Macs and Demand Ransom Payments

      Over the last day or two, several Mac users appear to have been locked out of their machines after hackers signed into their iCloud accounts and initiated a remote lock using Find My iPhone.

      With access to an iCloud user’s username and password, Find My iPhone on iCloud.com can be used to “lock” a Mac with a passcode even with two-factor authentication turned on, and that’s what’s going on here.

    • After the breach, Equifax now faces the lawsuits

      Since it announced a massive data breach earlier this month, Equifax has been hit with dozens of lawsuits from shareholders, consumers and now one filed by a small Wisconsin credit union that represents what could be the first by a financial institution attempting to preemptively recoup losses caused by alleged fraud the hack could cause.

      Equifax has said its breach exposed sensitive information about 143 million consumers, including Social Security and driver’s license numbers. This kind of data could be used for identity theft and to create fake accounts, cybersecurity experts have said.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Vast Majority Of Brits Want The UK To Stop Selling Arms To Saudi Arabia – Poll
    • TRUMP COULD BE GUILTY OF WAR CRIMES AFTER AN AMERICAN BOMB KILLED YEMENI CHILDREN

      A bomb made and supplied by the United States was used in a Saudi Arabia-led coalition airstrike that killed 16 civilians, including seven children, in Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, on August 25, Amnesty International revealed on Thursday.

      The bombing of residential buildings, which horrified much of the Arab world even before the link to the U.S., was due to a “technical mistake,” said the Saudi government, which is fighting Iran-backed rebels in a larger Saudi-Iran battle for control of the Gulf region.

      The human rights group is calling on the U.S. government to immediately cease selling arms to Saudi Arabia.

    • Britain Buries Its Bloody Role In Indonesia

      THE attempts to prevent a summit from going ahead in Jakarta on the massacres of 1965 show just how great a step was taken when the International People’s Tribunal into the killings reported last year.
      They also underline how much work is left to be done. It is significant that the tribunal was held in The Hague, and that the Indonesian, British and US governments all rejected invitations to participate.
      Britain is vital to our understanding of the events of 1965 — this is far from a matter of curiosity about another country’s history but an episode in which our own government and its major ally were deeply involved.
      Prior to 1965 Britain and the US had been waging a covert war against nationalist president Sukarno, whom the Foreign Office noted with “anxiety” was being influenced by the massive and massively popular communist party (PKI). In the tumult after Sukarno-supporting military officers killed generals they believed were plotting a coup, anti-Sukarno generals (including later dictator Suharto) seized the opportunity to move against the PKI — with strong support from the US and Britain.
      Huge numbers of women, men and children were killed — the exact toll is unknown, estimates range from half to three million. Secret documents from the time are chilling. One British official reported that some victims “are given a knife and invited to kill themselves. Most refuse and are told to turn around and are shot in the back.” Another told of “half a dozen heads … neatly arranged on the parapet of a small bridge.” “A woman of 78 … was taken away one night by a village execution squad.”

    • In Iraqi Kurdistan, Voting on Independence and Bracing for Violence

      Across Iraqi Kurdistan, a scene is starting to become familiar: young and old alike fill the public squares and parks clad in Kurdish dress, furiously waving Kurdish flags in a rallying cry for independence.

      “Long live Kurdistan!” they chant.

      The iconic red, white and green Kurdish flag, with a giant sun in the middle, was first unveiled at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, but it has never had as strong of a possibility of belonging to an actual nation until this moment. While Iraqi Kurds currently enjoy a semi-autonomous region in northern Iraq — technically governed by Iraq’s central government in Baghdad but controlled by Kurdish security forces and political parties — many have longed for an independent state after decades of oppression, suffering and political marginalization. In the wake of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces defeating Islamic State fighters in key battles in northern Iraq, including Mosul earlier this year, many Kurds hope their chance has finally arrived to gain independence — which they are voting on in a controversial referendum on Monday.

    • Trump Threatens a Genocide

      The level of insult and hostile name-calling between world leaders was taken to a new extreme by Donald Trump in his speech before the U.N. General Assembly. In his preferred rhetoric replete with saber rattling, Trump’s comments included, “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”

      [...]

      Behind Trump’s words is a drumbeat that is all too familiar to anyone who has read, studied or lived through war; and seen how threats and hostility can turn into madness and violence. When it comes to war there is an irrepressible and repetitive pattern where self-righteousness and nationalism mix to make a poisonous, explosive cocktail, blinding opponents to the humanity of their adversaries.

      Although Trump points his finger at leadership, the implication is that we should fear and hate an enemy with no room for compromise; and eventually embrace war against an entire population. By dehumanizing and demonizing a leader, politicians give emotional foundation to aggression against a nation.

    • American Al Qaeda suspect ‘plotted attacks against the West’

      An American citizen rose through the ranks of Al Qaeda to become head of its external operations wing, charged with planning attacks on the West, according to the testimony of a captured terrorist.

      Muhanad Mahmoud Al Farekh, 31, who was born in Houston and raised in Dubai, was detained by security forces in Pakistan in 2014.

      He is now on trial in New York where he has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to murder American nationals, conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction and a string of other crimes.

      In a video shown to the jury, a former Al Qaeda operative held at a secret location in the Middle East said a man named Abdullah Al Shami, which prosecutors allege is a pseudonym for Farekh – took over the role of head of external operations when Abdul Hafeez Al Somali died in an airstrike.

    • Korea? It’s Always Really Been About China!

      How many citizens have ever asked themselves what the United States is doing in Korea in the first place?

    • Poll: Far more trust generals than Trump on N. Korea, while two-thirds oppose preemptive strike
    • Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s “Vietnam War”: Some Predictions

      How Ken Burns and Lynn Novick became the semi-official film documentarians of United States history is an interesting question. Part of the answer lay in the way they manage to whitewash the criminal record of U.S. imperialism. One example of this came in their 2007 “Public” Broadcasting System (“P”BS) documentary on World War II, where they re-transmitted the myth that Harry Truman atom-bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki – killing 146,000 Japanese civilians with two weapons – to “save [U.S.] lives.” Burns and Novick ignored compelling primary source evidence and historical literature showing that top U.S. military and intelligence leaders understood that Japan was defeated and seeking surrender at the end of World War II and that the atom bomb crimes were perpetrated to demonstrate unassailable U.S. power to the world and especially to the Soviet Union in the post-WWII era.

    • MY THREATS ARE BIGGER THAN YOUR THREATS

      Not since Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev banged his fists and waved his shoe at the UN in 1960 has a world leader made such a spectacle of himself as President Donald Trump did this past week at the world organization.

      Trump vowed to ‘totally destroy’ North Korea, a nation of 25 million, if it dared threaten the US or its allies. To do so, the US would have to use numerous nuclear weapons.

      The president’s Genghis Khan behavior seemed to take no account that a US nuclear strike against North Korea would cause huge destruction to neighboring China, Japan and Russia – and pollute the globe. They could hardly be expected to applaud Trump’s final solution for pesky North Korea.

      As leader of the world’s greatest power, President Trump was foolish to get into a schoolyard fracas with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. Superpowers shouldn’t engage in such childish behavior. Trump’s claim that North Korea threatens the world is a reheated Bush-era lie used to whip up support for invading Iraq.

    • Senior Journalist KJ Singh, Mother Murdered In Mohali, Special Probe Team Formed

      “The miscreants wanted to give it a robbery angle but it does not seem so. The motive of the criminals was something else,” said senior police officer HS Atwal said, adding that locks of one or two boxes inside the house had been opened.

    • Senior journalist, his mother found dead in Mohali

      Singh had worked with many news organisations including Indian Express, The Tribune and The Times of India in Chandigarh.

    • Amid Tensions with North Korea, 51 Countries Sign Ban on Nuclear Weapons Despite U.S. Opposition

      Amid tensions over North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests, 51 countries have signed the world’s first legally binding treaty banning nuclear weapons. It prohibits the development, testing and possession of nuclear weapons, as well as using or threatening to use these weapons. It was first adopted in July by 122 U.N. member states, despite heavy U.S. opposition. None of the nine countries that possess nuclear weapons signed the measure, including Russia, Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel. We speak with Susi Snyder, nuclear disarmament program manager for the Netherlands-based group PAX and author of the report “Don’t Bank on the Bomb.”

    • Canada Shows Global Leadership on Protecting Civilians in Yemen

      At the most recent session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Canada joined a core group of countries calling for an international commission of inquiry into abuses in the armed conflict in Yemen. It was a courageous decision by any measure. Canada has lucrative arms deals with Saudi Arabia – which for the past two and a half years has been leading a coalition responsible for scores of unlawful airstrikes in Yemen – making it an unlikely partner in this effort. But, the Trudeau government has shown this week that being a global leader on civilian protection means not letting immediate interests get in the way of your core values.

      The need for an independent mechanism to address the gravity of violations in Yemen cannot be overstated. Saudi-led coalition airstrikes, some amounting to war crimes, have killed thousands of civilians and hit schools, hospitals, markets, and homes. The Houthi-Saleh forces whom the coalition is fighting have committed numerous abuses, too, including recruiting and deploying child soldiers and indiscriminately shelling civilian areas. Parties to the conflict are using banned weapons like cluster munitions and landmines that may endanger Yemeni civilians for years to come.

    • Unmasked: Trump Doctrine Vows Carnage for New Axis of Evil

      This was no “deeply philosophical address”. And hardly a show of “principled realism” – as spun by the White House. President Trump at the UN was “American carnage,” to borrow a phrase previously deployed by his nativist speechwriter Stephen Miller.

      One should allow the enormity of what just happened to sink in, slowly. The president of the United States, facing the bloated bureaucracy that passes for the “international community,” threatened to “wipe off the map” the whole of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (25 million people). And may however many millions of South Koreans who perish as collateral damage be damned.

      Multiple attempts have been made to connect Trump’s threats to the madman theory cooked up by “Tricky Dicky” Nixon in cahoots with Henry Kissinger, according to which the USSR must always be under the impression the then-US president was crazy enough to, literally, go nuclear. But the DPRK will not be much impressed with this madman remix.

    • ‘Dotard’ vs. ‘Madman’: Kim Jong-un and Trump Trade Insults as Nuclear Anxieties Grow

      President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un traded insults early on Friday, continuing a war of words that’s gone on for months, causing widespread anxiety over the possibility of a nuclear attack as North Korea conducts missile tests and Trump administration officials attempt to do damage control regarding the president’s threats of retaliation.

      The two leaders’ statements have grown increasingly antagonistic, with Trump giving Kim the nickname “Rocket Man” last week and Kim introducing the arcane term “dotard” into the discourse Friday morning.

      Three days after Trump’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly in which he threatened to “totally destroy North Korea” if the Kim regime continues to test its nuclear capability, as it’s done five times since July, Kim issued a lengthy statement comparing the president’s threats to the barks of “a frightened dog.”

    • Trump Administration Should Not Gut Drone Protections

      Following reports that the Trump administration is seeking to change U.S. government policy on the use of lethal force outside of armed conflicts, Zeke Johnson, senior director of programs for Amnesty International USA, issued the following statement:

      “The policies that guide the United States’ use of lethal force and armed drones, whether under President Obama or President Trump, have always been legally and morally murky. Any move to gut their already weak human rights protections would be unacceptable. The Trump administration needs to ensure that its guidance for operations outside armed conflict comply with human rights law. The administration cannot write itself a blank check to kill with impunity.”

    • The View From the End of the American Empire

      Through a network of nearly 800 military bases located in 70 countries around the globe, in addition to an array of trade deals and alliances, the U.S. has cemented its influence for decades across both Europe and Asia. American leaders helped impose a set of rules and norms that promoted free trade, democratic governance — in theory, if not always in practice — and a prohibition on changing borders militarily, using a mixture of force and suasion to sustain the systems that keep its hegemony intact. Meanwhile, although the U.S. generally eschewed direct colonialism, its promotion of global free trade helped “open a door through which America’s preponderant economic strength would enter and dominate all the underdeveloped areas of the world,” wrote the revisionist historian William Appleman Williams in his more-than-half-century-old classic, “The Tragedy of American Diplomacy”.

      That strategy of “non-colonial imperial expansion,” as Williams called it, became the basis for U.S. foreign policy over the past century. For American elites, such a policy has provided remarkable benefits, even if the resulting largesse has not always trickled down to the rest of the country. Thanks to its status as the world’s only superpower, the U.S. today enjoys the “exorbitant privilege” of having its dollar serve as the world’s reserve currency, while U.S. leaders dominate the agenda of international institutions promoting governance and trade. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990 and the successful creation of a global military alliance to repel Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait that same year, America’s imperial confidence reached a zenith; President George H.W. Bush publicly declared the start of a “new world order” under American leadership.

    • Ken Burns Says the Vietnam War Was “Begun in Good Faith.” So Was Every Other Lousy War.

      These were internal U.S. communications; it was simply the government talking to itself, with no reason to lie.

      Moreover, it was no aberration. U.S. government archives are filled with impressive declarations about America’s idealistic goals in Vietnam.

    • Syrian Widows in Jordan Take Charge of Their New Lives

      Amal al-Mugdad was always devout, but as the Syrian conflict engulfed her hometown of Dera’a, her prayers grew increasingly desperate. Rising daily before dawn, the slight young woman unrolled her prayer mat, her ears strained for the sound of bullets. On her knees in the dark, she begged for peace in her country and mercy for her people. By daylight, though, there were few signs that Allah had heard her plea. Regime aircraft rattled against the sky. Neighborhood streets grew inscrutable, blocked by shifting checkpoints and sprawling rubble.

      Fear whittled Amal’s world. By 2012, her universe encompassed only three points: her sons, Khalid and Ma’an, then ages two years and six months, respectively; and her 24-year-old husband, Mahmood. It was her husband — the man she married at 19, whom she privately called Hamoodi — that worried her the most. This was a conflict with a particular appetite for young, able-bodied men, targeting them with checkpoints and home raids. By 2015, an estimated 65,000 people were “disappeared” by the regime, forced to enlist in President Bashar al-Assad’s army or vanished into the underworld of government prisons. Others were felled by snipers, for reasons never given.

    • Civilian drone crashes into Army helicopter
    • Drone Hits Army Helicopter Flying Over Staten Island
  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Hersh Receives Adams Award for Integrity

      Journalist Seymour Hersh, whose career includes exposing U.S. intelligence abuses, received an award for integrity from an organization of former U.S. and Western intelligence officials who share Hersh’s ethical concerns about such abuses.

      The trademark “Oscar” for Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII) was presented to longtime investigative journalist Seymour Hersh at a dinner in Washington on Sept. 22. The symbolic award is a candle sitting atop the traditional corner-brightener candlestick holder.

    • 1. WikiLeaks, Russian edition: how it’s being viewed

      Russia has been investing heavily in a vision of cyberdemocracy that will link the public directly with government officials to increase official responsiveness. But it is also enforcing some of the toughest cybersecurity laws to empower law enforcement access to communications and ban technologies that could be used to evade surveillance. Could WikiLeaks put a check on Russia’s cyber regime? This week, the online activist group released the first of a promised series of document dumps on the nature and workings of Russia’s surveillance state. So far, the data has offered no bombshells. “It’s mostly technical stuff. It doesn’t contain any state contracts, or even a single mention of the FSB [security service], but there is some data here that’s worth publishing,” says Andrei Soldatov, coauthor of “The Red Web,” a history of the Soviet and Russian internet. But, he adds, “Anything that gets people talking about Russia’s capabilities and actions in this area should be seen as a positive development.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Trump’s Pick for Top EPA Post Under Scrutiny for Deep Ties to Chemical Industry

      The latest is Michael L. Dourson, Trump’s pick to head the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, the government’s chemical safety program. Media reports reveal that the toxicologist is under intense scrutiny for his extensive ties to the chemical industry and a resumé dotted with some of the biggest names in the field: Koch Industries Inc., Chevron Corp., Dow AgroSciences, DuPont and Monsanto.

      After working as a staff toxicologist for the EPA from 1980 to 1994, Dourson founded and ran the Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment(TERA), a nonprofit research group that has been paid by chemical corporations to research and write reports that downplay the health risks posed by their products, the New York Times reports. TERA has since been renamed as the Risk Science Center at the University of Cincinnati, where Dourson is a professor.

      According to the Associated Press, Dourson’s research has been “underwritten by industry trade and lobbying groups representing the makers of plastics, pesticides, processed foods and cigarettes.”

    • In the Caribbean, colonialism and inequality mean hurricanes hit harder

      Hurricane Maria, the 15th tropical depression this season, is now battering the Caribbean, just two weeks after Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc in the region.

      The devastation in Dominica is “mind-boggling,” wrote the country’s prime minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, on Facebook just after midnight on September 19. The next day, in Puerto Rico, NPR reported via member station WRTU in San Juan that “Most of the island is without power…or water.”

      Among the Caribbean islands impacted by both deadly storms are Puerto Rico, St Kitts, Tortola and Barbuda.

    • An Unexpected Alternative to Fossil Fuels: Waste

      Countries with large quantities of waste from forestry, manure or straw from farms are now looking for economic ways to turn them into forms of renewable energy.

      Most of these so-called wastes can be burned directly as an alternative to fossil fuels in power stations or for district heating, but increasingly they are being turned into biogas.

      This can be used as fuel in vehicles, fed into gas pipelines as a addition to natural gas, or to be used to generate electricity when there is a shortfall from other renewables like wind and solar.

      Two countries keen on exploiting these natural resources to enable them to phase out fossil fuels and nuclear power are Sweden and Switzerland.

      Sweden has a large surplus of straw from agriculture in the autumn, but finding an economic use for it has been difficult.

    • FEMA accidentally tweets sex hotline number to hurricane victims

      When several Hurricane Irma survivors in Florida called a 1-800 number recommended by FEMA Region 4’s Twitter account, they were offered phone sex instead of advice about their damaged roof.

      FEMA mistakenly tweeted that the number to a helpline was 1-800-ROOF-BLU on Wednesday, when the correct phone number was actually 1-888-ROOF-BLU.

      When calling the 1-800 number, survivors heard the message: “Welcome to America’s hottest talk line. Guys, hot ladies are waiting to talk to you. Press ‘1’ to connect, free, now,” according to the Miami Herald.

      The original tweet has since been deleted and replaced with a tweet that includes the correct phone number.

    • The Brutal Racial Politics of Climate Change and Pollution

      Take Trump’s proposal to deregulate power plant emissions.

      Air pollution is bad for everyone with lungs, but it disproportionately harms people of color and poor people, who are much likelier to live near coal-burning power plants. People living within three miles of coal-fired power plants have a per capita income 15 percent lower than the national average, and African Americans die of asthma at a 172 percent higher rate than white people. Deregulating toxic polluters is only going to worsen such egregious disparities.

      Meanwhile in Alaska, Native villages are literally sinking into the sea and facing the loss of their traditional lifestyle as polar ice melts. Yet the federal government proposes eliminating the already meager assistance they receive, and won’t even name the problem they’re confronting. Absurdly, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) now refers to Arctic climate change impacts as “Arctic Change.”

      Similar inequalities show up in the places hardest hit during this catastrophic hurricane season.

      Refineries and other petrochemical facilities in Houston have been shut down in the wake of Tropical Storm Harvey. However, storm damage at the Exxon refinery in Baytown has led to leaks of toxic chemicals, while the Chevron Phillips refinery in Pasadena reported to regulators that it may release known carcinogens like benzene.

      Who lives near these facilities? Of the two Census blocks immediately adjoining Exxon’s Baytown refinery, one is 87 percent non-white and 76 percent low-income, the other 59 percent non-white and 59 percent low-income.

    • Hurricane Harvey, 25,000-Year Storm: Enhanced or Caused by Climate Change?

      It was a 25,000-year storm. Its area of 24-inch rainfall was 50 to 100 times greater than anything previously recorded in the lower 48. Up to a million cars may have been flooded. In Harris County alone, 136,000 homes were flooded. Yet the official word from academia on Hurricane Harvey was that it “may have been enhanced” by climate change. When are we going start using professional judgement like doctors and engineers use to keep us safe, instead of the absolutes of certainty with science? Because of certainty in science, we cannot admit that Hurricane Harvey and other extraordinary weather extremes like Harvey were caused by climate change. Not only are we are exposing our culture to grave risk, but by not using professional judgement to make this call, we perpetuate climate pollution reform inaction that has solely created this great risk.

    • Trump’s ITC Shoots USA In Solar Foot

      Fortunately, I live in Canada and expect the price of solar panels to continue falling as USA sharply drops its demand for the product. There is a silver lining. It will be even less expensive for me to power my future Solo EV by sunshine.

    • If anyone can hear us … help.’ Puerto Rico’s mayors describe widespread devastation from Hurricane Maria
    • Live Updates: Puerto Rico Still Facing Loss Of Electricity, Phone And Water Services After Hurricane Maria
    • Failing Dam in Puerto Rico Shows Danger of Climate Denialism

      President Trump, notoriously, tweeted that climate change is a Chinese hoax.

      Some 70,000 U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico living along the Guajataca River are in danger as a dam in the vicinity is failing. Built in the 1920s, the earthen dam faces a drainage problem in the midst of the downpours visited on the island, which have abruptly filled it up and put unbearable pressure on the walls.

      The failure of this dam underlines that climate change science is absolutely central to good public policy and planning.

      As humans put heat trapping gases into the atmosphere, like carbon dioxide, through driving their cars, providing their homes with electricity, and heating or cooling their houses, more of the sun’s heat is trapped on earth rather than radiating off into space. That trapped heat has caused the average temperature of the earth’s surface to rise.

    • Trade Panel Ruling Gives Trump Authority to Cripple Nation’s Solar Industry

      Lawmakers and the solar energy industry spoke out Friday against a ruling by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), which voted in favor of two domestic solar power manufacturers that complained low-cost solar panel imports from China had harmed their businesses.

      The ITC’s ruling leaves it up to President Donald Trump to decide whether to penalize foreign companies by imposing tariffs on their imports, something that he has already threatened to do, which would increase the cost of installing solar panels.

      While Trump and the coal industry have fretted that the advent of solar power is forcing coal companies out of business, foreign countries have moved forward in developing solar energy, with China already surpassing its goal of installing 105 gigawatts of solar power by 2020. China has also exported solar panels “in such increased quantities as to be a substantial cause of serious injury, or threat of serious injury, to the U.S. industry,” according to the ITC.

    • Possible good news about climate change leads to confused coverage

      In The Guardian, the headline was “Ambitious 1.5C Paris climate target is still possible, new analysis shows.” But over at Breitbart, readers were told that “Climate Alarmists Finally Admit ‘We Were Wrong About Global Warming.’” Other headlines spanned pretty much the entire range between these two. The grist for the mill was a new study published in Nature Geoscience by a group of well-known climate scientists, but different news outlets baked very different breads with it.

      That happens pretty frequently these days, but, in this case, the new study was especially complex and more easily misunderstood—even by those without a Breitbartian aggressive ideological bias against climate science.

    • Solar panel maker wins trade commission finding, tariff decision to go to Trump

      The commission now has until November to send recommendations on remedies to President Trump, who will be responsible for either setting a tariff on imported solar materials or finding some other remedy. Given Trump’s promises to bolster American manufacturing, it’s likely that he’ll favor restrictions on solar panel imports.

      The case is unique in that it has caused a considerable rift in the solar industry, with manufacturers on one side and installers on the other. Installers fought against Suniva’s bid for tariffs, saying that cheap imported panels have been a primary driver of the solar industry’s recent boom. Other solar installers have claimed that Suniva’s money woes were the result of mismanagement and poor products, not foreign imports.

    • Tens of Thousands Flee for Safety as Dam Fails in Puerto Rico

      “If you deny climate change, you will not anticipate heavier rainfall. Your dams will then fail, creating tens of thousands of climate refugees,” wrote Cole.

      As Reuters notes, “The potential calamity was unfolding as Puerto Ricans struggled without electricity to clean up and dig out from the devastation left days earlier by Maria, which has killed at least 25 people across the Caribbean, according to officials and media reports.”

      Cole concluded, “When you vote for denialist politicians, you are selecting people who make policy. The policy they make will be clueless and will actively endanger the public. Climate change is real. We are causing it by our emissions. If you don’t believe that, you are not a responsible steward of our infrastructure and of our lives.”

    • Nuclear Plants Plus Hurricanes: Disasters Waiting to Happen

      Although the mainstream media said next to nothing about it, independent experts have made it clear that Hurricanes Harvey and Irma threatened six U.S. nuclear plants with major destruction, and therefore all of us with apocalyptic disaster. It is a danger that remains for the inevitable hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis and other natural disasters yet to come.

      During Harvey and Irma, six holdovers from a dying reactor industry—two on the Gulf Coast at South Texas, two at Key Largo and two more north of Miami at Port St. Lucie—were under severe threat of catastrophic failure. All of them rely on off-site power systems that were extremely vulnerable throughout the storms. At St. Lucie Unit One, an NRC official reported a salt buildup on electrical equipment requiring a power downgrade in the midst of the storm.

  • Finance
    • Universal credit is a shambles because the poor are ignored
    • ‘Fix’ Claims As Labour Conference Urged By Momentum Not To Vote On Anti-Brexit Motions

      Jeremy Corbyn supporters have launched an eleventh-hour bid to prevent the Labour conference from toughening the party’s line against Brexit.

      In what appeared to be an attempt to avoid embarrassment to the Labour leader, the leftwing grassroots movement Momentum has asked its members not to include the issue in a list of motions at the gathering in Brighton.

      Pro-EU Labour members swiftly accused the group of a ‘fix’ that ran counter to Corbyn’s own demands to allow the rank and file to determine the party’s direction.

      In an email to supporters, seen by HuffPost UK, Momentum’s leadership has set out the four topics it wants to vote on – and none of them includes the EU. Housing, Social Care, the NHS and Rail are its new priorities for a ballot on Sunday.

    • How One Program Gives Federal Property to Groups Helping the Homeless

      Hundreds of thousands of people sleep every night on the streets of the United States, where just about every major city is experiencing an affordable housing crisis. While no federal program offers completely free housing for the homeless, a little-noticed statute is allowing those who help this population to obtain federal property at no cost, turning abandoned buildings and lots into hubs for social services.
      “This building is always busy,” said Veronica Lara, chief operating officer for Volunteers of America Los Angeles.
      Her organization’s offices are located in the overwhelmingly Latino neighborhood of Boyle Heights, where the Los Angeles City Council blocked a plan in August to build new housing for the mentally ill and homeless. There’s an obvious need — Los Angeles County’s homeless population soared 23 percent from January 2016 to January 2017 — but efforts to provide housing and services for this community are always controversial, spurring concern not for human life, at least not in one’s backyard, but for property values that might decline.

    • May’s Florence speech confirmed it: we need to ditch Brexit

      Theresa May’s Florence speech rams home why we shouldn’t be quitting the European Union at all.

      As reality bites, the prime minister is being forced to give up on Brexiters’ fantasies. She put Brexit on ice for two years, dangled tens of billions of pounds in front of the EU and abandoned her threat to turn the UK into a Singapore-style tax haven. These weren’t the flip-flop queen’s first U-turns, and they won’t be her last.

      The government is making a dog’s dinner of Brexit. May triggered article 50, setting a two-year time bomb ticking, without a plan. Six months later, she still doesn’t have a plan. The prime minister asked for creative solutions. But she didn’t provide any herself. She doesn’t have a creative bone in her body.

    • Report: HPE will shed 5,000 jobs starting before Christmas
    • Hewlett Packard Enterprise Is Said to Plan About 5,000 Job Cuts

      Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. is planning to cut about 10 percent of its staff, or at least 5,000 workers, according to people familiar with the matter, part of a broader effort to pare expenses as competition mounts.

    • Trump’s Tax Plan: A Billion or Three for Guys Like Him

      What’s the largest personal stake a US president has ever had in legislation he signed into law? Whatever it was, it’ll be dwarfed by what Donald Trump’s signature will be worth — to himself — if Congress passes his proposed tax plan and puts it on his desk.

      If that happens, Trump will be effectively cutting himself a check from the US Treasury for several billion dollars.

      Call me cynical, but it seems that’s exactly what Trump has in mind. His plan just fits his tax situation — or what we know of it, without access to his tax returns — too perfectly.

    • Tenants Push Back Against Corporate Landlords During “Renter Week of Action”

      The vigil was just one of several actions popping off this week in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area — and across the nation. Renters in 45 cities are organizing protests from September 16 through September 24, during a nationwide “National Renter Week of Action and Assemblies” spearheaded by the Right to the City Alliance to fight back against the Trump administration’s threat to cut billions from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and to demand rent control and just-cause eviction policies.

    • Without Price Breaks, Rural Hospitals Struggle To Stock Costly, Lifesaving Drugs

      Hospital pharmacist Mandy Langston remembers when Lulabelle Berry arrived at Stone County Medical Center’s emergency department last year.

      Berry couldn’t talk. Her face was drooping on one side. Her eyes couldn’t focus.

      “She was basically unresponsive,” Langston recalls.

      Berry, 78, was having a severe ischemic stroke. Each passing second made brain damage more likely. So, Langston reached for the clot-busting drug Activase, which must be given within a few hours to work.

    • May’s breakup speech made Brexit sound magical … if you’re drinking Bacardi

      I see Boris Johnson is still redrafting his Brexit prospectus, most recently in a Daily Telegraph article that spent much of the week threatening to derail Theresa May’s major speech, if not to presage his own resignation. Why? Because that’s just the shit the Tories pull these days. There is nothing so perilously unstable they couldn’t somehow contrive to destabilise it further. Nothing gets them hotter than the clock ticking or the possibility of running each other out. Instead of taking back control they find new ways to be incontinent. You can tell the people who got us into this mess were former journalists, because despite having just the 50 years to work out what type of deal they wanted, the cabinet is doing it right on deadline.

    • Sadiq Khan: London mayor who took on Trump won’t flinch in fight with Uber

      Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim mayor of a western capital city, is no stranger to making powerful enemies, and few come as mighty and ill-tempered as Donald Trump. The mayor of London and the US president have clashed several times – spats that appeared engineered by Trump to show who’s boss. Khan has not flinched, chastising and ridiculing Trump with apparent relish.

    • Uber’s London licence revoked by TfL: Reaction seriously divided in the Capital

      TfL stated that “Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility”. It has been accused of failing to properly report criminal offences, obtain valid medical certificates, and of blocking official regulators from transparency about its operations.

    • Uber Losing Battle in London After Regulator Revokes License

      Transportation authorities in London concluded Uber isn’t “fit and proper to hold a private hire operator license.” The agency cited a failure to do proper background checks on drivers, report crimes and a program called “Greyball” used to avoid regulators.

    • Mark Zuckerberg will no longer try to reclassify Facebook stock to fund his philanthropy [sic]

      He still plans to sell up to 75 million shares over the next year and a half — worth $13 billion at today’s price.

    • The Tories found £1bn for the DUP. But they won’t help our hurricane-hit islands

      Hurricane Maria is fast approaching the British territory of Turks and Caicos, while thousands of people in British overseas territories continue to struggle with Hurricane Irma’s fallout. They have yet to hear the government’s long-term plan to provide the support and funds they will need to rebuild their communities.

      These are national disasters in British territories, but the government is not living up to its responsibility for dealing with the outcomes, as it would for a disaster on British soil.

    • Has Theresa May made an important promise on the post-Brexit rights of European Union nationals in the UK?

      No, not the £350 million – we may be getting back full control over our own laws, but not the laws of arithmetic. I mean this one, signed by three current members of the Cabinet, Boris Johnson, Priti Patel, and Michael Gove:

      “There will be no change for EU citizens already lawfully resident in the UK. These EU citizens will automatically be granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK and will be treated no less favourably than they are at present.”

    • G20 – they colonized our future

      When Beethoven composed his ‘Ode to Joy’ in 1824 he probably wouldn’t have thought that merely 200 years later the Donald Trumps of this world would listen to it, while the masses are rioting in the streets outside. Actually, not all people became brothers during the G20 summit on July 7 – 8 in Hamburg this year. Three months later fiery public debates about the tremendous violence during the summit days still continue and every day more coverage of police violence against protesters crops up in social media.

      Apart from that, major media outlets still seem to refuse any coverage on the realistic alternative policy approaches that were framed and discussed e.g. during the Alternative Summit on July 5–6. So the world has gone back to business as usual and the question “what actually changed with the protests?“ sounds ever-increasingly ironic. But why is that so? As activists are our protests maybe failing to address a crucial aspect of the G20’s power?

    • Britain must accept ambiguity to survive Brexit

      Brexit is written in binary code. It is all zeros and ones – out of the European Union or in. In his long Telegraph essay last weekend, the British foreign secretary and totem of the Leave campaign Boris Johnson reiterated the iron imperatives of last year’s referendum: “The choice was binary. The result was decisive. There is simply no way – or no good way – of being 52 per cent out and 48 per cent in.”

      This has an impeccable logic, in the way mad things often do. In her speech in Florence on Friday, Johnson’s supposed boss Theresa May was trying, in her own weak way, to tweak that logic, to find some wriggle room in the relentless bind of the binary.

      The concrete content of the speech may be less important than its signal of distress – though whether May is waving or drowning remains an open question. She is edging towards some way to be – however temporarily – at least a little bit in while moving out.

    • Lexit: defeatism dressed as ambition

      Lexiters are deluded: Brexit is a right-wing project. The future of the UK left is with the European left, in the international struggle. This piece, introducing our “Looking at Lexit” series, is paired with a “Lexit” argument by Xavier Buxton.

    • Lexit: looking forwards, not backwards
    • Looking at Lexit: mission statement
  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Michigan Governor Unleashes “Citizens United on Steroids”

      Less than six hours after its passage by the Republican-controlled state legislature, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law this week a measure that, effective immediately, allows candidates to raise unlimited sums of money for super PACs, which can then promptly spend that money supporting those candidates—or attacking their rivals.

      It also allows consultants to simultaneously work for a campaign and a super PAC at the same time, making a joke of the supposed independence of the two groups.

    • Obama tried to give Zuckerberg a wake-up call over fake news on Facebook
    • Manafort Planning to Leave US — as Mueller’s Team Prepares to Indict Him in Russia Probe
    • Meet Trump’s controversial Federal Election Commission pick
    • ‘Battle of the Sexes’ Then — and Now
    • Kushner used private email to conduct White House business

      Presidential son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has corresponded with other administration officials about White House matters through a private email account set up during the transition last December, part of a larger pattern of Trump administration aides using personal email accounts for government business.

      Kushner uses his private account alongside his official White House email account, sometimes trading emails with senior White House officials, outside advisers and others about media coverage, event planning and other subjects, according to four people familiar with the correspondence. POLITICO has seen and verified about two dozen emails.

    • Jared Kushner used private email account to conduct White House business: report
    • Just What Is a ‘Dotard’ Anyway?

      Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump are not only threatening to destroy one another’s countries — now they’re both playing a game of lethal name-calling. Jong-un lashed out at Trump on Thursday in response to his terrifying declaration to “totally destroy” North Korea if provoked by Jong-un. In addition to implying that Trump is a “frightened dog” (and it’s hard to disagree with him on that front), Jong-un said, “I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire.”

      For the sake of comic relief among this beyond-chilling discourse, let’s take a second to examine Kim Jong-un’s choice of words. What exactly is a “dotard,” and should it become our favorite new nickname for Trump?

    • After NBA’s Stephen Curry Rejects Trump’s Whitehouse Invitation, the Disgruntled President ‘Withdraws’ It
    • Science fails to make an impact in forthcoming German elections

      With German chancellor Angela Merkel’s party coming out on top in all recent polls, an upset in the forthcoming elections on Sunday seems unlikely. But scientists looking for commitments on spending on R&D, however, have been met with often nebulous promises.

      Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has been the biggest party in the governing coalition since 2005, and this isn’t expected to change. To gain a parliamentary majority, however, the CDU is expected to need to form a coalition. It is possible that to govern the CDU will once again have to make common cause with Germany’s second largest party, the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD).

    • Documents show first government payments to Trump’s businesses
    • Paul Manafort may hold the key: Who was he really working for?
    • Home Tweet Home
    • The Donald vs The King
    • NBA Star Lebron James: Don’t Let Trump Use Sports to Divide Us

      Lebron James, NBA all-star and one of the nation’s most high-profile athletes, released a video Saturday night to further explain why President Donald Trump must be challenged for his divisive language and behavior regarding racism, white supremacy, and his latest calls for professional athletes who do speak out on such issues to be fired or otherwised punished.

      For Trump to use the platform of sports to “divide us even more,” says James in the 2-minute video, “it’s not something I can stand for and it’s not something I can be quiet about.”

    • I Helped Create Facebook’s Ad Machine. Here’s How I’d Fix It

      If democracy is to survive Facebook, that company must realize the outsized role it now plays as both the public forum where our strident democratic drama unfolds, and as the vehicle for those who aspire to control that drama’s course. Facebook, welcome to the big leagues.

    • Facebook’s racist ad problems were baked in from the start

      Reckoning with its ad sales model is just one of the hard facts that Facebook is waking up to. (Google, its search engine less of a lightning rod for controversy, is remaining more tight-lipped.) The broader issue, one this ad controversy illustrates, is Facebook’s inability to grapple with the power and influence it’s amassed, and how vulnerable that influence is to bad actors eager to exploit it.

    • Facebook Scraps New Share Class in Rare Win for Investors

      CEO also gives up proposal that let him serve in government

    • Zuckerberg abandons plan to reclassify Facebook stocks

      “In fact, we now plan to accelerate our work and sell more of those shares sooner. I anticipate selling 35-75 million Facebook shares in the next 18 months to fund our work in education, science, and advocacy.”

    • ALEC’s Corporate Board Leads…in Federal Violations

      The federal government has slapped eight of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) known corporate board leaders with more than $6.2 billion in federal fines and penalties for misconduct or corporate crimes since 2000.

      The leading ALEC scofflaws include pharmaceutical giant Pfizer ($4.350 billion), Exxon Mobil ($715 million), Koch Industries ($657 million), AT&T ($421 million), United Parcel Service ($35 million), alcohol multinational Diageo ($17 million), Peabody Energy ($16 million), and Altria (owner of Phillip Morris, the largest U.S. cigarette manufacturer) ($7 million).

      The companies pay thousands of dollars each year to sit on the “Private Enterprise Advisory Council” of ALEC, a pay-to-play organization that lets its corporate members rub elbows with lawmakers and draft bills promoting their interests for legislators to take back home to their states. ALEC re-branded its corporate board as an “advisory council” in 2013 after Common Cause and CMD filed a complaint against the group with the IRS for being a corporate lobby masquerading as a charity.

    • The Silent Terrorism on Our Doorsteps

      Can you name the location of the two most deadly US mass shootings of 2017? And, can you identify what the two events had in common?

      The answers?

      The Sept. 10 killing of eight in Plano, Texas, and the May 27 killing of eight in Bogue Chitto, Mississippi. The link? Both were acts of domestic violence.

      Were the mass murders covered by portions of the US media? Yes. Were they given the same level and intensity of coverage as instances of national and international ”terrorism” with far fewer, or even no, fatalities? No. Not even close. In fact, many people in the US could be forgiven for not having heard of what happened in Plano or Bogue Chitto, let alone that these were instances of domestic violence.

    • Labour must end May’s ‘hostile environment’ for migrants in the NHS

      Jeremy Corbyn has attracted support in his leadership and general election battles due in part to his firm position against privatisation in general – including NHS privatisation – and also due his history of support for migrants and anti-racist organising.

      Yet Labour’s health policy platform is currently limited – as pointed out in this excellent recent article by Allyson Pollock. And the party appears to have no formal policy and little to say in public about the “hostile environment” the government has been creating for migrants.

      The government is trying to blame the severe and growing NHS funding crisis on migrants, but this is a distraction. The numbers don’t add up: ‘deliberate health tourism’ costs, at most, £300 million a year – just 0.3% of the overall NHS budget. The costs that can be recouped by charging people for their care are a drop in the ocean for the NHS, but potentially ruinous for patients now being landed with multi-thousand pound bills – or being put off accessing healthcare altogether.

    • Trump Flux

      It took Donald Trump, a buffoon incapable of holding a serious thought, to change that sense of things.

      As a thinker, Trump is a non-entity who has not, and obviously cannot, change political theory. But he has profoundly affected the lived experience of those who do think, casually or in more sustained ways, about the politics of the country he leads.

      Thanks to the peculiarly undemocratic way we elect presidents, and thanks to Hillary Clinton’s ineptitude, a troubled male adolescent in an old man’s body now holds power enough to turn the world into a wasteland. And because his mind does indeed resemble an ever-changing river, nothing now does stay still for we inhabitants of Trumpland.

    • Trump is assembling the most male-dominated government in decades

      They were military and business leaders, political insiders, novices and lords of finance. But the parade of job seekers to Trump Tower last winter almost all had one thing in common: they were men.

      The work of staffing the federal government has since lost its casting-call quality, but little appears to have changed.

      A new analysis shared exclusively with the Guardian has found that 80% of nominations for top jobs in the Trump administration have gone to men – putting Donald Trump on track to assemble the most male-dominated federal government in nearly a quarter-century.

      Without a significant shift, men will outnumber women four-to-one in top positions of the Trump administration.

    • Ivanka Trump Faces Courtroom Showdown Over $785 Sandals
    • “I want to be Prime Minister for ten years” – Jeremy Corbyn’s vow as he reveals how he relishes taking on Tories

      His Labour Party will be in peak fighting form by Christmas with candidates in nearly every target seat.

      But if Theresa May clings on until 2022, when the next election is due, he would be 83 before he left No10.

    • France’s far-left leader urges French ‘resistance’ against Macron

      French far-left opposition party leader Jean-Luc Melenchon drew tens of thousands to a rally on Saturday against President Emmanuel Macron’s labor reforms, aiming to reinforce his credentials as Macron’s strongest political opponent.

      Trade union protests against Macron’s plan to make hiring and firing easier and give companies more power over working conditions seem to be losing steam, but Melenchon said his “France Unbowed” party was calling on unions to join them and together “keep up the fight”.

      “The battle is not over, it is only starting,” Melenchon told the crowd gathered on the Place de la Republique where the rally against what Melenchon has called “a social coup d‘etat” ended.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • A petition to demand accountability from the NSA

      Fritz Moser, director of the documentary A Good American, about NSA whistleblower Bill Binney who blames the 9/11 attacks on the NSA’s capture by corporate contractors who sold it an expensive, useless, self-perpetuating mass-surveillance system, writes, “Since 6 Sept A GOOD AMERICAN is on Netflix and since then I am getting between 10 and 20 emails per day of people telling me how shocked they were by the film and how angry they are, asking what they could do to help. So we came up with this petition.

    • Instagram still hasn’t finished rolling out its archive [sic] feature
    • Counterintelligence for Cyber Defence
    • WhatsApp is unlikely to support Theresa May’s backdoor demands [Ed: WhatsApp will send private keys (copies) to Facebook. So the Tories can still spy, by pressuring Facebook. Media doesn't say this.]

      Sky News, a Murdoch outfit, reports that the UK Government demanded that WhatsApp comes up with a way to offer access to encrypted messages this summer and that the chat thing would have none of it.

    • Microsoft, Facebook, Complete Enormous Undersea Cable

      Microsoft, Facebook and global telecommunication infrastructure company Telxius have completed the Marea subsea cable, the world’s most technologically advanced undersea cable. The Marea crosses the Atlantic Ocean over 17,000 feet below the ocean’s surface, connecting Virginia Beach with Bilbao, Spain.

    • Microsoft and Facebook’s 160Tbps transatlantic undersea cable carries more data than any other

      Facebook wants people to hop on its social network and share their data with the company; Microsoft wants to make its wide range of cloud services, including Office 365, Skype, Xbox Live and the Azure platform more easily available in new markets.

    • Taylor Swift’s fans make the best online sleuths. What can they teach me about social media?

      The juiciest details are rarely to be found on page one, or even page 36 of Google search results – they are in the gaps, and you might be surprised at just how easy it is to fill them. That is precisely the case against the retention of metadata, in fact: that it only describes content is of little comfort when you can find so much out by connecting the dots.

    • Airport Police Demanded An Activist’s Passwords. He Refused. Now He Faces Prison in the UK.

      IT WAS NOT the first time Muhammad Rabbani had problems when returning to the United Kingdom from travels overseas. But on this occasion something was different — he was arrested, handcuffed, and hauled through London’s largest airport, then put into the back of a waiting police van.

      Rabbani is the 36-year old international director of Cage, a British group that was founded in 2003 to raise awareness about the plight of prisoners held at the U.S. government’s Guantanamo Bay detention site. Today, the organization has a broader focus and says it is working to highlight “the erosion of the rule of law in the context of the War on Terror.” Due to its work campaigning for the legal rights of terrorism suspects, Cage has attracted controversy, and Rabbani has faced the government’s wrath.

      His trouble at Heathrow Airport in late November began with a familiar routine. Often, on his return to the U.K. from foreign trips, he was stopped by police and questioned under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act – a sweeping power British authorities can use at the border to interrogate and search people without requiring any suspicion of wrongdoing. People questioned under Schedule 7 have no right to remain silent or receive legal advice, and they can be interrogated for up to nine hours. Rabbani estimates that he has been stopped under Schedule 7 about 20 times. Usually, he was let free after a few questions without any charges or arrest. But not this time.

    • Secret documents reveal: BND attacked Tor and advises not to use it

      The story begins a few weeks prior to the annual SIGINT Development Conference in 2008 when BND hackers “developed the idea of how the Tor network could be monitored relatively easily”, according to internal BND documents. In March 2008, the spy agency filled in its partners from the US and UK. During a visit of a foreign delegation to Munich, a BND unit presented “the anonymity network Tor and a possible disbandment of the anonymity feature”. In order to implement the plan, the BND hoped for “an international cooperation with several foreign intelligence agencies”.

      Both NSA and the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) expressed “a high interest” and offered support. The three secret services decided on further meetings and the creation of a project group. The BND hackers told the NSA about “a possibility to penetrate the Tor network”, a term commonly used for the infiltration of IT systems. In this case, the data suggests that the spy agencies wanted to exploit a design decision Tor publicly specified.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Saudi Women Were Allowed into a Sports Stadium for the First Time in the Kingdom’s History

      Saudi Arabia is celebrating the 87th anniversary of its founding this weekend, and on Saturday it allowed women into the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh for the first time for a special pageant operetta.

    • Miss Turkey stripped of her crown over coup tweet

      The winner of Miss Turkey 2017 has been stripped of her crown after one of her past tweets came to light.

      Itir Esen, 18, had shared a post referencing last year’s coup attempt, comparing her menstrual cycle to the spilt blood of “martyrs”.

      The competition’s organisers said the tweet was “unacceptable” and confirmed their decision to dismiss her, just hours after she won.
      Ms Esen has since said, via Instagram, that she was not being political.

      The tweet was posted around the first anniversary of the 15 July coup attempt, when nearly 250 people died fighting an army uprising.

    • Colin Kaepernick Stood Up for Justice by Kneeling During the National Anthem

      Colin Kaepernick has not been involved in “off-field” scandals, has committed no crime, and has donated almost $1 million to community organizations over the last year, yet the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback is considered an outcast for kneeling during the national anthem.

      Why?

      Some say it’s because football is no place for politics. Not true. Gameday at every American stadium includes people waving signs endorsing candidates and offering literature for this or against that. Singing the anthem while jets fly overhead is a political moment. On the field or in the stands, standing at attention with your hand over your heart is a political statement.

    • From Louis Armstrong to the N.F.L.: Ungrateful as the New Uppity

      The free-range lunacy of Donald Trump’s speech on Friday night in Alabama, where he referred to Colin Kaepernick—and other N.F.L. players who silently protest police brutality—as a “son of a bitch,” and of the subsequent Twitter tantrums in which the President, like a truculent six-year-old, disinvited the Golden State Warriors from a White House visit, illustrates that the passage of six decades has not dimmed this dynamic confronted by Armstrong, or by any prominent black person tasked with the entertainment of millions of white ones. There again is the presence of outrage for events that should shock the conscience, and the reality of people who sincerely believe, or who have at least convincingly lied to themselves, that dissenters are creating an issue where there is none. Colin Kaepernick began his silent, kneeling protest at the beginning of last season, not as an assault against the United States military or the flag but as a dissent against a system that has, with a great degree of consistency, failed to hold accountable police who kill unarmed citizens. Since he did this, forty-one unarmed individuals have been fatally shot by police in the United States, twelve of them African-American, according to a database maintained by the Washington Post. The city of St. Louis recently witnessed three days of protests after the acquittal of the former police officer Jason Stockley, who, while still working for the S.L.P.D., fatally shot Anthony Smith, an eighteen-year-old African-American motorist who had led officers on a chase. Stockley emerged from his vehicle, having declared that he would “kill the motherfucker,” then proceeded to fire five rounds into the car. Later, a firearm was found on the seat of Smith’s car, but the weapon bore only Stockley’s DNA. The issue is not imaginary.

    • Kim Jong-un, the NFL and ‘Screaming at Senators’: Trump’s Strange Night in Alabama

      The president also dwelled on NFL players who take a knee during the National Anthem in peaceful protest. He asked the crowd, “Wouldn’t you love one of the NFL owners when someone disrespects our flag, ‘get that son of a bitch off the field right now.’” He told attendees, “If you see it, leave the stadium, I guarantee things will stop.”

      Since 2016, a number of African American NFL players have taken a knee during the National Anthem. It was spurred by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick who was the first to do so in protest what he saw as oppression of people of color. Several other players have since followed suit and it has sparked national controversy.

    • NBA Union Head Chris Paul Challenges Trump’s Manhood in Twitter Blast Over Black Athlete Attacks

      NBA star and head of the Players’ Union, Chris Paul, fired back at Donald Trump on Twitter Saturday. Over the last 24 hours, the President took shots at both NBA superstar Stephen Curry and ex-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

      Friday night, Trump called Kaepernick a “son of a b*tch” during a speech in Alabama, before uninviting Curry to the White House via Twitter Saturday morning (after Curry said he didn’t want to go).

    • Lebron Calls Trump a “Bum” After President Attacks Protest of Yet Another Black Athlete

      U.S. territory Puerto Rico is in utter ruins, with nearly the entire island without power and a failing dam threatening tens of thousands of people, on Saturday.

      High-stake tensions as international worries continue about North Korea’s testing of nuclear weapons and the U.S. military’s provocative show of force with South Korea.

      A Republican effort, though faltering, to strip Medicaid and other healthcare coverage from millions of people in the U.S. Senate.

      Wars without end in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elswhere amid news this week that Trump wants to loosen restrictions on the U.S. military borderless overseas drone program.

    • Calling Kaepernick ‘Son of a Bitch,’ Trump Urges NFL to Fire All Protesting Players

      Civil libertarians, racial justice advocates, and NFL players from across the league expressed outrage overnight after President Donald Trump called on owners of professional football teams to fire players who express their political views.

      In a veiled reference to quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who last season started a wave of protest by kneeling during pre-game National Anthems in protest of police killings of unarmed black men, Trump said during a campaign-style rally in Alabama on Friday night, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of the NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now?’”

    • Trump delivers unhinged rant on NFL, calls Colin Kaepernick a ‘son of a bitch’

      During a 90-minute speech in Alabama, purportedly to support Senator Luther Strange who faces a special primary election next Tuesday, Trump diverted into an extended rant on the NFL.

      His ire was focused primarily on Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players who have participated in silent protests during the national anthem.

    • Who Are the “Alt-Right”? On the Rise of Reactionary Hatred and How to Fight it

      With the rise in public visibility of far-right-wing militants in the U.S. following the events in Charlottesville, much of the public is scrambling to understand just what this movement is and what forces are driving it. With much of the public discussing strategies for how best to fight right-wing extremism, the need for constructive solutions is greater than ever.

      First and foremost, it’s important to point out that public support for far-right extremists is miniscule. The vast majority of Americans reject this movement’s violence and hatred. According to a Marist survey from the summer of 2017, just 4 percent of Americans said they support “white supremacy movement” or “white nationalism.” Similarly, just 6 percent embraced the term “alt-right.” Still, there is a legitimate concern that support for right-wing bigotry may grow in the future if left unchecked.

    • The CIA: 70 Years of Organized Crime

      Donohue said the CIA doesn’t do anything unless it meets two criteria. The first criterion is “intelligence potential.” The program must benefit the CIA; maybe it tells them how to overthrow a government, or how to blackmail an official, or where a report is hidden, or how to get an agent across a border. The term “intelligence potential” means it has some use for the CIA. The second criterion is that it can be denied. If they can’t find a way to structure the program or operation so they can deny it, they won’t do it. Plausible denial can be as simple as providing an officer or asset with military cover. Then the CIA can say, “The army did it.”

      Plausible denial is all about language. During Senate hearings into CIA assassination plots against Fidel Castro and other foreign leaders, the CIA’s erstwhile deputy director of operations Richard Bissell defined „plausible denial“ as “the use of circumlocution and euphemism in discussions where precise definitions would expose covert actions and bring them to an end.”

      Everything the CIA does is deniable. It’s part of its Congressional mandate. Congress doesn’t want to be held accountable for the criminal things the CIA does. The only time something the CIA does become public knowledge – other than the rare accident or whistleblower – is when Congress or the President think it’s helpful for psychological warfare reasons to let the American people know the CIA is doing it. Torture is a good example. After 9/11, and up until and through the invasion of Iraq, the American people wanted revenge. They wanted to see Muslim blood flowing, so the Bush administration let it leak that they were torturing evil doers. They played it cute and called it “enhanced interrogation,” but everyone understood symbolically. Circumlocution and euphemism. Plausible denial.

    • UK trains Oman’s police and special forces in ‘public order’ tactics

      New of the training project, which came to an end in March, has been met with dismay by Omani rights campaigners. They say that the training included officers from Oman’s elite Northern Frontier Regiment, which they claim opened fire on protesters in 2011 during the Arab Spring.

    • British actor Colin Firth gets dual Italian citizenship after Brexit vote

      British actor Colin Firth, who has often played the role of a quintessential Englishman in his many films, has become an Italian citizen, Italy’s Interior Ministry said.

      “The very famous actor, who won an Oscar for the film ‘The King’s Speech’, is married to a citizen from our country and has often declared his love for our land,” the ministry said in a statement.

      Firth said he would remain a dual national, adding that his Italian-born wife would also be seeking British nationality.

      “We never really thought much about our different passports,” the actor said in a statement.

    • Banks To Check Accounts For Illegal Immigrants

      “After having unleashed cruel and unnecessary checks against migrants in schools, universities and hospitals, now Theresa May is forcing banks to become part of her xenophobic ‘hostile environment’. This destructive mania aimed at making the daily lives of people from often quite marginalised communities even more untenable serves no purpose other than to pander to certain currents of racist populism in society. But it’s not only migrants that will suffer as a result of these measures, as everyone in the UK will have to deal with the consequences of the surveillance state being increasingly entrenched in our lives.”

    • In America, Justice for Victims of Police Brutality Remains Elusive

      Three years after the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement rose to prominence in Ferguson, Mo., protests over a police killing of a black man have once again garnered national attention—this time in the neighboring city of St. Louis. The acquittal of a white former police officer, Jason Stockley, over the killing of a 24-year-old black man named Anthony Lamar Smith shows that justice is still elusive for black victims of police officers. However, the subsequent days of protests by St. Louis residents show that the power and influence of BLM has only grown.

      The fact that it took nearly six years for a trial and verdict in this case is quite telling. Smith’s fatal encounter with police took place in December 2011, three months before Trayvon Martin was shot in Florida and the term “Black Lives Matter” was coined. During the high-speed chase that ended Smith’s life, Stockley was recorded saying he was “going to kill this motherfucker, don’t you know it.” After directing another police officer to hit Smith’s car, Stockley walked up to the young man’s vehicle. He fired five times into the car, killing Smith. Stockley claimed Smith had a gun in his hand and that he killed him in self-defense. But prosecutors suspected that the gun found in Smith’s car was planted by the officer since it had only Stockley’s DNA on it, and none of Smith’s. It took the state more than four years just to bring charges against the man who took Smith’s life.

    • When Racism Lurks in the Heart of a Death Penalty Juror

      Exactly 80 years later another story about a scheduled execution, this time one that is all too real, is playing out; but, unlike that first episode of The Shadow, there is little chance of a tidy and fair resolution (much less “a death house rescue”). Indeed, absent an unlikely intervention, the state of Georgia will execute death row inmate Keith Tharpe by lethal injection on September 26, 2017.

      Also, unlike the condemned man in The Shadow’s fictional “Death House Rescue,” no one is arguing that Tharpe is innocent. Nevertheless, Tharpe’s attorneys argue he shouldn’t be put to death because, as has been widely reported, after Tharpe’s conviction and death sentence, Tharpe’s lawyers secured a prejudice-laden sworn affidavit from a now-deceased juror by the name of Barney Gattie.

    • Spanish Centralism or the Self-Defeating Hubris of the Authoritarian Mind

      Catalonia is, like all societies I know of, a diverse and ideologically divided one. There are many people there that identify overwhelmingly with a Catalan past, the Catalan language and, perhaps most importantly, uniquely Catalan patterns of social organization and civic comportment, ones that place an inordinate—at least in relation to traditional Spanish ones—emphasis on negotiation (as opposed to fiats), commerce as (opposed to strategic intimidation and war-making) rational inquiry and the primacy of personal conscience (opposed to obedience to broadly propagated social and religious orthodoxies).

    • Is Trump a White Supremacist? Yes, But So is America

      In recent days a foolish controversy has swirled regarding president Donald Trump. At issue is whether or not he can be labeled a white supremacist. There is no need for conjecture on this point. He most certainly is a white supremacist. But asking the question is utterly useless in a country whose very founding was a white supremacist project. Racist structures impact every facet of life in this country. Race determines where we go to school, live, work, or even if one is employed at all.

      Recently released data showed that black Americans are the only group in the country whose median income has decreased since 2000. Asians, whites, and Latinos have all experienced some degree of income growth during this period. Income inequality is worse for black people now than it was in 1979 . Even black families who manage to scrape their way into middle class status are more likely to see their children slip back into poverty

    • Police Militarization is a Threat to Tribal Sovereignty

      What would a police officer do with a grenade launcher? While the notion may seem wild, we’re about to find out.

      Congress initially authorized the Pentagon to give surplus military gear to police in 1990 to help fight the drug war, but complaints about the militarization of police and the belief that it tends to escalate police violence rather than curb it were continuous and bipartisan. Then, after police responded to Black Lives Matter protests in Ferguson armed to the teeth and deploying vicious dogs and tear gas onto civilians while brandishing loaded assault rifles, President Obama limited the military surplus program via executive order.

    • Victory for Immigrant Hunger Strikers: Lawsuit Challenges Slave Wages at Private Jail

      For three years now, incarcerated immigrants have staged hunger strikes and work stoppages to protest conditions at the Northwest Detention Center, an immigration jail in Tacoma, Washington, run by a private prison company that pays detainees as little as $1 a day to work in the jail.

      “This week folks were offered chips or a soup for several nights of waxing the floors, so not even $1 [per] day,” one person incarcerated in the jail recently reported to NWDC Resistance, an immigrant-led group fighting to end the deportation and detention of immigrants.

    • “Hands Off Pants On”: time to end gender-based abuse in the hotel industry

      Hotel housekeepers, bartenders, waitresses and cocktail servers – the majority of whom are women of color and immigrants – form the backbone of Chicago’s booming hospitality and tourism industry. Now these women are speaking out about their experiences of widespread and disturbing sexual harassment from guests. And they are calling for an end to the abuse. They are a part of the “Hands Off Pants On” campaign, a public awareness and legislative initiative to fight sexual harassment and sexual assault in the hospitality industry.

      Led by the Chicago Federation of Labor and UNITE HERE Local 1, the “Hands Off Pants On” campaign was born out of survey conducted in 2016 by UNITE HERE Local 1 of 487 women working in the Chicagoland hospitality industry.

    • The U.N. human rights chief reminds certain wealthy nations that torture is bad.
    • Trump Plays to White Nationalism From North Korea to NFL

      That is, the president of the United States casually threatened to commit genocide against an entire people, on the same medium where people celebrate the exploits of their cats.

      At home, Trump told a white crowd that it hurts the game of football “when people like yourselves turn on television and you see those people taking the knee when they’re playing our great national anthem.”

      He actually said “those people.”

      Trump figures it bolsters his popularity with white Christians, his key demographic, if he is seen to be feuding with black athletes of the NBA and NFL, and if he is seen threatening genocide against North Korea.

      The natural order of things, he is saying, is a hierarchy with rich white American Christians on top, and then middle class white Christians elevated above all but their own rich. All other “races” and social classes come at the bottom. And if they themselves decline to recognize this pecking order, they must be put down with taunts.

    • Why A Cop With A Tattoo That Looks Like A Nazi Symbol Is Still On The Job

      Philadelphia Police Officer Ian Lichterman has a tattoo on his left forearm of an eagle that looks a lot like the emblem adopted by the Nazi party during Adolf Hitler’s rise to power — the only difference being that there’s no swastika inside the wreath hanging from the bird’s talons. Just above the wings sits the word “Fatherland.”

      The tattoo was little known to the public until September 2016, a few weeks after Lichterman wore a shortsleeve uniform shirt while working crowd-control duty during protests outside the Democratic National Convention. Philadelphia resident Evan Matthews snapped a photo and posted it on Facebook, and it went viral, leading the police department to open an investigation into whether Lichterman, who’d joined the force in 2000, should face any discipline.

      “I am deeply offended by the tattoo and I think it is completely inappropriate for any law enforcement officer to have such a tattoo given its impact on those they are sworn to protect and serve,” Mayor Jim Kenney declared in a January press release, noting in a separate statement that police departments “need to be building trust, not offering messages or displaying images that destroy trust.”

    • Obama’s Guantánamo Legacy Lingers in Trump Era

      While President Trump has quickly developed a more violent record than Obama on drone warfare, immigration and other policy areas, Trump has thus far not embraced Guantánamo and made it his own the way that Obama did in 2009.

      The 41 prisoners who remained at the Guantánamo Bay prison camp when Obama left office continue to be the only prisoners in the camp, and the arbitrary regime continues almost entirely as it did under Obama. Trump’s odd tweets about Guantánamo, such as his tweet about the alleged recidivism rate of former prisoners, are about as meaningful and effective as his tweets about covfefe and the country needing to “heel.”

    • London mayor says Britain should not host President Trump on state visit

      London Mayor Sadiq Khan said on Sunday that it would be wrong for Britain to host U.S. President Donald Trump on a state visit, describing some of the U.S. leader’s views on Islam as “ignorant”.

      Khan and Trump have a history. During the U.S. presidential election campaign, Khan was among many people who spoke out against Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims entering the United States, an idea he said would play into the hands of extremists.

    • Trump’s Criticisms Incite More Protests at NFL Games

      President Donald Trump’s criticism of players who protest during the national anthem incited a mass increase in such activism Sunday, with more than 100 NFL players sitting or kneeling, others raising their fists and whole teams standing with locked arms to display unity.

      One team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, stayed in the locker room during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

    • NFL players, owners defy Trump on anthem protests

      National Football League players sat out, knelt and linked arms during pre-game national anthems played across the country and in London on Sunday, hours after U.S. President Donald Trump called on fans to boycott teams that do not discipline players who protest.

      In the first few games since Trump stepped up his criticism of NFL players, dozens of players and coaches of teams including the Baltimore Ravens, Jacksonville Jaguars, Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins did not stand for the anthem and took a knee, a gesture that began last year as a protest over police treatment of African-Americans and other minorities.

      The Pittsburgh Steelers waited off the field during the national anthem before their game against the Chicago Bears in Chicago to avoid “playing politics” in divisive times, coach Mike Tomlin said.

    • Donald Trump’s Allies Join His Crusade Against The NFL

      A political group with close ties to President Donald Trump is amplifying his attack on professional athletes who kneel during the national anthem as a form of protest.

      “Turn off the NFL,” reads a digital ad produced by the nonprofit America First Policies, which planned to begin spreading the message on social media Sunday afternoon.

      The ad includes a photo with Trump, hand over his heart, and a #TakeAStandNotAKnee hashtag. It follows Trump’s recent remarks, first delivered during a Friday night speech in Alabama, aimed at football players who have protested police brutality and other causes.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Verizon backtracks—but only slightly—in plan to kick customers off network

      Verizon Wireless is giving a reprieve to some rural customers who are scheduled to be booted off their service plans, but only in cases when customers have no other options for cellular service.

      Verizon recently notified 8,500 customers in 13 states that they will be disconnected on October 17 because they used roaming data on another network. But these customers weren’t doing anything wrong—they are being served by rural networks that were set up for the purpose of extending Verizon’s reach into rural areas.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • The EC accused of burying a report that found that piracy isn’t that costly

        “The 300-page study was delivered to the Commission in May 2015, but was never published. Until today – I have managed to get access to a copy. The study’s conclusion: With the exception of recently released blockbusters, there is no evidence to support the idea that online copyright infringement displaces sales.”

      • EU Piracy Report Suppression Raises Questions Over Transparency

        One of the most important aspects of online piracy is whether it affects sales. So, when the EU Commission spends 360,000 euros on a study to find out, one might think it would be useful to publish the results. Instead, Member of the European Parliament Julia Reda had to jump through hoops to obtain them. Why all the secrecy?

      • EU paid for a report that concluded piracy isn’t harmful — and tried to hide the findings

        Back in 2014, the European Commission paid the Dutch consulting firm Ecorys 360,000 euros (about $428,000) to research the effect piracy had on sales of copyrighted content. The final report was finished in May 2015, but for some reason it was never published– according to Julia Reda’s blog, the only Pirate in the EU Parliament.

      • Bell Calls for CRTC-Backed Website Blocking System and Complete Criminalization of Copyright in NAFTA

        Bell, Canada’s largest telecom company, has called on the government to support radical copyright and broadcast distribution reforms as part of the NAFTA renegotiation. Their proposals include the creation of a mandated website blocking system without judicial review overseen by the CRTC and the complete criminalization of copyright with criminal provisions attached to all commercial infringement. Bell also supports an overhaul of the current retransmission system for broadcasters, supporting a “consent model” that would either keep U.S. channels out of the Canadian market or dramatically increase their cost of access while maintaining simultaneous substitution.

      • Apple Extends iTunes Movie Rental Window to 48 Hours in United States
      • Apple now gives you 48 hours to watch a rented movie after starting it

        Apple has extended the period of time that customers have to finish (or rewatch) a rented movie to 48 hours. That’s up from the previous limit of 24 hours, as MacRumors noted earlier today. The clock starts when you begin watching rented content; you still have 30 days to hit the play button. Movies can be rewatched as many times as you’d like — or can fit in — during the 48-hour window.

      • Block The Pirate Bay Within 10 Days, Dutch Court Tells ISPs

        Dutch Internet service providers Ziggo and XS4ALL have been ordered to block The Pirate Bay. A ruling handed down today by The Court of The Hague compels the ISPs to block the infamous site within 10 days or face significant fines. The blocks will remain in place pending a final decision from the Supreme Court.

      • Roku Is Building Its Own Anti-Piracy Team

        Recent years have seen a rapid increase in the use of set-top boxes with pirate channels and add-ons. This has also affected Roku, but the popular media player is doing its best to keep its system pirate free. Two new job postings reveal that the company is putting together its own anti-piracy team.

Battistelli’s Club Med at the EPO – Part I: EPO Validation Agreement With Angola

Sunday 24th of September 2017 03:23:55 PM

From Friday:

Summary: A series contemplating Benoît Battistelli’s sudden interest in Angola, a country with no European Patents but plenty of connections to António Campinos

TODAY, on a Sunday, we begin a long new series about the EPO. The timing seems perfect.

The minutes of the June 2017 meeting of the EPO Administrative Council confirm that Battistelli has been authorised to open negotiations on a validation agreement with Angola (dated Friday). It’s the favourite day for the EPO to dump some words (e.g. in the intranet) or formal documents it prefers not to get noticed. There are already internal jokes about those Friday ‘spills’… always check what’s being buried and where/why.

“There are already internal jokes about those Friday ‘spills’… always check what’s being buried and where/why.”The EPO’s new relationship with Angola is rather predictable; we wrote about the photo-ops before. Why Angola? It is not, after all, a former French colony. An HTML version of the validation agreement concluded with Tunisia in 2012 is now available for future comparisons. Remember that Angola is a former colony of Portugal and António Campinos is set up (or groomed) to become Battistelli’s successor, as we noted yesterday. Campinos is a dual French/Portugese national and his father, Joaquim Jorge de Pinho Campinos, was born in Lobito (Angola).

Does Angola really matter for the EPO? The numbers (of lack thereof) speak for themselves:

It’s not hard to see why it’s tempting to suspect a political aspect to all of this. Prepare for some rather embarrassing things (for António Campinos and Benoît Battistelli) to be shown over the coming weeks.

PTAB Supreme Court Case (Oil States) is a Case of Patent Parasites Versus the Producing Industry

Sunday 24th of September 2017 01:51:36 PM

Patent sharks want (and profit from) legal chaos

Summary: Ahead of the decision regarding Oil States (probably months away, some time next year), various influential sites confront the misleading and self-serving propaganda from the patent microcosm, e.g. law firms (to whom patent quality is a threat)

The Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) is one of the best things about the USPTO. It’s truly a shame that the EPO is nowadays driving away (to Haar) its own equivalent of PTAB. In this post we’d like to focus our attention on PTAB, having written about it 24 hours ago in relation to the Mohawk tribe.

“Who is it that spreads all the PTAB hate? The patent ‘industry’ (trolls, lawyers and so on).”Let it be understood, upfront, that PTAB is widely supported by scientists, technologists and their employers (including the very largest technology firms). Who is it that spreads all the PTAB hate? The patent ‘industry’ (trolls, lawyers and so on). Covering additional CAFC cases, PTAB basher Dennis Crouch wrote about NFC Tech v Matal a few days ago to state:

Following an IPR administrative trial, the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) concluded that the challenged claims of NFC’s U.S. Patent 6,700,551 are unpatentably obvious. The focus of the dispute is on a pre-AIA inventorship claim — The PTAB rejected NFC’s attempt to claim priority to its date of invention.

[...]

On remand, it looks like the IPR case will continue — in its original analysis, the PTAB did not actually determine whether the prototype embodied the claimed invention since it dismissed on other grounds. Thus, NFC is simply one step closer to success.

As we noted here back in August, Crouch and his blog (Patently-O) had become the loudest PTAB bashers out there, probably worse than Watchtroll (if that’s even possible). Crouch just does it with more ‘class’, being a university professor. His bias is showing though. Crouch tries to solicit attacks on PTAB in the form of briefs for the Supreme Court to read.

“Crouch tries to solicit attacks on PTAB in the form of briefs for the Supreme Court to read.”Crouch is of course not alone (albeit he’s almost alone among the professors/academics).

Joining the same sort of attacks (attempts to discredit PTAB) we have this guy who’s writing crap about the EFF in a patent troll’s blog (Dominion Harbor) — the same blog which defames me.

Among his latest tweets:

  • Visa wins rare 1 at PTAB: https://e-foia.uspto.gov/Foia/RetrievePdf?system=BPAI&flNm=fd2017004510-09-18-2017-1 … generating verification values passes 2nd part of Alice test [link]
  • More patent abuse at PTAB: mass spectrometric imaging of tissue sections rejected as “abstract idea” under 101 https://e-foia.uspto.gov/Foia/RetrievePdf?system=BPAI&flNm=fd2017000075-09-18-2017-1 … [link]

No, enforcing the law is not “patent abuse” but rather combating abuse of the patent system. Classic example of narrative reversal.

“No, enforcing the law is not “patent abuse” but rather combating abuse of the patent system.”Make no mistake about it; all those who attack PTAB seem to be people who produce nothing at all. They just try to tax those who do.

Josh Landau of the Communications and Computer Industry Association (which represents technology companies) has just come out with another long post about how PTAB IPRs (“inter partes reviews”) keep technology safe from patent trolls. To quote:

September marks the five-year anniversary of inter partes review (IPR), and Patent Progress is highlighting how successful the system has been at achieving its stated goals of increasing patent quality by providing a second look at invalid patents and decreasing costs by providing an efficient alternative to litigation. Last week, I showed that, in those 5 years, IPR has saved at least $2 billion in attorneys’ fees and other deadweight losses alone.

One of the most famous IPR successes is EFF’s IPR filed against Personal Audio’s “podcast patent.” Patent Progress has written about that case before, from early on when Personal Audio first asserted their patent to my post on how the STRONGER Patents Act would have prevented EFF from filing their IPR, as well as making it less likely to succeed, through to my story on the recent decision on appeal affirming its invalidity.

But that’s far from the only case where inter partes review has been used by non-profits, cities, small companies, and the U.S. government to defend themselves from patent trolls. In fact, there’s quite a few.

Jeff Roberts, a good journalist who had written in favour of patent reform for a number of years, wrote the other day: “helpful look at the IPR process, a key plank of patent reform that’s now in jeopardy…”

“We don’t really worry about Oil States because we are pretty certain that the Supreme Court will defend PTAB, taking into account creators rather than destroyers (litigators and trolls).”It’s about an article from another good journalist, Joe Mullin, who habitually exposes patent extremists who prey on people that actually create things (products, code and so forth). He wrote about the analysis from the Communications and Computer Industry Association (CCIA):

Five years ago this month, the first “inter partes review” began, a process laid out in the America Invents Act, which was passed in 2011. In a piece of legislation that was timid in its scope, the IPR process gave some hope to those in the tech sector who hoped to reduce the scourge of so-called “patent trolls.”

Now that IPRs are seeing their five-year anniversary, it’s a good time to take stock of the process. That’s especially true since the Supreme Court will take a close look at IPRs when it hears Oil States Energy Services v. Greene’s Energy Group, a case that challenges the constitutional basis of IPRs.

[...]

Josh Landau, a lawyer and pro-reform patent lobbyist at the Communications and Computer Industry Association, has written a blog post about the IPR anniversary with some back-of-napkin math estimating how much money IPRs have saved the US economy.

His conclusion: IPRs have prevented $2.31 billion of “deadweight losses” to the economy, mainly in the form of legal fees. How did he get there? Landau used data from defensive patent aggregator RPX that puts the average amount spent by a defendant facing a “non-practicing entity” (the polite term for patent troll) at $950,000. He then limited the universe he was looking at to only IPRs that were on patents that had associated litigations and in which the related litigation was stayed. In other words, he focused only on the subset of IPRs that objectively ended some type of litigation costs.

Using the average costs, Landau added up the cost of the litigation that would have gone on but for IPRs. The total was $3.95 billion. That money was saved by spending $1.637 billion on the IPR process, leading to a net savings of $2.31 billion.

“That’s approximately $460 million a year that companies can spend on creating new jobs and researching new technologies, instead of paying lawyers to write motions and argue in court,” Landau writes. “To me, those numbers say IPR has been a tremendous success.”

To be fair, there are some costs not accounted for in Landau’s rough estimate. For instance, he assumes that IPRs always end lawsuits. But in at least some cases, where the patent survives, the IPR process doesn’t lead to a quick settlement, meaning court litigation will continue.

We were pleased to see that even Spectator, a fairly influential publication over here, wrote about the subject under the headline “The Patent Troll Lobby Never Learns From SCOTUS” (the “troll lobby” being — among other things — sites like Watchtroll and Patently-O, which consistently help trolls).

To quote:

In 2007, the court ruled that obvious ideas like connecting a car’s control panel to electricity were not patentable, invalidating a troll’s joke patent, in KSR International v. Teleflex Inc. Then, in 2011, the court found that a law of nature (like, say, the law of gravity) could not simply be patented because someone had filed a patent with the words “apply it” involved in Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories. Then, in 2014, the court ruled that vague software patents were invalid in the case Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, invalidating one of the favorite weapons of patent trolls to hamstring innovators. And finally, this year, in TC Heartland v. Kraft, the court put serious limits on the venues in which patent lawsuits could be brought, effectively emasculating the patent trolls’ favorite tactic of bringing suits in the notoriously plaintiff-friendly East Texas District Court.

Again, all of these decisions were unanimous. However, as already stated, patent trolls once more think they have a winner. This time, their target is the Inter Partes Review process, a common-sense process by which the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), an offshoot of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) can invalidate patents that, for whatever reason, were granted erroneously. The trolls claim this process is unconstitutional, the USPTO obviously disagrees, and while it has previously declined to weigh in, this time the Supreme Court has decided to (literally) lay down the law, in the upcoming case Oil States Energy Services LLC v. Greene Energy Group.

As is commonly the case in such disputes, both sides of the case argue from seemingly ironclad constitutional precedent. Ryan Davis of Law 360 has explained their respective interpretations of the law ably, but to summarize briefly, the central point that seems the most likely to decide the case is whether the Inter Partes Review process strips legitimate private property rights from patent owners in an unconstitutional fashion, or whether it merely acts as a continuing use of the USPTO’s well-established power to decide whether the supposed rights in question are enforceable at all. Further, there is some question as to whether the over-a-century-old case of McCormick Harvesting Machine Co v. Aultman & Co., which the trolls rely on to make their case, amounted to a rebuke of the patent office’s authority to reexamine patents on constitutional grounds, or merely on the grounds that such authority did not exist in the Patent Act at the time the case was decided, but has since been added.

[...]

In short, whatever the legal merits of Oil States, and there is plenty of reason to believe they are lacking, at a policy level, a finding for the trolls would be disastrous. One only hopes that the Justices keep up their continuing streak of recognizing such disasters and snuffing them out before they arrive. Then maybe, just maybe, the fifth time will be the charm for the patent bar’s increasingly desperate attempts to defend its own overreach.

We don’t really worry about Oil States because we are pretty certain that the Supreme Court will defend PTAB, taking into account creators rather than destroyers (litigators and trolls).

“The patent ‘industry’ has done everything possible to bypass patent quality control and circumvent true patent justice.”The other day, Ilya Kazi, senior partner of Mathys and Squire in London, mentioned PTAB and said that he “made use of material from US litigation in EPO proceedings” (he worked for British Gas in patent infringement action).

From his long article (which suggests PTAB-dodging, e.g. the Mohawk “scam”):

The surge in popularity of Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) review procedures in the US in the last few years is testament to the notion that the best way to defend US court patent infringement proceedings is to win a battle somewhere else instead. Although rarely considered (and often not applicable), somewhere else may sometimes be in Europe rather than in the US. I have made use of material from US litigation in EPO proceedings, putting the other side in a difficult position to try and deal with the EPO challenge without undermining their US position. The most satisfying such occasion resulted in a call from a US colleague shortly after spending only a few thousand dollars filing an opposition saying “I don’t know what you did, but we just had a call offering to settle everything, including the US litigation (which wasn’t going very well after years and millions of dollars) on favourable terms.”

Back in US courts, being (overly) aggressive can sometimes achieve results it arguably should not in an ideal world. More importantly, even if trying an aggressive and/or diversionary tactic fails and does not ultimately help a case, unless particularly egregious, it is not often particularly unhelpful and is unlikely to carry serious sanctions particularly in costs, or materially prejudice a case.

Little of this will be news to seasoned US litigators, although they might say that things have mellowed somewhat since the high water mark of early Eastern District of Texas cases. However, for Europeans faced with litigation in the US, cautions which might apply elsewhere do not necessarily apply to US litigation (and this varies somewhat from court to court) so while you should of course question costs and the need to take certain actions, don’t necessarily baulk at what US counsel suggests. Conversely, tactics applied in US litigation may not translate well elsewhere.

Notice the wording. It’s not about justice but about winning a case (at all costs!), so Justices in the US ought to see through these rhetorics. The patent ‘industry’ has done everything possible to bypass patent quality control and circumvent true patent justice. Justice is not the business model of law firms but the ‘business model’ of judges (who rely on reputation, consistency, and lack of decisions being overturned due to error of judgment). This is why we need PTAB not only in the US but also in Europe; sadly, however, Battistelli has diminished and severely assaulted the European appeal boards -- a mistake for which we'll pay for decades to come.

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OSS Leftovers

  • 20 Most Promising Open Source Solution Providers - 2017
    Open source has become an imperative part of every developer’s arsenal. The potential to gather assistance from the community and the capacity to link into a range of systems and solutions make open source incredibly powerful. As open source software becomes ubiquitous, and used by the vast majority of enterprises throughout the world, 2017 is all set for vendors of application delivery controller (ADC) to start providing improved and tighter integration packages for various open source projects, especially surrounding ADC-generated telemetry. Companies have been extensively using their analytics and machine learning capabilities for quite some time to identify actionable patterns from the collected data. With the rising demand for business intelligence, this year is foreseen to be the year of information superiority with businesses, leveraging data as a key differentiator. In the past couple of years, containers have been emerging as an imminent trend. As the business focus starkly shifts on rightsizing of resources, containers are expected to become a common phenomenon, giving businesses the ability to leverage highly portable assets and make the move into micro services much simpler. Adjacently, automation has become essential now. Mostly intensified by DevOps adoption, the automation of software delivery and infrastructure changes have freed developers to spend more time creating and less time worrying about infrastructure.
  • DevOps pros and open source: Culturally connected
    Like chocolate and peanut butter, DevOps and open source are two great tastes that taste great together. For many DevOps pros, it's the perfect cultural and technical match.
  • Interoperability: A Case For Open Source - GC@PCI Commentary
    He continues: “An open source model allows companies to see the assumptions behind the calculation and lowers the cost of entry into the cat modeling business. More importantly, the standardized and interoperable hazard, vulnerability and financial modules included in a true open source model facilitate the collaboration of data from insurers, reinsurers, entrepreneurs, scientists, computer programmers and individuals, all of which may result in a new generation of cat models.”
  • DevOps Skills Are Key to Collaboration within Organizations
    DevOps is one of the most highly sought skills employers are seeking to fill among 57 percent of respondents in the 2017 Open Source Jobs Report, from Dice and The Linux Foundation. Specifically, firms are looking for developers (73 percent) and DevOps engineers (60 percent).
  • Projects You Can Help With For Advancing Open-Source NVIDIA "Nouveau" Graphics
    Longtime Nouveau contributor Karol Herbst has been working on an updated list of project ideas for new contributors or those that may be wanting to participate in an Endless Vacation of Code / Google Summer of Code.
  • Join The Linux Foundation at Open Source Summit EU for Booth Swag, Project Updates, and More
    Going to Open Source Summit EU in Prague? While you’re there, be sure stop by The Linux Foundation training booth for fun giveaways and a chance to win one of three Raspberry Pi kits.
  • Oracle Promises To Open Source Oracle JDK And Improve Java EE
    Oracle had already announced it would be moving Java EE to the Eclipse Foundation, and the announcements at JavaOne move the language further to a more vendor-neutral future. It's worth noting that the keynote was preceded by a Safe Harbor disclaimer in which Oracle said it could not be held to plans made during the speech, so nothing is actually certain.
  • Linux Kernel Community Enforcement Statement
  • Linux Kernel Gets An "Enforcement Statement" To Deal With Copyright Trolls
    Greg Kroah-Hartman on the behalf of the Linux Foundation Technical Advisory Board has today announced the Linux Kernel Community Enforcement Statement. This statement is designed to better fend off copyright trolls. Among the copyright troll concerns is how a Netfilter developer has been trying to enforce his personal copyright claims against companies for "in secret and for large sums of money by threatening or engaging in litigation."
  • An enforcement clarification from the kernel community
    The Linux Foundation's Technical Advisory board, in response to concerns about exploitative license enforcement around the kernel, has put together this patch adding a document to the kernel describing its view of license enforcement. This document has been signed or acknowledged by a long list of kernel developers. In particular, it seeks to reduce the effect of the "GPLv2 death penalty" by stating that a violator's license to the software will be reinstated upon a timely return to compliance.

Tizen and Android Leftovers

Tizen and Android Leftovers