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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 33 min 36 sec ago

Links 6/2/2018: Stable Kernels, RISC-V SBC Running Linux

Tuesday 6th of February 2018 05:45:53 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Kernel Space
    • Open Source VPU Driver Supporting Official Linux Kernel Hits Kickstarter

      Bootlin has this week taken to the Kickstarter crowdfunding website to raise £15,000 to take their new open source VPU driver into production. Designed to provide support for hardware-accelerated video playback on devices with Allwinner processors. Watch the demonstration video below to learn more about the Allwinner VPU that will offer support in the official Linux kernel.

      Even though Allwinner ARM processors are very popular in a large number of hobbyists development boards, one key feature that is missing from the support in the official Linux kernel is support for the VPU (Video Processing Unit). Bootlin is now looking to rectify this issue. The development team at Bootlin are currently finalising the solution to provide complete Linux support for the Allwinner VPU for hardware accelerated video decoding and encoding.

    • The flood of updates has slowed a little this week: sox (Mga 5, 6); java-1.8.0-openjdk (Mga 5,6); rsyncMga 5,6; gdk-pixbuf2.0 (Mga5) – as always

      Interim info on Meltdown/Spectra mitigation

    • Jon Masters On Understanding Spectre & Meltdown CPU Vulnerabilities

      Arguably the most interesting keynote at this year’s FOSDEM event was Red Hat’s Jon Masters talking about the Spectre and Meltdown CPU vulnerabilities on an interesting technical level.

      While Jon Masters is mostly known for his involvement with Fedora/RedHat on ARM hardware, he was the lead for Red Hat’s mitigation efforts around the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities that rocked the world last month.

    • Linux 4.15.1
    • Linux 4.14.17
    • Linux 4.9.80
    • Linux 4.4.115
    • Linux Kernel Release Model

      This post is based on a whitepaper I wrote at the beginning of 2016 to be used to help many different companies understand the Linux kernel release model and encourage them to start taking the LTS stable updates more often. I then used it as a basis of a presentation I gave at the Linux Recipes conference in September 2017 which can be seen here.

      With the recent craziness of Meltdown and Spectre , I’ve seen lots of things written about how Linux is released and how we handle handles security patches that are totally incorrect, so I figured it is time to dust off the text, update it in a few places, and publish this here for everyone to benefit from.

    • OverlayFS Adds NFS Export Support In Linux 4.16

      The OverlayFS union mount file-system of the Linux kernel gains a big new feature in Linux 4.16.

    • Linux Foundation
      • CNCF to Host Vitess

        Today, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) Technical Oversight Committee (TOC) voted to accept Vitess as the 16th hosted project, alongside Kubernetes, Prometheus, OpenTracing, Fluentd, Linkerd, gRPC, CoreDNS, containerd, rkt, CNI, Envoy, Jaeger, Notary, TUF and Rook. Vitess has been accepted as an incubation-level project, under the CNCF Graduation Criteria v1.0.

        The TOC’s Graduation Criteria provides every CNCF project an associated maturity level of either inception, incubating or graduated. As an incubating project, Vitess must document it is being used successfully in production by at least three independent end users, have a healthy number of committers and demonstrate a substantial ongoing flow of contributions.

      • Open Source Storage System Vitess Joins CNCF

        The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) accepted its second cloud-based storage project, Vitess, just a week after voting in its first storage project Rook.

        The second storage project — and CNCF’s 16th hosted project — is a database orchestration system for horizontal scaling of MySQL. YouTube originally developed Vitess in 2010 as a better way to scale massive amounts of traffic.

      • CoreOS, Red Hat and Kubernetes Competition

        announced intention to buy CoreOS might affect the rest of the container ecosystem. Container runtime development will go forward, with perhaps more emphasis on the Kubernetes container runtime interface (CRI-O) project. However, the engineers at Docker, CoreOS and Red Hat continue to make contributions to other container runtime projects, such as containerd, rkt and Atomic. CoreOS’ Container Linux appears to be end-of-life in favor of Red Hat’s offering. CoreOS-led etcd and Flannel are already core components of many Kubernetes stacks and that will likely continue. Red Hat may also take the container registry Quay and bundle it into their larger container offering.

        [...]

        Our analysis of a Cloud Native Computing Foundation survey provides some answers. Out of the 34 CoreOS Tectonic users identified, five also use Red Hat’s OpenShift. Thus, the combined entity would still have just 14 percent of respondents using it to manage containers. Only 4 percent of Docker Swarm users said they also used Tectonic.

      • New AT&T Open Source Project Supports ‘White-Box’ Networking Hardware

        As an alternative to traditional integrated networking equipment, AT&T last week said it will donate the Disaggregated Network Operating System (dNOS) project, putting the OS purposely built for white-box hardware under the direction of The Linux Foundation. “We think white box will play a big part in the future of our industry,” AT&T said when touting the white-box approach last summer. “Our goal is to help this ecosystem grow in a way that benefits everyone.”

    • Graphics Stack
      • Coffee Lake Support Finally Lands In Beignet OpenCL

        Intel Coffee Lake CPUs began shipping in October and while their UHD Graphics are effectively re-branded Kabylake graphics, it’s taken until today to get mainline support for Coffee Lake OpenCL support on Linux with Beignet.

      • AMD_gpu_shader_half_float_fetch Added To The OpenGL Registry

        For years AMD has had the AMD_gpu_shader_half_float extension for supporting half floats in shaders and based on the NV_gpu_shader5. The AMD_gpu_shader_half_float_fetch extension is extending that AMD_gpu_shader_half_float functionality to allow drivers to support half-precision floating-points in both shader texture functions and shader image memory functions.

      • Mesa 12.0 To Mesa 18.0 Benchmarks Show The OpenGL/Vulkan Radeon Evolution

        Last week I provided some benchmarks showing how the RADV and RadeonSI performance changed with Mesa 18.0 while in this comparison is a look at how the Mesa 18.0 performance has evolved since Mesa 12.0 for Radeon open-source Linux graphics driver performance.

      • ~80 Patches Are Left For Having Intel i965 SPIR-V Support

        In addition to Igalia developers being at FOSDEM 2018 to talk about their work on Chromium porting for Wayland, Alejandro Piñeiro of this Spain consulting firm talked about their contributions towards SPIR-V support within Mesa and particularly for the Intel i965 OpenGL driver.

      • Kepler Clock Gating Queued In Nouveau DRM, Lowering Power Use

        Red Hat’s Lyude Paul has been spending the past number of weeks working out clock-gating support for NVIDIA Kepler GPUs with the open-source Nouveau DRM kernel driver.

        Clock-gating can drop the GPU power consumption by several Watts but isn’t being enabled by default until more testing has been done. The support can be enabled via the nouveau.config=NvPmEnableGating= kernel module parameter. There’s also Fermi support in progress but Kepler1/Kepler2 (GTX 600/700 series) is where the support is currently best positioned.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • 10 Best Linux Desktop Environments And Their Comparison

      Linux is all about what you want and having it from the ocean of free and open source software. The same applies while performing a comparison of desktop environments as they comprise of different applications and a GUI via which the user interacts with the operating system. Just like a plethora of Linux-based free operating systems, are many options available and our list of best Linux desktop environment and their comparison includes the likes of KDE, Cinnamon, Xfce, GNOME, etc.

      The Linux world is full of open source software. You have the option of choosing from hundreds of distributions and customize them as per your will. No one slaps you with a copyright even if you change the source code of a distro to fork your Linux distro and release it with a new name. That’s the beauty of free software and open source. Only one thing the creators may ask you is to give them proper credits because they have also invested their efforts and time. Well, that’s a different story.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Why KDE’s Plasma Mobile is the ideal platform for Linux fans and developers

        For the last decade, the mobile market has been under complete lockdown. Unless you were Android or iOS, you didn’t stand a chance at making much of a run at success. Canonical failed miserably with the Ubuntu Phone. Blackberry had to resort to their own take on Android. Firefox OS couldn’t even get off the ground.

        And yet, thanks to the Purism Librem 5, there’s another attempt at creating an open source mobile platform on the horizon. Many of us prognosticators and pundits have been ansty to see what’s to come for this platform, and finally someone has made some headway, and that’s KDE. The platform is Plasma Mobile. From the looks of it, KDE is on to something.

      • MongoDB for WikiToLearn migration

        Today i want to talk about my experience with the WikiToLearn migration.

        The problem of every migration is getting your hands on the data in a way such that you can work on it.

        Starting from the mysql backend and trying to have everything into a versioned object storage (python eve is the one we are tring now) is not an option.

        The solution is to use a temporary database to keep the data, process the data in this temporary storage and afterwards uploading everything in the destination.

        After some tries we managed to have the pipeline that reads all the MediaWiki pages, parses the structure and uploads everything in eve, using mongodb as a temporary storage.

      • [Krita] Interview with Owly Owlet

        Hello. I’m Maria, more often I use my nickname: Owly Owlet. I have a youtube channel, where I make video tutorials (in Russian) about how to use art software, mostly Krita.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • GTK+ Hackfest 2018

        As some of you may know, we had a GTK+ Hackfest on February 1st and 2nd in Brussels, Belgium. Matthias has already blogged and blogged again about the two days and detailed notes about all the things we discussed can be found here and here. He also has some nice pictures.

        From everything we discussed I’m mostly looking forward to migrating to GitLab so I can file a few GTK+4 bugs and mark quite a few of them as blockers for a 4.0 release. I hope this will happen as soon as possible since there are quite a few usability regressions in current gtk+ master compared to gtk3 and those need time to get ironed out.

      • WebKitGTK+ 2.19.90 released!
      • WebKitGTK+ 2.19.90 Adds Graphics ARIA Rolls, Horizontal Scroll Shortcut

        Released in time for this week’s GNOME 3.28 beta milestone is the WebKitGTK+ 2.19.90 release as the GNOME platform port of the WebKit layout engine.

        WebKitGTK+ 2.19.90 has several notable changes ahead of its upcoming WebKitGTK+ 2.20 stable release. WebKitGTK+ 2.19.90 now has WebSockets communication respecting system proxy settings, the context menu is now shown via a long-press gesture, and there is support for Shift + mouse scroll for scrolling horizontally. There is also a zoom gesture fix.

      • GTK4 Ejects The Mir Backend & Drops The Big GDK Lock

        After adding the Mir back-end for the GTK+ 3.16 cycle, GTK+ 4.0 is dropping this back-end for the Canonical-developed display server.

        The Mir back-end has been removed from the latest GTK+ code. This clears out about 6,500 lines of code from the tool-kit’s codebase. The removal of the Mir back-end is coming since Mir has been focusing on Wayland protocol support to which GTK+ has more mature Wayland support than Mir. Since Mir’s change of focus last year and the work the past number of months, the Wayland support on Mir has become more viable.

      • Ibus-Hangul and Compose key: the incredible journey of a simple patch

        Today I decided to tell how I reported a bug (then ended up fixing it) on a non-GIMP related project. Well I do regularly this kind of stuff, and this could have just been one more of these silent commits to a random project as I did many times in my life. But since I decided recently to post more articles, well… I may as well tell a story as one-time contributor (as opposed to “regular contributor”) for once!

        Also I think the whole process of reporting a bug on projects you don’t know at all — worse! A whole stack of software you don’t know much! — is quite interesting for people wondering how they should report bugs happening to them.

      • On GNOME 3.27.90, time management, and a goodbye

        It’s been a long time I don’t write here. These past months were excruciatingly busy and intense, and lots of things happened but I didn’t manage to keep up with the blog posts. I’ll try to condense everything that happened and is still happening and will happen here.

  • Distributions
    • Reviews
      • Review: Freespire 3 and Linspire 7.0

        Before I started my trial I was under the impression that Freespire and Linspire were quite different from stock Xubuntu. The Linspire blog, for instance, talks about binary blobs in “our” kernel and proprietary packages provided by vendors to Linspire. As I quickly learned, Linspire doesn’t have its own repositories (let alone a custom kernel) and the proprietary packages are provided via the ubuntu-restricted-extras package. Similarly, the lead developer recently wrote on his blog that people who claim that Linspire is just a Xubuntu respin should “mind their own business” because they have no idea how much work has gone into customising Linspire over the last 18 months. When I asked the company if they could give some examples of how Linspire is different from Xubuntu I was told that, actually, their aim is to stay as close to Xubuntu as possible.

        It would be unfair, however, to dismiss Freespire and Linspire as Xubuntu clones. The distros have two interesting selling points. Firstly, PC/OpenSystems can legally ship certain patent-encumbered codecs. Of course, anyone can install the ubuntu-restricted-extras package but in some jurisdictions doing so may be illegal. It is probably fair to say that few people care about such legalities but if you prefer to play by the rules then Linspire is worth a look.

        Secondly, Linspire’s main feature is the support license. You don’t pay $79.99 for Xubuntu with a Linspire sticker – you buy a year’s worth of support. Linspire might be an attractive option for small businesses and organisations that want to run Linux with a support contract. Similarly, I reckon many home users will like the idea of being able to get professional support for their Linspire box(es). That said, it is disappointing that the only real customisations (as in code changes) are regressions: the installer is far from a finished product. It is also unfortunate that Freespire lacks direction. The new Freespire was presented as an almost fully libre distro, yet the initial release clearly was the exact opposite. Only after pointing this out did PC/OpenSystems quietly release a new ISO.

        The main issue I had with the distros was something else though: the marketing/PR/spin. I have already mentioned various examples of dubious claims. I would like to add one more example, just because it nicely illustrates my gripe: the Freespire page claims that, unlike Freespire, Linux Mint is difficult to install. PC/OpenSystems arrived at that conclusion based on its own research: a whopping three people were asked to install Freespire, Ubuntu and Linux Mint and the “sample group” apparently struggled to install Mint.

        This type of marketing is needlessly negative. I would rather see the company work with, say, the Trisquel developers, who have already solved the issue with the checkbox in the Ubiquity installer and who may also be able to help Freespire become an FSF-approved distro. I would love to see a proper bug tracking tool so that I would have an easy way to report issues. And I think it would also be nice if PC/OpenSystems would start sharing the code it claims to produce.

        In short, I think both Freespire and Linspire are on to something. I like the idea of a fully libre Xubuntu spin and I am sure there is demand for Linspire. I just hope history won’t repeat itself.

    • New Releases
      • Elementary OS Juno will be version 5.0, not 0.5

        A new version of elementary OS arrives in the spring, and when it does it’ll have a number of significant new features and changes on offer.

        Among them a small yet appreciable bump to the version number. Yes elementary OS 0.5 Juno will actually be elementary OS 5.0.

        Previous releases of elementary OS are numbered 0.1, 0.2 and so on, with 0.4 being the most recent release. That trend won’t continue hereon-in; the next elementary OS release will in fact be version 5.0, and not 0.5 as many had expected.

        Why the switch?

      • Peppermint 8 Respin-2 Released

        Team Peppermint are pleased to announce the latest iteration of our operating system ISO images Peppermint 8 Respin-2. This is a security refresh of the Peppermint 8 ISO images to include all updates to date (as of 3rd Feb 2018), including the Meltdown and Spectre mitigations such as the new HWE kernel 4.13.0-32 and the latest Chromium web browser version 64. The new ISO also contains bug fixes for flash content in ICE SSB’s, and Chromium not remembering user selected xdg-open preferences for magnet and mailto links..
        There is no need for Peppermint 8 or Peppermint 8 (first) Respin users to reinstall this version, the mitigations and bug fixes have already been pushed as automatic updates to the earlier Peppermint 8 versions.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • SUSE releases live patching for big iron, real-time OS update

        Germany-based Linux vendor SUSE Linux has launched live patching for its enterprise Linux distribution that runs on IBM Power Systems and also a service pack for its real-tine enterprise distribution that will enable systems running it to handle both real-time and non-real-time workloads on a single virtual machine.

      • SUSE polishes openSUSE Leap 15

        The development version of openSUSE Leap 15 has reached its beta phase builds and snapshots are available for testers.

        As a free and open source (FOSS) operating system, Leap is derived from the source code of SUSE Enterprise Linux (known not as SEL, but SLE) and so is positioned in much the same space as CentOS (from Red Hat) and Ubuntu (from Canonical).

    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • easy-peasy-devicetree-squeezy

        I’ve created a new program, with a silly name, that solves a silly problem with devicetree overlays. Seem that, alhough there’s patches to fully support overlays, including loading them on the fly into a running system, it’s not in the mainline kernel, and nobody seems to know if/when it will get mainlined.

        So easy-peasy-devicetree-squeezy is a hack to make it easy to do device tree overlay type things already. This program makes it easy peasy to squeeze together the devicetree for your board with whatever additions you need. It’s pre-deprecated on release; as soon as device tree overlay support lands, there will be no further need for it, probably.

        [...]

        It supports integrating into a Debian system so that the devicetree will be updated, with your additions, whenever the kernel is upgraded.

      • My Debian Activities in January 2018

        This was my forty third month that I did some work for the Debian LTS initiative, started by Raphael Hertzog at Freexian.

      • Debian packaging with Git notes

        I finally found the time today to update my notes on how I package for Debian using Git. They’re rather long (even after dropping my beginner Git tutorial, which seemed pointless given how many good ones there are now), so I’m not including the full text here. Take a look if you’re curious.

      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Flavours and Variants
            • DistInst Updates, Boot Sequence Optimization (installer work), Misc. Upstream News

              Another interesting development that’s been coming along over the past two weeks is a conversation centered around an overhaul of the entire boot process. The goal is to reduce the amount of time we get to the desktop by optimizing the boot sequence from the moment you turn on your computer. Instead of using grub to load the kernel and the initramfs on UEFI systems, we’re going to be using systemd-boot, the modern incarnation of gummiboot. But to make this work, we need a mechanism to copy the kernel and initramfs images to the EFI System Partition(ESP) where systemd-boot expects them to be in order for the boot to initiate. Since the Ubuntu kernels do not have an existing mechanism to these operations, we use kernelstub. Kernelstub, when it runs, copies the kernel image and initramfs image onto the ESP and configures systemd-boot with the entries for the copied files. If you need to change kernel parameters, kernelstub has a manual mode that will allow you to do so in case your machine needs additional parameters. The general use is that kernelstub can copy the kernel and the generated initramfs when a new kernel becomes available. This current work is still in the experimental phase and part of the new installer and initial login work that is ongoing.

            • System76′s Pop!_OS Switching From GRUB To Systemd-Boot

              System76′s Pop!_OS started off mostly as a re-branded spin of Ubuntu for the company’s pre-loaded Linux laptops/desktops, but lately they have been venturing to more interesting changes at varying levels of the stack.

              Aside from various desktop and theming changes, they have been working on reworking the installation process, possible disk encryption by default, and better HiDPI support. The latest is they are planning to use systemd-boot as their bootloader.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Meet India’s women Open Source warriors

    As Vaishali Thakker, a 23-year old open source programmer looked over the hall filled with around 200 people, she didn’t know how to react to what she had just heard. Thakker was one of the five women on the stage at PyCon India 2017, a conference on the use of the Python programming language, in New Delhi. The topic of the discussion was “Women in open source.”

  • Open-source turns 20: here’s how the movement influenced PCs

    Over the past 20 years, the people who make open source software have helped to create a bold new world and enabled some of our most important online infrastructure. Here’s to the next twenty!

  • Celebrating the 20th anniversary of open source

    Twenty years ago, on Feb. 3, 1998, in a conference room in Palo Alto, Calif., the term “open source” was coined. Michael Tiemann (now vice president of open source affairs here at Red Hat), Todd Anderson, Chris Peterson of Foresight Institute, John “Maddog” Hall and Larry Augustin, both with Linux International, Sam Ockman with Silicon Valley Linux User’s Group and Eric Raymond were reacting to the announcement by Netscape that it planned to “give away” the Netscape source code by releasing it to the public. From there, adoption of both the term and concept moved quickly and today, the open source community has tens of millions of members and contributors.

  • Open Source Turns 20 Years Old: How This Term Came Into Existence?

    The Open Source Initiative was formed in following days. People like Tim O’Reilly, Bruce Perens, and others played a pivotal role in popularising the term. Perens also adapted his Free Software Guidelines for Debian GNU/Linux to serve as Open Source Definition (OSD).

  • Open source in the realm of social justice

    Over the next 20 years, the open source movement must move beyond software into the realm of social justice, poverty alleviation and sustainable human development that leaves no one behind.

    That’s the view of Nnenna Nwakanma, an open data, open government and the open Web across Africa advocate and co-founder of The Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa, and an Open Source Initiative (OSI) board member.

    Commenting on the 20th anniversary of the official recognition of open source software – as opposed to free software – Nwakanma said that “open” notion, practice and vision of open source had not only become mainstream, but had been a game changer.

    “Beyond software, hardware or processes, the fundamental ideology of openness is the most valuable for me, in vision, in meaning and in impact. The hundreds of tech hubs across the world and thousands of tech communities cannot be overlooked. We owe those to open source.

  • Genode Is Developing A GPU Multiplexer For Intel Graphics Hardware

    Besides talking about GNU Hurd in 2018 one of the other interesting talks in FOSDEM’s micro-kernel track this year was on an Intel GPU resource multiplexer being developed by the Genode project.

    Thanks to hardware-based features for isolation on Intel Broadwell “Gen 8″ graphics and newer, Genode OS has been working on GPU resource multiplexing for their operating system framework.

  • Why enterprises are flocking to open source

    As the leader of an open source foundation, I have a unique perspective on the way open source technologies are catalyzing the digital transformation of enterprises around the world. More than half of the Fortune 100 is using Cloud Foundry. If you’re wondering why, there are two main reasons: one is the allure of open source, and the other is the strength of the platform itself.

  • Review: 6 slick open source routers

    Hackers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but the lousy stock firmware your routers shipped with.

    Apart from smartphones, routers and wireless base stations are undoubtedly the most widely hacked and user-modded consumer devices. In many cases the benefits are major and concrete: a broader palette of features, better routing functions, tighter security, and the ability to configure details not normally allowed by the stock firmware (such as antenna output power).

  • Kodi 18 Is Coming But They Are Already Thinking About Kodi 19

    At this weekend’s FOSDEM event in Brussels, Martijn Kaijser of the Kodi project provided an update on their current activities for 2018.

    After going over their successful Kodi 17 release, the focus turned to talking about Kodi 18 “Leia” that they have been working on since the end of 2016. Their design goals with Kodi 18 are to improve the architecture and implementation of this open-source, cross-platform media player. As part of improving the code-base they are focusing on C++11 support, improving the code quality, dropping unmaintained features/code, and other cleanups. They are also working on moving non-core features out to add-ons.

  • Events
    • notes from the fosdem 2018 networking devroom

      I am on my way back from FOSDEM and thought I would share with yall some impressions from talks in the Networking devroom. I didn’t get to go to all that many talks — FOSDEM’s hallway track is the hottest of them all — but I did hit a select few. Thanks to Dave Neary at Red Hat for organizing the room.

    • Heptio Kubernetes Subscription, FOSDEM, Upcoming Events and Replika (the Emotional Chatbot)

      The Free Open Source Developers European Meeting (FOSDEM) 2018 just happened over the weekend. You can watch the recently uploaded videos on the official YouTube channel.

    • Video: ITProTV Interview with Jason Callaway of Redhat at BSides Delaware
    • Open Collaboration Conference CFP Now Open

      Earlier last year I announced last year that I was partnering up with the Linux Foundation to create the Open Community Conference as part of their Open Source Summit events in North America and Europe.

      Well, the events happened, and it was (in my humble opinion) an enormous success. We had 120+ papers submitted to the North American event and 85+ papers submitted to the European event. From there I whittled it down to around 40 sessions for each event which resulted in some fantastic content and incredible discussions/networking.

    • Linux and Open Source: A Recipe for Innovation

      That’s the idea behind the first-ever INDEX community event coming up February 20-22 in San Francisco, which will feature a keynote presentation from The Linux Foundation’s executive director, Jim Zemlin. Harnessing the power of shared innovation is crucial to remaining competitive in today’s markets, and Jim will discuss building sustainable open source projects to advance the next generation of modern computing.

    • Submit a Proposal to Speak at LinuxCon + ContainerCon + CloudOpen China

      We have opened the LinuxCon + ContainerCon + CloudOpen China (LC3) 2018 call for proposals, and we invite you to share your expertise in this exploding open source market. Proposals are due March 4, 2018.

    • Vint Cerf, Andre Fuetsch, Nick McKeown to Keynote at Open Networking Summit North America 2018

      Open Networking Summit (ONS) is the industry’s premier open networking event gathering enterprises, cloud and service providers, from across the ecosystem to share learnings, highlight innovation and discuss the future of Open Source Networking.

      Hear from industry visionaries and leaders on the latest updates and the future of Networking beyond SDN/NFV including 5G and IoT; cloud networking (Kubernetes & Cloud Foundry); AI and ML applied to networks; and the use of networking in industry verticals like FinTech and Automotive.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Mozilla VR Blog: A-Painter performance optimizations
      • GFX-RS Continues Advancing For High-Performance, Portable Graphics In Rust

        GFX-RS has been the Rust programming language project for a high-performance, portable graphics API that can map to Vulkan, Apple’s Metal, Direct3D, etc from a single Rust API.

        Dzmitry Malyshau of Mozilla and Markus Siglreithmaier talked about this portable graphics abstraction project at the Free Open-Source Developers’ European Meeting in Belgium. GFX-RS has been in development since 2013~2014 but is currently undergoing a “total rewrite” in trying to better this single Rust API that supports backends for all major graphics APIs.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
  • CMS
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • FreeIPMI 1.6.1 Released With Performance Improvements, Better IPv6 Support

      Albert Chu of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory announced the release this weekend of FreeIPMI, the GNU project implementing Intelligent Platform Management Interface v1.5/2.0 support.

      This in-band/out-of-band IPMI software features many improvements with its v1.6.1 milestone.

    • GNU Hurd Hardware Support Remains In Very Rough Shape For 2018

      Yesterday at FOSDEM 2018 Hurd developer Samuel Thibault talked about the work done on this GNU kernel for a PCI arbiter to allow different user-land drivers to access PCI devices concurrently. During this PCI arbiter talk he also went over the current state of the hardware support and recent achievements for GNU Hurd.

      Sadly, the hardware state is pretty much the same as what he summarized two years ago at FOSDEM. GNU Hurd remains mainly focused on i686 kernel support, their 64-bit kernel can now boot but overall is in rough shape, their layer for getting network cards working remains based off the Linux 2.6.32 drivers, there is IDE and AHCI driver support for SATA, preliminary sound support through the userland Rump, etc.

    • GNU’s Ring Continues Trying To Be Like Skype/WhatsApp For FLOSS/Privacy-Minded Fans

      Ring that joined the GNU project in late 2016 to focus on decentralized, multi-device communication has high hopes for 2018.

      GNU Ring is still striving as a “free universal distributed communication platform” and to offer similar functionality to say Skype or WhatsApp but while being open-source and respecting the privacy of its users in part by being decentralized.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • SiFive launches first RISC-V SBC that runs Linux

        SiFive has opened pre-sales on a “HiFive Unleashed” SBC that runs Linux on its new RISC-V-based, quad-core, 1.5GHz U540 SoC, with 8GB DDR4, a GbE port, and an FMC connector.

        SiFive followed up on its October announcement of the SiFive Freedom U540 — the world’s first Linux-driven RISC-V processor SoC — with a Crowd Supply campaign to launch a HiFive Unleashed SBC that showcases the U450. The board is available for a steep $999 for a June 30 shipment, or $1,250 if you want the few remaining first-run boards that ship by Mar. 31.

      • Hi-Five Unleashed: The first Linux-capable RISC-V single board computer is here

        For roughly a decade, x86-64 has held hegemony over the desktop and server market. In the mobile space, ARM is the popular platform—for which a glut of cheap ARM processors have led to the rise of mass-produced single-board computers (SBCs) like the Raspberry Pi and competitors. However, proprietary “binary blob” drivers make using these devices somewhat more cumbersome, particularly for developers attempting to learn how devices work or ensuring complete device control.

      • The State of RISC-V Hardware & Software In Early 2018

        Palmer Dabbelt who maintains the RISC-V ports of GCC, Binutils, Linux, and glibc while working at RISC-V company SiFive spoke at FOSDEM 2018 this weekend about the software/hardware state of this royalty-free open-source CPU ISA.

        Palmer’s presentation covers the RISC-V instruction set, the origins of it, a brief comparison to other CPU architectures, and the Linux state.

Leftovers
  • Science
    • Kid co-authors in South Korea spur government probe

      The South Korean government is expanding an investigation into researchers who named their children as co-authors on papers. The extended probe, announced on 1 February, comes after a government report last week identified 82 academic papers on which authors had named their children or relatives — many of them in middle or high school — as co-authors on the publications.

    • Novel Lithography Technique Combines Speed With Accuracy

      What happens when you combine DNA origami techniques with conventional lithography? You get a novel lithography technique dubbed DNA-assisted lithography (DALI) that has the resolution of electron beam lithography with the speed of conventional lithography.

      In research described in the journal Science Advances, an international team of scientists from Finland, Denmark, and the United States have combined the programmable and accurate shapes made possible with DNA origami with conventional lithography to fabricate structures that are accurate below 10 nanometer resolution and are tens of nanometers in size.

  • Hardware
    • New controls scale quantum chips

      A fundamental barrier to scaling quantum computing machines is “qubit interference.” In new research published in Science Advances, engineers and physicists from Rigetti Computing describe a breakthrough that can expand the size of practical quantum processors by reducing interference.

      Matt Reagor, lead author of the paper, says, “We’ve developed a technique that enables us to reduce interference between qubits as we add more and more qubits to a chip, thus retaining the ability to perform logical operations that are independent of the state of a (large) quantum register.”

    • Controlling quantum interactions in a single material

      The search and manipulation of novel properties emerging from the quantum nature of matter could lead to next-generation electronics and quantum computers. But finding or designing materials that can host such quantum interactions is a difficult task.

      “Harmonizing multiple quantum mechanical properties, which often do not coexist together, and trying to do it by design is a highly complex challenge,” said Northwestern University’s James Rondinelli.

      But Rondinelli and an international team of theoretical and computational researchers have done just that. Not only have they demonstrated that multiple quantum interactions can coexist in a single material, the team also discovered how an electric field can be used to control these interactions to tune the material’s properties.

    • Is Apple Getting Ready to Migrate Mac to ARM? — It’s Starting to Look Like it

      Apple shocked the world when the iPhone 8 was benchmarked and it was found to be faster than a Core-i5. Well, Apple has long been reducing their reliance on other manufacturers for things like modems, graphics processors, RAM, and NAND flash storage. Apple’s dependency on third-party products results in more expensive manufacturing costs and less control over components. But the CPU is hailed as one of the most difficult components to produce, at least, when you have to compete with the performance of Intel and AMD. Does Apple have what it takes to take on x86? All signs seem to indicate that, at least they think, they do. Let’s dive deeper into this discussion.

    • Broadcom Raises Offer for Qualcomm to Over $121 Billion

      Broadcom Ltd. sweetened its takeover offer for Qualcomm Inc. in a deal that would be worth more than $121 billion, turning up the pressure on the target in what would be the largest-ever technology deal.

    • Too big to fail: worries surround South Korea’s chip industry

      The craze for smartphones, social media, and universal connectivity is generating immense wealth but also deep unease in South Korea, source of a large share of the computer chips that make them work.

      Soaring demand for microchips used in smartphones, computer servers, and data centers is driving profits for chip and smartphone maker Samsung Electronics and its smaller rival SK Hynix sky high, helping sustain growth in Asia’s fourth largest economy.

      Samsung reported Wednesday that its annual net profit rose 84 percent to a record 41.3 trillion won ($38.6 billion) in 2017 on annual sales of 239.6 trillion won ($223.7 billion), up 19 percent from the previous year.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • How Math (and Vaccines) Keep You Safe From the Flu

      Let’s say you hear a juicy rumor that you just can’t keep to yourself. You hate rumormongers, so you compromise by telling only one person and then keeping your mouth shut. No big deal, right? After all, if the person you tell adopts the same policy and only tells one other person, the gossip won’t spread very far. If one new person hears the rumor each day, after 30 days it will have spread to only 31 people, including you.

    • Biosimilar Industry Launches Information Campaign For Better Acceptance

      The International Generic and Biosimilar medicines Association has launched an information campaign on biosimilar medicines in order to raise worldwide understanding and acceptance of biosimilar medicines.

      Biosimilar medicines are similar to already authorised reference biotherapeutics, with the same indications and effects. In a press release [pdf], the International Generic and Biosimilar medicines Association (IGBA) announced its information campaign, based on the IGBA biosimilar medicines public slide deck.

    • WHO Executive Board adopts draft resolution on TB, stresses importance of resistant TB in overall fight against AMR

      The World Health Organization (WHO) held its 142nd session of the Executive Board (EB) meeting on 22-27 January 2018 in Geneva. During the week, country delegates discussed a draft resolution text on the preparation for a High-level Meeting at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on ending tuberculosis (TB).

    • Germs in airplane cabins are bad, but it’s even worse at the airport terminal

      You don’t have to be a germophobe to want to slip on rubber gloves when you enter an airplane cabin.

      A new study confirms once again that various surfaces in the cabin of a commercial plane have many times the amount of bacteria than an average kitchen counter. But the latest study found that surfaces in airport terminals can have even higher germ counts than those in the planes.

      The highest number of colony-forming units of bacteria per square inch were found on those increasingly popular self-serve ticketing kiosks that are popping up in terminals around the country, including Los Angeles International Airport.

  • Security
    • OpenWall unveils kernel protection project

      The folk at OpenWall have called for assistance to create a security module to watch Linux kernels for suspicious activity.

      In the company’s explanation, the Linux Kernel Runtime Guard (LKRG) is described as a module that “attempts to post-detect and hopefully promptly respond to unauthorised modifications to the running Linux kernel (integrity checking) or to credentials (such as user IDs) of the running processes (exploit detection).”

      Developed by Adam Zabrocki (@adam_pi3) and now championed by OpenWall, the first cut of the code landed last week.

    • Complex PZChao Windows malware has more than one string to its bow

      Security firm Bitdefender says it has been monitoring a complex custom-built piece of Windows malware, that it has named PZChao because of the name of the domain at which its command and control server resides.

    • Monero Cryptocurrency Miner Leverages NSA Exploit

      In a growing development, attackers have leveraged an exploit found in almost all generations of Microsoft Windows. EternalBlue is a security vulnerability that allowed WannaCry to run rampant in over 150 different countries and took down parts of the National Health Service (NHS), as well as Petya/NonPetya (a strain of ransomware that inspired NATO to assemble an entire cyber operation to combat it).

    • Monero mining botnet uses NSA exploit to infect Windows servers

      Microsoft Windows servers around the globe are playing host to a mining botnet known as Smominru Monero, which may have made as much as US$3.6 million for its operators based on the current value of the Monero cryptocurrency.

    • 17-Year-Old Boy Arrested For Coding Malware To Steal Cryptocurrency Wallet Passwords

      Different kinds of malware are targetting cryptocurrency owners and trying to steal their valuable digital coins by employing different techniques. This new and lucrative affair is attracting experienced and novice malware creators alike. Just recently, Japanese police arrested a 17-year-old teenager boy for creating malware that targetted cryptocurrency wallets.

    • Teen Arrested for Creating Malware That Steals Cryptocurrency Wallet Passwords

      Japanese authorities say that at least one man —a 31-year-old from Tokyo— downloaded and installed the teen’s app. This man later discovered that 170 Monacoins (around $500) went missing from his wallet. He said he saw other users’ warnings on the forum regarding the suspicious software, but it was too late at that point.

    • NSA Exploits Ported to Work on All Windows Versions Released Since Windows 2000
    • Three Leaked NSA Exploits Rewritten to Affect All Windows OSes Since Windows 2000
    • South Korea says North stole cryptocurrency worth billions of won last year

      South Korea said on Monday that North Korea last year stole cryptocurrency from the South worth billions of won and that it was still trying to hack into its exchanges.

      “North Korea sent emails that could hack into cryptocurrency exchanges and their customers’ private information and stole (cryptocurrency) worth billions of won,” said Kim Byung-kee, a member of South Korea’s parliamentary intelligence committee.

    • Security updates for Monday
    • Meltdown/Spectre Status for Red Hat and Oracle
    • NetBSD Has SVS To Mitigate Meltdown, Still Working On Spectre

      The NetBSD project has issued an update concerning recent security efforts for this popular BSD operating system.

      NetBSD has landed “Separate Virtual Space” (SVS) within their development repository as their mitigation effort for the Meltdown CPU vulnerability. SVS unmaps kernel pages when running in user-space. Initially only the PTE area is being unmapped. After tuning the past month, NetBSD developers now consider SVS to be stable but at the moment has not yet been back-ported to their stable branches. SVS for now is only supported on x86 64-bit.

    • Talking to normal people about security
    • 3 leaked NSA exploits work on all Windows versions since Windows 2000

      Oh, good, three NSA exploits previously leaked by The Shadow Brokers have been tweaked so they now work on all vulnerable Windows 2000 through Server 2016 targets, as well as standard and workstation counterparts.

      Before this, EternalSynergy, EternalRomance, and EternalChampion had partially been used in the NotPetya cyber attack. However, they had not been used by malicious actors nearly as much as EternalBlue because they didn’t work on recent Windows versions. That has now changed thanks to RiskSense security researcher Sean Dillon, aka @zerosum0x0, who ported the Microsoft Server Message Block (SMB) exploits to work on Windows versions released over the past 18 years.

    • NSA exploits leaked by hackers tweaked to work on all versions of Windows since 2000

      A trio of NSA exploits leaked by hacking group TheShadowBrokers has been ported to work on all versions of Windows since Windows 2000.

      The EternalChampion, EternalRomance and EternalSynergy exploits were made public by the group last year, and now a security researcher has tweaked the source code so they will run on nearly two decades’ worth of Microsoft operating systems — both 32- and 64-bit variants.

    • Every NHS trust tested for cybersecurity has failed, officials admit
  • Defence/Aggression
    • The Nuclear Posture Review

      The government of the United States is clearly in demonic hands. We are overflowing with proof. Take today (2-2-18) for example. A report from the House Intelligence Committee was released that is proof that the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Justice (sic), and the Democratic National Committee are engaged in a conspiracy against American democracy and the President of the United States with the full support of the presstitute media.

      As if that is not enough, also released today is the Pentagon’s new Nuclear Posture Review. A nuclear posture review specifies a country’s attitude toward nuclear weapons and their use. In past posture reviews, nuclear weapons were regarded as unusable except in retaliation for a nuclear attack. The assumption was that no one would use them. There was always the possibility that false warnings of incoming ICBMs would result in the nuclear button being pushed, thus setting off Armageddon. There were many false warnings during the Cold War. President Ronald Reagan was very concerned about a false warning resulting in mass death and destruction. This is why his principal goal was to end the Cold War, which he succeeded in doing. It did not take successor governments long to resurrect the Cold War.

    • Pawns in the Game: A Brief History of America and the Kurds

      The only thing that has ever been faithful to the Kurds is history: it has faithfully, without fail, betrayed them. The Kurds have been cast in the role of the pawn in powerful countries’ games of chess. They do much of the hard work only to be sacrificed when checkmate is in sight.

    • Pentagon’s Defense Logistics Agency loses track of $800m

      The US Pentagon’s Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) is missing documentation for how it spent hundreds of millions of US dollars, a new audit finds.
      The firm Ernst and Young found the agency could not account for $800m (£572m), according to Politico.
      The money was reportedly used for military construction projects and computer systems.
      DLA confirmed failure to properly track its spending, but said there was no “loss of accountability”.
      “DLA concurs with Ernst and Young’s assessment of our failure to properly account for and track funding to specific construction projects,” a DLA spokeswoman told the BBC.

    • New U.S. Focus on Great Power Conflict and Nuclear Supremacy

      Recent policy directives raise concerns over new U.S. postures towards great power conflicts and developing “tactical” nuclear weapons, underlining the need for a revival of the U.S. antiwar movement, write Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers.

    • Ten Commonsense Suggestions for Making Peace, Not War

      Whether the rationale is the need to wage a war on terror involving 76 countries or renewed preparations for a struggle against peer competitors Russia and China (as Defense Secretary James Mattis suggested recently while introducing America’s new National Defense Strategy), the U.S. military is engaged globally. A network of 800 military bases spread across 172 countries helps enable its wars and interventions. By the count of the Pentagon, at the end of the last fiscal year about 291,000 personnel (including reserves and Department of Defense civilians) were deployed in 183 countries worldwide, which is the functional definition of a military uncontained. Lady Liberty may temporarily close when the U.S. government grinds to a halt, but the country’s foreign military commitments, especially its wars, just keep humming along.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Angela Merkel is not the climate angel the world thinks she is

      German chancellor Angela Merkel has an eco-friendly reputation. She’s been hailed for supporting international climate agreements and backing renewable energy technologies. On closer inspection, however, the chancellor’s renown has always been based more on fairytale than fact.

      A popular myth, for instance, is that Merkel is the mother of Germany’s Energiewende—that is, its transition to renewable energy. This couldn’t be further from the truth. To the contrary, Germany’s signature energy policy was invented by her political opponents.

  • Finance
    • Jeremy Corbyn urged to work with opposition parties to stop hard Brexit

      The leaders of four opposition parties have written to Jeremy Corbyn urging him to “rethink” his stance on Brexit and work with them to keep the UK in the EU single market and customs union.

      In a joint letter, the SNP, Liberal Democrat, Green Party and Plaid Cymru leaders called on Mr Corbyn to join forces with them “in opposing the Tories’ damaging plans”.

      The Labour leader has previously refused to engage with other parties that are campaigning against the Government’s plans for a hard Brexit.

    • As Paul Ryan Touts a Secretary’s $1.50 Weekly Pay Hike, Koch Bros. Reap $1.4B from GOP Tax Plan

      This weekend, House Speaker Paul Ryan touted a story of a woman whose paycheck increased by $1.50 cents a week as a major benefit to middle-class workers. On Saturday, Ryan tweeted a link to an Associated Press report, writing, “A secretary at a public high school in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, said she was pleasantly surprised her pay went up $1.50 a week … she said [that] will more than cover her Costco membership for the year.” After a deluge of ridicule and outrage, Ryan deleted the tweet hours later. For more, we speak with Richard Wolff, emeritus professor of economics at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and visiting professor at The New School. He’s the author of several books, including, most recently, “Capitalism’s Crisis Deepens: Essays on the Global Economic Meltdown.”

    • Dow futures point to a more than 1,200-point fall at the open

      The S&P 500 was down 113 points, or 4.1 percent Monday in its worst day since August, 2011. The futures, which typically match the spot market’s decline, fell even more in the earlier session, off by 5.3 percent.

    • Green Brexit?

      Recent months have seen the colour green added enthusiastically to the red, white and blue Brexit once boasted by Theresa May. An interview with Green Party peer and Leave voter, Jenny Jones, explores the thinking.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • America’s election process is broken

      Stein supporters unexpectedly had donated millions over the Thanksgiving holiday, after her legal team could not convince Hillary Clinton’s campaign to enlist some of their donors. That grassroots response was completely unexpected. Like much of America, Stein’s donors questioned 2016’s official results. They were part of 2016’s grassroots surge seeking real change, especially millennial youths. They wanted to know what happened. I’d seen the Greens file for a recount in 2004 in Ohio. That effort did not change its outcome. But it did help expose a spectrum of tactics in the fine print of voting that confirmed the GOP was committed to strategically targeting and sup­ pressing known Democratic Party blocs. I other words, the voting process had been turned against its rightful participants.

      [...]

      [...]The answer to Michigan’s seventy-five thousand under-votes was not computer science. It was examining the vote: looking at individual ballots to see if a vote was there or not. That is straightforward. That was not the same as bringing in cyber detectives to hunt for code-altering fingerprints in voting software to see if the count is being tweaked to one side’s benefit. That’s what the Greens wanted to do in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. But that wasn’t to be, either.

    • Press Prostitutes Lie Through Their Teeth About House Intelligence Committee Report

      All of this is known. Yet the House Intelligence Committee and the White House released the “Nunes Memo” without pointing out that it was already confirmed by the FISA court itself and by NSA Director Adm. Rogers. Why?

      One consequence of this continuing Republican incompetence is that it allows the presstitutes, who also know about the FISA court memorandum, to ignore that confessions validating the “Nunes Memo” are in the hands of the FISA court. Consequently, the presstitutes, such as the CNN whores, are at their dirty dishonest work of misrepresenting the documented facts in the House Intelligence Committee report as “Nunes’ allegations,” “Nunes’ assertions,” “a disputed GOP intelligence memo that alleges FBI abuses,” and so forth. See, for example, https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/02/politics/republican-intelligence-memo/index.html

    • What’s happening in Illinois

      I am a supporter of Biss because he is one of the rare Democratic candidates — Beto O’Rourke is another—who puts reform at the front. He’s a strong and clear progressive, and makes no apologies for those views, but he makes it completely clear that we won’t fix anything until we fix this democracy first.
      Biss is running against a bunch of rich and famous people.
      The current governor of Illinois is a state-level version of Donald Trump: A billionaire who knows nothing about government — and who has proven that in his inept and failed administration.
      Yet the other leading Democrats are not much better. The shoo-in party favorite (and don’t think about Hillary Clinton here) is a Chicago billionaire, JB Pritzker. And challenging him is another rich and famous Democrat, Chris Kennedy. “Everyone knows” against this money and fame, no one else could ever have a chance.

    • ‘Dovlatov’ Takes on Censorship and Fake News in 1970s USSR (Exclusive Berlin Trailer)

      Aleksey German Jr.’s biopic on Russian journalist and writer Sergey Donatovich Dovlatov has its world premiere in competition in Berlin.

      Forget the Mueller investigation. If you want a real look at Russian fake news and Moscow’s political meddling, check out the trailer for Dovlatov, the new drama from Russian auteur Aleksey German Jr.

      Posited as six days in the life of writer and reluctant journalist Sergey Donatovich Dovlatov, it traces his struggles to write, and publish, under the censorious strictures of the Soviet Union in the 1970s.

    • ‘Deep State’ Veterans find New Homes in Mainstream Media

      “Former CIA director John Brennan has become the latest member of the NBC News and MSNBC family, officially signing with the network as a contributor,” chirps a recent article by The Wrap, as though that’s a perfectly normal thing to have to write and not a ghastly symptom of an Orwellian dystopia. NBC reports that the former head of the depraved, lying, torturing, propagandizing, drug trafficking, coup-staging, warmongering Central Intelligence Agency “is now a senior national security and intelligence analyst.”

    • Trump, Year One

      The world has survived the first year of United States President Donald Trump’s reign. He has not yet destroyed the world with a major war, whether against Iran or North Korea. He has not wrecked the foundations of the world trade and financial systems. These he has not done.

      But, in this brief year, he has certainly emboldened elements of the hard Right, which had previously existed at the edge of the political sewer. He has pushed to the forefront socially toxic attitudes that had previously been hidden from public sight by a veneer of politeness. It is not clear whether Trump is the author of these maladies or if, as is more likely, he is merely one more illustration of them. Hatred has made its appearance as an acceptable political force. Trump is merely one more manifestation of this toxicity.

      But during his first year, Trump pushed through a tax reform package that will make the rich richer and the poor more vulnerable. That was perhaps his most important achievement. Others have been blocked one way or the other. He could not start his war against Iran, nor could he move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He was not able to dismantle the U.S. health care system, nor was he able to fully end the mild U.S. commitment to refugees. Much that Trump has done will be unpleasant for the country, but little of it is dramatically different from what has come before.

    • Democrats Could Lose Again This Fall

      You’re reading this, so you probably follow political punditry. And if you follow political punditry, you’ve been hearing the usual corporate suspects predict that one of two things will happen in this fall’s midterm elections: either the Democrats will win big (win back the Senate), or they’ll win really big (the House too). Outta the way, Congressional Republicans: here comes the Big Blue Wave!

      Of course, these are the same clowns who called it big for President Hillary. Yet on and on they yammer, and we have to listen to them since big-money political media won’t hire anyone who has a clue.

      Interestingly, there are early warning signs — just as there were throughout the 2016 presidential race — that Democrats may be counting their electoral chickens before they’re aborted.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • How No Platform conquered the academy
    • The new blasphemies on campus

      This is remarkable stuff. In some of our most esteemed universities, supposed citadels of free thinking and scientific endeavour, administrations are demanding that debate about transgenderism be shut down and courses be cleansed of un-PC material. How any course about, say, biology, can coexist with this is unfathomable.

      And it’s not just in relation to trans issues, that most testy and inflamed subject in politics today. We also found that 48 per cent of institutions have policies which warn against insulting faith groups or offending religious sensibilities. One students’ union insists that ‘the religious sensibilities of the union’s members must be respected’. Shelley must be turning in his grave.

    • MultiChoice’s ANN7 decision a political act of censorship – MKMVA

      The Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association is dismayed and angered by the decision of MultiChoice not to renew the contract of ANN7. This decision by MultiChoice – a white monopoly capital owned media company – firmly rooted in our unsavoury apartheid history through their owner Nasionale Pers, is not contractual it is political.

      It is a political act of censorship to silence, and in fact totally remove, a television news channel whose reporting about the continuing control of White Monopoly Capital, and their ruthless exploitation of the black (especially African) majority, does not suit the plans of White Monopoly Capital and their black sell-out surrogates who want to continue strengthening their grip on our economy.

    • Knox County Public Library hosts expert panel on censorship

      The Knox County Public Library hosted a panel discussion on the history and implications of censorship at Lawson McGhee Library on Sunday.

      The discussion featured speakers from the Knox County School system and the University of Tennessee, as well as playwright Kenneth Jones, whose “Alabama Story” began its run at UT’s Clarence Brown Theatre on Wednesday.

      Jones was joined by Cindy Welch, a professor at UT’s School of Information Science, and Sarah Searles, the library and media services specialist for Knox County Schools.

    • Chinese anti-censorship activist Zhen Jianghua denied access to lawyer

      Zhen is the executive director for Human Rights Campaign in China, a non-profit organisation which spreads information about – and advocates for – human rights activists. He is also the executive editor and founder of ATGFW.org, a website which works against internet censorship and provides technical advice to help people circumvent internet restrictions.

      He was taken from his home in the southern Chinese city of Zhuhai on September 1 last year on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power,” according to US-backed Radio Free Asia.

    • Internet Censorship Skyrockets in Russia in 2017, Study Says

      Internet freedom in Russia has continued its downward spiral over the past year with over 115,000 recorded cases of censorship, according to an internet and media freedom report published Monday.

      The report by the Agora international human rights group was published half a year before new anti-terror legislation comes into force, which will greatly expand state powers of surveillance over internet correspondence. Under the “Yarovaya Law,” Russian telecom and internet providers will be forced to store all user communication data for 3 years.

    • China to stamp out cryptocurrency trading completely with ban on foreign platforms

      China is to block all websites related to cryptocurrency trading and initial coin offerings (ICOs) – including foreign platforms – in a bid to finally quash the market completely.

      “To prevent financial risks, China will step up measures to remove any onshore or offshore platforms related to virtual currency trading or ICOs,” said an article published on Sunday night by Financial News, a publication affiliated to the People’s Bank of China (PBOC).

      Bitcoin latest: prices, policies and politics

      The article acknowledged that recent attempts to stamp out digital currencies by shutting down domestic exchanges had failed to completely eradicate trading.

    • Media censorship casts worrying shadow over Kenya’s democracy

      In September, Kenya was praised by many after its Supreme Court — citing irregularities — nullified the election of the country’s sitting president. But nearly six months on it appears this applause from observers was premature.
      As the Court ordered a fresh election for October, President Uhuru Kenyatta, bitterly disappointed by the judges’ decision, declared with grace, “I don’t agree with the decision, but I respect it.” It was seen as an example of how Kenya’s rule of law actually held sway.

    • Two Kenya TV stations resume broadcasting after days shut by government

      Two Kenyan television channels shut down by the government over their coverage of the political opposition resumed partial broadcasting on Monday, although a third channel remained off the air.

      The unprecedented act of censorship sparked a local and international backlash against the government of President Uhuru Kenyatta, who won an election in October.

      It also reinvigorated an opposition that had appeared unsure of its next step after a highly publicised rally last week at which leader Raila Odinga symbolically inaugurated himself as president.

    • Different Strokes! confronts censorship through tale of ‘bunny book crusade”’

      Steph Hickling Beckman, managing artistic director for Different Strokes! Performing Arts Collective, doesn’t hold back when describing the relevance of Alabama Story, her company’s first production for the current season. “It’s a play about books and censorship, right when Trump tries to ban seven words from the CDC,” she says, referring to reports that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention staff members were recently discouraged from using language such as “transgender,” “diversity” and “evidence-based” in budget documents.

    • Public School Board Member Threatens Boss Of Woman Who Spoke Out Against School Book Banning
    • Hong Kong’s Top Cop Wants To Make It Illegal To Insult Police Officers

      The Blue Lives Matter movement has traveled overseas. Here in the US, we’ve seen various attempts to criminalize sassing cops, although none of those appear to be working quite as well as those already protected by a raft of extra rights would like. Meanwhile, we had Spain lining itself up for police statesmanship by making it a criminal offense to disrespect police officers.

      Over in Hong Kong, the police chief — while still debating whether or not he should offer an apology for his officers’ beating of bystanders during a 2014 pro-democracy protest — has thrown his weight behind criminalization of insults directed at officers.

    • Censorship or debate starter? Why removing Waterhouse’s Nymphs from a UK gallery was a bad idea

      Manchester Art Gallery’s decision to temporarily remove John William Waterhouse’s 1896 work, Hylas and the Nymphs, has undeniably succeeded in its stated aim to “prompt conversation about how we display and interpret artwork”.

      The painting, which usually hangs in a gallery full of 19th-century works entitled In Pursuit of Beauty, has been temporarily removed, according to the gallery’s curator of contemporary art, Clare Gannaway. The painting was replaced by a notice telling visitors that the decision to take down the painting is itself an artistic act which will feature in a solo show by the artist Sonia Boyce which opens in March. Post-it notes were provided for people to leave their reactions.

    • Gallery Wanted to Provoke Debate by Removing Naked Nymphs Painting. It Succeeded.

      An art gallery in England turned a 19th-century painting into a commentary on contemporary culture last month by removing it altogether.

      The Pre-Raphaelite painting, “Hylas and the Nymphs,” by the Victorian artist John William Waterhouse, is now back on display at the Manchester Art Gallery. It shows Hylas, a companion of the mythological hero Heracles, being lured into a lily pond by seven naked young women.

    • Putting Pinners First: How Pinterest Is Building Partnerships For Compassionate Content Moderation

      The way platforms develop content moderation rules can seem mysterious or arbitrary. At first glance, the result of this seemingly inscrutable process is varying guidelines across different platforms, with only a vague hint of an industry standard — what might be banned on one platform seems to be allowed on another. While each platform may have nuances in the way they create meaningful content moderation rules, these teams generally seek to align with the platform’s/company’s purpose, and use policies and guidelines to support an overarching mission. Different platforms delivering unique value propositions to users’ accounts for variations in content moderation approaches.

    • Israeli Music Fans Sue Two New Zealanders For Convincing Lorde To Cancel Her Israeli Concert

      This is, apparently, the first use of that law — which has remained controversial in Israel for a damn good reason. Even if you are against the BDS movement, basic civil liberties concepts around free expression should find this whole thing dangerous and ridiculous. The idea that Lorde choosing not to perform in Israel would constitute “damage” on Israel seems ridiculous on its face. The fact that these ticket buyers think that the proper response to someone saying something they don’t like and persuading a famous person to do something they don’t like is to sue rather than to try to persuade people in the other direction seems like an indictment of their own ability to make their case.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Devin Nunes Releases Memo That Doesn’t Show The Surveillance Abuses He Hypocritically ‘Cares’ About

      House intelligence oversight leader Devin Nunes released his supposed bombshell Friday. The Nunes memo was supposed to contain info showing the FBI had engaged in a questionable, politically-motivated investigation of Trump staff. How this news was supposed to be shocking was anyone’s guess. Anyone who has followed the FBI’s activities since the days of J. Edgar Hoover already knows the FBI engages in questionable, politically-motivated investigations. The only new twist is the FISA court’s involvement and the use of secretive surveillance powers to collect domestic communications.

      The FBI responded by noting the memo [PDF] contained “material omissions of fact.” What’s contained in the memo likely provides rhetorical ammo to those who believe Trump and his advisors did nothing wrong during the run-up to the election. But it will only provide limited support. What’s contained in the memo are accusations the FBI sought (and obtained) FISA warrants to surveill one-time Trump advisor Carter Page. The FBI — according to the memo — used the dubious Christopher Steele dossier to buttress its allegations. It apparently continued to do so even after it knew the Steele dossier had been paid for by the Democratic National Committee.

      The memo notes this interception was not performed under Title VII, which covers the recently-renewed Section 702 collection powers. This surveillance was performed under Title I — a more “traditional” FISA process in which the government seeks probable cause-based warrants from the FISA court, much like law enforcement officers seek warrants from magistrate judges.

    • Early Facebook and Google Employees Form Coalition to Fight What They Built

      A group of Silicon Valley technologists who were early employees at Facebook and Google, alarmed over the ill effects of social networks and smartphones, are banding together to challenge the companies they helped build.

      The cohort is creating a union of concerned experts called the Center for Humane Technology. Along with the nonprofit media watchdog group Common Sense Media, it also plans an anti-tech addiction lobbying effort and an ad campaign at 55,000 public schools in the United States.

      The campaign, titled The Truth About Tech, will be funded with $7 million from Common Sense and capital raised by the Center for Humane Technology. Common Sense also has $50 million in donated media and airtime from partners including Comcast and DirecTV. It will be aimed at educating students, parents and teachers about the dangers of technology, including the depression that can come from heavy use of social media.

    • Facebook patents solution to predict how rich or poor you are

      Facebook appears to be developing an “online system” that can algorithmically predict its users’ socio-economic status without knowing their incomes.

      Such a system would allow Facebook to more accurately target users with content and advertising tailored to their social class, the company said.

      According to a patent application filed in the US last July, the system will use classifiers to predict which socio-economic group users belong to.

    • The coming EU privacy regulation will end up remaking the world’s web

      Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation kicks in this May, and it enforces a user-first, privacy-centric set of rules for the internet that is totally incompatible with the adtech industry and the ad-supported web in general (though much rides on a potentially humungous loophole).

      But these rules won’t just affect Europe, but all the companies that want to trade with the world’s largest, richest trading block: to sell products and services in Europe, these businesses will have to adhere to European rules. [...]

    • Europe’s new data protection rules export privacy standards worldwide

      The new regulations offer EU citizens sweeping new powers over how their data can be collected, used and stored, presenting global leaders outside the 28-country block with a stark choice: bring their domestic laws in line with the EU’s new rules, or risk being shut out of a market of 500 million well-heeled consumers.

    • Why cops won’t need a warrant to pull the data off your autonomous car

      In order for AVs to work, they have to snag all kinds of data about the world around them: where precisely other objects are at any given moment and how fast they are moving. That data can seemingly be kept forever.

      Under current law, all of that data can be obtained relatively easily by federal law enforcement. In other words, if you’re a privacy-minded citizen, your threat model just changed.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Lauri Love extradition ruling: Monday, 5 Feb

      The ruling on Lauri Love’s extradition appeal will be handed down at 11am on Monday, 5 February 2018, at Court 4, Royal Courts of Justice in London. The High Court’s decision could determine the future of the forum bar, in addition to Lauri Love’s personal fate.

    • Victory: High Court rejects Lauri Love extradition

      In a major victory for Lauri Love, the High Court has approved his appeal and quashed his extradition. As Courage Case Director Naomi Colvin said, “This ruling is a massive victory for free expression online, for the fair treatment of neurodiverse people and for those of us who have drawn attention to the dire treatment of hackers and information activists in the United States.”

      The High Court judges disagreed with the District Court on whether the forum bar should apply in Lauri’s case and on the prospect of proper medical care to treat the likely risk of suicide should Lauri have been sent to a US prison.

      Regarding the forum bar, the judges found compelling the argument that if extradited, Lauri’s mental and physical health would deteriorate such that he could become unfit to plead. The judges also emphasized the absence of an argument from the UK prosecutor as to whether Lauri could be tried in the UK. Where the District Judge found this lack of argument to be neutral, the High Court saw it in Lauri’s favor: “In view of the fact that the CPS did not express any view adverse to the prosecution of Mr Love in the United Kingdom on any of the grounds potentially available to it, this silence is a factor which tells in favour of the forum bar, though it may readily be outweighed by other factors.”

    • Lauri Love ruling ‘sets precedent’ for trying hacking suspects in UK

      The decision delivered by the lord chief justice, Lord Burnett of Maldon, is highly critical of the conditions Love would have endured in US jails, warning of the risk of suicide.

      Lawyers for the 33-year-old, who lives in Suffolk, had argued that Love should be tried in Britain for allegedly hacking into US government websites and that he would be at risk of killing himself if sent to the US.

    • Amazon Wristband Patent is the Creepiest Idea It Has Come Up With Yet

      Last week, the tech giant’s new patents were published, as Geekwire first reported, covering wristbands that can track the location of hands and movement relative to inventory bins via radio transmissions and ultrasonic sound pulses.

    • San Francisco’s D.A. Is Clearing Thousands of Marijuana Convictions. Others Around the Country Should Do the Same

      A smarter justice system isn’t just good policy. It’s good politics, too.

      It has taken decades, billions of dollars, and thousands of laws to turn the United States into the largest incarcerator in the world. This system also imposes on millions of people harsh, unfair, and long-lasting consequences for having a criminal record. But it’s within the power of local prosecutors to start dismantling this machine – even without changing a single law.

      San Francisco’s District Attorney, George Gascón, is showing the way. Last week, he announced that his office would erase thousands of marijuana convictions from people’s criminal records and automatically review thousands more dating back to 1975 to see if those convictions should be downgraded.

      Explaining the decision, Gascón said, “We want to address the wrongs that were caused by the failures of the war on drugs for many years in this country and begin to fix some of the harm that was done not only to the entire nation but specifically to communities of color.

      “Black people are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana use as compared with whites, despite similar rates of usage. Steps like this one are essential as we work to combat the perverse racial disparities in our criminal justice system.

    • Connecticut Court Decision Highlights U.S. Educational Failures

      In 1973, I was a struggling young teacher working in inner city Brooklyn when I discovered Jonathan Kozol’s National Book Award-winning Death at an Early Age. It became my young teacher’s bible on understanding the nature of the school system and the pervasive racism at its core. It’s subtitle, “The Destruction of the Hearts and Minds of Negro Children in the Boston Public Schools” is as relevant now as it was when it was published some 53 years ago.

    • Father of Molested Girls Attempted to Attack Larry Nassar in Court

      Meanwhile, on Friday, chaos broke out inside the courtroom during a sentencing hearing for Larry Nassar. Randall Margraves, a father of three daughters who were molested by Nassar, attempted to lunge at the doctor in the courtroom.

    • Bar Complaint Filed Against Lawyers Who Participated In Bogus Lawsuits Targeting Fake Defendants

      The reputation management tactic of filing bogus defamation lawsuits may be slowly coming to an end, but there will be a whole lot of reputational damage to be spread among those involved by the time all is said and done.

      Richart Ruddie, proprietor of Profile Defenders, filed several lawsuits in multiple states fraudulently seeking court orders for URL delistings. The lawsuits featured fake plaintiffs, fake defendants, and fake admissions of guilt from the fake defendants. Some judges issued judgments without a second thought. Others had second thoughts but they were identical to their first one. And some found enough evidence of fraud to pass everything on to the US Attorney’s office.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Sea cables in a thawing Arctic

      China has made a significant foray into the Arctic with the creation of a data “silk road”. Strongly supported by a newfound closeness with Russia, preliminary planning of a Chinese and Finnish–led trans-Arctic cable along the Arctic’s Northeast Passage in partnership with Japan and Norway is underway. But the project, essentially a relaunch of a stagnated Russian initiative, presents stark risks in affording Moscow and Beijing potential influence over global telecommunications.

    • Analysis Of The Working Group On Enhanced Cooperation On Public Policy Issues Pertaining To The Internet

      The Tunis Agenda calls for enhanced cooperation to address issues related to the Internet and its governance. However, there was no clear agreement on how to implement enhanced cooperation, so a Working Group on Enhanced Cooperation (WGEC) was convened to discuss that matter and to prepare recommendations. A first WGEC group failed to find agreement, so a second group was formed.

  • DRM
  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Trademarks
      • Come Witness The Commentators That Help The NFL Fool The Public About Its ‘Super Bowl’ Trademark Rights

        The Super Bowl is here and this Sunday many of us will bear witness to the spectacle that is million dollar advertising spots mashed together over four hours with a little bit of football thrown in for intermissions. As we’ve discussed before, this orgy of revenue for the NFL is, in some part, propagated by the NFL’s never ending lies about just how much protection the trademark it holds on the term “Super Bowl” provides. While the league obviously does have some rights due to the trademark, it often enjoys playing make believe that its rights extend to essential control over the phrase on all mediums and by all persons for all commercial or private interests. This, of course, is not true, and yet a good percentage of the public believes these lies.

        Why? The NFL, pantheon of sports power though it may be, is not so strong as to be able to single handedly confuse millions of people into thinking they can’t talk about a real life event whenever they want. No, the NFL has been helped along in this by members of the media who repeat these lies, often in very subtle ways. Ron Coleman of the Likelihood Of Confusion site has a nice write up publicly shaming a number of these media members, including Lexology’s Mitchell Stabbe.

    • Copyrights
      • International Inconsistencies In Copyright: Why It’s Hard To Know What’s Really Available To The Public

        Have you ever wondered why it can be hard to find out what some old paintings look like? Why there seem to be so few pictures of artistic works available from many countries even though they’re filled with public sculptures and murals? Or why prices for books and movies can be so wildly different in different countries? The answer is that copyright law is different all over the world, and these differences can make figuring out what to do with these works so difficult or risky that most websites are not willing to have them around at all. This essay talks about a few of these works and why they add a major challenge to content moderation online.

      • Push Resumes For An EU Google Tax, With The Bulgarian Government Leading The Way

        The failure of snippet taxes/Google taxes is well documented, but never seems to deter further legislative efforts in the same direction. Google reacted to the initiative by dropping snippets from German news agencies, a move that produced a noticeable drop in traffic. German publishers called it “blackmail,” but the simplest way to comply with bad laws is to opt out. Similar things happened in Spain with its snippet tax. Google nuked its local Google News service, resulting in affected publishers demanding the government force Google to re-open the service and start sending them traffic/money.

      • Study Suggests Shutting Down Filesharing Sites Would Hurt Music Industry, New Artists

        The evolution of the music industry’s response to the fact that copyright infringement exists on the internet has been both plodding and frustrating. The industry, which has gone through stages including a focus on high-profile and punitive lawsuits against individual “pirates”, its own flavors of copyright trolling, and misguided attempts to “educate” the masses as to why their natural inclinations are the worst behavior ever, have since settled into a mantra that site-blocking censorship of the internet is the only real way to keep the music industry profitable. All of this stems from a myopic view on piracy held by the industry that it is always bad for every artist any time a music file is downloaded for free as opposed to purchased off of iTunes or wherever. We have argued for years that this view is plainly wrong and far too simplistic, and that there is actually plenty of evidence that, for a large portion of the music industry, piracy may actually be a good thing.

        Well, there has been an update to a study first publicized as a work in progress several years ago run by the Information Economics and Policy Journal out of Queen’s University. Based on that study, it looks like attempts to shut down filesharing sites would not just be ineffectual, but disastrous for both the music industry as a whole and especially new and smaller-ticket artists. The most popular artists, on the other hand, tend to be more hurt by piracy than helped. That isn’t to be ignored, but we must keep in mind that the purpose of copyright law is to get more art created for the benefit of the public and it seems obvious that the public most benefits from a larger successful music ecosystem as opposed to simply getting more albums from the largest audiences.

      • Tarnishing The History Of Martin Luther King Jr.: Copyright Enforcement Edition

        It is no secret that the estate of Martin Luther King Jr. have a long and unfortuate history of trying to lock up or profit from the use of his stirring words and speeches. We’ve talked about this issue going back nearly a decade and it pops up over and over again. By now you’ve probably heard that the car brand Dodge (owned by Chrysler) used a recording of a Martin Luther King Jr. speech in a controversial Super Bowl ad on Sunday. It kicked up quite a lot of controversy — even though his speeches have been used to sell other things in the past, including both cars and mobile phones.

      • Fair Use Overcomes Chrysler’s Bogus Copyright Notice
      • BMG v. Cox: ISPs Can Make Their Own Repeat-Infringer Policies, But the Fourth Circuit Wants A Higher “Body Count”

        Last week’s BMG v. Cox decision has gotten a lot of attention for its confusing take on secondary infringement liability, but commentators have been too quick to dismiss the implications for the DMCA safe harbor. Internet service providers are still not copyright police, but the decision will inevitably encourage ISPs to act on dubious infringement complaints, and even to kick more people off of the Internet based on unverified accusations.

        This long-running case involves a scheme by copyright troll Rightscorp to turn a profit for shareholders by demanding money from users whose computer IP addresses were associated with copyright infringement. Turning away from the tactic of filing lawsuits against individual ISP subscribers, Rightscorp began sending infringement notices to ISPs, coupled with demands for payment, and insisting that ISPs forward those notices to their customers. In other words, Rightscorp and its clients, including BMG, sought to enlist ISPs to help coerce payments from Internet users, threatening the ISPs themselves with an infringement suit if they don’t join in. Cox, a midsize cable operator and ISP, pushed back and was punished for it.

      • Appeals Court Makes A Mess Of Copyright Law Concerning ISPs And Safe Harbors

        We’ve been following the BMG v. Cox lawsuit from the very beginning, through all its very odd twists and turns, including having a judge in the district court, Liam O’Grady, who made it quite clear that he didn’t much care about the internet, and didn’t see why it was a problem if people lost their internet access completely based on merely a few allegations of copyright infringement. The 4th Circuit appeals court has now overturned the lower court ruling and sent the case back to the district court for a do-over. While the initial decision was awful (as we discuss below), this new ruling makes a huge mess out of copyright law and will have serious, dangerous, and long-lasting consequences for the internet as a whole.

        If you don’t recall, the case involved BMG suing Cox Communications, though much of the case really hinged on the actions of another company, Rightscorp, who has been trying (and mostly failing) to build a business model around a form of mild copyright trolling. Rather than the aggressive “sue ‘em and settle,” strategy employed by others, Rightscorp would send DMCA takedowns to ISPs, with a settlement offer, and hope that the ISPs would pass those notices on to subscribers accused of infringing.

      • Russia Blocks 500 ‘Pirate’ Sites in Four Months, Without a Single Court Order

        Last October, Russia passed legislation which allowed rightsholders to have ‘pirate’ clone and mirror sites blocked by ISPs without the need for court intervention. According to Russia’s Deputy Minister of Communications the months since have been extremely busy. A total of 500 sites have been blocked, which is more than the last two years of court-ordered blockades combined.

      • EU Anti-Piracy Agreement Has Little Effect on Advertising, Research Finds

        One of the best ways to beat piracy, according to many copyright industry groups, is to “follow the money.” This is the reason why advertising agencies are encouraged to cut their deals with pirate sites. One such agreement was facilitated by the European Commission, but according to new research, its effects are minimal.

The Efforts to Work Around 35 U.S.C. § 101 and Why IBM is So Afraid of § 101

Monday 5th of February 2018 08:26:34 AM

IBM’s actual business has been sent to China (notably Lenovo)

Summary: § 101, which invalidates the lion’s share of software patents in the US, is still the subject of most Internet debates; that’s because restriction/limit on patent scope and almost nothing else really worries the patent microcosm

THE decline/demise of software patents is really hurting IBM because IBM invested/wasted a lot of its cash reserves on a pile of worthless software patents, which are basically worse than worthless. Those patents are bunk, more so after Alice.

We are not arguing that the USPTO stopped issuing software patents. It still issues them (it’s just harder), but courts typically reject these. Yesterday we saw this article titled “Materialise makes software that powers 3-D printing” in which it said that “Materialise now has 165 patents for its software, manufacturing and medical device products.”

How many of these allude just to software and are thus worthless? There’s also an attempt to characterise software patents using all sorts of buzzwords and hype. From the past week alone: “Now Trending in Patent Examination: Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain Technology”, “Filing figures suggest blockchain-related patents boom” and “Financial Services Companies Are Rushing to Patent Blockchain Solutions”. Disguising software patents as “blockchain” isn’t so novel a concept. The applicants or the law firms try to get examiners to say, “well… OK, I don’t get it, I’m not sure what that means, so I’ll grant a patent.”

Here’s one from the weekend: “FOSDEM 2018 blockchain devroom raises questions and discusses #Patents #Povery #Law #Energy #Diversity and #Inclusion aspects of blockchain technology.”

Well, blockchain is software, so forget about patents. Sure, these get granted, but as far as we’re aware, none have been tested in court (yet).

Then there’s the “AI” wave, which IBM keeps riding with publicity stunts like “Watson”. Nobody invented “AI” and its buzzword ‘branches’ (data-driven training/learning). The concepts are very old, but over time there’s more computing power at hand. The corporate media really ought to stop using the “AI” hype because it is being exploited for patent propaganda, such as this from today.

There’s a constant effort to work around Alice and patent software. Watchtroll, for instance, published this thing yesterday, claiming to have come up with new loopholes. It says that the USTPO “recently issued a bulletin explaining that on January 25th, a revised MPEP — Ninth edition (Revision 08.2017) of the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP) was made available on the USPTO website.”

None of this really changes anything. They’re talking about semantics. So does Charles Bieneman, who days ago wrote that “CAPTCHA Patent Claims Survive Alice Challenge,” albeit only at a district court (i.e. the lowest possible level). To quote:

Patent claims directed to “generating a completely automated test to tell computers and humans apart” – i.e., improvements to what you’ve seen on the Internet as “CAPTCHA” – have survived a motion to dismiss alleging patent-ineligibility under 35 USC § 101 and the Alice abstract idea test. Confident Technologies, Inc. v. AXS Group LLC, No. 3-17-cv-02181 (S.D. Cal. Jan. 23, 2018).

If they want to seriously debate § 101, then they ought to look at higher courts, such as the Federal Circuit.

Regarding an IBM patent recently rejected under § 101, one troll friend wrote: “Its ]sic] Tuesday, so of course IBM has #patent application improperly rejected under §101 at PTAB, by ignoring 90% of language and boiling them down to simply claiming “logical parsing of information” https://e-foia.uspto.gov/Foia/RetrievePdf?system=BPAI&flNm=fd2017008361-01-30-2018-1 …”

IBM has been losing a lot of software patents lately. PTAB invalidates them every week. “IBM is the only operating company that breaks the top-10,” Patently-O wrote the other day in “Firms with the Most Registered Patent Attorneys and Agents”. Well, IBM is operating less and less over time. Dan Gillmor recently called IBM “a company that basically invented patent trolling and employs platoons of patent lawyers,” having watched the company for decades.

From Patently-O:

According to these records, Finnegan has the most total practitioners while Knobbe has the most patent attorneys. IBM is the only operating company that breaks the top-10. The top 25 firms represent ~8% of all registered patent practitioners. The newest patent attorney on the list is Hallie Wimberley, a first-year associate at Reed Smith. My former firm (MBHB) is now up over 100.

Janice Mueller, writing in Twitter the other day, said: “Delicious irony that IBM now #6 on this list. They were one of the anti-software patent leaders in 1970s. Times do change.”

“IBM is now the biggest lobbyist for software [patents] everywhere,” I replied, “not just the US” (she agreed on that). IBM is like a troll almost. It’s not there yet, but it's already feeding trolls.

Can § 101 put an end to most of IBM’s aggression? We certainly hope so. § 101, based on this tweet, is still being used a lot by PTAB. Another § 101 tweet noted that it’s not § 101 but § 103 that did the trick: “Examiner’s Rejection of Philips Imaging Patent Application Claims under 101 Was Reversed by PTAB; 103 Rejection Affirmed: https://storage.googleapis.com/pbf-prod/pdfs/2018-01-23_13260533_175904.pdf …”

Charles Bieneman’s colleague, Kevin Hinman, wrote about 35 U.S.C. § 112. There’s also this new post regarding § 112 (“aspirational claiming”) and regarding Crane Security Technologies, Inc. et al v Rolling Optics AB § 287 got brought up in the Docket Navigator. There’s more than just § 101 at play; here’s § 287 as explained by Hunton & Williams LLP’s Daniel G. Vivarelli, Christopher J. Nichols and Suzanne P. Hosseini. This too falls under AIA:

The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) made various changes to the “marking statute” (35 U.S.C. § 287(a)) to permit virtual marking of patent numbers, effective for any lawsuit that was pending on or commenced after September 16, 2011. The purpose of marking an article is to provide constructive notice to the public that it is patented. More importantly, failure to mark an article can preclude the tolling of legal damages for patent infringement until effective notice is given. Ultimately, “[a patentee] is entitled to damages from the time when it either began marking its product in compliance with section 287(a) [i.e., providing constructive notice], or when it actually notified [the accused infringer] of its infringement, whichever [is] earlier.” Thus, in the event of a failure to mark, § 287(a) provides that “… no damages shall be recovered by a patentee in any action for infringement, except on proof that the infringer was notified of the infringement and continued to infringe thereafter, in which event damages may be recovered only for infringement occurring after such notice.”

Yesterday (or last night) Watchtroll also wrote about § 121: “The safe-harbor provision of 35 U.S.C § 121 is a defense against a double patenting rejection. If it applied, the ‘272 and ‘195 patents could not be used as prior art against the ’471 patent.”

On § 102 (AIA) Gregory Sephton and Anna Schoenfelder (Kramer Levin) wrote:

Over the last few decades, the United States has been incrementally harmonizing its patent law with the rest of the world. Those efforts continued with the signing of the America Invents Act (“AIA”) in 2011. For example, the AIA created a first inventor-to-file patent system, while all but eliminating the best mode requirement. One area where we have not moved as far towards harmonization with the passing of the AIA as some initially thought is patent invalidity based on an “on sale” bar.

What’s worth noting here is that the patent microcosm is typically focused on just one section, namely 101. This is what typically tackles abstract patents such as software patents. What does that obsession imply? They’re mostly concerned/infatuated with patent maximalism, more so than matters like “damages”. That says a lot about them.

The ‘Microsoft Operandi’ of Vaguely Alluding to 200+ Patents to Blackmail the Competition is Now Being Copied by China

Monday 5th of February 2018 07:21:36 AM

Microsoft did this to demand payments for the use/distribution of Linux

Summary: A look at Microsoft’s latest strategy for ‘monetising’ GNU/Linux and how giants in China now copy that strategy, exploiting a large pile of patents for saber-rattling and demands of ‘protection’ money

THE “NEW MICROSOFT”.

Yes, that’s still a ‘thing’, apparently. So is “Microsoft loves Linux…” (or “Microsoft loves [something FOSS]“)

“When it comes to patents, Microsoft changed the outward appearance of its approach, but the underlying approach is still the same. Microsoft drives up the price of Linux devices and tries to turn these devices into Microsoft cash cows. It’s a racketeering approach, no matter how subtle it may seem.”Smart people fall for neither of the two. Microsoft has not really changed.

When it comes to patents, Microsoft changed the outward appearance of its approach, but the underlying approach is still the same. Microsoft drives up the price of Linux devices and tries to turn these devices into Microsoft cash cows. It’s a racketeering approach, no matter how subtle it may seem. Today we present some evidence from the past week alone.

A week ago Managing IP ran a new series about patents. Watch who sponsors this thing. The patent microcosm does, and the first episode is directly linked to Microsoft through the law firm (Microsoft’s former chief and probably closest business partner). They hope to control the narrative.

“Microsoft is shaking down companies in China, using satellites that prey on Android/ChromeOS OEMs.”But that’s not the ‘smoking gun’. What’s more troubling was already covered here several times last month. Microsoft is shaking down companies in China, using satellites that prey on Android/ChromeOS OEMs. One specific example we gave from China was Nokia‘s taxation of Huawei and Xiaomi.

Nokia was reduced to a minuscule market share after Microsoft had destroyed Nokia and fed its patents to patent trolls. According to this (days ago), the market share may be somewhere around 1%. So Nokia is becoming a troll and/or is feeding trolls. It didn’t do this before Microsoft’s Elop took over.

“Nokia’s licensing team had a huge 2017,” IAM wrote, “but the company is predicting much more to come” according to this latest article, naming some of the affected OEMs:

In 2017 it signed a series of headline deals including with Apple, Huawei and Xiaomi – a run of success which saw patent business chief Ilkka Rahnasto crowned as our top market maker of the year.

[...]

Since Nokia sold its handset division to Microsoft in 2013 and went through an internal reorganisation which saw patent licensing become part of Nokia Technologies, the Finnish company has focused intensely on growing the return from its patent portfolio.

As we said last week, Nokia now goes after the OEMs which Microsoft was never able to shake down over Linux/Android (Microsoft’s patent advantage over Huawei, for instance, wasn’t strong enough). Microsoft is still stockpiling patents on the sorts of things it does not sell or barely ever sells. Its strategy is to just turn patents into a cash cow, helped by trolls and the likes of Nokia. They want a humongous ‘patent tax’ on everything Linux. It’s hardly even a secret.

“As we said last week, Nokia now goes after the OEMs which Microsoft was never able to shake down over Linux/Android (Microsoft’s patent advantage over Huawei, for instance, wasn’t strong enough).”As for Xiaomi, it turns out that it has resorted to a similar strategy, at least in China (for now). As one IAM writer put it the other day, “Jiang Chao tipping his hand here? IP team must have told him they have 200 patents that read on Xiaomi products…”

Microsoft deja vu. Remember those 200+ unnamed patents it claimed were infringed by Linux when it started the blackmail campaign in 2007? Giants in China now use their patents like Microsoft used them a decade ago, in order to bully and blackmail small companies like Coolpad. Here’s the latest:

Coolpad CEO Claims Xiaomi Violated Over 200 of Its Patents & Lawsuit Is To Create Awareness

[...]

The Chinese media was agog recently with news that Coolpad had sued Xiaomi before a Beijing court for patent infringement. Xiaomi had come out after that to deny the allegation and stated that it is yet to receive the court papers. The latest gist coming out of that story comes from Coolpad’s CEO Jiang Chao who revealed that Xiaomi’s infringement of its patents spans more than 200 patents. The CEO, however, stated that they decided to sue Xiaomi for just six out of the 200.

They’re ‘pulling a Microsoft’ here. Xiaomi is behaving like Microsoft but for the time being only in China. Yesterday we saw a report titled “Xiaomi Says Coolpad Didn’t Sue It For Patent Infringement,” refuting some false claims:

Xiaomi denied being sued for patent infringement by Coolpad, with the tech giant’s first comment on the matter claiming that it never received any official notice of such litigation being in the works, Chinese media reports. The statement was meant to reflect on recent reports that Coolpad is targeting several Xiaomi subsidiaries for infringing on a number of the company’s patents related to the Android operating system, though the smartphone maker says its only word of an upcoming legal clash came from those very same reports. It’s presently unclear whether Coolpad made a misstep in the process of filing for litigation or if the leaked lawsuit has yet to be filed in the first place. The supposed plaintiff refused to issue a more in-depth response to the allegations raised by the lawsuit as it said their details remain vague, making it unclear what exactly is Coolpad accusing it of.

Why would Coolpad even sue? It doesn’t have anywhere as many patents as Xiaomi, so in a two-way battle where both companies have products (unlike trolls) it’s only Xiaomi that can win.

“What’s noteworthy here is that we’re seeing US patents being reassigned to companies from China.”According to this, “Chinese smartphone maker Oppo back on the patent purchase trail as it seeks to expand into new markets.”

They know they need patents to avoid being hammered with lawsuits (like Coolpad above). The corresponding article shows that firms from China are now taking over US patents as well:

According to USPTO records, the Dongguan-based smartphone vendor obtained 37 US assets in one assignment on 17th January (the transfers were recorded on Sunday). All the patents involved were formerly owned by Intel, and they were assigned to an entity named Sky Royal Trading Limited before landing in Oppo’s possession. Sky Royal Trading is a Hong Kong registered company with no previous patent assignment record or other online footprint. It’s not clear whether it is a broker or a bespoke Oppo patent acquisition vehicle.

What’s noteworthy here is that we’re seeing US patents being reassigned to companies from China. We saw that before, albeit not often. It’s actually a defensive strategy. The Beijing Higher Court, according Lexfield Law Offices, continues to enforce all sorts of claims, but those are only applicable in China. IAM’s Jacob Schindler, in his latest magazine article, says that “[g]overnment bodies in Asia and beyond say that alternative dispute resolution is underutilised in disputes over fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory licences.”

“That plays a role in the patents gold rush in China and helps explain why there are almost 1.5 million patent filings per year (as per last year at least).”Those are often patent pools, in which the only permitted participants (for free) are companies with loads of patents. That plays a role in the patents gold rush in China and helps explain why there are almost 1.5 million patent filings per year (as per last year at least). WIPO uses these insane numbers for propaganda purposes, neglecting to note that such numbers are MEANINGLESS without QUALITY being taken into account.

Patents on GUIs Are Not Software Patents, But the Software Patents Lobby Ignores Fundamental Facts

Monday 5th of February 2018 06:29:26 AM

Factual errors on GUI patents

Summary: When the Federal Circuit said “OK” to patents on GUIs it basically set the patenting bar even lower than China (for that particular family of patents); it should not be framed as a “win” for software patents, however, for GUIs are not algorithms

THE SUBJECT of patents on user interfaces (GUIs) was brought up here several times, e.g. [1, 2], after the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) had ruled in favour of patents on GUIs. This is very bad. Do not pay attention to many spinners who now attempt to frame that as a win for software patents. GUIs are not algorithms; patents on GUIs, however, are disturbing for all sorts of other reasons.

“Do not pay attention to many spinners who now attempt to frame that as a win for software patents.”Charles Bieneman wrote the following about this precedential decision: “In my view, this is a significant patent-eligibility case, because it supports the proposition that claims reciting nothing more than a process for displaying or arranging data in a computer interface can be patent-eligible. Anecdotally, I can report that many patent examiners take the position that claims reciting “the mere display of data” are not patent-eligible. The Federal Circuit’s precedential decision in Core Wireless provides a solid basis for traversing Section 101 rejections of claims directed to computer displays, and more broadly supports the proposition that software can be patent-eligible even if claims recite no more than processing or arranging data.”

“GUIs are not algorithms; patents on GUIs, however, are disturbing for all sorts of other reasons.”“Federal Circuit Starts 2018 With Two Favorable Decisions For Software Patents,” one headline said, but this is patently untrue. It’s not a software patent. They are touching on Finjan and also on Core Wireless as though these are inherently the same. Regarding Finjan, as we pointed out before, the decision actually did invalidate many software patents (except one). A pretty reliable Twitter account said: “Core Wireless 1/25/18. Patent claim to display interface with “application summary window.” Not ineligible. INTERESTING: first two S101 cases in 2018 find claims eligible. Break from pattern in 2014-2017 in which only two or so cases in entire year upheld eligibility.”

Actually, not quite. In 2017 virtually none was upheld as eligible and in prior years there were quite a few. We wrote a lot about that. And in the case of a GUI, Section 101 is barely even applicable. We’re not entirely surprised to see the above spin. In fact, we sort of foresaw that and as we explained last weekend, the defense strategy, relying on Section 101, was probably unwise. Core Wireless has a bad patent, but it is not a software patent but GUI-related.

“They are touching on Finjan and also on Core Wireless as though these are inherently the same.”Here’s more of that spin: “If #FedCir continues to follow logic of Finjan and Core Wireless ( http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions-orders/16-2684.Opinion.1-23-2018.1.PDF …), it is an overdue watershed in eligibility analysis. Because claimed software innovation is done on a computer does not automatically make it a maligned do-it-on-a-computer claim.”

“You are an attorney,” I told the person, “so what do you know about #swpats and software anyway? Let logic guide policy.” What’s more troubling though were the claims that this case was about software patents. It wasn’t.

It has meanwhile turned out that CAFC has another precedential decision: “Paice v Ford Motor (Fed. Cir. 2018) PRECEDENTIAL–1 of 25 IPRs filed by Ford against Paice Patents…”

There’s also another CAFC cases in which Section 101/Alice got reaffirmed: “Fed. Cir. Affirms PTAB Finding Patent Claims for Real Estate Searching Ineligible under 101/Alice…”

“…in the case of a GUI, Section 101 is barely even applicable.”And another IPR: “Maxlinear 1/25/18. IPR. independent claims held unpatentable on appeal (in related case). Remand on patentability of dependent claims.”

Funny how none of the spinners speak about these cases, instead still obsessing over a case that has nothing to do with software and everything to do with a visual interface. Joseph Robinson and Robert Schaffer at Watchtroll take advantage of this misuse of Section 101 to state:

LG moved for summary judgment that the claims are “abstract” and invalid under Section 101. The district court denied the motion. The claims are not abstract, because the “application,” “summary window,” and “unlaunched state” are applied to specific devices, like cell phones.

Right. This is bad for many reasons, but that does not mean that we’re talking about software patents here.

“This is bad for many reasons, but that does not mean that we’re talking about software patents here.”Looking east (at China), GUI patents actually face some barriers, in spite of an open-armed approach towards software patents and just about any conceivable thing. As one news site put it some days ago: “At the end of December 2017 the Beijing IP Court decided the first graphical user interface (GUI) infringement case in China, in a battle between anti-virus software giants Qihoo 360 and Jiangmin. The court rendered a decision in favour of Jiangmin, which is a heavy blow not only to Qihoo 360, but also to thousands of GUI patentees in China. In view of this decision, software companies could easily avoid infringing a GUI if their software is not pre-installed on any hardware.”

An article by Lexfield Law Offices said something similar:

The Beijing Intellectual Property Court recently issued its judgment in the first-in-China infringement suit involving a design patent on GUI, Qihu v. Jiangmin. The court ruled against the patent owner Qihu on the grounds that its design patent as granted is actually directed to a “computer” which thus cannot be effectively enforce against the software product distributed by Jiangmin.

The judgment, if upheld in appeal, would greatly diminish the practical value of Chinese design patents granted on GUI, especially those granted immediately after China first allowed the registration of such patents in May 2014.

[...]

Since SIPO first allowed design patents on GUI in May 2014, it still required that the title be toward a hardware product like a computer or a mobile phone and the drawings show such a hardware product in solid lines. At the first stage, SIPO strictly enforced such requirement toward the first patents filed. This judgment immediately calls into question the enforceability of these early patents.

Put another way, the CAFC’s decision on GUIs almost places the US at a lower scale on the quality prism than even China (SIPO)! That’s really low and we hope that SCOTUS will deal with an appeal on this, as well as on design patents.

“Put another way, the CAFC’s decision on GUIs almost places the US at a lower scale on the quality prism than even China (SIPO)!”Speaking of China, mind this tweet which said: “Beijing Higher People’s Court issues a ruling further strengthening patent enforcement in China. More good news for IP in China. Wish we had more news like this from the US, where IP is under attack on many fronts, but change is possible.”

Under attack? Really?

“The bottom line is, yes, it’s true that patents on GUIs received a lifeline in the US; it should not, however, be mistaken for acceptance of software patents, no matter what lawyers and attorneys try to say.”“What you mean to say is more litigation and by “we” you mean patent aggressors/lawyers,” I told him, not the 99% of the population (which does not profit from litigation).

The bottom line is, yes, it’s true that patents on GUIs received a lifeline in the US; it should not, however, be mistaken for acceptance of software patents, no matter what lawyers and attorneys try to say.

PTAB Watch: Paul Hastings’ Naveen Modi, Worlds Inc. and RPX on Trolls in Semiconductors Market (Rambus/Hardware Patents)

Sunday 4th of February 2018 10:35:23 PM

Summary: The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) increasingly gets involved even in cases where trolls tread on patent pools; Rambus appears to be on the rise again, but only as a patent parasite

THE PTAB is today’s focus because it’s probably the most common facilitator the USPTO will ever have for invalidating software patents. Courts do not get involved as often as PTAB, at least not in the context of patents on software. The anti-PTAB lobby, which defends patent trolls and seems to be Koch-backed (at least in part), isn’t particularly happy to say the least…

Top parties in US district courts and at the PTAB were named a few days ago by Managing IP, but sadly that’s behind a paywall. All we can see is this:

Managing IP analyses the most important trends and cases that will impact US patent disputes in 2018, both in district courts and at the PTAB. We also reveal the top entities and law firms for lawsuits and petitions filed in both forums last year

“Most Active Attorneys in IPR” were also named/published some days ago and an IAM writer said that “Paul Hastings’ Naveen Modi most active IPR lawyer with 240. Say he has charged an average of $100k per review (which is on the low end) then that’s a $24m book of IPR biz over last 5 years.”

This is one of those cases where patent lawyers profit from bogus patents, ripping people off when the USPTO is overgranting.

Some days ago we became aware of this Worlds Inc. press release. They’re going after PTAB IPRs in an effort to deal with questionable patents. From the press release:

Worlds Inc. (OTCQB:WDDD) investors have chosen to exercise their warrants per the terms of the funding of the Inter Partes Review (IPR) appeal as reported in January 2017. The exercise of the warrants will provide Worlds with $875,000 to the balance sheet.

[...]

Worlds is obligated under the terms of the funding agreement to convert these warrants when its investors/shareholders elect to convert. By adding these funds to its balance sheet, Worlds is now in a financially stronger position to pursue potential infringers of its patents. Once a definitive determination on potential infringers is reached, Worlds intends to begin additional enforcement actions.

RPX was mentioned over a week ago by Reuters. RPX is collapsing and its sale seems likely. RPX sought to challenge trolls, but eventually it might be owned by trolls.

RPX has just mentioned the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) in this article about hardware (generically titled “Semiconductors”). To quote: “In December 2017, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) saw a new petition for IPR, institution decisions, and final decisions, in multiple NPE campaigns in the Semiconductors market sector.”

We’re assuming that RPX is attempting to untangle the maze which is semiconductor patents (companies like Intel have plenty of those).

Rambus, a hardware company notorious for its troll-like activities, turns out to be little more than a pile patents now. Rambus, based on its accounting, is little more than a patent parasite if not a troll because almost all of its money comes purely from patents. As IAM put it, “Rambus reported revenues for the quarter of $101.9 million, up by a little more than $4 million year-on-year, and full year results of $393.1 million, an increase of just under $60 million from 2016. Royalties, including patent licensing, accounted for almost $78 million in Q4 and $289.5 million for the year overall.”

If about three quarters of the income comes from patents alone (rather than the production of something), what can one conclude? Maybe that’s the kind of “NPE” RPX was alluding to above. There are several of these, most notably Qualcomm.

The So-called ‘Big Pharma’ Industry is Hoping to Weaken If Not Eliminate PTAB

Sunday 4th of February 2018 10:16:33 PM

Not generics

Summary: After the saga of Kyle Bass, who was filing many IPR petitions, companies like Allergan resort to “scams” in an effort to dodge scrutiny of their patents

TECHRIGHTS rarely deals with any patents other than software patents. Having said that, there’s plenty at stake in PTAB, which invalidates many software patents. This is why we write about Allergan; in some cases, PTAB is put at risk by drugs. Lots of monopoly money is at stake. The giants are afraid of genetics.

John Cravero’s overview of PTAB cases regarding medicine (or chemistry or life sciences more broadly/for the most part) was published some days ago. So was this post from the Pharma Patents Blog, which said that the “Federal Circuit Emphasizes Need For Reasonable Expectation Of Success” in relation to the following:

The patent at issue was Genzyme’s U.S. Patent 7,897,590, directed to methods of promoting the flow of stem cells into blood for transfusion using a specific combination of drugs. The stem cells are used to treat non-Hodgkins lymphoma and other blood cancers.

Over the weekend IAM also remarked on hype and speculations about “a pharma patent deal-making surge” — a hype which it generally rejected, noting: “A flurry of pharmaceuticals transactions in January has led several observers to describe the past month as the best start to M&A in recent years, and has further encouraged predictions of a surge in patent-driven acquisitions in 2018.”

Arthrex, a medical device company, was recently mentioned in relation to estoppel and it’s mentioned again today (Sunday is busy at Watchtroll). It was also alluded to some days ago by Finnegan. It involves PTAB:

During the early stages of an IPR proceeding initiated by Smith & Nephew, patent owner Arthrex disclaimed all patent claims challenged in the petition. Arthrex then filed a preliminary response contending that institution should be denied due to the disclaimer. To avoid the estoppel effects of 37 C.F.R. § 42.73(d), Arthrex also argued that an adverse judgment should not be entered. The PTAB, however, issued an adverse judgment against Arthrex, and the Federal Circuit affirmed.

Yes, the Federal Circuit (CAFC) typically agrees with PTAB. In some cases CAFC is even tougher than PTAB on patent quality, as Watchtroll cared to admit yesterday. To quote:

In an appeal from an IPR in which the Board upheld the patentability of several patent claims, the Federal Circuit vacated the decision and remanded to the Board with instructions to consider the patentability of certain dependent claims.

We are watching these things closely even when it isn’t software that’s at stake because there are many vicious attacks on PTAB and sometimes CAFC as well these days. The goal is to eliminate every IPR and shield software patents, among other bad/abstract patents. We cannot just let that happen.

Links 4/2/2018: Plans for Linux 4.17, FOSDEM Ends

Sunday 4th of February 2018 09:41:42 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Worth Saving?

    A friend the other day casually called Linux Journal “the journal of record for the Open Source community”. I think that’s a good description of what we were for 23 years—because one sign of our “of record” status is how many people have told us that they have a collection of LJ issues going back many years.

    So I asked myself, what other magazines do people tend to keep, that might be models for Linux Journal as it grows into something much bigger in the world—while doing a better job than ever tending its Linux roots?

  • Desktop
    • Poll: Best Linux Distribution

      e’re working on 2018 Readers’ Choice Awards. First poll… which do you consider to be the best distribution?

    • Linux Desktop Success – Unleaded Hangout

      Linux Desktop Success. What’s it going to take to get us there? Have we already hit the tipping point with ChromeOS? Perhaps instead, it’s a matter of greater OEM adoption? We discuss.

  • Server
    • Portworx Delivers STORK as an Open Source Stateful Storage Project

      Acronym fans rejoice! Just weeks after releasing a wonderfully acronym-free reference configuration with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), Portworx unveiled an avian-based tag for a new open source stateful storage project.

      The Storage Orchestrator Runtime for Kubernetes, more fluidly known as STORK, uses the extensibility of Kubernetes to support stateful applications. This allows DevOps teams to run stateful applications – think databases, queues, and key-value stores – on Kubernetes.

  • Kernel Space
    • EXT4 Is Mostly Fixes With Linux 4.16

      Ted Ts’o sent in the pull request today of EXT4 file-system driver changes for the Linux 4.16 kernel.

      Among the many Linux 4.16 changes so far is a major reworking to XFS, Btrfs RAID 5/6 fixes, and other F2FS improvements. But on EXT4 for Linux 4.16 it’s a bit less exciting.

    • i.MX8 SoC Support Might Be Introduced In Linux 4.17

      With this week’s ARM SoC/platform updates for Linux 4.16 it was revealed the next kernel cycle might introduce i.MX8 SoC support.

      ARM SoC/platform maintainer Arnd Bergmann wrote in this week’s pull request, “the 64-bit i.MX8 has finally seen the light of day and will likely get added in the next merge window.” In other words, potentially seeing the initial NXP i.MX8 SoC support in the mainline Linux 4.17 kernel.

    • Spectre V1 Mitigation, IBPB Support Sent In For Linux 4.16

      Last week Meltdown/Spectre patch wrangler Thomas Gleixner sent in various code clean-ups for Retpolines and KPTI with Linux 4.16 while today more feature work has been submitted. This includes initial mitigation work for Spectre v1 as well as IBPB support.

      First up with this latest round of “melted spectrum” patches as Gleixner is now calling them are Spectre v1 mitigations. Spectre Variant One is the “Bounds Check Bypass” (2017-5753) and the initial mitigation work going mainline is user pointer sanitization.

    • LKRG: Linux to Get a Loadable Kernel Module for Runtime Integrity Checking

      Members of the open source community are working on a new security-focused project for the Linux kernel. Named Linux Kernel Runtime Guard (LKRG), this is a loadable kernel module that will perform runtime integrity checking of the Linux kernel.

      Its purpose is to detect exploitation attempts for known security vulnerabilities against the Linux kernel and attempt to block attacks.

      LKRG will also detect privilege escalation for running processes, and kill the running process before the exploit code runs.

    • Graphics Stack
      • Nouveau Hopes For Basic Vulkan Driver This Year, NVIDIA To Release Some New Docs Soon

        Open-source NVIDIA “Nouveau” driver developers Martin Peres, Pierre Moreau, and Karol Herbst took to the FOSDEM 2018 conference today to share a status update on their reverse-engineering and open-source driver writing work around this unofficial NVIDIA Linux driver.

      • GLXVND Server Module / Server-Side GLVND Updated For X.Org Server

        For the better part of a year NVIDIA developers and Adam Jackson at Red Hat have been working on “server-side GLVND” and this new X.Org Server feature might finally be close to landing.

        After spearheading GLVND as the OpenGL Vendor Neutral Dispatch library for allowing multiple OpenGL drivers to co-exist happily on the same system, developers have been working on a similar implementation for the X.Org Server. This is for allowing different drivers to support different X screens within the same running X.Org Server.

      • Keith Packard Exploring “Semi-Automatic Compositing” For The X.Org Server

        Keith Packard’s latest work for Valve on improving the Linux display stack is on what he’s exploring around “semi-automatic compositing” but at this point it’s still a risky bet with the new protocol yet to be written.

        Keith is broadly working on trying to improve composite acceleration within the X.Org Server to reduce the number of copies needed to get an application’s contents to the screen, being able to get the screen contents delivered on time and for the application to know that, and to improve this overall process.

      • Composite acceleration in the X server

        One of the persistent problems with the modern X desktop is the number of moving parts required to display application content.

      • RadeonSI NIR Gets Compute Shader Support

        Timothy Arceri of Valve’s Linux GPU driver team continues getting the RadeonSI NIR support up to scratch.

        Timothy spearheaded the work on tessellation shaders for RadeonSI’s NIR back-end and also took this experimental code path to GLSL 4.50 support, among other improvements to the open-source Radeon Linux graphics driver.

      • Radeon Linux Graphics Stack, RadeonSI Shaders Update From FOSDEM 2018

        In addition to the Nouveau driver crew talking about their Vulkan plans and other open-source work, Nicolai Hähnle of AMD represented the company’s work on their Radeon Linux graphics driver stack(s) and the work they have going on for improving their GPU driver support.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Kraft Moving to KDE Frameworks: Beta Release!

        Kraft is KDE/Qt based desktop software to manage documents like quotes and invoices in the small business. It focuses on ease of use through an intuitive GUI, a well chosen feature set and ensures privacy by keeping data local.

        Kraft is around for more than twelve years, but it has been a little quiet recently. However, Kraft is alive and kicking!

        I am very happy to announce the first public beta version of Kraft V. 0.80, the first Kraft version that is based on KDE Frameworks 5 and Qt 5.x.

      • The future, the past and FOSDEM

        Writing these lines I’m sitting in a train to Brussels. So if you want to meet up and talk about anything, you will presumably often find me the next two days at the KDE booth or on Saturday in the graphics devroom. But this is my first time at FOSDEM, so maybe I’ll just stand somewhere in between and am not able to orientate myself anymore. In this case please lead me back to the KDE booth. Thanks in advance and I look forward to meeting you and other interesting people in the next two days at FOSDEM.

      • Plasma Vault: Update on CryFS

        Just a short update on the CryFS situation I mentioned a few days ago.

        I was contacted by Sebastian (the maintainer of CryFS) and he said he has been actively working on the solution to the upgrading problem.

        He has already implemented quite a few things that will be useful for Plasma Vault, and I will make the CryFS backend default again in Plasma 5.13 (after the LTS release) if these updates get released and packaged by the most popular distributions.

      • KDE’s Elisa Music Player Reaches Its Second Alpha

        There is no shortage of different KDE music/media player projects over the years but one of the most promising in recent times is Elisa. This week marks the second alpha release for the Elisa music player.

        Elisa was only announced last year as a new music player initiative building atop Qt5 and KDE Frameworks 5 while following the KDE VDG style guidelines, etc. Back in December marked the first alpha release while coming out yesterday was the second alpha for Elisa.

      • This week in Usability & Productivity, part 4

        This was a big week for Usability & Productivity. Before I get to the list of improvements we landed, I’d like to make an exciting announcement: we’re scoping out the work to add FUSE support to KIO for remote locations like Samba shares. This should vastly improve the experience of interacting with files on Samba and FTP locations (among others) when using non-KDE software with KDE Plasma. No timelines or promises yet, but it’s now on our radar screens.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • rsvg-bench – a benchmark for librsvg

        Librsvg 2.42.0 came out with a rather major performance regression compared to 2.40.20: SVGs with many transform attributes would slow it down. It was fixed in 2.42.1. We changed from using a parser that would recompile regexes each time it was called, to one that does simple string-based matching and parsing.

        When I rewrote librsvg’s parser for the transform attribute from C to Rust, I was just learning about writing parsers in Rust. I chose lalrpop, an excellent, Yacc-like parser generator for Rust. It generates big, fast parsers, like what you would need for a compiler — but it compiles the tokenizer’s regexes each time you call the parser. This is not a problem for a compiler, where you basically call the parser only once, but in librsvg, we may call it thousands of times for an SVG file with thousands of objects with transform attributes.

        So, for 2.42.1 I rewrote that parser using rust-cssparser. This is what Servo uses to parse CSS data; it’s a simple tokenizer with an API that knows about CSS’s particular constructs. This is exactly the kind of data that librsvg cares about. Today all of librsvg’s internal parsers work using rust-cssparser, or they are so simple that they can be done with Rust’s normal functions to split strings and such.

      • BuildStream Hackfest and FOSDEM

        I also wanted to sum up a last minute BuildStream hackfest which occurred in Manchester just a week ago. Bloomberg sent some of their Developer Experience engineering team members over to the Codethink office in Manchester where the whole BuildStream team was present, and we split up into groups to plan upcoming coding sprints, land some outstanding work and fix some bugs.

      • builders

        An idiom that has shown up in GTK4 development is the idea of immutable objects and builders. The idea behind an immutable object is that you can be sure that it doesn’t change under you, so you don’t need to track changes, you can expose it in your API without having to fear users of the API are gonna change that object under you, you can use it as a key when caching and last but not least you can pass it into multiple threads without requiring synchronization.
        Examples of immutable objects in GTK4 are GdkCursor, GdkTexture, GdkContentFormats or GskRenderNode.

      • GTK+ hackfest, day 2

        The second day of the GTK+ hackfest in Brussels started with an hour of patch review. We then went through scattered items from the agenda and collected answers to some questions.

      • GTK+ 4.0 Targeted For Its Initial Release This Fall, GTK+ 5.0 Development To Follow

        A few days back I wrote about how GTK+ 4.0 is being talked about for release this year and now a bit more specific timeline is in place.

        The past few days prior to FOSDEM in Brussels was a GTK+ hackfest. Among the items discussed when not banging on code was a GTK+ 4.0 road-map and coming out of this event in Belgium is a more solid understanding now that the initial GTK+ 4.0 release will be targeted for the fall of this year. There isn’t any firm release plan at this time but at GUADEC (taking place in Spain this summer) they will revisit their plans to verify they can still ship this fall.

      • GStreamer has grown a WebRTC implementation

        Late last year, we at Centricular announced a new implementation of WebRTC in GStreamer. Today we’re happy to announce that after community review, that work has been merged into GStreamer itself! The plugin is called webrtcbin, and the library is, naturally, called gstwebrtc.

        The implementation has all the basic features, is transparently compatible with other WebRTC stacks (particularly in browsers), and has been well-tested with both Firefox and Chrome.

      • GStreamer Lands A WebRTC Plugin

        The GStreamer multimedia framework now has mainline support for WebRTC.

        WebRTC is the set of protocols/APIs for real-time audio/video communication over peer-to-peer connections. WebRTC is supported by all major web browsers and more while now there is support within GStreamer too.

  • Distributions
    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family
      • The February 2018 Issue of the PCLinuxOS Magazine

        The PCLinuxOS Magazine staff is pleased to announce the release of the February 2018 issue. With the exception of a brief period in 2009, The PCLinuxOS Magazine has been published on a monthly basis since September, 2006. The PCLinuxOS Magazine is a product of the PCLinuxOS community, published by volunteers from the community. The magazine is lead by Paul Arnote, Chief Editor, and Assistant Editor Meemaw. The PCLinuxOS Magazine is released under the Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercial-Share-Alike 3.0 Unported license, and some rights are reserved. All articles may be freely reproduced via any and all means following first publication by The PCLinuxOS Magazine, provided that attribution to both The PCLinuxOS Magazine and the original author are maintained, and a link is provided to the originally published article.

        In the February 2018 issue:

        * ms_meme’s Nook: If I Could Talk To Texstar
        * Tip Top Tips: Qt5 Settings In Trinity
        * Inkscape Tutorial: Create A Rose
        * PCLinuxOS Family Member Spotlight: timj_bsgcgoty2003
        * Two Ways To Protect Your Files
        * PCLinuxOS Recipe Corner
        * DigiKam: The Other GIMP For Photographers
        * LibreOffice Calc Hacks
        * And much more inside!

        This month’s magazine cover image was designed by parnote and Meemaw.

        Download the PDF (8.0 MB)

        https://pclosmag.com/download.php?f=2018-02.pdf

        Download the EPUB Version (5.9 MB)

        https://pclosmag.com/download.php?f=201802epub.epub

        Download the MOBI Version (6.5 MB)

        https://pclosmag.com/download.php?f=201802mobi.mobi

        Visit the HTML Version

        https://pclosmag.com/html/enter.html

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

        The only sofware releases I got out this month were both for work: versions 0.4.0 and 0.4.1 of groupy, the client library for Merou, the authorization management system we use. We’re not doing formal releases of the latter yet, just building from Git, and probably need to settle on a final public project name before we do.

        At some point I’ll build proper software release pages for both of these, since I seem to be doing most of the release management for groupy.

      • January 2018 report: LTS

        I have already published a yearly report which covers all of 2017 but also some of my January 2018 work, so I’ll try to keep this short.

      • Derivatives
        • January 2018 is gone

          It is not that there were not interesting topics to write about. I could have posted, for example, about the release of the Elive beta 2.9.22, which promised Korean and Japanese support. However, I could not even get the release.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu Desktop weekly update – February 2, 2018

            As you might have already read, we’ve taken the decision to ship Xorg by default in Bionic 18.04 LTS. The Wayland session will still be available as an option at login. You can read more about that here.

            The Ubuntu Dock extension has been rebased on the latest upstream master and we’ve added some bug fixes. This has now been uploaded to Bionic.

            We’ve made some good progress in reducing GNOME Shell’s CPU usage where we discovered that Shell is repainting unchanged panel and dock every time an application windows repaints. We’ve proposed some upstream fixes.
            There’s another fix upstream for helping menus fade out cleanly on close. We have a checklist of issues which are making GNOME Shell stutter and we’re starting with the multi-monitor issues.

          • Ubuntu Insights: Snapcraft Summit summary – day 5

            It was amazing to see the kind of collaboration that snapcraft brings to the Linux world. The engineering, advocacy, desktop and design teams of snapcraft spent every day working next to developers from Microsoft, Skype, Slack, Electron, CircleCI, Plex and ROSHub on improving the experience to deliver their applications continuously, in a way that fits perfectly into their release process and that will make their users feel secure and confident. It was great to see the mix of languages, cultures and operating systems, all working together to solve this common delivery problem, now with a tool that is very open and welcoming, and that evolves quickly as new applications bring new requirements.

          • Skype Comes to Linux in a Snap
          • Skype now available as a snap app for Linux users
          • Installing Skype On Linux Is Much Easier Now!
          • Spectre/Meltdown Updates, Skype Snap, Red Hat’s Open Brand Project and Happy Birthday to the Open Source Initiative!
          • Flavours and Variants
  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Open Source’s Twentieth Anniversary: And Where the Next Twenty Years Will Take Us

    Open source projects of the first decade were predominantly replacements for off-the-shelf products, while in the second decade they were increasingly components of larger solutions. So what is going to happen in the third decade of open source? To find out we contacted many open source developers and companies that describe themselves as open source and asked them what they think will happen in the next 20 years.

  • Open Source Celebrates 20 Years

    After Christine Peterson came up with “open source software” Todd Anderson, who liked it, used in during a strategy meeting and it was repeated by another attendee. It was at the end of this meeting that terminology was discussed and “open source”, which was one of three options suggested by Eric Raymond emerged as the consensus choice. With the formation of Opensource.org, the promotion of the term by Tim O’Reilly who changed the name of the April 1998 “Freeware Summit” to “Open Source Summit” and its use in the official release of Netscape Navigator, the term open source spread very quickly.

  • Open source turns 20 years old, looks to attract normal people

    Tim Burke, veep of Linux infrastructure engineering at Red Hat, told The Register in a phone interview that while he expects proprietary software will continue to exist, particularly with regard to problems not large enough to attract a developer community, open source has become the center of innovation.

    Initially, he said, open source projects represented attempts to reproduce or provide alternatives to popularly proprietary applications and operating systems. OpenOffice, for example, followed in the footsteps of Microsoft Office.

    “Today,” Burke said, “open source is leading innovation. We’re not cloning anymore.”

  • Open Source Software Turns 20-Something

    Saturday marks the 20th Anniversary of open source, sort of.

    Open source led to a new software development and distribution model that offered an alternative to proprietary software. No single event takes the prize for starting the technology revolution. However, Feb. 3, 1998, is one of the more significant dates.

    On that day, Christine Peterson, a futurist and lecturer in the field of nanotechnology, coined the “open source” term at a strategy session in Palo Alto, California, shortly after the release of the Netscape browser source code.

    Later that month, Eric Raymond and Bruce Perens formed the Open Source Initiative, an educational and advocacy organization, to lobby for the open source label. Rapid adoption followed, with support from the Free Software Summit that April.

  • Open Source turns 20: Here’s how it all started
  • ‘Open source software’ turns 20, new Firefox Quantum privacy features, and more news
  • Open source turns 20: How Linux, Raspberry Pi, Chromium and more are influencing PCs

    Open-source software runs something in your life even if you don’t realize it. Raspberry Pi fans take advantage of open-source software. Linux and BSD open-source servers run our websites and corporate networks, as well as in-flight entertainment units and computer kiosks. Open-source software sits at the core of Android phones. Even popular browsers are open-source, including Mozilla’s Firefox, Opera, and the Chromium project, which feeds into the not-so-open-source Chrome browser. Open-source software like Linux is so critical to developers that Microsoft even integrated it into Windows 10 with Bash on Ubuntu on Windows.

  • Happy Anniversary—The Next 20 Years of Open Source Begins Today

    Thirty-five years ago when Richard Stallman decided that he could no longer tolerate proprietary software, and started the free software movement, software freedom was misunderstood and dismissed. Twenty years ago a group of free software advocates gathered in California and decided that software freedom needed to be brought to the business world. The result was a marketing program called “open source”. That same month, February 1998, the Open Source Initiative (OSI) was founded as a general educational and advocacy organization to raise awareness and adoption for the superiority of an open development process.

    It is said, whenever you start a revolution first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then they join you.

    People did laugh at the idea of free software, they questioned the quality of the software, the feasibility of the development model, and the commitment of the community. English-speaking people only heard the word “free” as in no money, and they laughed at the idea of software being created without cost or payment.

    With the launch of the open source marketing program people fought us. SCO fought very strongly. It tried to kill off Linux. Microsoft tried to kill open source, conspiring in something called the Halloween documents.

  • A Cloud/Hosting Provider Is Using Coreboot On Thousands Of Servers

    A European cloud and dedicated server provider that designs their own servers is now designing their own BIOS using Coreboot and using this in production on thousands of servers.

    The Online.net dedicated server provider and their Scaleway cloud division have taken to using Coreboot paired with the Intel FSP and TianoCore and using it on their thousands of servers. Online.net/Scaleway is owned by France’s Iliad Group and the company is big enough that they design their own x86/ARM server hardware and have now taken to designing their own BIOS by building off Coreboot.

  • Events
    • WordPress.com tracking pictures and a minidebconf in Pune

      I had mentally prepared myself for newbie questions but refreshingly, even though there were lot of amateurs, most of them had used Debian for sometime. So instead of talking about why we need to have Debian as a choice or why X disto is better than Y we had more pointed topical questions. There were questions about privacy as well where Debian is strong and looking to set the bar even higher. I came to know much later than Kali people are interested in porting most of their packages and maintain it in main, more eyes to see the code, a larger superset of people would use the work they do than those who would only use kali and in time higher quality of packages which is win-win to all the people concerned.

    • Talk Scheduling At Conferences

      I’m at FOSDEM this weekend; it’s a large conference. They seem to find one or two new rooms to use every year, and it now sprawls across most of the ULB campus in Brussels.

      It has rather surprised me that several otherwise experienced and excellent devroom organizers (naming no names) have organized their rooms on the mistaken belief that switching between speakers, and having people exit and enter the room, happens instantaneously. It doesn’t.

    • Ubucon Europe 2018: Last call for papers & current status event

      You’re on time for submit a conference, workshop, stand or podcast for the next Ubucon!!

    • Ceph Day Germany 2018 – Update

      The German Ceph Day 2018 in Darmstadt is finally only a few days away (07. February 2018).

      The agenda is now complete. There are 13 talks and a short Q&A session planed during the day.

      Already 150 attendees signed up and due to the support of our latest sponsor Intel we now are able to host for up to 175 interested members of the big Ceph community. There are only a limited number of tickets left, be quick to register for one while they are still available.

  • Web Browsers
  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • Microsoft confirms Office 2019 will be for Windows 10 only

      But with online offerings like those from Google and Box and open source alternatives like LibreOffice, which has just released its latest version, Microsoft could be about to learn another lesson in the “you’re not the only game in town, lads” department. All these offerings give options at least equal to Microsoft Office and will work across everything from Linux and Mac and even Chrome OS via the web.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • GRUB 2.04 Should Be Released Later This Year

      It’s been nine months since the release of GRUB 2.02 while the GRUB 2.04 stable release should be out by year’s end.

      GRUB developer and one of the upstream maintainers Daniel Kiper who works for Oracle provided an update on GRUB2 development at this weekend’s FOSDEM event in Brussels.

    • Intel Icelake Support Lands In GCC 8

      Back in November I wrote about a GCC patch for the Intel Icelake CPU target and now that code has finally been merged for the GNU Compiler Collection ahead of the upcoming GCC 8.1 release.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Raspberry-Pi DVB transmitter: The benefits of open-source hardware

        I was first alerted to the benefits of open-source some years ago while talking to a couple of very experienced engineers. These guys, who worked for a multi-billion-dollar company with a global footprint, had been asked by their manager to complete a project in a ridiculously short time frame.

        They concluded that their only hope was to use open-source, which was an unusual decision for a company of that size and a bit of a culture shock. Open-source software has a long pedigree, of course, but most companies do not open up their hardware designs.

      • AFRL, NextFlex leverage open-source community to create flexible circuit system

        An Air Force Research Laboratory-led project in conjunction with NextFlex, America’s Flexible Hybrid Electronics Institute, has resulted in the first ever, functional samples of flexible Arduino circuit board systems made by using a flexible hybrid electronics manufacturing process, setting the stage for smart technologies for the internet of things (IoT) and sensor applications like wearable devices.

      • Pics from the FOSDEM SiFive talk
      • SiFive unleashed board
      • SiFive Introduces RISC-V Linux-Capable Multicore Processor

        Slowly but surely, RISC-V, the Open Source architecture for everything from microcontrollers to server CPUs is making inroads in the community. Now SiFive, the major company behind putting RISC-V chips into actual silicon, is releasing a chip that’s even more powerful. At FOSDEM this weekend, SiFive announced the release of a Linux-capable Single Board Computer built around the RISC-V ISA. It’s called the HiFive Unleashed, and it’s the first piece of silicon capable or running Linux on a RISC-V core.

Leftovers
  • Finland first to unveil a digital driver’s license

    There are no plans to replace the traditional driving license card with the digital app. Rather it will serve as a supplement for now.

    Police Inspector Timo Ajaste of the National Police Board notes that replacing traditional cards with digital ones would require a legislative change.

  • The incredibly shrinking Italian population: By 2080, Italians will be a minority in their own country [Ed: I have seen similarly alarmist headlines in India]

    If the official Eurostat forecast is correct, then within 60 years or, taking into consideration the current pace of migration even sooner, 50% of Italy’s inhabitants will be of African or Asian descent. The figures found by our demographic-research team are by far not unique and government statisticians have the same numbers. Not only are the Italian and European authorities fully aware of this, but they seem to be executing a re-population program on such a monumental scale that will dwarf the Swedish mass migration experiment.

  • The messy biological basis of culture

    In attempts to define what makes us uniquely human, emotions and feelings are often marginalized. These deeply ingrained, often irrational aspects of our behaviour seem destined to be the poor cousins of the rational cognitive functions that enable the formulation of mathematical theorems or operatic scores. In his bold and important book The Strange Order of Things, neuroscientist Antonio Damasio argues that in underestimating the contributions of such ‘lower-level’ brain phenomena to ‘higher-level’ cognitive functions, science might have been missing out on some important biology. Similarly, neuroscience’s emphasis on the origins of language as a shaper of culture might have eclipsed the role of feelings.

  • Science
    • It’s Perpetual Backwards Day At Universities

      Students — in a number of university courses — are now regularly encouraged not to think; not to question; just to lap up the material like dogs.

    • 3-D printing of living cells

      Using a new technique they call “in-air microfluidics,” University of Twente scientists succeed in printing 3-D structures with living cells. This special technique enable the fast and ‘on-the-fly’ production of micro building blocks that are viable and can be used for repairing damaged tissue, for example. The work is presented in Science Advances.

      Microfluidics is all about manipulating tiny drops of fluid with sizes between a micrometer and a millimeter. Most often, chips with tiny fluidic channels, reactors and other components are used for this: lab-on-a-chip systems. Although these chips offer a broad range of possibilities, in producing emulsions for example—droplets carrying another substance – the speed at which droplets leave the chip is typically in the microliter per minute range. For clinical and industrial applications, this is not fast enough: filling a volume of a cubic centimeter would take about 1000 minutes or 17 hours. The technique that is presented now, does this in a couple of minutes.

    • How GE Went From American Icon to Astonishing Mess

      In the century following the Civil War, a handful of technologies revolutionized daily existence. The lightbulb extended the day, electric appliances eased domestic drudgery, and power stations made them all run. The jet engine collapsed distance, as, in other ways, did radio and television. X-ray machines allowed doctors to peer inside the body, vacuum tubes became the brains of early computers, and industrial plastics found their way into everything. All those technologies were either invented or commercialized by General Electric Co.

    • A search for insomnia genes involving 1.3 million people is the largest genetic study ever

      In a genetic study of unprecedented size, scientists have searched for inherited causes of insomnia in the DNA 1,310,010 people.

      They found 956 different genes linked to the sleep disorder, drawing closer to an explanation of what causes it and, perhaps, to new ways to treat it.

      The study appears to be the first gene search to involve DNA collected from more than one million people.

    • UK doctors select first women to have ‘three-person babies’

      The women will be the first in Britain to have so-called mitochondrial donation therapy, a radical IVF procedure that was made legal by parliamentary vote in 2015. The Newcastle centre was granted a licence to perform the treatment, also known as mitochondrial replacement therapy, in March last year.

      While doctors at Newcastle Fertility Centre said they could not to talk about the cases, citing patient confidentiality, minutes from the HFEA’s approval committee reveal that the two women carry mutations in a gene that causes a rare condition known as myoclonic epilepsy with ragged red fibres, or Merrf syndrome. No more details are given on the women because both wish to remain anonymous.

    • First Evidence That Night Owls Have Bigger Social Networks than Early Risers

      The pattern of human life is profoundly influenced by the rotation of the Earth and the resulting day-night cycle. This circadian rhythm influences our biochemical and physiological states as well as our psychological and social behavior.

      Our relationship with the day-night cycle can vary widely. Some people—night owls—prefer to get up and stay up late. Others—larks—are morning people who are most active early in the day. Others do not fit either “chronotype.”

  • Hardware
    • A small-scale demonstration shows how quantum computing could revolutionize data analysis

      Over the past few decades, topology—a branch of mathematics dealing with shapes that can be turned into other shapes by processes like bending and stretching—has evolved from an arcane pursuit into an increasingly powerful tool for analyzing the real world. The role of symmetry in the topological world has turned out to be particularly important.

      A symmetry is any property that stays the same as the viewpoint changes. A square looks the same as it rotates through 90 degrees, for example. That form of invariance is called rotational symmetry.

    • Quantum ‘hack’ to unleash computing power

      Physicists at the University of Sydney have found a ‘quantum hack’ that should allow for enormous efficiency gains in quantum computing technologies.

      As scientists at IBM, Google, Microsoft and universities across the world seek to scale-up quantum technology to make a practical quantum computer, finding ways to do computations within an acceptable error threshold is a big technological problem.

    • Quantum Algorithms Struggle Against Old Foe: Clever Computers

      For Cristian Calude, doubt began with a puzzle so simple, he said, that “even a child can understand it.” Here it is: Suppose you have a mysterious box that takes one of two possible inputs — you can press a red button or a blue button, say — and gives back one of two possible outputs — a red ball or a blue ball. If the box always returns the same color ball no matter what, it’s said to be constant; if the color of the ball changes with the color of the button, it’s balanced. Your assignment is to determine which type of box you’ve got by asking it to perform its secret act only once.

    • New quantum repeater paves the way for long-distance big quantum data transmission

      Physicists have designed a new method for transmitting big quantum data across long distances that requires far fewer resources than previous methods, bringing the implementation of long-distance big quantum data transmission closer to reality. The results may lead to the development of future quantum networks, such as a global-scale quantum internet.

    • Cloud based quantum computing used to calculate nuclear binding energy

      A team of researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory has demonstrated that it is possible to use cloud-based quantum computers to conduct quantum simulations and calculations. The team has written a paper describing their efforts and results and uploaded it to the arXiv preprint server.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Online Vendors Try to Make a Quick Buck as Cape Town Runs Out of Water

      Are these actually solutions? It depends. Even if someone purchases a tanker, getting the water from bottling plants can be illegal, as is distributing it to other people. “It is illegal to sell water,” Cape Town’s water and sanitation department spokesperson told the Sunday Times. “Even the department does not sell water…The only case in which water is sold legally is as bottled water.”

    • BBC journalist told to leave Papua over tweets about health crisis

      Despite President Joko Widodo’s decision on May 2015 to open foreign media access to Papua, authorities have reportedly continued to restrict foreign journalists from working in Indonesia’s easternmost province on spurious “security” grounds, according to a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

    • 5 Heartbreaking Side Effects Of The Opioid Crisis In America

      The sheer volume of autopsies is pushing several medical examiner offices into losing their accreditation. There is a national caseload standard that limits the number of autopsies a single pathologist can do in a year, because that’s not really something you want to rush. But with the bodies literally piling up on their doorsteps, some offices are skirting those limits. Ironically, they’re also not completing enough autopsies, because they’re supposed to autopsy a certain percentage of their bodies each month. Even if they’re doing more than the legally allowed number of autopsies, the percentage will never be high enough, because the sheer number of the dead is overwhelming them.

    • The Health-Care Industry Is Sick

      Millions of Americans are denied care every year. Few of them have megaphones to intimidate large companies into quick action. And so they suffer and spend their precious hours fighting with profit-seeking, opaque bureaucracies.

    • Why it is critical to involve people in solving water woes

      According to a World Bank report, about 245 billion cubic metre of groundwater is abstracted each year in the country. This figure represents about 25% of the total global groundwater abstraction. In the past four to five decades, 80% of the rural and urban domestic water supplies in the country have been dependent on groundwater, the report added.

    • Hurricane Maria Hit Puerto Rico

      On January 31, FEMA will “officially shut off” food and water aid to Puerto Rico that started in the wake of Hurricane Maria, according to NPR. The move reportedly signals that the emergency management agency thinks the immediate humanitarian crisis has ended.

    • FEMA To End Food And Water Aid For Puerto Rico

      Some on the island believe it’s too soon to end these deliveries given that a third of residents still lack electricity and, in some places, running water, but FEMA says its internal analytics suggest only about 1 percent of islanders still need emergency food and water. The agency believes that is a small enough number for the Puerto Rican government and nonprofit groups to handle.

    • Trump’s Infrastructure Plan Could Destroy Our Nation’s Water Systems

      Privatization and deregulation could damage city water supplies and lead to pollution of our natural environment.

    • Flint, Michigan court hearings highlight widespread collusion in water crisis cover-up

      High-placed Michigan state environmental and health officials obstructed the investigation into Flint’s water supply and the connection with the catastrophic outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, according to the environmental engineering expert tasked with the study.

    • Pelosi says Flint water crisis ‘far from over’ 2 years after emergency declared

      “Thousands of children are still required to drink bottled water, and countless families continue to live under a cloud of fear and uncertainty about the impacts of years of lead exposure,” her statement says. “The Americans caught in this unconscionable, man-made catastrophe continue to need critical services such as high-quality health care and educational services, as well as resources to continue monitoring the safety of their water supply and the health of their children.”

    • Here are the next six steps in the Flint water crisis prosecutions

      Lyon is among public health officials at the state who were aware of Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks in the Flint area as well as the potential that the Flint River was the root cause months before the public was told.

    • Kentucky residents told it may take a decade to get clean, safe water

      Working class residents of the former coal mining area have had no water or only intermittent service for weeks after the county’s antiquated and understaffed treatment plant, which was built in the 1960s, and its poorly maintained pumps and pipe system failed due to freezing and bursting lines. The district is currently losing half of its clean water due to leaks.

    • Polar bears are wasting away in a changing climate

      Polar bears have become the poster child for climate change, but their situation might be worse than researchers thought, according to a recent study. These Arctic mammals need a lot more calories than scientists previously estimated — but with sea ice melting under their feet, the bears often struggle to get enough to eat.

      The study’s results, published on 1 February in Science1, have captured the best picture yet of how much energy it takes to be a polar bear (Ursus maritimus) — and ecologists are looking to incorporate the findings into their own work on the Arctic. The study also supports scientists’ concerns that receding sea ice harms the bears by hindering their hunts of fat-rich seals.

  • Security
    • The Internet of Connected Sex Toys is every bit as horrifyingly insecure and poorly thought out as you imagine

      The rush to put networked sensors and controllers into sex toys is grounded in foolish, convenient untruths, like the idea that the incredibly sensitive data generated by these systems can be anonymized and then analyzed for insights without exposing users to risk.

      The sex tech industry has been a top-to-bottom series of farces and catastrophes. [...]

    • These app-controlled sex toys can be ‘remotely taken over by hackers’

      In an advisory published Thursday (1 January), researchers said bugs in a customer database meant that attackers could have easily accessed user details, including “names, cleartext passwords and explicit image galleries” being stored by the company.

    • Flaws in Gas Station Software Let Hackers Change Prices, Steal Fuel, Erase Evidence

      Gas stations lose millions of dollars annually to gas fraud. Most of this fraud occurs when thieves use stolen credit and debit cards to fuel vehicles, resulting in chargebacks to service stations.

      But gas station owners in the US and elsewhere may have to worry about a new kind of fraud after two security researchers in Israel discovered multiple vulnerabilities in one automated system used to control fuel prices and other information at thousands of gas stations around the world.

      The vulnerabilities would allow an attacker to shut down fuel pumps, hijack credit card payments, and steal card numbers or access backend networks to take control of surveillance cameras and other systems connected to a gas station or convenience store’s network. An attacker could also simply alter fuel prices and steal petrol.

    • Healthcare IT Systems: Tempting Targets for Ransomware

      Well, there’s no use in waiting, I suppose. Two Thursdays ago, Chicago-based electronic health records provider Allscripts Healthcare Solutions suffered a ransomware attack that paralyzed some of its services. This past Friday, the company announced it had completely recovered from the cyberattack. But not before a class action lawsuit [pdf] was filed against it by an orthopedic non-surgery practice for failing to secure its systems and data from a well-known cybersecurity threat, i.e., a strain of SamSam.

      The ransomware attack impaired Allscripts’ data centers in Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina, affecting a number of applications, such as its Professional EHR and Electronic Prescriptions for Controlled Substances (EPCS) hosted services, which were mostly restored within five days, according to the company. Other services, like clinical decision support, analytics, data extraction, and regulatory reporting, took the longest to make operational again.

    • Pwn2Own 2018 Expands Targets and Raises Prize Pool to $2M

      The annual Pwn2own hacking competition run by Trend Micro’s Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) is set to return for 2018, along with a longer list of targets and more money for security researchers, than ever before.

      Pwn2own is a security researcher contest that typically has two events a year, with the primary event focused on browser and server technologies and a second event just for mobile technologies. The first event of 2018 is set for March 14-16 and will have five targets: virtualization, web browsers, enterprise applications, servers and a new Windows Insider Preview Challenge category.

    • Disable Flash Player!! Critical Vulnerability Gives Away Your System Controls
  • Defence/Aggression
    • The bureaucracy of evil: how Islamic State ran a city

      The trade of weapons, looted archeological artefacts, and enslaved women and girls flourished. War profiteers ensured that food products and fuel came from as far as Damascus, crossing multiple frontlines; modern equipment and medical supplies were smuggled from Turkey.

    • China says ‘terror’ risks in Xinjiang remains serious despite security push

      China blames the violence in Xinjiang on Islamist extremists and separatists, some of whom it says have links to groups outside the country.

    • Decide if you want to vote for Allah or Rama: BJP MLA’s controversial statement in Karnataka
    • Court Records: Mall of America Stabbing Suspect Pleads Guilty, Calls it Act of Jihad

      “This is a widespread sentiment with Somali youth,” he said.

    • Stockholm Truck Attacker Wanted to ‘Run Over Unbelievers’: Prosecutors
    • Police kept tabs on Stockholm terrorist until three months before attack

      “One must remember that it is not uncommon for people on social media and chats connected to militant Islamism to propose exalted throught and plans for attacks in order to boost their statuses.”

    • Security Intelligence Service: Finnish combatants abroad may number more than thought

      Special researcher Pekka Hiltunen from the Finnish Security Intelligence Service (Supo) says that the number of combatants who have left Finland in order to fight in the Syrian and Iraqi conflicts may be 10-20 percent larger than presumed.

    • Exclusive: Looted cash, gold help Islamic State recruit in Philippines

      Since then, Najib, also known as Abu Dar, has used the booty looted from bank vaults, shops and homes in Marawi to win over boys and young men in the impoverished southern province of Lanao del Sur, military officers in the area said. Hardened mercenaries are also joining, lured by the promise of money.

    • ISIS Looted Gold And Jewellery To Recruit New Fighters In The Philippines

      The money they accumulated is now being used by a man known as Humam Abdul Najib or Abu Dar, one of the most senior ISIS-affiliated jihadis in the country, to recruit hundreds of fighters to his radical Islamist cause, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

    • Muslim convert pleads guilty to encouraging terrorism through online posts
    • Pakistani Doctor Who Aided Hunt for bin Laden Languishes in Jail

      Afridi hasn’t seen his lawyer since 2012 and his wife and children are his only visitors. For two years his file “disappeared,” delaying a court appeal that still hasn’t proceeded. The courts now say a prosecutor is unavailable, his lawyer, Qamar Nadeem Afridi, told the Associated Press.

    • Utah man who runs popular YouTube science channel is charged with possessing explosives during backyard experiments

      According to a probable cause statement written by a South Jordan police officer, the first count resulted from a citizen complaint via Facebook Messenger on June 15 about Thompson exploding a dry ice bomb.

    • Army Major: “We’re Killing These Kids, We’re Breaking The Army!”

      He was genuinely concerned about the physical and emotional toll on the active-duty force, pushed to its limits by 17 years of perpetual combat. After all, with high military suicide rates now labeled the “new normal,” and a recent succession of accidental training deaths, it seems reasonable to wonder whether we are, indeed, “killing [our] kids.”

    • Somalia’s Shabaab forcing civilians to hand over children: HRW

      Somalia’s Al-Qaeda linked Shabaab insurgents are increasingly threatening civilians to force them to hand over young children for “indoctrination and military training”, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Monday.

    • Somalia: Al-Shabab Demanding Children

      Since late September 2017, Al-Shabab has ordered elders, teachers in Islamic religious schools, and communities in rural areas to provide hundreds of children as young as 8 or face attack. The armed group’s increasingly aggressive child recruitment campaign started in mid-2017 with reprisals against communities that refused. In recent months, hundreds of children, many unaccompanied, have fled their homes to escape forced recruitment.

    • Somalia’s Shabaab forcing civilians to hand over children: HRW
    • Minor Raped and Killed in Purnea, Bihar – 3 Muslim Perpetrators Caught
    • Rape, murder and misogyny: The real victims of the migrant crisis are Europe’s women

      The reaction of the media, which professes to care about women’s rights and well-being, was censorship and burying the news. This is the same reaction most Western media has in the face of migrant crime waves: Witnesses were silenced or ignored and the media didn’t take its responsibility to report the truth seriously.

      It took a long time before the world was informed and word got out.

    • Bring in the military to fight gangs, Sweden’s PM told at debate

      Wednesday marked the first Riksdag debate of 2018 between Sweden’s party leaders, and crime was one of the main discussion points. It followed headlines in recent weeks about shootings in Malmö and Stockholm, as well as the death of a man in the capital who picked up a grenade.

    • Sweden Is Preparing For A “Civil War”: PM Wants To Deploy Army In No-Go Zones
    • Swedish politician compares country to war zone after spate of shootings and bombings
    • Does Islam preach Pluralism? Ayatollah Khamenei explains

      Islam does not preach pluralism. Those who promote this idea that pluralism exists in Islam, because it praises Prophet Moses and Prophet Jesus (pbut), should refer to the Holy Quran and other Islamic texts.

    • France’s War against Firefighters and Police
    • We don’t need mass incarceration to keep people safe. This chart proves it.

      Gelb pointed to one particularly telling statistic: “The average crime decline across the 10 states with the greatest declines in imprisonment was 19 percent, and across the 10 states with the largest imprisonment growth it was 11 percent.” In other words, the 10 states with the largest declines in imprisonment actually saw bigger drops in crime than the 10 states with the largest increases in imprisonment.

    • Bride-to-be publicly whipped in Indonesia for getting ‘too close’ to boyfriend just days before wedding

      An Indonesian Christian was also whipped for selling alcohol in the conservative province of Aceh.

    • Great Tension As Buhari’s Men Swing Into Action, Arrest A Popular Nigerian Pastor, For Daring To Interfere With Islam

      There are reports that a popular Nigerian Pastor, Simput Eagles Dafup, has been arrested and whisked away to an unknown destination, by men of the Department of State Security Services, DSS, for allegedly converting a Muslim girl to a Christian, in Plateau State.

    • Radicalized inmate stabs 2 guards in French prison

      Fleury-Mérogis, home to 4,300 inmates, is notorious as a center of Islamic radicalization. Among its infamous inmates is Salah Abdeslam, the only living jihadist behind the deadly Paris attacks of November 2015. Two Islamists later killed by police – Amedy Coulibaly, one of the Islamists who attacked a kosher store in Paris in January 2015, and Chérif Kouachi, who was behind the Charlie Hebro assaults – were also imprisoned there.

    • ‘Duck and Cover’ Drills Exacerbate Fears of N. Korea War

      Are you ready for nuclear attack warning sirens in your community? I live in the State of Hawaii, which decided in December 2107 to begin monthly nuclear attack warning siren drills, similar to the monthly tsunami warning sirens that are tested each month.

      You know what happened – an employee of the State of Hawaii Emergency Management Department pushed the wrong button, setting off the siren, and no one alerted the public for nearly 49 minutes that it was a drill. Cell phone alerts to everyone in the 808 area code flashed “Nuclear attack warning-take cover,” with residents and tourists alike going into crisis mode.

      Three days prior to the false alarm, 20 of us attempted to call to the attention of the state government that the sirens are being used for political advancement of a hysteria for war with North Korea, or DPRK – the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. We do not believe the North Korean government is going to attack the United States and suspect that the nuclear sirens and “duck and cover” drills are purposeful and dangerous fear-mongering.

    • Recipe Concocted for Perpetual War Is a Bitter One

      Last October marked the 16th anniversary of our unending war – or military occupation – in Afghanistan, the longest conflict on foreign soil in U.S. history. The cost to human lives in our current cycle of U.S.-initiated “perpetual wars” throughout the Middle East and Africa is unthinkably high. It runs well into millions of deaths if one counts – as do the Nuremberg principles of international law – victims of spinoff fighting and sectarian violence that erupt after we destroy governance structures.

      Also to be counted are other forms of human loss, suffering, illness and early mortality that result from national sanctions, destruction of physical, social and medical infrastructure, loss of homeland, refugee flight, ethnic cleansing, and their psychological after-effects. One has to witness these to grasp their extent in trauma, and they all arise from the Nuremberg-defined “supreme crime” of initiating war. Waging aggressive war is something America is practiced in and does well, with justifications like “fighting terrorism,” “securing our interests,” “protecting innocents,” “spreading democracy,” etc. – as has every aggressor in history that felt the need to explain its aggressions.

    • The Opposition in Venezuela: Terrorists or “Rebels”?

      Imagine if a former Canadian pilot gathering around himself a motley group, had stolen an Armed Forces helicopter, violently raided an army base to get hold of guns and explosives. Then, thus armed, from the air, dropped grenades at the Ministry of Justice where there was an event for dozens of journalists celebrating Journalism Day. Then, imagine if they flew over the Supreme Court of Canada and dropped grenades at the building where all the judges were present, and where there was nursery day care full of little children. Imagine that this terrorist then made extensive use of media and social media to brag about his attacks and these rants were extensively publicized. Imagine that the authorities managed to surround them outside the capital. And, following a negotiation, the shooter declared they were ready to give themselves up. When the senior detective comes forward to receive his rendition, he is gunned down in cold blood and another detective also killed. In the gunfight that ensued, the pilot and several of his men end up dead.

      Do you think that if these events actually happened in Canada that there would be one single person who would laud these criminals as heroes, as freedom fighters, as rebels against an unfair government? Do you think there would be anyone in Canada who would accuse the authorities, let alone the Prime Minster himself, of abusing human rights, of assassination, of massacre?

    • Ministry of Defence not fit for purpose

      The National Audit Office said the MoD seriously underestimated the likely rise in house prices when it made the sale and leaseback deal with the company managed by Guy Hands’ Guernsey-based Terra Firma group. It added that the MoD was paying rent on more than 7,000 empty houses at a cost of more than £30m a year and some homes had been receiving “the minimum acceptable level of maintenance”.

      The MoD has an appalling record of “outsourcing” work to private companies. On Wednesday, it emerged that one of those companies, Capita, was in serious trouble and its share price plummeted.

      The MoD hired Capita to manage recruitment to the army. It has repeatedly failed to meet savings targets and its performance has been sharply criticised by senior army officers worried about the shortfall in the number of recruits. After a damning report by the audit office, at least the MoD last year ended its contract with Capita to manage the country’s defence infrastructure, including airfields and training bases.

    • Yemen’s Crisis Belongs to All of Us

      What’s a little cholera — excuse me, the worst outbreak of this preventable disease in modern history — compared to the needs of a smoothly functioning economy?

      A week before he was kicked out of British Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet for allegedly having watched pornography on his government computer, former First Secretary of State Damian Green was quoted in the Guardian as saying that British weapons sales to Saudi Arabia were necessary because: “Our defense industry is an extremely important creator of jobs and prosperity.”

      That statement is not the scandal — just business as usual. And of course Great Britain only supplies a quarter of the weaponry Saudi Arabia imports to wage its devastating war against the Houthi rebels in Yemen. The United States supplies more than half, with 17 other countries also cashing in on this market.

    • Stop using term ‘Islamist terrorism’ – government watchdog

      Labour MP Karen Buck said that Hill’s recent report on the operation of terrorism legislation had acknowledged that “Daesh and Daesh-inspired terrorism is the greatest threat,” also using the Arabic pejorative term for Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS).

    • WMD Claims in Syria Raise Concerns over U.S. Escalation

      Not unlike the spurious claims that paved the way to war with Iraq 15 years ago, anonymous “U.S. officials” are once again accusing a targeted “regime” of using “weapons of mass destruction” and issuing threats that the U.S. military may have to “hold it accountable.” Once again, Western media is broadcasting these accusations and threats without skepticism or investigation.

      The Washington Post story is titled “Trump administration: Syria probably continuing to make, use chemical weapons.” The Reuters story, which was carried by the New York Times, says, “U.S. officials have said the Syrian government may be developing new types of chemical weapons, and President Donald Trump is prepared to consider further military action. President Bashar al Assad is believed to have secretly kept part of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Western Media Hail Ecuador’s Cynical President Moreno

      What Lenín Moreno actually pledged during his election campaign several months ago was to continue the “Citizens Revolution” of Rafael Correa, whose left-wing government Moreno was part of for 10 years. Moreno called Correa the greatest president Ecuador ever had during the campaign. And here is a video of Moreno leading a crowd in cheers of “Rafael! Rafael!” at a campaign rally.

      Moreno is now, through a referendum that he never proposed on the campaign trail—it was actually proposed by his right-wing opponent—asking voters to (retroactively) re-impose term limits, handpick a body with “transitional” powers to fire 150 authorities (judges, prosecutors, regulators etc.…) and drastically reduce taxes on wealthy land-speculators. Moreno did not campaign for any of those things.

      He is now also talking about a “free trade” deal with the United States—another policy he would never have dared to propose while he needed Correa’s support to get elected. Further, Moreno has given Ecuador’s private banks exclusive control over electronic money—which he never would have proposed while he needed Correa. In 1999, the private banks, after years of corruption and deregulation, totally crashed Ecuador’s economy. Reining them in, including their media power, was key to the economic success Ecuador had under Correa.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Ecologist rates Thai coral reef decay rate as alarming

      Asst Prof Thon, deputy dean of the Faculty of Fisheries at Kasetsart University, said 77% or 140,000 out of total 107,800 rai of coral reef area in the Thai seas is in a sorry state, with unhealthy coral reefs expanding at an alarming rate.

    • How Engineering Earth’s Climate Could Seriously Imperil Life

      It’s called solar geoengineering, and while it’s not happening yet, it’s a real strategy that scientists are exploring to head off climate disaster. The upside is obvious. But so too are the potential perils—not just for humanity, but for the whole natural world.

    • A capsized oil tanker is releasing invisible toxins into the sea
    • Could biodiversity destruction lead to a global tipping point?

      In 2009, a group of researchers identified nine global boundaries for the planet that if passed could theoretically push the Earth into an uninhabitable state for our species. These global boundaries include climate change, freshwater use, ocean acidification and, yes, biodiversity loss (among others). The group has since updated the terminology surrounding biodiversity, now calling it “biosphere integrity,” but that hasn’t spared it from critique.

    • Global temperature targets likely to be missed within decades

      Researchers found that Earth’s global average temperature is likely to rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above the period before the industrial revolution within the next 17-18 years, and to 2 degrees Celsius in 35-41 years respectively.

    • Is a Transition to Renewable Energy on the Verge of Being Unstoppable?

      A fair amount of confusion was recently created when Rick Perry, secretary of the Department of Energy, filed a notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR) that claimed the “base load” generation provided by coal and nuclear was essential for a reliable and resilient power grid.

      Perry’s proposal has been defeated, quite correctly in our view, but it raises issues and teaches lessons that are important in moving forward with the all too necessary transition to large-scale use of renewable energy.

    • White House seeks 72 percent cut to clean energy research, underscoring administration’s preference for fossil fuels

      The Trump administration is poised to ask Congress for deep budget cuts to the Energy Department’s renewable energy and energy efficiency programs, slashing them by 72 percent overall in fiscal 2019, according to draft budget documents obtained by The Washington Post.

      Many of the sharp cuts would probably be restored by Congress, but President Trump’s budget, due out in February, will mark a starting point for negotiations and offer a statement of intent and policy priorities.

    • Five-year forecast indicates further warming

      A new forecast published by scientists at the Met Office indicates the annual global average temperature is likely to exceed 1 °C and could reach 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels during the next five years (2018-2022).

    • A new type of solar cell is coming to market

      SOMETIMES it takes a while for the importance of a scientific discovery to become clear. When the first perovskite, a compound of calcium, titanium and oxygen, was discovered in the Ural mountains in 1839, and named after Count Lev Perovski, a Russian mineralogist, not much happened. The name, however, has come to be used as a plural to describe a range of other compounds that share the crystal structure of the original. In 2006 interest perked up when Tsutomu Miyasaka of Toin University in Japan discovered that some perovskites are semiconductors and showed particular promise as the basis of a new type of solar cell.

    • The Breakneck Rise of China’s Colossus of Electric-Car Batteries

      The next global powerhouse in the auto industry comes from a small city in a tea-growing province of southeast China, where an unheralded maker of electric-vehicle batteries is planning a $1.3 billion factory with enough capacity to surpass the output of Tesla and dwarf the suppliers for battery-powered cars by GM, Nissan and Audi.

    • Plastic pollution is making corals sick

      Between 2011 and 2014, researchers looked at more than 124,000 corals in 159 reefs across the Asia-Pacific region, which hosts over 55 percent of all the world’s reefs. They estimated that over 11 billion plastic items — from Q-tips to bags — are found on coral reefs in the area. And where there’s plastic, disease outbreaks are more likely, according to a study published today in Science.

    • 3 Strategies to Get to a Fossil-Free America

      But the fossil-fuel industry doesn’t hold all the high cards. We’ll start playing our own aces for a Fossil-Free United States on January 31, when Bernie Sanders and an all-star lineup brought together by 350.org that includes everyone from indigenous activist Dallas Goldtooth to NAACP organizer Jacqui Patterson to star youth climate organizer Varshini Prakash lay out a coordinated plan for the year ahead.

  • Finance
    • FCA officials paid to sway UAW negotiations, feds say

      Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV officials paid more than $1.5 million to United Auto Workers officers and employees to sway union contract negotiations, federal prosecutors said, part of a $4.5 million corruption scandal involving Detroit’s No. 3 automaker.

    • Uber and Lyft Have a Hot New Idea for Screwing Over City-Dwellers

      Translation: These companies want to make it illegal for individuals to use privately owned self-driving cars in big cities, effectively giving the signatories control of our autonomous streets.

      [...]

      And after reading principle #10, suddenly other items like #7 (“We support fair users fees across all modes”), don’t sound so nice. These companies wouldn’t have to support fair user fees if they weren’t planning on eliminating competition and forcing people to rely on these corporations to move around within cities.

    • Banks ban credit purchase of cryptocurrency due to risks
    • Bitcoin Ban Expands Across Credit Cards as Big U.S. Banks Recoil

      Bank of America started declining credit card transactions with known crypto exchanges on Friday. The policy applies to all personal and business credit cards, according to a memo. It doesn’t affect debit cards, said company spokeswoman Betty Riess.

    • India has a hole where its middle class should be

      Hold your elephants. The Indian middle class conjured up by the marketers and consultants scarcely exists. Firms peddling anything much beyond soap, matches and phone-credit are targeting a minuscule slice of the population (see article). The top 1% of Indian adults, a rich enclave of 8m inhabitants making at least $20,000 a year, equates to roughly Hong Kong in terms of population and average income. The next 9% is akin to central Europe, in the middle of the global wealth pack. The next 40% of India’s population neatly mirrors its combined South Asian poor neighbours, Bangladesh and Pakistan. The remaining half-billion or so are on a par with the most destitute bits of Africa. To be sure, global companies take the markets of central Europe seriously. Plenty of fortunes have been made there. But they are no China.

    • In a landslide vote, the LA Times just unionized, upending a long anti-labor history

      On Friday, January 19, the News Guild announced that Los Angeles Times journalists had voted overwhelmingly in favor of a union, 248-44. The victory will lead to the paper’s first staff union, after 136 years in operation.

    • Is this the end of civilisation? We could take a different path

      Defunding departments, disbanding the teams and dismissing the experts they rely on, shutting down research programmes, maligning the civil servants who remain in post, the self-hating state is ripping down the very apparatus of government. At the same time, it is destroying public protections that defend us from disaster.

    • Why Amazon Go should be a no-go: We will drown in a sea of plastic

      Even the fruits and vegetables are wrapped in plastic so that the sensors can read them, inculcating a culture of convenience and waste.

      The whole pitch of Amazon Go is that it is so convenient and quick, so easy to buy more than you need, so useful to give Amazon ever more detail about your most personal habits. Manoj Thomas, a professor of marketing at Cornell University, tells the Star: “We know that when people use any abstract form of payment, they spend more. And the type of products they choose changes too.”

    • 2018 Prediction #5 — The H-1B visa problem will NOT go away

      For those of you who aren’t already asleep I’ll start with the Cliff Notes version of the H-1B issue, which I have written about ad nauseam as you can read here (notice there are three pages of columns, so dig deep). H-1B is a U.S. immigration program to allow 65,000 foreign workers into the USA each year for up to six years, which means that at any moment there are almost 400,000 of these folks working at the desk next to yours. Some people claim that H-1Bs take jobs better filled by U.S. citizens and some feel that H-1Bs are essential for the functioning of technology industries that would otherwise be devoid of needed talent. I am clearly on the side of the former folks who see H-1Bs as a scam intended to take jobs away from, well, me.

    • EBay Rises to Record High on Shift to Adyen; PayPal Tumbles

      EBay Inc. rose to a record high after giving an optimistic revenue forecast and unveiling plans to shift its payments business from long-time partner PayPal Holdings Inc. to Adyen BV, a global payments company based in the Netherlands. Shares of PayPal tumbled.

      PayPal is currently EBay’s payments processor, meaning merchants selling on the marketplace have to have PayPal accounts to accept funds, and it will remain a checkout option for EBay shoppers at least until July 2023. But Adyen will gradually take over processing EBay payments, beginning in North America this year and will handle a majority of transactions in 2021.

    • Ericsson cuts 10,000 jobs amid costly turnaround

      Ericsson AB’s turnaround effort further took its toll Wednesday, as the Swedish telecommunications-equipment giant said it cut 10,000 jobs in the fourth quarter and said two top executives would leave.

      The company, battling fierce competition and weak spending, announced the job cuts — made up of staff and contractors — as it reported its fifth straight quarterly loss. Its shares were down 7% in midday trading in Europe.

    • When Robots Take Human Jobs, Republicans Won’t Care

      Robots are most certainly taking jobs. In the U.S., they’ve taken about half a million jobs already–mostly replacing assembly line workers with predictable machinery. But some economists agree that the next wave of AI will only accelerate this trend: Researchers estimate that by 2030, we could lose 800 million human jobs globally. By 2040, we could lose half. By 2060, we could lose them all.

    • What the Coincheck hack means for the future of blockchain security

      The plunder of more than $500 million worth of digital coins from the Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck last week has added to a growing perception that cryptocurrencies are particularly vulnerable to hackers.

      It’s an expensive reminder that like many things in the cryptocurrency world, security technologies—and the norms, best practices, and rules for using them—are still emerging. Not least because of its enormous size, the Coincheck hack could go down as a seminal moment in that process.

    • Worries Grow That the Price of Bitcoin Is Being Propped Up

      A growing number of virtual currency investors are worried that the prices of Bitcoin and other digital tokens have been artificially propped up by a widely used exchange called Bitfinex, which has a checkered history of hacks and opaque business practices.

    • Large Jump in Black Unemployment Rate Brings it Almost Back to Year-Ago Level

      The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the black unemployment rate jumped 0.9 percentage points in January to 7.7 percent, putting it just a hair under the 7.8 percent rate of January 2017. This was associated with a 0.6 percentage point drop in the employment rate. Typically, the black unemployment rate is twice the white unemployment rate. However, with the white rate dropping to 3.5 percent, it is now substantially higher.

      This is disappointing since the 6.8 percent rate in December was the lowest on record. The increase for men was 0.9 percentage points to 7.5 percent. For women, the increase was 0.8 percentage points to 6.6 percent, and for teens, the rise was 1.4 percentage points to 24.3 percent.

    • The U.S. government is set to borrow nearly $1 trillion this year, an 84 percent jump from last year

      It was another crazy news week, so it’s understandable if you missed a small but important announcement from the Treasury Department: The federal government is on track to borrow nearly $1 trillion this fiscal year — Trump’s first full year in charge of the budget.

    • Aiming at China’s Armpits: When Foreign Brands Misfire

      But cultural differences and simple biology — scientists have shown that many East Asian people don’t have Westerners’ body odor issues — scotched those plans. Sales totaled only a fraction of the Chinese marketing budget for Rexona, Mr. Braeken said. Today, by some estimates, less than 10 percent of China’s population uses deodorant, and it can be hard to find outside major cities.

    • The search for Jackie Wallace

      He reached for his copy of the newspaper. “Do you see this series y’all are doing, ‘The Real Life — Surviving after the NFL?’ You ought to do a story about me,” he said again.
      Looking back, as surprised as I was, I was probably even more skeptical. “So what’s your name?”
      He carefully unfolded a plastic bag from some hidden spot and produced a ragged ID card. Jackie Wallace, it read.
      The name meant nothing to me, but I didn’t tell him that. We talked a little and I shot a few more frames, then thanked him for his time. I headed back to the newspaper office. More specifically, I rushed over to the sports department.
      There were probably two dozen sports writers pounding out daily stories when I walked up. “Has anyone ever heard of a guy named Jackie Wallace?” I said.
      Every head turned. An editor spoke first. “Of course,” he said. “He was a star at St. Aug, played for University of Arizona, and played for the Vikings, Colts and the Rams.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Scott Walker Is Literally Preventing Wisconsinites From Voting

      The governor is deliberately denying Wisconsinites representation in the legislature by refusing to call special elections to fill open seats in the State Assembly and the State Senate.

    • YouTube announces plan to combat propaganda

      YouTube announced Friday it will start flagging videos published by organizations that receive government funding.

    • YouTube’s new attempt to limit propaganda draws fire from PBS

      But PBS, a U.S. public broadcaster, says YouTube’s decision is misguided. “Labeling PBS a ‘publicly funded broadcaster’ is both vague and misleading,” a spokesman told The Washington Post is a statement. “PBS and its member stations receive a small percentage of funding from the federal government; the majority of funding comes from private donations. More importantly, PBS is an independent, private, not-for-profit corporation, not a state broadcaster. YouTube’s proposed labeling could wrongly imply that the government has influence over PBS content, which is prohibited by statute. If YouTube’s intent is to create clarity and better understanding, this is a step in the wrong direction.”

    • How Facebook stole the news business

      Big news outlets stupidly sold their soul to Facebook. Desperate for the referral traffic Facebook dangled, they spent the past few years jumping through its hoops only to be cut out of the equation. Instead of developing an owned audience of homepage visitors and newsletter subscribers, they let Facebook brainwash readers into thinking it was their source of information.

    • How the GOP Rigs Elections
    • Under Cover of the Nunes Memo, Russian Spooks Sneak Openly into Meetings with Trump’s Administration

      Meanwhile, both before and after the visit, our allies have found ways to raise concerns about sharing intelligence with the US in light of Trump’s coziness with Russia. A key subtext of the stories revealing that Netherlands’ AIVD saw Russian hackers targeting the Democrats via a hacked security camera was that Rick Ledgett’s disclosure of that operation last year had raised concerns about sharing with the US.

    • Biggest Nunes Memo Revelations Have Little To Do With Its Content

      It’s fitting that the ever-tightening repetitive loops of America’s increasingly schizophrenic partisan warfare finally hit peak shrillness and skyrocketed into a white noise singularity on Groundhog Day. Right now, we’re right about at the part of the movie where Bill Murray is driving over a cliff in a pickup truck with a large rodent behind the wheel.

    • Donald Trump’s Long History of Paying for Silence

      Breaking up is hard to do. A pile of money and some crack legal help can’t heal a broken heart, but they can go a long way to guaranteeing that whatever bad feelings emerge from the relationship don’t make it to the public. At various times in the past, Donald Trump has struck deals with women in his life, or formerly in his life, exchanging money for silence.

      It’s not a perfect solution. Over the last week, a series of stories have focused on Trump’s 2006 interactions with Stephanie Clifford, an adult actress who performed under the nom de porn Stormy Daniels. Trump and Daniels reportedly met at a golf tournament in July 2006, more than a year after he married Melania, his third wife. At various points in the past, Daniels has given interviews to various outlets alleging that she had a sexual relationship with him.

      A story saying that a presidential candidate had an affair with a porn star would have been explosive during the campaign, and several outlets chased the story prior to the election. But Daniels wanted to be paid for her story, something most mainstream outlets will not do. Slate’s Jacob Weisberg talked to Daniels but never got a signoff to do the story and decided not to write it (until this week). CNN reports that Fox News also had the story but killed it. In 2011, Daniels told InTouch magazine about the affair, including some suitably lurid details.

    • Australia put an algorithm in charge of its benefits fraud detection and plunged the nation into chaos

      In a textbook example of the use of big data to create a digital poorhouse, as described in Virginia Eubanks’s excellent new book Automating Inequality, the Australian government created an algorithmic, semi-privatised system to mine the financial records of people receiving means-tested benefits and accuse them of fraud on the basis of its findings, bringing in private contractors to build and maintain the system and collect the penalties it ascribed, paying them a commission on the basis of how much money they extracted from poor Australians.

      The result was a predictable kafkaesque nightmare in which an unaccountable black box accused poor people, students, pensioners, disabled people and others receiving benefits of owing huge sums, sending abusive, threatening debt collectors after them, and placing all information about the accusations of fraud at the other end of a bureaucratic nightmare system of overseas phone-bank operators with insane wait-times.

    • The Amazon worker: paid £18,000 a year to shift 250 items an hour

      I live with my parents, and pay them £50 a week for rent and food. I also spend £50 a week travelling to work. Apart from that, I don’t spend much on anything. That means two-thirds of the money I take home every month – about £1,000 – just sits in my bank account.

      It’s weird, but it’s like money’s become almost meaningless. Before I took this job, I used to spend money doing things with friends, but now I work such anti-social hours, it’s difficult to meet up. I feel like I’ve lost who I was.

      I end up spending most of my time off trying to sleep. The shifts I have to work never change, so I don’t like to reset my sleeping pattern when I’m not working.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Malaysia’s Home Ministry confirms ban on Bollywood film Padmaavat

      But in Muslim-majority Malaysia, authorities have instead rejected the portrayal of Sultan Alauddin Khilji and banned the film.

    • From the Economic Survey highlights to ‘Padmaavat’ ban in Malaysia: top stories of the day

      The Sanjay Leela Bhansali-directed Padmaavat has been banned in Malaysia by the country’s censor board as the film touches on the “sensitivities of Islam”.

    • Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat banned in Malaysia

      Malaysia’s National Film Censorship Board (LPF) has barred filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat from getting released in the country. LPF chairman Mohd Zamberi Abdul Aziz said in a statement that the storyline of the film itself is of grave concern as “Malaysia is a Muslim-majority country”, reports variety.com.

    • Malaysia Confirms Ban of India’s ‘Padmaavat’ After Appeal

      Malaysian film fans were unimpressed by the LPF decision. Some asked if the LPF actually watched or understood the film. Others said they will instead watch the film illegally online, explaining that repeated bans of films that are popular worldwide undermines Malaysian government attempts to halt piracy.

    • TV censorship rearing its ugly head again in China

      For mainlanders who are old enough to have a firsthand experience of the Cultural Revolution, they can probably still remember that the only form of mass entertainment to which they had access was the “revolutionary model operas” and the only book they were allowed to read was Chairman Mao’s Quotations, also known as The Little Red Book, plus some other books for practical purposes.

      But they would be dead wrong to think that those days have long been gone. Under President Xi Jinping, China is witnessing a massive return to the leftist track in almost every aspect of society.

    • Indian playwright accuses Royal Court of censorship after his play on Tibet is shelved

      An award-winning Indian playwright accused the Royal Court theatre of censorship after his play about contemporary Tibet was shelved, The Guardian reported on Sunday. Abhishek Majumdar claimed that Pah-la was withdrawn because of fears of negative Chinese reactions.

      Pah-la shows the life in contemporary Tibet. Majumdar worked with Tibetans in India and the play draws on such personal stories. In a Facebook post, Majumdar shared a copy of the poster for the play that said it was due to run for a month from October 4 to November 4, 2017.

    • Police in China’s Guangdong Deny Bail to Detained Anti-Censorship Editor

      Authorities in the southern Chinese city of Zhuhai have denied permission for the lawyer of a prominent anti-censorship campaigner to visit him.

      Zhen Jianghua was taken away from his home in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, on the night of Sept. 1 on suspicion of “incitement to subvert state
      power.”

      Zhen was initially held under criminal detention in the Zhuhai No. 1 Detention Center, but was later taken to an unknown location by state security police, to be held under “residential surveillance,” where he has been for the past five months.

      Ren Quanniu, a lawyer hired by Zhen’s family to represent him, was denied permission this week, on the grounds that the case touches on matters of “national security.”

      “I sent off the application for bail, and for a meeting with my client, to the case management team on Jan. 24,” Ren told RFA on Friday. “They responded that bail would not be granted, and that permission to meet with my client had been refused.”

    • Paris court hears arguments in Facebook censorship case centering on Courbet’s Origin of the World

      The question of Facebook’s power to limit users’ freedom of expression is at the heart of a years-long legal battle that is now being heard by a court in Paris, with arguments starting yesterday (1 February). In 2011, a French teacher sued the social media giant for closing his account after he posted a photograph of Gustave Courbet’s 1866 painting L’Origine du monde (Origin of the World), a realistic depiction of a woman’s genitals.

    • Victorian nymphs painting back on display after censorship row

      A gallery is to put a Victorian painting of naked adolescent girls back on display after a row over censorship.

      Manchester Art Gallery said it took down Hylas and the Nymphs by JW Waterhouse to “encourage debate” about how such images should be displayed.

      But critics accused curators of being puritanical and politically correct. The painting will return on Saturday.

      “It’s been clear that many people feel very strongly about the issues raised,” Manchester City Council said.

      The 1896 painting was removed a week ago in an attempt to rethink the “very old-fashioned” way images of women’s bodies were exhibited as “either as passive beautiful objects or femmes fatales”.

    • China orders microblog companies to ramp up censorship

      BEIJING: China Friday ordered the country’s microblog operators to establish mechanisms to remove false information, in the latest move by authorities to tighten policing of the web.

    • Private censorship is not the best way to fight hate or defend democracy: Here are some better ideas

      This statement was originally published on eff.org on 30 January 2018.

    • Facebook Courbet Censorship Lawsuit Has Its Day In Paris Court
    • Fb Denies ‘Censoring‘ 19th-Century Vagina Portray
    • China Censors Cryptocurrency Ads on Search Engines and Social Media

      Hong Kong-based media have reported that the country’s major search engines and social media networks do not appear to be presenting paid adverts for products or companies associated with bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Reports have alleged that the censorship of cryptocurrency ads may date back to the announcement that The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) would ban initial coin offerings (ICOs) during September 2017.

    • A New Generation of Journalists in China Face The Same Censorship, Despite New Technology

      Despite the emergence of a new generation of talented reporters and a radical transformation into the digital age, mass media in China across the board are still firmly controlled and censored by the Chinese regime, according to observers. Investigative journalism, the type of reporting that is often considered the lifeblood of a healthy democracy and open society, remains an extremely risky endeavor in China that is desperately needed but practiced by few.

      “The dominant media policy in China since the Mao era has really remained quite constant,” said Maria Repnikova, an assistant professor of global communication at Georgia State University, “the idea that the media should serve the party’s interest has not really transformed.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • California Burger Chain Allowing Customers to Pay Using Their Faces

      CaliBurger announced that starting on January 30th, customers will be able to pay for their meal using facial recognition technology at their Pasadena location. The FacePay program allows customers to store their face, along with meal histories, preferences, and other information in their loyalty accounts.

    • Big Brother is coming: Inside China’s plan to rate its 1.3 billion citizens

      China plans to roll out a comprehensive credit rating system – detailing the ‘trustworthiness’ of its 1.3 billion citizens – by 2020.

    • China using big data to police small details of citizens’ lives

      The social credit system is a hugely ambitious big-data system that will store information of people and use this to monitor and assess and, ultimately, control their actions, using a combination of sticks and carrots.

    • China’s Surveillance State Should Scare Everyone

      Imagine a society in which you are rated by the government on your trustworthiness. Your “citizen score” follows you wherever you go. A high score allows you access to faster internet service or a fast-tracked visa to Europe. If you make political posts online without a permit, or question or contradict the government’s official narrative on current events, however, your score decreases. To calculate the score, private companies working with your government constantly trawl through vast amounts of your social media and online shopping data.

      When you step outside your door, your actions in the physical world are also swept into the dragnet: The government gathers an enormous collection of information through the video cameras placed on your street and all over your city. If you commit a crime—or simply jaywalk—facial recognition algorithms will match video footage of your face to your photo in a national ID database. It won’t be long before the police show up at your door.

    • ‘You Can’t Watchdog Government if Government’s Watching All Your Communication’

      Janine Jackson: “Congress Advances Bill to Renew NSA Surveillance Program After Trump Briefly Upstages Key Vote” was the headline on a Washington Post article. The lead described the bill as reauthorizing “the government’s authority to conduct foreign surveillance on US soil.” The language and focus on Beltway back-and-forth make sound like many another piece of legislative business what our next guest calls “a significant blow against the basic human right to read, write, learn, and associate free of government’s prying eyes.” Cindy Cohn is the executive director of Electronic Frontier Foundation. She recently wrote an open letter to the community on Congress’s vote. She joins us now by phone.

    • When Open Source Info On Fitbit, Twitter Jeopardize US Security

      The U.S. military, formerly an unabashed advocate of Fitbit Inc (NYSE: FIT) devices, is reviewing its policy on the use of fitness trackers at operational sites after a workout app inadvertently exposed the whereabouts of secret army bases.

      Since November, Strava, “the social network for athletes,” has published the static locations, routes and movements of public accounts in a global, interactive “heatmap.”

    • Facebook’s experiment in ad transparency is like playing hide and seek

      The new strategy — which Facebook announced in October, just days before a U.S. Senate hearing on the Russian online manipulation efforts — requires every advertiser to have a Facebook page. Whenever the advertiser is running an ad, the post is automatically placed in a new “Ads” section of the Facebook page, where any users in Canada can view it even if they aren’t part of the intended audience.

    • Leaked Photo Suggests NSA Infiltrated Cryptocurrencies

      Recent news that the National Security Administration (NSA) may have successfully launched investigations into “Tor, I2P, and VPN,” with an additional pending request for projects focused on cryptocurrencies, is likely to go over poorly with the cryptocurrency community.

      For cryptocurrency investors, privacy, security, and anonymity are some of the biggest draws. As decentralized, largely unregulated vehicles, cryptocurrencies like bitcoin were designed to be unencumbered by many of the traditional apparatuses that govern mainstream currencies.

    • Europe’s highest court sides with Facebook in privacy class-action lawsuit

      Despite the partial victory Thursday, Facebook still faces pressure over how it handles Europeans’ personal data ahead of changes to the region’s privacy standards, which take effect in late May. That revamp includes potential fines of up to €20 millionor 4 percent of a company’s global revenue, whichever is greater, if it is found to have mishandled Europeans’ digital information.

    • China to Start Blocking Unauthorized VPN Providers This April

      In a move designed to protect the effectiveness of its ‘Great Firewall’, China has warned it will begin blocking unauthorized VPN services starting April 1, 2018. Despite the strong move, China is playing down its efforts, noting that anyone who wants to operate a VPN can still do so by leasing state-approved services via the government’s telecommunications import and export bureau.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • 7-year-old boy handcuffed in Florida school after allegedly attacking teacher

      On Monday, Miami-Dade Schools Police Fraternal Order of Police president Al Palacio came out in support of the police officer who handcuffed the boy.

      “We stand behind the actions of our officer,” Palacio said in a release, adding that the cop “lawfully restrained” the 7-year-old and “properly transported” him to the hospital.

    • Will Do Everything To Pass “Triple Talaq” Bill In Budget Session: Centre

      Besides the triple talaq legislation, which criminalises instant talaq by Muslim men, the government is also likely to make a pitch for the passage of the OBC bill, which seeks to give a constitutional status to the OBC commission.

    • I’m 14 and Was Cited for Feeding the Homeless

      Ever believes the ban was meant not to contain the outbreak but to rid the parks of homeless people.

    • Muslim women in Colombo demand changes to Islamic marriage law

      The law has no minimum age of marriage, includes unequal provisions and procedures for women to register marriage and divorce, and provides for unconditional polygamy.

    • A girl gets married every 2 seconds somewhere in the world

      In 2018, child marriage remains a problem worldwide. Consider that each year, 15 million girls are married before the age of 18, according to Girls Not Brides, a global partnership committed to ending such marriages.

    • Watching soccer is un-Islamic: Darul Uloom cleric says women shouldn’t watch ‘men playing with bare knees’

      LUCKNOW: A senior Darul Uloom cleric has issued a religious decree saying that Muslim women should not watch men playing soccer.

      Mufti Athar Kasmi said that watching men “playing with bare knees” violated the tenets of Islam and was forbidden for women. Kasmi is cleric at Darul Uloom, Asia’s largest Sunni Muslim seminary in the northern town of Deoband.

      The cleric also lashed out at the men who allow their wives to watch football even on television.

    • Being religious does not make you greener
    • The safest country for women in continental Europe is Poland [Ed: Russian media tries to poison the women against immigration in Europe to cause societal rot]

      Nordic countries like Norway, Finland, Sweden and Denmark are nowhere to be seen near the top ten.

    • One in eight Swedish women will be raped in their lifetimes and that is a low estimate

      However, if you look even further back, the statistics can get even worse. From 2007 – 2017 there was a 34% increase in rapes. That means if this trend continues, in 20 years’ time there will be 12,982 rapes every year happening in Sweden.

    • Harsher punishments for female mutilation proposed in Harrisburg

      So far, 26 states have illegalized FGM, including Delaware, Maryland and New York.

    • In the Era of #MeToo, FGM Must be Seen as Sexual Violence

      The need to view FGM as an act of sexual violence is largely absent from the debate over FGM. That gap in the conversation between FGM perception and FGM reality is detrimental to the fight against the practice. On January 15, 2018, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman dismissed the charge of a sex crime against defendants in the Detroit FGM trial. The report is a devastating blow for human rights advocates and a win for FGM supporters. A sex crime dismissal was found on the basis that such a charge requires “intent that the minor engage in sexual activity.” While FGM itself does not constitute a sexual activity, the practice is performed specifically toward the aim of controlling future activity by cutting off the sex organ rooted in female desire.

    • Why Does Our Justice System Fight So Hard to Keep Innocent People Behind Bars?

      Perhaps even more troubling is that even when clear, indisputable evidence emerges showing that someone has been imprisoned for a crime they didn’t commit, prosecutors, police, and judges will often fight tooth and nail to keep them incarcerated.

    • China: Families of Interpol Targets Harassed

      # see next

      “Chinese authorities have put all kinds of unlawful pressure on relatives of corruption suspects to get them to return to China,” said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch. “There is no legal basis for these traumatizing guilt-by-association tactics.”

    • Nigerian Facebook user posts graphic photos of female circumcision

      The man, who calls himself Alhaji Adebayo, posted the images on January 3, along with text offering free female circumcision in Ilorin, Kwara State, central Nigeria.

    • FGM is on the rise again in Sierra Leone

      Following a temporary ban on female genital mutilation during the Ebola crisis, FGM is on the rise again in Sierra Leone. Worldwide, some 200 million girls and women have had their genitals cut, whether by force or by choice.

    • Indonesia’s House speaker ups anti-gay rhetoric

      Currently, homosexuality is only outlawed in Aceh province, which follows Sharia law.

    • World’s eyes on Indonesia as Political Prisoner Yanto Awerkion is tried for ‘Treason’ over Support For West Papua Independence Petition – 9th January 2018

      His crime? Supporting a petition calling for West Papuan independence. Treason carries a prison sentence of up to 15 years. Yanto has been locked away in prison for 8 months awaiting trial. He was unable to see his wife and new born baby at Christmas.

    • The Dark Underside Of Saudi Arabia The Crown Prince Is Loath To Change

      But the old Saudi Arabia was still evident back at home. On Thursday, two human rights activists, Mohammed al-Otaibi and Abdullah al-Attawi, were sentenced to 14 and seven years in prison, respectively, for briefly founding a human rights organization about five years ago. No matter that they heeded the government’s demands to close it; the prosecution painted such things as publishing human rights reports, disseminating information to the news media and retweeting posts on Twitter as criminal acts.

    • Saudi Arabia: Long Prison Terms for Rights Activists

      Since 2014, Saudi authorities have tried a series of peaceful dissidents in the Specialized Criminal Court, Saudi Arabia’s terrorism tribunal.

    • Saudi Arabia sentences two human rights activists to a total of 21 years in prison

      “The crackdown on members of the human rights community has continued unabated, with almost all the country’s most prominent human rights defenders now behind bars,” she said.

    • Asia Bibi continues to wait in legal limbo

      Almost nine years ago, a woman was arrested after drinking the same water as her co-workers while harvesting berries. Because she is a Christian, the Muslim women working with her became angry and an argument led to them accusing her of blasphemy. Today, Asia Bibi is the poster child of the abuses afforded by Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.

      [...]

      Bibi’s case has received great international attention. And it’s probably because the world has tuned in that she is still alive today. Bibi was convicted of blasphemy in 2010, shortly after her arrest. The sentencing for such a verdict is without exception death. However, the Supreme Court agreed to hear her case.

    • Medical student killed for turning down marriage proposal: suspect flees to Saudi Arabia

      Mujahid Afridi and his accomplice, identified as Sadiqullah, shot the woman dead on Saturday after she reportedly turned down a marriage proposal by the former. Rani, a third year MBBS student in Ayub Medical College, had named Afridi as her killer in a statement before her death.

    • Living in Pakistan – A Hell for Non-Muslims

      The author is not aware of even a single instance, in the 71 years since the creation of Pakistan, of someone being punished for killing, burning or raping a non-Muslim man, woman or child, or for burning their places of worship, their homes or their holy books.

    • Pakistani Islamism Flourishes in America

      Despite JI’s violence, its front groups in America have flourished — enjoying partnerships with government, praise from politicians and journalists, and funding from prominent charitable foundations.

    • Radical imams are spewing anti-Semitism in the US with impunity

      Yet these radical preachers inciting anti-Semitic violence aren’t prosecuted or even permanently banished by the leadership of their mosques.

    • “Skin In The Game” And Its Cousin, “Skin On The Line” — Being Among The First To Speak Out Against Larry Nassar

      This, of course, is skin on the line — a thing we’re seeing in the hijab protests in Iran.

      To some degree, this is a cousin of what, in decision-makers, Nassim Taleb calls having “skin in the game” — to have real risk and consequences from some action. To understand what “skin in the game” is, it helps to understand what it is to have NO skin in the game.

    • Iran lawyer raises concern over missing hijab protester
    • Iran lawyer raises concern over missing hijab protester [Ed: as above]

      “What I am certain about is that this lady has been arrested,” she told AFP.

    • Second woman arrested in Tehran for hijab protest

      A second woman has been arrested in Iran for protesting against the country’s compulsory hijab rules after standing on a telecoms box on a Tehran street, taking off her headscarf and holding it aloft on a stick.

    • Case Of Kerala Woman Who Alleged Sexual Exploitation To Be Probed By NIA

      The case of a 25-year-old woman, who alleged that she was forcibly converted and married to a Muslim and taken to Saudi Arabia for sex slavery, will be investigated by the premier counter-terrorism law enforcement agency, the National Investigation Agency. The woman said managed to escape from Saudi Arabia with the help of her father, who was able to send her tickets through WhatsApp.

    • The Women Who Took on the Mafia

      Family loyalty made the Calabrian Mob strong, but its treatment of women was its undoing.

    • S.F. Couple Recounts Harrowing, Mistaken Arrest by Police Investigating iPhone Heist

      After rifling through the apartment Knuth says the officers finally told her what they were looking for: Her husband’s iPhone X.

      According to the warrant, it was stolen but Knuth showed them the receipt which proved her husband bought it.

    • Kalamazoo doctor jailed after ICE arrest

      She said she believes the arrest stemmed from two unrelated misdemeanor convictions when he was in high school, one of destruction of property less than $100 and the other of receiving stolen property. The most recent conviction was in 1992, she said.

    • Muslims must vote for Muslim candidates, says Hadi

      Muslims in Malaysia must vote for Muslim candidates to ensure Islamic rule after the 14th General Election (GE14), PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang said today.

    • Sialvi warns to shut Punjab if Sharia not imposed in seven days

      Cleric Pir Hameeduddin Sialvi has warned Government of Punjab on Saturday to impose sharia law within a period of seven days lest the religious groups would shut down the entire province.

    • Fed up of ‘restrictions’, Muslim girl becomes Hindu, seeks security

      The 22 years old girl has alleged that her family members have been harassing her for a long time and had also placed a lot of restrictions on her. Things were allegedly so bad that the family members were even threatening to poison her. The girl as a result has claimed that she has been in hiding in the recent past. She claimed that she was tired of all the restrictions heaped on her, and after expressing wariness about the practice of triple talaq, she decided to become a Hindu.

      Following her conversion to Hinduism, Sunita has claimed that her family members have threatened to kill her.

    • Time to stop using 9 million children as a bargaining CHIP

      Funding for CHIP ran out at the end of last September, leaving both state governments and families with great uncertainty. So far, congressional Republicans have refused to offer a clean renewal of CHIP, but have consistently raised demands to undermine the ACA in return. Their latest measure offers to fund CHIP in exchange for avoiding a government shutdown and a deal with Democrats over Dreamers.

      Holding 9 million children and their families as bargaining chips has gone on much too long.

    • The ‘Underground Railroad’ To Save Atheists

      The tipping point came when Yaseen’s story caught the attention of the American TV host Dave Rubin, who featured her on his show The Rubin Report in early 2016. After the clip was released online, she faced a torrent of death threats and finally went into hiding. “I disappeared—I left everything. I had to be always on the run, changing places and disguises,” she said. “I couldn’t feel anything except that I would end up being killed.”

      Yaseen would still be at risk if it weren’t for the actions of Secular Rescue, which helped her escape to California, where she is waiting for her asylum claim to be approved. The initiative, launched in 2016, is run by the Center For Inquiry, a U.S.-based non-profit organization that aims to promote secular values, such as scientific rationality and freedom of speech, with the support of Richard Dawkins and other prominent atheists.

    • Florida’s Prison Laborers Are Going On Strike

      Inmates in Florida state prisons plan to begin a work-strike today in protest of prison overcrowding, brutal living conditions, and working for no or little pay. The strike is being coordinated between at least 10 Florida prisons, and may involve thousands of inmates’ participating in the nonviolent “laydown”—vowing, for at least one month, to refuse to show up to work assignments or buy items at their prison’s commissary.

    • Stop calling all cops heroes: Baltimore police corruption case isn’t shocking to me

      The first pile was my brother’s. He was stashing that — as the boss, it was only right that he took first dibs. The second pile went to the lieutenants; they’d take their cut out and use the rest to pay the workers. Pile three was for product re-up, supplies and everything else you need to run a dope shop. And pile four got stuffed into a manila envelope and wrapped tight with rubber bands. They called that the “taxes.” Of course they weren’t actually paying taxes on their income or sales to the government, and they weren’t setting aside contributions to a retirement plan. Their “taxes” went straight to the cops.

    • New York Detective Guilty of Lying About Drug Arrest

      The jury found that the detective, Kevin Desormeau, had concocted a story about witnessing a man deal drugs to two women on a street corner on a summer evening in 2014. In sworn testimony, Detective Desormeau claimed to have intercepted the man after the transactions and arrested him on the sidewalk.

      But videotape from security cameras showed that the man had been playing pool inside a nearby Caribbean restaurant at the time he was said to have been selling drugs outside.

    • Amazon awarded employee-tracking wristband patents

      In the UK, Amazon has gotten some criticism in the past for the way it treats workers in its warehouses who are usually rushed off their feet to get packages ready to send off in a speedy manner. Now, the company has been issued a pair of patents which will let the company develop a wristband that helps guide workers to parcels but can also be used for tracking purposes.

    • Amazon Wins Wristband Tracking Patent
    • Woman fatally shot by San Antonio police officer identified

      When officers arrived, a woman was locked inside a bedroom. McManus said officers asked if the woman was armed and she said she didn’t have a weapon. Police barged in the door and found the woman holding a glock pistol to her head, McManus said. The officers tried to disarm her, but at one point the pistol was pointing at one of their heads, when a female officer with six years experienced fired one shot to the woman’s abdomen.

    • Two Pussy Riot members seek asylum in Sweden

      Lusine Djanyan and Aleksej Knedljakovskji now live in a home for asylum seekers in Lindesberg along with their son while awaiting a decision on their asylum request.

    • Outrage after solicitor suggests woman indecently assaulted in swimming baths would’ve ‘forgotten all about it in 2 or 3 days’

      A defence solicitor caused a courtroom storm after suggesting a woman who was indecently assaulted in a swimming baths would have “forgotten all about it in two or three days.”

    • Rebuked for skipping classes, student kills college principal, accuses him of blasphemy

      In a video acquired by DawnNews, the student, while being arrested, appeared to justify the murder saying he believed the college principal had committed blasphemy.

    • Pope Francis Assails Scourge of Femicides in Latin America

      Pope Francis denounced femicides and other gender-based crimes that have turned Latin America into the most violent place on Earth for women, calling Saturday for legislation to protect them and for a new cultural mindset as he visited one of Peru’s most dangerous parts.

    • Australia heads the list of the 10 safest countries for a woman

      Australia is the world’s safest country for a woman, according to analysis by consultancy New World Wealth in its 2018 Global Wealth Migration Review.

      The report mainly looks at the movement of high net worth individuals (HNWI) across the world.

      However, part of that analysis involves reviewing the safest countries for women.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • “Tax Proposal 17″, Consultation Procedure: Which Tax Incentives Are Still Available?

      Abolition of the privileged regimes (holding, mixed company, domicile company, finance branch and principal rulings):

      These special regimes, which are only applicable at cantonal level, will be abolished.
      Patent box

      Profits from patents and similar rights will be segregated from other profits and taxed at a lower rate at the cantonal level. The cantons can determine the amount of such relief, the maximum relief being 90%. The implementation of the patent box will be in compliance with the patent box as defined by the OECD. Profits stemming from patents and similar rights can be included in the patent box. Software as such cannot be patented according to Swiss laws and accordingly cannot benefit from the relief of the patent box. Computer-implemented inventions including software can however be patented in Switzerland and benefit from the relief. Additionally, software patented in foreign jurisdictions where this is possible may benefit from the relief.

    • Copyrights
      • Popular music is more collaborative than ever
      • BMG v Cox – when does an ISP lose its safe harbour protection?

        The case deals with two difficult and very interesting questions, the first being whether an ISP can be held liable for infringing activities of its subscribers, more precisely the up- and down-loading of copyright-protected musical works in the BitTorrent-Network. The second question was what mental state is required to establish the requisite intent for contributory copyright infringements: actual knowledge, wilful blindness or negligence?

        [...]

        The Court of Appeals first looked at Cox’s argument that it was entitled to the § 512(a) DMCA safe harbour defence. It was undisputed in the first instance that Cox did adopt some sort of repeat infringer policy. However, both the lower court and the Court of Appeals came to the conclusion that Cox did not ‘reasonably implement’ this policy to provide for the termination of repeat infringers in appropriate circumstances.

      • Oracle could prevail in copyright case against Google based on commercial market harm

        The privately held Oracle America Inc., has been fighting an industry-changing copyright infringement case against Google Inc. since 2010 — the same year of the BP Oil Spill, the year Apple unveiled the iPad and the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl. It’s been awhile.

      • Blizzard Targets Fan-Created ‘World of Warcraft’ Legacy Server

        Blizzard Entertainment is taking a stand against a popular World of Warcraft legacy server. The fan-operated project allows gamers to experience how the game was played over a decade ago and to revive old battles. Blizzard, however, sees this as copyright infringement and has asked GitHub to pull the site’s code offline.

Statistics Show That Motions to Amend Patents Are Rarely Successful (No Second Chance for Bad Patents)

Sunday 4th of February 2018 06:47:22 PM

Summary: A look at some curious figures which serve to highlight the role played by the patent appeal board, PTAB, which cleans up the mess left for a number of decades due to lenient examination

THE bashing of PTAB aside, this past week we saw some interesting posts that aren’t pure lobbying.

Scott McKeown, for example, shared some statistics. The headline is a tad misleading because PTAB does not attack. PTAB defends. It defends from bogus patents. But here’s the key part:

Patent reexamination filings have fallen 86% since 2012. With the elimination of the popular inter partes patent reexamination option in 2012, an overall decrease was certainly expected. However, ex parte reexamination filings continue to drop every year. Only 191 ex parte reexamination requests were filed in 2017. This was the lowest number of ex parte reexamination filings since the mid-1990s. While an ex parte patent challenge is far less appealing to a patent challenger than a contested proceeding (AIA trial proceeding), and this factor has undoubtedly contributed to the decreasing numbers, patent reexamination and other post-grant proceedings of the Central Reexamination Unit (CRU) still provide unique rehabilitation opportunities for patent owners.

Andrew Williams also shared some statistics from PTAB. As it turns out, those begging to salvage their bogus patents by editing them have slim chances. As Williams put it: “Tellingly, the third chart shows the outcome of the 170 decided motions to amend in which substitute claims were proposed. In 156 of these cases, or 92%, the Board denied the motion. The four motions to amend that were granted outright represent 2% of all motions to amend with substitute claims that were decided, and represent a much smaller percentage of all motions to amend. The ten motions to amend that were granted-in-part represented 6% of the total decided. The Study included a separate spreadsheet that contained the data from the 275 trials. This spreadsheet explains in which post-issuance proceedings that motions to amend were granted.”

More statistics have, as usual, come from the PTAB-hostile Anticipat. PTAB fights back against patent maximalism, whereas Anticipat keeps speaking of “tricks”, e.g. “second trick is the examiner requiring narrower claims than is required by the law.”

To quote their post:

Patent Examiners are tasked with a daunting task of checking each patent application for compliance with all the patent laws and rules. Most importantly, the Examiner must show that the claims are not unpatentable, including being free and clear of prior art. And they must do all this within the time expectations that the USPTO offers.

Another Anticipat post (from a few days later) advocates tricking patent examiners for software patents. What they might prefer not to say is that even granted patents of this kind, once assessed by PTAB and courts, are pretty much worthless. The odds are high that they will get invalidated (the higher the court, the more likely this outcome).

The bottom line is, PTAB serves to discourage pursuit of bad patents. It should be respected for that, not mocked.

The Latest Attacks on PTAB Are Old News or Smears Recycled by Watchtroll et al.

Sunday 4th of February 2018 05:59:23 PM

Summary: The attempts to tarnish the reputation of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), particularly because of Oil States at the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS), have reached pretty pathetic levels and endless repetition with sound bites like “kangaroo court” or “efficient infringement”

THE past week, based on our media survey, showed a rise in attacks on PTAB (compared to the prior week). We are guessing that these attacks will intensify as Oil States (SCOTUS decision) draws near. It’s all about PTAB.

Watchtroll has been very late to the news this month. It was covering news from almost 3 weeks ago (e.g. Exmark, TiVo, and WesternGeco, which we mentioned before). Must be slow for them… very late to the news. But rest assured, Watchtroll will carry on with PTAB bashing. Not even anything new, just old stuff recycled.

“We are guessing that these attacks will intensify as Oil States (SCOTUS decision) draws near.”There have been fewer attacks on PTAB lately (slowdown for the anti-PTAB lobby), so here comes Dennis Crouch complaining again about lack of opinions (to slow PTAB down). It wasn’t just Crouch/Patently-O. Two anti-PTAB articles were published by Watchtroll on Monday and two more anti-PTAB articles came on on Tuesday, e.g. picking on the bogeyman Google (there are many cases/petitions every single day, so it’s not hard to cherry-pick). Watchtroll carried on the following day (Wednesday). To us that just looks like lobbying at work, so we prefer not to link to all these examples. We’re merely observing.

Another PTAB basher, “Patent Buddy”, carried on with that anti-PTAB narrative, neglecting to note that PTAB is typically petitioned to deal with patents not at random; they take on some of the most problematic ones.

“…rest assured, Watchtroll will carry on with PTAB bashing. Not even anything new, just old stuff recycled.”“On January 24,” he wrote, “the PTAB affirmed Seven 101/Alice Rejections by Examiners and Denied One Request for Reconsideration. No 101 Rejections Were Reversed.”

“On January 25,” he later added, “the PTAB Published 8 Decisions on 101 Issues. 5 Decisions Affirmed Examiner Rejections. 1 Decision Affirmed in Part. 2 Decisions Reversed Examiners.”

Here’s one pertinent example of the exception: “PTAB Reversed 101 Rejection of Philips Patent Application for a Device for Measuring Vital Signs…”

The patent trolls recently joked that this is the sort of thing they deem to be a “win” and are celebrating. Here’s more: “PTAB Reversed Examiner’s Rejection of a Mechanical Device under 101…”

We’re basically talking about a mere patent application here.

“Another PTAB basher, “Patent Buddy”, carried on with that anti-PTAB narrative, neglecting to note that PTAB is typically petitioned to deal with patents not at random; they take on some of the most problematic ones.”Paul Morinville and Watchtroll wrote that “PTAB has a kill [sic] rate of over 90%. Alice v. CLS Bank’s abstract idea is killing [sic] 67%.”

That’s good. It’s not a “killing” or a “kill” (they try to make PTAB seem combative and aggressive).

Here’s the context (more of that sickening drama about “innovation” which we've just rebutted):

Killing the fictitious patent troll has already strangled U.S. innovation in the cradle. All three branches of the government rapidly changed every aspect of the patent system to work against the small for the benefit of the large. Today, the PTAB has a kill rate of over 90%. Alice v. CLS Bank’s abstract idea is killing 67%.

“Paul Morinville and Watchtroll aren’t exactly good with facts,” I told Daniel Nazer (EFF) after he had responded as follows: “IP Watchdog claims that “bad patents” never get litigated. Okay, here are some bad patents that were: 6,368,268 6,415,207 6,529,725 6,612,985 6,633,900 6,763,299 6,795,918 6,817,863 6,904,359 7,064,681 7,113,110 7,119,716 7,400,970 7,899,713 7,986,426 8,788,090 9,013,334″

“There’s a false assumption here that lawyers give the best advice; they often advise so to as to maximise their own profits and sell the most expensive ‘products’, e.g. lawsuits.”See the reply from IAM: “If bad patents get litigated, the patent owner is being stubborn and/or is receiving bad advice. Crucially, by definition he/she/it will lose. The killer issue in the US is the cost of litigating and how costs are (not) allocated. [] It’s worth remembering that for deep pocket, efficient infringers the cost of US patent litigation – with the PTAB now thrown in – is a huge benefit.”

I then responded to IAM: “And who’s to say that bad advice isn’t being given by selfish/greedy lawyers?”

There’s a false assumption here that lawyers give the best advice; they often advise so to as to maximise their own profits and sell the most expensive ‘products’, e.g. lawsuits.

Contrary to Claims From the Litigation ‘Industry’, AIA, PTAB, and the USPTO’s Inter Partes Reviews (IPRs) Make the US Better for Innovation

Sunday 4th of February 2018 04:01:21 PM

Related: In the United States, Software Patents Are Still Consistently Invalidated Under 35 U.S.C. § 101

Summary: In an effort to undermine patent reform, patent extremists now latch onto findings about the relative decline of the US (e.g. in the sciences) and blame that squarely on patent policy, neglecting to mention that patent activity in the US (e.g. filings) is at an all-time high

THE US has changed after the Federal Circuit and Board (PTAB) started invalidating software patents en masse. It changed for the better. As we noted last month, the patent microcosm blames everything negative in the US (decline in rankings pertaining to science) on AIA, which is responsible for PTAB (and thus IPRs). Sometimes they also lump in SCOTUS (with Alice). It’s laughable and we already wrote some rebuttals to their arguments, which are worse than shallow. They rely on no concrete evidence, as we shall explain in a moment.

“…the patent microcosm blames everything negative in the US (decline in rankings pertaining to science) on AIA, which is responsible for PTAB (and thus IPRs).”The High Tech Inventors Alliance, a front group for several large technology companies, defends PTAB. “Data contradicts the claims made by some that #patent reform has harmed innovation,” it wrote a few days ago. “Since the introduction of the IPR review process and the Supreme Courts Alice decision, innovation in the United States is flourishing.”

This is empirically true. Here is the corresponding article from John Thorne, who describes himself as “general counsel of the High Tech Inventors Alliance, a coalition of top technology companies supporting balanced patent policy and collectively holding more than 115,000 patents.”

From the article:

On Friday, a group claiming to represent the nation’s small inventors will demonstrate at the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) building. They will call for an end to the PTO’s Inter Partes Review (IPR) process, a procedure for taking a second look at the validity of patents. Some of the speakers will be genuine small inventors. But behind those little guys will be the big dollars of the biggest big-guy exploiters of the PTO’s missteps and mistakes.

[...]

The IPR was established in the 2011 bipartisan America Invents Act to restore integrity to what had become a too-often-broken patent system. The Act’s goal was to improve patent quality. It established an inexpensive, easy-to-access route for challenging patents that should never have been granted. The cost and slowness of always going to court had made appeal of bad patents too unreliable. The IPR was to fix that. Today, six years later, it is clear that it has worked.

Consider these facts. Almost 70 percent of this year’s challenged patents are in “high tech,” that is software, hardware and networking technologies. High tech is widely acknowledged to suffer from patent quality problems.

Then, too, a majority of those challenged high tech patents are owned by what are called “non-practicing entities,” otherwise known as patent trolls. These are companies that do not actually try to take patented ideas to market. They may acquire unused patents or they may patent general or obvious ideas — like the basic credit card and podcast patents that I mentioned — and use them to shakedown those who inadvertently stumbled into their unjustifiably patented territory, patent traps.

Josh Landau from CCIA (another front group for a lot of technology companies, both large and small) is rebutting the common lie told by the patent microcosm — that lack of patents on software harms investment. Innovation and patents are very different things, so he says that “Innovation Is Alive And Well”. From his post:

Innovation can come from anywhere—large established companies, individuals, and of course, small startup businesses. The innovation from startups can ultimately create new established companies. Many of today’s household names—Amazon, Google, Facebook, Intel—started out as a couple of founders and one innovative idea. So, if we want to see if innovation remains an important part of the American economy, looking at startup activity is a good place to—if you’ll pardon the pun—start.

We too wrote some articles to that effect. Facebook, which is probably the highest-profile member of the High Tech Inventors Alliance, has just been hit by another patent lawsuit (these are software patents and should be thrown out by the courts). Facebook too can be aggressive with patents at times, but it does not rely on litigation to operate. People are better off when technology companies work on various technologies rather than hiring lawyers and arguing in courts.

“They want people to think of everything in the US in terms of patents. They just see “patents” in everything.”Now, linking to Watchtroll, the “Innovation Alliance” (just a front group not for innovation but ‘patentism’) says “AUTM finds 37% of #highered startups are failing. What’s behind this “ominous trend”? The weakening U.S. #patent system.”

This is nonsense. It’s already debunked above. It’s not a study. It’s propaganda and it’s commissioned by those from the religion of ‘patentism’. They want people to think of everything in the US in terms of patents. They just see “patents” in everything. We wrote about it last weekend.

“Biggest surprise from yesterday’s @uspto PPAC meeting,” IAM wrote, “was acting head Matal’s disclosure that #patent filings in the US are up 5.4% y-o-y in first 3 months of current fiscal year. Sounds like no one was expecting it…”

“Where is the actual evidence that it’s declining? Filings are at record highs, technology companies are pleased with the status quo, so who is it that’s complaining? The litigation ‘industry’, including patent trolls.”We wrote about that meeting (Patent Public Advisory Committee) just now in relation to David Ruschke; I responded to IAM by saying: “Where are the maximalists who always moan that AIA damages the US patent system?”

They claim that patents are being crushed, but that clearly isn’t the case, is it? At the same time IAM released this article titled “If we fail to protect intellectual property, we destroy innovation” (again, the same old drama/alarmism about “innovation” being “destroyed”).

So-called ‘IP’ (e.g. patents or trademarks/copyrights etc.) is not about innovation but about protectionism. But let’s pretend it’s really all about innovation. Where is the actual evidence that it’s declining? Filings are at record highs, technology companies are pleased with the status quo, so who is it that’s complaining? The litigation ‘industry’, including patent trolls.

USPTO May Get a New Director Tomorrow, But It’s Not Good News

Sunday 4th of February 2018 03:01:44 PM

Summary: It is expected that Andrei Iancu (above) will become the Director of the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), probably late tomorrow, but why the silence on the likely impact he would have on the Office?

THE USPTO has been headless for a long time, except for its interim leadership (Director). Trump’s nominee is a cause for concern because he's from the patent microcosm, putting aside more personal aspects (such as him being born in the Soviet Union and being picked by Trump's official who is most closely connected to Putin's family); we don’t want to use the McCarthyist tactics, so instead we focus on Andrei Iancu’s professional background.

“The writings are on the wall and Iancu in this position would likely exacerbate things.”Is a private patent law firm about to ‘take over’? According to this, “[t]he USPTO should have a new director within the next few days. President Trump nominated Irell & Manella partner Andrei Iancu for the position last fall. A vote is now scheduled on the Senate Floor for late Monday. So far, no Senators have voiced any direct opposition to the nomination.”

Have any Senators bothered researching this matter? Have any corporations (or their front groups) bothered commenting on the matter? If not, why not? Are they just trying to be diplomatic in case he gets appointed? The writings are on the wall and Iancu in this position would likely exacerbate things. It’s bad enough as it is and it can only get worse after the PTO amassed many patents of questionable quality (reducing legal certainty).

“It’s bad enough as it is and it can only get worse after the PTO amassed many patents of questionable quality (reducing legal certainty).”It is worth noting, based on another new post, that while the EPO is a milking cow for Germany the USPTO is anything but (for the US). It’s cash negative (losses). “Several USPTO fees were modified in January 2018,” it says. “I’ll note here that the America Invents Act (AIA) of 2011 substantially expanded the USPTO’s fee setting authority. However, that authority is set to sunset in September of this year (2018).” In relation to taxes there’s more to be said. What will the USPTO be like for ordinary people unlike massive corporations, some of which use patents merely as a tax evasion mechanism? Vis-à-vis tax evasion, mind the new report below (from Switzerland). It covered Patent Boxes, which are infamous for their utility among very large tax evaders.

  • “Tax Proposal 17″, Consultation Procedure: Which Tax Incentives Are Still Available?

    Abolition of the privileged regimes (holding, mixed company, domicile company, finance branch and principal rulings):

    These special regimes, which are only applicable at cantonal level, will be abolished.
    Patent box

    Profits from patents and similar rights will be segregated from other profits and taxed at a lower rate at the cantonal level. The cantons can determine the amount of such relief, the maximum relief being 90%. The implementation of the patent box will be in compliance with the patent box as defined by the OECD. Profits stemming from patents and similar rights can be included in the patent box. Software as such cannot be patented according to Swiss laws and accordingly cannot benefit from the relief of the patent box. Computer-implemented inventions including software can however be patented in Switzerland and benefit from the relief. Additionally, software patented in foreign jurisdictions where this is possible may benefit from the relief.

PTAB’s Chief Judge David Ruschke Responds to the Smears From the Anti-PTAB Lobby

Sunday 4th of February 2018 02:31:56 PM

Related: The Anti-PTAB (Patent Trial and Appeal Board) Lobby is Partly Funded by the Koch Brothers and the Right Wing

Summary: David Ruschke’s response to the attacks on the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) as covered in the media just before the weekend, based on a meeting of the Patent Public Advisory Committee

WHEN the Chief Judge of the PTAB was appointed 1.5 years ago the USPTO got itself a technical judge with a decent background in charge of an important panel/board. We have not seen any evidence whatsoever of foul play under his watch. We do, however, see patent scammers (like the lawyers of the Mohawk tribe) flinging conspiracy theories at him. The anti-PTAB lobby has resorted to just attacking the judges (e.g. calling them impotent) and their integrity rather than application of the law etc.

“The law is the law and unlike the patent office, these people don’t have an incentive to just grant as many patents as possible.”We can sort of understand why PTAB is hated (we’ll say more about that later today) and especially who it is hated by. As the latest issue of IAM magazine put it some days ago, PTAB’s “Inter partes reviews continue to have a huge impact on patent litigation in the United States” and “patents become far less enticing” (for the litigation ‘industry’).

It’s not uncommon to resort to judge-bashing — something that is rarely done in Europe but is apparently considered acceptable in the US. According to Law 360, David Ruschke has just responded to common accusations:

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s chief judge pushed back Thursday on criticism from U.S. Supreme Court justices and others that the board can “stack the deck” and manipulate outcomes of cases by expanding panels, saying expansions aim to spotlight important issues, not dictate findings.

At a meeting of the Patent Public Advisory Committee, Chief Judge David Ruschke said that the public has “a little bit of a misconception as to what’s actually happening” when the board decides to rehear decisions…

We remain supportive of PTAB, CAFC, SCOTUS etc. The law is the law and unlike the patent office, these people don’t have an incentive to just grant as many patents as possible. Let them do their work; later we’ll show that Watchtroll attacks PTAB’s integrity more than once per day — something that has truly gone out of control.

IAM Magazine, Authored by Benoît Battistelli, is Rubbish Compared to Patent Scholars

Sunday 4th of February 2018 02:04:04 PM

Ask patent scholars for an honest perspective (not indebted to/invested in patent maximalism)

Summary: Benoît Battistelli has just written an article for IAM (in which he promotes buzzwords that relate to software patents) and contrary to him, prominent academics believe that the patent systems have gone too far and are unhinged from “any economic justification.”

THE EPO has been using buzzwords like "fourth industrial revolution" and "artificial intelligence" lately. We have already explained why we believe these to be loopholes for software patents, among other things. IAM has just published (in its new issue) another piece with buzzwords in the headline (“intellectual property and artificial intelligence”), but we were rather surprised to then find out that even a crooked tyrant, Benoît Battistelli, became a contributor/writer for IAM. He promotes the “fourth industrial revolution” buzzwords right from the get-go (headline).

“We also quite like Professor Bessen, Lemley and others who strive to improve the patent system and take nothing for granted; if only someone like them was to run the EPO; instead we have another President coming (in less than 5 months) who’s a banker.”The use of buzzwords is to be expected from lawyers, politicians and marketing people; not from scientists (which Battistelli cannot understand or relate to). Software patents will occupy the remainder of today’s coverage. We’re still seeing new evidence that the USPTO grants these. There’s no reason to do so when US courts repeatedly reject them and so do software professionals, but who’s to say that policy is based on evidence or rationale?

In Twitter, Prefessor Michael Risch has just announced the publication of his latest paper in which he argues that the US is doing it wrong and things “fail any economic justification.” Risch studied patent trolls a long time ago. He wrote a lot about patent trolls, software patents, roots of patents in the US, patent scope, and so on. We mentioned him many times before and we don’t always agree with him (especially not on software patents), but at least he’s genuine and honest, unlike Battistelli.

From his latest abstract:

Though reasonable royalty damages are ubiquitous in patent litigation, they are only one-hundred years old. But in that time they have become deeply misunderstood. This Article returns to the development and origins of reasonable royalties, exploring both why and how courts originally assessed them.

It then turns a harsh eye toward all that we think we know about reasonable royalties. No current belief is safe from criticism, from easy targets such as the 25% “rule of thumb” to fundamental dogma such as the hypothetical negotiation. In short, the Article concludes that we are doing it wrong, and have been for some time.

We also quite like Professor Bessen, Lemley and others who strive to improve the patent system and take nothing for granted; if only someone like them was to run the EPO; instead we have another President coming (in less than 5 months) who’s a banker. Maybe quite fitting considering what the EPO has become. Our readers generally agree that Professor Alain Pompidou was quite alright and evidence does seem to suggest so.

India and Europe Do Not Permit Software Patents, But Patent Law Firms Try to Work Around the Law

Saturday 3rd of February 2018 05:52:14 PM

They want to be let in through loopholes and trap doors

Summary: LexOrbis and NLO are two of the latest examples of law firms that scheme to bypass the rules and patent software where these patents are not permitted

WHEN patent lawyers in the US are plotting to get software patents from the USPTO they aren’t doing anything unethical. While software patents have virtually no ‘teeth’ in US courts (and are also harder to get from the examiners, especially once PTAB gets involved), there’s no law or even guidelines actually banning such patents.

In other parts of the world (except China) it’s another matter; LexOrbis and its advocacy [1, 2] for software patents in India was noted here before. IAM helps them a lot with this. A few days ago DPS Parmar (LexOrbis) continued pushing this agenda in India. To quote:

Once the Examiner identified that claims are drafted in the means plus function style the CRI guidelines seeks examiner to further to look for information relating to implementation of the invention in the specification and if the specification supports implementation of the invention solely by the computer program then such means plus function claims may be deemed as only computer programme per se falling within the ambit of non-patentable subject matter under section 3(k). Moreover, though act does not refer the term software, the CRI guidelines directed to keep such software within the scope of non-patentable subject under section 3(k) as seen from the last para of this guideline for “mean plus function claims” where it is stated that “Where no structural features of those means are disclosed in the specification and specification supports implementation of the invention solely by the software then in that case means in the “means plus function” claims are nothing but software.”

They are using the infamous “per se” loophole whilst at the same time lobbying to expand the scope of patents to algorithms. They have not been successful.

There’s also a new article titled “India in 2018″ containing a section about the “artificial intelligence”/”machine learning” hype and then delving into patents as if “tons of existing and filed patents in the area by big players like Google” are innovations…

Here’s the most relevant portion:

Added to the above dilemma is the huge challenge facing start-ups when more established players with much deeper pockets decide to get into the game of obtaining brands or filing patents to undercut a young brand. Every start-up founder working in the artificial intelligence/machine learning space will admit to spending more than her/his fair share of time worrying whether the next breakthrough the company will survive the challenge of proving they have something new over the tons of existing and filed patents in the area by big players like Google.

It is imperative that start-up lawyers develop a unique metric to decide when is the right time to file for relevant registrations, and how far they wish to go in trying to protect their IP. There are, indeed, no right answers here.

There are barely any cases of successful enforcement of software patents in India. So why worry? Or waste a small firm’s time pursuing such patents? The matter of fact is, such patents ought to be off the agenda altogether. India has a very broad software industry and it’s doing just fine without patents.

Looking at Europe, there’s not much to say about the patent offices (in the news at least) except this bit of ‘true’ “journalism” from Reuters. It’s just PR spam and it links to a PDF with text as an image (bad practice, visually unprofessional too in this case). It’s about an EP. Apart from that, there’s another bit of much longer PR spam. It is a shameless self-promotional piece in which NLO promotes software patents in Europe or more specifically at the EPO. There’s a whole section about software patents and it’s rather extraordinary that they mention “as such” twice (Brimelow’s term) and also use the EPO’s nonsensical term, “computer-implemented inventions,” as if people will believe it’s any different from software patents. To quote:

Software patents

In Europe and many other countries, mere software as such is excluded from patentability. For historical reasons, software is regarded as written source code which can only be protected by copyright.

However, many electronic products nowadays have digital functionality, and machinery is often electronically controlled. Due to increasing importance for industry, obtaining patent protection is often desirable. In Europe and around the world, it has been recognized that excluding these products or methods from protection would block innovations and be detrimental to industry.

Therefore, in many jurisdictions, it is possible to patent so-called computer-implemented inventions.

In general, a computer-implemented invention relates to a device — such as a desktop computer, a dedicated processor, or a controller — with a functionality that is implemented by a software component.

Under the present regulations, the European Patent Office (EPO) carries out a number of tests to determine whether a software-based invention merely relates to software as such or is eligible to be patented.

In addition to the regular tests for novelty and inventive step, the EPO tests whether the computer-implemented invention describes an actual implementation of a product or method, rather than just an abstract idea.

Functionality and patents

The EPO further checks whether the functionality of the software goes beyond mere automation of a known process. Obviously, software instructions have the property that a computing device that executes these instructions shows electronic activity. Mere automation of a known process which causes such electronic activity generally is not eligible to be patented.

It’s rather troubling, in our view, that law firms so openly promote the practice of working around the rules and doing something which, as per the regulations, is not permitted. But we suppose that’s exactly what large companies pay such law firms to achieve.

It is a Tough Market for Patent Trolls in the US, But Microsoft-Connected Trolls Still Manage to Harm Android/Linux

Saturday 3rd of February 2018 04:08:47 PM

Simon Phipps, OSI President, earlier today: “Microsoft tried to kill open source, conspiring in something called the Halloween documents.”

John Sullivan, Executive Director of the Free Software Foundation (FSF),‏ earlier today:

Periodic reminder that Microsoft is not an "enthusiastic open supporter" unless you overlook whole > billion dollar patent extortion thing.

— John Sullivan (@johns_FSF) February 3, 2018

Summary: The litigious climate or atmosphere of litigation in the United States may have moved eastwards to China, where Microsoft and its proxies continue to shake down major Linux-using rivals (such as Huawei)

THE USPTO grants patents at record rates, but patent litigation is falling every year. That’s because the certainty associated with granted patents is decreasing.

“…the certainty associated with granted patents is decreasing.”3 days ago came a new press release which speaks of a “new chief licensing officer” in InterDigital, a company whose entire ‘business’ is patent shakedowns. We are guessing that they have trouble. IAM took note of that. There’s lots of turbulence and resignations (the “rats jumping the sinking ship” so to speak) in the patent trolls ‘industry’ these days, with many examples of that. We have been covering several in the past few months. Now, according to IAM, a few of these entities go east. “Tu joins an organisation that, as well as former Ericsson chief IP officer Kasim Alfalahi [he is a patent troll] at its head,” IAM said about the Marconi Group on Friday.

So they will try their luck in China, the ‘new’ Eastern District of Texas.

“So they will try their luck in China, the ‘new’ Eastern District of Texas.”What we found noteworthy is this report about Nokia, sent to us also by two readers. Nokia is fighting against Linux/Android with patent blackmail ‘on behalf’ of Microsoft; it specifically targets companies that Microsoft could never successfully shake down with patents, notably Apple and Huawei [1, 2]. As the report puts it: “The Finnish telecoms equipment maker said on Thursday its fourth-quarter profit grew by 7 percent to 1 billion euros from the previous year, helped along by a patent payment from China’s Huawei.”

Earlier (this morning) we found another report of interest. The Microsoft-connected Intellectual Ventures tops the chart in “Patent Trolls Activity Update: Transport Zone 2017″ from Unified Patents (published a short while ago). To quote a couple of portions:

NPEs continue to pose a serious risk to automotive companies and account for 72 percent of litigation in 2017. The majority of these threats came from Patent Assertion Entities (entities whose primary purpose is patent assertion), however auto companies also faced threats from a small handful of individual inventors.

[...]

Figure 5: 2017′s most frequent plaintiffs for the Transport zone

Intellectual Ventures (14 assertions)
Somaltus LLC (12 assertions)
Magnacross LLC (11 assertions)
Location Based Services, LLC (9 assertions)
Blue Sky Networks, LLC (8 assertions)

As we have been pointing out for a while, Microsoft likes to arm and unleash trolls at its competition, in order for people to run to Microsoft for perceived ‘safety’ [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13]. We gave another example a month ago and days ago. Another serious antitrust probe should be in order.

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on “Jurisdictional Immunity of International Organisations and Rights of Their Staff”

Saturday 3rd of February 2018 01:10:52 PM

Resolution No. 2206 adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on 26 January 2018

Local copies of relevant documents (PDF):

Summary: A reader-contributed article about the issues associated with immunity at the EPO and what European officials have been saying lately

On 26 January 2018 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) held a debate on a Resolution dealing with the subject of “Jurisdictional immunity of international organisations and rights of their staff”.

The Assembly adopted the Resolution (no. 2206) and an accompanying Recommendation (No. 2122).

Both documents can be downloaded from the website of the Council of Europe.

Resolution No. 2206 is here.

Recommendation No. 2122 is here.

The story behind this action of the Parliamentary Assembly goes back to a written declaration (No. 596) of 25 June 2015 entitled “Rollback of fundamental rights at the European Patent Office” which was tabled by the French parliamentarian Mr. Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’ and signed by a total of 82 members of the Assembly.

The written declaration was followed by a motion for a resolution tabled by Mr. Le Borgn’ and others on 6 October 2015. The motion for a resolution (Doc. 13905) was entitled “Jurisdictional immunity of international organisations and rights of their staff”.

On 29 November 2017 the Legal Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly issued a report on the matter including a draft resolution.

The Rapporteur for the Legal Affairs Committee was Mr. Volker Ullrich (a member of the German Federal Parliament). One of the expert witnesses heard by the Committee was the Dutch human rights expert Prof. Liesbeth Zegveld who has played a prominent role in attempting to tackle human rights abuses at the EPO.

Point 44 of the Report refers specifically to the situation at the EPO: “Following the case brought by SUEPO and the other unions before the Dutch courts, EPO management had started a campaign against members of SUEPO; some of them had been dismissed or suspended, or their salaries or pensions had been cut. As the EPO is subject to no public scrutiny, its Administrative Council, the organisation’s supervisory body, has done nothing to prevent unfair disciplinary proceedings and internal investigations. As a result, the activities of IOs, which often lie beyond the democratic scrutiny of national parliaments and the media, should be more transparent and monitored more closely by States, which are held responsible for the abuses taking place in these organisations. This case also shows the importance of upholding freedom of association in cases of disputes with employers, especially if the employer is an IO, and the need for trade unions to have access to all available means of redress.

On 24 January 2018 the Social Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly issued an Opinion on the Report of the Legal Affairs Committee and included some proposed amendments to the draft resolution.

The Rapporteur for the Social Affairs Committee was Mr. Stefan Schennach (a member of the Austrian Parliament).

The Opinion of the Social Affairs Committee contains further comments about the unacceptable situation at the EPO. For example: “It is no secret that the signatories of the original motion for a resolution had the situation at the European Patent Office (EPO) in mind when tabling this motion. The EPO – like other international organisations – is not exactly a paragon of transparency when it comes to its internal workings, but the situation has deteriorated so badly over the last few years that there has even been some media attention. From this media coverage it appears that the President of the EPO installed in 2010 has waged a campaign against staff who oppose his reform efforts (with staff representatives members of the trade union SUEPO being in the first line of fire): by 2016, three elected staff representatives had been dismissed, others had been demoted and/or had seen their salaries or pensions cut. Staff complain about a campaign of intimidation, harassment and discrimination, resulting in burn-out and other sickness, and even suicides: Over the past four years, five EPO staff members have committed suicide, two of them at their place of work.”

The Rapporteur had some strong words of criticism for the current style of management at the EPO: “Quite frankly, if the “success” of an international organisation such as the EPO is built on campaigns of harassment and intimidation which drive staff members to suicide, then the price of this success is too high. This should be obvious to the governing body of the international organisations in question, and thus, ideally, in case of such abuses, the governing body would ensure that the international organisation’s management stops the abuse and goes back to respecting staff rights. If this is not the case, then the internal remedy system of the international organisations should be able to put things right again. This is why I fully support the proposals made by Mr Ullrich and the Committee on Legal Affairs to ensure that all international organisations introduce appropriate mechanisms to protect the rights of staff, along with procedures for lodging appeals.”

Following a debate held on 26 January 2018, the Assembly adopted the proposed Resolution and the accompanying Recommendation.

A video of the debate is accessible on the Council of Europe Web site.

The European Council Confirms That the Unitary/Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA) is “Outside the Legal Framework of the European Union”

Saturday 3rd of February 2018 12:33:09 PM

Another unaccountable authority to be pursued?


Image courtesy: campact.de

Summary: The vision of the Unitary Patent looks a lot like another Battistelli-type regime rather than a court of justice

THE MANAGEMENT of the EPO did some UPC spin with former (until very recently) IP Kat authors. The EPO and others close to Team UPC then boosted this spin; it goes something along the lines of “Britain remains part of the EPC after Brexit and thus UPC is all fine and dandy for the UK to ratify,” even though the UPC is neither necessary nor desirable for the UK. This spin came from no-one other than Battistelli, who according to rumours wants (or wanted) to be the UPC’s chief.

“The management of the EPO did some UPC spin with former (until very recently) IP Kat authors.”Siegfried Broß (pictured above), who repeatedly explained the issues with the UPC, is back as a discussion topic after an IP Kat comment (mentioned here before) which SUEPO has just/must have noticed, adding that “[a]n article and a lecture by Prof. Dr. Siegfried Broß, former judge at the German Federal Constitutional Court of Karlsruhe.”

SUEPO made copies and added: “Both documents incidentally also deal with the employment situation of staff members of international organisations.”

One of our readers has meanwhile explained another reason to shun the UPC:

The MEP Pascal Arimont submitted a question for written answer to the European Council on 9 February 2017.

“The EPO and others close to Team UPC then boosted this spin…”Mr. Arimont (Wikipedia has information in English) is a Belgian MEP for the Christian Social Party, which sits in the EPP Group in the European Parliament.

“I would go easy on him,” said a reader from Belgium. “As member of the central-right European People’s Party, he can can flip in any direction at any moment.”

The European Council is the institution of the EU that comprises the heads of state or government of the member states, along with the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission.

Arimont’s question was a follow-up to an earlier question about the UPC. This time he specifically asked the following: “What is the Council doing to ensure that the agreement on a unified patent court is finally ratified by a sufficient number of participant States? — From what date is the new European patent system due to be in operation in its entirety?”

“This spin came from no-one other than Battistelli, who according to rumours wants (or wanted) to be the UPC’s chief.”The answer which came from the Council on 2 May 2017 is interesting because it confirms that the Unitary Patent Court Agreement (UPCA) is “an international agreement – concluded outside the legal framework of the European Union – which is subject to ratification by those Member States which are parties to it.”

So from a legal perspective the UPCA is outside the framework of the EU. It’s an “international agreement” much like the European Patent Convention. Although the agreement is concluded among EU states, the EU doesn’t seem to have any effective control over the court which it establishes and the agreement seems destined to create another legal “black hole” on the international stage.

Links 3/2/2018: Wine 3.1, Elisa 0.0.81, Elive 2.9.26 Beta, Glibc 2.27

Saturday 3rd of February 2018 11:50:38 AM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Top 10 Open Source AI Projects in 2018

    These days, it’s hard to escape the hype surround artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. According to a September 2017 forecast from IDC, worldwide spending on cognitive and AI solutions was around $12.0 billion in 2017. That total is likely to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 50.1 percent through 2021, when the market will hit a whopping $57.6 billion.

    In its 2018 predictions, Forrester Research predicted that during this year, “AI will reshape analytic and business innovation” and that “AI will make decisions and provide real-time instructions at 20% of firms.” However, it also cautioned that “2018 will be the year that CIOs will realize that new technologies like AI require hard work.”

  • Open source software: 20 years and counting

    Twenty years later, that campaign has proven wildly successful, beyond the imagination of anyone involved at the time. Today open source software is literally everywhere. It is the foundation for the internet and the web. It powers the computers and mobile devices we all use, as well as the networks they connect to. Without it, cloud computing and the nascent Internet of Things would be impossible to scale and perhaps to create. It has enabled new ways of doing business to be tested and proven, allowing giant corporations like Google and Facebook to start from the top of a mountain others already climbed.

  • Open source is 20: How it changed programming and business forever
  • The history behind Christine Peterson’s term ‘open source software’

    Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of open source software. The term open source has become an important phrase in the software development world, but it didn’t always exist.

    The phrase was coined by Christine Peterson, the cofounder and past president of the nontech public interest group Foresight Institute. After 20 years, Peterson is revealing more insight into how the use of the term open source software began. Peterson noted there are a variety of different accounts on coining the term, but hers came from a need to make the field more accessible.

  • Open source turns 20 this weekend

    OPEN SOURCE software is 20 years old this weekend.

    At first, you might say “really, is that all?” but let’s be clear on what we (and the industry) means by ‘open source’.

    It’s not to do with copyright either. US law didn’t allow software to be copyrighted until 1974, but that’s still 24 years in the wilderness. Open source software still has a copyright. Somewhere. Lots of them in fact.

    Open source is not free. Well, it usually is, but that’s not the point. Open source means literally, that – the source code is open and editable and anyone can have it and modify it under the terms of a set licence. It’s free to the end user, providing you don’t profit from it yourself, and (in most cases) you contribute any changes you make back to the community.

  • ADLINK Delivers Open-Source DDS Platform
  • Securing the guts of the Gits with GitLab

    GitLab is expanding… but what is its position in the total source code repository management universe?

    Let’s draw a couple of lines first with a nod to the SESYNC research support community for its clarification.

    GitHub open source and free.

  • Events
    • Call for Proposals Now Open – Speak at Open Source Summit Japan, North America, Europe

      Open Source Summit Japan, North America and Europe are the leading conferences for developers, architects and other technologists – as well as open source community and industry leaders – to collaborate, share information, learn about the the latest technologies and gain a competitive advantage by using innovative open solutions.

    • The Linux Foundation Announces Keynote Speakers for Open Networking Summit North America

      Open Networking Summit (ONS) is the industry’s premier open networking event, gathering enterprises, service providers and cloud providers across the ecosystem to share learnings, highlight innovation and discuss the future of open source networking, including software defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), orchestration and the automation of cloud, network and IoT services.

    • CS3 Workshop 2018 – Global Scale and the future of Federated Cloud Sharing

      At this years CS3 Workshop in Krakow I presented the current state of Nextcloud’s Global Scale architecture. Probably the most interesting part of the talk was the current development in the area of Federated Cloud Sharing, a central component of Global Scale. Originally, Federated Cloud Sharing was developed by Frank Karlitschek and me in 2014 at ownCloud. These day it enables cloud solutions from ownCloud, Pydio and Nextcloud to exchange files.

      As part of Global Scale we will add federated group sharing in the coming months. Further we want to enable apps to provide additional “federated share providers” in order to implement federated calendar sharing, federated contact sharing and more.

    • A division of labor in free software, LinuxConfAu 2018, Sydney, Australia

      FSF campaigns manager Molly de Blanc delivered the talk “A division of labor in free software” in January 2018, at LinuxConfAu 2018. To create this talk, Molly analyzed the results from four community surveys from 2003, 2013, 2016, and 2017 (as well as other bits of data around the internet). With fourteen (incomplete) years of community data, she attempts to quantify the ways the make up of free software has changed, where we’re not doing as well as we’d like, and how we can do better.

    • FOSDEM 2018 Is This Weekend In Brussels

      It’s a bit late to make arrangements if you already weren’t planning on it, but this weekend is FOSDEM in Brussels. FOSDEM remains one of the best open-source/Linux events in the world.

    • IoT Gadgets at FOSDEM 2018 – Brussels, Belgium
    • DevConf 2018: long live containerization

      DevConf is a yearly conference for developers, administrators, and users of Linux and related technologies. It is organized by Red Hat in Brno, home to one of their major development centers. This event was the 10th in a row and the largest ever. It collects Red Hat stuff from all around the world, so I met old and new Red Hat friends from all over Europe, the US, and even from Australia. Many of the talks focused on containerization, even desktop talks, like those about the Atomic Workstation. One of my favorite talks was about documentation

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • These Weeks in Dev-Tools, issue 3

        These Weeks in Dev-Tools will keep you up to date with all the exciting dev tools news. We plan to have a new issue every few weeks. If you have any news you’d like us to report, please comment on the tracking issue.

      • These Weeks in Firefox: Issue 31
      • Understanding Extension Permission Requests

        An extension is software developed by a third party that modifies how you experience the web in Firefox. Since they work by tapping into the inner workings of Firefox, but are not built by Mozilla, it’s good practice to understand the permissions they ask for and how to make decisions about what to install. While rare, a malicious extension can do things like steal your data or track your browsing across the web without you realizing it.

        We have been taking steps to reduce the risk of extensions, the most significant of which was moving to a WebExtensions architecture with the release of Firefox 57 last fall. The new APIs limit an extension’s ability to access certain parts of the browser and the information they process. We also have a variety of security measures in place, such as a review process that is designed to make it difficult for malicious developers to publish extensions. Nevertheless, these systems cannot guarantee that extensions will be 100% safe.

      • Janitor project – Newsletter 10

        We hope you’ve had a smooth start into the year, and wish you all the best in your life and projects. This is your recurrent burst of good news about Janitor.

      • Switch from Chrome to Firefox in just a Few Minutes

        You’ve heard about how fast the new Firefox is. You’ve heard it’s made by people who want the web to be awesome for everyone. You like that, you’re curious to try, but you hesitate. Moving from Chrome to Firefox seems like work. Fussy, computer-y IT work. Ugh. ”What about all my “stuff”? I don’t want to set all this up again.”

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • Glibc 2.27 Released With Many Optimizations, Support For Static PIE Executables

      Being released right on time is Glibc 2.27, version 2.27 of the GNU C Library.

      As we have been covering the past few months, exciting us a lot about Glibc 2.27 are many performance optimizations with a number of functions receiving AVX/FMA tuning and other performance tweaks particularly for x86_64. But even on the ARM64/AArch64 side are also some performance optimizations as well as for POWER and SPARC.

    • GNU C Library 2.27 released

      The GNU C Library version 2.27 is now available.

      The GNU C Library is used as *the* C library in the GNU system and in GNU/Linux systems, as well as many other systems that use Linux as the kernel.

    • Everything you didn’t know about FSFE in a picture

      As FSFE’s community begins exploring our future, I thought it would be helpful to start with a visual guide to the current structure.

      All the information I’ve gathered here is publicly available but people rarely see it in one place, hence the heading. There is no suggestion that anything has been deliberately hidden.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Start Your Apollo Collection with an Open Source DSKY

        Given that there have been only six manned moon landings, and that almost all of the hardware that started on the launch pad was discarded along the way, getting your hands on flown hardware is not generally the business of mere mortals. Such artifacts are mostly in museums or in the hands of very rich private collectors. Enthusiasts have to settle for replicas like this open source Apollo Guidance Computer DSKY.

        The DSKY, or Display and Keyboard, was the user interface for the Apollo Guidance Computer, that marvel of 1960s computer engineering that was purpose-built to control the guidance and navigation of the Command and Lunar Excursion modules. [ST-Geotronics] has made a decent replica of the DSKY using 3D-printed parts for the housing and bezel. There’s a custom PCB inside that houses a matrix of Neopixels for the indicator light panel and seven-segment LEDs for the numeric displays. Sadly but understandably, the original electroluminescent display could not be reproduced, but luckily [Fran Blanche] is working on just that project these days. The three-segment displays for the plus and minus signs in the numeric displays proved impossible to source commercially, so the team had to roll their own for that authentic look. With laser cut and engraved overlays for the displays and keycaps, the look is very realistic, and the software even implements a few AGC-like functions.

      • Open-Source IP in Government Electronics

        At the RISC-V conference late last year, one of the keynotes was by Linton Salmon titled A Perspective on the Role of Open-Source IP in Government Electronic Systems. It was not specifically about RISC-V, although the RISC-V ISA and many of the implementations to date (but not all) are open source.

  • Programming/Development
    • Shell Scripting: Dungeons, Dragons and Dice

      In my last article, I talked about a really simple shell script for a game called Bunco, which is a dice game played in rounds where you roll three dice and compare your values to the round number. Match all three and match the round number, and you just got a bunco for 25 points. Otherwise, any die that match the round are worth one point each. It’s simple—a game designed for people who are getting tipsy at the local pub, and it also is easy to program.

    • Pair programming with git

      Git is great. It took the crown of version control systems in just a few years. Baked into the git model is that each commit has a committer and one author. Ofen this is the same person. What if there is more than one author for a commit? This is the case with pair programming or with mob programming or with any other way of collaboration where code is produced by more than one person. I talked about this at the git-merge conference last year. There are some workarounds but there is no native support in git yet.

      It seems that the predominant convention to express multi-authorship in git commits is to add a Co-authored-by entry in the commit message as a so-called trailer. This adds more flexibility than trying to tweak the author and committer fields and is quite widely accepted, especially by the git community.

    • How programmers learn to code

      In terms of how programmers learnt to code, self-teaching is the norm for developers of all ages, stated the report.

      “Even though 67% of developers have computer science degrees, roughly 74% said they were at least partially self-taught.”

      On average, developers know four languages, but they want to learn four more.

    • PHP version 7.1.14 and 7.2.2

      RPM of PHP version 7.2.2 are available in the remi-php72 repository for Fedora 25-27 and Enterprise Linux ≥ 6 (RHEL, CentOS) and as Software Collection in the remi-safe repository.

      RPM of PHP version 7.1.14 are available in remi repository for Fedora 26-27 and in remi-php71 repository for Fedora 24-25 and Enterprise Linux (RHEL, CentOS).

    • PHPUnit 7.0
Leftovers
  • Remember LinkedIn? A year on from the $27bn Microsoft takeover – was it worth it?
  • Microsoft Office 2019 will only work on Windows 10

    Microsoft is providing an update on Office 2019 today, revealing that the apps will only run on Windows 10. In a support article for service and support of Windows and Office, Microsoft has revealed you’ll need to upgrade to Windows 10 if you want the latest version of Office without subscribing to the company’s Office 365 service.

  • No, Windows 10 hasn’t overtaken Windows 7

    It’s a contrast that Microsoft is already used to being flummoxed by. We’re coming up on two years since the release of Windows 10. Yet our desktop figures still show people are, for the most part, sticking to Windows 7. This month it has a 42.39 (-0.69) per cent market share.

    Compare that with Windows 10 it’s up slightly as 34.29 (+1.36) and it’s way ahead of Windows 8.x at 6.43 (-0.47) but there’s still no evidence of anything being set to change significantly. If Microsoft wants to ‘fix it’ they’re going to have to try and keep up the subtle efforts to ‘break it’.

  • Apple Results: Flat Sales vs Year Before, Market Share Down One Point (Yet Again)

    For full year numbers, Apple just barely inched better sales than the year before. It was up by 400,000 units from 215.4M to 215.8M but that IS growth, technically. In reality it is less than half of one percent – so it is flat vs year before. Don’t kid yourself. Apple annual sales were flat. And considering its headwinds this past year, that is doing pretty well, all things considered. But market share, that is a different story. Apple annual market share lost another point and is now at 14%.

  • iPhone ‘Super Cycle’ Pronounced Dead

    The iPhone “super cycle” — a wave of upgrades and new customers that was supposed to wash over Apple Inc. this year with the introduction of its model X — was pronounced dead on arrival.

    In Apple’s first earnings report since the launch of the pricey flagship smartphone, the company reported lower-than-expected handset sales from the holiday period. Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri also forecast a decline in the average selling price of iPhones in the current quarter, suggesting the most-expensive models aren’t as popular.

  • Apple sells fewer phones but profits rise
  • iPhone sales down, but revenue up in latest quarter

    Apple sold less iPhones in the latest quarter but earned a lot more than a year ago, given the price of its iPhone X began at US$1000, according to the company’s results for the first fiscal quarter of 2018. The user base of active devices rose to 1.3 billion in January.

  • Apple Says It Will Implement Toggle Option for iPhone Slowdowns Next Month

    Apple has confirmed the investigations launched by the US government over slowing down of customer’s iPhone devices without being more transparent and says the promised power management features are coming next month.

    As you may be aware, Apple released last year a new software update that implemented a so-called feature which slowed down the performance of certain iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s devices with degrated batteries under cold weather and when the battery charge was low.

    The feature was extended to iPhone 7 models as well a year later, and discovered by accident after some users reported slowdowns on their older iPhone devices. Apple wasn’t really transparent about this feature, even so Apple CEO Tim Cook said in an interview earlier this month that they said so in the release notes of the respective iOS update.

    Anyway, when Apple came clean about slowing down older iPhone devices, numerous customers sued the company, and it now looks like even the U.S. government is asking them about the handling of older iPhone batteries and their transparency to customers, as Bloomberg reported earlier this week.

  • IoT garage opener now more open, a year after customer firestorm

    Last April, Ars reported the curious incident of an Internet-of-Things garage door opener creator who responded to negative reviews and complaints from one customer by shutting down the customer’s account—and in the process, rendering the product unusable. Now, Garadget founder Denis Grisak claims to have reformed his ways, saying he’s opening up the firmware of his company’s eponymous device to allow customers to connect it to the home automation software of their choice, rather than having to rely on Garadget’s own cloud-based service.

  • Science
    • How two sisters brought robotics and coding to young girls

      At their programme, the founders believe in using only hands-on tools to teach. Softwares such as Scratch (an open source software from Massachusetts Institute of Technology) are used to impart technical know-how to the students. “It is as simple as drag and drop but uses fun projects using coding language,” says Prasad, adding, that they as a company also developed and launched Phiro Robots in 2015, that their students now use.

  • Hardware
    • REVIEW: 5 top hardware-based Wi-Fi test tools

      Software tools for testing Wi-Fi can run on a laptop, but dedicated hardware tools offer the convenience of a sometimes less cumbersome form-factor that are compact enough to fit in the pouch of a laptop bag.

      This article looks at five of these devices: AirCheck G2 Wireless Tester (NETSCOUT), Cape Networks Sensor, EyeQ Wi-Fi Monitor (7SIGNAL), NetBeez Wi-Fi Monitor and WiFi Pineapple Tetra.

  • Health/Nutrition
  • Security
    • Growth of open source adoption increases number of security vulnerabilities [Ed: No, Equifax was the opposite. It's proof that patches were available but were not being applied.]

      The 2017 Equifax breach served as a major PSA of the growing size and scope of security vulnerabilities in open source — software components and applications. Despite many of them being “known,” these security flaws pose a potentially debilitating risk to enterprise security.

    • Software Composition Analysis: Identify Risk in Open Source Componentsf

      In March of 2017, it was reported that certain versions of the Apache Struts 2 Framework were vulnerable to Remote Code Execution attacks. If you were using a vulnerable version of the Apache Struts 2, the recommended remediation was to upgrade to Apache Struts 2.3.32 or 2.5.10.1. The issue was a Remote Code Execution bug in the Jakarta Multipart parser of Apache Struts 2 that could allow an attacker to execute malicious commands on the server when uploading files based on the parser.

    • Mitigating known security risks in open source libraries

      This chapter focuses on all you should know about fixing vulnerable packages, including remediation options, tooling, and various nuances. Note that SCA tools traditionally focused on finding or preventing vulnerabilities, and most put little emphasis on fix beyond providing advisory information or logging an issue. Therefore, you may need to implement some of these remediations yourself, at least until more SCA solutions expand to include them.

    • How to eliminate the default route for greater security
    • A giant botnet is forcing Windows servers to mine cryptocurrency

      A massive cyptocurrency mining botnet has taken over half a million machines, and may have made its cybercriminal controllers millions of dollars. The whole operation is powered by EternalBlue, the leaked NSA exploit which made the WannaCry ransomware outbreak so destructive.

      The Smominru miner botnet turns infected machines into miners of the Monero cryptocurrency and is believed to have made its owners around $3.6m since it started operating in May 2017 — about a month after EternalBlue leaked and around the same time as the WannaCry attack.

      While it isn’t uncommon for cybercriminals to leverage the power of hijacked networks of computers to acquire cryptocurrency, this particular network is significant due to its individual size — double that of the Adylkuzz mining botnet.

    • NSA’s Microsoft SMB protocol exploit EternalBlue returns with WannaMine cryptocurrency-jacking malware
    • Fileless WannaMine Cryptojacking Malware Using NSA Exploit
    • WannaMine: Cryptocurrency Mining Malware That Uses An NSA Exploit
    • Security updates for Friday
    • Meltdown-Spectre: Malware is already being tested by attackers
    • How to Check Your Linux PC for Meltdown or Spectre Vulnerability
    • Microsoft disables Spectre patch after bugs reported

      Over the weekend, Microsoft released an update that disables a patch to Intel CPUs after reports that the patch — meant to fix a design flaw known as Spectre — caused unexpected reboots and other other problems. Intel called a halt to installations of the patch one week ago, but Microsoft’s new update goes a step further and disables the patches on any computers that already had them installed.

    • New Adobe Flash Zero-Day Spotted in the Wild

      South Korean authorities have issued a warning regarding a brand new Flash zero-day deployed in the wild.

      According to a security alert issued by the South Korean Computer Emergency Response Team (KR-CERT), the zero-day affects Flash Player installs 28.0.0.137 and earlier. Flash 28.0.0.137 is the current Flash version number.

      “An attacker can persuade users to open Microsoft Office documents, web pages, spam e-mails, etc. that contain Flash files that distribute the malicious [Flash] code,” KR-CERT said. The malicious code is believed to be a Flash SWF file embedded in MS Word documents.

    • An Adobe Flash 0day is being actively exploited in the wild

      The critical, use-after-free vulnerability, which is indexed as CVE-2018-4877, resides in the latest version of the widely installed Flash, researchers from Cisco Systems’ Talos group said in a blog post. Adobe said separately that versions earlier than current Flash 28.0.0.137 are also susceptible. The vulnerability came to light on Wednesday when South Korea’s CERT issued an advisory warning that attack code was circulating in the wild that exploited the zeroday flaw.

      Talos said the exploit is being distributed through a Microsoft Excel document that has a malicious Flash object embedded into it. Once the SWF object is triggered, it installs ROKRAT, a remote administration tool Talos has been tracking since January 2017. Until now, the group behind ROKRAT—which Talos calls Group 123—has relied on social engineering or exploits of older, previously known vulnerabilities that targets hadn’t yet patched. This is the first time the group has used a zeroday exploit.

    • Cryptocurrency botnets are rendering some companies unable to operate

      Like Zealot, Smominru uses other exploit techniques to infect targeted computers, but it can fall back on the NSA-developed EternalBlue in certain cases, presumably for spreading from machine to machine inside infected networks or when other infection techniques fail on a machine that hasn’t been patched. Smominru also makes use of the Windows Management Interface. Proofpoint said that the botnet is also likely exacting a punishing performance impact on the business networks it infects by slowing down servers and driving up electricity costs.

    • 6 important security takeaways from applying Spectre and Meltdown patches

      A flurry of patching commenced across all industries once these vulnerabilities came to light due to the severity involved. Here are seven important lessons I took away from the process:]…

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Defectors Torn by North Korean Olympic Charm Offensive

      The women cheerleaders undergo extensive ideological education to ensure loyalty to the state and to the leadership of the Kim family.

    • Another Warmonger Rewarded for Being Wrong on Iraq War

      How many war-boosters does the Washington Post need? Tuesday, the capital’s most influential paper announced that Max Boot, yet another white, pro-war, pro-Israel, blow-everything-up pundit, would be joining their opinion section. It goes to show, again, that the most certain way to move up in the media pundit universe is to consistently echo US national security orthodoxy—without pause or regret.

      Aside from Nation editor-in-chief Katrina vanden Heuvel, Post columnists’ opinions on matters of war and peace range from supporting covert CIA operations and “targeted airstrikes” to outright regime change—with Boot falling on the far right end of this already very right-wing spectrum. One analysis from reporter Kelsey D. Atherton found that in 2012 Max Boot supported starting a new war or escalating an existing one once every 3.5 days. He has long championed the Iraq War (expressly defending it as recently as 2013), the Libya War, the overthrow of Assad, arming dozens of groups throughout the globe and launching an offensive war against Iran. Leftists are often criticized for calling the US an “empire”; Boot, in “The Case for American Empire” (Weekly Standard, 10/20/01), overtly advocated for one.

    • Turkey’s Erdogan in the Shadows of the Ottoman Empire

      It is difficult to fathom why Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – who embarked on the most impressive social, political, and economic reforms during his first ten years in office – turned around and systematically destroyed all that he had achieved. In doing so, he transformed the country into a police state where Islamic nationalism reigns supreme.

    • Responding to Bernie’s Promotion of the New Cold War

      In an otherwise fine video response to Tuesday night’s vapid, flag-waving State of the Union address, Bernie Sanders once again promoted the neocon think tank-generated and unproven claim that Russia interfered in America’s 2016 elections via “cyberwarfare,” and repeated the completely baseless insinuation that they colluded with Trump to do so.

    • Vietnam and the U.S. ‘Forever Wars’

      This revisionist history began in 1986 with an article by David Petraeus in the military journal Parameters, in which he argued that the U.S. army was unprepared to fight low intensity conflicts (such as Vietnam), and that “what the country needed wasn’t fewer Vietnams; but better-fought ones. The next time, he concluded fatefully, the military should do a far better job of implementing counterinsurgency forces, equipment, tactics, and doctrine to win such wars.”

      One strand of military analysis (the Clauswitzian, “go-big” hypothesis), about how to “win” next time, was initiated by a Colonel Harry Summers, who suggested that “civilian policymakers had lost the war by focusing hopelessly on the insurgency in South Vietnam rather than focus on the North Vietnamese capital, Hanoi: More troops, more aggressiveness, even full-scale invasions of communist safe havens in Laos, Cambodia, and North Vietnam, would have led to victory.”

      Though H.R. McMaster (the present National Security Advisor) in a 1997 book, Dereliction of Duty, pinned the blame rather on the Joint Chiefs of Staff for a lack of honesty in advising the President Johnson on what was needed to “win,” he agreed with Summers that “winning” required a more aggressive offensive strategy – a full ground invasion of the North, or unrelenting carpet-bombing of that country.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • The Dag Hammarskjöld Fund for Journalists

      The Dag Hammarskjöld Fund for Journalists is now accepting applications from professional journalists from mainly developing countries for its 2018 fellowship program. The application deadline is March 12, 2018.

    • WikiLeaks Has Published Leaks On Trump Admin And Russia, And Is Seeking More

      WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange recently posted a harsh criticism of what he calls Trump’s “subservience to Saudi Arabia’s military adventurism in Yemen” and the explosion of civilian deaths caused by this administration’s greatly escalated drone assassination program. This received an angry backlash from many of Assange’s Trump-supporting Twitter followers, one of them exclaiming, “Has your account been taken over by the deep state? Seems like you are trying to turn us against Trump. I have lost a lot of faith in you Julian. I thought you were a Trump supporter but this seems to show otherwise. Keep this up and you can kiss that pardon goodbye, sir.”

      “My principles are not for sale,” Assange replied.

      Over and over and over again you’ll see this exact sort of confusion about Assange and WikiLeaks coming from both sides of America’s illusory partisan divide. Democrats believe that Assange is a Trump-supporting Kremlin asset while Trump supporters believe Assange is a based MAGA hat-wearing ally to their cause, the former because they were told to believe that by CNN and the Washington Post and the latter because they’ve seen him championed by Fox’s Sean Hannity and the elaborate 4chan hoax “QAnon”. Neither could be further from the truth.

    • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on verge of leaving diplomatic sanctuary of Ecuador Embassy in London

      IT is not exactly a song to inspire an image of a self-proclaimed freedom fighter, but on August 16, 2012 Julian Paul Assange had few musical options available.

  • Finance
    • Will the Supreme Court deal a blow to trade unions?
    • Amazon’s international losses cross $3 bn in 2017 on India business growth

      International losses grew to $3 billion in 2017 from $1.28 billion in 2016, while international sales jumped to $54 billion from $43.9 billion. In the quarter ended December, Amazon’s international losses stood at $919 million, almost double the loss of $487 million in the December quarter of 2016.

    • Jeff Bezos adds billions to his fortune as Amazon reports profit surge
    • Amazon Investments Pay Off With Rising Sales and Bigger Profit

      The results on Thursday reassured investors that Amazon can spend money in areas such as advertising, entertainment and groceries while maintaining its dominance in online shopping and cloud computing. Revenue growth is accelerating even as the company is expected to cross $200 billion in sales this year and make more money from its original U.S. online retail business.

    • Amazon fulfillment centers don’t boost employment, analysis finds

      After analyzing data for counties in 25 states containing Amazon fulfillment centers, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found that within two years the centers lead to a 30% increase in warehouse and storage employment in the surrounding county. But the analysis also found no increase in overall employment in the county and, in some cases, the data suggested a reduction in overall employment.

    • The Banana Trick and Other Acts of Self-Checkout Thievery

      Whether out of social responsibility or frustration with shrinkage, some retailers, including Albertsons, Big Y Supermarket, Pavilions, and Vons, have scaled back or eliminated self-scanning, at least in some stores. But others continue to add it.

    • Kaz Hirai Hands Sony Corp. CEO Reins to Top Lieutenant, Shifts to Chairman Role

      Sony Corp. announced the new management structure late Thursday in advance of its fourth quarter 2017 earnings report early Friday. Kenichiro Yoshida, Sony Corp.’s chief financial officer, will take over as president-CEO as of April 1.

    • Bank of America to bar customers buying cryptocurrencies with credit cards

      Other credit card companies have also taken steps to prohibit consumers from using their cards to purchase cryptocurrencies. Capital One Financial Corp. and Discover Financial Services both do not support the transactions, Bloomberg News reported, while the largest U.S. card issuer JPMorgan Chase & Co. still allows the transactions.

    • Facebook using leverage to get advance notice about public info requests: report

      In states where Facebook reaches deals with the government to establish data centers, the company often reaches deals where it receives tax breaks in exchange for the new center. On more than one occasion, Facebook has arranged clauses which require governments in those regions to give the company several days notice before officials respond to FOIA requests, according to the Columbia Journalism Review.

    • Here Comes the Next Financial Crisis

      There’s been lots of fire and fury around Washington lately, including a brief government shutdown. In Donald Trump’s White House, you can hardly keep up with the ongoing brouhahas from North Korea to Robert Mueller’s Russian investigation, while it already feels like ages since the celebratory mood over the vast corporate tax cuts Congress passed last year. But don’t be fooled: none of that is as important as what’s missing from the picture. Like a disease, in the nation’s capital it’s often what you can’t see that will, in the end, hurt you most.

      Amid a roaring stock market and a planet of upbeat CEOs, few are even thinking about the havoc that a multi-trillion-dollar financial system gone rogue could inflict upon global stability. But watch out. Even in the seemingly best of times, neglecting Wall Street is a dangerous idea. With a rag-tag Trumpian crew of ex-bankers and Goldman Sachs alumni as the only watchdogs in town, it’s time to focus, because one thing is clear: Donald Trump’s economic team is in the process of making the financial system combustible again.

      Collectively, the biggest US banks already have their get-out-out-of-jail-free cards and are now sitting on record profits after, not so long ago, triggering sweeping unemployment, wrecking countless lives, and elevating global instability. (Not a single major bank CEO was given jail time for such acts.) Still, let’s not blame the dangers lurking at the heart of the financial system solely on the Trump doctrine of leaving banks alone. They should be shared by the Democrats who, under President Barack Obama, believed, and still believe, in the perfection of the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010.

    • India ready to explore blockchain tech, but no change in stance on cryptocurrency

      The Indian government is getting more serious about using blockchain technology into the growing digital economy of the country. But this does not mean it is going soft on cryptocurrencies.

    • Thanks to Bitcoin, Buying a PC Is Better Than Building One (for Now)

      Would-be millionaires are snatching up huge numbers of consumer-grade GPUs and cramming them into custom-built PCs that use blockchain software to “make” currencies like Bitcoin and Litecoin. As a result, graphics cards are thin on the ground, and retailers are raising prices to ludicrous levels to profit off of the inflated demand.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Learning from the New Yorker, Wired’s new paywall aims to build a more “stable financial future”

      Wired’s brand and mission may align it closely with the koan of the internet revolution that “information wants to be free,” but the days of unlimited free content at Wired.com are coming to an end.

      Starting today, visitors to Wired.com will be able to read four articles a month, plus a snippet of a fifth article, before Wired asks them to subscribe. A yearly subscription will have an introductory rate of $20 (final pricing is TBD), and will include access to Wired’s website as well as its print and digital editions.

    • Facebook’s usage decline should have investors worried — no matter what Mark Zuckerberg says

      In its fourth-quarter earnings report Wednesday, Facebook reported a 5% drop in daily usage of its service.

    • Facebook lost daily users for the first time ever in the U.S. and Canada

      Each user accounted for $26.76 worth of revenue for the company last quarter, and it went up by 35 percent over the same quarter last year.

    • Good news: Facebook usership declined in the US and Canada for the first time ever

      For the first time ever Facebook usership declined in the US and Canada, from 185 million in Q3 of 2017 to Q4 of 2018.

      Could it be that people are wising up to the fact that Facebook is a depressing, computational-propaganda-spewing, personal-data-abusing, walled-in cesspool of little value to anyone but shareholders, advertisers, and election throwers?

    • Facebook didn’t catch fake ‘supermoon’ video as it racked up 16 million views

      A Facebook Live video purportedly showing a live view of a “supermoon” over Greece but which in fact was a still image with wind sounds added was viewed more than 16 million times over four hours on Wednesday, apparently going undetected by the company even as some commenters pointed out that something fishy was going on.

    • Russia probe lawyers think Mueller could indict Trump

      Special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation has gathered enough steam that some lawyers representing key Donald Trump associates are considering the possibility of a historic first: an indictment against a sitting president.

      While many legal experts contend that Mueller lacks the standing to bring criminal charges against Trump, at least two attorneys working with clients swept up in the Russia probe told POLITICO they consider it possible that Mueller could indict the president for obstruction of justice.

    • Some Republicans uneasy with Trump releasing the Russia memo

      Many Republicans are clamoring to give the public a classified memo about intelligence collection in the Russia investigation.

      But not all of them.

      At least a handful of GOP lawmakers worry that its release could compromise intelligence-gathering and further enflame President Donald Trump’s conflict with his own law-enforcement agencies.

    • Newsweek and USA Today Need Standards for Opinion Writers

      Facts don’t matter in commentaries printed by Newsweek, so long as the writer “seems genuine.” That’s the takeaway from a troubling email exchange with Newsweek opinion editor Nicholas Wapshott in response to concerns and questions I raised about a recent commentary attacking the organic industry.

    • U.S. Media’s Objectivity Questioned Abroad

      The mainstream media’s nonstop Russiagate coverage and its embrace of #TheResistance has undermined its reputation for objectivity in Europe, reports Andrew Spannaus.

    • Revelations About the FBI’s Delay on Clinton Emails May Be Less Than They Seem

      Media reports this week have focused fresh attention on how the Federal Bureau of Investigation managed the dramatic discovery — five weeks before the 2016 presidential election — of what seemed to be a fresh trove of Hillary Clinton emails and the delay in investigating them that ensued. The articles are fueling Republican charges of an FBI cabal, intent on protecting the Democratic nominee.

    • Trump’s All-Out Attack on the Rule of Law

      With the imminent release of the jury-rigged “Nunes memo” and the resignation of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who had been under fire from the president, Donald Trump and his Republican allies in Congress have expanded their all-out assault on the American system of justice, including the FBI, the Justice Department, the US intelligence community, and the Office of the Special Counsel. It’s an unprecedented attack on what Team Trump refers to as an imagined “Deep State,” a “secret society” within the FBI, and a conspiracy of judges, courts, and intelligence officials who have allegedly banded together to bring down his presidency.

      There is of course a reality-based way to look at these events—namely, that the White House and the Trump campaign are under investigation by seasoned prosecutors and several congressional committees over plausible allegations that the president’s 2016 campaign colluded with or encouraged a Russian effort to influence the election’s outcome, and that since his inauguration Trump has engaged in a systematic effort to obstruct justice.

    • Donald Trump Incorrectly Asserts His State of the Union Was the Most Watched Ever

      On February 1, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to assert that people tuned into his first State of the Union in record numbers, claiming that it was the biggest audience in the entire history of the addresses. “Thank you for all of the nice compliments and reviews on the State of the Union speech,” he wrote. “45.6 million people watched, the highest number in history. @FoxNews beat every other Network, for the first time ever, with 11.7 million people tuning in. Delivered from the heart!”

      [...]

      While Trump could correctly boast that it was the most watched address since 2010 — again, citing data provided by Nielsen — numerous presidents prior to him had higher numbers. For instance, 51.7 million watched George W. Bush’s speech in 2002, 48 million watched Barack Obama’s address in 2010, and 45.8 million watched Bill Clinton’s remarks in 1994.

    • Paul Ryan and Devin Nunes Are Betraying the Constitution in the Service of Donald Trump

      Asked at the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 if the delegates had created a republic or a monarchy, Benjamin Franklin is reported to have replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

      Paul Ryan has abandoned the effort to keep it.

      At the heart of the US Constitution is a system of checks and balances that was established primarily to guard against the concentration of power in an executive branch that might tend toward royalism. The founders of the American experiment wanted to prevent a repeat of the monarchical abuses of King George III, against which their constituents had risen in revolution.

      “The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, selfappointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny,” warned James Madison, the essential author of the Constitution, who explained, “The great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Facebook Shuts Down ‘Black Panther’ Troll Group

      Facebook has removed the Down With Disney’s Treatment of Franchises and its Fanboys page, which was led by a professed member of the alt-right. The group created a Facebook event called “Give Black Panther a Rotten Audience Score on Rotten Tomatoes” with the intention of falsely deflating the movie score on the review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes as revenge for the perceived slights against fans of DC films due to their low scores. Before it was taken down, the event had over 4,000 Facebook users who indicated they were either “interested” or “going.”

    • Comedy should never be a safe space

      The problem also stems from the breakneck evolution of politicised social media. It used to be a choice to be politically incorrect. There were a smaller set of rules which you could consciously observe or object. Now the debate and lexicon move forward at a startling pace. The chattering classes are debating in hermetically sealed chambers, tossing out new codes and protocols at a rate many people struggle to keep up with.

    • ‘Fiction is outperforming reality’: how YouTube’s algorithm distorts truth

      Yet one stone has so far been largely unturned. Much has been written about Facebook and Twitter’s impact on politics, but in recent months academics have speculated that YouTube’s algorithms may have been instrumental in fuelling disinformation during the 2016 presidential election. “YouTube is the most overlooked story of 2016,” Zeynep Tufekci, a widely respected sociologist and technology critic, tweeted back in October. “Its search and recommender algorithms are misinformation engines.”

      If YouTube’s recommendation algorithm really has evolved to promote more disturbing content, how did that happen? And what is it doing to our politics?

    • It’s time for the G20’s first digital agenda [Ed: Mozilla would not (no longer?), for a change, suggest censoring the Web]

      Thoughtful and proactive digital policies are needed to reap social and economic benefits for all, the G20 and beyond. A G20 digital agenda can help us to address the challenges facing the health of the internet and future of the web and establish trust in the development of our digital lives.

    • Implementing Transparency About Content Moderation

      When people express free speech-based concerns about content removal by platforms, one type of suggestion they generally offer is — increase transparency. Tell us (on a website or in a report or with an informative “tombstone” left at the URL where the content used to be) details about what content was removed. This could happen lots of different ways, voluntarily or not, by law or industry standard or social norms. The content may come down, but at least we’ll have a record and some insight into what happened, at whose request, and why.

      In light of public discussions about platform transparency, especially in the past year, this post offers a few practical thoughts about transparency by online UGC platforms. First, some of the challenges platforms face in figuring out how to be transparent with users and the public about their content moderation processes. Second, the industry practice of transparency reports and what might be done to make them as useful as possible.

    • Censorship or debate starter? Here’s why removing Waterhouse’s Nymphs was a bad idea

      Manchester Art Gallery’s decision to temporarily remove John William Waterhouse’s 1896 work, Hylas and the Nymphs, has undeniably succeeded in its stated aim to “prompt conversation about how we display and interpret artwork”.

      The painting, which usually hangs in a gallery full of 19th-century works entitled In Pursuit of Beauty, has been temporarily removed, according to the gallery’s curator of contemporary art, Clare Gannaway. The painting was replaced by a notice telling visitors that the decision to take down the painting is itself an artistic act which will feature in a solo show by the artist Sonia Boyce which opens in March. Post-it notes were provided for people to leave their reactions.

    • Removing nymphs from a gallery is provocative – but does not merit contempt

      Manchester Art Gallery, was replaced with a notice explaining that a temporary space had been left “to prompt conversations about how we display and interpret artworks in Manchester’s public collection”. Members of the public have stuck Post-it notes on the wall giving their reaction.

      But the response from some critics to the removal from public view of the painting, Hylas and the Nymphs by John William Waterhouse, has been a torrent of barely disguised contempt and ire, and accusations of censorship.

      Such complaints wilfully obscure the role that art institutions play in shaping our cultural identities through exhibitions and displays. Who chooses these important narratives and determines what is, or is not, a legitimate part of the national cultural story?

    • What Winds of Freedom? An Experience With Censorship At Stanford

      On Tuesday, January 23rd, I woke up to hundreds of flyers adorning the walls of Stanford’s Kimball Hall urging students to call a hotline number to report Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) activity. The next day, I posted my own satirical flyer, which asked students to “protect community criminals” by reporting law enforcement officers doing their job.

      Asking students to report ICE activities against illegal immigrants is hardly different from asking them to report police officers and FBI agents to protect common criminals. And yet, on Wednesday afternoon, I discovered that all my flyers had been removed. Kimball Residential Fellows (RFs), biology Lecturer Andrew Todhunter and his wife Mrs. Erin Todhunter, informed me that since three students felt unsafe and hurt, they and the Kimball RAs had removed my flyers.

    • Chinese hip-hop ban aligns with state censorship, hypocritical to state’s methods

      China has long been a place of contradiction: it is the world’s newest super power, yet has the largest authoritarian government. It has the fastest-growing economy and a communist government, but still has stark income inequality. It is home to some of the greatest innovators, yet it has an intricate censorship system.

      The Chinese constitution grants citizens freedom of speech and press; however, according to the Council on Foreign Relations, the government has long kept a tight reign on citizens’ media consumption as a way to prevent subversion to authority. The government enforces these strict media controls by using monitoring systems and firewalls, outlawing certain websites, and jailing bloggers and journalists who speak out against the communist regime.

    • China orders microblog operators to tighten censorship

      Ratcheting up control over Chinese microblogs, regulators ordered operators on Friday to set up a mechanism to remove false information after the most popular service was criticized for allowing prohibited material to spread.

      The order adds to a steady drumbeat of new measures imposed by the government of President Xi Jiinping to tighten control over what China’s public can see and say online while still trying to reap the economic benefits of internet use.

    • China orders microblog companies to ramp up censorship

      China ordered the country’s microblog operators to establish mechanisms to remove false information on Friday (Feb 2), in the latest move by authorities to tighten policing of the web.

      The Cyberspace Administration of China said the Twitter-like microblog platforms have allowed the spread of pornographic, vulgar and fraudulent content.

    • Court Dismisses — For A Second Time — Lawsuit Seeking To Hold Facebook Responsible For Acts Of Terrorism

      Back in May of last year, a New York federal court tossed two lawsuits from plaintiffs attempting to hold social media companies responsible for terrorist attacks. Cohen v. Facebook and Force v. Facebook were both booted for failing to state a claim, pointing out the obvious: the fact that terrorists use social media to recruit and communicate does not somehow turn social media platforms into material support for terrorism.

    • Federal Appeals Court Misses Opportunity to Rule that Section 230 Bars Claims Against Online Platforms for Hosting Terrorist Content

      Although a federal appeals court this week agreed to dismiss a case alleging that Twitter provided material support for terrorists in the form of accounts and direct messaging services, the court left the door open for similar lawsuits to proceed in the future. This is troubling because the threat of liability created by these types of cases may lead platforms further filter and censor users’ speech.

      The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Fields v. Twitter is good news inasmuch as it ends the case. But the court failed to rule on whether 47 U.S.C. § 230 (known as “Section 230”) applied and barred the plaintiffs’ claims.

    • Student journalism law would protect student publications from censorship

      Joey Bowling is learning how to develop stories, run an Opinions page, handle articles with a sensitive nature and protect anonymous sources. As a senior at Floyd Central High School and Opinions editor for The Bagpiper, Bowling says he joined the student publication because he “really admired the fact that people were able to put themselves out there, were able to have the courage to pursue stories that not everyone wants to hear and I wanted to emulate that.”

    • Texas wages war against imaginary censorship — in support of hate

      Universities in Texas have a white supremacist problem. In the past couple of years, but especially since the election of Donald Trump, hate groups have targeted campuses in the Lone Star State with recruiting events and leafletting campaigns. In one case, a group of torch-wielding neo-Nazis had to be booted off the University of Texas campus, and that was in the liberal bastion of Austin. A new report out by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) shows a threefold growth in the number of white-supremacist propaganda efforts on college campuses, with schools in Texas being hit the hardest, racking up dozens of incidents in the past couple of years.

      But the Republicans who run the state government in Texas aren’t really concerned about the explosion of hate-group recruitment in their state. Instead, they are focusing their attention on a problem that seems to be largely imaginary: the supposed censorship of conservatives at the hands of “politically correctness.” By redirecting the discussion away from the real problem and towards a fake one, Texas Republicans in the state are providing cover — and at least implicit sympathy — to racist extremists who view young college populations as hot targets for recruiting campaigns.

    • In French court, Facebook denies ‘censoring’ 19th-century vagina painting
    • Paris court hears Facebook ‘censorship’ case over nude art
    • Facebook denies censorship in closing of Paris user’s page
    • Teacher sues Facebook for suspending his account after he posted a photo of a famous 19th century nude painting
    • Facebook Denies Censorship in Closing of Paris User’s Page
    • Virginia Politicians Looks To Tax Speech In The Form Of Porn In The Name Of Stemming Human Trafficking

      Every once in a while, you’ll come across stories about one government or another looking to censor or discourage pornography online, typically through outright censorship or some sort of taxation. While most of these stories come from countries that have religious reasoning behind censorship of speech, more secular countries in Europe have also entertained the idea of a tax or license for viewing naughty things online. Occasionally, a state or local government here in America will try something similar before those efforts run face first into the First Amendment. It should be noted, however, that any and all implementations of this type of censorship or taxation of speech have failed spectacularly with a truly obscene amount of collateral damage as a result. Not that any of that keeps some politicians from trying, it seems.

      The latest evidence of that unfortunate persistence would be from the great state of Virginia, where the General Assembly will be entertaining legislation to make the state the toll booth operators of internet porn. The bill (which you can see here) was introduced by Viriginia House member David LaRock (and there’s a Senate version introduced by State Senator Richard Black).

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Nunes Memo Reports Crimes at Top of FBI & DOJ

      The long-awaited House Intelligence Committee report made public today identifies current and former top officials of the FBI and the Department of Justice as guilty of the felony of misrepresenting evidence required to obtain a court warrant before surveilling American citizens. The target was candidate Donald Trump’s adviser Carter Page.

    • No messaging app for kids please: Child health experts to FB

      Many preteens have already found their way onto Facebook and more youthoriented social media platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram, despite internal rules that require users to be at least 13 years old.

    • Leaked Document Appears to Show NSA Infiltrated Cryptos, Tor, VPN

      “The success we have had with Tor, I2P, and VPN,” begins a reportedly leaked picture of a memorandum on imageboard 4chan, complete with Department of Defense letterhead, appearing to be from the United States Army’s Cyber Protection Brigade “cannot be replicated with those currencies that do not rely on nodes. There is a growing trend in the employment of Stealth address and ring signatures that will require additional R&D.”

      It has been long assumed government military and law enforcement infiltrated and compromised aspects of The Onion Router (Tor), Invisible Internet Project (I2P), Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), and other ways of masking online activity, but confirmations were hard to come by.

    • Keep Border Spy Tech Out of Dreamer Protection Bills

      If Congress votes this month on legislation to protect Dreamers from deportation, any bill it considers should not include invasive surveillance technologies like biometric screening, social media snooping, automatic license plate readers, and drones. Such high tech spying would unduly intrude on the privacy of immigrants and Americans who live near the border and travel abroad.

    • New Head Of The NSA A Likely Choice

      The National Security Agency — or the NSA — is about to get a new leader, and Army Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone is the likely choice, according to Patrick Tucker, technology editor for national security publication Defense One.

    • NSA Chief Adm. Mike Rogers Expected to Retire this Spring; Leaves Complicated Legacy

      The search is on for a replacement for Adm. Mike Rogers, the head of the National Security Agency and the last Obama intelligence appointee remaining in the Trump administration. Rogers is expected to retire this spring after an eventful – and often controversial – four years.

    • webmail saga continues

      Similarly, zeronet.io is another service which claimed to use de-centralization but for last year or so I haven’t been able to send one email to another user till date.

      I used both these examples as both are foss and both have considerable communities and traction built around them. Security or/and anonymity is still at a lower path though as of yet.

      I hope I was able to share where I’m coming from.

    • Aadhaar case: Why SC needs to look into technical evidence of Aadhaar’s surveillance capabilities

      Aadhaar and its alleged surveillance capabilities has been a major subject of dispute among those for and against Aadhaar. In yesterday’s Twitter Q&A session, the UIDAI yet against insisted that Aadhaar is nothing but a tool for identification. Technical experts, on the other hand, have long since been asserting the surveillance capabilities of Aadhaar, and this has now taken the form of affidavits before the Supreme Court in the ongoing Aadhaar case. The Bench, however, expressed some apprehensions as to the extent to which they could go into highly technical details of the Aadhaar system. Moreover, as per the Bench, every technology is capable of misuse, so shouldn’t the real solution lie in suitable laws.

    • UK Court Delivers Blow to Mass Surveillance State, Win for Privacy Advocates

      The ruling, which was issued by three appellate judges, said that DRIPA was “inconsistent with EU law” because it failed to safeguard citizens’ phone records and internet browsing history from unauthorized access by police officers, according to a report in The Guardian.

      DRIPA had been passed as “emergency legislation” in 2014 after just a single day of parliamentary debate, and it laid the foundation for its eventual replacement, the 2016 Investigatory Powers Act.

    • Data is the new lifeblood of capitalism – don’t hand corporate America control

      The flow of data now contributes more to world GDP than the flow of physical goods. In other words, there’s more money in moving information across borders than in moving soybeans and refrigerators.

      [...]

      The corporate crusade against data governance is only getting started. If it succeeds, the world’s most important resource will be entrusted to the private sector and the profit motive, and the rest of us will have even less power to participate in the decisions that most affect our lives.

    • Facebook’s Future Rests on Knowing You Even Better

      How does Facebook get away with jacking up its prices so dramatically? For one, it operates in an unregulated duopoly alongside Google. Together they control more than 60% of the digital-advertising market. But second, Facebook’s ability to target its users with highly tailored (and, in theory, highly effective) ads means marketers are willing to pay more.

    • Amazon patents wristband that tracks warehouse workers’ movements

      A less generous interpretation would be that the wristbands provide Amazon management with new workplace surveillance capabilities that can identify the workers wasting time scratching, fidgeting or dilly-dallying.

    • Facebook patents technology that would estimate users’ socioeconomic status

      The patent, according to CBInsights, shows a decision tree that collects data points on a user’s education level, travel history, the number of devices they own, homeownership and where they live to guess the probability of them falling in a given socioeconomic class.

    • Internet of Dildos: A Long Way to a Vibrant Future – From IoT to IoD

      The results are the foundations for a Master thesis written by Werner Schober in cooperation with SEC Consult and the University of Applied Sciences St. Pölten. The first available results can be found in the following chapters of this blog post.

    • How WeChat came to rule China

      China’s most popular messaging app, WeChat, has always had a close relationship with the Chinese government. The app has been subsidized by the government since its creation in 2011, and it’s an accepted reality that officials censor and monitor users. Now, WeChat is poised to take on an even greater role: an initiative is underway to integrate WeChat with China’s electronic ID system.

    • Dark web [sic] users are easy to unmask through their bitcoin use

      By linking bitcoin wallets with transactions on the dark web, researchers at Qatar University in Doha were able to unmask 125 Tor users.

    • Missouri governor fighting lawsuit over disappearing messages app

      Greitens’s argument comes after two Missouri lawyers filed a lawsuit against the governor’s office over its use of the app saying it violates Missouri’s public records laws, according to a report from the technology website Ars Technica.

    • The FBI Is Setting Up a Task Force to Monitor Social Media

      It is entirely legitimate to be concerned about foreign interference in our democracy, be it by Russia or any other country. However, this does not mean the FBI should be given carte blanche to carry on free from criticism. And we certainly should be wary of any attempts to expand the FBI’s capabilities to spy on dissent. Social media should be safeguarded from censorship—both public and private—the same way traditional media should be safeguarded. Of all the possible bodies to be given the power to delegitimize online speech, the FBI may very well be the worst.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Alleged computer hacker Lauri Love to hear extradition appeal result next week

      Authorities in America have been fighting for Mr Love to face trial on charges of cyber-hacking [sic], which lawyers have said could mean a sentence of up to 99 years in prison if he is found guilty.

    • Finally I Am American at Heart

      Novelist Ha Jin explains why the courts stopping Trump’s first Muslim Ban made him feel at peace with being American.

      I have often been asked two questions. One is: What was the most surprising incident when you served in the Chinese People’s Army? The other: What surprised you most in America?

      To both questions my answers are rather personal and internal. I served in the Chinese army for five years and saw terrible accidents. Soldiers got killed in military exercises and in collapsed constructions, but what surprised me most is something that none of my comrades might remember. A fellow soldier in our company was a wonderful basketball player, handsome and agile and six feet two inches tall. His parents were both senior officials in Beijing, in the Ministry of Railways. By contrast, most of us were from remote provinces, and many were sons of peasants. Toward the end of my third year in the army, word came that the basketball player’s mother was dying in Beijing and left him her final words. We all knew she was a revolutionary, and thought her last words must be wise and edifying, so we were eager to learn about them too. Then her final words for her son came: “Don’t ever give up your Beijing residence certificate.”

      Without a residence certificate, one couldn’t live in Beijing permanently. But if you were not born in the capital, the only chance for you to get such a certificate was to find a permanent job in an official department or company that could help you get it. I was shocked by the mother’s last words, because they suddenly revealed to me that people in China were not born equal. Her words stayed with me and went deeper and deeper in my consciousness. For decades afterward I carried the bitterness, not just for myself but also for tens of millions of people who could never have such a privilege of living in the capital and who, by birth, were citizens of lower class, although China’s constitution guarantees equality to all its citizens. This inequality in residential status among the citizens actually contravenes China’s constitution, which has become meaningless in the eyes of the public.

    • Congress Needs To Hold ICE Accountable for Abuses

      ICE arrested Fabiano, who became one of many members of our communities who have been arrested while trying to normalize their status, in the latest example of how aggressive ICE has become since President Trump’s inauguration.

    • Georgia Must Block This Flawed Computer Crime Bill

      The State of Georgia must decide: will it be a hub of technological and online media innovation, or will it be the state that criminalized terms of service violations? Will it support security research that makes us all safer, or will they chill the ability of Georgia’s infosec community to identify vulnerabilities that need to be fixed to protect our private information? This is what’s at stake with Georgia’s S.B. 315, and state lawmakers should stop it dead in its tracks. As EFF wrote in its letter opposing the bill, this legislation would hand immense power to prosecutors to go after anyone for “checking baseball scores on a work computer, lying about your age or height in your user profile contrary to a website’s policy, or sharing passwords with family members in violation of the service provider’s rules.” The bill also fails to clearly exempt legitimate, independent security research—such as that conducted by Georgia Tech’s renowned cybersecurity department—from the computer crime law. Georgia already has a robust computer crime statute that covers a wide range of malicious activities online, but S.B. 315 would criminalize simply accessing a computer, app, or website contrary to how the service provider tells you, even if you never cause or intend to cause harm. A violation under S.B. 315 would be classified as “a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature,” punishable by up to $5,000 and 12 months in jail. EFF has long criticized how stretched interpretations of the federal Computer Fraud & Abuse Act have resulted in the prosecution of computer scientists, such as Aaron Swartz. Georgia’s S.B. 315 is even worse in terms of how broadly it may be applied to regular users engaged in benign online behavior. Fortunately, the digital rights community in Georgia is mobilizing. Electronic Frontiers Georgia, an ally in the Electronic Frontiers Alliance network, is speaking out against S.B. 315. Andy Green, an infosec lecturer at Kennesaw State University, is also calling for an overhaul of the bill to ensure computer researchers can carry out their work “without fear of arrest and prosecution.” If Georgia lawmakers want to protect their residents from computer crime, it does not help to open them up to prosecution for the tiniest violation of the fine print in a buried terms of service agreement. And if lawmakers want Georgia to remain a welcoming destination for tech talent who can identify and stop breaches, they should spike S.B. 315 immediately. Read EFF’s letter to the Georgia legislature by EFF Staff Attorney Jamie Williams.

    • Media Consensus: Dreamers Weren’t Worth a Shutdown

      The opinions showcased during the recent government shutdown in three major US newspapers—the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal—showed a striking lack of concern for the fate of the Dreamers and many variations of the same take on the need for a “bipartisan compromise” for immigration reform.

      Out of 34 op-eds and editorials from three days before to three days after the shutdown (1/17–25/18), only Times columnist Michelle Goldberg (1/22/18) criticized the Democrats for selling out the Dreamers—young undocumented immigrants who had been granted limited protection by the Obama administration—by agreeing to end the government shutdown in exchange for a vague promise for a future vote from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Most of the op-eds and editorials argued that giving up on the Dreamers was an inevitable or smart choice for the Democrats, or that securing a resolution for the Dreamers wasn’t worth a government shutdown.

    • Ohio Appeals Court Says Speed Trap Town Must Pay Back $3 Million In Unconstitutional Speed Camera Tickets

      This is the end of six year legal battle over New Miami’s speed cameras. The lower court had problems with the lack of options made available to ticket recipients to challenge speeding tickets. It also had problems with New Miami’s cozy relationship with the speed camera company, which provided free cameras in exchange for a percentage of collected fines. This fostered an unhealthy relationship between the two, leading to the town becoming most famous for being a speed trap. The company saddled New Miami with a minimum of 100 operating hours per camera each month. This led to spike in tickets and a healthy thirst for continual cash infusions on the part of New Miami’s governance.

    • Forced Migration vs. ‘Chain Migration’

      According to Senator De Leon, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen “is exploring pressing criminal charges against state and local officials who implement ‘sanctuary’ policies. “The Department of Homeland Security has even admitted they are considering a move to arrest political leaders such as myself,” De Leon continued, “ who have led the charge in California to prevent the feds from commandeering state and local resources to tear hard working families apart. These extraordinary threats against the President’s political opponents are meant to intimidate us, designed to silence and subjugate us. But they will do the opposite.”

      Indeed, an army of immigrants right supporters, in the form of lawyers, human rights and local community activist, and concerned politicians are now mobilizing from one end of the state to the other to fight back.

      I spoke about the significance of the ICE threats and the grassroots uprising in response, with Nativo Lopez. Lopez is a longtime advocate for the undocumented Spanish-speaking communities in Southern California, and a spokesperson for Hermandad Mexicana, a social, cultural and political organization based in Los Angeles. I spoke to Lopez in Los Angeles on January 30.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • San Francisco seeks universal fiber broadband with net neutrality and privacy

      The city yesterday issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to find companies that are qualified “to design, build, finance, operate, and maintain a ubiquitous broadband FTTP [fiber-to-the-premises] network that permits retail service providers to lease capacity on the network.” The project would also involve a free Wi-Fi service for city parks, city buildings, major thoroughfares, and visitor areas. Low-income residents would qualify for subsidies that make home Internet service more affordable.

    • California’s net neutrality bill is vulnerable to legal attack, EFF says

      State laws can be preempted by federal policy, and the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality repeal ordered states to refrain from imposing their own net neutrality laws.

      There are still ways for states to protect net neutrality, but California’s approach—which essentially replicates the FCC’s repealed rules—isn’t likely to be the most effective option, the EFF argues. “It’s a waste to pass a bill that is vulnerable to legal challenge by ISPs when strong alternatives are available,” Falcon wrote.

    • The punk rock internet – how DIY rebels are working to replace the tech giants

      Balkan and Kalbag form one small part of a fragmented rebellion whose prime movers tend to be located a long way from Silicon Valley. These people often talk in withering terms about Big Tech titans such as Mark Zuckerberg, and pay glowing tribute to Edward Snowden. Their politics vary, but they all have a deep dislike of large concentrations of power and a belief in the kind of egalitarian, pluralistic ideas they say the [I]nternet initially embodied.

      What they are doing could be seen as the online world’s equivalent of punk rock: a scattered revolt against an industry that many now think has grown greedy, intrusive and arrogant – as well as governments whose surveillance programmes have fuelled the same anxieties. As concerns grow about an online realm dominated by a few huge corporations, everyone involved shares one common goal: a comprehensively decentralised [I]nternet.

    • California’s Net Neutrality Law Takes Another Step Forward

      In the wake of the FCC’s repeal of federal net neutrality rules, countless states have rushed to create their own protections. Numerous states from Rhode Island to Washington State are considering new net neutrality legislation, while other states (like Wyoming and New York) are modifying state procurement policies to block net neutrality violating ISPs from securing state contracts. These states are proceeding with these efforts despite an FCC attempt to “pre-empt” (read: ban) states from stepping in and protecting consumers, something directly lobbied for by both Verizon and Comcast.

    • The FCC Hopes its Empty Dedication to Rural Broadband Will Make You Forget it Killed Net Neutrality

      The goal is to frame net neutrality as a fringe issue favored by the Hollywood elite, while suggesting the FCC’s hard at work tackling the real problem: rural broadband availability.

    • The Hypocrisy of AT&T’s “Internet Bill of Rights”

      Last week AT&T has decided it’s good business to advocate for an “Internet Bill of Rights.” Of course, that catchy name doesn’t in any way mean that what AT&T wants is a codified list of rights for Internet users. No, what AT&T wants is to keep a firm hold on the gains it has made in the last year at the expense of its customers’ rights.

      There is nothing in the history—the very recent history—of AT&T to make anyone believe that it has anyone’s actual best interests at heart. Let’s take a look at how this company has traditionally felt about privacy and network neutrality.
      Few companies have done more to combat privacy and network neutrality than AT&T.

      It takes an incredible amount of arrogance for AT&T to take out a full page ad in the New York Times calling for an “Internet Bill of Rights” after spending years effectively waging the most far-reaching lobbying campaign to eliminate every consumer right. In some ways, it should strike you as a type of conquerors decree after successfully laying waste to the legal landscape to remake it in its own image. But AT&T’s goal is abundantly clear: It does not like the laws that exist today to police its conduct in privacy and network neutrality so it wishes to rewrite them while hoping Americans ignore its past actions.

  • DRM
    • Catalog of Missing Devices Illustrates Gadgets that Could and Should Exist

      Bad Copyright Law Prevents Innovators from Creating Cool New Tools

      San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has launched its “Catalog of Missing Devices”—a project that illustrates the gadgets that could and should exist, if not for bad copyright laws that prevent innovators from creating the cool new tools that could enrich our lives.

      “The law that is supposed to restrict copying has instead been misused to crack down on competition, strangling a future’s worth of gadgets in their cradles,” said EFF Special Advisor Cory Doctorow. “But it’s hard to notice what isn’t there. We’re aiming to fix that with this Catalog of Missing Devices. It’s a collection of tools, services, and products that could have been, and should have been, but never were.”

    • Remove the DRM from iTunes movies with TunesKit

      Since then, I’m able to watch videos purchased through iTunes using any iOS video app I want to, on my computer or Android handset. If you’re so inclined, you can still watch your videos and transfer them to your iPhone using iTunes, too. It’s worth mentioning that the software works on content rented from iTunes as well. But removing the DRM from rented videos to keep after the rental period is up is theft, plain and simple. Do what’s right for you.

    • Documentary on the DRM-breaking farmers who just want to fix their tractors, even if they have to download bootleg Ukrainian firmware to do it

      Motherboard’s short documentary, “Tractor Hacking: The Farmers Breaking Big Tech’s Repair Monopoly” is an excellent look at the absurd situation created by John Deere’s position that you can’t own your tractor because you only license the software inside it, meaning that only Deere can fix Deere’s tractors, and the centuries-old tradition of farmers fixing their agricultural equipment should end because Deere’s shareholders would prefer it that way.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Trademarks
      • You Can Call the Super Bowl the “Super Bowl”

        Are you going to a Big Game party on Sunday? Or perhaps going to watch the pro football championship game? Or take in the majestic splendor of the Superb Owl? You can also just call it by its real name: the Super Bowl.

        The NFL is infamous for coming down like a ton of bricks on anyone who dares use the actual name for the game in public. And it’s also famous for trying to grab control of the names people started using when the NFL’s tactics worked and scared everyone away from saying “Super Bowl.” No matter how hard the NFL tries, it doesn’t own the phrase “The Big Game,” which has been used for longer than there’s been a Super Bowl. But anything that looks like someone making money off of the name will attract the NFL’s attention. In 2007, the NFL put a stop to an Indiana church’s party for a number of reasons, including that the church promoted it as a “Super Bowl bash.”

      • Atari Gets The Settlement It Was Surely Fishing For Over An Homage To ‘Breakout’ In KitKat Commercial

        As readers of this site will know, once-venerated gaming giant Atari long ago reduced itself to an intellectual property troll mostly seeking to siphon money away from companies that actually produce things. The fall of one of gamings historical players is both disappointing and sad, given just how much love and nostalgia there is for its classic games. It was just that nostalgia that likely led Nestle to craft an advertisement in Europe encouraging buyers of candy to “breakout” KitKats and included imagery of the candy replacing a simulation of a game of Breakout. For this, Atari sued over both trademark and copyright infringement, stating for the latter claim that the video reproduction of a mock-game that kind of looks like Breakout constituted copyright infringement.

        As we discussed in that original post, both claims are patently absurd. Nestle and Atari are not competitors and anyone with a working frontal lobe will understand that the ad was a mere homage to a classic game made decades ago. If the products aren’t competing, and if there is no real potential for public confusion, there is not trademark infringement. As for the copyright claim, the expression in the homage was markedly different from Atari’s original game, and there’s that little fact that Nestle didn’t actually make a game to begin with. They mocked up a video. Nothing in there is copyright infringement.

    • Copyrights
      • Playboy’s Copyright Lawsuit Threatens Online Expression, Boing Boing Argues

        After being branded a clickbait site by Playboy, popular blog Boing Boing has stressed the importance of hyperlinks to a Federal Court in California. Links are a crucial part of the Internet and an important tool for free speech, it argues. This means that, under the right conditions, linking to copyright-infringing material should be considered fair use.

      • Federal Jurisdiction when Copyright/Patent Claim Found in Permissive Counterclaim?

        This is an odd case to raise the America Invents Act. It is a continuation of the break between Conservative Eagle Phyllis Schafly (d.2016) and some members of her Eagle Forum (including her daughter Anne Schafly Cori – the break was precipitated by Phyllis Shafly’s support of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and ouster of dissenters (including the plaintiff) from the Eagle Forum.

        The basic setup in this particular case is that the plaintiff (Schafly Cori) alleged breach of fiduciary duty, trademark infringement and unfair competition against the Eagle Forum. The defendants counterclaimed alleging copyright infringement along with trademark infringement, rights of publicity, unfair competition, and challenging the validity of a license to use certain trademarks. Rather than filing in Federal Court, the Plaintiff originally filed in Illinois State Court (Madison County) and the Defendants removed the case to Federal Court.

      • Three national corporations control nearly all of San Francisco’s live music

        Zawinski makes some educated guesses about the grim economics that drove Slim’s and GAMH to sign up with Golden Voice, but he widens the frame to tell the story of how mass-scale consolidation in the live music industry has homogenized the kinds of music American clubs feature, the choices American musicians get, and driven the independent sector to the brink with anti-competitive tactics that binds managers and acts to buy into the system or be frozen out altogether.

      • Judge Pushes Pirate Set-Top Box Cases Back, Demands Quality Evidence

        Two ground-breaking legal actions in Australia, in which rightsholders are hoping to block Internet-based set-top box piracy for the first time, have been pushed back to April. Movie outfit Village Roadshow and Hong Kong broadcaster TVB were warned in court today that their evidence needs to meet a high standard or they might not obtain the injunctions they require.

Links 1/2/2018: Linux Journal 2.0, Microsoft’s $6.3B Loss, AtCore 1.0.0

Friday 2nd of February 2018 12:57:44 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Linux Journal 2.0 FAQ

    A. Digital privacy/digital responsibility. We’ve wiped all advertising off the Linux Journal site and from the magazine and are starting with a clean slate. When we go back to running ads, they won’t be of the spying kind you find on most sites, generally called “adtech”. The one form of advertising we are willing to bring back is sponsorship. That’s where advertisers support Linux Journal because they like what we do and want to reach our readers in general. At their best, ads in a publication and on a site like Linux Journal provide useful information as well as financial support. There is symbiosis there. Email publisher carliefairchild@linuxjournal.com if you’re interested in talking about Linux Journal sponsorship.

  • The Refactor Factor

    Then, Linux Journal announced that it wasn’t dead after all! Since that announcement, everyone has been working both publicly and behind the scenes to figure out exactly what a refactored Linux Journal 2.0 looks like. Refactoring a magazine raises a lot of questions. Would there still be magazine subscriptions? If so, how often? What about the website? What writers are coming back?

  • Desktop
    • Exclusive: U.S. sanctions curb Microsoft sales to hundreds of Russian firms

      Two of Microsoft’s official distributors in Russia have imposed restrictions on sales of Microsoft software to more than 200 Russian companies following new U.S. sanctions, according to notifications circulated by the distributors.

      While much of the focus around U.S. sanctions has been on ways they are being skirted, the moves by the Russian distributors show how tougher restrictions that came into force on Nov. 28 are starting to bite.

      The new measures cut the duration of loans that can be offered to Russian financial firms subject to sanctions to 14 days from 30 days and to 60 days from 90 days for Russian energy companies on a U.S. sanctions list.

  • Server
    • Portworx open-sources STORK software to fix issues with data services on Kubernetes

      Software container company Portworx Inc. is unveiling a new open-source project aimed at developers, enabling them to run stateful applications such as databases, queues and key value stores more efficiently on Kubernetes.

      The STorage Orchestrator Runtime for Kubernetes, or STORK, works by communicating with storage drivers via a plugin interface so it can help address a number of issues that plague data services when running container software at scale.

    • Cisco jumps into containers

      How do you know when a technology has really made it? When companies that are not known for being innovators adopt it. That’s the case today, as Cisco announced its Cisco Container Platform (CCP), a Kubernetes-based container platform. Another day, another company betting on Kubernetes for the cloud win.

      The CCP is designed to enable companies to build multi-cloud architectures with consistent application deployment and management on Cisco HyperFlex, virtual machines (VMs), and bare metal, both on premises and in the cloud. It will be available first on HyperFlex in April 2018. CCP will show up on other platforms this summer.

    • Portworx Release Its Open Source Kubernetes Scheduler Extender, STORK

      Today Portworx released its new STorage Orchestrator Runtime for Kubernetes or STORK. According to the company, this new open-source project that takes advantage of the extensibility of Kubernetes to allow DevOps teams to run stateful applications like databases, queues and key-value stores more efficiently on Kubernetes. STORK provides key hyperconvergence, failure-domain awareness, storage health monitoring, and snapshot features for Kubernetes while being delivering through a plugin interface enabling it tow work with any storage driver for Kubernetes.

    • Kernel 4.16-rc1, Qubes OS 4.0, OpenSUSE’s Tumbleweed and More

      Cisco announced its new Cisco Container Platform yesterday, which “simplifies and accelerates how application development and information technology (IT) operations teams configure, deploy, and manage container clusters based on 100 percent upstream Kubernetes.”

    • Cisco Debuts Its Own Kubernetes Container Platform

      Cisco is getting deeper into the container world with the announcement on Jan. 31 that the company is building its own Cisco Container platform. The new platform is based on the open-source upstream Kubernetes container orchestration platform.

      The Cisco Container Platform will initially be available in April for Cisco’s Hyperflex server system architecture, with a plan to add support for bare metal set to follow. The Cisco Container Platform adds Cisco’s own control plane services on top of Kubernetes to enable what the company aims to be a turnkey deployment model.

      Sanjeev Rampal, Principal Engineer at Cisco, explained to ServerWatch that the plan is to have the Cisco Container Platform follow the upstream Kubernetes releases in an “N-1″ cadence. The current most recent release of Kubernetes is version 1.9, with a 1.10 update expected to debut by March.

    • Kubernetes in 2018: When the going gets good, the good get boring

      Backers of the open-source Kubernetes container-orchestration project could be forgiven for taking a victory lap this week at Kubecon 2017, given the growth in adoption and capitulation of competitive projects. But the path to ongoing success for this project now lies in making Kubernetes boring again, according to several keynote speakers.

  • Kernel Space
    • BPFd: Running BCC tools remotely across systems and architectures

      BPF is an increasingly capable tool for instrumenting and tracing the operation of the kernel; it has enabled the creation of the growing set of BCC tools. Unfortunately, BCC has no support for a cross-development workflow where the development machine and the target machine running the developed code are different. Cross-development is favored by embedded-systems kernel developers who tend to develop on an x86 host and then flash and test their code on SoCs (System on Chips) based on the ARM architecture. In this article, I introduce BPFd, a project to enable cross-development using BPF and BCC.

      The BPF compiler collection (BCC) is a suite of kernel tracing tools that allow systems engineers to efficiently and safely get a deep understanding into the inner workings of a Linux system. Because they can’t crash the kernel, they are safer than kernel modules and can be used in production. Brendan Gregg has written several nice tools, and has given talks showing the full power of eBPF-based tools; see also this introduction to BCC published on LWN.

    • The XArray data structure

      Sometimes, a data structure proves to be inadequate for its intended task. Other times, though, the problem may be somewhere else — in the API used to access it, for example. Matthew Wilcox’s presentation during the 2018 linux.conf.au Kernel miniconf made the case that, for the kernel’s venerable radix tree data structure, the latter situation holds. His response is a new approach to an old data structure that he is calling the “XArray”.

      The kernel’s radix tree is, he said, a great data structure, but it has far fewer users than one might expect. Instead, various kernel subsystems have implemented their own data structures to solve the same problems. He tried to fix that by converting some of those subsystems and found that the task was quite a bit harder than it should be. The problem, he concluded, is that the API for radix trees is bad; it doesn’t fit the actual use cases in the kernel.

    • Deadline scheduler part 2 — details and usage

      Linux’s deadline scheduler is a global early deadline first scheduler for sporadic tasks with constrained deadlines. These terms were defined in the first part of this series. In this installment, the details of the Linux deadline scheduler and how it can be used will be examined.

      The deadline scheduler prioritizes the tasks according to the task’s job deadline: the earliest absolute deadline first. For a system with M processors, the M earliest deadline jobs will be selected to run on the M processors.

      The Linux deadline scheduler also implements the constant bandwidth server (CBS) algorithm, which is a resource-reservation protocol. CBS is used to guarantee that each task will receive its full run time during every period. At every activation of a task, the CBS replenishes the task’s run time. As the job runs, it consumes that time; if the task runs out, it will be throttled and descheduled. In this case, the task will be able to run only after the next replenishment at the beginning of the next period. Therefore, CBS is used to both guarantee each task’s CPU time based on its timing requirements and to prevent a misbehaving task from running for more than its run time and causing problems to other jobs.

    • Shrinking the kernel with link-time optimization

      This is the second article of a series discussing various methods of reducing the size of the Linux kernel to make it suitable for small environments. The first article provided a short rationale for this topic, and covered the link-time garbage collection, also called the ld –gc-sections method. We’ve seen that, though it is pretty straightforward, link-time garbage collection has issues of its own when applied to the kernel, making achieving optimal results more difficult than it is worth. In this article we’ll have a look at what the compiler itself can do using link-time optimization.

      Please note that most examples presented here were produced using the ARM architecture, however the principles themselves are architecture-independent.

    • XFS In Linux 4.16 Continues With “Great Scads Of New Stuff”

      Back during the Linux 4.15 kernel merge window XFS file-system maintainer Darrick Wong commented there was great scads of new stuff and now with Linux 4.16 he’s repeating that line. XFS for Linux 4.16 brings several significant changes to this mature Linux file-system.

      XFS for Linux 4.16 restructures metadata verifiers to provide more information in the event of failures, enhancements to the online fsck feature, and preparations to remove the experimental tag from a few XFS features.

    • Many Networking Changes Queued For Linux 4.16, New “Netdevsim” Driver

      David Miller has presented the set of networking subsystem changes targeting the Linux 4.16 and once again it’s on the heavier side.

      First up on the networking side of Linux 4.16 is a new driver: netdevsim. This “netdevsim” as implied by the name is a tool for network developers and is a simulator. This simulated networking device is used for testing various networking APIs and at this time is particularly focused on testing hardware offloading related interfaces. This network device simulator has already been extended to support loading (e)BPF programs and other developer-focused functionality.

    • Staging Updates Submitted For Linux 4.16

      Greg Kroah-Hartman sent in pull requests this morning for the various subsystems he oversees for the mainline Linux kernel, including the staging area.

    • Linux 4.16 Gets Three New Driver Subsystems Plus VirtualBox Guest Driver

      Greg Kroah-Hartman’s pull request of the char/misc driver work usually isn’t too exciting each kernel cycle, but for Linux 4.16 it’s definitely on the heavier side with introducing three new subsystems for different hardware busses.

      The three new subsystems are Siox, Slimbus, and Soundwire.

    • Linux 4.15 Kernel Includes Fixes for Meltdown, Spectre Vulnerabilities

      Today’s topics include Linus Torvalds releasing Linux 4.15; an IBM study finding users favor security over convenience; Microsoft updating Intel’s buggy Spectre patch; and Innovid releasing a new video platform for reaching millennials.

      Linus Torvalds released the first new Linux kernel of 2018 on Jan. 28, which ended up being the longest development cycle since Linux 3.1 was released in 2011. The new Linux 4.15 kernel features fixes for the core reason for the kernel’s delay, namely the Meltdown and Spectre CPU flaws.

    • Flex & Bison Are Now Needed To Build The Linux Kernel; Linux 4.16 Can Also Be Snap’ed

      Building the kernel beginning with Linux 4.16 now requires two more dependencies: Bison and Flex.

      Kconfig infrastructure work is rarely notable for kernel merge windows, but this time around with Linux 4.16 there are more significant changes. The lexer and parser for Kconfig are now built from sources rather than relying upon pre-generated C files. Because of this, Flex and Bison are added now as requirements for building the Linux kernel.

    • Linux 4.16 Is Off To A Busy Start With Big New Features

      We are less than half-way into the Linux 4.16 kernel merge window and it’s already proven to be a very busy cycle with significant additions to the Linux code-base.

    • Linux Foundation
      • Cloud Native Computing Foundation Expands With Rook Storage Project

        The Cloud Native Computing Foundation announced on Jan. 29 that it is expanding its project roster, with the addition of the Rook project.

        Rook is a container storage effort that works with the Kubernetes orchestration platform. Kubernetes was the founding project at the CNCF when the organization was created in July 2015 by the Linux Foundation. Rook becomes the 15th hosted project at the CNCF and is the first new project announced for 2018.

    • Graphics Stack
      • Intel’s Mesa Driver Is OpenGL 4.6 Compliant, But Won’t Be Mainline For A While

        As noted when covering the news yesterday of Khronos launching the OpenGL 4.6 Adopters Program, the NVIDIA proprietary driver and Intel’s open-source Linux driver are the first OpenGL drivers considered 4.6 compliant. But on the Intel Linux side, the OpenGL 4.6 work has yet to be all upstreamed into Mesa.

        Igalia has put out a blog post today covering the new OpenGL Conformance Test Suite (CTS) and their work along with Intel developers in getting Intel’s i965 Mesa driver across the OpenGL 4.6 milestone. But why I’m less than excited at the moment is the work isn’t yet living within Mesa, meaning it will still be quite some time before users see this OpenGL 4.6 support with the latest Intel hardware. It’s already too late for getting this work into the upcoming Ubuntu 18.04 LTS release.

      • Some Early Bits Of The “Soft FP64″ Infrastructure Will Be Mainlined Soon In Mesa

        David Airlie has announced his plans to begin mainlining some early infrastructure work on the “soft” FP64 code into Mesa Git. This doesn’t yet allow for soft FP64 on older GPUs lacking the hardware capability to do this otherwise, but will help in another area and can make for easier mainlining of the actual soft FP64 support in the future.

        Due to some of his int/double conversion code not passing the OpenGL Conformance Test Suite or Piglit tests, David Airlie has decided to start bringing in some of the soft FP64 code into Mesa for addressing the problem. This doesn’t yet enable soft FP64 but is a step in that direction and could make it easier to merge the actual support when the time comes. Elie Tournier at Collabora has been working on most of the soft FP64 code itself for emulating this capability with GLSL shaders.

      • Raven Ridge Gets Yet More AMDGPU DC Fixes

        While the Linux 4.15 kernel introduces AMDGPU DC display code support and is currently enabled just by default for RX Vega GPUs and newer, a lot of work continues going into this new display code stack.

        There are routine patch series being published for AMDGPU DC that expose the recent internal development efforts around AMDGPU DC, similar to how AMDVLK’s public code-base gets updated in stages every so often. The common trend of recent AMDGPU DC updates is on fixes for the Raven Ridge APUs.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Calligra 3.1.0 released

        We are pleased to announce the release of Calligra 3.1.0 with the following apps included:
        Words, Sheets, Karbon, Gemini, and Plan.

        Note that Gemini, the KDE Office suite for 2-in-1 devices, is back after missing from the initial Calligra 3.0 release.

        Also note that Kexi, the visual database applications creator is close to release 3.1.0.
        See http://www.kexi-project.org.

        The following is a list of new features and bug fixes since the last release (3.0.1).

      • KDE’s Calligra 3.1 Officially Released, Gemini Ported To KDE Frameworks 5

        The KDE Calligra graphics/office suite forked from KOffice is up to version 3.1.

        Landing the same week as the big LibreOffice 6.0 open-source office suite unveil is now the Calligra 3.1 suite’s release.

        We’ve known the update was coming and they managed to deliver this v3.1 release one year after Calligra 3.0.

      • Write-up for SoK Project – OpenQA Plasma Mobile

        KDE Goal: Usability and Productivity proposed by Nate Graham, is one of the three goals selected by KDE. This goal will focus on polishing our basic software so everyone will be delighted to use it. One of important aspect of Usability and Productivity is focus on quality assurance.

        In this Season of KDE (SoK) 2018, I am working on “OpenQA Plasma Mobile” project. This project indirectly helps to achieve the goal of Usability and Productivity as it would work to get the higher quality version of the mobile by creating integration testing for it. It would make it easier to test the common operations of the mobile.

  • Distributions
    • New Releases
      • Black Lab Enterprise Server 11.52 and Black Lab Enterprise Desktop 11.52 released

        Today the Black Lab team is releasing a revamp of our OS projects. With the new year comes new changes. First of all, the entire management team has changed. Second, we trimmed down our solutions to two products. Desktop and Server. Third, our solutions are 100% completely free. You can download as many copies as you would like but since we are now a self funding community project so we do take donations and all of our products are available for a single price if users need it on LiveUSB, $19.99 USD plus tax.

        Another change is there are no more desktop spins. We have one UI release and that is XFCE. We chose XFCE because many of our users and customers run this system on older systems and XFCE can run on first generation x64 systems as well as newer Intel and AMD processors. We have setup the system so users migrating from GNOME and our other releases will feel right at home and will have superior performance and resource management.

      • MythTV 29.1 Released

        Last July marked the release of MythTV 29 as the latest release of this once super popular Linux DVR/PVR software. Today marks the availability of MythTV 29.1.

      • Happy Release Day!

        The MythTV Team is pleased to announce the release of MythTV version v29.1

      • 4MLinux 23.3 released.

        This is a minor (point) release in the 4MLinux STABLE channel, which comes with the Linux kernel 4.9.78. Desktop users can enjoy GIMP, which is now available out of the box. The 4MLinux Server includes Apache 2.4.29, MariaDB 10.2.12, and PHP 7.2.1 (see this post for more details). Important remainder: this is the last release supporting the 32-bit version of the 4MLinux LAMP server (more info available here).

      • “Lightweight” Linux Lite 3.8 & “Mature” openSUSE Leap 15 Beta Released: Download Here

        Marking the final release in 3.x series, the Linux Lite developers have released Linux Lite 3.8 operating system. One of the best lightweight Linux distros around, this distro comes with a number of changes since the 3.6 release.

        The major changes for Linux Lite 3.8 include better support for LibreOffice, regional DVD support, Font Viewer/Installer, and Google Search-powered homepage in Firefox.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • Trying Out openSUSE Leap 15.0 Beta, Comparison Linux Benchmarks

        With this morning’s debut of the openSUSE Leap 15.0 public beta that is derived from the upcoming SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 15 source code, I was curious to check it out and also run some benchmarks. For seeing how the current beta performance is stacking up I ran some benchmarks against openSUSE Leap 42.3, openSUSE Tumbleweed, Clear Linux, and a daily snapshot of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

    • Red Hat Family
      • MYCOM OSI collaborates with Red Hat for telco cloud assurance

        MYCOM OSI, the leading independent provider of Assurance, Automation and Analytics solutions to the world’s largest communications service providers (CSPs), has announced a collaboration with Red Hat, the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, to assure and manage telco clouds.

      • Red Hat explains its $250 million purchase of a hot Google-backed startup

        On Tuesday, Red Hat announced the $250 million purchase of CoreOS, a hot startup that competed in the market for “software containers,” a trendy developer technology.

        Since its founding in 2013, CoreOS raised $48 million in venture capital — likely making this a solid exit for its high-profile bunch of Silicon Valley investors, including Kleiner Perkins, Intel Capital, Y Combinator, and GV (formerly Google Ventures).

      • Red Hat Buys CoreOS for $250M to Expand Its Kubernetes and Containers Leadership

        Red Hat, Inc., the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, announced that it would acquire CoreOS, Inc., a company known for providing the Container Linux operating system (formerly CoreOS Linux), Tectonic for Kubernetes, and Quay Enterprise container registry, for the price of $250 million USD.

        CoreOS joining Red Hat means automated operations are coming to all. In other words, both companies will work together to expand Kubernetes, the open-source system for automating scaling, deployment, and management of containerized applications in business environments, as well as to innovate in containers and distributed systems.

      • Red Hat buys the creator of a Chrome-based OS for servers

        The underpinnings of Chrome OS have found their way into the server room in a very roundabout way. Red Hat has acquired CoreOS, the creators of an operating system for containerized apps (Container Linux) that shares roots with both Google’s Chromium OS project and Gentoo Linux. The $250 million deal promises to help Red Hat fulfill its dreams of helping people use open code to deploy apps in any environment they like, whether it’s on a local network or multiple cloud services.

      • Red Hat Acquires CoreOS to Bolster Its Containerisation Efforts

        Expanding its presence in the world of containerisation, Red Hat has announced the acquisition of CoreOS, the container management startup that has been renowned for its CoreOS Tectonic, for $250 million (roughly Rs. 1,600 crores). The new deal is not only likely to help the North Carolina-headquartered company that is dominating the open source market but would also eventually give a boost to the existing enterprise-grade containerised infrastructure. CoreOS is also popular for developing Container Linux, which is a dedicated platform for containerised apps. The operating system shares foundations with Google’s Chromium OS and Chrome OS in addition to leveraging modular Linux distribution Gentoo Linux. Having said that, the core interest of the acquired company lies within Kubernetes that is a modern distributed system designed by Google.

      • Linux Pioneer Red Hat Buys CoreOS for $250 Million

        Red Hat is an acknowledged player in open-source technologies, best known for its contribution to the success of Linux. The company has just disclosed a deal to buy CoreOS Inc. for $250 million – the container applications provider could be a great fit for the Red Hat ecosystem.

        Their products include a Linux distribution, also called CoreOS and Tectonic – a container management system based on Kubernetes, originally a Google platform.

        Red Hat already possesses a sizable container offerings portfolio, like Red Hat OpenShift, along with Kubernetes capabilities. CoreOS’s complementary solutions would accelerate development and encourage businesses to move to hybrid cloud structures – now a quick, easy transition.

      • CIOs should take time to understand a company’s ‘values, culture and strategy,’ Red Hat CIO says

        Stepping into a new organization, chief information officers have to decide whether to upend internal technology operations or continue with the status quo.

        CIOs on average stay in their role for no more than five years, and each new position presents an opportunity to try something new with technology and cherry pick what processes predecessors installed while incorporating a new approach.

        How a CIO chooses to take on new role depends on the environment. In legacy settings, a transformational CIO is lucrative for long-term business success. But in other organizations, with a robust technology stack and digital environments, reinventing the internal technology landscape would prove wasteful.

      • Firmware Telemetry for Vendors

        I found out this nugget of information using a new LVFS vendor feature, soon to be deployed: Telemetry. This builds on the previously discussed success/failure reporting and adds a single page for the vendor to get statistics about each bit of hardware. Until more people are running the latest fwupd and volunteering to share their update history it’s less useful, but still interesting until then.

      • Red Hat Buys CoreOS to Extend Influence in Kubernetes Community

        Today’s topics include Red Hat’s acquisition of CoreOS for $250 million; Cisco adding assurance capabilities to their Network Intuitive initiative; Google’s partnership with MobileIron on a platform for buying and distributing cloud services; and the Rook storage project that’s being launched by the Cloud Native Computing Platform.

      • CoreOS to join Red Hat to deliver automated operations to all
      • Finance
      • Fedora
        • Qubes OS 4.0-rc4 has been released!

          We’re pleased to announce the fourth release candidate for Qubes 4.0! This release contains important safeguards against the Spectre and Meltdown attacks, as well as bug fixes for many of the issues discovered in the previous release candidate. A full list of the Qubes 4.0 issues closed so far is available here. Further details about this release, including full installation instructions, are available in the Qubes 4.0 release notes. The new installation image is available on the Downloads page.

          As always, we’re immensely grateful to our community of testers for taking the time to discover and report bugs. Thanks to your efforts, we’re able to fix these bugs before the final release of Qubes 4.0. We encourage you to continue diligently testing this fourth release candidate so that we can work together to improve Qubes 4.0 before the stable release.

        • Improving Linux battery life, enabling PSR by default, testers wanted

          As you’ve probably read already I’m working on improving Linux laptop battery live, previously I’ve talked about enabling SATA link powermanagement by default. This is now enabled in rawhide / Fedora 28 since January 1st and so far no issues have been reported. This is really good news as this leads to significantly better idle power consumption (1 – 1.5W lower) on laptops with sata disks. Fedora 28 will also enable HDA codec autosuspend and autosuspend for USB Bluetooth controllers, for another (aprox) 0.8W gain.

        • Fedora 28 Will Hopefully Enable Intel PSR To Further Conserve Laptop Power

          Red Hat developer Hans de Goede has recently been on a mission to improve Linux battery life on Fedora. Now that SATA link power management is better handled and other tweaks, his latest target is on getting Intel’s Panel Self Refresh (PSR) support enabled.

          Panel Self Refresh has been available for years but isn’t enabled by default since for some hardware it can run into issues. PSR is part of the Embedded DisplayPort standard (eDP) for conserving power by being able to refresh the screen pixels directly when the screen’s contents is not changing. PSR is supported by laptops/ultrabooks with eDP-based panels for the past several years, but again some quirky hardware can have issues with this functionality enabled.

        • Spec change statistics

          Over the last couple of days I took a look at all the spec files in Fedora. I wanted to find out how many packages have not been updated by someone else than release engineering for mass-rebuilds.

    • Debian Family
  • Devices/Embedded
    • Now Verizon drops plans to sell Huawei phones in USA

      CES 2018 was supposed to mark Huawei’s proper entry into the US market, teaming up with major networks to sell phones on contract.

      Unfortunately, AT&T pulled out of the deal in the days before CES, apparently due to US government pressure. It all made for a rather awkward speech by Huawei’s Richard Yu.

      Now, Bloomberg reports that fellow US network Verizon has also decided to drop Huawei phones. The publication, citing “people familiar with the matter”, said this was due to pressure from the US government as well.

    • Apple to Cut iPhone X Production in the Face of Weak Demand

      Apple Inc. is slashing planned production of the iPhone X for the three-month period ending March 31, people familiar with the matter say, in a sign of weaker-than-expected demand for the pricey handset.

    • Top iPhone Suppliers Warn of Slower Sales Ahead of Apple Results

      Some of Apple’s iPhones are built with Qualcomm’s modems, which are chips for connecting to cellular networks. The San Diego-based chipmaker said Wednesday that orders from a large “thin modem” customer tailed off at worse-than-typical levels in the quarter. It was widely interpreted that the customer is Apple.

    • Apple tells U.S. government it isn’t slowing old iPhones to get people to buy new ones

      Apple has confirmed the U.S. government is investigating the company after it was discovered Apple slowed down (a.k.a “throttled”) older iPhones. The U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission are reportedly probing the company, though Apple wouldn’t confirm any specific agencies.

      The tech giant, however, has denied any malicious intent, and reiterated that “we have never — and would never — do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades.”

    • Are We Going To See The “$10 iPhone” in 2020? No, the clone of 2010 superphones will probably cost around $20 in 2020

      To be clear, right from the start, I emphasized, that Apple will not sell us a $10 iPhone in year 2020. I said it would be a clone-phone-maker, probably running Android or possibly one of the low-cost smartphone OS systems that were then in development. But 8 years ago, in year 2010, if you went into a mobile phone shop anywhere, and picked the top model, you’d get roughly the same specs, which were: [...]

    • Wireless enabled SODIMM-style COM runs Linux on i.MX6 ULL

      Toradex is shipping the Linux-driven “Colibri iMX6ULL,” one of the first computer-on-modules to adopt NXP’s cost-optimized i.MX6 ULL SoC. The module also features dual-band WiFi-ac and BT 4.2/BLE wireless and industrial temperature support.

      The Colibri iMX6ULL is the first of member of Toradex’s 67.6 x 36.7mm Colibri computer-on-module family to offer onboard wireless. It follows the i.MX6 based Colibri i.MX6, among other Toradex Colibri modules. The Colibri iMX6ULL competes primarily with other recently announced, and similarly compact and rugged i.MX6 ULL-capable modules, such as iWave’s W-RainboW-G18M-SM and Variscite’s DART-6UL.

    • ELC + OpenIoT: From Cloud Computing to Robot Apocalypse

      It’s time once again for that grand gathering of embedded Linux geeks known as the Embedded Linux Conference (ELC), as well as the co-located, non-Linux specific OpenIoT Summit. In this article, we take a closer look at the conference schedule, with keynotes and sessions you won’t want to miss.

      ELC + OpenIoT is happening Mar. 12-14 in Portland, Oregon, the home of Linus Torvalds, who created Linux as a desktop OS and has watched it spread throughout the server world. Over the past decade, Linux has found similar success in embedded gear ranging from mobile devices to Internet of Things hubs to industrial equipment to drones.

    • Privacy-Minded Smart Speaker May Struggle to Get to Know You

      Mycroft AI earlier this week announced that its Mark II smart speaker achieved full funding on Kickstarter in just 6.5 hours. As of Wednesday, pledges reached more than three times its US$50K goal — with 23 days remaining in the campaign.

    • Mini-ITX board fosters flexibility and fights obsolescence

      Congatec unveiled a Mini-ITX style “conga-IT6” board that uses a plug-in COM Express module to supply processor and other core functions. CPU options currently include Intel Core, Xeon, Celeron, and Pentium, and AMD G-series and R-series chips, with up to 4x CPU cores and clocked at up to 4.3GHz.

    • Custom Embedded Linux Distributions

      In the past, many embedded projects used off-the-shelf distributions and stripped them down to bare essentials for a number of reasons. First, removing unused packages reduced storage requirements. Embedded systems are typically shy of large amounts of storage at boot time, and the storage available, in non-volatile memory, can require copying large amounts of the OS to memory to run. Second, removing unused packages reduced possible attack vectors. There is no sense hanging on to potentially vulnerable packages if you don’t need them. Finally, removing unused packages reduced distribution management overhead. Having dependencies between packages means keeping them in sync if any one package requires an update from the upstream distribution. That can be a validation nightmare.

      Yet, starting with an existing distribution and removing packages isn’t as easy as it sounds. Removing one package might break dependencies held by a variety of other packages, and dependencies can change in the upstream distribution management. Additionally, some packages simply cannot be removed without great pain due to their integrated nature within the boot or runtime process. All of this takes control of the platform outside the project and can lead to unexpected delays in development.

      A popular alternative is to build a custom distribution using build tools available from an upstream distribution provider. Both Gentoo and Debian provide options for this type of bottom-up build. The most popular of these is probably the Debian debootstrap utility. It retrieves prebuilt core components and allows users to cherry-pick the packages of interest in building their platforms. But, debootstrap originally was only for x86 platforms. Although there are ARM (and possibly other) options now, debootstrap and Gentoo’s catalyst still take dependency management away from the local project.

    • GNOME and KDE in PureOS: diversity across devices

      PureOS, a Free Software Foundation endorsed GNU distribution, is what Purism pre-installs on all Librem laptops (in addition to it being freely available for the public to run on their own compatible hardware or virtual machines). It comes with a GNOME desktop environment by default, and of course, since we love free ethical software, users can use KDE that is also available within PureOS. This is the future we will continue to advance across all our devices: a PureOS GNOME-first strategy, with other Desktop Environments (DEs), such as KDE, available and supported by Purism.

      At Purism we want a unified default desktop environment, and considering that we have chosen GNOME to be the default on laptops, we hope to extend GNOME to also be the default on phones. The ability for users to switch is also very powerful, and having a strong, usable, and supported alternative—that is, KDE/Plasma—for the Librem 5 offers the best of the “unified default” world and the “usable user choice” worlds.

    • Purism Hopes To Default To GNOME On The Librem 5 Phone, But Still Supporting KDE

      Purism has been supporting both the GNOME and KDE projects with their mobile ambitions and looking to have both desktop environments feature their wares on the in-development Librem 5 smartphone. But as far as the default user experience/interface goes on the Librem 5, they are leaning towards GNOME.

      While KDE Plasma Mobile is a lot further along than GNOME on the mobile front, Purism is hoping to see the converged GNOME Shell working in time for the Librem 5 iMX-powered smartphone that will hopefully be shipping in early 2019.

    • Android
Free Software/Open Source
  • 6 pivotal moments in open source history

    Open source has taken a prominent role in the IT industry today. It is everywhere from the smallest embedded systems to the biggest supercomputer, from the phone in your pocket to the software running the websites and infrastructure of the companies we engage with every day. Let’s explore how we got here and discuss key moments from the past 40 years that have paved a path to the current day.

  • How I coined the term ‘open source’

    In a few days, on February 3, the 20th anniversary of the introduction of the term “open source software” is upon us. As open source software grows in popularity and powers some of the most robust and important innovations of our time, we reflect on its rise to prominence.

    I am the originator of the term “open source software” and came up with it while executive director at Foresight Institute. Not a software developer like the rest, I thank Linux programmer Todd Anderson for supporting the term and proposing it to the group.

    This is my account of how I came up with it, how it was proposed, and the subsequent reactions. Of course, there are a number of accounts of the coining of the term, for example by Eric Raymond and Richard Stallman, yet this is mine, written on January 2, 2006.

  • Top 7 open source project management tools for agile teams

    Opensource.com has surveyed the landscape of popular open source project management tools. We’ve done this before—but this year we’ve added a twist. This time, we’re looking specifically at tools that support agile methodology, including related practices such as Scrum, Lean, and Kanban.

    The growth of interest in and use of agile is why we’ve decided to focus on these types of tools this year. A majority of organizations—71%—say they are using agile approaches at least sometimes. In addition, agile projects are 28% more successful than projects managed with traditional approaches.

  • Events
    • Linux Foundation Training Surpasses One Million Served

      All around the open source technology industry, the skills gap is widening, making it ever more difficult to hire people with much needed job skills. In response, the demand for training on open source topics is growing. The Linux Foundation, in partnership with edX, has been steadily working on closing these skills gaps, by offering online courses on vital open source platforms, tools, and practices. Now, Linux Foundation training has just passed the one million mark for people enrolled in courses on edX.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Unsanitary Firefox gets fix for critical HTML-handling hijack flaw

        Mozilla has patched a nasty security bug in Firefox, affecting versions 56, 57 and 58, and their point updates.

        The CVSS-8.8-rated flaw means that if an attacker can get a user to open a malicious document or link, remote code execution becomes a possibility – allowing spyware, ransomware and other nasties to be installed and run.

      • Open by Design: How NASA Innovates to Take on the Universe, with Steven Rader

        As Mozilla rethinks how we do open, thinking strategically about how we work with contributors and others throughout the product lifecycle (and sharing some of our approaches, well, openly), we thought it would be good to take a look at how NASA engineers use open innovation as an valuable tool.

        On January 31, we’ll hear from Steve Rader, the Deputy Manager for NASA’s Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation (CoECI). We’ll learn how a large, bureaucratic organization tasked with the wildest innovation goals became more nimble and innovative by identifying and effectively working with outside collaborators, and what lessons might apply to us as we innovate in the open at Mozilla.

      • Rep of the Month – January 2018

        Cynthia is digital communications strategist and front-end developer with expertise on technical consulting, user and staff training and customer service in IT and Telecom segments. She has been a part of the Mozilla community for a long time and and her work has made a big push into Mozilla’s mission through local community efforts.

      • MDN browser compatibility data: Taking the guesswork out of web compatibility

        The most powerful aspect of the web is also what makes it so challenging to build for: its universality. When you create a website, you’re writing code that needs to be understood by a plethora of browsers on different devices and operating systems. It’s difficult.

        To make the web evolve in a sane and sustainable way for both users and developers, browser vendors work together to standardize new features, whether it’s a new HTML element, CSS property, or JavaScript API. But different vendors have different priorities, resources, and release cycles — so it’s very unlikely that a new feature will land on all the major browsers at once. As a web developer, this is something you must consider if you’re relying on a feature to build your site.

      • In Rust, ordinary vectors are values

        I’ve been thinking a lot about persistent collections lately and in particular how they relate to Rust, and I wanted to write up some of my observations.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • LibreOffice, the best office suite, gets even better with LibreOffice 6.0

      OK, if you are tied at the hip to Microsoft Office I can see why you’ll continue to pay year after year for your Office subscription. But, seriously, if you’re not, why aren’t you using the newest version of LibreOffice 6.0?

      The bottom line is the open-source LibreOffice just works. I’ve used every office suite since WordStar and DataStar were things. LibreOffice is every bit as good as Microsoft Office and it’s free to boot.

      You can run LibreOffice on Linux, macOS, and Windows. You can also use on your web browser, if you deploy LibreOffice Online as software-as-a-service server on a cloud, bare-iron, or in a Docker container.

    • LibreOffice and EPUB

      LibeOffice 6.0 is now available. And it’s through the inevitable Korben I discovered this morning it has a builtin EPUB export. So let’s take a closer look at that new beast and evaluate how it deals with that painful task. Conformant EPUB? And which version of EPUB? Reusable XHTML and CSS? We’ll see.

    • LibreOffice 6.0 Released – Install on RHEL/CentOS/Fedora and Debian/Ubuntu/Linux Mint
    • LibreOffice 6.0 Released With Major Improvements and New Features

      The latest major release of LibreOffice brings better interoperability with Microsoft Office documents, ePub export, OpenPGP document signing, improved user interface and a number of other functional improvements.

    • LibreOffice 6.0 Released With New Features: Available For Linux, macOS, and Windows

      As expected, LibreOffice cross-platform release is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux. You can also use its cloud version as well from any computer or web browser. There are many significant changes made to the core engine as well as the Writer, Calc, Impress/Draw modules.

    • LibreOffice 6.0: major update for the free office suite

      LibreOffice is the free power-packed Open Source personal productivity suite for Windows, Macintosh and Linux, that gives you six feature-rich applications for all your document production and data processing needs: Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Math and Base. Support and documentation is free from our large, dedicated community of users, contributors and developers. You, too, can also get involved!

    • Migrating from IPF to Packet Filter in Solaris 11.4

      This blog entry covers the migration from IPF to Packet Filter (a.k.a. PF).

  • CMS
    • Understanding Software as a Service

      Some others are WordPress, Salesforce, NetSuite and SurveyMonkey. Not all forms of SaaS are necessarily based on a paid subscription model; there are even open-source efforts such as Drupal, which is distributed under the GNU General Public License and can be found in use in over 2% of all of the web sites in the world.

  • BSD
    • Install OpenBSD on dedibox with full-disk encryption

      I run several “dedibox” servers at online.net, all powered by OpenBSD. OpenBSD is not officially supported so you have to work-around. Running full-disk encrypted OpenBSD there is a piece of cake. As a bonus, my first steps within a brand new booted machine

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • Our future relationship with FSFE

      Personally, I support an overhaul of FSFE’s democratic processes and the bulk of the reasons for this change are quite valid. One of the reasons proposed for the change, the suggestion that the election was a popularity contest, is an argument I don’t agree with: the same argument could be used to abolish elections anywhere.

      One point that came up in discussions about the elections is that people don’t need to wait for the elections to be considered for GA membership. Matthias Kirschner, our president, has emphasized this to me personally as well, he looks at each new request with an open mind and forwards it to all of the GA for discussion. According to our constitution, anybody can write to the president at any time and request to join the GA. In practice, the president and the existing GA members will probably need to have seen some of your activities in one of the FSFE teams or local groups before accepting you as a member. I want to encourage people to become familiar with the GA membership process and discuss it within their teams and local groups and think about whether you or anybody you know may be a good candidate.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • Will the Brexit impact EUPL licensors in UK?

      This is not the case with the EUPL, which clearly specifies the applicable law in its article 15, first part:

      • this Licence shall be governed by the law of the European Union Member State where the Licensor has his seat, resides or has his registered office.

      After the Brexit, the United Kingdom will not be considered anymore as “European Union Member State”, so what will be the applicable law?

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Data
    • Hardware/Modding
      • No new batches of ColorHug2

        In the true spirit of OpenHardware and free enterprise, if anyone does want to help with the design of a new ColorHug device I’m open for ideas. ColorHug was really just a hobby that got out of control, and I’d love for someone else to have the thrill and excitement of building a nano-company from scratch. Taking me out the equation completely, I’d be as equally happy referring on people who want to buy a ColorHug upgrade or replacement to a different project, if the new product met with my approval

        So, 50 ColorHugs should last about 3 months before stock runs out, but I know a few people are using devices on production lines and other sorts of industrial control — if that sounds familiar, and you’d like to buy a spare device, now is the time to do so. Of course, I’ll continue supporting all the existing 3162 devices well into the future. I hope to be back building OpenHardware soon, and hopefully with a new and improved ColorHug3.

      • Open-Source Adreno A6xx GPU Support Posted

        Recently I wrote about Qualcomm’s Code Aurora working on Adreno A6xx GPU support and sure enough that has panned out with the initial patch series being posted for this latest-generation Qualcomm GPU architecture.

  • Programming/Development
  • Standards/Consortia
    • After industry adopts open video standards, MPEG founder says the end is nigh

      Chiariglione says that this also spells the end of real R&D for video, because without the potential for a huge patent-payday, no one will invest in making video playback better.

      In this regard, Chiariglione totally ignores the history of other open formats and systems, which are often better than their proprietary counterparts, for two reasons:

Leftovers
  • Microsoft offers three unconvincing reasons why its consumer business isn’t dead yet

    While Microsoft continues to be buoyed by enterprise and cloud services like Azure, chief executive Satya Nadella tried to reassure analysts that Microsoft still has a consumer strategy: Xbox, PC gaming, and devices powered by digital assistants like Cortana. But he wasn’t especially convincing.

  • Microsoft 2Q18: Trump tax hit turns strong quarter into $6.3B loss

    The TCJA imposed one-time tax rates of 15.5 percent on foreign-held cash and cash equivalents and 8 percent on non-cash, as if that foreign money had been repatriated to the US and hence subject to US corporate income tax. Many firms with large foreign-held cash piles are going to be taking big tax hits this quarter as a result; Citibank claimed a $22 billion charge, and Apple is expected to take a hit as big as $38 billion.

    Microsoft currently has three reporting segments: Productivity and Business Processes (covering Office, Exchange, SharePoint, Skype, and Dynamics), Intelligent Cloud (including Azure, Windows Server, SQL Server, Visual Studio, and Enterprise Services), and More Personal Computing (covering Windows, hardware, and Xbox, as well as search and advertising).

  • SAP predicts cloud to overtake license revenue in 2018, makes major SaaS acquisition

    For the full year up to December 31 2017 new cloud bookings rose 26% to €1.45 billion, total cloud subscriptions and support revenue was €3.77 billion and its more traditional software licence business line held up with 2% growth to €4.87 billion.

  • Science
    • Driverless cars: Men and women have very different opinions on letting go of the wheel

      The Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) were staunchly against the technology. Some 79% said they would not accept driverless cars. It was the biggest rejection from any age or sex surveyed.

    • The Earth’s Magnetic Field Is Shifting, Poles May Flip: “This Could Get Bad”

      The signs of the Earth’s poles reversing are also apparent to Daniel Baker, who says this would devastate the power grid. If a switch happens, we would likely be exposed to solar winds capable of punching holes into the ozone layer. In a new report, Baker, who is the director of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder, claims if this reversal happens, it is likely to render some areas of the planet “uninhabitable” by knocking out power grids.

  • Hardware
  • Health/Nutrition
  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Why Democrats Love Bush Now

      It was a funny bit, I guess. Ferrell reminded the SNL audience how “historically not good” Dubya was, joked about thrown shoes and how Dick Cheney’s heart is made of Legos now, and of course snuck in the obligatory comment about Russia rigging America’s elections as though that’s a real thing.

      The majority of the skit was built around a refrain you’re hearing more and more from Democratic pundits who haven’t quite lost their minds yet, reminding viewers that as bad as Trump is, he still hasn’t done anything remotely as bad as Bush’s full-scale ground invasions of nations where US troops are still involved.

      Anyone with even a drop of self-awareness knows that the cuddly wuddly new image Dubya is enjoying in mainstream America is taking Trump hysteria a bridge too far. Even MSNBC stooge Chris Hayes said not long ago that “The Iraq War was worse than anything Donald Trump has done (so far).”

    • Turkish Invasion Pits Neocons Against Traditional Imperialists

      US foreign policy in the Middle East is not merely adrift, it is in a state of severe crisis. Even as Turkish tanks and warplanes continue to pound US allies in northwestern Syria (The Kurds), powerbrokers in the White House and the Pentagon are unable to settle on a way forward. The frantic attempts to placate their NATO ally, Turkey, while trying to assuage the fears of their mostly Kurdish proxy-army (Syrian Democratic Forces) has further underscored the dismal absence of a coherent policy that would not only address the rapidly-changing battlespace but also deal with the prospect that a critical regional ally (Turkey) might seek strategic objectives that are directly at odds with those of Washington. The present disaster that is unfolding in the Afrin canton in Syria’s northwest corner could have been avoided had the Trump administration abstained from announcing that it planned a permanent military presence in east Syria, which implied its tacit support for an independent Kurdish state. This, in fact, was the trigger for the current crisis, the provocation that set the dominoes in motion.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • EFF Asks California Court to Reverse Ruling That Could Weaken Open Records Rules, Impede Public Access to Government Records

      State agencies in California are collecting and using more data now than they ever, and much of this data includes very personal information about California residents. This presents a challenge for agencies and the courts—how to make government-held data that’s indisputably of interest available to the public under the state’s public records laws while still protecting the privacy of Californians.

      EFF filed an amicus brief today urging a state appeals court to reverse a San Francisco trial judge’s ruling that would impede and possibly preclude the public’s ability to access state-held data that includes private information on individuals—even if that data is anonymized or redacted to protect privacy.

    • Wikileaks’ Assange Messages Fake Hannity Account With ‘News’ On Sen. Warner
    • Top-secret Australian files ‘left at second-hand shop’

      The ABC described it as “one of the biggest breaches of Cabinet security in Australian history”, saying the filing cabinets contained hundreds of documents – most of them classified.

    • Roger Stone Says He Visited the Ecuadorian Embassy in London Where Julian Assange Is In Hiding

      Former Trump presidential campaign adviser Roger Stone paid a visit to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on Wednesday where Julian Assange has been holed up for the last five years.

      Stone is in Britain for a short speaking tour that will include addresses at the Oxford and Cambridge Unions. He told The Daily Beast that he had taken time out to drop by the embassy where Assange has been in hiding from an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct.

    • Roger Stone Visits Ecuadorian Embassy Where Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange Is Staying
    • Roger Stone ‘dropped off card’ for Julian Assange at embassy
    • Julian Assange chides Daily Beast over report on Roger Stone’s visit to Ecuadorian Embassy

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange condemned the outlet that published a report detailing Trump associate Roger Stone’s visit to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where Assange has remained in asylum for five years.

      Stone, who has come under scrutiny in various Russia probes for having an intermediary to Assange, visited the embassy and said he did not see Assange, but “dropped off a card to be a smart ass,” according to the Daily Beast. Stone also suggested Assange was no longer at the embassy and may have been “extracted” recently.

      “Typical fake news Daily Beast (owned by Barry Diller; Chelsea Clinton sits on board) falling over shoes for Roger Stone,” Stone tweeted in response. “Censored is that I obtained political asylum, with UN backing, in relation to Clinton’s prosecution attempts. Instead libeled as ‘hiding’ for ‘sex’.”

    • Trump Ally Roger Stone Shows Up at Ecuadorian Embassy Housing Julian Assange

      Longtime Donald Trump political advisor Roger Stone visited the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on Wednesday, where Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has received diplomatic immunity for the last five years, The Daily Beast reports.

      Stone has a long history of communication with Wikileaks. Stone’s coordination with Wikileaks has been investigated by Congress; Assange’s coordination with Stone has been scrutinized by journalist Amy Goodman.

    • Former Ambassador Reflects on Current Events

      Former British Ambassador Craig Murray discussed the current situation with Julian Assange, the alleged Russian election hack, Trump’s Israel embassy move and more in an interview with Randy Credico and Dennis J Bernstein.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Winter sports face a double threat, from climate and demographic change

      Sooner or later (through regulation and carbon pricing, or global warming) resorts will have to rethink their model. Small, low-lying stations will have to find alternatives to skiing or close. Rich ones in high places and with good sources of water and electricity may thrive.

    • 5 People Who Predicted Disasters And Were Mocked Mercilessly

      Climate change is one of those super-polarizing subjects these days. On the one hand, you have almost every meaningful scientist in the world saying it is real; on the other hand, no climate change denier has drowned yet, so there’s that. But if the level-headed scientists of today think they have a hard time on stupidly “balanced” news panels battling wits against a Christian “scientist” with a blog, imagine how utterly frustrating it would have been to convince people of climate change a century ago.

    • Bear pushes his injured trainer around in wheelchair after he breaks both legs in horrific 60ft fall

      A man who trained three bears from when they were tiny cubs is now being pushed around in a wheelchair by one of his hairy “pets”.

      Animal trainer Oleg Alexandrov fell 60ft during an horrific accident at the Nizhegorodsky Circus where he worked, which left him with two broken legs and a broken arm.

      Speaking after the accident Oleg said: “We bought all the baby food from the shops because they ate, we gave them drink them from bottles and we looked after them.”

      But he was worried that the bears may not recognise him after he was stuck in hospital for four months recovering from his injuries.

      He said: “I was very worried about whether our relations will change.

  • Finance
    • When you cannot sue your employer

      Over half of non-unionised employees are now covered by mandatory arbitration

    • Fujifilm acquires Xerox for $6.1 billion

      Beyond photocopying, Xerox is probably best known in the tech world for failing to capitalize on a number of 1970s-era inventions that eventually became standard on modern personal computers. Ethernet, the mouse, the laser printer, and many other protocols and technologies were created at its Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) for the first time.

    • Fujifilm Is Taking Over Xerox in a $6.1 Billion Deal

      # bullshit MBA pursuit of indefinite growth at ever-increasing rates

      The acquisition announced on Wednesday comes as Xerox (xrx) has been under pressure to find new sources of growth as it struggles to reinvent its legacy business amid waning demand for office printing. Fujifilm (fujiy) is also trying to streamline its copier business with a larger focus on document solutions services.

    • Senate Republicans call on Trump to preserve NAFTA
    • Uber sells its leasing business to startup Fair.com

      In contrast to traditional new-car leasing, Fair connects consumers with pre-owned vehicles. After a lease comes to an end, Fair gives the dealer who leased the car the first right of refusal to buy the vehicle back. If the dealer declines, Fair sells the car on the secondary market.

    • Bangladesh experiments with a new approach to poverty alleviation

      So, for the past ten years, researchers led by Mushfiq Mobarak, an economist at Yale University, have tried offering cash to poor households so long as somebody moves to a city to look for work. The effects of this intervention have been measured through randomised controlled trials, including a large one, covering 133 villages, which began in 2014. They turn out to be strong.

    • TEU tokens – first cryptocurrency for container shipping is launched

      Container shipping could see the first widespread use of a cryptocurrency this week.

      Hong Kong-based blockchain developer ETH Smart Contract Tech will tomorrow start handing out its bespoke TEU tokens to shippers, forwarders and 3PLs under its 300cubits project.

      The company will release some 20m TEU tokens, “custom-designed as digital shipping booking deposits, using smart contract blockchain technology, to solve the no-show and rolling problems plaguing the container shipping industry”, to container line customers for free – but on a first-come-first basis.

    • Square is rolling out bitcoin trading to most of its cash app users

      Square Inc.’s stock climbed after Chief Executive Jack Dorsey said the company is introducing bitcoin trading for almost all users of its cash payments app, signaling support for the volatile cryptocurrency.

      “We support bitcoin because we see it as a long-term path towards greater financial access for all,” Dorsey, who also is CEO of Twitter Inc., said in a tweet Wednesday. “This is a small step.”

    • As March Primary Nears, Study on Cook County Property Tax System Still Under Wraps

      An independent study to gauge the fairness and accuracy of residential property tax assessments in Cook County was scheduled to be completed in mid-December, records show, but now its first findings may not be delivered until the end of February — days after early voting commences in an election that could be affected by the results.

      The study was ordered nearly seven months ago by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle after the Chicago Tribune published the first three parts of “The Tax Divide,” an investigation that found high error rates in residential property valuations produced under Assessor Joseph Berrios. The assessments also burdened poorer homeowners with unfairly high tax bills while giving wealthier taxpayers a break.

      Planning documents from August show that the independent study is based on the same kind of statistical analysis carried out by the Tribune with the goal of determining whether assessments under Berrios have met standards used in municipalities around the world.

      [...]

      Orr, who also is supporting Kaegi, called on the CCA to release the study’s results immediately.

      “The CCA is a credible organization, but they are unfortunately gaining the reputation of helping with what has become a big stall until after the March 20th primary election,” Orr said.

    • The WIRED Guide to the Blockchain

      The original blockchain is the decentralized ledger behind the digital currency bitcoin. The ledger consists of linked batches of transactions known as blocks (hence the term blockchain), and an identical copy is stored on each of the roughly 200,000 computers that make up the bitcoin network. Each change to the ledger is cryptographically signed to prove that the person transferring virtual coins is the actual owner of those coins. But no one can spend their coins twice, because once a transaction is recorded in the ledger, every node in the network will know about it.

    • Why Brexit could give cashless Sweden a big tech boost
  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • FBI warns it has ‘grave concerns’ about omissions in Nunes memo

      Intelligence committee Republicans, led by Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), voted to release the document over the strident objections of committee Democrats, who say it is a cherry-picked set of inaccurate accusations designed to kneecap special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign.

    • Was There Anything Actually True in Trump’s State of the Union?

      Trump’s Teleprompter reading of his State of the Union speech was reprehensible in so many ways—why bother listening at all? Don’t we already know enough about him? Harold Meyerson of The American Prospect comments on the lies, and the inadvertent truths, in the president’s speech.

    • There’s something fishy about Hillary Clinton’s apology for protecting an accused sexual harasser

      On Tuesday night, 15 minutes ahead of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address, Hillary Clinton said she should have fired a top aide from her 2008 presidential campaign who was accused of sexual harassment by a subordinate female staffer instead of allowing him to continue to work for her.

    • North Carolina Mismanaged Itself Into Electoral Chaos
    • Facebook Wants to Fix Itself. Here’s a Better Solution.

      And in mid-2012, I drew up a map of data vulnerabilities facing the company and its users. I included a list of bad actors who could abuse Facebook’s data for nefarious ends, and included foreign governments as one possible category.

    • NLRB Member Is Under Investigation for a Conflict of Interest

      William Emanuel, already criticized for allegedly favoring clients of the corporate law firm he used to work for, now faces a probe by the agency’s inspector general.

    • Facebook enables ‘fake news’ by reliance on digital advertising – report

      Another former Facebook executive has spoken out against the company’s current business practices, arguing that they directly enable electoral interference.

      Dipayan Ghosh, once a privacy and public policy advisor for the social network, argues now that disinformation of the sort used to interfere in the US election and the EU referendum is strongly linked to the nature of Facebook as an advertising platform.

      “Political disinformation succeeds because it follows the structural logic, benefits from the products and perfects the strategies of the broader digital advertising market,” Ghosh and his co-author Ben Scott wrote in a report, Digital Deceit, published by the New America foundation.

      Ghosh left Facebook in 2017, shortly after the US general election raised troubling questions for him about the relationship between the company and disinformation. In the new report, he and Scott argue that attempts to put a lid on the practice with tweaks to the platform are doomed to failure while the basic business model of a social network is advertising-driven, algorithmically-run and attention-focused.

    • Facebook usage falls in the US as it begins to tinker with the News Feed

      After a few months of tweaking the News Feed in order to make it more personal and harder for fake stories to spread, Facebook says that overall usage has dropped by “roughly 50 million hours every day.”

    • Zuckerberg: Users spending 50 million fewer hours a day on Facebook

      “In total, we made changes that reduced time spent on Facebook by roughly 50 million hours every day,” he said. “By focusing on meaningful connections, our community and business will be stronger over the long term.”

    • Facebook Users Spent 50 Million Fewer Hours Per Day on the Site Last Quarter
  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Analog Equivalent Privacy Rights (15/21): Our digital children’s conversations are muted on a per-topic basis

      At worst, our analog parents could be prevented from meeting each other. Our digital children are prevented from talking about particular subjects, once the conversation is already happening. This is a horrifying development.

    • ‘Halal’ internet means more control in Iran after unrest

      Authorities’ solution has been to create a so-called “halal net,” Iran’s own locally controlled version of the internet aimed at restricting what the public can see.

    • T-Mobile Blocks Pirate Sites Then Reports Itself For Possible Net Neutrality Violation

      After blocking several Pirate Bay clone sites following requests from rightsholders, T-Mobile in Austria has reported itself over a potential net neutrality breach. EU law says that pirate sites can be blocked but the ISP is concerned that doing so without a court order could be a breach of the Telecom Single Market (TSM) Regulation passed in 2015.

    • New Anti-Piracy Coalition Calls For Canadian Website Blocking

      A new coalition of Canadian companies is calling on the local telecom regulator CRTC to establish a local piracy site blocking program. The plan is the first of its kind in North America, aimed at lowering local piracy rates. Opponents, however, believe the proposal goes too far and equate it to a censorship deal.

    • Are You Ready for Facebook Changes? More Censorship?

      On January 11, 2018, Mark Zuckerberg announced that the social media giant Facebook was making significant changes to its news feed algorithm. The biggest change is its effort to reduce public news content from showing up on individual’s pages and news feeds. Businesses are likely to pay more to have to their posts show up on news feeds.

      One reasoning is that “Facebook is going back to its roots” to prioritize posts from family, friends, and groups in people’s news feeds. However, others argue it’s just another form of censorship.

    • We Need To Shine A Light On Private Online Censorship

      In the wake of ongoing concerns about online harassment and harmful content, continued terrorist threats, changing hate speech laws, and the ever-growing user bases of major social media platforms, tech companies are under more pressure than ever before with respect to how they treat content on their platforms—and often that pressure is coming from different directions. Companies are being pushed hard by governments and many users to be more aggressive in their moderation of content, to remove more content and to remove it faster, yet are also consistently coming under fire for taking down too much content or lacking adequate transparency and accountability around their censorship measures. Some on the right like Steve Bannon and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai have complained that social media platforms are pushing a liberal agenda via their content moderation efforts, while others on the left are calling for those same platforms to take down more extremist speech, and free expression advocates are deeply concerned that companies’ content rules are so broad as to impact legitimate, valuable speech, or that overzealous attempts to enforce those rules are accidentally causing collateral damage to wholly unobjectionable speech.

      Meanwhile, there is a lot of confusion about what exactly the companies are doing with respect to content moderation. The few publicly available insights into these processes, mostly from leaked internal documents, reveal bizarrely idiosyncratic rule sets that could benefit from greater transparency and scrutiny, especially to guard against discriminatory impacts on oft-marginalized communities. The question of how to address that need for transparency, however, is difficult. There is a clear need for hard data about specific company practices and policies on content moderation, but what does that look like? What qualitative and quantitative data would be most valuable? What numbers should be reported? And what is the most accessible and meaningful way to report this information?

    • Chinese filmmakers compromising on sensitive topics to pass censors

      New censorship laws in China have enforced stricter moral guidelines and nationalistic storytelling at the movies.

      Some independent filmmakers are compromising and working with authorities to reach a much larger audience.

      Li Yang is one of the stars of Chinese independent film.

      He’s pushed the boundaries and his films have been banned in China.

      But his gritty and realist portrayal of the underbelly of China’s rapid rise has earned Li a swag of international awards including a silver bear at the Berlin Film Festival and best feature at Tribeca Film Festival.

    • James Woods Saved By A Question Mark, But Still A Total Hypocrite

      Karma works in funny ways sometimes. Over the past few years, we covered how actor James Woods filed a totally ridiculous defamation lawsuit against an anonymous internet troll who made some hyperbolic statements about Woods — statements that were little different than what Woods had said about others. The case never went anywhere… because the defendant died. But Woods gloated over the guy’s death, which just confirmed what a horrible, horrible person Woods appears to be.

      So, while we found the karmic retribution of someone else then suing Woods for defamation on similarly flimsy claims noteworthy, we still pointed out just how weak the case was and noted that, as much of an asshole as Woods was in his case against his internet troll, he still deserved to prevail in the case against him. And prevail he has. The case has been tossed out on summary judgment. While the opinion also details Woods continuing to do the assholish move of trying to avoid being served (his lawyers refused to give an address where he could be served and Woods refused to have his lawyer waive service requirements — which is usually a formality in these kinds of things).

    • China Exporting Its Surveillance Tech And Philosophy To Other Countries, Helped By Equipment Donations

      Soft power is key focus for China at the moment, particularly as part of its One Belt, One Road mega infrastructure project. Another way China spreads its influence around the world is by donating surveillance equipment, as happened in Ecuador. It’s a shrewd move. Local governments can say that it would be foolish to turn down generous gifts from such a powerful nation, and that once accepted, it would be a waste not to use the equipment. China can claim that it is “helping” other nations improve their internal security, while establishing a beachhead for Chinese companies that manufacture the surveillance equipment. The latter can then build on that to win further sales — and to help spread Chinese-style surveillance yet further.

    • Theresa May Again Demands Tech Companies Do More To Right The World’s Social Media Wrongs

      In the face of “extremist” content and other internet nasties, British PM Theresa May keeps doing something. That something is telling social media companies to do something. Move fast and break speech. Nerd harder. Do whatever isn’t working well already, but with more people and processing power.

      May has been shifting her anti-speech, anti-social media tirades towards the Orwellian in recent months. Her speeches and platform stances have tried to make direct government control of internet communications sound like a gift to the unwashed masses. May’s desire to bend US social media companies to the UK’s laws has been presented as nothing more than as a “balancing” of freedom of speech against some imagined right to go through life without being overly troubled by social media posts.

      Then there’s the terrorism. Terrorists use social media platforms to connect with like-minded people. May would like this to stop. She’s not sure how this should be accomplished but she’s completely certain smart people at tech companies could bring an end to world terrorism with a couple of well-placed filters. So sure of this is May that she wants “extremist” content classified, located, and removed within two hours of its posting.

    • Facebook Ban on Crypto Ads Amounts to Censorship, says Blockchain Developer Stepwyze

      The sweeping ban imposed by social media giant Facebook on all ads related to cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs) is a form of censorship that could eventually prove detrimental to the company itself, according to a blockchain expert.

    • Paris court hears Facebook ‘censorship’ case over nude art
    • ‘Origin of the world’: Facebook on trial over Courbet’s vagina
    • Teacher sues Facebook for suspending his account after he posted a photo of a famous 19th century nude painting
    • ‘Gender trouble’: Museum removes 19th century painting to ‘prompt conversation’
    • Purging art from public places: it’s not censorship, just contextualising
    • Gallery removes naked nymphs painting to ‘prompt conversation’
    • When Artists Are Disgraced, Should Their Work Be Banished?
    • Manchester Art Gallery removes Waterhouse’s Hylas and the Nymphs to ‘prompt conversation’
    • Gallery denies censorship after removing Victorian nymphs painting

      A gallery has temporarily removed a Victorian painting of naked adolescent girls in a move to “encourage debate” about how such images should be displayed in the modern age.

    • Presenting the female body: Challenging a Victorian fantasy

      We have left a temporary space in Gallery 10 in place of Hylas and the Nymphs by JW Waterhouse to prompt conversation about how we display and interpret artworks in Manchester’s public collection.

    • Campus censorship is a false monster

      Shepherd was understandably upset during the meeting, cried a little and then released the recording to the media.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • How Congress’s Extension of Section 702 May Expand the NSA’s Warrantless Surveillance Authority

      Last month, Congress reauthorized Section 702, the controversial law the NSA uses to conduct some of its most invasive electronic surveillance. With Section 702 set to expire, Congress had a golden opportunity to fix the worst flaws in the NSA’s surveillance programs and protect Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights to privacy. Instead, it reupped Section 702 for six more years.

      But the bill passed by Congress and signed by the president, labeled S. 139, didn’t just extend Section 702’s duration. It also may expand the NSA’s authority in subtle but dangerous ways.

      The reauthorization marks the first time that Congress passed legislation that explicitly acknowledges and codifies some of the most controversial aspects of the NSA’s surveillance programs, including “about” collection and “backdoor searches.” That will give the government more legal ammunition to defend these programs in court, in Congress, and to the public. It also suggests ways for the NSA to loosen its already lax self-imposed restraints on how it conducts surveillance.

    • The State of the Union: What Wasn’t Said

      President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address last night was remarkable for two reasons: for what he said, and for what he didn’t say.

      The president took enormous pride last night in claiming to have helped “extinguish ISIS from the face of the Earth.”

      But he failed to mention that Congress passed a law at the start of this year to extend unconstitutional, invasive NSA surveillance powers. Before it passed the House, the Senate, and received the president’s signature, the law was misrepresented by several members of Congress and by the president himself.

    • Firmware Telemetry for Vendors

      I found out this nugget of information using a new LVFS vendor feature, soon to be deployed: Telemetry. This builds on the previously discussed success/failure reporting and adds a single page for the vendor to get statistics about each bit of hardware. Until more people are running the latest fwupd and volunteering to share their update history it’s less useful, but still interesting until then.

    • My Question To Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein On Encryption Backdoors

      Never mind all the other reasons Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s name has been in the news lately… this post is about his comments at the State of the Net conference in DC on Monday. In particular: his comments on encryption backdoors.

      As he and so many other government officials have before, he continued to press for encryption backdoors, as if it were possible to have a backdoor and a functioning encryption system. He allowed that the government would not itself need to have the backdoor key; it could simply be a company holding onto it, he said, as if this qualification would lay all concerns to rest.

      But it does not, and so near the end of his talk I asked the question, “What is a company to do if it suffers a data breach and the only thing compromised is the encryption key it was holding onto?”

    • ICE Finally Gets The Nationwide License Plate Database It’s Spent Years Asking For

      ICE is finally getting that nationwide license plate reader database it’s been lusting after for several years. The DHS announced plans for a nationwide database in 2014, but decided to rein that idea in after a bit of backlash. The post-Snowden political climate made many domestic mass surveillance plans untenable, if not completely unpalatable.

      Times have changed. The new team in the White House doesn’t care how much domestic surveillance it engages in as long as it might aid in rooting out foreign immigrants. The first move was the DHS’s updated Privacy Impact Assessment on license plate readers — delivered late last year — which came to the conclusion that any privacy violations were minimal compared to the national security net benefits.

    • Denmark split as row over teenage Facebook sex video widens

      Police revived the case late last year, when Kjærside’s unit was contacted by Europol and handed data collected by Facebook detailing all the Danish citizens who had shared the video.

      Facebook detected US citizens sharing the video and passed the data to the US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, who passed it to the Department of Homeland Security, who contacted Europol.

    • Facebook reveals privacy principles for first time, helps users control access

      Facebook’s privacy principles, which are separate from the user terms and conditions that are agreed when someone opens an account, range from giving users control of their privacy, to building privacy features into Facebook products from the outset, to users owning the information they share.

    • Child development experts urge Facebook to pull Messenger Kids app

      Open letter signed by more than 100 advocates warns of dangers social media poses to under 13s and asks Mark Zuckerberg to halt app

    • Facebook should shut down Messenger Kids, child advocates say

      After it launched with mixed reviews, more than 100 child development experts, health advocacy groups, educators, and parents have called on Facebook to shut down Messenger Kids, a spinoff of the company’s messenger app that’s specifically designed for children ages six to 12. The collective, led by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, addressed its open letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, warning that the app is “harmful to children and teens,” and that it could “undermine children’s healthy development.”

    • The Latest Data Privacy Debacle

      Data privacy is not like a consumer good, where you click “I accept” and all is well. Data privacy is more like air quality or safe drinking water, a public good that cannot be effectively regulated by trusting in the wisdom of millions of individual choices. A more collective response is needed.

    • Appeals court rules parts of Snoopers Charter unlawful

      The Court of Appeal in London has ruled that an overarching data retention law put in place by the UK Government, allowing access to phone and email records, lacks adequate safeguards.

    • Giving Aadhaar the finger

      Sunday Times surveys the main camp of Aadhaar opposition

    • Aadhaar-based profiling fears serious, Supreme Court says

      Divan responded that there was a genuine apprehension that Aadhaar data could be aggregated to profile individuals in what will be violative of the right to privacy. He said with the government and private entities making Aadhaar mandatory, profiling will be an easy task after collecting data pertaining to the use of the ID.

    • Analog Equivalent Privacy Rights (14/21): Our analog parents’ dating preferences weren’t tracked, recorded, and catalogued

      Our analog parents’ dating preferences were considered a most private of matters. For our digital children, their dating preferences is a wholesale harvesting opportunity for marketing purposes. How did this terrifying shift come to be?

    • In China, consumers are becoming more anxious about data privacy

      China has a reputation for lax controls over the gathering, storage and use of digital data about individuals. But sensitivities about such matters are growing, and not just when information is stolen.

    • You will soon have to prove you’re 18 to watch PornHub – are you freaking out yet?

      From April, under the Digital Economy Act, websites such as PornHub or YouPorn could face fines of up to £250,000 if under-18s in the UK can access the streams. The changes were designed to protect children from potentially damaging material, the government says.

      A system called AgeID, managed by PornHub parent company MindGeek, is likely to be a dominant player in the verification process.

      Users will have to create an account and then prove their age via a third party service. Details will be taken from a legitimate passport, credit card or smartphone.

    • Facebook to launch privacy center ahead of EU regulations

      Facebook is bracing for new regulations designed to help Europe’s 500 million consumers take back some control over how online businesses use their personal information.

      But Facebook won’t be giving its more than 2 billion global users any additional say over what it does with the mountains of personal information Facebook collects to target advertising.

    • Snoopers’ Charter will have to be changed following UK Court of Appeal ruling

      The ruling found that the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA) – a previous law covering state surveillance which has been expanded upon with the Investigatory Powers Act of 2016 – is unlawful.

    • The Snoopers’ Charter: Everything you need to know about the Investigatory Powers Act

      Web and phone companies (CSPs) will store records of websites visited by every customer for 12 months for access by police, security services and other public bodies upon issue of a warrant.

    • Appeals Court: Britain’s Snoopers Charter is illegal mass surveillance and must be urgently reformed

      The challenge came from Labour MP Tom Watson (previously), who condemned the legislation as having been “rushed” and blamed the Tories’ unwillingness to properly debate the spying rule for surveillance of the communications data of “hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom are innocent victims or witnesses to crime.”

    • UK mass digital surveillance regime ruled unlawful

      The three judges said Dripa was “inconsistent with EU law” because of this lack of safeguards, including the absence of “prior review by a court or independent administrative authority”.

    • Concern Fitness Tracking App Exposed US Military Bases Just the Start

      And U.S. intelligence officials have been warning for years about the impact of what they call “digital dust,” information that by itself seems to have little relevance and that users have posted to social media.

    • Advanced Denanonymization through Strava

      Here are some things Strava may reveal

      Whether you run, swim, ski or cycle.
      If you tell it, what bicycles you have.
      Who you go out on a run or ride with
      When you are away from your house
      Where you commute to, and when
      Your fitness, and whether it is getting better or worse.
      When you travel, what TZ, etc.

    • What is the IoT? Everything you need to know about the Internet of Things right now

      A lightbulb that can be switched on using a smartphone app is an IoT device, as is a motion sensor or a smart thermostat in your office or a connected streetlight. An IoT device could be as fluffy as a child’s toy or as serious as a driverless truck, or as complicated as a jet engine that’s now filled with thousands of sensors collecting and transmitting data. At an even bigger scale, smart cities projects are filling entire regions with sensors to help us understand and control the environment.

    • Facebook Really Wants You to Come Back

      The social network is getting aggressive with people who don’t log in often, working to keep up its engagement numbers.

    • Dems demand answers from fitness app that revealed sensitive military info

      The lawmakers, led by Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), on Wednesday asked for a briefing from the company following reports that analysts have been able to use its publicly available “heat map” to pinpoint the locations of U.S. military bases in the Middle East.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Tinder told to stop discriminating against over 30s

      The California court of appeal ruled that Tinder Plus, which is priced at $9.99 for under 30s and $19.99 for overs, is discriminatory.

    • Tinder must stop charging its older California users more for “Plus” features

      The online dating service Tinder must change one of its key monetization strategies. A Los Angeles appellate court reversed a lower court’s decision on Monday and told Tinder to stop charging older users more money per month for its “Tinder Plus” service.

    • Dating App Tinder Cited for Age Discrimination
    • Academic Faces Charge for Misidentifying PM’s Wife Purse

      For misidentifying the purse first lady Naraporn Chan-ocha carried at the White House as a brand-name product, Charnvit will be charged with violating the Computer Crime Act, police said Thursday. The act bans spreading false information online, which it describes as “importing false information into a computer system.”

      “We will issue him a summons for him tomorrow,” Col. Olan Sukkasem of the police cyber crime unit said.

    • Urgent Threats to Academic Freedom in Thailand

      In a second case, Mr. Charnvit, a professor of history and former rector of Thammasat University, has been summoned to report to the police on January 31 for allegedly violating Thailand’s Computer Crimes Act. The charge stems from an alleged Facebook post in which Professor Charnvit shared a widely circulated news piece featuring Naraporn Chan-ocha, the wife of NCPO leader Prayut Chan-ocha, carrying what was described as a two-million baht Hermes purse, and commented “Thai leaders must look expensive not cheap.” Government officials denied the story, and the Technology Crime Suppression Division alleged that sharing this content constituted a violation of the Computer Crimes Act. Professor Charnvit has long been publicly critical of the NCPO and a proponent of democracy and human rights issues on social media. If convicted, Charnvit could face up to five years in prison, a 100,000 baht fine, or both.

    • All workers need unions – including those in Silicon Valley

      Today, over 1 million people in the Bay Area are on low-wage jobs that pay only $18 an hour – well below the living wage of $22 an hour. And there is a racial dimension: BAME workers comprise 58% of the cleaners, bus drivers, caterers and other subcontractors working for big tech firms, but only 10% of the core tech workforce.

    • The in-depth tale of Bylock, the Turkish messenger app whose 1×1 tracking GIF was the basis for tens of thousands of treason accusations

      The report shows just how arbitrary and changeable the Turkish state’s case has been. For example, the state maintains that Bylock was instrumental in planning and executing the failed 2016 coup, even though the app had been discontinued four months before the coup took place.

    • Muslim woman receives death threats after leading prayers in Kerala

      “These are extremists who cannot tolerate any reform. I have had threats on WhatsApp, on YouTube, on Facebook, but I am not scared,” she says.

    • Risking arrest and prison, Iranian women cast off their hijabs in protest

      The protests in Tehran Monday were against the mandatory hijab laws that have been in place since the 1979 revolution that ushered in the current government.

    • Women in Iran remove hijabs in public to protest country’s Islamic dress code

      The protests, still small in number, are significant as a rare public sign that dissatisfaction with certain Islamic laws governing personal conduct may have reached a boiling point.

    • Congressman’s Bill Would Force Trump Administration to Fulfill Pledge to Study Racial Disparities in Auto Insurance Pricing

      Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., introduced legislation last week requiring federal authorities to examine racial disparities in auto insurance premiums, citing a story co-published by ProPublica and Consumer Reports last April.

      The legislation, which has six Democratic co-sponsors, is in part a rebuke to the Trump administration for seeking to shift the mission of the Treasury Department’s Federal Insurance Office from being a watchdog agency tasked with studying auto insurance pricing into an industry booster. The bill calls for the office to collect ZIP-code level claims data from insurers across the nation, and use the information to study whether higher prices in minority neighborhoods are justified by the risk of bigger payouts in those areas.

    • A Father Abuses His Children but Somehow Their Mother Goes to Prison for 30 Years

      Tondalao Hall spent her 13th New Year’s Day inside a prison cell this month. The man who abused her and her young children never served a single day in prison. The details of Hall’s story speak volumes about criminal injustice in the nation today.

      Thirteen years ago, Tondalao Hall’s ex-boyfriend and abuser, Robert Braxton Jr., pleaded guilty to breaking the ribs and femur of their 3-month-old daughter. Hall had not abused her children. She herself was also a victim of her ex’s violence. Prosecutors presented no evidence that Hall, then 19 years old, knew of any abuse against her children. On the advice of her original attorney, Hall signed a “blind” guilty plea — meaning, a plea without any deal with the prosecutor promising leniency. That plea resulted in a 30-year sentence for “failing to protect” her children from abuse.

      Hall’s sentence violates the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which prohibits the government from handing out cruel and unusual punishments to individuals convicted of crimes, in two ways. First, her sentence is disproportionate to her crime in relation to Braxton’s light sentence. Second, it lacks any consideration of the abuse she endured and the choices she was forced to make as a result.

      In a cruel coincidence, Braxton was released from custody on the same day Hall was told she’d serve 30 years in a maximum security prison. Now, after eight years of probation, he lives with minimal consequences for his violent crimes.

      The ACLU of Oklahoma is representing Hall and seeking her release because she has been abused and denied justice. Her suffering mirrors that of so many women of color who have been the subject of unjust prosecution.

    • Golden Dawn Girls documentary gives new voice to women in Greece’s far-right elite

      When I first heard about the documentary Golden Dawn Girls, I was more than a little sceptical. Why would three women of the Greek far-right party’s elite invite cameras into their homes, around their dinner tables and inside the party headquarters, for a feature-length film? What was their agenda?

      Norwegian documentary maker, Håvard Bustnes, presents the film as a quest to discover “what happened to Greece?” How did a country known for its beaches and sunny hospitality, come to vote members of a far-right political party into parliament? In 2015, Golden Dawn became the third largest party.

    • Red Cross General Counsel David Meltzer Resigns Over Handling of Sexual Assault and Harassment Allegations

      American Red Cross General Counsel David Meltzer has resigned after a ProPublica story detailed troubling aspects of how he handled a sexual misconduct case involving another senior official at the charity.

      In his resignation letter, dated Jan. 31 and effective immediately, Meltzer wrote to American Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern that he deeply regretted his handling of the case. “I want to ensure that the reputation of the institution remains strong and that nothing interferes with the organization’s ability to effectively carry out its important mission,” his letter says.

      In an organization-wide email this morning, McGovern announced the resignation. “Over the course of the last year, we have seen news accounts of other organizations and institutions contending with serious instances of sexual harassment and the harmful repercussions that such misconduct can create. Last week, it was our organization’s turn to again struggle with these issues,” McGovern wrote. “I am committed to moving forward in a way that strengthens us as an organization.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • California’s Senate Misfires on Network Neutrality, Ignores Viable Options

      Yesterday, the California Senate approved legislation that would require Internet service providers (ISPs) in California to follow the now-repealed 2015 Open Internet Order. While well-intentioned, the legislators sadly chose an approach that is vulnerable to legal attack.

      The 2015 Open Internet Order from the Federal Communications Commission provided important privacy and net neutrality protections, such as banning blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization. It is important for states to fill the void left behind by the FCC’s abandonment of those protections.

    • Iceland fibre network focuses on final 1500 remote sites

      In the next two years, telecommunications network contractors are to connect the final 1500 remote buildings to complete Iceland’s Rural Fibre Project (Ísland ljóstengt), the government reports. The project delivers 100 Mb/s Internet access to 99.9% of Iceland’s households and businesses.

    • Dem FCC commish trolls chairman with Burger King mug

      Burger King earlier this month released a pro-net neutrality video using the price of its Whopper burger to explain the potential implications of repealing the Obama-era rules.

    • California Senate defies FCC, approves net neutrality law

      California may be the closest to passing such legislation after yesterday’s Senate approval of SB-460, a bill proposed by Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles).

      The bill passed 21-12, with all 21 ayes coming from Democrats. The bill is now being moved to the State Assembly, where Democrats have a 53-25 majority over Republicans.

  • DRM
    • Apple, Verizon Continue to Lobby Against The Right To Repair Your Own Devices

      A few years back, frustration at John Deere’s draconian tractor DRM resulted in a grassroots tech movement. John Deere’s decision to implement a lockdown on “unauthorized repairs” turned countless ordinary citizens into technology policy activists, after DRM and the company’s EULA prohibited the lion-share of repair or modification of tractors customers thought they owned. These restrictions only worked to drive up costs for owners, who faced either paying significantly more money for “authorized” repair, or toying around with pirated firmware just to ensure the products they owned actually worked.
      The John Deere fiasco resulted in the push for a new “right to repair” law in Nebraska. This push then quickly spread to multiple other states, driven in part by consumer repair monopolization efforts by other companies including Apple, Sony and Microsoft. Lobbyists for these companies quickly got to work trying to claim that by allowing consumers to repair products they own (or take them to third-party repair shops) they were endangering public safety. Apple went so far as to argue that if Nebraska passed such a law, it would become a dangerous “mecca for hackers” and other rabble rousers.

    • The future of O’Reilly and DRM

      O’Reilly is a major publisher of technical books. Previously an important player in working towards a DRM-free world, they spent years as one of the largest participants in the International Day Against DRM. They maintain a vast selection of DRM-free ebooks on everything from AI to design, operations to security, and many things in between.

      While O’Reilly releases most of of their technical books under proprietary licenses — preventing users from sharing and improving the text — we also recognize that they have taken a strong and helpful stance against DRM.

      Like many Defective by Design (DbD) supporters, we were surprised to hear that O’Reilly is moving away from selling DRM-free ebooks on their Web site. Now, their ebooks are only available through Safari, which requires proprietary software to use.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Can ‘public morals’ prevent the use of religious symbols and motifs in advertising? No, says the European Court of Human Rights

      Is the prohibition to use in advertising the image of Jesus and Mary on grounds of public morals an undue compression of one’s own freedom of expression?

      This is essentially the issue that the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) had to address in Sekmadienis v Lithuania (Appl No 69317/14).

      In yesterday’s judgment the Court answered … in the affirmative.

      The decision is interesting because the ECtHR reviewed the application of freedom of expression within Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in the context of commercial advertising and in light of the vague concept of ‘public morals’.

    • WIPO Traditional Knowledge Division Provides Capacity Building, Publications

      The protection of genetic resources and traditional knowledge through the intellectual property system has been discussed for many years at the World Intellectual Property Organization. While delegates are working on potential international instruments to provide such protection, the WIPO Traditional Knowledge Division is involved in technical assistance and capacity building, providing information and issuing publications.

    • Qualcomm’s extended licensing deal with Samsung is a big play, but Apple effect hits the bottom line

      Qualcomm has announced the expansion of its licensing agreement with Samsung as the effects of the company’s litigation battle with Apple continue to bite.

      The deal between the chipmaker and Korean tech giant means that their existing agreement will be extended to 2023 and sees Samsung withdraw its opposition to Qualcomm’s appeal of a more than $800 million fine from the Korean Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) in relation to the US company’s licensing practices. As they announced news of the deal Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf stressed that it was at the device level, which patent owners prefer, rather than the chipset level.

    • New deal with Samsung makes Qualcomm a little less isolated on the antitrust front

      After the EU “grandslammed” Qualcomm with a $1.2 billion fine (joining the FTC and Asian regulators in holding Qualcomm’s conduct illegal), Qualcomm has finally had some good news to report: just in time for its earnings call, Qualcomm announced a new five-year license agreement with Samsung. In addition to the joint press release with Samsung, Qualcomm issued a press release in which it mentioned that “Samsung will be withdrawing its interventions in Qualcomm’s appeal of the KFTC decision in the Seoul High Court.”

    • Apple gets support from Lawyers for Civil Justice in fight against discovery sanctions

      In connection with the FTC’s antitrust lawsuit against Qualcomm, Magistrate Judge Nathaniel Cousins of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California crafted a “Christmas present” for Apple that the iPhone maker would probably have liked to return to the shop immediately: a sanctions order ($25K per day starting December 16) and a December 29 deadline for the production of documents. Bloomberg reported (as did other media, while this blog didn’t due to its focus on IP and antitrust issues). The Bloomberg article I just linked to quotes an Apple spokesman as saying that Apple was going to appeal the ruling and that Apple had already produced “millions of documents for this case” and would deliver “millions more.”

    • Google completes its $1.1 billion HTC deal

      Google’s billion-dollar deal to acquire a part of HTC (along with a non-exclusive license for its intellectual property [sic]) is done. The two companies announced its completion tonight, and the details appear to be the same as originally announced. While the team behind the Pixel phones is joining Google, HTC says it will continue to make mobile devices under its own brand name while using Vive products to compete in VR. It won’t stop there either, as the company says it will pursue innovations in AR, AI and IoT technology.

    • Trademarks
      • Local Brewery Wins Battle With Portland City Hall Over Leaping Stag Trademark

        The city has surrendered in a battle over who gets to use the iconic image of a leaping stag from the Portland Oregon sign and will not seek a trademark that would conflict with one already owned by a local brewery.

      • Portland Surrenders To Old Town Brewing Over Stag Sign Trademark

        For some time, we’ve been following an odd trademark dispute between the city of Portland and a small brewery, Old Town Brewing, all over a famous city sign featuring a leaping stag. Old Town has a trademark for the image of the sign and uses that imagery for its business and beer labels. Portland, strangely, has pursued a trademark for the very same market and has attempted to invalidate Old Town’s mark for the purpose of licensing the image to macro-breweries to fill the municipal coffers. What I’m sure city officials thought would be the quiet bullying of a local company without the breadth of legal resources Portland has at its disposal has instead ballooned into national coverage of that very same fuckery, with local industry groups rushing to the brewery’s aid.

        The end result of all of this has been several months of Portland officials looking comically bad in the eyes of the public. Of all places, the people of Portland were never going to sit by and let their city run roughshod over a local microbrewery just so that the Budweisers of the world could plaster local iconography over thin, metal cans of pilsner. And now, despite sticking their chins out in response to all of this backlash for these past few months, it seems that the city has finally decided to cave in.

    • Copyrights
      • Huge Rightsholder Coalition Calls on New EU Presidency to Remove Safe Harbors

        A huge coalition of international rightsholder organizations has appealed to the new presidency of the European Council to find an effective solution to the so-called ‘Value Gap’. Featuring an army of record labels, film groups, sports bodies and publishers, the authors are calling for an end to safe harbors and compulsory licensing for sites like YouTube.

      • Court Orders Tickbox to Keep Pirate Streaming Addons Out

        A group of major Hollywood studios plus Amazon and Netflix have won a preliminary injunction against TickBox TV, a Kodi-powered streaming device. The device seller is ordered to keep pirate addons out of its box and halt all piracy-inducing advertisements. In addition, both parties are instructed to resolve several outstanding questions and update the injunction accordingly.

      • The extra copyright for news in Germany was a failure – yet the Bulgarian EU presidency now presents it as a good compromise for all of Europe

        In fact, the proposed exception for short snippets would be implemented in a way that would be even more far-reaching than the Estonian proposal: The lack of an originality requirement would mean that unoriginal longer texts published by news sites are covered, such as tables of football results or AI-generated texts, which are currently ineligible for copyright protection for good reason.

Too Much to Cover Up at the EPO, the UN, and UN Agencies

Thursday 1st of February 2018 10:22:37 PM

Cash cows to their host countries, so infringements of human rights are brushed aside

Summary: The post-Constitution, post-financial transparency, post-human rights phase that’s sweeping across the EPO (and the UN) gives room for concern

THE EPO and USPTO coverage from Managing IP has always been biased. Probably intentionally and by design. They know what their target audience wishes to believe and that belief itself can lead to certain outcomes.

“The week in IP” by “Guest author” was published earlier today and spoke of “German organisations’ support for dismissing a UPC complaint,” basically alluding to the patent microcosm. At Managing IP, as usual, the vast majority of the text is behind a paywall, so only the patent microcosm can see it and likely won’t scrutinise it (preaching to the choir again). Whatever…

Meanwhile, there’s this couple of new pages [1, 2] about a former judge at the German Federal Constitutional Court (FCC). He doesn’t think the UPC should even get off the ground and as someone put it earlier today or last night at IP Kat comments:

A speech and an article by Prof. Dr. Siegfried Broß, former judge at the German Federal Constitutional Court of Karlsruhe.

Both documents also deal with the employment situation of staff members of international organisations. They are a available in English and in German.

The speech: “European Patent Convention, Unified Patent Court and the German Basic Law”

https://www.cohausz-florack.de/en/mehr/blog/article-en/news/detail/News/european-patent-convention-unified-patent-court-and-the-german-basic-law/

The article: “The modern constitutional state becomes a farce”

https://www.cohausz-florack.de/en/mehr/blog/article-en/news/detail/News/the-modern-constitutional-state-becomes-a-farce/

We maintain our assertion that Team UPC is either totally deluded or deliberately lying. Whichever it is, that’s bad. It harms their credibility and reputation.

There’s another interesting new comment on an article we wrote about last night, having covered the matter twice about a month ago [1, 2]. Germany’s cash cow at the EPO continues to raise questions.

Patently Transparent wrote:

There were some interesting comments about this matter in a publication issued by SUEPO in December 2017.

“To their credit, the German delegate (and Head of the German Patent Office) in the Budget & Finance Committee objected:
“We have submitted the proposals to the Federal Court of Auditors. Their assessment is that the risk is too high.
Capital preservation should be in the foreground. First, one should move closer to the RFPSS guidelines.
Provision should be made for cumulative risk of default. Sanction mechanisms should be provided.
Under g) in the RFPSS guidelines, there is a list of approved and unauthorized instruments of investment.
We cannot agree today. If contracts with the fund managers existed, we may be able to decide otherwise, but not yet today.”
(Translated from German, not verbatim)

Several Delegations (IE, IT, DK, UK, NO, CZ, HU, SI) and the staff representatives, too, voiced substantial concerns and called for prudence and strict governance. In the end, out of 32 delegations, 6 voted against, 2 courageously abstained – the rest (24) voted in favour (Italy requested a secret the vote with the apparent aim to prevent possible retaliation from Battistelli; So we do not know who voted what).

So much for transparency, prudence and financial accountability.

We wish Mr Ernst, the German Chair of the Administrative Council, good luck in explaining this fiasco to his own government and to the German Federal Court of Auditors.”

Those who are interested in following up the story could consider trying to obtain a copy of the opinion of the German Federal Court of Auditors, e.g. by making a freedom of information request.

Albertine replied: “Indeed, the question can also be summarized with “Cui bono?”. This is an eternally revolving question and will not be answered properly until the concept of “glasnost” is introduced in the operating rules of the EPO. Without transparency, operations involving billions in a context of a questionable governance will always give rise to suspicions.”

We’ll probably revisit it in the future. There seems to be more urgent matters where lives of people and entire families (not just money) are at stake.

Days ago we saw some coverage about the International Labour Organization’s Administrative Tribunal (ILOAT) protecting Battistelli, rendering itself almost complicit in alleged corruption (or coverup thereof) and violations of human rights. Earlier today WIPR wrote about that as well. To quote:

The International Labour Organization’s Administrative Tribunal (ILOAT) dismissed a series of complaints against the president of the European Patent Office (EPO), Benoît Battistelli, in its 125th session, held in October and November last year.

One of the dismissed complaints had been filed by Elizabeth Hardon, a former chairman of the Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO).

In May 2012, an EPO employee committed suicide. The Munich section of SUEPO sent a letter to Battistelli requesting an independent investigation into the circumstances that may have contributed to the suicide.

For ILOAT to become defensive of Battistelli’s abuses makes sense. In a way…

I once received some UN leaks showing similar abuses inside the UN itself (not just WIPO, where Battistelli nearly became the chief). We might get around to releasing these one day (source protection is an issue as it would become perfectly obvious who it concerns). We have just made contact with the source, primarily in pursuit of approval (for publication). For the time being, think of ILO/UN to EPO accountability along the lines of Gurry (WIPO/UN) to Battistelli accountability. Oh wait

More in Tux Machines

Android Leftovers

Report from Debian SnowCamp and a Look at Solyd XK, a Debian-Based Distribution

  • Report from Debian SnowCamp: day 1
  • Report from Debian SnowCamp: day 2
    Of course, we’re still sorely lacking volunteers who would really care about mentors.debian.net; the codebase is a pile of hacks upon hacks upon hacks, all relying on an old version of a deprecated Python web framework. A few attempts have been made at a smooth transition to a more recent framework, without really panning out, mostly for lack of time on the part of the people running the service. I’m still convinced things should restart from scratch, but I don’t currently have the energy or time to drive it… Ugh.
  • Installing Solyd XK, a Debian based Linux distribution : Cooking With Linux
    It's time for some more "Cooking With Linux" without a net, meaning the video you are about to watch was recorded live. Today, I'm going to install a new Linux distribution (new to me, anyhow) called Solyd XK.

Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Phone - With Android

I ever so slightly regret the "upgrade" to Android. With a version less than the tablet, the UI changes are extremely noticeable, and the transition isn't as smooth. The device lags, and it just doesn't have enough processing power to give the necessary feel of goodness and elegance. On the other hand, you get tons of native applications that you can actually use, as opposed to the Ubuntu Touch idea. Shame really. For 'tis a compromise. If you ask me, I wholeheartedly embrace the M10 tablet upgrade, but on the phone, you might as well keep Ubuntu unless you need the device for serious use. If it's just an opportunistic call/SMS thing for when abroad and such, or to loan to friends, the original combo is adequate. If you need apps, then Android is the way to go, but do not except any miracles. It won't be speedy, and it won't be too pretty. All in all, an okay player. It is silly attaching sentiments to software or hardware, but I do guess I will fondly remember the Ubuntu phone attempt as a noble idea to make something great and fun. I could have kept the device in its original state, perhaps, but in the end, it would have ended in a pile of ancient stuff you keep around for a decade until you decide you need to throw it away to leave room for fresh memories and less ancient stuff. Having a flawless Android experience would have helped soften the edge, but as it is, it remains the bittersweet attempt at what could have been a revolution. The end. Read more Also: Ubuntu Desktop weekly update – February 23, 2018

​Docker and Red Hat News

  • ​Docker has a business plan headache
    We love containers. And, for most of us, containers means Docker. As RightScale observed in its RightScale 2018 State of the Cloud report, Docker's adoption by the industry has increased to 49 percent from 35 percent in 2017.
  • Mycroft Widget, Atos and Red Hat's New Cloud Container Solution, npm Bug and More
    Atos and Red Hat announced this morning "a new fully-managed cloud container solution - Atos Managed OpenShift (AMOS) - built on Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform". The press release adds, "Because AMOS is built on Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, a container-centric hybrid cloud solution, it can deliver the flexibility customers seek from cloud-native and container-based applications."
  • Red Hat Decision Manager 7 Boosts BPM with Low-Code Approach
    Red Hat is perhaps best known for its Enterprise Linux platform, but it has been a player in the Business Process Management (BPM) suite for over a decade too. On Feb. 21, Red Hat Decision Manager 7 was officially announced as the successor to the company's JBoss Business Rules Management System (BRMS) product. Red Hat first released BRMS back in May 2009 which itself was an evolution of the JBoss Rules Engine.
  • Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE:RHT) – Active Stock Evaluation