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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 1 hour 18 min ago

Microsoft Brings Its GNU/Linux-Hostile Patent Scheme to China

Tuesday 26th of September 2017 02:34:44 PM

Summary: Microsoft reiterates its intention to only offer ‘protection’ (or indemnification) for GNU/Linux users who pay Microsoft monthly fees while going further and hinting that it may send additional patents to trolls

THERE are still some people out there — not Richard Stallman, obviously — who have fallen for the lie and PR campaign which says “Microsoft loves Linux”. Some people, like Red Hat and Canonical (or Linux Foundation) staff, are paid not to understand, or at least to keep silent about it.

“As Bruce Perens recently explained, OIN exists to protect software patents from Linux rather than protect Linux from software patents.”On the surface it may seem like Microsoft’s patent aggression against GNU/Linux is no more. But that’s purely an illusion. We habitually show how Microsoft-connected patent trolls attack vendors who distribute GNU/Linux. They don’t always know who’s behind the trolls because the aggressors try to keep it complicated. It’s a shell game. Intellectual Ventures, for instance, has literally thousands of shell entities around it (one of these defames me).

Earlier today we found this press release about a firm from China (Guangzhou Automobile Group). No FOSS or Linux news site has caught it (so far). “By joining Open Invention Network,” (OIN) says the firm, “we are demonstrating our commitment to open source software, and supporting it with a pledge of patent non-aggression.”

The concept of “patent non-aggression” is OK, but OIN is next to worthless for Linux. As Bruce Perens recently explained, OIN exists to protect software patents from Linux rather than protect Linux from software patents. It’s an IBM front. It won’t oppose software patents (don’t even ask it about those) and it cannot do anything about patent trolls, by its own admission. That’s why Microsoft prefers using trolls — to distance itself from the negative publicity associated with patent aggression.

Here is a portion from the press release:

Open Invention Network (OIN), the largest patent non-aggression community in history, announced today that Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC Group), has joined as a community member. As owner of China’s fastest-growing auto brand, GAC Group is demonstrating its commitment to open source software (OSS) as an enabler of electronic vehicle systems.

More interesting, however, is this article published this morning by a patent trolls’ Web site. “Microsoft expands Azure IP Advantage to China,” the headline says. As we explained earlier this year in many articles (at least 13 [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13]), we expect that Microsoft will sic its patent trolls on rivals unless they pay protection money (in the form of Azure rents). We have already covered evidence of this. Here is the latest (emphasis ours, “NPE” is a euphemism for patent troll):

There are three key components to the Azure IP Advantage programme, which was rolled out back in February. First, the company’s uncapped indemnification policy was expanded to cover open source technologies; second, 10,000 Microsoft patents have been made available to customers for deterrent and defensive purposes; and finally, Azure customers can receive a ‘springing licence’ should Microsoft ever transfer patents to an NPE.

But the fine print noted that Azure IP Advantage was not yet available in China. Azure services in the country are operated by a Beijing-based company called 21Vianet, an independent entity. The unique arrangement meant a couple of extra hoops to jump through before the programme could take effect. But it will do just that at the start of next month, so from then on the Azure IP offering will be identical across all of the product’s international markets.

Do not believe for a moment that this is good news. Like we said earlier this year, it’s another Novell-like attempt to create two classes of GNU/Linux, “safe” (hosted by Microsoft) and “unsafe”. Microsoft isn’t stupid. We oughtn’t be stupid, either.

Rodney Gilstrap Dubbed “America’s Worst Patent Judge” Having Long Facilitated Trolls for Gains

Tuesday 26th of September 2017 02:04:07 PM

When the courtroom is treated like the reception desk of a business rather than carrier of justice

Summary: In an effort to feed the litigation ‘industry’ (and hospitality around it) Rodney Gilstrap has subverted the rule of law and is being called out on it

WE DO NOT believe in judge bashing (it’s not an honourable thing to do unless there is demonstrable misconduct as in the case of Randall Rader). However, prominent US politicians themselves are calling Gilstrap “reprehensible” (and explained why earlier this year). We last wrote about it some days ago because even courts above Gilstrap’s are losing their patience.

A few days ago an article by Mike Masnick called Gilstrap the “Patent Trolls’ Favorite Judge” and noted that the court above his own “Can’t Just Ignore The Supreme Court To Keep Patent Cases In Texas” (same thing we wrote at the time). To quote some bits:

A few weeks ago, we noted that Judge Rodney Gilstrap, a judge in East Texas who is infamous for handling approximately 25% of all patent cases in the entire country, appeared to be ignoring the Supreme Court in an effort to keep all those patent cases in his own docket. You see, earlier this year, in an important case, the Supreme Court said that the proper venue for a patent lawsuit to be brought should be where the defendant “resides” rather than just wherever they “do business.” Previously, patent trolls had said that the lawsuits could be brought wherever a company did business — which, with internet firms, meant anywhere — allowing them to file in their favorite court in East Texas. The Supreme Court said “that’s not what the law says.”

But Gilstrap tried, somewhat creatively, to twist himself around those rules, by arguing that all sorts of other factors could be used to determine “residence” — basically including (again) if you had any connection to that jurisdiction at all — and thus continue to allow East Texas to be an acceptable venue. We listed out those factors in the earlier post, but don’t need to do so again, because the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has already weighed in and said “nope, that’s not how it works.”

Today, BoingBoing wrote about this too and this was sent to us by readers, who are eager to see us mentioning it again because Gilstrap is, in effect, the trolls’ ‘mole’ in Texas. Here is what BoingBoing wrote:

America’s worst patent judge gets a scorching language lesson from the appeals court

Judge Rodney Gilstrap serves the Eastern District of Texas court, the venue from which patent trolls have extorted billions in useless menaces money from US industry; Gilstrap hears 25% of the patent cases brought in the USA, and has a track record for making epically terrible rulings.

But Gilstrap and the Eastern District are under threat, thanks to a series of rulings (including a Supreme Court ruling) that holds that patent holders have to sue alleged infringers in the place where they “reside” and not just in some place where their products are available (which, in the internet age, is everywhere).

Gilstrap tried to get around this, allowing a troll to bring another case to the Eastern District of Texas by making up a nonsensical “residency test” that would keep the racket alive.

We too are tempted to bash this judge, but in order to avoid hypocrisy (it’s usually Watchtroll who is judge-bashing) we prefer to show how other sites are bashing him. He probably deserves this. He did this to his own reputation.

Links 26/9/2017: Linux 4.14 RC2, Mesa 17.1.10, Red Hat’s Results Published

Monday 25th of September 2017 11:23:54 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • 10 Tips For First Time Linux Users

      ​New to Linux? Never fear, a superior operating system is here! You’ll go from asking everyone for help to re-compiling your own kernel in no time! (Relevant XKCD).

    • Are These the Toughest Linux Operating Systems to Install?

      It’s important to keep in mind that no matter the Linux operating system you choose to install, what matters is getting it onto your computer and using it. Sure, there may be benefits or drawbacks to whatever setup you pursue, but that’s just how Linux is: various by nature.

      What’s really important is choosing something that best suits you. If you want a high level of flexibility, then by all means, use something like Arch Linux. And if you want something more automated, that’s fine as well. It’s still Linux, after all.

    • FreeType Improvements For The Adobe Engine

      With FreeType 2.8.1 having been released last week, a lot of new code landed in the early hours of today to its Git repository.

      The code landed includes the work done this summer by Ewald Hew for Google Summer of Code (GSoC 17) adding support for Type 1 fonts to the Adobe CFF engine. Type 1 is an older, less maintained font format.

  • Server
    • Future Proof Your SysAdmin Career: Advancing with Open Source

      For today’s system administrators, the future holds tremendous promise. In this ebook, we have covered many technical skills that can be big differentiators for sysadmins looking to advance their careers. But, increasingly, open source skillsets can also open new doors.

      A decade ago, Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst predicted that open source tools and platforms would become pervasive in IT. Today, that prediction has come true, with profound implications for the employment market. Participating in open source projects — through developing code, submitting a bug report, or contributing to documentation — is an important way to demonstrate open source skills to hiring managers.

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 4.14-rc2

      I’m back to my usual Sunday release schedule, and rc2 is out there in
      all the normal places.

      This was a fairly usual rc2, with a very quiet beginning of the week,
      and then most changes came in on Friday afternoon and Saturday (with
      the last few ones showing up Sunday morning).

      Normally I tend to dislike how that pushes most of my work into the
      weekend, but this time I took advantage of it, spending the quiet part
      of last week diving instead.

      Anyway, the only unusual thing worth noting here is that the security
      subsystem pull request that came in during the merge window got
      rejected due to problems, and so rc2 ends up with most of that
      security pull having been merged in independent pieces instead.

    • Linux 4.14-rc2 Kernel Released
    • Graphics Stack
    • Benchmarks
      • Intel Announces Early 8th Gen Core Processors, Coffee Lake

        Intel has rushed up the announcement of their 8th Gen Intel Core desktop processors following a recent leak. We can now confirm that these new Intel CPUs are en route to retailers, they have already arrived for testing, and will be benchmarked under Linux on Phoronix once that secondary embargo expires.

      • Intel Core i9 7980XE Linux Benchmarks: 18 Core / 36 Threads For $1999 USD

        Besides the embargo expiring this morning on the Intel Core i9 7960X, the Core i9 7980XE Extreme Edition processor is also now fair game. Here is our look at the Linux performance for this 18 core / 36 thread processor within a single 165 Watt package.

      • Intel Core i9 7960X Linux Benchmarks

        While Intel previously announced the expanded Intel Core X-Series line-up including the Core i9 7960X and Core i9 7980XE processors, only today is the performance embargo expiring as these CPUs begin to ship to further battle AMD’s Ryzen Threadripper line-up. Here is today’s launch-day Linux benchmarks of the Core i9 7960X.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • 5 Great Linux Desktop Environments You Haven’t Heard Of

      Although popular, these desktop environments (DE) are just a sample of what’s currently available. Better still, it’s so easy to make the change. Unlike Windows and macOS, you can change the desktop user interface by simply installing a new one. Unhappy with the way your preferred Linux distro looks? You don’t have to switch distros, just switch desktops!

      The following five desktop environments (and, to be precise, shells) are under the radar, but definitely worth a look.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Qt 5.10 Alpha in testing for KDE neon

        Qt 5.10 got an alpha release last week and rumours are there’s lots of interesting new stuff for Plasma developers and other parts of KDE.

        Packages are available in KDE neon but hidden away in the testing repository because there is inevitably some breakage. Random bits of QML such as the clock above and Kirigami seem to be unhappy. Please do test but expect breakage and fixes to be necessary.

      • KTextEditorPreviewPlugin 0.1.0

        The KTextEditorPreviewPlugin software provides the KTextEditor Document Preview Plugin, a plugin for the editor Kate, the IDE KDevelop, or other software using the KTextEditor framework.

        The plugin enables a live preview of the currently edited text document in the final format. For the display it uses the KParts plugin which is currently selected as the preferred one for the MIME type of the document. If there is no matching KParts plugin, no preview is possible.

      • Quick Look at KDE Plasma 5.11

        KDE released Plasma 5.11 beta version at 14 September 2017. The new star feature here is Plasma Vault, an ability to protect your folder with password. You can try it on the latest KDE neon before the Plasma finally released next October. Here is a quick look to the new things on KDE Plasma on neon dev-unstable.

  • Distributions
    • Reviews
      • BackSlash Linux Olaf

        While using BackSlash, I had two serious concerns. The first was with desktop performance. The Plasma-based desktop was not as responsive as I’m used to, in either test environment. Often times disabling effects or file indexing will improve the situation, but the desktop still lagged a bit for me. My other issue was the program crashes I experienced. The Discover software manager crashed on me several times, WPS crashed on start-up the first time on both machines, I lost the settings panel once along with my changes in progress. These problems make me think BackSlash’s design may be appealing to newcomers, but I have concerns with the environment’s stability.

        Down the road, once the developers have a chance to iron out some issues and polish the interface, I think BackSlash might do well targeting former macOS users, much the same way Zorin OS tries to appeal to former Windows users. But first, I think the distribution needs to stabilize a bit and squash lingering stability bugs.

      • A Quick Review Of Parabola Linux Distribution

        ​There is free software and then there is software that is entirely free as in freedom (libre). These distros are ready-to-use full systems whose developers have followed the Guidelines for Free Systems Distribution as put forward by the Free Software Foundation.

      • Antergos 17.9 Gnome – Ghost riders in the Tux

        Antergos 17.9 is a weird distro, full of polarities. It comes with a weak live session, and it does not really demo what it can do. The installer is good, robust, and if offers some neat tricks, including extra software and proprietary graphics driver. I’m really impressed by that. The installed system behaved reasonably, but with some oddities.

        Hardware support isn’t the best, most notably touchpad and what happened after waking from suspend. On the other hand, you get good smartphone and media support, a colorful and practical software selection, a moderately reasonable package manager with some tiny dependency hiccups, pretty looks, okay performance, and nowhere does it advertise its Archness. Much better than I expected, not as good as it should be. Well, taking everything into consideration, I guess it deserves something like 7.5/10. Antergos needs a livelier live session, more hardware love out of the box, and a handful of small tweaks around desktop usability. Shouldn’t be too hard to nail. Worth watching.

    • New Releases
      • LibreELEC (Krypton) v8.1.2 BETA

        This is the third beta for our 8.2 release. It addresses minor findings related to the Samba bump: we now detect and avoid invalid Samba v3 configurations, old samba.conf.sample templates are overwritten with the new v4 template, and remote SMB shares are mounted using SMB2 or where possible SMB3. The release also adds support for the Raspberry Pi IQAudIO Digi+ board and a Xiaomi BT remote, and includes security fixes for the Blueborne Linux/BlueZ vulnerability. This is hopefully the final 8.1.x beta release; next will be 8.2.0.

    • Arch Family
      • Manjaro Linux Phasing out i686 (32bit) Support

        In a not very surprising move by the Manjaro Linux developers, a blog post was made by Philip, the Lead Developer of the popular distribution based off Arch Linux, On Sept. 23 that reveals that 32-bit support will be phased out.

        In his announcement, Philip says, “Due to the decreasing popularity of i686 among the developers and the community, we have decided to phase out the support of this architecture. The decision means that v17.0.3 ISO will be the last that allows to install 32 bit Manjaro Linux. September and October will be our deprecation period, during which i686 will be still receiving upgraded packages. Starting from November 2017, packaging will no longer require that from maintainers, effectively making i686 unsupported.”

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • SUSE Linux turns 25: From business distro leader to cloud power

        Today, SUSE, the oldest Linux business still running, is a long, long way from its humble beginnings. Then, the first SUSE Linux was a German port of Patrick Volkerding’s Slackware, the world’s longest surviving Linux distribution.

      • Enterprise open source comes of age

        In the age of digitalisation and data centre modernisation, open source has come of age.

        This is demonstrated by the growth that enterprise open source software provider SUSE has enjoyed over the last months.

        “SUSE is in good shape,” says Nils Brauckmann, CEO of SUSE. “In the last year, revenue grew at 21%, and it was profitable growth.”

        Business is positive going forward, he adds, with SUSE now part of the larger mothership Micro Focus group following the completion this month of the HPE Software spin merger.

        “Micro focus is now the seventh-largest pure-play software vendor in the world, with revenues approaching $4,5-billion,” Brauckmann points out.

    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu Touch OTA-2 Rolls Out for Ubuntu Phones, Including Nexus 4 & Nexus 7 2013

            The UBports community has released this past weekend the second OTA (Over-the-Air) update to supported Ubuntu Phone devices, bringing support for some old devices that were requested by the community, as well as a set of new features.

          • UbuCon Europe 2017

            I’ve been to many Ubuntu related events before, but what surprises me every time about UbuCons is the outstanding work by the community organising these events.

            Earlier this month, I was in Paris for UbuCon Europe 2017. I had quite high expectations about the event/location and the talks, especially because the French Ubuntu community is known for hosting awesome events several times a year like Ubuntu Party and Ubuntu install parties.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Packet radio lives on through open source software

    Packet radio is an amateur radio technology from the early 1980s that sends data between computers. Linux has natively supported the packet radio protocol, more formally known as AX.25, since 1993. Despite its age, amateur radio operators continue to use and develop packet radio today. A Linux packet station can be used for mail, chat, and TCP/IP. It also has some unique capabilities, such as tracking the positions of nearby stations or sending short messages via the International Space Station (ISS).

  • Change Healthcare Releases Healthcare Blockchain Solution
  • Change Healthcare Introduces Enterprise Blockchain for Healthcare
  • Be Nice: Hyperledger’s Brian Behlendorf Offers Tips for Creating Sustainable Open Source Projects

    The Linux operating system was created some 26 years ago by a young Finnish engineer, and it now powers the global economy. Not only has Linux survived for more than quarter of a century, it continues to grow its influence and dominance.

  • American International University, West Africa Extends Curriculum as Open Source Initiative Member

    The Open Source Initiative® (OSI), the global non-profit formed to educate about, and advocate for, the benefits of open source software and build bridges among different constituencies in the open source community, announced today that The American International University, West Africa’s (AIUWA) has joined the organization as an Affiliate Member. AIUWA is a unique educational instituion of higher education, combining degree-seeking programs, along with professional development and certification. The program’s mandatory academic and professional courses enable students to graduate with both academic credentials and professional qualifications. AIUWA also serves as a center for health, management, and information technology research and development in Africa.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Adding More Policy Firepower to the Mozilla Network

        In June, Mozilla launched a new fellowship that brings together policy experts from around the world to advance crucial tech policy efforts. Today, we are excited to announce the appointment of seven advisors to help steer this fellowship into the future. We are also announcing one new fellow, bringing the cohort to 11 fellows from four countries who are already up to great work.

        Over the past three months, Mozilla’s Tech Policy Fellows have been digging into their projects to keep the Internet open and freely accessible to all. With most fellows joining directly out of government service, they’re continuing to move forward some of the urgent policy efforts they had been leading, and working to avoid any backsliding that might come with government transitions.

        The fellows’ work is focused on protecting net neutrality, advancing policies around artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, promoting affordable broadband service for vulnerable communities, and more. Amba Kak is our most recent addition, starting this month to work on promoting net neutrality in India.

        To advance this work, the fellows are meeting with policymakers inside and outside of government; they’re keynoting major events and giving press interviews about the importance of these topics; and in the coming weeks, they’ll share more about their work with the Mozilla network on our network blog.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • Funding
    • MongoDB’s Mongo Moment [Ed: Ridiculous. The "journalist" writing about MongoDB here has received many paychecks from the company.]
  • BSD
    • 23 Years of FreeDOS

      This eBook contains the voices of many of the users who contributed their stories, as well as the history of FreeDOS. Many individuals have helped make FreeDOS what it is, but this eBook represents only a few of them. I hope you enjoy this collection of 23 years of everything FreeDOS!

    • Call for testing: OpenSSH 7.6

      OpenSSH 7.6p1 is almost ready for release, so we would appreciate testing
      on as many platforms and systems as possible. This is a bugfix release.

    • OpenSSH 7.6 Is Ready For Testing & Finishes Gutting SSHv1

      OpenSSH 7.6 will be hitting the streets soon.

    • New FreeBSD Committer

      So in a sense I have been part-time part of the FreeBSD Community for nearly 15 years as well. FreeBSD has reached Tier-1 status within KDE now, with the KDE FreeBSD CI, which much stronger upstreaming happening, and with Tobias and Raphael following new releases pretty closely. I’ve been pushing and prodding at our ports tree a lot, and chasing CMake releases (and reporting bugs), and trying to get some KDE KF5-based applications into the official ports tree. So I’m happy to now receive a FreeBSD ports commit bit, with Tobias and Raphael acting as mentors. I won’t pretend this will immediately lead to Qt 5.9 and KDE Applications 17.latest in the official FreeBSD ports tree, but it increases the (direct) effort we can expend on it.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • Richard Stallman says Microsoft’s Linux love-in is a ploy to ‘extinguish’ free software

      GNU OS CREATOR Richard Stallman has slammed Microsoft’s Windows 10 subsystem for Linux as an attempt to “extinguish” free software.

      Microsoft, a company whose ex-CEO famously slammed Linux as a “cancer”, has a new found “love” for open source software, having last month released its hell-over-freezing subsystem that lets Windows 10 users run various GNU/Linux distros and software.

      Unsurprisingly, some are sceptical about Microsoft’s new-found enthusiasm for Linux and open source software, including free software advocate, and founder of GNU OS Richard Stallman.

      Speaking to Tech Republic, he said Microsoft’s decision to build a Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) amounts to an attempt to extinguish free, open source software.

      “It certainly looks that way. But it won’t be so easy to extinguish us, because our reasons for using and advancing free software are not limited to practical convenience,” he said.

      “We want freedom. As a way to use computers in freedom, Windows is a non-starter.”

      “The aim of the free software movement is to free users from freedom-denying proprietary programs and systems, such as Windows. Making a non-free system, such Windows or macOS or iOS or ChromeOS or Android, more convenient is a step backward in the campaign for freedom.”

    • Microsoft’s Linux enthusiasm may not help open source

      Microsoft has been hitting the headlines lately with its enthusiasm for Linux – but Open Source’s messiah Richard Stallman is less than impressed.

      Vole has been building a Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) with its chums in Canonical. But Stallman thinks this amounts to an attempt to extinguish software that users are free to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve.

      “It certainly looks that way. But it won’t be so easy to extinguish us, because our reasons for using and advancing free software are not limited to practical convenience,” he said.

      “We want freedom. As a way to use computers in freedom, Windows is a non-starter.”

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Free the Seed: An Open Source Approach to Food Crop Seed

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

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

    • Synthace raises a £7.3m Series A to bring open source to biotech

      Synthace, a UK startup using open source technology to make process in biotechnology move faster, has raises a £7.3m Series A round. New investors White Cloud Capital, Amadeus Capital Partners and Eleven Two Capital participated alongside existing investors that included Sofinnova Partners, SOSV and Bioeconomy Capital.

      The Company’s Antha operating system replaces processes which are currently done, almost, by hand.

      CEO Tim Fell says the company came out of the desire to better engineer biology: “Our need to heal, feed, fuel and manufacture for a growing population can be met by unlocking the near infinite power of biology but only by bringing software abstraction and more automation to biological R&D and manufacturing, and by enabling biologists to build atop their collective work. That is what the Antha platform does.”

    • Runway to Open Source Machine Learning Research
  • Programming/Development
    • Accelerate Application Modernization with Node.js

      Node.js is much more than an application platform. In a 2016 Forrester report, the research firm talked with several Node.js users and developers to better understand the growth of Node within global enterprises across all a range of industries.

    • GitLab v10 Integrates with Kubernetes

      It’s been six months and two million downloads since GitLab released version 9.0 of its developer-centric integrated application development platform. The company kept busy in the time since, polling nearly 1,000 users at client companies like VMWare, Sony and Ticketmaster to find out what capabilities their developers needed to power up the most enterprise-worthy GitLab release yet.

Leftovers
  • Apple replaces Bing with Google as search engine for Siri and Spotlight

    Apple is ditching Bing and will now use Google to power the default search engine for Siri, Search within iOS (iOS search bar), and Spotlight on Mac.

  • Science
    • Australia to launch its own Space Agency

      Australia is to establish its own space agency with the federal government set to announce plans for the agency as it looks to cash in on the growing global space industry estimated to be worth $400 billion.

  • Hardware
  • Health/Nutrition
    • New Research Links Flint Water Crisis to ‘Horrifyingly Large’ Spike in Fetal Death Rates

      Shedding new light on the human costs of the ongoing Flint water crisis—as well as underscoring the need for regulatory oversight—a new working paper links the city’s now infamous switch from the Detroit system to the Flint River as a water source with a decrease in fertility rates and a spike in fetal death rates.

      The paper (pdf) from researchers from the University of Kansas and West Virginia University is the first to look at lead-poisoned water’s impact on fertility and birth outcomes. It compares birth and fetal death rates, which refers to miscarriages after 20 weeks of gestation, in Flint with those in other Michigan cities from 2008 to 2015—before and after the 2014 water switch.

    • Ohio Community Confronts the Opioid Crisis Head-On

      Devon Applegate’s life in Scioto County, Ohio, has paralleled one of the worst drug epidemics this nation has ever seen. During his 19 years, he’s watched as opioid pills, dispensed by doctors to seemingly anyone who walked through their doors, destroyed the lives of many people in his community and throughout Ohio.

      The problem grew to a scale that it is now part of a nationwide crisis, leading the Trump administration to contemplate declaring a state of emergency. Southern Ohio is one of the opioid epidemic’s epicenters, and the problem continues to grow. In 2016, 4,050 Ohioans died from unintentional drug overdoses—a thousand more than the year before.

    • Unitaid Official Explains How ‘Breakthrough’ HIV Medicine Pricing Deal Brings Best To The Neediest

      In the midst of the high-level meetings of the annual United Nations General Assembly last week, health officials from the UN and foundations announced what they called a breakthrough pricing agreement that will speed the availability of “the first affordable, generic, single-pill HIV treatment regimen containing [the key compound] dolutegravir to public sector purchasers in low- and middle-income countries at around $75 per person, per year.” A senior official at Unitaid, the drug purchasing mechanism that helped reach the deal, explained to Intellectual Property Watch how it came about and why this is significant.

  • Security
    • Security updates for Monday
    • CCleaner malware may be from Chinese group: Avast

      Security company Avast says it has found similarities between the code injected into CCleaner and the APT17/Aurora malware created by a Chinese advanced persistent threat group in 2014/2015.

    • Capsule8 Raises New Funds to Help Improve Container Security

      Container security startup Capsule8 is moving forward with beta customer deployments and a Series A round of funding, to help achieve its vision of providing a secure, production-grade approach to container security.

      The Series A round of funding was announced on Sept. 19, with the company raising $6 million, led by Bessemer and ClearSky, bringing total funding to date up to $8.5 million. Capsule8 first emerged from stealth in February 2017, though its’ core technology product still remains in private beta as the company fine-tunes the platform for production workload requirements.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Dozens of Civilians Killed When U.S. Bombed a School And a Market in Syria

      U.S. military aircraft bombed a school and a crowded marketplace in attacks that killed dozens of civilians in Syria this March, according to a new report from Human Rights Watch. Titled “All Feasible Precautions?: Civilian Casualties in Anti-ISIS Coalition Airstrikes in Syria,” the report investigated two airstrikes conducted in and around the northern Syrian city of Tabqa. Investigators who visited the sites and interviewed locals and survivors found that the strikes had caused huge numbers of civilian deaths. The documentation adds to a drumbeat of criticism about a U.S. air campaign in Syria that has already been accused of inflicting massive civilian casualties in support of ground operations against Islamic State by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

      The attacks documented in the report include a March 20 airstrike that targeted a school housing displaced people in the suburban town of Mansourah, outside of Tabqa, as well as another strike that hit a packed marketplace in Tabqa City two days later. Investigators from Human Rights Watch visited the sites of both attacks this July and collected the names of at least 84 civilians who had died in the bombings, including 30 children. While witnesses who spoke to investigators acknowledged that there had been Islamic State members, along with their families, around the areas of the bombings, they also said that there had been many civilians nearby who had no connection to the group.

    • Vote by Iraqi Kurds Adds to Tensions

      It is a foregone conclusion that the independence vote will receive at least 90 percent support. It is also certain that the vote will not immediately change the legal status of the Iraqi Kurdish region from the semi-autonomy it already enjoys. But the possible overreaction of Baghdad and its neighbors to the vote has injected fear and uncertainty about what happens after Monday.

    • As Israel backs Kurdish independence, Palestinians may reap the benefit
    • Kurds vote in independence referendum
    • There Is No Rehabilitating the Vietnam War

      Since the day it ended, in 1975, there have been efforts to rehabilitate the Vietnam War, to make it acceptable, even honorable. After all, there were so many sides to the story, weren’t there? It was so complex, so nuancical. There was real heroism among the troops.

      Of course, all of this is true, but it’s true of every war so it doesn’t redeem any war. The Vietnam War is beyond redemption and must be remembered and condemned for the calamity that it was. The Vietnam War was “one of the greatest American foreign policy disasters of the twentieth century.”

      Those are not the words of a leftist pundit or a scribbling anti-American. They are the words of H.R. McMaster, the sitting National Security Advisor to the President of the United States.

    • North Korea asserts its right to shoot down U.S. bombers
    • US says it’s not pushing for regime change in NKorea

      The Trump administration clarified Monday that it’s not seeking to overthrow North Korea’s government after the president tweeted that Kim Jong Un “won’t be around much longer” and Pyongyang interpreted it as a declaration of war.

      Ratcheting up the rhetoric further, the North’s top diplomat also argued Monday that Trump’s comment gives it the right to shoot down U.S. warplanes in international airspace.

    • Senate Passes Defense Bill That Would Bolster Nuclear Weapons Programs

      The Senate approved a massive defense policy bill by a vote of 89 to 9 on Monday that is raising concerns about nuclear weapons proliferation amid rising tensions between the United States and countries such as North Korea and Russia.

      The Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), an annual piece of “must-pass” legislation that shapes dozens of policies at the Pentagon, would authorize $640 billion in discretionary defense spending and an additional $60 billion for overseas military operations, such as the ongoing war efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.

      What’s the value of $700 billion? It’s more than twice the size of Denmark’s entire economy, and the same amount of money that the government spent bailing out banks during the financial collapse in 2008. Both the Senate and House versions of the bill name amounts that exceed President Trump’s request for military funding by tens of billions of dollars.

      The numbers put forth in the defense authorization bill set the bar for future defense spending legislation and policy determinations. As an authorization bill, this legislation does not actually permit the expenditure of those funds; an appropriations bill is needed for that.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Climate Armageddon Revisited

      Massive hurricanes (Harvey, Irma, Maria) and torrential flooding (Houston, Sierra Leone, Bihar-India, Assam-India, Nepal, Mumbai, Southern Asian Noah’s Ark territory) are only telltale signs, minor events in a bigger picture, like canaries in the proverbial mineshaft, warning of a much larger canvas painted with darkened hues, threatening like the distant rumbling of an upcoming mega storm.

      In that regard, it’s unmitigated insanity to ignore the bellwethers of Armageddon when big time trouble brews, like now. Ominous changes in the planet’s ecosystem are so blatant that anybody ignoring these warning signals should be slapped on the back of the head: Wake up and pay attention!

      After all, Greenland’s entire surface turned to slush for the first time in scientific history, raising the question of whether a tipping point is at hand, in turn, raising sea level by a lot. According to the climate models of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), Greenland’s entire ice sheet was not expected to turn 100% slushy for decades to come. Surprise, surprise, it’s here now!

    • While Trump Stokes Division, Warnings Against Ignoring Ongoing Crisis in Puerto Rico

      “No matter what crazy stuff Trump is up to now let’s keep in mind Puerto Rico really needs our attention and help.”

      Those are the words of Mark Ruffalo this weekend as the actor and social justice activist echoed the concerns of many that the president’s incendiary comments over recent days are serving to distract people from the severe crisis in the U.S. island territory, where power remains out for much of the island and residents are growing increasingly worried over the scale of the damage left by Hurricane Maria.

      As journalist David Sirota tweeted, “Houston & FL are destroyed, Puerto Rico is in crisis & Trump wants u to be mad not at his climate denialism but instead at NFL players.”

      In an interview with the Washington Post on Sunday, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz described the disaster in her city and across Puerto Rico—elsewhere described as “apocalyptic”—by saying, “There is horror in the streets… People are actually becoming prisoners in their own homes.”

    • China puts US on notice over solar panel trade curbs ahead of Trump trip

      Beijing sent a tempered warning to Washington against trade curbs on the weekend after a US agency concluded that imports of Chinese solar panels had hurt two American manufacturers.
      China’s Ministry of Commerce called on the United States to “exercise caution” on trade restrictions and rejected the US International Trade Commission’s ruling on Friday that the cheap imports were responsible for the woes of the two companies.

      The commission now has two months to review the case and make recommendations, such as tariffs, to US President Donald Trump. If Trump does not take action he could be seen as failing to meet his “America First” protectionist agenda; if he does, it could overshadow his planned trip to China later this year.

      In a statement on Saturday, Wang Hejun, director of the ministry’s Trade Remedy and Investigation Bureau, said the commission’s ruling ignored strong opposition from other countries, US state governments, and “downstream” solar enterprises.

    • A pile of trash in the ocean has grown to the size of France—and some people want it recognized as a nation

      There’s a country-sized problem in the north Pacific Ocean: a patch of trash has grown to the size of France. So the environmental charity Plastic Oceans Foundation has paired up with the news and entertainment publication LadBible to campaign for it to be recognized as an official country.

      The campaign claims that, under Article 1 of the 1993 Montevideo Convention on the rights and duties of states, a country must be able to: define a territory, form a government, interact with other states, and have a permanent population. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch has borders (sort of), and it’s easy to create a government and institutions for interacting with others. Now with former US vice president Al Gore signing up as the country’s first citizen and more than 100,000 signing the petition to be granted citizenship, the campaign has submitted its application earlier this month to the United Nations to recognize the Trash Isles as the world’s 196th country.

      The project is the brainchild of advertising professionals Michael Hughes and Dalatando Almeida, according to AdWeek. Designer Mario Kerkstra helped create a flag, a passport, currency (called debris), and stamps.

    • The U.S. government fails Puerto Rico once again.

      But PROMESA is essentially an austerity measure. The financial oversight board charged with PROMESA’s implementation has proposed slashing public spending, further eroding the island’s worn safety net. “The plan includes cuts to the University of Puerto Rico, a reduction in pension benefits and a $550 million reduction in the island’s annual health care budget,” Marketplace reported in March.

      The federal government has long treated Puerto Rico like a vestigial organ, despite the fact that its 3.4 million residents are U.S. citizens. Puerto Rico needs aid, but it needs more than that; it needs equal recognition. It should be recognized as a state and funded accordingly—and if Congress isn’t willing to do that, it should end over a century of colonial rule and recognize the island’s independence.

    • Dubai starts tests in bid to become first city with flying taxis

      Dubai staged a test flight on Monday for what it said would soon be the world’s first drone taxi service under an ambitious plan by the United Arab Emirates city to lead the Arab world in innovation.

      The flying taxi developed by German drone firm Volocopter resembles a small, two-seater helicopter cabin topped by a wide hoop studded with 18 propellers.

      It was unmanned for its maiden test run in a ceremony arranged for Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed

    • Hot, isolated, and running out of supplies, parts of Puerto Rico near desperation

      In the heat and humidity here in the central mountains, Meryanne Aldea fanned her bedridden mother with a piece of cardboard Sunday as the ailing woman lay on her side, relieving a large ulcer in her back.

      The 63-year-old mother, Maria Dolores Hernandez, had cotton stuffed in her ears to keep flies out, since her now screenless windows were letting all sorts of bugs in. The gray-haired diabetic woman spoke with her daughter about her worries: that she would run out of prescription drugs, that they were almost out of generator fuel to keep her insulin refrigerated and to run the fans at night. With all the heat, she feared that her ulcer would become infected.

    • Chevron Rejects Push From Muslim Shareholders to Divest from Myanmar, Site of Ethnic Cleansing

      The world watches as the crisis continues in Myanmar, where the Muslim Rohingya minority faces barbaric acts of ethnic cleansing.

      The international community is increasingly critical of leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s resistance to intervention.

      But as the Nobel Laureate sits on her hands, a small Muslim-led investment firm led an effort to get a U.S. oil giant profiting from Myanmar’s fossil fuel wealth to divest in protest of the atrocities.

      The Virginia-based Azzad Asset Management started engaging in shareholder activism in 2015, a rarity among Islamic finance firms.

  • Finance
    • DeVos Says Defrauded Students Are After ‘Free Money’

      But perhaps none of that occurred to sheltered billionaire Betsy DeVos, speaking to wealthy Republicans at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in northern Michigan. These defrauded students are not seeking free money, but a chance to start again with nothing after being ripped off by cruel scam artists. Free money would be something like being born the daughter of Edgar Prince, who became a billionaire industrialist. Betsy DeVos is a disgrace.

    • Target to raise its minimum wage to $11 per hour, promising $15 by 2020
    • Why We Must Raise Taxes on Corporations and the Wealthy, Not Lower Them

      When Barack Obama was president, congressional Republicans were deficit hawks. They opposed almost everything Obama wanted to do by arguing it would increase the federal budget deficit.

      But now that Republicans are planning giant tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, they’ve stopped worrying about deficits.

      Senate Republicans have agreed to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, which means giant budget deficits.

    • Bridge over troubled legal water? Legal issues of the Brexit transition period

      Compared to famous Florentines, Theresa May’s recent speech on the UK’s Brexit plans inevitably owed more to Machiavelli than Leonardo da Vinci. Nevertheless, it gave a rough indication of the basic legal architecture that the UK government would like to govern its relationship with the EU for a transition period after Brexit Day. I have previously summarised and commented upon the main points of the Florence speech, but there is more to say on this legal framework – and also on the rules which would apply to EU27 citizens in the UK during the transition period.

    • Brexit bonanza: Lawyers encouraging corporations to sue UK & EU member states

      Brexit could become a money-making machine for law firms that make millions when corporations sue nation states via trade and investment agreements. Not only are these law firms paving the way for Brexit-related corporate claims against the UK, they are also building up the UK as a gateway for more investor claims against EU countries in the future.

    • John Oliver on monopolies, anti-trust and the death of real competitive markets

      Lax anti-trust enforcement is destroying American democracy, growth and equality; it laid waste to minority-owned small businesses and “fleeced” the middle class, creating its own parallel “justice” system and laying waste to whole industries, with the complicity of the Democratic party (and the $1,000/hour expert “consulting” by superstar economists), and there’s no end in sight, from Yahoo to Whole Foods.

    • Brexit diary – After Florence

      What should we make of it?

      In respect of the Brexit negotiations, the speech has made little difference. The position before the Florence speech is more-or-less the position today. The only concrete proposal, that of a security treaty, was welcome but not directly relevant to the current negotiations.

      [...]

      But if the speech was not in itself a failure, the speech was about failure.

      The request – which may or may not be granted by EU27 – for a two year transition on current terms is an implicit admission of the UK government’s failure to date on Brexit.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Ukraine-born billionaire with biz ties to Russian oligarchs is funding Trump’s legal defense via the RNC

      The RNC account in question has been historically used to pay for the RNC’s own legal bills, but just last month paid over $300,000 to help cover Trump’s personal legal expenses, Federal Election Commission filings reveal.

      Oh, and that same fund also paid about $200,000 to attorneys representing the President’s dumbest son, Don Jr.

    • Facebook Fail Is Blow for Silicon Valley Cult of Founder Control
    • Obama warned Zuckerberg about fake news on Facebook: report

      Obama reportedly pulled Zuckerberg aside at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Peru in November and warned him that unless he cracked down on fake news, it would only get worse in the next election.

    • Facebook Anonymously Admits It IDed Guccifer 2.0 in Real Time

      But 26 paragraphs later, WaPo reveals a detail that should totally change the spin of the article: in June, Facebook not only detected APT 28’s involvement in the operation (which I heard at the time), but also informed the FBI about it (which, along with the further details, I didn’t).

    • Kushner used private email account for White House business: Politico
    • Lawyer: Kushner used personal email for some WH messages

      President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, used his personal email account on dozens of occasions to communicate with colleagues in the White House, his lawyer said Sunday.

      Between January and August, Kushner either received or responded to fewer than 100 emails from White House officials from his private account, attorney Abbe Lowell said in a statement that confirmed Kushner’s use of a personal address in the first months of the administration.

      The use of a private email account to discuss government matters is a politically freighted issue that factored prominently in last year’s presidential election. Trump repeatedly attacked Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton for setting up a private email server as secretary of state, a decision that prompted an FBI investigation that shadowed her for much of the campaign.

      In Kushner’s case, Lowell said, the emails to and from his private account usually involved “forwarded news articles or political commentary and most often occurred when someone initiated the exchange by sending an email to his personal, rather than his White House, address.”

    • Watchdog: Ivanka Trump used personal email account for government business

      Ivanka Trump used a personal email account to communicate with a member of President Trump’s administration, a watchdog group said Monday.

      American Oversight obtained documents through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that show Ivanka Trump, a senior White House adviser to her father, used a personal email account to contact Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Linda McMahon in February.

      Ivanka Trump wrote that she wanted to “explore opportunities to collaborate” with McMahon’s department on “women’s entrepreneurship,” according to the emails released under FOIA.
      “Dina [Powell, the White House deputy national security director] and I are very excited about your focus on women’s entrepreneurship and would love to assist you in any way we can,” Ivanka Trump wrote.

      The documents show Ivanka Trump exchanged the emails with McMahon about a month before she became an official government employee, though she had been involved with high-level meetings within the administration. However, Ivanka Trump copied her chief of staff, Julie Radford, on the emails. In them, Radford has a White House email account.

    • Western Propaganda in Southeast Asia

      It is all done in a fully barefaced manner. Those who are not part of this world could never even dream about such a ‘perfect’ design.

      You come to your club, in my case to The Foreign Correspondent Club of Thailand (FCCT), and immediately the long arm of indoctrination begins stretching towards you.

      You place yourself on a comfortable couch, and soon after get fully serviced. You get instructed, told what to think and how to formulate or modify your ideas.

      You are periodically shown movies about “corruption and immorality” in China. You get encouraged to participate in some public discussions that are, among other things, trashing the anti-Western president of the Philippines.

    • Report: Jared Kushner used private email for White House business
    • How digital media fuels moral outrage – and what to do about it

      But in today’s online attention economy, attending to the outrageous feels less like writing a check and more like setting up an automatic withdrawal. Open Facebook or Twitter, and you are likely to be greeted by a bottomless feed of outrage-triggering stimuli on matters both momentous and trifling, all handpicked just for you by an artificial intelligence that gets smarter each time you click, tap, and scroll.

    • Facebook’s Ad Scandal Isn’t a ‘Fail,’ It’s a Feature

      Here’s the hard truth: All these problems are structural. Facebook is approaching half-a-trillion dollars in market capitalization because the business model — ad-targeting through deep surveillance, emaciated work force, automation and the use of algorithms to find and highlight content that entice people to stay on the site or click on ads or share pay-for-play messages — works.

      The trouble is Facebook’s business model is structurally identical whether advertisers are selling shoes, politics or fake diet pills, and whether they’re going after new moms, dog lovers or neo-Nazis. The algorithms don’t know the difference, and Facebook’s customers are not its users.

    • Iceland’s ‘Pirate’ Politician Won’t Run After Government Collapses In Pedophilia Scandal

      Nearly one year after she first took office in 2009, the Icelandic parliamentarian and co-founder of the populist Pirate Party worked with WikiLeaks to release a video of a U.S. helicopter gunning down a group of civilians and journalists in Baghdad. She became a fierce critic of American-led wars, a vocal advocate for radical transparency and a prime target for U.S. intelligence services, which subpoenaed her private Twitter messages.

    • “Those People:” Trump plays to White nat’lism from N. Korea to NFL

      He actually said “those people.”

    • MSNBC Goes Full Dr. Strangelove

      Oh, in addition to his crimes against humanity, Negroponte also endorsed Hillary Clinton, who obviously shared his interest in perpetuating mass suffering among nonwhite, non-loyal Hondurans. And she trumpeted his endorsement loudly, as she did with Henry Kissinger. Not that there’s anything tone-deaf about that.

      It turns out that old John Negroponte was very impressed with Trump’s speech—only Benjamin Netanyahu was more girlish in his excitement. But surely Jack Jacobs, decorated war hero, would call out the insanity of threatening to commit war crimes in a speech at The United Nations. And Williams teed it up for him, asking Jacobs how America could start to “walk back” Trump’s Jack D. Ripper idiocy.

    • Split exposed in German far-right as co-leader storms out

      Frauke Petry, the co-leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) said on Monday she would not be part of the parliamentary group of her anti-immigrant party and stormed out of a news conference without answering questions.

      Petry’s surprise announcement came after the AfD shocked the German establishment by scoring 12.6 percent in the national election on Sunday, meaning it will be the first far-right party to enter the German parliament in more than half a century.

    • Angela Merkel, Reluctant Leader of the West, ‘Has Gotten the Taste for It’
    • Support grows for second Brexit vote

      Support for a second referendum on Brexit is growing among British voters, amid diminishing optimism about the U.K.’s future outside the European Union and waning confidence in London and Brussels’ handling of the divorce negotiations, according to a detailed new poll shared exclusively with POLITICO.

      Just over half of those surveyed said they back some form of a second referendum, with the most popular scenario being a vote to either accept the government’s Brexit deal, or to stay in the EU — an option backed by 34 percent. That is up from 28 percent in a similar survey in March, according to new findings from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research (GQRR). In the earlier survey, 45 percent of people backed a second referendum — although these figures include public votes that would still mean the U.K. leaves the EU under either outcome.

    • The White House as Donald Trump’s New Casino

      During the 2016 election campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly emphasized that our country was run terribly and needed a businessman at its helm. Upon winning the White House, he insisted that the problem had been solved, adding, “In theory, I could run my business perfectly and then run the country perfectly. There’s never been a case like this.”

      Sure enough, while Hillary Clinton spent her time excoriating her opponent for not releasing his tax returns, Americans ultimately embraced the candidate who had proudly and openly dodged their exposure. And why not? It’s in the American ethos to disdain “the man” — especially the taxman. In an election turned reality TV show, who could resist watching a larger-than-life conman who had taken money from the government?

      Now, give him credit. As president, The Donald has done just what he promised the American people he would do: run the country like he ran his businesses. At one point, he even displayed confusion about distinguishing between them when he said of the United States: “We’re a very powerful company — country.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • 68 Things You Cannot Say on China’s Internet

      Song Jie, a writer in central China, knows what she can and cannot write in the romance novels she publishes online. Words that describe explicit sexual acts are out, of course. So are those for sexual organs. Even euphemisms like “behind” or “bottom” can trigger censorship by automatic software filters or a website’s employees.

      “Basically,” she said, “the sex scenes cannot be too detailed.”

      Other prohibitions inside China’s Great Firewall, the country’s system of internet filters and controls, are trickier to navigate, in part because they are subjective and even contradictory. And there are more and more of them.

      While China has long sought to block access to political material online, a flurry of new regulatory actions aims to establish a more expansive blockade, recalling an earlier era of public morality enforced by the ruling Communist Party.

      In a directive circulated this summer, the state-controlled association that polices China’s fast-growing digital media sector set out 68 categories of material that should be censored, covering a broad swath of what the world’s largest online audience might find interesting to read or watch.

    • How The RIAA Helped Pave The Way For Spain To Undermine Democracy

      This might seem like a harsh title, but let’s go back a bit into history. In 2010, at the direct urging of the RIAA, the US government, in the form of ICE, suddenly decided that it could seize domains right out from under websites with zero due process. Specifically, the RIAA gave ICE a list of websites that it insisted were engaging in piracy. It later turned out that this list was completely bogus — and the seized domains included some music blogs and a search engine — and when ICE asked the RIAA to provide the evidence (incredibly, many months after seizing the domains…), it turns out that they had none. Even with all of this, ICE kept one blog’s domain for over a year, while denying that site’s lawyer even the chance to talk to the judge overseeing the case — and (even more incredibly) kept two other sites for five whole years.
      The RIAA, who was directly quoted in the affidavit used to seize these domains (including falsely claiming that a non-RIAA song, that was personally given to the site by the independent artist in question, was an RIAA song and infringing) later tried to downplay its role in all of this, while still insisting that seizing entire domains based on flimsy claims and zero evidence was a perfectly reasonable strategy.

    • French Ministry of Interior v. Indymedia: An absurd and shocking act of censorship

      Last Thursday, the French Ministry of Interior ordered two Indymedia websites, one in Nantes and the other in Grenoble, to take down an anonymous tract claiming responsibility for fire arson in a police hangar the previous night. According to the government, the hosted text constitutes a “provocation to terrorism”. The two Indymedia sites decided to take down the litigious content, in order to avoid being put on the secret blocking list sent by the government to major ISPs in France to censor websites. While the text has also been relayed on the websites of traditional news outlets, the latter have apparently not been subject to the government’s takedown request.

    • China’s Censors Pull Revered Director’s Film Days Before Release, Outraging Industry

      Marketing efforts and ticket presales for Feng Xiaogang’s ‘Youth’ were already well advanced when authorities suddenly blocked its release, offering no explanation.

      Youth, the 17th film from renowned Chinese filmmaker Feng Xiaogang, had been billed as a possible commercial and critical return to form. But a sudden heavy-handed censorship decision may have just laid such hope to waste.

      A sweeping period drama set during the upheavals of 1970s China, the film was well received at its world premiere during the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month, with critics praising its balance between Feng’s auteurist and crowd-pleasing impulses — traits that once earned him the nickname of “China’s Spielberg.” Commercial prospects for Beijing studio Huayi Brothers, the film’s lead producer (which could use a hit), were also thought to be strong, as the film was set to open Sept. 29, just prior to a lengthy national holiday period in China.

    • Twitter Censorship: Government Removal Requests
    • The New Censorship
    • China Blocks WhatsApp, Broadening Online Censorship
    • WeChat claims it stores all user data and could even ‘disclose’ it to the Chinese government
    • Banned Books Week: Unveiling NCAC’s Book Censorship Action Kit

      “Banning books? That doesn’t happen in the United States.”

      Unfortunately, attempts at censorship don’t only happen in places like China or Iran.

    • Banned Books Week: ‘In 2017, censorship comes from an outraged public’
    • Why We Need to Have Access to Banned Books

      This week is the American Library Association’s official Banned Books Week, where we celebrate books that have survived troubled times, literary shunning and, occasionally, potential legal persecution.

      Oddly enough, most of the books that faced so much trouble are ones we now consider essential to the literary sphere.

      As we (or at least I) celebrate Banned Books week by buying out Barnes and Noble’s entire stock, we should remember that without these books, the world at large could have a much narrower worldview.

    • Where to Celebrate Banned Books Week 2017!
    • Panel celebrates freedom to read
    • Remain vigilant on Chinese censorship, says academic
    • Blazing saddles dim memory in new dark age of censorship, witch-hunts
    • China’s cyber watchdog imposes top fines on tech firms over censorship
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Is the NSA Doing More Harm Than Good in Not Disclosing Exploits?

      The current debate surrounding the Vulnerabilities Equities Process (VEP) — the process by which the U.S. government decides whether to disclose newly discovered software vulnerabilities or keep them secret for possible use — is admittedly rather tedious. One side accuses NSA of “exploit hoarding” and insists the agency should disclose more discovered vulnerabilities in the interest of public safety. The other side counters that the government should retain a responsible amount of so-called zero-day exploits and that it discloses them when reasonable. Both sides, however, often talk past the obvious point that there will always be vulnerabilities the NSA needs to retain for national security reasons. Even those who encourage the NSA to prioritize defense over retention of vulnerabilities for offensive use should acknowledge that disclosure of a vulnerability makes us more secure only if it is either already in the hands of — or independently discovered — by an adversary.

    • Accused NSA leaker Reality Winner seeks release from jail
    • Accused NSA Leaker Reality Winner Seeks Release From Jail
    • Accused Georgia NSA leaker appearing in court this week to ask for release
    • ePrivacy Campaign starts today, act now!

      A decisive vote for our online privacy will take place in the European Parliament in two weeks. If we do not act now, companies will be allowed to monitor us for business purposes and without our consent (through the analysis of our emails, calls and Internet usage, online tracking and geolocation). La Quadrature du Net starts today an awareness campaign, so that anyone can contribute to this fight for our rights: eprivacy.laquadrature.net.

      There are two weeks left to convince the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs’) in the ‘Civil Liberties’ Committee (LIBE) to protect our privacy. On 11 October, they will vote their draft report on the ePrivacy Regulation. This report will be the basis on which the Parliament will approach this key Regulation before negotiating it with the Council of the EU (made of the government of each Member State).

    • Campaign group chief found guilty of refusing to divulge passwords

      The international director of the campaign organisation Cage has been convicted of a terrorist offence after refusing to hand over passwords to his mobile phone and laptop.

      Muhammad Rabbani, 36, was found guilty at Westminster magistrates’ court of wilfully obstructing police when he refused to cooperate at Heathrow airport last November. The test case could affect the way thousands of suspects stopped at UK airports and ports every year interact in the future with anti-terrorist officers.

      Rabbani was given a conditional discharge for 12 months and ordered to pay £620 in costs. His lawyers plan to appeal to the high court on the grounds that existing police powers do not sufficiently protect privacy or legally privileged material.

    • Traveler who refused to give device passwords to police found guilty of obstruction in UK court

      A UK court has reaffirmed the power for state agents to use sweeping counterterrorism legislation to require travelers hand over the passwords for their digital devices for their contents to be searched at borders.

      A London court today found Muhammad Rabbani guilty of willfully obstructing the police by failing to hand over device passwords and the PIN code for his smartphone after he had been detained at a UK airport.

    • The race to save online privacy: what happens when quantum computers can break all our crypto?

      Although many people are well aware of the many threats to their privacy, there is an underlying assumption that the use of strong encryption will always be available to mitigate those problems. Governments will doubtless continue to push for backdoors in encrypted Internet services like WhatsApp. But even if they do get their way by some misfortune, there are open source implementations that will remain beyond the reach of any government. As soon as commercial offerings are compromised, free software versions can step in for those who want such protection.

      [...]

      Even if new encryption methods are introduced for future protection, there’s nothing to stop people using quantum computing to expose information that has been protected using today’s crypto. For example, the NSA or GCHQ might be storing encrypted emails and communications of interest that they have swept up as part of their global surveillance. Those might be impossible to read today, but in a few years’ time, when quantum computers are available to deep-pocketed intelligence agencies, the latter will be able to eavesdrop on all those conversations we thought were guaranteed to be private, which could have some interesting consequences in years to come.

    • NSA-Developed Crypto Technology No Longer Trusted For Use In Global Standards

      One of the most shocking pieces of information to emerge from the Snowden documents was that the NSA had paid RSA $10 million to push a weakened form of crypto in its products. The big advantage for the NSA was that it made it much easier to decrypt messages sent using that flawed technology. A few months after this news, the National Institute of Standards and Technology announced that it would remove the “Dual Elliptic Curve” (Dual EC) algorithm from its recommendations. But of course, that’s not the end of the story. Betraying trust is always a bad idea, but in the security field it’s an incredibly stupid idea, since trust is a key aspect of the way things work in that shadowy world.

    • NSA Encryption War – if they win do we lose?

      Security agencies like the NSA are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

      We want their protection but we don’t want to give them the tools and access they need to protect us. Abuse is obviously a big concern here and if the movies can be believed, we have good reason to be worried.

      This debate is going to rage on until there is more convergence between cybercrime and cyber terrorism. We are already seeing cyber terrorists leveraging the web more than ever before.

      Once we start seeing remotely controlled loss of life, public opinion will no doubt swing to wanting to give the security agencies the tools and access they need.

    • Woman charged after uploading nude picture of friend getting dressed to Facebook

      A 22-year-old woman faces two years in prison after being charged with taking a nude photograph of her friend while she was getting dressed and then unlawfully uploading it to Facebook without her permission.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Trump doubles down on NFL rant, clearly has no idea how all this works

      If there’s anything constructive to take from Donald Trump’s continuing crusade against black athletes in the NFL protesting racial injustices in America, it’s that he seems to have lost touch with reality.

      Less than 24 hours after his initial, poorly received remarks that took the league’s protesting players to task, the 45th president of the United States is using his favorite social media platform to double down. In a pair of Saturday tweets, he seems to suggest that he’s somehow empowered to fire NFL players.

    • Freezing immigrants’ bank accounts makes Britain look more and more dystopian

      There’s a flashback in one of the early episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale, the TV version of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel, where June, the protagonist, tries to pay for a coffee under the new regime and her card is declined. She discovers that every woman’s bank account has been frozen, and she is now entirely reliant on her partner for money. Deprived of money, she realises, there is even less chance she can flee. It is a remarkable reminder of the way the state can control the population with the click of a button.

      The government’s decision to force banks and building societies to freeze the accounts of failed asylum seekers, foreign national offenders and visa overstayers has a ring of The Handmaid’s Tale – only in this case, Theresa May really wants them to leave. As home secretary, she oversaw the creation of “hostile environment” for illegal immigrants, including requiring landlords to check their tenant’s immigration status, and a “deport first, appeal later” policy.

    • #TakeaKnee Sunday as NFL Teams and Players Rebuff President Trump

      Sunday is game day for the National Football League and the hashtag #TakeaKnee is going viral as people across the nation see how players and teams respond to calls by President Donald Trump to punish players who do so.

      For the earliest round of games that began at 1:00 pm (EST), dozens of players knelt while many teams chose to stand with arms locked together in a show of solidarity (see below).

      Despite that the NFL has been a vocal (and official) sponsor of the U.S. military for years—acting mostly as a high-profile promoter and recruitment center for the Pentagon—a wave of protest initiated last year by players trying to draw attention to racism and police violence has swept the league into the political conversation this week after Trump, first at a rally on Friday night and then in a series of weekend tweets, called on team owners to fire or suspend players for voicing their views on social issues.

    • 10 Clarifying #TakeaKnee Tweets to Beat Back Idiotic Arguments by Right-Wingers

      With #TakeaKnee going viral on Sunday as NFL players push back against threats by President Donald Trump, those who support the president’s position that professional athletes—and especially black or brown professional athletes—should just do as they are told and not speak their minds were infecting the social media hashtag with a variety of racist and otherwise ill-considered arguments about why “millionaire players” shouldn’t have or express political views. (Also, it’s all about the flag and misguided pro-war patriotism, aka freedom.)

    • NFL Players Kneel During National Anthem At Ravens and Jaguars Games In Protest of Trump and Racism

      Dozens of NFL players and staff took a knee during the national anthem Sunday at the first game after President Donald Trump criticized the practice at a rally in Alabama. The game was between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Baltimore Ravens in London.

    • Why the World Feels Like It’s Going Crazy

      Is it just a coincidence that the US, UK, and Germany (not to mention Turkey, Hungary, and so on) have all swung hard right in the last year or so? That suddenly one day, the citizens of three of the world’s richest countries woke up and decided collectively on extremism, for no underlying, connected, shared reason? Does that sound plausible? I think that the opposite is true: to any reasonable person, there is now a sharp trend very clearly visible. And as with any trend, there must be a cause.

    • Violent Crime in U.S. Rises for Second Consecutive Year
    • Torturing Detainees Is Immoral and Ineffective, Says UN Human Rights Chief

      A Manual for Investigative Interviewing to abolish torture among detainees suspected of crime is in the pipeline, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said today.

      At an event held on the sidelines of the General Assembly, Al Hussein slammed the practice of torture and called upon countries to abolish it entirely. In recent years, numerous studies have shown that information obtained through torture is not reliable, and from the interrogator’s perspective, even counterproductive. This is in part because flagrant abuse of human rights provokes anger among communities.

      “This destruction of public trust is profoundly damaging. When added to the perception that police abuses and humiliation of specific communities is tolerated – based on economic, geographic, ethnic, religious or other distinctions – it will certainly exacerbate tensions and may lead to serious violence,” Al Hussein said.

    • NFL spokesman: ‘This is what real locker room talk is’

      NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart made a not-so-subtle jab at President Trump during a conference call with reporters on Monday.

      “Looking at yesterday, everyone should know, including the President, this is what real locker room talk is,” said Lockhart, who served as press secretary under President Clinton. “We don’t seek to get into political debates or relish being in the middle of it, but extraordinary statements from our clubs and owners demonstrate just how deeply we believe in our players and in our game.”

    • NFL Owners and Executives Who Protested Donald Trump Are the Biggest Hypocrites Yet

      AS 3.5 MILLION AMERICANS languished without power in Puerto Rico this weekend, President Donald Trump turned his attention instead to NFL players who had decided to take a knee during the national anthem to protest injustice, bigotry, and police brutality in the U.S.

      “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” the president bellowed at a rally for a special election in Alabama. The owners who fired players, Trump said, would quickly be among the most popular men in America.

      Trump directed some of the harshest words of his presidency not at ascendant neo-Nazis or even opposition politicians, but peaceful NFL stars, many of them black, taking a knee to bring attention to a cause they care about deeply. What makes this so unique is that it wasn’t a Joe Biden hot mic moment: It was an intentional attack on free speech.

    • Police posed a greater danger to journalists than demonstrators in St. Louis

      Last weekend, I covered the protests in St. Louis along with Ellie Cherryhomes, one of my fellow photojournalism students at MU, and several other press photographers and videographers from news outlets across the country.

      People had gathered in the streets to protest the acquittal of police officer Jason Stockley, who fatally shot motorist Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011. As in Ferguson in 2014, the protests came from a community hurt by police killings. It’s important to note that for the vast majority of this past weekend, the protests were peaceful. Police, in turn, were relatively restrained in their behavior — until Sunday night.

    • All The NFL Players Who Protested National Anthem In Week 3

      During the third week of the National Football League season, the NFL responded to President Donald Trump’s comments slurring players, who take a knee during the national anthem to protest injustice, police brutality, and systemic racism. The owners and coaches linked arms to show Trump he would not divide them. But there were several players, who took stronger action and continued to engage in the tactic of taking a knee.

      Taking a knee started with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick during the 2016 preseason. He declared, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” (He was referring to police who gun down black men and face nearly zero consequences for their actions.)

    • Diane Abbott urges end to online abuse of BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg

      Diane Abbott has called for an end to online abuse of the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg, and asked why it is female journalists and politicians that so often find themselves in the firing line.

      The shadow home secretary said she was saddened to hear that Kuenssberg was being accompanied by a security guard at Labour conference after facing a backlash from some Jeremy Corbyn supporters over claims of bias.

      Asked if she would call on supporters not to indulge in online abuse, Abbott, who faced more attacks than any other politician during the recent election campaign, said: “Oh definitely. Don’t do it. Just don’t do it. There is a positive case to make on Jeremy online, make that positive case. You don’t have to be abusing other people.”

    • Texas Schedules Execution but Refuses DNA Tests That Could Prove a Man’s Innocence

      When hunters walking in the piney woods of Sam Houston National Forest in East Texas found the body of 19-year-old Melissa Trotter on January 2, 1999, her jeans were torn and her shirt was pulled up. There was tissue damage on her face from scavenging animals and a length of pantyhose, which had been used to strangle her, was tied around her neck.

      Trotter had been missing since December 8, 1998, when she disappeared from the Montgomery County community college where she was a first-year student. Three days later, on unrelated warrants, the police arrested Larry Swearingen, a 27-year-old unemployed electrician with a young family and a history of run-ins with the law. Police suspected Swearingen was Trotter’s killer. He had been seen talking with Trotter two days before her disappearance outside a local store near Lake Conroe, which abuts the national forest. On the day she went missing, he was seen chatting with her in the college library.

      After the body was found some three weeks later, Swearingen was charged with Trotter’s kidnapping, sexual assault, and murder. There was little in the way of hard evidence to back up the charges. In addition to the two times he was seen talking to Trotter prior to her disappearance, the state pointed to a lie he told, claiming he didn’t know who Trotter was, and to a letter he wrote while jailed in which he pretended to be someone else and claimed knowledge about the murder that officials said only the killer would know.

    • People Power Is Taking the Voting Rights Fight to Kris Kobach

      The ACLU’s 50-state voting rights campaign will start in Kansas, where Kobach’s voter suppression efforts have created chaos.

      Donald Trump is obsessed with proving that voter fraud is a huge problem in the United States, not only to justify his false claim that he won the popular vote but also, and more importantly, to legitimize an attack on voting rights.

      To do this, Trump has turned to Kris Kobach, Kansas’s secretary of state and a longtime opponent of voting rights. He tapped Kobach to lead a voter fraud commission that has drawn scrutiny for trying to collect personal data about every voter in the country, promoting blatant falsehoods about supposed instances of voter fraud in the 2016 election, sanctioning voter suppression, and operating in secrecy in violation of federal law.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Trademarks
      • Velcro’s Hilarious Trademark Lesson Video Actually A Good Lesson In Just How Stupid Trademark Law Has Become

        So, you’ve probably heard stories in the past about the fear some trademark lawyers have about “genericide” — where their product’s name becomes so attached to the product that it’s considered generic and the trademark no longer applies? Think kleenex and xerox for example. We’ve found, over the years, that people get a bit too worked up about this, leading trademark lawyers to make some really dumb demands along the way to try to “prevent” what is generally impossible to actually prevent. We also often see people claim (falsely) that this means companies are required to stop any and all uses of their mark, even when not infringing (or, even worse, seeing people falsely claiming that the same thing applies to copyright). Either way, the company Velcro has taken… well… quite a unique approach to the fact that everyone calls their most famous product “velcro” — even when made by competitors. They made an absolutely hilarious “We are the World”-style video begging you not to call it Velcro and telling you, in no uncertain terms, that they it’s “fucking hook & loop.” Really.

    • Copyrights
      • Is the alt-right’s use of Pepe the Frog “fair use?”

        What can you do when your favorite frog gets away from you?

        When Matt Furie drew Pepe the Frog for a short-lived magazine in 2005, he had no way of knowing the character would become a mascot for the so-called “alt-right,” a loose coalition of far-right groups that veer toward white nationalism.

      • INTERVIEW WITH DELIA BROWNE

        Delia Browne is head of Australia’s National Copyright Unit, which provides specialist copyright advice to Australian schools and the technical and further education (TAFE) sector, and conducts negotiations with collecting societies on behalf of them. In that role she led the successful education law reform efforts in 2005-2006 which resulted in the introduction of free educational use copyright exceptions. She is one of the co-founders and President of Peer 2 Peer University, and also one of the people who drew up the Cape Town Declaration on Open Education.

      • Italian Supreme Court confirms availability of copyright protection to TV formats

        TV formats may be incredibly valuable, and be sold in franchise in several countries. As a result, also disputes relating to TV formats may be complex, lengthy and with uncertain outcomes, as the current litigation relating to The Voice, for example, demonstrates [here and here].

        In addition to the complexities of individual cases, a further difficulty is defining what kind of legal treatment TV formats are subject to in the first place. Discussion of the type of protection available has been, in fact, rather contentious in a number of countries.

      • Book Review : What if we could reimagine copyright?

        The contributors to this volume do not always agree on what copyright ought to ‘do’ or how far it should ‘go’ but they all concur on one thing: copyright should strive to defend and protect ‘the public interest’. Reading these last three words, you have might have had the following instinctive response: ‘Oh dear, not that thing again’. If you have, do not worry, the editors have accounted for your frustration in their introduction.

      • Belgium Wants to Blacklist Pirate Sites & Hijack Their Traffic

        Draft proposals from Belgium’s Deputy Prime Minister could see the country taking a tougher line against pirate sites. In addition to building a blacklist of infringing sites and associated proxies, Kris Peeters envisions local ISPs diverting Internet traffic away from pirate sites and towards legitimate content sources.

      • How Much Money Can Pirate Bay Make From a Cryptocoin Miner?

        In a surprise move, The Pirate Bay decided to add a cryptocurrency miner to its website last weekend. The notorious torrent site wanted to see whether this could replace the ads on the site. A controversial idea, but how much money can a site like The Pirate Bay make through mining?

Links 25/9/2017: XFree KWin, FreeBSD 10.4 RC2

Monday 25th of September 2017 12:53:55 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
  • Server
    • Microservice architecture takes a whole new approach to infrastructure

      With services like Netflix, Uber, YouTube, and Facebook, most people are used to apps that respond quickly, work efficiently, and are updated regularly. Patience is no longer a virtue, and thanks to apps like the ones mentioned above, when people use applications, they expect blistering speeds and uninterrupted service. If you do not provide that, users aren’t exactly starved for choice; it takes less than a minute to delete an app and download something else as a replacement.

    • Clear Linux Project Announces the Next Generation of Intel’s Clear Containers

      Intel’s Clear Linux and Clear Containers teams are happy to introduce the next-generation of Intel’s Clear Containers project, version 3.0, which bring many important new features and performance improvements.

      Rewritten in the Go language, Intel Clear Containers 3.0 introduces support for leveraging code used for namespace-based containers and better integrates into the container ecosystem, allowing support for Docker container engine and Kubernetes. It also improves the compatibility with the POSIX family of standards.

      “Today’s release presents a generational and architectural shift to utilize virtcontainers, a modular and hypervisor agnostic library for hardware virtualized containers. Clear Containers 3.0 is written in Go language and boasts an OCI compatible runtime implementation (cc-runtime) that works both on top of virtcontainers, and as a platform for deployment,” said Amy L Leeland, Technical Program Manager, Intel Corporation.

    • “Spaceborne” Linux Supercomputer Starts Running In Space, Achieves 1 Teraflop Speed

      About one month ago, the HPE’s Spaceborne Computer was launched into the space using SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft. This beast was launched as a result of a partnership between Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and NASA to find out how high-performance computers perform in space. Now, this supercomputer is fully installed and operational in ISS.

      The performance experiment will be carried out for one year, which is roughly the time it will take for a spacecraft to travel to Mars. At the moment, lots of calculations for space research projects are carried out on Earth, but this brings in an unavoidable factor of latency.

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 4.14 Is Up To Around 23.2 Million Lines Of Code

      While I usually look at the Linux kernel code size following each merge window, I am a few days late this time around due to busy Xeon/EPYC benchmarking and XDC2017. Anyhow, Linux 4.14 is showing some weight gains but nothing too bad.

      Linux 4.14 has been another busy cycle with a lot of happenings from finally seeing Heterogeneous Memory Management merged to a lot of other new core functionality plus the always fun and exciting changes and new support happening in driver space. See our Linux 4.14 feature overview for a rundown on the new functionality.

    • Will Blockchain Race to the Front of the Disruption Line in IoT?

      The group, founded in 2015, is the fastest-growing project in the history of the Linux Foundation according to Hyperledger Executive Director Brian Behlendorf. This project has reached out to various industries in addition to IoT, industries which also are adopting IoT including healthcare.

    • Graphics Stack
      • Intel Prepping Support For Huge GTT Pages

        Intel OTC developers are working on support for huge GTT pages for their Direct Rendering Manager driver.

      • Keith Packard’s Work On Better Supporting VR HMDs Under Linux With X.Org/DRM

        Earlier this year Keith Packard started a contract gig for Valve working to improve Linux’s support for virtual reality head-mounted displays (VR HMDs). In particular, working on Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) and X.Org changes needed so VR HMDs will work well under Linux with the non-NVIDIA drivers.

        A big part of this work is the concept of DRM leases, a new Vulkan extension, and other changes to the stack.

      • SDL 2.0.6 released, introduces Vulkan support

        The cross-platform development library has seen the release of its latest version. Quite a few exciting changes this time around, including support for Vulkan and more types of gamepads.

        SDL [Official Site] is something that has been used in quite a diverse array of projects and plenty of game ports that have made their way to Linux have taken advantage of it. The latest release has its fair share of general improvements but most noticeable is the implementation of Vulkan support. This hopefully will make it easier for developers to take advantage of the Vulkan API and help it gain more traction.

      • X.Org Foundation Has Become A Khronos Adopter

        The X.Org Foundation board announced during this week’s XDC2017 summit that they have officially completed the paperwork to become a Khronos adopter.

        The X.Org Foundation is now considered a pro-bono adopter for The Khronos Group so that the community-based open-source drivers targeting Khronos APIs for conformance can submit conformance test results and become a certified implementation.

      • NVIDIA Making Progress On Server-Side GLVND: Different Drivers For Different X Screens

        While NVIDIA isn’t doing much to help out Nouveau, at least the company is contributing to the open-source Linux graphics ecosystem in other ways. In addition to presenting at XDC2017 this week on the Unix device memory allocator API and DeepColor / HDR support, they also presented on server-side GLVND.

        Server-side GLVND is separate from the client-side GLVND (OpenGL Vendor Neutral Dispatch Library) that evolved over the past few years and with modern Linux systems is supported both by Mesa and the NVIDIA binary driver. Server-side GLVND can help PRIME laptops and other use-cases like XWayland where potentially dealing with multiple GPU drivers touching X.

      • Nouveau Developers Remain Blocked By NVIDIA From Advancing Open-Source Driver

        Longtime Nouveau contributors Martin Peres and Karol Herbst presented at this week’s XDC2017 X.Org conference at the Googleplex in Mountain View. It was a quick talk as they didn’t have a whole lot to report on due to their open-source NVIDIA “Nouveau” driver efforts largely being restricted by NVIDIA Corp.

      • X.Org Server 1.20 Expected Around January With New Features

        X.Org Server 1.19 is already almsot one year old and while X.Org is currently well off its six month release cadence, version 1.20 is being figured out for an early 2018 release.

        Adam Jackson of Red Hat who has been serving as the xorg-server release manager held a quick session on Friday at XDC2017 to figure out what’s needed for X.Org Server 1.20. His goal is to see X.Org Server 1.20 released in time for making the Fedora 28 version. For that to happen nicely, he’s hoping to see xorg-server 1.20 released in January. The Fedora 28 beta freeze is the middle of March so there is still time for the 1.20 release to slip while making the F28 Linux distribution update.

      • The State Of Intel’s GPU Virtualization Pass-Through On Linux

        Wrapping up our XDC2017 coverage for this annual X.Org developer event that took place this past week in Mountain View, Zhenyu Wang of Intel presented on their ongoing work for mediated GPU virtualization pass-through support on Linux, Intel GVT.

  • Applications
    • Security Tools to Check for Viruses and Malware on Linux

      First and foremost, no operating system is 100 percent immune to attack. Whether a machine is online or offline, it can fall victim to malicious code. Although Linux is less prone to such attacks than, say, Windows, there is no absolute when it comes to security. I have witnessed, first hand, Linux servers hit by rootkits that were so nasty, the only solution was to reinstall and hope the data backup was current. I’ve been a victim of a (very brief) hacker getting onto my desktop, because I accidentally left desktop sharing running (that was certainly an eye opener). The lesson? Even Linux can be vulnerable.

      So why does Linux need tools to prevent viruses, malware, and rootkits? It should be obvious why every server needs protection from rootkits — because once you are hit with a rootkit, all bets are off as to whether you can recover without reinstalling the platform. It’s antivirus and anti-malware where admins start getting a bit confused.

      Let me put it simply — if your server (or desktop for that matter) makes use of Samba or sshfs (or any other sharing means), those files will be opened by users running operating systems that are vulnerable. Do you really want to take the chance that your Samba share directory could be dishing out files that contain malicious code? If that should happen, your job becomes exponentially more difficult. Similarly, if that Linux machine performs as a mail server, you would be remiss to not include AV scanning (lest your users be forwarding malicious mail).

    • cmus – A Small, Fast And Powerful Console Music Player For Linux

      You may ask a question yourself when you see this article. Is it possible to listen music in Linux terminal? Yes because nothing is impossible in Linux.

      We have covered many popular GUI-based media players in our previous articles but we didn’t cover any CLI based media players as of now, so today we are going to cover about cmus, is one of the famous console-based media players among others (For CLI, very few applications is available in Linux).

    • You Can Now Transform the Atom Hackable Text Editor into an IDE with Atom-IDE

      GitHub and Facebook recently launched a set of tools that promise to allow you to transform your Atom hackable text editor into a veritable IDE (Integrated Development Environment). They call the project Atom-IDE.

      With the release of Atom 1.21 Beta last week, GitHub introduced Language Server Protocol support to integrate its brand-new Atom-IDE project, which comes with built-in support for five popular language servers, including JavaScript, TypeScript, PHP, Java, C#, and Flow. But many others will come with future Atom updates.

    • 10 Best Free Photo Editors For Linux

      Linux has come a long way in terms of the applications that are available for the platform. Whatever your specific needs are, you can be sure that there are at least a few applications available for you to use. Today, we’ll look at 10 free photo editors for Linux, and I must say, there are a lot of image editing tools available. This post selects just 10 of these awesome tools and talks about them briefly looking at what makes them stand out. In no particular order, let’s get started.

    • Instructionals/Technical
    • Games
      • Digging for riches and falling onto spikes in SteamWorld Dig 2, now available for Linux

        It hooked me in way more than I though it would, I could hardly stop myself playing. Image & Form have created such a fantastic world to explore that’s rammed full of imagination and personality throughout. A solid Linux release and a pleasantly surprising game.

      • Linux version of ‘The Coma: Recut’ removed at release after taking pre-orders

        Sadly it seems the Linux version of The Coma: Recut [Official Site] vanished at release, even after taking pre-orders.

        We all know all too well that pre-orders have inherent risks attached to them. This is especially true when it comes to Linux releases. Steam is full of cases of developers pulling out Linux support right on release without any prior indication.

      • Rusted Warfare, the sweet 2D RTS has a new major release with tons of goodies

        Do you love RTS games? Rusted Warfare [Steam] is one you seriously need to look at. This sweet 2D RTS works great on Linux and just had a huge update.

        The first major new feature is a replay system. You can now re-watch previous online games, but the icing in the cake is that you can jump in at any point and take over the game. I’m hoping they roll that out to offline battles too, as it sounds great.

      • Rise to Ruins updated with an overhauled combat system along with bows and arrows

        The village building god game Rise to Ruins [Official Site] has expanded once again. This latest development release ‘InDev 28 Unstable 3′ overhauls the combat system. Ranged attacks are now possible!

        For those unfamiliar with the title, it mixes up a few genres to create a pretty unique game. It has elements of a god sim, a city builder and tower defence and it’s really quite fun. It has multiple game modes to choose from, with the ability to customize things to your liking.

      • Improve Your Mental Mettle with These Open Source Puzzle Games

        The puzzle genre often tests problem-solving skills enhancing both analytical and critical thinking skills. Word completion, pattern recognition, logical reasoning, persistence, and sequence solving are some of the skills often required to prosper here. Some games offer unlimited time or attempts to solve a puzzle, others present time-limited exercises which increase the difficulty of the puzzle. Most puzzle games are basic in graphics but are very addictive.

      • SDL 2.0.6 Released With Vulkan Helpers, DRM/KMS Driver

        SDL 2.0.6 was released on Friday as the latest feature update for this widely-used library that allows for more cross-platform portability of applications and games centered around input, audio, and video helpers.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Adapta Theme is Now Available for the #KDE Plasma Desktop

        A new port brings the Adapta GTK theme to the KDE Plasma 5 desktop for the first time, news that will please fans of its famous flat stylings.

      • A New Project To Let You Run Qt Apps With GTK+ Windowing System Integration

        A Norwegian developer has developed a new Qt platform abstraction plug-in to let Qt applications make use of GTK+ for windowing system integration. The Qt apps rely upon GTK+ as a host toolkit to provide GTK menus, GTK for input, and other integration bits.

      • Announcing the XFree KWin project

        Over the last weeks I concentrated my work on KWin on what I call the XFree KWin project. The idea is to be able to start KWin/Wayland without XWayland support. While most of the changes required for it are already in Plasma 5.11, not everything got ready in time, but now everything is under review on phabricator, so it’s a good point in time to talk about this project.

      • XFree KWin: Ridding KDE’s Wayland Compositor Of X11 Dependencies

        Martin Flöser (nee Gräßlin) has announced the “XFree KWin” project. This isn’t to be confused with XFree86 but rather is about ridding KWin optionally of X11/X.Org dependencies.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Ant is a Flat GTK Theme with a Bloody Bite

        Between Arc, Adapta and Numix it kind of feels like Linux has the whole flat GTK theme thing covered.

        But proving their’s always room for one more is Ant.

      • Bad News for Users of TopIcons Plus

        The development of the popular TopIcons Plus GNOME extension has been put on pause.

        Offering a convenient way to access indicator applets and system tray icons from the GNOME top bar, the extension has proven popular with GNOME Shell users, especially as GNOME 3.26 removes the legacy tray entirely.

  • Distributions
    • New Releases
      • [Stable Update] 2017-09-23 – Kernels, Mesa, PulseAudio, GST, Python, Haskell

        what a week we had. With this update we have removed most of our EOL tagged kernels. Please adopt to newer series of each, when still be used. PulseAudio and Gstreamer got renewed. Also most of our kernels got newer point-releases. Series v4.12 is now marked as EOL.

        Guillaume worked on Pamac to solve reported issues within our v6 series. The user experience should be much better now. Latest NetworkManager, Python and Haskell updates complete this update-pack.

        Please report back and give us feedback for given changes made to our repositories.

      • A new Subgraph OS Alpha ISO is available for download.

        This is a release mainly targeting some bugs that were present in the last available ISO.

        We are working on some major new features that aren’t done yet or aren’t yet robust enough to be included in a release to users. Some of those new features are described below.

        We really should have released an ISO sooner than this as there were some annoying bugs that got in the way of new users trying Subgraph OS for the first time. We’ve setup a new, more aggressive release schedule and should be making non-release ISO builds available as we produce them monthly.

      • NuTyX 9.1 available with cards 2.3.3.0

        The NuTyX team is please to annonce the 9.1 release of NuTyX.

        NuTyX 9.0 comes with kernel lts 4.9.23, glibc 2.25, gcc 6.3.0, binutils 2.28, python 3.6.0, xorg-server 1.19.2, qt 5.8.0, plasma 5.9.4, kf5 5.31.0, gnome 3.22.2, mate 1.18.0, xfce4 4.12.3, firefox 54.0.1, etc….

        New Isos are available in 32 bits and 64 bits. sizes are respectively 246 MB and 247 MB on http://downloads.nutyx.org

        This is a maintenance release of the 9.0 branche of NuTyX. It is possible to make an upgrade of your system without problems. It’s no need to reinstall your NuTyX. If the automatic upgrade process is activate, it will be done at next shutdown.

        Available graphical interfaces are: kde5, gnome, mate, xfce4, lxde, flwm, jwm, ratpoison, blackbox, fluxbox, openbox, bspwm, icewm, twm, etc.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • OpenSUSE fonts – The sleeping beauty guide

        Pandora’s box of fonts is one of the many ailments of the distro world. As long as we do not have standards, and some rather strict ones at that, we will continue to suffer from bad fonts, bad contrast, bad ergonomics, and in general, settings that are not designed for sustained, prolonged use. It’s a shame, because humans actually use computers to interface with information, to READ text and interpret knowledge using the power of language. It’s the most critical element of the whole thing.

        OpenSUSE under-delivers on two fonts – anti-aliasing and hinting options that are less than ideal, and then it lacks the necessary font libraries to make a relevant, modern and pleasing desktop for general use. All of this can be easily solved if there’s more attention, love and passion for the end product. After all, don’t you want people to be spending a lot of time interacting, using and enjoying the distro?

        Hopefully, one day, all this will be ancient history. We will be able to choose any which system and never worry or wonder how our experience is going to be impacted by the choice of drivers, monitors, software frameworks, or even where we live. For the time being, if you intend on using openSUSE, this little guide should help you achieve a better, smoother, higher-quality rendering of fonts on the screen, allowing you to enjoy the truly neat Plasma desktop to the fullest. Oh, in the openSUSE review, I promised we would handle this, and handle it we did! Take care.

    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Flavours and Variants
            • System76′s Pop!_OS Linux to Get a Beta Release Next Week with HiDPI Improvements

              System76 is getting ready to unleash the first Beta release of their upcoming Pop!_OS Linux distribution, which should be available to download next week based on the Ubuntu 17.10 Final Beta.

              It appears that System76′s development team recently dropped focus on the Pop!_OS Installer, which they develop in collaboration with the elementary OS team, to concentrate on fixing critical bugs and add the final touches to the Beta release. They still need to add some patches to fix backlight brightness issues on Nvidia GPUs.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • This open-source Android app is designed to detect nearby credit card skimmers

    Protecting our data is a constant battle, especially as technology continues to advance. A recent trend that has popped up is the installation of credit card skimmers, especially at locations such as gas pumps. With a simple piece of hardware and 30 seconds to install it, a hacker can easily steal credit card numbers from a gas pump without anyone knowing. Now, an open-source app for Android is attempting to help users avoid these skimmers.

  • Events
  • Web Browsers
  • CMS
    • Best Self-Hosted CRM Apps

      Customer relationship management or simply CRM is a term or specifically an approach to managing and analyzing the interaction of your current customers and leads. The CRM software allows you to manage the customer data, customer interaction, automate sales, manage client contacts and employees, customer support etc. In this article we will cover some of the best self-hosted CRM applications which you can install on a CRM Linux VPS and use for managing your company.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
  • Licensing/Legal
    • Facebook to Relicense React Under MIT [Ed: as we hoped [1, 2]]

      Facebook has decided to change the React license from BSD+Patents to MIT to make it possible for companies to include React in Apache projects, and to avoid uncertain relationship with the open source community.

      Adam Wolff, an Engineering Director at Facebook, has announced that a number of projects – React, Jest, Flow, and Immutable.js – will soon start using the more standard MIT License instead of BSD+Patents. The reason provided is “because React is the foundation of a broad ecosystem of open source software for the web, and we don’t want to hold back forward progress for nontechnical reasons.” While aware that the React’s BSD+Patents license has created “uncertainty” among users of the library, prompting some to select an alternative solution, Facebook does not “expect to win these teams back” but they still hope some will reconsider the issue. The change in license will become effective when React 16 will be released next week.

      Regarding other projects, Wolff said that “many of our popular projects will keep the BSD + Patents license for now”, while they are “evaluating those projects’ licenses too, but each project is different and alternative licensing options will depend on a variety of factors.” It seems from this clause that Facebook plans to get rid of the BSD+Patents license entirely, but they need to figure out the best option for each project.

      [...]

      Facebook’s plan to switch to a standard license MIT, supported by Apache, completely solves this problem with React and several other projects. It remains to see what happens with the license of other Facebook projects, and how much this license issue has affected how React is perceived by the community.

  • Programming/Development
Leftovers
  • How the oldest IT company IBM is discovering its India story

    In the last 12 months, IBM India has worked in many ways to address the Indian market. The most visible change has been the induction of Karan Bajwa from Microsoft India as the India-focused managing director, while Narayanan will focus on exports. That apart, there has been an overhaul of the company’s strategy, embracing open source [...]

  • Microsoft are looking at opening a London flagship store at Oxford Circus

    A report in Retail Week (paywalled) says that the ink is drying on a deal that will see Redmond take root in Oxford Circus, which, if you know London even slightly, you’ll realise is about 15 seconds from Apple’s Magic Fairy Dell on Regent Street.

  • Science
    • Screens and teens: survival tips for parents on the technology battlefield

      Snapchat (like all social media channels) is addictive. Many studies have proved the link between a “like” on a post and a dopamine hit to our brains. “I think parents should consider banning Snapchat in the house,” says Anne Longfield. “It is just so pervasive into the child’s psyche. It’s really geared to making children worry about maintaining friendships, about being seen to maintain friendships and then about isolating them if they drop off. Being a teenager is difficult enough without worrying about your social standing.” Snapchat can also reveal where your child actually is in the real world, unless it is switched to “ghost” mode, and on the home page kids automatically see news updates from The Sun, E! News, MailOnline and more without subscribing, which might explain the skew in interest towards the Kardashians rather than, say, North Korea.

  • Hardware
    • iFixit’s iPhone 8 teardown finds a smaller battery and lots of glue

      The popular repair site wrapped up its breakdown of the iPhone 8 on Friday, finding that the 8’s internals, unsurprisingly, look a good deal like those of last year’s iPhone 7. There are some small changes—more adhesive strips surrounding the battery, a slightly redesigned Lightning connector, the use of standard Phillips screws in some spots instead of obtuse tri-point screws—but most of the more immediately apparent changes, like the new Qi wireless charging coil, were announced by Apple when it revealed the new phone earlier this month.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Until Elected Officials Champion Medicare for All, They Can Expect Nurses at Their Offices — and in Their Seats

      Here’s what nurses know about the body of our country: healthy leadership is required to pass healthy legislation, and that makes for a healthy society. If our leaders don’t have the political will to fight for healthy legislation — Senator Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All Act, S.1804 being a prime example — then we are, as a country, fundamentally unwell. And it’s our duty, as nurses, to facilitate healing.

      To that end, over 1,000 nurses from across the country assembled this week in San Francisco for the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee (CNA/NNOC) convention. We gathered in solidarity to set the upcoming goals for our organization, and to learn — both from each other and from speakers including Senator Sanders, Dr. Jane O’Meara Sanders, California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, Nina Turner, Van Jones and Eve Ensler.

    • 7Up gets a new ingredient in Mexico—meth

      7Up—the lemon-lime soda sometimes thought to be named for its original seven main ingredients—now has a troubling eighth ingredient in Mexico: methamphetamine.

      Health professionals in Arizona are warning travelers to the Mexicali area to be aware of possibly contaminated sodas there. The warning comes days after medical toxicologists and emergency doctors received reports of soda tampering in the area.

      According to the Attorney General of the State of Baja California, seven people were sickened and one died from the spiked soft drinks. Officials requested that merchants there suspend sales of 7Up and clear the product from their shelves. And an investigation is now in progress to figure out how the illicit stimulant got into the soda.

    • Just in time for open enrollment, HHS will limit healthcare.gov availability on Sundays

      The Trump administration has come under attack from critics who say that it is intentionally undermining the Affordable Care Act, through regulatory actions. It shortened the enrollment period, withdrew money for advertising and cut the budget for navigator groups, which help people shop for plans.

      And now HHS is closing the site for a substantial portion of each weekend — for maintenance, officials said. That is the same time that many working patients — the prime target group for ACA insurance — could be shopping for their insurance, critics noted.

    • Sunday Hours: Obamacare Website To Be Shut Down For Portion of Most Weekends

      The Trump administration plans to shut down the federal health insurance exchange for 12 hours during all but one Sunday in the upcoming open enrollment season.

      The shutdown will occur from 12 a.m. to 12 p.m. ET on every Sunday except Dec. 10.

      The Department of Health and Human Services will also shut down the federal exchange — healthcare.gov — overnight on the first day of open enrollment, Nov. 1. More than three dozen states use that exchange for their marketplaces.

      HHS officials disclosed this information Friday during a webinar with community groups that help people enroll.

    • The right is storming women’s clinics

      ANTI-ABORTION demonstrators invaded three clinics around the country on September 15, physically forcing their way in and refusing to leave in a coordinated escalation of the right-wing attack on women’s right to choose.

      The national anti-choice group Created Equal called on members to participate in identical actions in Sterling Heights, Michigan; Alexandria, Virginia; and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

      Demonstrators entered clinics in order to perform a “Red Rose Rescue,” imitating a harassment tool popularized by Canadian anti-choice activist Mary Wagner, in which the antis approach women in the waiting room of clinics, hand them red roses and attempt to talk them out of having abortions.

    • Calls to #StopBetsy After Education Secretary Takes ‘Horrific Step Back’ on Title IX

      Sexual assault survivors and their supporters are appalled by the Trump administration’s decision on Friday to roll back federal protections for students who are assaulted on college campuses.

      After months of meeting with “men’s rights” groups and taking steps to overhaul enforcement rules for Title IX, the federal law barring sex-based discrimination in schools, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos suspended current guidelines and issued new ones that enable schools to increase standards of proof when disciplining students accused of sexual misconduct—guidance that experts, advocates, and survivors warn “will have a devastating impact on students and schools.”

    • China Signed a $300 Million Lab-Grown Meat Deal with Israel

      China has signed a trade agreement with Israel worth $300 million that will see the country import lab-grown meats produced by three companies: SuperMeat, Future Meat Technologies, and Meat the Future. This move is part of China’s ongoing effort to address its most pressing environmental problems.

    • Unlike Most of Senate GOP, McCain Is a ‘No’ on Bill That Analysis Shows Would Kill Tens of Thousands by 2027

      The Republican Party’s last-ditch effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act was dealt a major blow Friday when Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced that he “cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal,” which analysts have called the most “brutal and deadly” version of Trumpcare yet.

      Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is expected to bring the legislation to the floor for a vote before the end of next week.

      Physicians and public health researchers Drs. Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein estimated in an analysis released Friday that, if passed, the Graham-Cassidy repeal bill could kill tens of thousands of people per year.

  • Security
    • DHS tells 21 states they were Russia hacking targets before 2016 election
    • Joomla patches eight-year-old critical CMS bug

      Joomla has patched a critical bug which could be used to steal account information and fully compromise website domains.

      This week, the content management system (CMS) provider issued a security advisory detailing the flaw, which is found in the LDAP authentication plugin.

      Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) is used by Joomla to access directories over TCP/IP. The plugin is integrated with the CMS.

      Joomla considers the bug a “medium” severity issue, but according to researchers from RIPS Technologies, the problem is closer to a critical status.

    • Joomla! 3.7.5 – Takeover in 20 Seconds with LDAP Injection

      With over 84 million downloads, Joomla! is one of the most popular content management systems in the World Wide Web. It powers about 3.3% of all websites’ content and articles. Our code analysis solution RIPS detected a previously unknown LDAP injection vulnerability in the login controller. This one vulnerability could allow remote attackers to leak the super user password with blind injection techniques and to fully take over any Joomla! <= 3.7.5 installation within seconds that uses LDAP for authentication. Joomla! has fixed the vulnerability in the latest version 3.8.

    • In spectacular fail, Adobe security team posts private PGP key on blog

      Having some transparency about security problems with software is great, but Adobe’s Product Security Incident Response Team (PSIRT) took that transparency a little too far today when a member of the team posted the PGP keys for PSIRT’s e-mail account—both the public and the private keys. The keys have since been taken down, and a new public key has been posted in its stead.

    • Hackers Using iCloud’s Find My iPhone Feature to Remotely Lock Macs and Demand Ransom Payments

      Over the last day or two, several Mac users appear to have been locked out of their machines after hackers signed into their iCloud accounts and initiated a remote lock using Find My iPhone.

      With access to an iCloud user’s username and password, Find My iPhone on iCloud.com can be used to “lock” a Mac with a passcode even with two-factor authentication turned on, and that’s what’s going on here.

    • After the breach, Equifax now faces the lawsuits

      Since it announced a massive data breach earlier this month, Equifax has been hit with dozens of lawsuits from shareholders, consumers and now one filed by a small Wisconsin credit union that represents what could be the first by a financial institution attempting to preemptively recoup losses caused by alleged fraud the hack could cause.

      Equifax has said its breach exposed sensitive information about 143 million consumers, including Social Security and driver’s license numbers. This kind of data could be used for identity theft and to create fake accounts, cybersecurity experts have said.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Vast Majority Of Brits Want The UK To Stop Selling Arms To Saudi Arabia – Poll
    • TRUMP COULD BE GUILTY OF WAR CRIMES AFTER AN AMERICAN BOMB KILLED YEMENI CHILDREN

      A bomb made and supplied by the United States was used in a Saudi Arabia-led coalition airstrike that killed 16 civilians, including seven children, in Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, on August 25, Amnesty International revealed on Thursday.

      The bombing of residential buildings, which horrified much of the Arab world even before the link to the U.S., was due to a “technical mistake,” said the Saudi government, which is fighting Iran-backed rebels in a larger Saudi-Iran battle for control of the Gulf region.

      The human rights group is calling on the U.S. government to immediately cease selling arms to Saudi Arabia.

    • Britain Buries Its Bloody Role In Indonesia

      THE attempts to prevent a summit from going ahead in Jakarta on the massacres of 1965 show just how great a step was taken when the International People’s Tribunal into the killings reported last year.
      They also underline how much work is left to be done. It is significant that the tribunal was held in The Hague, and that the Indonesian, British and US governments all rejected invitations to participate.
      Britain is vital to our understanding of the events of 1965 — this is far from a matter of curiosity about another country’s history but an episode in which our own government and its major ally were deeply involved.
      Prior to 1965 Britain and the US had been waging a covert war against nationalist president Sukarno, whom the Foreign Office noted with “anxiety” was being influenced by the massive and massively popular communist party (PKI). In the tumult after Sukarno-supporting military officers killed generals they believed were plotting a coup, anti-Sukarno generals (including later dictator Suharto) seized the opportunity to move against the PKI — with strong support from the US and Britain.
      Huge numbers of women, men and children were killed — the exact toll is unknown, estimates range from half to three million. Secret documents from the time are chilling. One British official reported that some victims “are given a knife and invited to kill themselves. Most refuse and are told to turn around and are shot in the back.” Another told of “half a dozen heads … neatly arranged on the parapet of a small bridge.” “A woman of 78 … was taken away one night by a village execution squad.”

    • In Iraqi Kurdistan, Voting on Independence and Bracing for Violence

      Across Iraqi Kurdistan, a scene is starting to become familiar: young and old alike fill the public squares and parks clad in Kurdish dress, furiously waving Kurdish flags in a rallying cry for independence.

      “Long live Kurdistan!” they chant.

      The iconic red, white and green Kurdish flag, with a giant sun in the middle, was first unveiled at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, but it has never had as strong of a possibility of belonging to an actual nation until this moment. While Iraqi Kurds currently enjoy a semi-autonomous region in northern Iraq — technically governed by Iraq’s central government in Baghdad but controlled by Kurdish security forces and political parties — many have longed for an independent state after decades of oppression, suffering and political marginalization. In the wake of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces defeating Islamic State fighters in key battles in northern Iraq, including Mosul earlier this year, many Kurds hope their chance has finally arrived to gain independence — which they are voting on in a controversial referendum on Monday.

    • Trump Threatens a Genocide

      The level of insult and hostile name-calling between world leaders was taken to a new extreme by Donald Trump in his speech before the U.N. General Assembly. In his preferred rhetoric replete with saber rattling, Trump’s comments included, “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”

      [...]

      Behind Trump’s words is a drumbeat that is all too familiar to anyone who has read, studied or lived through war; and seen how threats and hostility can turn into madness and violence. When it comes to war there is an irrepressible and repetitive pattern where self-righteousness and nationalism mix to make a poisonous, explosive cocktail, blinding opponents to the humanity of their adversaries.

      Although Trump points his finger at leadership, the implication is that we should fear and hate an enemy with no room for compromise; and eventually embrace war against an entire population. By dehumanizing and demonizing a leader, politicians give emotional foundation to aggression against a nation.

    • American Al Qaeda suspect ‘plotted attacks against the West’

      An American citizen rose through the ranks of Al Qaeda to become head of its external operations wing, charged with planning attacks on the West, according to the testimony of a captured terrorist.

      Muhanad Mahmoud Al Farekh, 31, who was born in Houston and raised in Dubai, was detained by security forces in Pakistan in 2014.

      He is now on trial in New York where he has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to murder American nationals, conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction and a string of other crimes.

      In a video shown to the jury, a former Al Qaeda operative held at a secret location in the Middle East said a man named Abdullah Al Shami, which prosecutors allege is a pseudonym for Farekh – took over the role of head of external operations when Abdul Hafeez Al Somali died in an airstrike.

    • Korea? It’s Always Really Been About China!

      How many citizens have ever asked themselves what the United States is doing in Korea in the first place?

    • Poll: Far more trust generals than Trump on N. Korea, while two-thirds oppose preemptive strike
    • Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s “Vietnam War”: Some Predictions

      How Ken Burns and Lynn Novick became the semi-official film documentarians of United States history is an interesting question. Part of the answer lay in the way they manage to whitewash the criminal record of U.S. imperialism. One example of this came in their 2007 “Public” Broadcasting System (“P”BS) documentary on World War II, where they re-transmitted the myth that Harry Truman atom-bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki – killing 146,000 Japanese civilians with two weapons – to “save [U.S.] lives.” Burns and Novick ignored compelling primary source evidence and historical literature showing that top U.S. military and intelligence leaders understood that Japan was defeated and seeking surrender at the end of World War II and that the atom bomb crimes were perpetrated to demonstrate unassailable U.S. power to the world and especially to the Soviet Union in the post-WWII era.

    • MY THREATS ARE BIGGER THAN YOUR THREATS

      Not since Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev banged his fists and waved his shoe at the UN in 1960 has a world leader made such a spectacle of himself as President Donald Trump did this past week at the world organization.

      Trump vowed to ‘totally destroy’ North Korea, a nation of 25 million, if it dared threaten the US or its allies. To do so, the US would have to use numerous nuclear weapons.

      The president’s Genghis Khan behavior seemed to take no account that a US nuclear strike against North Korea would cause huge destruction to neighboring China, Japan and Russia – and pollute the globe. They could hardly be expected to applaud Trump’s final solution for pesky North Korea.

      As leader of the world’s greatest power, President Trump was foolish to get into a schoolyard fracas with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. Superpowers shouldn’t engage in such childish behavior. Trump’s claim that North Korea threatens the world is a reheated Bush-era lie used to whip up support for invading Iraq.

    • Senior Journalist KJ Singh, Mother Murdered In Mohali, Special Probe Team Formed

      “The miscreants wanted to give it a robbery angle but it does not seem so. The motive of the criminals was something else,” said senior police officer HS Atwal said, adding that locks of one or two boxes inside the house had been opened.

    • Senior journalist, his mother found dead in Mohali

      Singh had worked with many news organisations including Indian Express, The Tribune and The Times of India in Chandigarh.

    • Amid Tensions with North Korea, 51 Countries Sign Ban on Nuclear Weapons Despite U.S. Opposition

      Amid tensions over North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests, 51 countries have signed the world’s first legally binding treaty banning nuclear weapons. It prohibits the development, testing and possession of nuclear weapons, as well as using or threatening to use these weapons. It was first adopted in July by 122 U.N. member states, despite heavy U.S. opposition. None of the nine countries that possess nuclear weapons signed the measure, including Russia, Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel. We speak with Susi Snyder, nuclear disarmament program manager for the Netherlands-based group PAX and author of the report “Don’t Bank on the Bomb.”

    • Canada Shows Global Leadership on Protecting Civilians in Yemen

      At the most recent session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Canada joined a core group of countries calling for an international commission of inquiry into abuses in the armed conflict in Yemen. It was a courageous decision by any measure. Canada has lucrative arms deals with Saudi Arabia – which for the past two and a half years has been leading a coalition responsible for scores of unlawful airstrikes in Yemen – making it an unlikely partner in this effort. But, the Trudeau government has shown this week that being a global leader on civilian protection means not letting immediate interests get in the way of your core values.

      The need for an independent mechanism to address the gravity of violations in Yemen cannot be overstated. Saudi-led coalition airstrikes, some amounting to war crimes, have killed thousands of civilians and hit schools, hospitals, markets, and homes. The Houthi-Saleh forces whom the coalition is fighting have committed numerous abuses, too, including recruiting and deploying child soldiers and indiscriminately shelling civilian areas. Parties to the conflict are using banned weapons like cluster munitions and landmines that may endanger Yemeni civilians for years to come.

    • Unmasked: Trump Doctrine Vows Carnage for New Axis of Evil

      This was no “deeply philosophical address”. And hardly a show of “principled realism” – as spun by the White House. President Trump at the UN was “American carnage,” to borrow a phrase previously deployed by his nativist speechwriter Stephen Miller.

      One should allow the enormity of what just happened to sink in, slowly. The president of the United States, facing the bloated bureaucracy that passes for the “international community,” threatened to “wipe off the map” the whole of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (25 million people). And may however many millions of South Koreans who perish as collateral damage be damned.

      Multiple attempts have been made to connect Trump’s threats to the madman theory cooked up by “Tricky Dicky” Nixon in cahoots with Henry Kissinger, according to which the USSR must always be under the impression the then-US president was crazy enough to, literally, go nuclear. But the DPRK will not be much impressed with this madman remix.

    • ‘Dotard’ vs. ‘Madman’: Kim Jong-un and Trump Trade Insults as Nuclear Anxieties Grow

      President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un traded insults early on Friday, continuing a war of words that’s gone on for months, causing widespread anxiety over the possibility of a nuclear attack as North Korea conducts missile tests and Trump administration officials attempt to do damage control regarding the president’s threats of retaliation.

      The two leaders’ statements have grown increasingly antagonistic, with Trump giving Kim the nickname “Rocket Man” last week and Kim introducing the arcane term “dotard” into the discourse Friday morning.

      Three days after Trump’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly in which he threatened to “totally destroy North Korea” if the Kim regime continues to test its nuclear capability, as it’s done five times since July, Kim issued a lengthy statement comparing the president’s threats to the barks of “a frightened dog.”

    • Trump Administration Should Not Gut Drone Protections

      Following reports that the Trump administration is seeking to change U.S. government policy on the use of lethal force outside of armed conflicts, Zeke Johnson, senior director of programs for Amnesty International USA, issued the following statement:

      “The policies that guide the United States’ use of lethal force and armed drones, whether under President Obama or President Trump, have always been legally and morally murky. Any move to gut their already weak human rights protections would be unacceptable. The Trump administration needs to ensure that its guidance for operations outside armed conflict comply with human rights law. The administration cannot write itself a blank check to kill with impunity.”

    • The View From the End of the American Empire

      Through a network of nearly 800 military bases located in 70 countries around the globe, in addition to an array of trade deals and alliances, the U.S. has cemented its influence for decades across both Europe and Asia. American leaders helped impose a set of rules and norms that promoted free trade, democratic governance — in theory, if not always in practice — and a prohibition on changing borders militarily, using a mixture of force and suasion to sustain the systems that keep its hegemony intact. Meanwhile, although the U.S. generally eschewed direct colonialism, its promotion of global free trade helped “open a door through which America’s preponderant economic strength would enter and dominate all the underdeveloped areas of the world,” wrote the revisionist historian William Appleman Williams in his more-than-half-century-old classic, “The Tragedy of American Diplomacy”.

      That strategy of “non-colonial imperial expansion,” as Williams called it, became the basis for U.S. foreign policy over the past century. For American elites, such a policy has provided remarkable benefits, even if the resulting largesse has not always trickled down to the rest of the country. Thanks to its status as the world’s only superpower, the U.S. today enjoys the “exorbitant privilege” of having its dollar serve as the world’s reserve currency, while U.S. leaders dominate the agenda of international institutions promoting governance and trade. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990 and the successful creation of a global military alliance to repel Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait that same year, America’s imperial confidence reached a zenith; President George H.W. Bush publicly declared the start of a “new world order” under American leadership.

    • Ken Burns Says the Vietnam War Was “Begun in Good Faith.” So Was Every Other Lousy War.

      These were internal U.S. communications; it was simply the government talking to itself, with no reason to lie.

      Moreover, it was no aberration. U.S. government archives are filled with impressive declarations about America’s idealistic goals in Vietnam.

    • Syrian Widows in Jordan Take Charge of Their New Lives

      Amal al-Mugdad was always devout, but as the Syrian conflict engulfed her hometown of Dera’a, her prayers grew increasingly desperate. Rising daily before dawn, the slight young woman unrolled her prayer mat, her ears strained for the sound of bullets. On her knees in the dark, she begged for peace in her country and mercy for her people. By daylight, though, there were few signs that Allah had heard her plea. Regime aircraft rattled against the sky. Neighborhood streets grew inscrutable, blocked by shifting checkpoints and sprawling rubble.

      Fear whittled Amal’s world. By 2012, her universe encompassed only three points: her sons, Khalid and Ma’an, then ages two years and six months, respectively; and her 24-year-old husband, Mahmood. It was her husband — the man she married at 19, whom she privately called Hamoodi — that worried her the most. This was a conflict with a particular appetite for young, able-bodied men, targeting them with checkpoints and home raids. By 2015, an estimated 65,000 people were “disappeared” by the regime, forced to enlist in President Bashar al-Assad’s army or vanished into the underworld of government prisons. Others were felled by snipers, for reasons never given.

    • Civilian drone crashes into Army helicopter
    • Drone Hits Army Helicopter Flying Over Staten Island
  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Hersh Receives Adams Award for Integrity

      Journalist Seymour Hersh, whose career includes exposing U.S. intelligence abuses, received an award for integrity from an organization of former U.S. and Western intelligence officials who share Hersh’s ethical concerns about such abuses.

      The trademark “Oscar” for Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII) was presented to longtime investigative journalist Seymour Hersh at a dinner in Washington on Sept. 22. The symbolic award is a candle sitting atop the traditional corner-brightener candlestick holder.

    • 1. WikiLeaks, Russian edition: how it’s being viewed

      Russia has been investing heavily in a vision of cyberdemocracy that will link the public directly with government officials to increase official responsiveness. But it is also enforcing some of the toughest cybersecurity laws to empower law enforcement access to communications and ban technologies that could be used to evade surveillance. Could WikiLeaks put a check on Russia’s cyber regime? This week, the online activist group released the first of a promised series of document dumps on the nature and workings of Russia’s surveillance state. So far, the data has offered no bombshells. “It’s mostly technical stuff. It doesn’t contain any state contracts, or even a single mention of the FSB [security service], but there is some data here that’s worth publishing,” says Andrei Soldatov, coauthor of “The Red Web,” a history of the Soviet and Russian internet. But, he adds, “Anything that gets people talking about Russia’s capabilities and actions in this area should be seen as a positive development.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Trump’s Pick for Top EPA Post Under Scrutiny for Deep Ties to Chemical Industry

      The latest is Michael L. Dourson, Trump’s pick to head the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, the government’s chemical safety program. Media reports reveal that the toxicologist is under intense scrutiny for his extensive ties to the chemical industry and a resumé dotted with some of the biggest names in the field: Koch Industries Inc., Chevron Corp., Dow AgroSciences, DuPont and Monsanto.

      After working as a staff toxicologist for the EPA from 1980 to 1994, Dourson founded and ran the Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment(TERA), a nonprofit research group that has been paid by chemical corporations to research and write reports that downplay the health risks posed by their products, the New York Times reports. TERA has since been renamed as the Risk Science Center at the University of Cincinnati, where Dourson is a professor.

      According to the Associated Press, Dourson’s research has been “underwritten by industry trade and lobbying groups representing the makers of plastics, pesticides, processed foods and cigarettes.”

    • In the Caribbean, colonialism and inequality mean hurricanes hit harder

      Hurricane Maria, the 15th tropical depression this season, is now battering the Caribbean, just two weeks after Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc in the region.

      The devastation in Dominica is “mind-boggling,” wrote the country’s prime minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, on Facebook just after midnight on September 19. The next day, in Puerto Rico, NPR reported via member station WRTU in San Juan that “Most of the island is without power…or water.”

      Among the Caribbean islands impacted by both deadly storms are Puerto Rico, St Kitts, Tortola and Barbuda.

    • An Unexpected Alternative to Fossil Fuels: Waste

      Countries with large quantities of waste from forestry, manure or straw from farms are now looking for economic ways to turn them into forms of renewable energy.

      Most of these so-called wastes can be burned directly as an alternative to fossil fuels in power stations or for district heating, but increasingly they are being turned into biogas.

      This can be used as fuel in vehicles, fed into gas pipelines as a addition to natural gas, or to be used to generate electricity when there is a shortfall from other renewables like wind and solar.

      Two countries keen on exploiting these natural resources to enable them to phase out fossil fuels and nuclear power are Sweden and Switzerland.

      Sweden has a large surplus of straw from agriculture in the autumn, but finding an economic use for it has been difficult.

    • FEMA accidentally tweets sex hotline number to hurricane victims

      When several Hurricane Irma survivors in Florida called a 1-800 number recommended by FEMA Region 4’s Twitter account, they were offered phone sex instead of advice about their damaged roof.

      FEMA mistakenly tweeted that the number to a helpline was 1-800-ROOF-BLU on Wednesday, when the correct phone number was actually 1-888-ROOF-BLU.

      When calling the 1-800 number, survivors heard the message: “Welcome to America’s hottest talk line. Guys, hot ladies are waiting to talk to you. Press ‘1’ to connect, free, now,” according to the Miami Herald.

      The original tweet has since been deleted and replaced with a tweet that includes the correct phone number.

    • The Brutal Racial Politics of Climate Change and Pollution

      Take Trump’s proposal to deregulate power plant emissions.

      Air pollution is bad for everyone with lungs, but it disproportionately harms people of color and poor people, who are much likelier to live near coal-burning power plants. People living within three miles of coal-fired power plants have a per capita income 15 percent lower than the national average, and African Americans die of asthma at a 172 percent higher rate than white people. Deregulating toxic polluters is only going to worsen such egregious disparities.

      Meanwhile in Alaska, Native villages are literally sinking into the sea and facing the loss of their traditional lifestyle as polar ice melts. Yet the federal government proposes eliminating the already meager assistance they receive, and won’t even name the problem they’re confronting. Absurdly, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) now refers to Arctic climate change impacts as “Arctic Change.”

      Similar inequalities show up in the places hardest hit during this catastrophic hurricane season.

      Refineries and other petrochemical facilities in Houston have been shut down in the wake of Tropical Storm Harvey. However, storm damage at the Exxon refinery in Baytown has led to leaks of toxic chemicals, while the Chevron Phillips refinery in Pasadena reported to regulators that it may release known carcinogens like benzene.

      Who lives near these facilities? Of the two Census blocks immediately adjoining Exxon’s Baytown refinery, one is 87 percent non-white and 76 percent low-income, the other 59 percent non-white and 59 percent low-income.

    • Hurricane Harvey, 25,000-Year Storm: Enhanced or Caused by Climate Change?

      It was a 25,000-year storm. Its area of 24-inch rainfall was 50 to 100 times greater than anything previously recorded in the lower 48. Up to a million cars may have been flooded. In Harris County alone, 136,000 homes were flooded. Yet the official word from academia on Hurricane Harvey was that it “may have been enhanced” by climate change. When are we going start using professional judgement like doctors and engineers use to keep us safe, instead of the absolutes of certainty with science? Because of certainty in science, we cannot admit that Hurricane Harvey and other extraordinary weather extremes like Harvey were caused by climate change. Not only are we are exposing our culture to grave risk, but by not using professional judgement to make this call, we perpetuate climate pollution reform inaction that has solely created this great risk.

    • Trump’s ITC Shoots USA In Solar Foot

      Fortunately, I live in Canada and expect the price of solar panels to continue falling as USA sharply drops its demand for the product. There is a silver lining. It will be even less expensive for me to power my future Solo EV by sunshine.

    • If anyone can hear us … help.’ Puerto Rico’s mayors describe widespread devastation from Hurricane Maria
    • Live Updates: Puerto Rico Still Facing Loss Of Electricity, Phone And Water Services After Hurricane Maria
    • Failing Dam in Puerto Rico Shows Danger of Climate Denialism

      President Trump, notoriously, tweeted that climate change is a Chinese hoax.

      Some 70,000 U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico living along the Guajataca River are in danger as a dam in the vicinity is failing. Built in the 1920s, the earthen dam faces a drainage problem in the midst of the downpours visited on the island, which have abruptly filled it up and put unbearable pressure on the walls.

      The failure of this dam underlines that climate change science is absolutely central to good public policy and planning.

      As humans put heat trapping gases into the atmosphere, like carbon dioxide, through driving their cars, providing their homes with electricity, and heating or cooling their houses, more of the sun’s heat is trapped on earth rather than radiating off into space. That trapped heat has caused the average temperature of the earth’s surface to rise.

    • Trade Panel Ruling Gives Trump Authority to Cripple Nation’s Solar Industry

      Lawmakers and the solar energy industry spoke out Friday against a ruling by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), which voted in favor of two domestic solar power manufacturers that complained low-cost solar panel imports from China had harmed their businesses.

      The ITC’s ruling leaves it up to President Donald Trump to decide whether to penalize foreign companies by imposing tariffs on their imports, something that he has already threatened to do, which would increase the cost of installing solar panels.

      While Trump and the coal industry have fretted that the advent of solar power is forcing coal companies out of business, foreign countries have moved forward in developing solar energy, with China already surpassing its goal of installing 105 gigawatts of solar power by 2020. China has also exported solar panels “in such increased quantities as to be a substantial cause of serious injury, or threat of serious injury, to the U.S. industry,” according to the ITC.

    • Possible good news about climate change leads to confused coverage

      In The Guardian, the headline was “Ambitious 1.5C Paris climate target is still possible, new analysis shows.” But over at Breitbart, readers were told that “Climate Alarmists Finally Admit ‘We Were Wrong About Global Warming.’” Other headlines spanned pretty much the entire range between these two. The grist for the mill was a new study published in Nature Geoscience by a group of well-known climate scientists, but different news outlets baked very different breads with it.

      That happens pretty frequently these days, but, in this case, the new study was especially complex and more easily misunderstood—even by those without a Breitbartian aggressive ideological bias against climate science.

    • Solar panel maker wins trade commission finding, tariff decision to go to Trump

      The commission now has until November to send recommendations on remedies to President Trump, who will be responsible for either setting a tariff on imported solar materials or finding some other remedy. Given Trump’s promises to bolster American manufacturing, it’s likely that he’ll favor restrictions on solar panel imports.

      The case is unique in that it has caused a considerable rift in the solar industry, with manufacturers on one side and installers on the other. Installers fought against Suniva’s bid for tariffs, saying that cheap imported panels have been a primary driver of the solar industry’s recent boom. Other solar installers have claimed that Suniva’s money woes were the result of mismanagement and poor products, not foreign imports.

    • Tens of Thousands Flee for Safety as Dam Fails in Puerto Rico

      “If you deny climate change, you will not anticipate heavier rainfall. Your dams will then fail, creating tens of thousands of climate refugees,” wrote Cole.

      As Reuters notes, “The potential calamity was unfolding as Puerto Ricans struggled without electricity to clean up and dig out from the devastation left days earlier by Maria, which has killed at least 25 people across the Caribbean, according to officials and media reports.”

      Cole concluded, “When you vote for denialist politicians, you are selecting people who make policy. The policy they make will be clueless and will actively endanger the public. Climate change is real. We are causing it by our emissions. If you don’t believe that, you are not a responsible steward of our infrastructure and of our lives.”

    • Nuclear Plants Plus Hurricanes: Disasters Waiting to Happen

      Although the mainstream media said next to nothing about it, independent experts have made it clear that Hurricanes Harvey and Irma threatened six U.S. nuclear plants with major destruction, and therefore all of us with apocalyptic disaster. It is a danger that remains for the inevitable hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis and other natural disasters yet to come.

      During Harvey and Irma, six holdovers from a dying reactor industry—two on the Gulf Coast at South Texas, two at Key Largo and two more north of Miami at Port St. Lucie—were under severe threat of catastrophic failure. All of them rely on off-site power systems that were extremely vulnerable throughout the storms. At St. Lucie Unit One, an NRC official reported a salt buildup on electrical equipment requiring a power downgrade in the midst of the storm.

  • Finance
    • Universal credit is a shambles because the poor are ignored
    • ‘Fix’ Claims As Labour Conference Urged By Momentum Not To Vote On Anti-Brexit Motions

      Jeremy Corbyn supporters have launched an eleventh-hour bid to prevent the Labour conference from toughening the party’s line against Brexit.

      In what appeared to be an attempt to avoid embarrassment to the Labour leader, the leftwing grassroots movement Momentum has asked its members not to include the issue in a list of motions at the gathering in Brighton.

      Pro-EU Labour members swiftly accused the group of a ‘fix’ that ran counter to Corbyn’s own demands to allow the rank and file to determine the party’s direction.

      In an email to supporters, seen by HuffPost UK, Momentum’s leadership has set out the four topics it wants to vote on – and none of them includes the EU. Housing, Social Care, the NHS and Rail are its new priorities for a ballot on Sunday.

    • How One Program Gives Federal Property to Groups Helping the Homeless

      Hundreds of thousands of people sleep every night on the streets of the United States, where just about every major city is experiencing an affordable housing crisis. While no federal program offers completely free housing for the homeless, a little-noticed statute is allowing those who help this population to obtain federal property at no cost, turning abandoned buildings and lots into hubs for social services.
      “This building is always busy,” said Veronica Lara, chief operating officer for Volunteers of America Los Angeles.
      Her organization’s offices are located in the overwhelmingly Latino neighborhood of Boyle Heights, where the Los Angeles City Council blocked a plan in August to build new housing for the mentally ill and homeless. There’s an obvious need — Los Angeles County’s homeless population soared 23 percent from January 2016 to January 2017 — but efforts to provide housing and services for this community are always controversial, spurring concern not for human life, at least not in one’s backyard, but for property values that might decline.

    • May’s Florence speech confirmed it: we need to ditch Brexit

      Theresa May’s Florence speech rams home why we shouldn’t be quitting the European Union at all.

      As reality bites, the prime minister is being forced to give up on Brexiters’ fantasies. She put Brexit on ice for two years, dangled tens of billions of pounds in front of the EU and abandoned her threat to turn the UK into a Singapore-style tax haven. These weren’t the flip-flop queen’s first U-turns, and they won’t be her last.

      The government is making a dog’s dinner of Brexit. May triggered article 50, setting a two-year time bomb ticking, without a plan. Six months later, she still doesn’t have a plan. The prime minister asked for creative solutions. But she didn’t provide any herself. She doesn’t have a creative bone in her body.

    • Report: HPE will shed 5,000 jobs starting before Christmas
    • Hewlett Packard Enterprise Is Said to Plan About 5,000 Job Cuts

      Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. is planning to cut about 10 percent of its staff, or at least 5,000 workers, according to people familiar with the matter, part of a broader effort to pare expenses as competition mounts.

    • Trump’s Tax Plan: A Billion or Three for Guys Like Him

      What’s the largest personal stake a US president has ever had in legislation he signed into law? Whatever it was, it’ll be dwarfed by what Donald Trump’s signature will be worth — to himself — if Congress passes his proposed tax plan and puts it on his desk.

      If that happens, Trump will be effectively cutting himself a check from the US Treasury for several billion dollars.

      Call me cynical, but it seems that’s exactly what Trump has in mind. His plan just fits his tax situation — or what we know of it, without access to his tax returns — too perfectly.

    • Tenants Push Back Against Corporate Landlords During “Renter Week of Action”

      The vigil was just one of several actions popping off this week in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area — and across the nation. Renters in 45 cities are organizing protests from September 16 through September 24, during a nationwide “National Renter Week of Action and Assemblies” spearheaded by the Right to the City Alliance to fight back against the Trump administration’s threat to cut billions from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and to demand rent control and just-cause eviction policies.

    • Without Price Breaks, Rural Hospitals Struggle To Stock Costly, Lifesaving Drugs

      Hospital pharmacist Mandy Langston remembers when Lulabelle Berry arrived at Stone County Medical Center’s emergency department last year.

      Berry couldn’t talk. Her face was drooping on one side. Her eyes couldn’t focus.

      “She was basically unresponsive,” Langston recalls.

      Berry, 78, was having a severe ischemic stroke. Each passing second made brain damage more likely. So, Langston reached for the clot-busting drug Activase, which must be given within a few hours to work.

    • May’s breakup speech made Brexit sound magical … if you’re drinking Bacardi

      I see Boris Johnson is still redrafting his Brexit prospectus, most recently in a Daily Telegraph article that spent much of the week threatening to derail Theresa May’s major speech, if not to presage his own resignation. Why? Because that’s just the shit the Tories pull these days. There is nothing so perilously unstable they couldn’t somehow contrive to destabilise it further. Nothing gets them hotter than the clock ticking or the possibility of running each other out. Instead of taking back control they find new ways to be incontinent. You can tell the people who got us into this mess were former journalists, because despite having just the 50 years to work out what type of deal they wanted, the cabinet is doing it right on deadline.

    • Sadiq Khan: London mayor who took on Trump won’t flinch in fight with Uber

      Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim mayor of a western capital city, is no stranger to making powerful enemies, and few come as mighty and ill-tempered as Donald Trump. The mayor of London and the US president have clashed several times – spats that appeared engineered by Trump to show who’s boss. Khan has not flinched, chastising and ridiculing Trump with apparent relish.

    • Uber’s London licence revoked by TfL: Reaction seriously divided in the Capital

      TfL stated that “Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility”. It has been accused of failing to properly report criminal offences, obtain valid medical certificates, and of blocking official regulators from transparency about its operations.

    • Uber Losing Battle in London After Regulator Revokes License

      Transportation authorities in London concluded Uber isn’t “fit and proper to hold a private hire operator license.” The agency cited a failure to do proper background checks on drivers, report crimes and a program called “Greyball” used to avoid regulators.

    • Mark Zuckerberg will no longer try to reclassify Facebook stock to fund his philanthropy [sic]

      He still plans to sell up to 75 million shares over the next year and a half — worth $13 billion at today’s price.

    • The Tories found £1bn for the DUP. But they won’t help our hurricane-hit islands

      Hurricane Maria is fast approaching the British territory of Turks and Caicos, while thousands of people in British overseas territories continue to struggle with Hurricane Irma’s fallout. They have yet to hear the government’s long-term plan to provide the support and funds they will need to rebuild their communities.

      These are national disasters in British territories, but the government is not living up to its responsibility for dealing with the outcomes, as it would for a disaster on British soil.

    • Has Theresa May made an important promise on the post-Brexit rights of European Union nationals in the UK?

      No, not the £350 million – we may be getting back full control over our own laws, but not the laws of arithmetic. I mean this one, signed by three current members of the Cabinet, Boris Johnson, Priti Patel, and Michael Gove:

      “There will be no change for EU citizens already lawfully resident in the UK. These EU citizens will automatically be granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK and will be treated no less favourably than they are at present.”

    • G20 – they colonized our future

      When Beethoven composed his ‘Ode to Joy’ in 1824 he probably wouldn’t have thought that merely 200 years later the Donald Trumps of this world would listen to it, while the masses are rioting in the streets outside. Actually, not all people became brothers during the G20 summit on July 7 – 8 in Hamburg this year. Three months later fiery public debates about the tremendous violence during the summit days still continue and every day more coverage of police violence against protesters crops up in social media.

      Apart from that, major media outlets still seem to refuse any coverage on the realistic alternative policy approaches that were framed and discussed e.g. during the Alternative Summit on July 5–6. So the world has gone back to business as usual and the question “what actually changed with the protests?“ sounds ever-increasingly ironic. But why is that so? As activists are our protests maybe failing to address a crucial aspect of the G20’s power?

    • Britain must accept ambiguity to survive Brexit

      Brexit is written in binary code. It is all zeros and ones – out of the European Union or in. In his long Telegraph essay last weekend, the British foreign secretary and totem of the Leave campaign Boris Johnson reiterated the iron imperatives of last year’s referendum: “The choice was binary. The result was decisive. There is simply no way – or no good way – of being 52 per cent out and 48 per cent in.”

      This has an impeccable logic, in the way mad things often do. In her speech in Florence on Friday, Johnson’s supposed boss Theresa May was trying, in her own weak way, to tweak that logic, to find some wriggle room in the relentless bind of the binary.

      The concrete content of the speech may be less important than its signal of distress – though whether May is waving or drowning remains an open question. She is edging towards some way to be – however temporarily – at least a little bit in while moving out.

    • Lexit: defeatism dressed as ambition

      Lexiters are deluded: Brexit is a right-wing project. The future of the UK left is with the European left, in the international struggle. This piece, introducing our “Looking at Lexit” series, is paired with a “Lexit” argument by Xavier Buxton.

    • Lexit: looking forwards, not backwards
    • Looking at Lexit: mission statement
  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Michigan Governor Unleashes “Citizens United on Steroids”

      Less than six hours after its passage by the Republican-controlled state legislature, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law this week a measure that, effective immediately, allows candidates to raise unlimited sums of money for super PACs, which can then promptly spend that money supporting those candidates—or attacking their rivals.

      It also allows consultants to simultaneously work for a campaign and a super PAC at the same time, making a joke of the supposed independence of the two groups.

    • Obama tried to give Zuckerberg a wake-up call over fake news on Facebook
    • Manafort Planning to Leave US — as Mueller’s Team Prepares to Indict Him in Russia Probe
    • Meet Trump’s controversial Federal Election Commission pick
    • ‘Battle of the Sexes’ Then — and Now
    • Kushner used private email to conduct White House business

      Presidential son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has corresponded with other administration officials about White House matters through a private email account set up during the transition last December, part of a larger pattern of Trump administration aides using personal email accounts for government business.

      Kushner uses his private account alongside his official White House email account, sometimes trading emails with senior White House officials, outside advisers and others about media coverage, event planning and other subjects, according to four people familiar with the correspondence. POLITICO has seen and verified about two dozen emails.

    • Jared Kushner used private email account to conduct White House business: report
    • Just What Is a ‘Dotard’ Anyway?

      Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump are not only threatening to destroy one another’s countries — now they’re both playing a game of lethal name-calling. Jong-un lashed out at Trump on Thursday in response to his terrifying declaration to “totally destroy” North Korea if provoked by Jong-un. In addition to implying that Trump is a “frightened dog” (and it’s hard to disagree with him on that front), Jong-un said, “I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire.”

      For the sake of comic relief among this beyond-chilling discourse, let’s take a second to examine Kim Jong-un’s choice of words. What exactly is a “dotard,” and should it become our favorite new nickname for Trump?

    • After NBA’s Stephen Curry Rejects Trump’s Whitehouse Invitation, the Disgruntled President ‘Withdraws’ It
    • Science fails to make an impact in forthcoming German elections

      With German chancellor Angela Merkel’s party coming out on top in all recent polls, an upset in the forthcoming elections on Sunday seems unlikely. But scientists looking for commitments on spending on R&D, however, have been met with often nebulous promises.

      Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has been the biggest party in the governing coalition since 2005, and this isn’t expected to change. To gain a parliamentary majority, however, the CDU is expected to need to form a coalition. It is possible that to govern the CDU will once again have to make common cause with Germany’s second largest party, the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD).

    • Documents show first government payments to Trump’s businesses
    • Paul Manafort may hold the key: Who was he really working for?
    • Home Tweet Home
    • The Donald vs The King
    • NBA Star Lebron James: Don’t Let Trump Use Sports to Divide Us

      Lebron James, NBA all-star and one of the nation’s most high-profile athletes, released a video Saturday night to further explain why President Donald Trump must be challenged for his divisive language and behavior regarding racism, white supremacy, and his latest calls for professional athletes who do speak out on such issues to be fired or otherwised punished.

      For Trump to use the platform of sports to “divide us even more,” says James in the 2-minute video, “it’s not something I can stand for and it’s not something I can be quiet about.”

    • I Helped Create Facebook’s Ad Machine. Here’s How I’d Fix It

      If democracy is to survive Facebook, that company must realize the outsized role it now plays as both the public forum where our strident democratic drama unfolds, and as the vehicle for those who aspire to control that drama’s course. Facebook, welcome to the big leagues.

    • Facebook’s racist ad problems were baked in from the start

      Reckoning with its ad sales model is just one of the hard facts that Facebook is waking up to. (Google, its search engine less of a lightning rod for controversy, is remaining more tight-lipped.) The broader issue, one this ad controversy illustrates, is Facebook’s inability to grapple with the power and influence it’s amassed, and how vulnerable that influence is to bad actors eager to exploit it.

    • Facebook Scraps New Share Class in Rare Win for Investors

      CEO also gives up proposal that let him serve in government

    • Zuckerberg abandons plan to reclassify Facebook stocks

      “In fact, we now plan to accelerate our work and sell more of those shares sooner. I anticipate selling 35-75 million Facebook shares in the next 18 months to fund our work in education, science, and advocacy.”

    • ALEC’s Corporate Board Leads…in Federal Violations

      The federal government has slapped eight of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) known corporate board leaders with more than $6.2 billion in federal fines and penalties for misconduct or corporate crimes since 2000.

      The leading ALEC scofflaws include pharmaceutical giant Pfizer ($4.350 billion), Exxon Mobil ($715 million), Koch Industries ($657 million), AT&T ($421 million), United Parcel Service ($35 million), alcohol multinational Diageo ($17 million), Peabody Energy ($16 million), and Altria (owner of Phillip Morris, the largest U.S. cigarette manufacturer) ($7 million).

      The companies pay thousands of dollars each year to sit on the “Private Enterprise Advisory Council” of ALEC, a pay-to-play organization that lets its corporate members rub elbows with lawmakers and draft bills promoting their interests for legislators to take back home to their states. ALEC re-branded its corporate board as an “advisory council” in 2013 after Common Cause and CMD filed a complaint against the group with the IRS for being a corporate lobby masquerading as a charity.

    • The Silent Terrorism on Our Doorsteps

      Can you name the location of the two most deadly US mass shootings of 2017? And, can you identify what the two events had in common?

      The answers?

      The Sept. 10 killing of eight in Plano, Texas, and the May 27 killing of eight in Bogue Chitto, Mississippi. The link? Both were acts of domestic violence.

      Were the mass murders covered by portions of the US media? Yes. Were they given the same level and intensity of coverage as instances of national and international ”terrorism” with far fewer, or even no, fatalities? No. Not even close. In fact, many people in the US could be forgiven for not having heard of what happened in Plano or Bogue Chitto, let alone that these were instances of domestic violence.

    • Labour must end May’s ‘hostile environment’ for migrants in the NHS

      Jeremy Corbyn has attracted support in his leadership and general election battles due in part to his firm position against privatisation in general – including NHS privatisation – and also due his history of support for migrants and anti-racist organising.

      Yet Labour’s health policy platform is currently limited – as pointed out in this excellent recent article by Allyson Pollock. And the party appears to have no formal policy and little to say in public about the “hostile environment” the government has been creating for migrants.

      The government is trying to blame the severe and growing NHS funding crisis on migrants, but this is a distraction. The numbers don’t add up: ‘deliberate health tourism’ costs, at most, £300 million a year – just 0.3% of the overall NHS budget. The costs that can be recouped by charging people for their care are a drop in the ocean for the NHS, but potentially ruinous for patients now being landed with multi-thousand pound bills – or being put off accessing healthcare altogether.

    • Trump Flux

      It took Donald Trump, a buffoon incapable of holding a serious thought, to change that sense of things.

      As a thinker, Trump is a non-entity who has not, and obviously cannot, change political theory. But he has profoundly affected the lived experience of those who do think, casually or in more sustained ways, about the politics of the country he leads.

      Thanks to the peculiarly undemocratic way we elect presidents, and thanks to Hillary Clinton’s ineptitude, a troubled male adolescent in an old man’s body now holds power enough to turn the world into a wasteland. And because his mind does indeed resemble an ever-changing river, nothing now does stay still for we inhabitants of Trumpland.

    • Trump is assembling the most male-dominated government in decades

      They were military and business leaders, political insiders, novices and lords of finance. But the parade of job seekers to Trump Tower last winter almost all had one thing in common: they were men.

      The work of staffing the federal government has since lost its casting-call quality, but little appears to have changed.

      A new analysis shared exclusively with the Guardian has found that 80% of nominations for top jobs in the Trump administration have gone to men – putting Donald Trump on track to assemble the most male-dominated federal government in nearly a quarter-century.

      Without a significant shift, men will outnumber women four-to-one in top positions of the Trump administration.

    • Ivanka Trump Faces Courtroom Showdown Over $785 Sandals
    • “I want to be Prime Minister for ten years” – Jeremy Corbyn’s vow as he reveals how he relishes taking on Tories

      His Labour Party will be in peak fighting form by Christmas with candidates in nearly every target seat.

      But if Theresa May clings on until 2022, when the next election is due, he would be 83 before he left No10.

    • France’s far-left leader urges French ‘resistance’ against Macron

      French far-left opposition party leader Jean-Luc Melenchon drew tens of thousands to a rally on Saturday against President Emmanuel Macron’s labor reforms, aiming to reinforce his credentials as Macron’s strongest political opponent.

      Trade union protests against Macron’s plan to make hiring and firing easier and give companies more power over working conditions seem to be losing steam, but Melenchon said his “France Unbowed” party was calling on unions to join them and together “keep up the fight”.

      “The battle is not over, it is only starting,” Melenchon told the crowd gathered on the Place de la Republique where the rally against what Melenchon has called “a social coup d‘etat” ended.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • A petition to demand accountability from the NSA

      Fritz Moser, director of the documentary A Good American, about NSA whistleblower Bill Binney who blames the 9/11 attacks on the NSA’s capture by corporate contractors who sold it an expensive, useless, self-perpetuating mass-surveillance system, writes, “Since 6 Sept A GOOD AMERICAN is on Netflix and since then I am getting between 10 and 20 emails per day of people telling me how shocked they were by the film and how angry they are, asking what they could do to help. So we came up with this petition.

    • Instagram still hasn’t finished rolling out its archive [sic] feature
    • Counterintelligence for Cyber Defence
    • WhatsApp is unlikely to support Theresa May’s backdoor demands [Ed: WhatsApp will send private keys (copies) to Facebook. So the Tories can still spy, by pressuring Facebook. Media doesn't say this.]

      Sky News, a Murdoch outfit, reports that the UK Government demanded that WhatsApp comes up with a way to offer access to encrypted messages this summer and that the chat thing would have none of it.

    • Microsoft, Facebook, Complete Enormous Undersea Cable

      Microsoft, Facebook and global telecommunication infrastructure company Telxius have completed the Marea subsea cable, the world’s most technologically advanced undersea cable. The Marea crosses the Atlantic Ocean over 17,000 feet below the ocean’s surface, connecting Virginia Beach with Bilbao, Spain.

    • Microsoft and Facebook’s 160Tbps transatlantic undersea cable carries more data than any other

      Facebook wants people to hop on its social network and share their data with the company; Microsoft wants to make its wide range of cloud services, including Office 365, Skype, Xbox Live and the Azure platform more easily available in new markets.

    • Taylor Swift’s fans make the best online sleuths. What can they teach me about social media?

      The juiciest details are rarely to be found on page one, or even page 36 of Google search results – they are in the gaps, and you might be surprised at just how easy it is to fill them. That is precisely the case against the retention of metadata, in fact: that it only describes content is of little comfort when you can find so much out by connecting the dots.

    • Airport Police Demanded An Activist’s Passwords. He Refused. Now He Faces Prison in the UK.

      IT WAS NOT the first time Muhammad Rabbani had problems when returning to the United Kingdom from travels overseas. But on this occasion something was different — he was arrested, handcuffed, and hauled through London’s largest airport, then put into the back of a waiting police van.

      Rabbani is the 36-year old international director of Cage, a British group that was founded in 2003 to raise awareness about the plight of prisoners held at the U.S. government’s Guantanamo Bay detention site. Today, the organization has a broader focus and says it is working to highlight “the erosion of the rule of law in the context of the War on Terror.” Due to its work campaigning for the legal rights of terrorism suspects, Cage has attracted controversy, and Rabbani has faced the government’s wrath.

      His trouble at Heathrow Airport in late November began with a familiar routine. Often, on his return to the U.K. from foreign trips, he was stopped by police and questioned under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act – a sweeping power British authorities can use at the border to interrogate and search people without requiring any suspicion of wrongdoing. People questioned under Schedule 7 have no right to remain silent or receive legal advice, and they can be interrogated for up to nine hours. Rabbani estimates that he has been stopped under Schedule 7 about 20 times. Usually, he was let free after a few questions without any charges or arrest. But not this time.

    • Secret documents reveal: BND attacked Tor and advises not to use it

      The story begins a few weeks prior to the annual SIGINT Development Conference in 2008 when BND hackers “developed the idea of how the Tor network could be monitored relatively easily”, according to internal BND documents. In March 2008, the spy agency filled in its partners from the US and UK. During a visit of a foreign delegation to Munich, a BND unit presented “the anonymity network Tor and a possible disbandment of the anonymity feature”. In order to implement the plan, the BND hoped for “an international cooperation with several foreign intelligence agencies”.

      Both NSA and the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) expressed “a high interest” and offered support. The three secret services decided on further meetings and the creation of a project group. The BND hackers told the NSA about “a possibility to penetrate the Tor network”, a term commonly used for the infiltration of IT systems. In this case, the data suggests that the spy agencies wanted to exploit a design decision Tor publicly specified.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Saudi Women Were Allowed into a Sports Stadium for the First Time in the Kingdom’s History

      Saudi Arabia is celebrating the 87th anniversary of its founding this weekend, and on Saturday it allowed women into the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh for the first time for a special pageant operetta.

    • Miss Turkey stripped of her crown over coup tweet

      The winner of Miss Turkey 2017 has been stripped of her crown after one of her past tweets came to light.

      Itir Esen, 18, had shared a post referencing last year’s coup attempt, comparing her menstrual cycle to the spilt blood of “martyrs”.

      The competition’s organisers said the tweet was “unacceptable” and confirmed their decision to dismiss her, just hours after she won.
      Ms Esen has since said, via Instagram, that she was not being political.

      The tweet was posted around the first anniversary of the 15 July coup attempt, when nearly 250 people died fighting an army uprising.

    • Colin Kaepernick Stood Up for Justice by Kneeling During the National Anthem

      Colin Kaepernick has not been involved in “off-field” scandals, has committed no crime, and has donated almost $1 million to community organizations over the last year, yet the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback is considered an outcast for kneeling during the national anthem.

      Why?

      Some say it’s because football is no place for politics. Not true. Gameday at every American stadium includes people waving signs endorsing candidates and offering literature for this or against that. Singing the anthem while jets fly overhead is a political moment. On the field or in the stands, standing at attention with your hand over your heart is a political statement.

    • From Louis Armstrong to the N.F.L.: Ungrateful as the New Uppity

      The free-range lunacy of Donald Trump’s speech on Friday night in Alabama, where he referred to Colin Kaepernick—and other N.F.L. players who silently protest police brutality—as a “son of a bitch,” and of the subsequent Twitter tantrums in which the President, like a truculent six-year-old, disinvited the Golden State Warriors from a White House visit, illustrates that the passage of six decades has not dimmed this dynamic confronted by Armstrong, or by any prominent black person tasked with the entertainment of millions of white ones. There again is the presence of outrage for events that should shock the conscience, and the reality of people who sincerely believe, or who have at least convincingly lied to themselves, that dissenters are creating an issue where there is none. Colin Kaepernick began his silent, kneeling protest at the beginning of last season, not as an assault against the United States military or the flag but as a dissent against a system that has, with a great degree of consistency, failed to hold accountable police who kill unarmed citizens. Since he did this, forty-one unarmed individuals have been fatally shot by police in the United States, twelve of them African-American, according to a database maintained by the Washington Post. The city of St. Louis recently witnessed three days of protests after the acquittal of the former police officer Jason Stockley, who, while still working for the S.L.P.D., fatally shot Anthony Smith, an eighteen-year-old African-American motorist who had led officers on a chase. Stockley emerged from his vehicle, having declared that he would “kill the motherfucker,” then proceeded to fire five rounds into the car. Later, a firearm was found on the seat of Smith’s car, but the weapon bore only Stockley’s DNA. The issue is not imaginary.

    • Kim Jong-un, the NFL and ‘Screaming at Senators’: Trump’s Strange Night in Alabama

      The president also dwelled on NFL players who take a knee during the National Anthem in peaceful protest. He asked the crowd, “Wouldn’t you love one of the NFL owners when someone disrespects our flag, ‘get that son of a bitch off the field right now.’” He told attendees, “If you see it, leave the stadium, I guarantee things will stop.”

      Since 2016, a number of African American NFL players have taken a knee during the National Anthem. It was spurred by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick who was the first to do so in protest what he saw as oppression of people of color. Several other players have since followed suit and it has sparked national controversy.

    • NBA Union Head Chris Paul Challenges Trump’s Manhood in Twitter Blast Over Black Athlete Attacks

      NBA star and head of the Players’ Union, Chris Paul, fired back at Donald Trump on Twitter Saturday. Over the last 24 hours, the President took shots at both NBA superstar Stephen Curry and ex-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

      Friday night, Trump called Kaepernick a “son of a b*tch” during a speech in Alabama, before uninviting Curry to the White House via Twitter Saturday morning (after Curry said he didn’t want to go).

    • Lebron Calls Trump a “Bum” After President Attacks Protest of Yet Another Black Athlete

      U.S. territory Puerto Rico is in utter ruins, with nearly the entire island without power and a failing dam threatening tens of thousands of people, on Saturday.

      High-stake tensions as international worries continue about North Korea’s testing of nuclear weapons and the U.S. military’s provocative show of force with South Korea.

      A Republican effort, though faltering, to strip Medicaid and other healthcare coverage from millions of people in the U.S. Senate.

      Wars without end in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elswhere amid news this week that Trump wants to loosen restrictions on the U.S. military borderless overseas drone program.

    • Calling Kaepernick ‘Son of a Bitch,’ Trump Urges NFL to Fire All Protesting Players

      Civil libertarians, racial justice advocates, and NFL players from across the league expressed outrage overnight after President Donald Trump called on owners of professional football teams to fire players who express their political views.

      In a veiled reference to quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who last season started a wave of protest by kneeling during pre-game National Anthems in protest of police killings of unarmed black men, Trump said during a campaign-style rally in Alabama on Friday night, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of the NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now?’”

    • Trump delivers unhinged rant on NFL, calls Colin Kaepernick a ‘son of a bitch’

      During a 90-minute speech in Alabama, purportedly to support Senator Luther Strange who faces a special primary election next Tuesday, Trump diverted into an extended rant on the NFL.

      His ire was focused primarily on Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players who have participated in silent protests during the national anthem.

    • Who Are the “Alt-Right”? On the Rise of Reactionary Hatred and How to Fight it

      With the rise in public visibility of far-right-wing militants in the U.S. following the events in Charlottesville, much of the public is scrambling to understand just what this movement is and what forces are driving it. With much of the public discussing strategies for how best to fight right-wing extremism, the need for constructive solutions is greater than ever.

      First and foremost, it’s important to point out that public support for far-right extremists is miniscule. The vast majority of Americans reject this movement’s violence and hatred. According to a Marist survey from the summer of 2017, just 4 percent of Americans said they support “white supremacy movement” or “white nationalism.” Similarly, just 6 percent embraced the term “alt-right.” Still, there is a legitimate concern that support for right-wing bigotry may grow in the future if left unchecked.

    • The CIA: 70 Years of Organized Crime

      Donohue said the CIA doesn’t do anything unless it meets two criteria. The first criterion is “intelligence potential.” The program must benefit the CIA; maybe it tells them how to overthrow a government, or how to blackmail an official, or where a report is hidden, or how to get an agent across a border. The term “intelligence potential” means it has some use for the CIA. The second criterion is that it can be denied. If they can’t find a way to structure the program or operation so they can deny it, they won’t do it. Plausible denial can be as simple as providing an officer or asset with military cover. Then the CIA can say, “The army did it.”

      Plausible denial is all about language. During Senate hearings into CIA assassination plots against Fidel Castro and other foreign leaders, the CIA’s erstwhile deputy director of operations Richard Bissell defined „plausible denial“ as “the use of circumlocution and euphemism in discussions where precise definitions would expose covert actions and bring them to an end.”

      Everything the CIA does is deniable. It’s part of its Congressional mandate. Congress doesn’t want to be held accountable for the criminal things the CIA does. The only time something the CIA does become public knowledge – other than the rare accident or whistleblower – is when Congress or the President think it’s helpful for psychological warfare reasons to let the American people know the CIA is doing it. Torture is a good example. After 9/11, and up until and through the invasion of Iraq, the American people wanted revenge. They wanted to see Muslim blood flowing, so the Bush administration let it leak that they were torturing evil doers. They played it cute and called it “enhanced interrogation,” but everyone understood symbolically. Circumlocution and euphemism. Plausible denial.

    • UK trains Oman’s police and special forces in ‘public order’ tactics

      New of the training project, which came to an end in March, has been met with dismay by Omani rights campaigners. They say that the training included officers from Oman’s elite Northern Frontier Regiment, which they claim opened fire on protesters in 2011 during the Arab Spring.

    • British actor Colin Firth gets dual Italian citizenship after Brexit vote

      British actor Colin Firth, who has often played the role of a quintessential Englishman in his many films, has become an Italian citizen, Italy’s Interior Ministry said.

      “The very famous actor, who won an Oscar for the film ‘The King’s Speech’, is married to a citizen from our country and has often declared his love for our land,” the ministry said in a statement.

      Firth said he would remain a dual national, adding that his Italian-born wife would also be seeking British nationality.

      “We never really thought much about our different passports,” the actor said in a statement.

    • Banks To Check Accounts For Illegal Immigrants

      “After having unleashed cruel and unnecessary checks against migrants in schools, universities and hospitals, now Theresa May is forcing banks to become part of her xenophobic ‘hostile environment’. This destructive mania aimed at making the daily lives of people from often quite marginalised communities even more untenable serves no purpose other than to pander to certain currents of racist populism in society. But it’s not only migrants that will suffer as a result of these measures, as everyone in the UK will have to deal with the consequences of the surveillance state being increasingly entrenched in our lives.”

    • In America, Justice for Victims of Police Brutality Remains Elusive

      Three years after the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement rose to prominence in Ferguson, Mo., protests over a police killing of a black man have once again garnered national attention—this time in the neighboring city of St. Louis. The acquittal of a white former police officer, Jason Stockley, over the killing of a 24-year-old black man named Anthony Lamar Smith shows that justice is still elusive for black victims of police officers. However, the subsequent days of protests by St. Louis residents show that the power and influence of BLM has only grown.

      The fact that it took nearly six years for a trial and verdict in this case is quite telling. Smith’s fatal encounter with police took place in December 2011, three months before Trayvon Martin was shot in Florida and the term “Black Lives Matter” was coined. During the high-speed chase that ended Smith’s life, Stockley was recorded saying he was “going to kill this motherfucker, don’t you know it.” After directing another police officer to hit Smith’s car, Stockley walked up to the young man’s vehicle. He fired five times into the car, killing Smith. Stockley claimed Smith had a gun in his hand and that he killed him in self-defense. But prosecutors suspected that the gun found in Smith’s car was planted by the officer since it had only Stockley’s DNA on it, and none of Smith’s. It took the state more than four years just to bring charges against the man who took Smith’s life.

    • When Racism Lurks in the Heart of a Death Penalty Juror

      Exactly 80 years later another story about a scheduled execution, this time one that is all too real, is playing out; but, unlike that first episode of The Shadow, there is little chance of a tidy and fair resolution (much less “a death house rescue”). Indeed, absent an unlikely intervention, the state of Georgia will execute death row inmate Keith Tharpe by lethal injection on September 26, 2017.

      Also, unlike the condemned man in The Shadow’s fictional “Death House Rescue,” no one is arguing that Tharpe is innocent. Nevertheless, Tharpe’s attorneys argue he shouldn’t be put to death because, as has been widely reported, after Tharpe’s conviction and death sentence, Tharpe’s lawyers secured a prejudice-laden sworn affidavit from a now-deceased juror by the name of Barney Gattie.

    • Spanish Centralism or the Self-Defeating Hubris of the Authoritarian Mind

      Catalonia is, like all societies I know of, a diverse and ideologically divided one. There are many people there that identify overwhelmingly with a Catalan past, the Catalan language and, perhaps most importantly, uniquely Catalan patterns of social organization and civic comportment, ones that place an inordinate—at least in relation to traditional Spanish ones—emphasis on negotiation (as opposed to fiats), commerce as (opposed to strategic intimidation and war-making) rational inquiry and the primacy of personal conscience (opposed to obedience to broadly propagated social and religious orthodoxies).

    • Is Trump a White Supremacist? Yes, But So is America

      In recent days a foolish controversy has swirled regarding president Donald Trump. At issue is whether or not he can be labeled a white supremacist. There is no need for conjecture on this point. He most certainly is a white supremacist. But asking the question is utterly useless in a country whose very founding was a white supremacist project. Racist structures impact every facet of life in this country. Race determines where we go to school, live, work, or even if one is employed at all.

      Recently released data showed that black Americans are the only group in the country whose median income has decreased since 2000. Asians, whites, and Latinos have all experienced some degree of income growth during this period. Income inequality is worse for black people now than it was in 1979 . Even black families who manage to scrape their way into middle class status are more likely to see their children slip back into poverty

    • Police Militarization is a Threat to Tribal Sovereignty

      What would a police officer do with a grenade launcher? While the notion may seem wild, we’re about to find out.

      Congress initially authorized the Pentagon to give surplus military gear to police in 1990 to help fight the drug war, but complaints about the militarization of police and the belief that it tends to escalate police violence rather than curb it were continuous and bipartisan. Then, after police responded to Black Lives Matter protests in Ferguson armed to the teeth and deploying vicious dogs and tear gas onto civilians while brandishing loaded assault rifles, President Obama limited the military surplus program via executive order.

    • Victory for Immigrant Hunger Strikers: Lawsuit Challenges Slave Wages at Private Jail

      For three years now, incarcerated immigrants have staged hunger strikes and work stoppages to protest conditions at the Northwest Detention Center, an immigration jail in Tacoma, Washington, run by a private prison company that pays detainees as little as $1 a day to work in the jail.

      “This week folks were offered chips or a soup for several nights of waxing the floors, so not even $1 [per] day,” one person incarcerated in the jail recently reported to NWDC Resistance, an immigrant-led group fighting to end the deportation and detention of immigrants.

    • “Hands Off Pants On”: time to end gender-based abuse in the hotel industry

      Hotel housekeepers, bartenders, waitresses and cocktail servers – the majority of whom are women of color and immigrants – form the backbone of Chicago’s booming hospitality and tourism industry. Now these women are speaking out about their experiences of widespread and disturbing sexual harassment from guests. And they are calling for an end to the abuse. They are a part of the “Hands Off Pants On” campaign, a public awareness and legislative initiative to fight sexual harassment and sexual assault in the hospitality industry.

      Led by the Chicago Federation of Labor and UNITE HERE Local 1, the “Hands Off Pants On” campaign was born out of survey conducted in 2016 by UNITE HERE Local 1 of 487 women working in the Chicagoland hospitality industry.

    • The U.N. human rights chief reminds certain wealthy nations that torture is bad.
    • Trump Plays to White Nationalism From North Korea to NFL

      That is, the president of the United States casually threatened to commit genocide against an entire people, on the same medium where people celebrate the exploits of their cats.

      At home, Trump told a white crowd that it hurts the game of football “when people like yourselves turn on television and you see those people taking the knee when they’re playing our great national anthem.”

      He actually said “those people.”

      Trump figures it bolsters his popularity with white Christians, his key demographic, if he is seen to be feuding with black athletes of the NBA and NFL, and if he is seen threatening genocide against North Korea.

      The natural order of things, he is saying, is a hierarchy with rich white American Christians on top, and then middle class white Christians elevated above all but their own rich. All other “races” and social classes come at the bottom. And if they themselves decline to recognize this pecking order, they must be put down with taunts.

    • Why A Cop With A Tattoo That Looks Like A Nazi Symbol Is Still On The Job

      Philadelphia Police Officer Ian Lichterman has a tattoo on his left forearm of an eagle that looks a lot like the emblem adopted by the Nazi party during Adolf Hitler’s rise to power — the only difference being that there’s no swastika inside the wreath hanging from the bird’s talons. Just above the wings sits the word “Fatherland.”

      The tattoo was little known to the public until September 2016, a few weeks after Lichterman wore a shortsleeve uniform shirt while working crowd-control duty during protests outside the Democratic National Convention. Philadelphia resident Evan Matthews snapped a photo and posted it on Facebook, and it went viral, leading the police department to open an investigation into whether Lichterman, who’d joined the force in 2000, should face any discipline.

      “I am deeply offended by the tattoo and I think it is completely inappropriate for any law enforcement officer to have such a tattoo given its impact on those they are sworn to protect and serve,” Mayor Jim Kenney declared in a January press release, noting in a separate statement that police departments “need to be building trust, not offering messages or displaying images that destroy trust.”

    • Obama’s Guantánamo Legacy Lingers in Trump Era

      While President Trump has quickly developed a more violent record than Obama on drone warfare, immigration and other policy areas, Trump has thus far not embraced Guantánamo and made it his own the way that Obama did in 2009.

      The 41 prisoners who remained at the Guantánamo Bay prison camp when Obama left office continue to be the only prisoners in the camp, and the arbitrary regime continues almost entirely as it did under Obama. Trump’s odd tweets about Guantánamo, such as his tweet about the alleged recidivism rate of former prisoners, are about as meaningful and effective as his tweets about covfefe and the country needing to “heel.”

    • London mayor says Britain should not host President Trump on state visit

      London Mayor Sadiq Khan said on Sunday that it would be wrong for Britain to host U.S. President Donald Trump on a state visit, describing some of the U.S. leader’s views on Islam as “ignorant”.

      Khan and Trump have a history. During the U.S. presidential election campaign, Khan was among many people who spoke out against Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims entering the United States, an idea he said would play into the hands of extremists.

    • Trump’s Criticisms Incite More Protests at NFL Games

      President Donald Trump’s criticism of players who protest during the national anthem incited a mass increase in such activism Sunday, with more than 100 NFL players sitting or kneeling, others raising their fists and whole teams standing with locked arms to display unity.

      One team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, stayed in the locker room during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

    • NFL players, owners defy Trump on anthem protests

      National Football League players sat out, knelt and linked arms during pre-game national anthems played across the country and in London on Sunday, hours after U.S. President Donald Trump called on fans to boycott teams that do not discipline players who protest.

      In the first few games since Trump stepped up his criticism of NFL players, dozens of players and coaches of teams including the Baltimore Ravens, Jacksonville Jaguars, Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins did not stand for the anthem and took a knee, a gesture that began last year as a protest over police treatment of African-Americans and other minorities.

      The Pittsburgh Steelers waited off the field during the national anthem before their game against the Chicago Bears in Chicago to avoid “playing politics” in divisive times, coach Mike Tomlin said.

    • Donald Trump’s Allies Join His Crusade Against The NFL

      A political group with close ties to President Donald Trump is amplifying his attack on professional athletes who kneel during the national anthem as a form of protest.

      “Turn off the NFL,” reads a digital ad produced by the nonprofit America First Policies, which planned to begin spreading the message on social media Sunday afternoon.

      The ad includes a photo with Trump, hand over his heart, and a #TakeAStandNotAKnee hashtag. It follows Trump’s recent remarks, first delivered during a Friday night speech in Alabama, aimed at football players who have protested police brutality and other causes.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Verizon backtracks—but only slightly—in plan to kick customers off network

      Verizon Wireless is giving a reprieve to some rural customers who are scheduled to be booted off their service plans, but only in cases when customers have no other options for cellular service.

      Verizon recently notified 8,500 customers in 13 states that they will be disconnected on October 17 because they used roaming data on another network. But these customers weren’t doing anything wrong—they are being served by rural networks that were set up for the purpose of extending Verizon’s reach into rural areas.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • The EC accused of burying a report that found that piracy isn’t that costly

        “The 300-page study was delivered to the Commission in May 2015, but was never published. Until today – I have managed to get access to a copy. The study’s conclusion: With the exception of recently released blockbusters, there is no evidence to support the idea that online copyright infringement displaces sales.”

      • EU Piracy Report Suppression Raises Questions Over Transparency

        One of the most important aspects of online piracy is whether it affects sales. So, when the EU Commission spends 360,000 euros on a study to find out, one might think it would be useful to publish the results. Instead, Member of the European Parliament Julia Reda had to jump through hoops to obtain them. Why all the secrecy?

      • EU paid for a report that concluded piracy isn’t harmful — and tried to hide the findings

        Back in 2014, the European Commission paid the Dutch consulting firm Ecorys 360,000 euros (about $428,000) to research the effect piracy had on sales of copyrighted content. The final report was finished in May 2015, but for some reason it was never published– according to Julia Reda’s blog, the only Pirate in the EU Parliament.

      • Bell Calls for CRTC-Backed Website Blocking System and Complete Criminalization of Copyright in NAFTA

        Bell, Canada’s largest telecom company, has called on the government to support radical copyright and broadcast distribution reforms as part of the NAFTA renegotiation. Their proposals include the creation of a mandated website blocking system without judicial review overseen by the CRTC and the complete criminalization of copyright with criminal provisions attached to all commercial infringement. Bell also supports an overhaul of the current retransmission system for broadcasters, supporting a “consent model” that would either keep U.S. channels out of the Canadian market or dramatically increase their cost of access while maintaining simultaneous substitution.

      • Apple Extends iTunes Movie Rental Window to 48 Hours in United States
      • Apple now gives you 48 hours to watch a rented movie after starting it

        Apple has extended the period of time that customers have to finish (or rewatch) a rented movie to 48 hours. That’s up from the previous limit of 24 hours, as MacRumors noted earlier today. The clock starts when you begin watching rented content; you still have 30 days to hit the play button. Movies can be rewatched as many times as you’d like — or can fit in — during the 48-hour window.

      • Block The Pirate Bay Within 10 Days, Dutch Court Tells ISPs

        Dutch Internet service providers Ziggo and XS4ALL have been ordered to block The Pirate Bay. A ruling handed down today by The Court of The Hague compels the ISPs to block the infamous site within 10 days or face significant fines. The blocks will remain in place pending a final decision from the Supreme Court.

      • Roku Is Building Its Own Anti-Piracy Team

        Recent years have seen a rapid increase in the use of set-top boxes with pirate channels and add-ons. This has also affected Roku, but the popular media player is doing its best to keep its system pirate free. Two new job postings reveal that the company is putting together its own anti-piracy team.

Battistelli’s Club Med at the EPO – Part I: EPO Validation Agreement With Angola

Sunday 24th of September 2017 03:23:55 PM

From Friday:

Summary: A series contemplating Benoît Battistelli’s sudden interest in Angola, a country with no European Patents but plenty of connections to António Campinos

TODAY, on a Sunday, we begin a long new series about the EPO. The timing seems perfect.

The minutes of the June 2017 meeting of the EPO Administrative Council confirm that Battistelli has been authorised to open negotiations on a validation agreement with Angola (dated Friday). It’s the favourite day for the EPO to dump some words (e.g. in the intranet) or formal documents it prefers not to get noticed. There are already internal jokes about those Friday ‘spills’… always check what’s being buried and where/why.

“There are already internal jokes about those Friday ‘spills’… always check what’s being buried and where/why.”The EPO’s new relationship with Angola is rather predictable; we wrote about the photo-ops before. Why Angola? It is not, after all, a former French colony. An HTML version of the validation agreement concluded with Tunisia in 2012 is now available for future comparisons. Remember that Angola is a former colony of Portugal and António Campinos is set up (or groomed) to become Battistelli’s successor, as we noted yesterday. Campinos is a dual French/Portugese national and his father, Joaquim Jorge de Pinho Campinos, was born in Lobito (Angola).

Does Angola really matter for the EPO? The numbers (of lack thereof) speak for themselves:

It’s not hard to see why it’s tempting to suspect a political aspect to all of this. Prepare for some rather embarrassing things (for António Campinos and Benoît Battistelli) to be shown over the coming weeks.

PTAB Supreme Court Case (Oil States) is a Case of Patent Parasites Versus the Producing Industry

Sunday 24th of September 2017 01:51:36 PM

Patent sharks want (and profit from) legal chaos

Summary: Ahead of the decision regarding Oil States (probably months away, some time next year), various influential sites confront the misleading and self-serving propaganda from the patent microcosm, e.g. law firms (to whom patent quality is a threat)

The Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) is one of the best things about the USPTO. It’s truly a shame that the EPO is nowadays driving away (to Haar) its own equivalent of PTAB. In this post we’d like to focus our attention on PTAB, having written about it 24 hours ago in relation to the Mohawk tribe.

“Who is it that spreads all the PTAB hate? The patent ‘industry’ (trolls, lawyers and so on).”Let it be understood, upfront, that PTAB is widely supported by scientists, technologists and their employers (including the very largest technology firms). Who is it that spreads all the PTAB hate? The patent ‘industry’ (trolls, lawyers and so on). Covering additional CAFC cases, PTAB basher Dennis Crouch wrote about NFC Tech v Matal a few days ago to state:

Following an IPR administrative trial, the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) concluded that the challenged claims of NFC’s U.S. Patent 6,700,551 are unpatentably obvious. The focus of the dispute is on a pre-AIA inventorship claim — The PTAB rejected NFC’s attempt to claim priority to its date of invention.

[...]

On remand, it looks like the IPR case will continue — in its original analysis, the PTAB did not actually determine whether the prototype embodied the claimed invention since it dismissed on other grounds. Thus, NFC is simply one step closer to success.

As we noted here back in August, Crouch and his blog (Patently-O) had become the loudest PTAB bashers out there, probably worse than Watchtroll (if that’s even possible). Crouch just does it with more ‘class’, being a university professor. His bias is showing though. Crouch tries to solicit attacks on PTAB in the form of briefs for the Supreme Court to read.

“Crouch tries to solicit attacks on PTAB in the form of briefs for the Supreme Court to read.”Crouch is of course not alone (albeit he’s almost alone among the professors/academics).

Joining the same sort of attacks (attempts to discredit PTAB) we have this guy who’s writing crap about the EFF in a patent troll’s blog (Dominion Harbor) — the same blog which defames me.

Among his latest tweets:

  • Visa wins rare 1 at PTAB: https://e-foia.uspto.gov/Foia/RetrievePdf?system=BPAI&flNm=fd2017004510-09-18-2017-1 … generating verification values passes 2nd part of Alice test [link]
  • More patent abuse at PTAB: mass spectrometric imaging of tissue sections rejected as “abstract idea” under 101 https://e-foia.uspto.gov/Foia/RetrievePdf?system=BPAI&flNm=fd2017000075-09-18-2017-1 … [link]

No, enforcing the law is not “patent abuse” but rather combating abuse of the patent system. Classic example of narrative reversal.

“No, enforcing the law is not “patent abuse” but rather combating abuse of the patent system.”Make no mistake about it; all those who attack PTAB seem to be people who produce nothing at all. They just try to tax those who do.

Josh Landau of the Communications and Computer Industry Association (which represents technology companies) has just come out with another long post about how PTAB IPRs (“inter partes reviews”) keep technology safe from patent trolls. To quote:

September marks the five-year anniversary of inter partes review (IPR), and Patent Progress is highlighting how successful the system has been at achieving its stated goals of increasing patent quality by providing a second look at invalid patents and decreasing costs by providing an efficient alternative to litigation. Last week, I showed that, in those 5 years, IPR has saved at least $2 billion in attorneys’ fees and other deadweight losses alone.

One of the most famous IPR successes is EFF’s IPR filed against Personal Audio’s “podcast patent.” Patent Progress has written about that case before, from early on when Personal Audio first asserted their patent to my post on how the STRONGER Patents Act would have prevented EFF from filing their IPR, as well as making it less likely to succeed, through to my story on the recent decision on appeal affirming its invalidity.

But that’s far from the only case where inter partes review has been used by non-profits, cities, small companies, and the U.S. government to defend themselves from patent trolls. In fact, there’s quite a few.

Jeff Roberts, a good journalist who had written in favour of patent reform for a number of years, wrote the other day: “helpful look at the IPR process, a key plank of patent reform that’s now in jeopardy…”

“We don’t really worry about Oil States because we are pretty certain that the Supreme Court will defend PTAB, taking into account creators rather than destroyers (litigators and trolls).”It’s about an article from another good journalist, Joe Mullin, who habitually exposes patent extremists who prey on people that actually create things (products, code and so forth). He wrote about the analysis from the Communications and Computer Industry Association (CCIA):

Five years ago this month, the first “inter partes review” began, a process laid out in the America Invents Act, which was passed in 2011. In a piece of legislation that was timid in its scope, the IPR process gave some hope to those in the tech sector who hoped to reduce the scourge of so-called “patent trolls.”

Now that IPRs are seeing their five-year anniversary, it’s a good time to take stock of the process. That’s especially true since the Supreme Court will take a close look at IPRs when it hears Oil States Energy Services v. Greene’s Energy Group, a case that challenges the constitutional basis of IPRs.

[...]

Josh Landau, a lawyer and pro-reform patent lobbyist at the Communications and Computer Industry Association, has written a blog post about the IPR anniversary with some back-of-napkin math estimating how much money IPRs have saved the US economy.

His conclusion: IPRs have prevented $2.31 billion of “deadweight losses” to the economy, mainly in the form of legal fees. How did he get there? Landau used data from defensive patent aggregator RPX that puts the average amount spent by a defendant facing a “non-practicing entity” (the polite term for patent troll) at $950,000. He then limited the universe he was looking at to only IPRs that were on patents that had associated litigations and in which the related litigation was stayed. In other words, he focused only on the subset of IPRs that objectively ended some type of litigation costs.

Using the average costs, Landau added up the cost of the litigation that would have gone on but for IPRs. The total was $3.95 billion. That money was saved by spending $1.637 billion on the IPR process, leading to a net savings of $2.31 billion.

“That’s approximately $460 million a year that companies can spend on creating new jobs and researching new technologies, instead of paying lawyers to write motions and argue in court,” Landau writes. “To me, those numbers say IPR has been a tremendous success.”

To be fair, there are some costs not accounted for in Landau’s rough estimate. For instance, he assumes that IPRs always end lawsuits. But in at least some cases, where the patent survives, the IPR process doesn’t lead to a quick settlement, meaning court litigation will continue.

We were pleased to see that even Spectator, a fairly influential publication over here, wrote about the subject under the headline “The Patent Troll Lobby Never Learns From SCOTUS” (the “troll lobby” being — among other things — sites like Watchtroll and Patently-O, which consistently help trolls).

To quote:

In 2007, the court ruled that obvious ideas like connecting a car’s control panel to electricity were not patentable, invalidating a troll’s joke patent, in KSR International v. Teleflex Inc. Then, in 2011, the court found that a law of nature (like, say, the law of gravity) could not simply be patented because someone had filed a patent with the words “apply it” involved in Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories. Then, in 2014, the court ruled that vague software patents were invalid in the case Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, invalidating one of the favorite weapons of patent trolls to hamstring innovators. And finally, this year, in TC Heartland v. Kraft, the court put serious limits on the venues in which patent lawsuits could be brought, effectively emasculating the patent trolls’ favorite tactic of bringing suits in the notoriously plaintiff-friendly East Texas District Court.

Again, all of these decisions were unanimous. However, as already stated, patent trolls once more think they have a winner. This time, their target is the Inter Partes Review process, a common-sense process by which the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), an offshoot of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) can invalidate patents that, for whatever reason, were granted erroneously. The trolls claim this process is unconstitutional, the USPTO obviously disagrees, and while it has previously declined to weigh in, this time the Supreme Court has decided to (literally) lay down the law, in the upcoming case Oil States Energy Services LLC v. Greene Energy Group.

As is commonly the case in such disputes, both sides of the case argue from seemingly ironclad constitutional precedent. Ryan Davis of Law 360 has explained their respective interpretations of the law ably, but to summarize briefly, the central point that seems the most likely to decide the case is whether the Inter Partes Review process strips legitimate private property rights from patent owners in an unconstitutional fashion, or whether it merely acts as a continuing use of the USPTO’s well-established power to decide whether the supposed rights in question are enforceable at all. Further, there is some question as to whether the over-a-century-old case of McCormick Harvesting Machine Co v. Aultman & Co., which the trolls rely on to make their case, amounted to a rebuke of the patent office’s authority to reexamine patents on constitutional grounds, or merely on the grounds that such authority did not exist in the Patent Act at the time the case was decided, but has since been added.

[...]

In short, whatever the legal merits of Oil States, and there is plenty of reason to believe they are lacking, at a policy level, a finding for the trolls would be disastrous. One only hopes that the Justices keep up their continuing streak of recognizing such disasters and snuffing them out before they arrive. Then maybe, just maybe, the fifth time will be the charm for the patent bar’s increasingly desperate attempts to defend its own overreach.

We don’t really worry about Oil States because we are pretty certain that the Supreme Court will defend PTAB, taking into account creators rather than destroyers (litigators and trolls).

“The patent ‘industry’ has done everything possible to bypass patent quality control and circumvent true patent justice.”The other day, Ilya Kazi, senior partner of Mathys and Squire in London, mentioned PTAB and said that he “made use of material from US litigation in EPO proceedings” (he worked for British Gas in patent infringement action).

From his long article (which suggests PTAB-dodging, e.g. the Mohawk “scam”):

The surge in popularity of Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) review procedures in the US in the last few years is testament to the notion that the best way to defend US court patent infringement proceedings is to win a battle somewhere else instead. Although rarely considered (and often not applicable), somewhere else may sometimes be in Europe rather than in the US. I have made use of material from US litigation in EPO proceedings, putting the other side in a difficult position to try and deal with the EPO challenge without undermining their US position. The most satisfying such occasion resulted in a call from a US colleague shortly after spending only a few thousand dollars filing an opposition saying “I don’t know what you did, but we just had a call offering to settle everything, including the US litigation (which wasn’t going very well after years and millions of dollars) on favourable terms.”

Back in US courts, being (overly) aggressive can sometimes achieve results it arguably should not in an ideal world. More importantly, even if trying an aggressive and/or diversionary tactic fails and does not ultimately help a case, unless particularly egregious, it is not often particularly unhelpful and is unlikely to carry serious sanctions particularly in costs, or materially prejudice a case.

Little of this will be news to seasoned US litigators, although they might say that things have mellowed somewhat since the high water mark of early Eastern District of Texas cases. However, for Europeans faced with litigation in the US, cautions which might apply elsewhere do not necessarily apply to US litigation (and this varies somewhat from court to court) so while you should of course question costs and the need to take certain actions, don’t necessarily baulk at what US counsel suggests. Conversely, tactics applied in US litigation may not translate well elsewhere.

Notice the wording. It’s not about justice but about winning a case (at all costs!), so Justices in the US ought to see through these rhetorics. The patent ‘industry’ has done everything possible to bypass patent quality control and circumvent true patent justice. Justice is not the business model of law firms but the ‘business model’ of judges (who rely on reputation, consistency, and lack of decisions being overturned due to error of judgment). This is why we need PTAB not only in the US but also in Europe; sadly, however, Battistelli has diminished and severely assaulted the European appeal boards -- a mistake for which we'll pay for decades to come.

Fake News About Software Patents in the United States

Sunday 24th of September 2017 12:40:30 PM

Science fiction does not just predict the future but rather inspires it. Similarly, in patent lobbying, making ridiculous claims can change the outcome to the effect the lobbyists want (UPC, Alice and so on)

Summary: Spinning and twisting the facts (for so-called ‘alternative facts’), the patent microcosm is trying to give the impression that software patents are still fine in the US

THE previous post reminded readers that the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO), together with IBM, is trying to undermine Alice. They mislead the world. It’s a lobbying and PR campaign. IBM’s longtime asset, David Kappos (former USPTO Director), plays a role in that. But what role does crooked media play in the attempts to water down or suppress Alice? Actually, as we have been showing for years, such media is occupied or dominated by the patent microcosm.

“It’s a classic reversal of narratives, where the attacker is the “defender” and the attacked (defender) is the “aggressor”.”Yesterday, Matthew Bultman was at it again, spinning against Alice, as usual. He is habitually cherry-picking and using misleading language to make it seem as though the patent microcosm is right and still has might. He writes for Law 360, a news site which many people would wrongly assume to be objective. Hidden behind paywalls is this latest article of his, with the word “Surviving” in the headline (sometimes he puts “Attack” in his headlines). To Bultman, the one being sued “attacks” and the troll “survives”. It’s a classic reversal of narratives, where the attacker is the “defender” and the attacked (defender) is the “aggressor”. It’s appalling. Foreign policy officials often use similar linguistic tricks.

Here is the opening paragraph from Bultman:

Federal courts followed the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2014 Alice decision by invalidating scores of computer and software patents. But district courts are more often upholding patents in these types of challenges, new data shows, with a surprising twist coming out of the Eastern District of Texas.

Well, that assertion does not match the headline. At all. Back in summer we said that we had not seen (for a very long time) the Federal Circuit ruling in favour of any software patents. Nothing has changed since. I have been watching these things closely for about a decade and I call Bultman’s article — especially the headline — “fake news”.

“I have been watching these things closely for about a decade and I call Bultman’s article — especially the headline — “fake news”.”What do others say? Well, judging by the past week’s news, concerns about the death of software patents are widely expressed. Their demise is generally acknowledged by both sides. There is a “chilling effect on many non-practicing entities [trolls], which often assert ‘business method’ and software patents,” one site wrote some days ago in preparation for the “Patent disputes” roundtable (an echo chamber of patent maximalists). They are worried about the demise of software patents — a fact they cannot deny even publicly.

“Speaking at IPO meeting,” IAM said the other day, “acting USPTO director Matal predicts Congressional action on [Section] 101 reform amid concern over medical diagnostics.”

“Remember that Matal played a role in putting AIA in place.”Section 101 is fine as it is regarding abstract patents like software patents. As for medical diagnostics? That’s another domain…

Remember that Matal played a role in putting AIA in place. It paved the way to the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB). Matal is not perfect, but Iancu would probably be a lot worse.

Earlier on Professor Jason Rantanen wrote about a “second part of the Mayo/Alice inquiry” (basis for Section 101). To quote Patently-O:

The idea that courts describe patent claims in words other than those of the claims themselves during patent eligible subject matter inquiries is nothing new–to the contrary, it’s a frequent complaint about the Supreme Court’s patent eligible subject matter cases. Usually, it’s referred to as determining what the claims are “directed to,” or, in the second part of the Mayo/Alice inquiry, the search for an “inventive concept.”

As we shall show later today, Patently-O is still trying to undermine PTAB, which basically applies criteria like those in Section 101 in order to thwart software patents. It has already been said that it’s harder to enforce software patents in the US than in Europe (owing to EPO being rather defunct under Battistelli). Isn’t it incredible? The US went towards the light and Europe entered darkness. Patent profiteers look at it the other way around. Here is Bastian Best, for example, stating: “Kickstart your day with a good read!⚡️How to get your software patent allowed in Europe” (well, that’s a very bad way to start the day when you actually develop software).

Also just found via Bastian Best was this new article about a NON-CAFC case (United States District Court in Delaware). To quote:

The Federal District Court in Delaware recently denied a motion to dismiss a patent infringement case involving a video game networking technology patent based on the patent allegedly being invalid for lack of patent-eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. Despite all of the recent press regarding the so-called Alice test, which revised the test for patent-eligible subject matter, video game related patents are still obtainable and enforceable. It is critical that patent applications for these inventions be carefully considered, the patent applications be properly drafted and the claims be presented in a way that complies with the relevant test.

Guess what would happen if it was to reach CAFC…

“As we shall show later today, Patently-O is still trying to undermine PTAB, which basically applies criteria like those in Section 101 in order to thwart software patents.”The usual.

There is another new article about Alice, this time by Mark Nowotarski (who wrote to tell me that his article does not represent the stance of Fenwick & West). This third article in the “Surviving Alice” series still uses the word “survive” to reinforce the notion that quality control (PTAB) is death/killer, merely to be “survived”. What does the article show? Here is a portion:

Figure 1 shows how the PTAB ex parte appeals judges[8] have responded to Alice in the field of business methods. The blue curve shows the PTAB reversals as a percent of all decisions in the business method work groups from the first quarter of 2013 (before Alice) to the second quarter of 2017. There are typically 100 to 250 decisions in each quarter. These are “full reversals” in the sense that all rejections by the examiner including § 101, § 102, § 103, §112, etc. were overturned by the board. Some of these full reversals have new grounds of rejection introduced by the board[9]. The black curve shows the reversals where the board introduced a new ground of rejection under § 101. The new grounds were typically based on the claims for failing the Alice/Mayo test. Finally, the brown curve shows the reversals in which the PTAB did not make a new § 101 rejection, but nonetheless put in a footnote suggesting that the examiner review the claims under Alice.[10] Alice footnotes[11] started immediately after the Alice decision and abruptly ended in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Figure 1 also shows how examiners in the business method work groups responded to the reversals by the board. The green curve shows the reversals that the examiners subsequently allowed. The red curve shows the reversals that the examiners subsequently rejected with a new ground of rejection under § 101. Examiners can reject claims again after a reversal by the board but only with the approval of their art unit director[12]. This is normally a rare event, but it became standard practice in the business method work groups after Alice.

So here we have some measurable figures; we’ll focus on PTAB in our next post though. Focusing instead on Alice itself, see “‘Alice’ Before ‘Alice’”, “[t]he story of how the USPTO first began systematically denying patentability to software inventions long before Alice v. CLS Bank International.”

“Their overall message is, don’t bother with software patents.”It’s a “[w]ebinar on how to get software patents despite Alice,” Benjamin Henrion explained. So over time they try to devise new tricks to get past the restrictions and still they are failing to win cases. CAFC is about as convinced/impressed by software patents as the Supreme Court was, i.e. not at all.

Writing from Canada, Gowling WLG’s Georgi Paskalev and Benoit Yelle said about a week ago that “pure software algorithms might prove difficult to protect using patents.”

They reposted this days later in another site of the patent microcosm.

Their overall message is, don’t bother with software patents. Or “pure” software patents — whatever that actually means (software is just software). As we have been arguing and showing (with detailed evidence) for years, software patents are worth neither the money nor the effort. Unless the lobby of IBM can pull something off (i.e. changing the law), none of this reality will change any time soon.

IBM and IPO Continue Working Behind the Scenes to Undermine Alice and Promote Software Patents

Sunday 24th of September 2017 11:35:53 AM

Summary: The Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO), together with IBM (Manny Schecter, Marian Underweiser and others), is still trying to overturn Mayo and Alice

THREE years ago Alice came to change everything. It was the summer of 2014 when the US patent system became more ‘officially’ hostile towards software patents. Much has been written on the subject since then, including literally about a thousand articles here in Techrights (we regret not developing a detailed index page in Wiki form as we went along covering Alice; we had made one for the Bilski case).

“We constantly need to defend and advocate Alice; in absence of opposition to these saboteurs (usually the patent microcosm, which produces nothing but lawsuits) things can quickly change for the worse.”Alice is not a “done deal”, so to speak. Alice and Section 101 are constantly under attack. USPTO examiners often ignore the determination, instead relying on amorphous and dynamic guidelines, which contain loopholes for patenting software (a bunch of loopholes that courts don’t quite fall for).

We constantly need to defend and advocate Alice; in absence of opposition to these saboteurs (usually the patent microcosm, which produces nothing but lawsuits) things can quickly change for the worse. We have already named some of these saboteurs. They don’t quite keep it a secret (at least not effectively).

Yesterday we were reminded of the effect of stacked panels because Juve’s UPC specialist wrote: “Nine panelist @Vossius #UPC Conference to vote on new start date of #UPC. All: at some day in 2019″

“We have already named some of these saboteurs. They don’t quite keep it a secret (at least not effectively).”“I guess none of these panelists was a UPC sceptic,” I wrote. “Just gotta push the lie of Unitary Patent being inevitable.”

UPC is a great example of echo chamber politics. Lots of people with financial stake in the outcome keep misleading one another. It’s like a blind religion.

The same is true for software patents.

Just a short while ago IBM’s patent chief, Manny Schecter, wrote that “99% of respondents to a survey at the IPO Annual Meeting indicated that change is needed to reform patent subject matter eligibility…”

For those who don’t know what IPO is and how IBM is connected to it, see this article from February (we last mentioned it in May). IBM spearheads a propaganda campaign against Alice and it’s too shallow for them to hide. The FFII’s President responded to Schecter with, “this is what happens when you only ask the patent community. An echo chamber.”

“Lots of people with financial stake in the outcome keep misleading one another.”This is also what happens when IBM needs to rely on propaganda to harm software developers (with patent lawsuits).

We also see Steven Lundberg right there in the comments. Lundberg has long been a key part of the software patents lobby.

The EFF’s Vera Ranieri also commented on this instance of IBM pushing for software patents.

She asked: “Is this like asking foxes whether the henhouse should be left wide open?”

“The meddling in patent policy by IBM is rather telling; IBM views its future as never-ending blackmail and extortion using software patents.”IBM used to be “OK” towards Free/Open Source software in the late nineties, but right now it is an evil, aggressive, lying company. It's a patent aggressor. It is perfectly possibly/plausible that technology companies other than IBM (Microsoft for sure) want Alice thwarted and Section 101 changed, but they don’t actively push for it like IBM does. The meddling in patent policy by IBM is rather telling; IBM views its future as never-ending blackmail and extortion using software patents.

Professor Polk Wagner, Intellectual Property [sic] professor at Penn, responded to Schecter by saying: “Only narrowly losing to ‘Is water wet?’ I’m sure!”

In our next post we’ll talk about Alice trends and media spin that relates to it.

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) Gradually Champions Patent Quality, in a Spectacular Reversal on Its Past Ways

Saturday 23rd of September 2017 02:49:18 PM

Under Chief Judge Sharon Prost

Summary: Some of the latest actions and decisions from the Federal Circuit, which originally brought software patents to the United States and is now taking them away, gradually

LAST night we wrote about the Federal Circuit (CAFC) refuting Gilstrap yet again. We later updated our post with a statement from CCIA and then found this good coverage from a good journalist (a lot of those who cover patent issues are unfortunately with — and usually from — the patent microcosm). He summarised it as follows:

Not long after TC Heartland, though, the East Texas judge who hears more patent cases than any other turned down a motion to transfer by supercomputer maker Cray Inc., which was sued for patent infringement by Raytheon in 2015. Lawyers for Cray argued that, under the provisions of TC Heartland, their client was entitled to have its case in a home venue. But US District Judge Rodney Gilstrap disagreed and said that Cray’s ties to the district—a single salesperson, working out of his home—was enough to keep the case in the Eastern District.

Today, Gilstrap’s decision was reversed by the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which hears all patent appeals. In a 20-page decision (PDF), the three-judge panel directed the case against the Seattle-based tech company to be transferred.

Gilstrap’s decision to keep Raytheon v. Cray in his court turned the normally wonky area of patent venue into a scorching political issue. At a Capitol Hill hearing about patent reform, the judge was denounced by both Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), with Issa calling Gilstrap’s decision “reprehensible.”

Last week the patent microcosm wrote about a “declaration that, inter alia, the US patent is invalid, not infringed, and unenforceable.” This too was a CAFC case. To quote:

Allied then filed a declaratory judgment action in the US — asking for a declaration that, inter alia, the US patent is invalid, not infringed, and unenforceable. In the appeal here, the Federal Circuit has affirmed a lower court ruling that the DJ action is not based upon a “case of actual controversy” as required both by the Declaratory Judgment Act as well as the US Constitution.

It is good to see CAFC, which was originally worst of the worst (responsible for software patents in the US), changing its stance/stipulations on such matters. Watchtroll had gotten so angry about it that he called for dismissal of some CAFC judges and nowadays it’s relying on Trump for destruction of all the progress made. Watch Watchtroll’s political obsession, which four days ago culminated in this: “Trump’s selection for deputy director of management at the OMB, is an inventor who has received “14 successful U.S. patents,” an indication that someone knowledgeable about patents and the U.S. patent system will have a role in shaping U.S. policy on the budget for the executive branch, including the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.”

“Watchtroll had gotten so angry about it that he called for dismissal of some CAFC judges and nowadays it’s relying on Trump for destruction of all the progress made.”Under Trump, however, with Iancu likely in charge of the USPTO, there’s a growing danger that the Office will soon be run by the patent ‘industry’ rather than scientists and technologists. The Trump administration is certainly on a warpath of destruction if it ends up putting Iancu in charge of other patent radicals. See the new articles titled “Trump’s Path to IP Wars” and “Intellectual Property Laws: Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing”. Quoting the summary: “The excesses of IP law are now a serious obstacle to innovation and economic growth.”

The article says that “the CAFC has reshaped the law by lowering the standards for patentability and expanding the scope of patentable inventions to include software, business methods, and even parts of the human genome.”

“The Trump administration is certainly on a warpath of destruction if it ends up putting Iancu in charge of other patent radicals.”And where has that gotten us? That was the past. Things have changed. While the patent microcosm chooses to obsess over every case where CAFC rules in favour of a patent (this new example is not even a ruling but a reversal of dismissal where “the district court should now pick-up the case again and give the patentee a chance”), the reality of the matter is that CAFC finally learned its lesson (after the Supreme Court had overruled almost every single time) and last year admitted that software patents are an impediment to free speech and should thus be invalidated.

As we shall show later, the anti-Alice lobby rears its ugly head again, pushing for changes irrespective of what CAFC and the Supreme Court (the highest courts) are saying. Facts don’t matter to these people, only cash speaks to them.

“…here again we see CAFC rejecting the temptation to side with patent maximalists.”As a side note, the other day Patently-O wrote about a CAFC case and argued that “[t]he approach here then is for the State Court to first figure out ownership. Then, if it decides that Interactive is the owner, an infringement case can return to Federal Court.”

Sorry, Dennis Crouch, but patents have assignees, not "owners". You should be smart enough to know that. WIPR should know that patents are not owned but merely assigned, but it repeated similar wordings around the same time (with the word “ownership” right there in the headline even). To quote:

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has affirmed a ruling by the US District Court for the District of New Jersey that dismissed patent infringement claims centring on interactive software, and remanded questions back to the New Jersey Superior Court in a precedential ruling.

Eric Inselberg, the appellant, had invented various systems which audiences can use to interact with live events such as football games and live concerts.

The patents he received for his inventions were formerly held by Inselberg Interactive (also a party in the appeal).

[...]

The alleged patent law issues were “incidental and contingent” because Inselberg and Interactive were not the current patent owners, and neither were suing as the patentee.

McNulty dismissed the federal claims and remanded the state law claims back to state court.

Bisignano and First Data then appealed against the district court’s orders to the Federal Circuit.

The above certainly sounds like a software patents case, but we have not looked closely at the patents. Either way, here again we see CAFC rejecting the temptation to side with patent maximalists.

Not a good time to be in the patent ‘industry’…

The Mohawk-PTAB Fiasco Threatens the Tribe’s Reputation More Than It Threatens PTAB

Saturday 23rd of September 2017 01:53:28 PM

Since the patents are not even assigned to the Mohawk people, this whole “scam” accomplishes nothing


Photo credit: Sarah Stierch (CC BY 4.0)

Summary: In an effort to dodge scrutiny from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), Allergan Plc offloaded a lot of negative publicity onto the Mohawk people, owing primarily to the Mowhawk Tribe’s general counsel, Dale White

THE Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) has been making many headlines recently. The patent microcosm is trying as hard as it can to kill it. It cannot kill the people inside the PTAB (whom it vainly refers to as a “death squad”), so it wants to kill the entire institution. It’s appalling.

We were very sad to see the Mohawk people exploited, or virtually used as a sort of ‘instrument’ for killing PTAB. As some people have put it, the Mohawk tribe is now facilitating a "scam" (not our word). Don’t expect the patent microcosm to admit this. In fact, in some comments that we saw over the past week, all criticisms of this ploy are being dismissed or played down as being just a substance-less cry of “scam”. Far from it!

Earlier this week, in a site of the patent microcosm, Philippe J.C. Signore from Oblon wrote about this as a case for refreshing Constitutional Law recollection. Well, as patent radicalism is waning (the system has improved in recent years) they will try to crush the system. Here is what Signore wrote:

Article III also states that the judicial power of the U.S. is vested in the federal courts and judges. In its brief filed in August 2017, Oil States argued that IPR proceedings are unconstitutional because they are set up as adversarial judicial trials (as opposed to examination proceedings) of granted private property rights, and as such should be handled by Article III judges and not “administrative agency employees who are beholden to Executive Branch officials.” Oil States also argued that IPR trials resolve questions of novelty or obviousness, which “are precisely the same questions that English jurors resolved,” such that “they fall within the Seventh Amendment’s scope.”

The Eleventh Amendment of the Constitution has also made the patent headlines lately. This amendment bans lawsuits against individual states of the union, unless the immunity is waived. The immunity stems from the principle that states entered the federal system on the condition of keeping their sovereignty intact. In 1999, the Supreme Court interpreted the immunity of the Eleventh amendment as extending to state universities and agencies, recognized as arms of the state. As such, state universities cannot be sued for patent or trademark infringement (unless the immunity is waived or abrogated by Congress).

Earlier this year, in Covidien v. University of Florida, the PTAB refused to institute an IPR because it held that the patent owner, the University of Florida, should benefit from the immunity afforded to the States by the Eleventh Amendment. The PTAB reasoned that the “considerable resemblance” between IPR proceedings and civil litigation justified application of the sovereign immunity to the administrative proceeding. If this decision is affirmed, it would place state universities in the very enviable position of being able to sue for patent infringement in a federal court—without being subject to IPRs before the PTAB, and without being subject to infringement lawsuits.

Better change jobs if one relies on just suing lots of companies and trying to dodge legal challenges.

Three days ago we saw Susan Decker from the Wall Street media relaying the offensive analogy from a corrupt judge, who called PTAB a “death squad”. She wrote about the Mohawk fiasco and cited an extremist “who founded a group called US Inventor Inc.” (laughing stock of a tiny group). Why did Bloomberg decide to quote radicals like Paul Morinville? Or disgraced judges? Is that all that’s left to discredit PTAB by?

Decker said that “Allergan Plc’s decision to pay a Native American tribe $15 million a year rather than let one of its blockbuster drugs be scrutinized by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office is part of a backlash against an agency review panel that has been dubbed a “death squad.””

This so-called ‘backlash’ is orchestrated by the patent maximalists. It’s a made up controversy which the practicing industry has repeatedly refuted. Sites like Watchtroll and Patently-O worked very hard to scandalise PTAB and solicit briefs to that effect. So did Morinville, who burned papers in an unauthorised protest in front of the USPTO (like some Tea Party nut).

Managing IP, another key element of the patent microcosm, wrote about it several days ago (stating, in the headline, that this “could blow up the IPR system”):

If successful, Allergan’s eye-catching gambit of seeking to cancel PTAB proceedings by assigning patents to the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe would be a blueprint for others to follow. But will the PTAB rule that sovereign immunity applies in this case?

Then came Bristows, the UPC propagandists and the friends of patent trolls (even in Europe), with a headline that says “rip off consumers” [sic] (means customers). These are the mischievous people who openly lobby for patent trolls (even promoting them in the UK) — using words like “attack” to mean quality control (typical calls to weaken PTAB IPRs). It says that “according to this New York Times article, the Mowhawk Tribe’s general counsel, Dale White, said it was a Dallas law firm called Shore Chan DePumpo that first approached the tribe with the proposal.”

This highly dodgy entity was mentioned here before. To quote Bristows:

Critics have said that the move should fail because a company should not be able to shield its patents from review. The response, of course, being that they cannot completely shield their patents from any review – they will still be subject to federal court and the realm of Hatch-Waxman litigation (at least in this case). So the patents are, for now, not completely immune to the attack as stated by Allergan’s press release (although a different deal and parties could take a different position which could make the sovereign immunity v federal court position a bit murkier).

In the meantime, what seems clear is that this move is another flag to Congress that the IPR regime needs to be re-examined. Senator Brown, however, stated that he would look into how Congress can “close loopholes that drug companies exploit to avoid competition”. But perhaps a more holistic view as to all the issues in play is in order…

“The biggest problem with Allergan’s St Regis Mohawk deal is that the tribe may not own the patents,” IAM explained. They just (mis)use it for immunity and herein lies the great controversy. The Mowhawk Tribe’s general counsel, Dale White, got them into a scam. The tribe ought to fire him and ‘burn’ the patents (if at all possible). Any financial gain made through this ridiculous transaction is likely outweighed by the damage done to the tribe’s reputation already. Is this what they want to become synonymous with? Because many people will know nothing about the tribe except this episode.

Latest EPO Rumours Allege That Benoît Battistelli Rigged the Process of EPO President’s Selection

Saturday 23rd of September 2017 01:04:24 PM

Don’t mess with the École


Reference: Order of succession

Summary: António Campinos is quite likely the next EPO President, as insiders suspect that many applications for the job got rejected politically (turned down by political mischief)

THE German media believes that António Campinos will be the next head of the EPO (the Office, not the Organisation, whose Chairman will leave one week from now). Campinos is believed to be French, for reasons we explained before [1, 2], and he is close to Battistelli. Insiders suspect that Battistelli is already paving the way for Campinos to ‘win’ the job, as we previously explained in:

  1. It’s a Family Business: French Succession Plan at EPO After Battistelli’s Departure
  2. One Week Left for Battistelli’s Coronation of Another Frenchman, António Campinos, to Lobby for UPC?
  3. Rumours That Another Frenchman is the Only Candidate to Succeed Benoît Battistelli at the EPO

Imagine having 3 French Presidents (out of 4) in succession! Never mind the fact that much of the remaining management, dubbed Team Battistelli, is also French. What a coup! (French word)

“Insiders suspect that Battistelli is already paving the way for Campinos to ‘win’ the job”“According to sources close to the action,” one reader told us, “there are only two valid applications for the position of EPO President. One of these comes from Campinos as long suspected. The other is not yet clear but may be announced by the Administrative Council in October.

“It is rumoured that there were actually a lot of applications but most of the aspiring candidates did not secure the necessary approval of their home state.

“Imagine having 3 French Presidents (out of 4) in succession!”“What is not clear is whether the withholding of support for these applications was the result of an official high-level decision by the competent ministry or whether the Council delegations were manipulated by Battistelli to withhold support without referring the matter to their ministries.

“If Battistelli had in fact influenced the national delegations and manipulated them into blocking potential candidates then this could be a major political scandal. The Council delegates are ultimately answerable to their national governments via the supervising ministries and not to the EPO President.

“Given the lack of transparency at the EPO, it is unlikely that anybody will ever manage to uncover the real story about what is going in behind the scenes.”

“Public scrutiny is sorely needed (at the very least for justice) as lack of transparency at the EPO facilitates much mischief.”We were also barely able to verify claims that Jesper Kongstad had gotten pushed out (sacked) by his government. He is leaving next week (also his job at the DKPTO).

“At this stage,” our reader continued, “it seems almost certain that Campinos will be anointed as Battistelli’s successor in October or at the latest by December.”

If anyone out there has any additional information, please get in touch with us. Public scrutiny is sorely needed (at the very least for justice) as lack of transparency at the EPO facilitates much mischief. ILO ‘politics’ are also of interest to us.

We have another series coming soon. It will be focused on Battistelli with his string-pulling skills. He is, after all, a politician.

Links 23/9/2017: Mesa 17.1.10 RC, Samba 4.7.0, KStars 2.8.4

Saturday 23rd of September 2017 10:51:34 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Roughing it, with Linux

    I have been traveling for about two weeks now, spending 10 days camping in Iceland and now a few days on the ferry to get back. For this trip I brought along my Samsung N150 Plus (a very old netbook), loaded with openSUSE Linux 42.3.

  • Server
    • Finding the Mainframers of the Future Through Open Source Ecosystem Development

      Speak the word “mainframe” to many millennial techies, and the first things that likely come to mind are in the form of grainy sepia photos of floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall computers with big spinning tapes. But that’s far from the reality of the modern mainframe.

      Imagine instead up to 240 10-core, 5.2ghz processors, 32TB of RAIM (redundant array of independent memory), hardware-based encryption, and fully hot-swappable hardware components. Those are the specs of the newly released IBM z14 – a single machine that could replace the computing resources of an average corporate data center with room to spare.

    • Hybrid datacenter is Docker’s latest open source goal

      Docker, Docker, Docker — everyone’s talking about Docker. A surprising fact is that Docker wasn’t on anyone’s roadmap in 2014, but was on everyone’s roadmap just a year later. A lot of people are calling it the most phenomenal, amazing, and speedy adoption of technology that they’ve witnessed during their careers. But this sudden rise to fame hasn’t been a lonely one. Docker has shared this amazing growth spurt with an entire ecosystem of tools and services.

  • Audiocasts/Shows
  • Kernel Space
    • Open Source Summit in Los Angeles: Day 1 in 5 Minutes

      Open Source Summit North America in Los Angeles was packed with keynotes, technical sessions, and special presentations, including a conversation with Linux creator Linus Torvalds. In case you couldn’t make it, CodePop.com’s Gregg Pollack has put together some short videos recapping highlights of the event.

    • Heterogeneous Memory Management Made It For Linux 4.14

      Heterogeneous Memory Management is the long-time work-in-progress functionality by Jerome Glisse of Red Hat for allowing a process address space to be mirrored and for system memory to be transparently used by any device process.

    • A Set Of BFQ Improvements Ready For Testing

      Recently I wrote about a BFQ regression fix that should take care of a problem spotted in our recent I/O scheduler Linux 4.13 benchmarks while now that work has yielded a set of four patches working to improve this recently-merged scheduler.

    • A different approach to kernel configuration

      The kernel’s configuration system can be challenging to deal with; Linus Torvalds recently called it “one of the worst parts of the whole project”. Thus, anything that might help users with the process of configuring a kernel build would be welcome. A talk by Junghwan Kang at the 2017 Open-Source Summit demonstrated an interesting approach, even if it’s not quite ready for prime time yet.

      Kang is working on a Debian-based, cloud-oriented distribution; he wanted to tweak the kernel configuration to minimize the size of the kernel and, especially, to reduce its attack surface by removing features that were not needed. The problem is that the kernel is huge, and there are a lot of features that are controlled by configuration options. There are over 300 feature groups and over 20,000 configuration options in current kernels. Many of these options have complicated dependencies between them, adding to the challenge of configuring them properly.

    • The first half of the 4.14 merge window

      September 8, 2017 As of this writing, just over 8,000 non-merge changesets have been pulled into the mainline kernel repository for the 4.14 development cycle. In other words, it looks like the pace is not slowing down for this cycle either. The merge window is not yet done, but quite a few significant changes have been merged so far. Read on for a summary of the most interesting changes entering the mainline in the first half of this merge window.

    • Graphics Stack
      • Mesa 17.1.10 release candidate

        The candidate for the Mesa 17.1.10 is now available. Currently we have:
        – 41 queued
        – 0 nominated (outstanding)
        – and 5 rejected patches

        This is the last release for the 17.1 series.

      • Mesa 17.1.10 Is Being Prepped As The Final 17.1 Update

        J.A. Suarez Romero of Igalia is preparing Mesa 17.1.10 as the final point release for the Mesa 17.1 release stream.

        The release candidate is out today while Romero is planning to issue this final update to Mesa 17.1 by next week Monday, 25 September. Following that, users are encouraged to upgrade to the stable Mesa 17.2 series.

      • Running Android on a mainline graphics stack

        The Android system may be based on the Linux kernel, but its developers have famously gone their own way for many other parts of the system. That includes the graphics subsystem, which avoids user-space components like X or Wayland and has special (often binary-only) kernel drivers as well. But that picture may be about to change. As Robert Foss described in his Open Source Summit North America presentation, running Android on the mainline graphics subsystem is becoming possible and brings a number of potential benefits.
        He started the talk by addressing the question of why one might want to use mainline graphics with Android. The core of the answer was simple enough: we use open-source software because it’s better, and running mainline graphics takes us toward a fully open system. With mainline graphics, there are no proprietary blobs to deal with. That, in turn, makes it easy to run current versions of the kernel and higher-level graphics software like Mesa.

      • RADV Vulkan vs. RadeonSI OpenGL Performance With Linux 4.13 + Mesa 17.3-dev

        It’s been a few weeks since last delivering any large RADV/RadeonSI open-source AMD Linux graphics benchmark results due to being busy with testing other hardware as well as battling some regressions / stability problems within the AMDGPU DRM code and Mesa Git. But with Linux 4.13 stable and the newest Mesa 17.3-dev code, things are playing well so here are some fresh OpenGL vs. Vulkan benchmarks on three Radeon graphics cards.

      • Open-Source OpenCL Adoption Is Sadly An Issue In 2017

        While most of the talks that take place at the annual X.Org Developers’ Conference are around the exciting progress being made across the Linux graphics landscape, at XDC2017 taking place this week at Google, the open-source GPGPU / compute talk is rather the let down due to the less than desirable state of the open-source OpenCL ecosystem.

        Tom Stellard who formerly worked for AMD on their LLVM compiler stack and compute initiatives who recently joined Red Hat provided a “Current state of Open Source GPGPU” talk. It’s not too much of a surprise if you are up-to-date in your daily Phoronix reading and our close coverage of all things Linux GPU. But if you’re not a devoted reader or looking for an hour synopsis, check out his presentation embedded in this article.

      • VIA Graphics & Other Vintage GPUs Still Interest At Least One Developer In 2017

        Kevin Brace, the sole active developer left working on the OpenChrome driver stack for VIA x86 graphics, presented yesterday at XDC2017 about his work on this driver and how in the years to come he still hopes to work on other vintage GPU support.

        Brace’s work mostly covered his personal motivations, a brief history of Via Unichrome and the Linux driver options, and then his recent work on trying to get the OpenChrome DDX and DRM drivers into shape.

      • libinput and the HUION PenTablet devices

        HUION PenTablet devices are graphics tablet devices aimed at artists. These tablets tend to aim for the lower end of the market, driver support is often somewhere between meh and disappointing. The DIGImend project used to take care of them, but with that out of the picture, the bugs bubble up to userspace more often.

    • Benchmarks
      • AKiTiO Node: Testing NVIDIA eGPU Support in Ubuntu 17.10

        Ever since the announcement of Intel’s Thunderbolt 3 technology there has been external graphics card (eGPU) support. Unfortunately for most of last year, including with Intel’s own Skull Canyon NUC, putting this solution to use was challenging at best. Most motherboards didn’t fully support the technology and those that did typically required a system that was far more expensive. For example, the Skull Canyon NUC at release was $700, unconfigured. Adding SSDs and RAM usually bumped that up well over $1000.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Randa news, release update

        Last week, from wednesday to saturday I attended KDE’s annual Randa sprint organized by wonderful people. This was an occasion to work fulltime on Kdenlive.

      • Beautify Your KDE Plasma 5 Desktop Environment with Freshly Ported Adapta Theme

        Good morning! It’s time to beautify your KDE Plasma 5 desktop environment, and we have just the perfect theme for that as it looks like the popular Adapta GTK theme was recently ported to Plasma 5.

      • KDE Plasma 5.11 Desktop Will Be Coming to Kubuntu 17.10 Soon After Its Release

        KDE kicked off the development of the KDE Plasma 5.11 desktop environment a few months ago, and they’ve already published the Beta release, allowing users to get a first glimpse of what’s coming in the final release next month.

        Canonical’s Ubuntu Desktop team did a great job bringing the latest GNOME 3.26 desktop environment to the upcoming Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) operating system, and it looks like the Kubuntu team also want to rebase the official flavor on the forthcoming KDE Plasma 5.11 desktop environment.

      • Krita 3.3 Digital Painting App Promises Better HiDPI Support on Linux & Windows

        Work on the next Krita 3.x point release has started, and a first Release Candidate (RC) milestone of the upcoming Krita 3.3 version is now ready for public testing, giving us a glimpse of what’s coming in the new release.

        In the release announcement, Krita devs reveal the fact that they were forced to bump the version number from 3.2.x to 3.3.x because the upcoming Krita 3.3 release will be introducing some important changes for Windows platforms, such as support for the Windows 8 event API, thus supporting the n-trig pen in Surface laptops.

      • Randa-progress post-hoc

        So, back in Randa I was splitting my energies and attentions in many pieces. Some attention went to making pancakes and running the kitchen in the morning — which is stuff I take credit for, but it is really Grace, and Scarlett, and Thomas who did the heavy lifting, and Christian and Mario who make sure the whole thing can happen. And the attendees of the Randa meeting who pitch in for the dishes after lunch and dinner. The Randa meetings are more like a campground than a 5-star hotel, and we work together to make the experience enjoyable. So thanks to everyone who pitched in.

        Part of a good sprint is keeping the attendees healthy and attentive — otherwise those 16-hour hacking days really get to you, in spite of the fresh Swiss air.

        [...]

        You can read more of what the attendees in Randa achieved on planet KDE (e.g. kdenlive, snappy, kmymoney, marble, kube, Plasma mobile, kdepim, and kwin). I’d like to give a special shout out to Manuel, who taught me one gesture in Italian Sign Langauage — which is different from American or Dutch Sign Language, reminding me that there’s localization everywhere.

      • The Evolution of Plasma Mobile

        Back around 2006, when the Plasma project was started by Aaron Seigo and a group of brave hackers (among which, yours truly) we wanted to create a user interface that is future-proof. We didn’t want to create something that would only run on desktop devices (or laptops), but a code-base that grows with us into whatever the future would bring. Mobile devices were already getting more powerful, but would usually run entirely different software than desktop devices. We wondered why. The Linux kernel served as a wonderful example. Linux runs on a wide range of devices, from super computers to embedded systems, you would set it up for the target system and it would run largely without code changes. Linux architecture is in fact convergent. Could we do something similar at the user interface level?

      • KStars 2.8.4 aka Juli is released!

        Less than two weeks after the release of KStars 2.8.3 comes another minor bugfix release. Download KStars 2.8.4 for Windows, MacOS, and Linux.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Visual revamp of GNOME To Do

        I’m a fan of productivity. It is not a coincidence that I’m the maintainer of Calendar and To Do. And even though I’m not a power user, I’m a heavy user of productivity applications.

        For some time now, I’m finding the overall experience of GNOME To Do clumsy and far from ideal. Recently, I received a thank you email from a fellow user, and I asked they what they think that could be improved.

        It was not a surprise when they said To Do’s interface is clumsy too.

  • Distributions
    • Reviews
      • Endless OS 3.2 Review – The Offline Distro

        Endless OS is a free, easy-to-use operating system preloaded with over 100 apps, making it useful from the moment you turn it on. Endless takes Linux to a whole different dimension. It is intuitive and quite different. The developers have come out with a distro that targets mainly developing countries and also computers with no or limited internet access. So even without internet, you will have access to stuff like Wikipedia. The aim is to provide an operating system that comes with everything you will need. Intrigued? Let us take a look at what makes Endless OS different, intuitive, and so powerful in its own right. Endless OS uses OSTree to manage a read-only file system and uses Flatpaks for application delivery and updates.

    • Arch Family
      • Manjaro Linux Discontinues 32-bit Support

        You might already know that I love Manjaro Linux. And as an ardent Manjaro Linux fan, I have a bad news for you.

        Recently, Philip, the lead developer of Manjaro Linux, announced that the project would be dropping support for the 32-bit architecture. He said that the reason for the move was “due to the decreasing popularity of i686 among the developers and the community”.

    • Red Hat Family
      • Red Hat pledges patent protection for 99 per cent of FOSS-ware [Ed: And when Red Hat gets taken over (like Sun and Oracle) this promise will be worthless]

        Red Hat says it has amassed over 2,000 patents and won’t enforce them if the technologies they describe are used in properly-licensed open source software.

        The company’s made more or less the same offer since the year 2002, when it first made a “Patent Promise” in order to “to discourage patent aggression in free and open source software.” In 2002 the company didn’t own many patents and claimed its non-enforcement promise covered per cent of open source software.

        The Promise was revised in order to reflect the company’s growing patent trove and to spruce up the language it uses to make it more relevant.

        The revised promise “applies to all software meeting the free software or open source definitions of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) or the Open Source Initiative (OSI)”. That verbiage translates into any software licensed on terms the OSI approves on this list, or which meet the Initiative’s definition of open source offered here. Licenses listed by the Free Software Foundation as a free software license at https://www.gnu.org/licenses/license-list.html#SoftwareLicenses also come under the Promise’s purview, as do those here as of the date this edition of Our Promise is published.

      • Red Hat Open Source Day rewards with proprietary hardware. For the fourth time

        The above is an excerpt of the 2017 event announcement. Which, as you can see below, will be at least the fourth consecutive one in which Red Hat Italia will award participants with some of the most proprietary devices around. Please note the absence of anything like, e.g. Matchstick, “100% Linux compatible laptop, with Linux preinstalled”, or a Fairphone, in the screenshots…

      • Red Hat’s automation solution spreading among APAC enterprises

        Red Hat recently shared revealed its agentless automation platform is spreading among enterprises in APAC countries like Australia, China, India and Singapore.

        The company asserts its Ansible Tower helps enterprises cut through the complexities of modern IT environments with powerful automation capabilities that improve productivity and reduce downtime.

        “Today’s business demands can mean even greater complexity for many organisations. Such dynamic environments can necessitate a new approach to automation that can improve speed, scale and stability across IT environments,” says head of APAC office of technology at Red Hat, Frank Feldmann.

      • Red Hat broadens patent pledge to most open-source software

        Red Hat, the world’s biggest open source company, has expanded its commitment on patents, which had originally been not to enforce its patents against free and open source software.

      • Red Hat expands Patent Promise

        Open-source software provider Red Hat has revised its Patent Promise, which was initially intended to discourage patent aggression against free and open-source software.

        The expanded version of the defensive patent aggregation scheme extends the zone of non-enforcement to all of Red Hat’s patents and all software under “well-recognised” open-source licenses.

        In its original Patent Promise in 2002, Red Hat said software patents are “inconsistent with open-source and free software”.

      • Red Hat Enlarges Its Open Source Patent Promise Umbrella

        Red Hat on Thursday announced major enhancements to the Patent Promise it first published 15 years ago, with the intention of providing new protections to innovation in the open source community. In its 2002 Patent Promise, Red Hat vowed not to pursue patent infringement actions against parties that used its covered Free and Open Source Software, or FOSS, subject to certain limitations. The current Patent Promise reaffirms the 2002 pledge and extends the zone of non-enforcement.

      • Red Hat breaks new ground with open source Patent Promise

        Red Hat has decided to revise its 2002 Patent Promise that originally signalled the company’s intention not to enforce its patents against free and open source software.

        The company, which is famed for its open source approach, had laid out in its original promise that it was designed to discourage patent aggression against free and open source software. The updated version not only reaffirms this but “extends the zone of non-enforcement.”

      • Finance
      • Fedora
        • Fedora 27 Beta Hit By A Second Delay

          Last week it was decided to delay the Fedora 27 beta due to bugs while this week they’ve been forced to delay the release a second time.

          The first beta delay wasn’t too bad as the F27 schedule already had a built-in “rain date”, in acknowledging Fedora’s frequent release delays. But today a second unplanned delay is pushing back F27 Beta by at least one more week. This will now also push back the Fedora 27 final release by at least one week.

        • Fedora 27 Beta status is NO-GO
        • News: The new Krita 3.3.0
        • Two Docs Workshops at Flock 2017
        • Documentation and Modularity at Flock 2017
        • Join the Magazine team

          The recent Flock conference of Fedora contributors included a Fedora Magazine workshop. Current editorial board members Ryan Lerch, Justin W. Flory, and Paul W. Frields covered how to join and get started as an author. Here are some highlights of the workshop and discussion that took place.

    • Debian Family
      • Retiring the Debian-Administration.org site

        So previously I’ve documented the setup of the Debian-Administration website, and now I’m going to retire it I’m planning how that will work.

      • Derivatives
        • Tails 3.2 Anonymous OS to Work Better on Nvidia Maxwell GPUs, Add PPPoE Support

          Tails, the amnesic incognito live system, also known as the Anonymous Live CD, will soon get a new version that promises to introduce several new features and updated components, along with an improved installer.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu 17.10 “Artful Aardvark” Preview Part 6: The New Tweaks

            Artful will have a new GNOME Tweak Tool, version 3.26, which is called Tweaks now. This tool provides you capability to alter your desktop, such as moving control buttons from left to right, adjusting options, or disabling/enabling Shell extensions. Take a look to its new stuffs below.

          • You’ll Soon Be Able to Run GNOME 3.26 Apps on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS via Snaps

            Don’t know if you recall, but we told you that Canonical, the company behind the popular Ubuntu Linux operating system, is working on a packaging more GNOME apps as Snaps for Ubuntu and other Snappy-enabled distros.

            Well, it turns out that they’ve been working on a Platform Snap for the recently released GNOME 3.26 desktop environment, which should allow users of the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system to run the latest apps from the GNOME 3.26 Stack as Snaps, as well as developers to package their apps as Snaps.

            “We’ve been working on a Platform Snap for GNOME 3.26 to allow you to run the latest GNOME apps on Xenial as well as making Snaps for the new apps,” reveals Will Cooke, Ubuntu Desktop Director at Canonical, in his latest weekly report. “This should be ready for testing soon and we’d appreciate some feedback.”

          • Ubuntu Desktop Weekly Update: September 22, 2017

            We’re less than a week away from Final Beta! It seems to have come round very quickly this cycle. Next week we’re at the Ubuntu Rally in New York City where we will be putting the finishing touches to the beta. In the meantime, here’s a quick rundown on what happened this week:

          • Canonical Distribution of Kubernetes: Development Summary 2017.38

            In our current sprint we’ve started testing 1.8.0 in anticipation of the upstream release at the end of this month. We’re also testing with docker 1.13.1, which will soon become the default in CDK.

          • Ubuntu Community Council 2017 election under way!

            The Ubuntu Community Council election has begun and ballots sent out to all Ubuntu Members. Voting closes September 27th at end of day UTC.

            The following candidates are standing for 7 seats on the council:

            Anis El Achèche – https://wiki.ubuntu.com/elacheche
            Leo Arias – https://wiki.ubuntu.com/elopio
            Danial Behzadi – https://wiki.ubuntu.com/danialbehzadi
            (incumbent) Marco Ceppi – https://wiki.ubuntu.com/marco-ceppi
            Aaron Honeycutt – https://wiki.ubuntu.com/AaronHoneycutt
            Walter Lapchynksi – https://wiki.ubuntu.com/wxl
            Marius Quabeck – https://wiki.ubuntu.com/marius.quabeck
            José Antonio Rey – https://wiki.ubuntu.com/jose
            Larry Tavin – https://wiki.ubuntu.com/wildmanne39
            Iulian Udrea – https://wiki.ubuntu.com/IulianUdrea
            Martin Wimpress – https://wiki.ubuntu.com/MartinWimpress
            Naeil Zoueidi – https://wiki.ubuntu.com/nzoueidi

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Puppet Acquires Distelli, Boosting Its Cloud Automation Offerings

    Puppet, the open source company that markets cloud-native software management tools, has acquired startup Distelli. Based in Seattle, Distelli offers a software as a service platform used by developers to build, test, and deploy code written in any language to any server, including cloud platforms. This is an obvious good match, as both platforms enable developers to manage infrastructure and applications across the entire software delivery process to make app development quicker.

    “Today, a company’s success is predicated on how quickly and successfully it can deliver new experiences to customers through software,” Puppet’s CEO, Sanjay Mirchandani, said in a statement. “Automation makes world-class application delivery straightforward for every enterprise, not just for companies born in the cloud. Together with Distelli, we are bringing a comprehensive solution for orchestrating and automating the entire software delivery lifecycle, from infrastructure, all the way up through containers.”

  • The Meteoric Rise Of Open Source And Why Investors Should Care

    The adoption and integration of open-source technologies have rapidly usurped the closed-source incumbents, so much so that investors are pouring record amounts of money into open-source software investments.

  • Events
    • Introducing The Linux Foundation’s Open Source Networking Days

      One of my primary goals at The Linux Foundation is to foster innovation across the entire open source networking ecosystem. This involves coordinating across multiple open source projects and initiatives and identifying key areas for collaboration to create an open source networking stack.

      We are working across the entire ecosystem with industry-leading partners — from developers to service providers to vendors — to unify various open source components and create solutions that will accelerate network transformation. As part of this journey, I am pleased to introduce Open Source Networking Days (OSN Days), a series of free events that are hosted and organized by local user groups and The Linux Foundation members, with support from our projects, including DPDK, FD.io, ONAP, OpenDaylight, OPNFV, PNDA, and others.

  • Web Browsers
    • Vivaldi 1.12 Web Browser Debuts with Highly Requested Features, Improvements

      Vivaldi, the Chromium-based web browser designed with the power user in mind, has been recently updated to version 1.12, a release that introduces highly requested features and a whole lot of under-the-hood improvements.

      There are three big new features implemented in Vivaldi 1.12. The first is a built-in Image Properties feature that works when you right-click on an image on the Web, showing you a bunch of useful information, such as camera model, depth of field, ISO sensitivity, focal length, exposure, histogram, time and date, and white balance.

    • Chromium Will Soon Let You Browse the Web in VR with a Daydream View Headset

      Chromium evangelist François Beaufort posted today on his Google+ profile information regarding the VR (Virtual Reality) capabilities of the open-source web browser, which is the base of Chrome OS and Google Chrome.

      It would appear that the Chromium team is working on a set of new virtual reality features for the web browser, which means that more VR goodies are coming to popular Chromium-based web browsers like Opera, Vivaldi, and Google Chrome.

    • Mozilla
      • Mozilla Adds Tracking Protection to Firefox for iOS, Focus Gets Multitasking

        Mozilla released on Thursday new updates for its Firefox for iOS and Firefox Focus for Android apps adding new features like tracking protection and multi-tasking, along with various other improvements.

        Firefox for iOS has been updated today to version 9.0, a release that’s available on the App Store for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices running iOS 10.3 or later. It comes with support for Apple’s recently launched iOS 11 operating system, as well as tracking protection, which is enabled by default in the private browsing mode to automatically block third-party trackers in an attempt to increase browsing speed.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • Document Liberation Project: New releases

      LibreOffice’s native file format is the fully standardised OpenDocument Format. This is ideal for long-term storage of data, but many of us have to work with other file formats as well, including those generated by proprietary software.

    • Coming up on 28th September: Reddit “Ask us Anything” (and a birthday)

      Thursday, 28th September 2017 will be a special day – not only is it the seventh birthday of The Document Foundation, but we will also be running an “Ask me (us) Anything” session on Reddit – specifically, the /r/linux subreddit.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • Funding
  • Public Services/Government
    • FSFE: ‘German public sector a digital laggard’

      With their lacklustre approach to free software, German public services remain behind other European member states, says the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE). When asked, the current governing parties’ say they support free software, but their statements are contradicted by the lack of action, the advocacy group says.

      In early September, the FSFE published its analysis of the free software policies put forward by the main political parties on the ballot, in preparation for Germany’s parliamentary elections on 24 September. This analysis (in German) is far more detailed than an earlier report generated by the Digital-O-Mat, a web portal set up to focus on political parties’ positions on 12 digital topics.

    • New release: ISA² interoperability test bed software v1.1.0
  • Licensing/Legal
    • Cloud Native Open Source License Choices

      One of the most common questions regarding open source licensing today concerns trajectories. Specifically, what are the current directions of travel both for specific licenses as well as license types more broadly. Or put more simply, what licenses are projects using today, and how is that changing?

      We’ve examined this data several times, most recently in this January look at the state of licensing based on Black Duck’s dataset. That data suggested major growth for permissive licenses, primarily at the expense of reciprocal alternatives. The Apache and MIT licenses, for example, were up 10% and 21% respectively, while the GPL was down 27%. All of this is on a relative share basis, of course: the “drop” doesn’t reflect relicensing of existing projects, but less usage relative to its peers.

      [...]

      One such community with enough of a sample size to be relevant is the one currently forming around the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. Founded in 2015 with the Kubernetes project as its first asset, the Foundation has added eleven more open source projects, all of which are licensed under the same Apache 2 license. But as a successful Foundation is only a part of the broader ecosystem, the real question is what are the licensing preferences of the Cloud Native projects and products outside of the CNCF itself.

      [...]
      Unsurprisingly, perhaps, given the influence of the CNCF itself, Apache strongly outperforms all other licenses, showing far greater relative adoption than it has in more generalized datasets such as the Black Duck survey. Overall in this dataset, approximately 64% of projects are covered by the Apache license. No other project has greater than a 12% share. The only other licenses above 10%, in fact, are the GPL at 12% and MIT at 11%. After that, the other projects are all 5% or less.

    • Facebook relicenses several projects [Ed: About time [1, 2]]

      Facebook has announced that the React, Jest, Flow, and Immutable.js projects will be moving to the MIT license. This is, of course, a somewhat delayed reaction to the controversy over the “BSD+patent” license previously applied to those projects.

    • Relicensing React, Jest, Flow, and Immutable.js

      Next week, we are going to relicense our open source projects React, Jest, Flow, and Immutable.js under the MIT license. We’re relicensing these projects because React is the foundation of a broad ecosystem of open source software for the web, and we don’t want to hold back forward progress for nontechnical reasons.

      This decision comes after several weeks of disappointment and uncertainty for our community. Although we still believe our BSD + Patents license provides some benefits to users of our projects, we acknowledge that we failed to decisively convince this community.

    • Facebook U-turn: React, other libraries freed from unloved patent license

      Faced with growing dissatisfaction about licensing requirements for some of its open-source projects, Facebook today said it will move React, Jest, Flow, and Immutable.js under the MIT license next week.

      “We’re relicensing these projects because React is the foundation of a broad ecosystem of open source software for the web, and we don’t want to hold back forward progress for nontechnical reasons,” said Facebook engineering director Adam Wolff in a blog post on Friday.

      Wolff said while Facebook continues to believe its BSD + Patents license has benefits, “we acknowledge that we failed to decisively convince this community.”

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • New Collaboration To Deliver Open-Source Submission And Peer-Review Platform

      This week, eLife and Collaborative Knowledge Foundation announced a partnership “to build a user-driven, open-source submission and peer-review platform” aimed at improving on existing industry models.

      Working together, the two organisations “hope to accelerate progress in delivering a modern, fast and user-driven system,” they said in a press release. “The project will be designed to help streamline communications between authors, editors and reviewers at all stages of the submission and review process.”

    • Open Data
      • Slovenia publishes statistics on open data portal

        As of this month, the Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia is making available 3374 data collections on the country’s open data portal, making it by far the portal’s biggest contributor. The Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities comes second, with 62 datasets.

  • Programming/Development
    • Java JDK 9 Finally Reaches General Availability

      Java 9 (JDK 9) has finally reached general availability! Following setbacks, Java 9 is officially available as well as Java EE 8.

    • 10 Open Source Skills That Can Lead to Higher Pay

      Last month, The Linux Foundation and the online job board Dice released the results of a survey about open source hiring. It found that 67 percent of managers expected their hiring of open source professionals to increase more than their hiring of other types of IT workers.

      In addition, 42 percent of managers surveyed said they need to hire more open source talent because they were increasing their use of open source technologies, and 30 said open source was becoming core to their business. A vast majority — 89 percent — of hiring managers said that they were finding it difficult to find the open source talent they need to fill positions.

    • If you want to upgrade your data analysis skills, which programming language should you learn?

      For a growing number of people, data analysis is a central part of their job. Increased data availability, more powerful computing, and an emphasis on analytics-driven decision in business has made it a heyday for data science. According to a report from IBM, in 2015 there were 2.35 million openings for data analytics jobs in the US. It estimates that number will rise to 2.72 million by 2020.

      A significant share of people who crunch numbers for a living use Microsoft Excel or other spreadsheet programs like Google Sheets. Others use proprietary statistical software like SAS, Stata, or SPSS that they often first learned in school.

    • std::bind

      In digging through the ASIO C++ library examples, I came across an actual use of std::bind. Its entry in cppreference seemed like buzzword salad, so I never previously had paid it any attention.

Leftovers
  • Take a trip through music history with the Great 78 Project

    A few weeks ago, a friend sent me a link to the Great 78 Project, “a community project for the preservation, research, and discovery of 78 rpm records.” The project is supported by the Internet Archive, George Blood, and the Archive of Contemporary Music. Its purpose, first and foremost, is to convert old recordings into digital audio to preserve those historic performances for future listeners. Currently it’s working to digitize the 200,000 or so 78 rpm records it has collected, and it’s actively looking for contributions to add to its collection.

    I think this is an exciting project that should be of interest to anyone who enjoys exploring music—and especially those involved in the open community. In this article, I’ll look at a few things you may want to know about the project.

  • You Might Be Evil

    The M-Word · It’s “Monopoly” of course. If you fol­low the links above and read, the au­thors come at the tech gi­ants from ev­ery which di­rec­tion, but al­ways end­ing up bang­ing out the monopoly melody. Some­times they say “corporate concentration” or an­oth­er eu­phemis­m, be­cause be­ing anti-monopoly sounds kind of old-fashioned; and any­how, shouldn’t you be talk­ing about Com­cast or Unit­ed?

    Not any more. A lot of smart peo­ple think it’s good eco­nomic­s, good pol­i­cy, and good pol­i­tics to aim the anti-trust gun at the tech sec­tor. I’m not say­ing they’re wrong. I’m al­so not pre­dict­ing that they’ll get any trac­tion, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the Amer­i­ca where the short-term fo­cus has to be on com­bat­ing Nazis and pussy-grabbers.

  • Science
    • Snopes and the Search for Facts in a Post-Fact World
    • Artificial intelligence pioneer calls for the breakup of Big Tech

      Yoshua Bengio, the artificial intelligence pioneer, says the centralization of wealth, power and capability in Big Tech is “dangerous for democracy” and that the companies should be broken up.

      Why it matters: Bengio is a professor at the University of Montreal and a member of the three-man “Canadian Mafia” that pioneered machine learning, the leading method used in AI. His remarks are notable because of his influence in the AI community and because he or his peers all either directly lead or consult for Big Tech’s AI programs. Says Bengio: “Concentration of wealth leads to concentration of power. That’s one reason why monopoly is dangerous. It’s dangerous for democracy.”

      The AI pioneers: Bengio consults for IBM and his colleagues Geoffrey Hinton consults for Google and Yann LeCun for Facebook. Ruslan Salakhutdinov, a protege of Hinton’s, runs Apple’s AI research effort.

    • There cannot be two kinds of medicine: EU scientists shred homeopathy, alt med

      An organization representing scientific academies throughout Europe released a statement Wednesday that squarely bashed homeopathy as nonsense and warned that the “promotion and use of homeopathic products risks significant harms.”

      The statement by the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC)—an umbrella organization representing 29 national and international scientific academies in Europe, including the Royal Society (UK) and Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences—is intended to influence policy and regulations across the European Union. The EASAC emphasized the need to “reinforce criticisms” by scientists as the markets for homeopathy in the EU and US continue to grow.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Study: Flint water killed unborn babies; many moms who drank it couldn’t get pregnant

      The city of Flint saw fewer pregnancies, and a higher number of fetal deaths, during the period women and their fetuses were exposed to high levels of lead in their drinking water, according to a new research study that reviewed health records from Flint and the state.

      Fertility rates decreased by 12% among Flint women, and fetal death rates increased by 58%, after April 2014, according to research by assistant professors and health economists David Slusky at Kansas University and Daniel Grossman at West Virginia University. The pair examined vital statistics data for Flint and the rest of the state of Michigan from 2008 to 2015, zoomed down to the census-tract level.

  • Security
    • iOS 11 Muddies WiFi and Bluetooth Controls

      Turning WiFi and Bluetooth off is often viewed as a good security practice. Apple did not rationalize these changes in behavior.

    • How To Hack A Turned-Off Computer, Or Running Unsigned Code In Intel Management Engine

      Intel Management Engine is a proprietary technology that consists of a microcontroller integrated into the Platform Controller Hub (PCH) microchip with a set of built-in peripherals. The PCH carries almost all communication between the processor and external devices; therefore Intel ME has access to almost all data on the computer, and the ability to execute third-party code allows compromising the platform completely. Researchers have been long interested in such “God mode” capabilities, but recently we have seen a surge of interest in Intel ME. One of the reasons is the transition of this subsystem to a new hardware (x86) and software (modified MINIX as an operating system) architecture. The x86 platform allows researchers to bring to bear all the power of binary code analysis tools.

    • Optionsbleed: Don’t get your panties in a wad

      To be honest, this isn’t the first security concern you’ve run in to, and it isn’t the first security issue you’re vulnerable to, that will remain exploitable for quite some time, until after someone you rely on fixed the issue for you, meanwhile compromising your customers.

      [...]

      Is it a small part of the SSL public key? A small part of the web request response? A chunk of the path to the index.php? Or is it a chunk of the database password used? Nobody knows until you get enough data to analyse the results of all data. If you can’t appreciate the maths behind analysing multiple readings of 8 arbitrary bytes, choose another career. Not that I know what to do and how to do it, by the way.

    • SEC discloses hackers [sic] penetrated EDGAR, profited in trading

      Hackers [sic] made their way into the Security and Exchange Commission’s EDGAR electronic filing system last year, retrieving private data that appear to have resulted in “an illicit gain through trading,” the agency reported Wednesday.

    • US Securities and Exchange Commission confesses to hacker [sic] access
    • Zone Walking (Zone Enumeration via DNSSEC NSEC Records)

      An important capability of DNSSEC is the ability to authoritatively assert that a given domain name does NOT exist, as per Authenticated Denial of Existence in the DNS.

    • New FinFisher surveillance campaigns: Internet providers involved?

      New surveillance campaigns utilizing FinFisher, infamous spyware known also as FinSpy and sold to governments and their agencies worldwide, are in the wild. Besides featuring technical improvements, some of these variants have been using a cunning, previously-unseen infection vector with strong indicators of major internet service provider (ISP) involvement.

    • FinFisher spyware variant returns with a vengeance

      A variant of the FinFisher spyware is being spread in seven countries through legitimate applications like WhatsApp, Skype, Avast, WinRAR and VLC Player, the security company ESET says.

    • The CCleaner Malware Fiasco Targeted at Least 18 Specific Tech Firms

      Earlier this week, security firms Morphisec and Cisco revealed that CCleaner, a piece of security software distributed by Czech company Avast, had been hijacked by hackers and loaded with a backdoor that evaded the company’s security checks. It wound up installed on more than 700,000 computers. On Wednesday, researchers at Cisco’s Talos security division revealed that they’ve now analyzed the hackers’ “command-and-control” server to which those malicious versions of CCleaner connected.

    • CCleaner hacked [sic] with malware: What you need to know

      It seems that CCleaner, one of PCWorld’s recommendations for the best free software for new PCs, might not have been keeping your PC so clean after all. In an in-depth probe of the popular optimization and scrubbing software, Cisco Talos has discovered a malicious bit of code injected by hackers that could have affected more than 2 million users who downloaded the most recent update.

    • Reminder: the CIA has been able to hack your WiFi router for years
    • Antipatterns in IoT security

      Security for Internet of Things (IoT) devices is something of a hot topic over the last year or more. Marti Bolivar presented an overview of some of the antipatterns that are leading to the lack of security for these devices at a session at the 2017 Open Source Summit North America in Los Angeles. He also had some specific recommendations for IoT developers on how to think about these problems and where to turn for help in making security a part of the normal development process.

      A big portion of the talk was about antipatterns that he has seen—and even fallen prey to—in security engineering, he said. It was intended to help engineers develop more secure products on a schedule. It was not meant to be a detailed look at security technologies like cryptography, nor even a guide to what technical solutions to use. Instead, it targeted how to think about security with regard to developing IoT products.

    • Signing programs for Linux

      At his 2017 Open Source Summit North America talk, Matthew Garrett looked at the state of cryptographic signing and verification of programs for Linux. Allowing policies that would restrict Linux from executing programs that are not signed would provide a measure of security for those systems, but there is work to be done to get there. Garrett started by talking about “binaries”, but programs come in other forms (e.g. scripts) so any solution must look beyond simply binary executables.

      There are a few different reasons to sign programs. The first is to provide an indication of the provenance of a program; whoever controls the key actually did sign it at some point. So if something is signed by a Debian or Red Hat key, it is strong evidence that it came from those organizations (assuming the keys have been securely handled). A signed program might be given different privileges based on the trust you place in a particular organization, as well.

    • A Guide to Common Types of Two-Factor Authentication on the Web

      Two-factor authentication (or 2FA) is one of the biggest-bang-for-your-buck ways to improve the security of your online accounts. Luckily, it’s becoming much more common across the web. With often just a few clicks in a given account’s settings, 2FA adds an extra layer of security to your online accounts on top of your password.

      In addition to requesting something you know to log in (in this case, your password), an account protected with 2FA will also request information from something you have (usually your phone or a special USB security key). Once you put in your password, you’ll grab a code from a text or app on your phone or plug in your security key before you are allowed to log in. Some platforms call 2FA different things—Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), Two Step Verification (2SV), or Login Approvals—but no matter the name, the idea is the same: Even if someone gets your password, they won’t be able to access your accounts unless they also have your phone or security key.

      There are four main types of 2FA in common use by consumer websites, and it’s useful to know the differences. Some sites offer only one option; other sites offer a few different options. We recommend checking twofactorauth.org to find out which sites support 2FA and how, and turning on 2FA for as many of your online accounts as possible. For more visual learners, this infographic from Access Now offers additional information.

      Finally, the extra layer of protection from 2FA doesn’t mean you should use a weak password. Always make unique, strong passwords for each of your accounts, and then put 2FA on top of those for even better log-in security.

    • Security updates for Friday
    • SEC Chairman reveals financial reporting system was hacked
    • CCleaner malware outbreak is much worse than it first appeared
    • CCleaner Hack May Have Been A State-Sponsored Attack On 18 Major Tech Companies

      At the beginning of this week, reports emerged that Avast, owner of the popular CCleaner software, had been hacked. Initial investigations by security researchers at Cisco Talos discovered that the intruder not only compromised Avast’s servers, but managed to embed both a backdoor and “a multi-stage malware payload” that rode on top of the installation of CCleaner. That infected software — traditionally designed to help scrub PCs of cookies and other tracking software and malware — was subsequently distributed by Avast to 700,000 customers (initially, that number was thought to be 2.27 million).

      And while that’s all notably terrible, it appears initial reports dramatically under-stated both the scope and the damage done by the hack. Initially, news reports and statements by Avast insisted that the hackers weren’t able to “do any harm” because the second, multi-stage malware payload was never effectively delivered. But subsequent reports by both Avast and Cisco Talos researchers indicate this payload was effectively delivered — with the express goal of gaining access to the servers and networks of at least 18 technology giants, including Intel, Google, Microsoft, Akamai, Samsung, Sony, VMware, HTC, Linksys, D-Link and Cisco itself.

    • IoT botnet Linux.ProxyM turns its grubby claws to spam rather than DDoS

      An IoT botnet is making a nuisance of itself online after becoming a conduit for spam distribution.

      Linux.ProxyM has the capability to engage in email spam campaigns with marked difference to other IoT botnets, such as Mirai, that infamously offered a potent platform for running distributed-denial-of-service attacks (DDoSing). Other IoT botnets have been used as proxies to offer online anonymity.

    • Linux IoT botnet retooled to send spam email

      An IoT botnet has set its hooks in about 4,500 – 5,000 proxy devices to send spam emails which each device capable of sending 400 messages or a total of 1.8 million messages per day.

    • Mini-Heartbleed info leak bug strikes Apache, airborne malware, NSA algo U-turn, and more

      As ever, it’s been a doozy of a week for cybersecurity, or lack thereof. The Equifax saga just keeps giving, the SEC admitted it was thoroughly pwned, and Slack doesn’t bother to sign its Linux versions. We do spoil you so, Reg readers. And that was only yesterday. Here’s the rest of the week’s shenanigans we didn’t get round to.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Rouhani says Iran will strengthen its missile capabilities: state TV

      Iran will strengthen its missile capabilities and will not seek permission from any country to do so, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Friday in an address to a parade of armed forces in the capital Tehran.

      “We will increase our military power as a deterrent. We will strengthen our missile capabilities … We will not seek permission from anyone to defend our country,” Rouhani said in a speech broadcast on state television.

    • ‘The World May Conclude the US Is No Longer Capable of Diplomacy’

      Americans don’t really need to be enjoined to “never forget” September 11, 2001. But what about February 5, 2003, when Colin Powell presented the UN Security Council with some blurry pictures and mistranslated intercepts he said proved that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that the US should go to war over? Today, media acknowledge that George W. Bush just wanted to invade Iraq, and concocted a scenario that would make it seem justifiable.

      Donald Trump hasn’t troubled to veil his hostile intentions toward Iran and his desire to undo the 2015 deal, in which Iran agreed to give up enriched uranium, destroy thousands of centrifuges, and allow for UN inspections, among other things, in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. Some say it’s a desire to please Saudi Arabia and Israel. Some say it’s just a desire to destroy whatever Barack Obama did. But whatever the causes, undoing the deal could have major negative consequence, and not just in Iran. Here to talk about the situation is Murtaza Hussain, a journalist for The Intercept. He joins us by phone from here in town. Welcome back to CounterSpin, Murtaza Hussain.

    • The Killing of History

      One of the most hyped “events” of American television, “The Vietnam War,” has started on the PBS network. The directors are Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Acclaimed for his documentaries on the Civil War, the Great Depression and the history of jazz, Burns says of his Vietnam films, “They will inspire our country to begin to talk and think about the Vietnam War in an entirely new way.”

      In a society often bereft of historical memory and in thrall to the propaganda of its “exceptionalism,” Burns’s “entirely new” Vietnam War is presented as an “epic, historic work.” Its lavish advertising campaign promotes its biggest backer, Bank of America, which in 1971 was burned down by students in Santa Barbara, California, as a symbol of the hated war in Vietnam.

      Burns says he is grateful to “the entire Bank of America family” which “has long supported our country’s veterans.” Bank of America was a corporate prop to an invasion that killed perhaps as many as four million Vietnamese and ravaged and poisoned a once bountiful land. More than 58,000 American soldiers were killed, and around the same number are estimated to have taken their own lives.

      I watched the first episode in New York. It leaves you in no doubt of its intentions right from the start. The narrator says the war “was begun in good faith by decent people out of fateful misunderstandings, American overconfidence and Cold War misunderstandings.”

    • Civil Society Rises to Confront Disasters

      Scores of survivors have already been pulled out of the rubble of various disaster sites all over the sprawling city. The quake has taken the lives of over 230 people with thousands more injured.

      First responders and volunteers dug through the rubble of a collapsed school in the southern part of the city for children buried in the fallen books and bricks. Reuters reported early Thursday that “eleven other children were rescued from the Enrique Rebsamen School, where students are aged roughly six to 15. Twenty-one children and four adults there were killed.”

    • Trump’s Warped View of World War II

      Phew. Well, let’s kick off with the one country Trump left alone in the UN: Russia. It was Russia which bore the brunt of Hitler’s Wehrmacht; it was Russia’s destruction of Hitler’s military power that broke the Nazis; and it was Russia which – with the approval of both Churchill and Roosevelt (and later Truman, whom Trump quotes at some length) – dominated eastern Europe with a series of vicious “socialist” dictatorships for decades after the war was over. When Trump referred to “our allies” in the Second World War, he surely – though I’m not certain of this – knew that the most powerful of them in Europe was the Soviet Union.

      There’s no problem with D-Day (“the beaches of Europe”), and the landings in Italy and southern France, although they came a bit late for Stalin who’d been pleading for a Second Front for two years. Besides, the Western Allies feared that if they didn’t launch D-Day soon, then the advancing Russian army would be sunbathing on the beaches of Spain.

      But the reference to the “deserts of the Middle East” went way beyond reality. US Middle East policy after the Second World War was based on oil resources – and the propping up of dictators and kings who would ensure the flow of oil in the future – and total and uncritical support for Israel, whose occupation and theft of Palestinian land in the West Bank would have produced a froth of economic sanctions from the Trumps of this world had it been any other country.

    • Presidential Bomb Threats at the UN

      Donald Trump denounced North Korea and its president Kim Jong-un as “depraved” before the United Nations Sept. 19, saying the nation “threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of life.” Of course, North Korea can barely feed itself, and yet has to defend itself against an onslaught of Western hostility, UN sanctions, and ongoing US/South Korean war games which are rehearsals for an invasion of the North. It tests rockets and bombs to be sure, just as the US and its allies and adversaries do all year round. It’s big business.

      Trump’s claim that North Korea is threatening is preposterous since it has no deliverable nuclear weapons at all. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said last week that North Korea is no danger to the United States. In June 2016, the Institute for Science and International Security reported that Pyongyang may have between 13 and 21 warheads. The CIA, whose job it is to find hostile weapons (even where they don’t exist) says Pyongyang has at most about 21. US intelligence agencies’ combined estimates are that while it may have miniaturized a nuclear warhead, North Korea has no missile that can drop them on the United States. The Federation of American Scientists is more skeptical and estimates it has “potentially produce[d] 10-20 nuclear warheads.”

    • Trump at the UN: Nuremberg Redux

      The time for equivocation and satire where Donald Trump is concerned has passed. Indeed if the current US President’s address to the 72nd UN General Assembly in New York confirms anything, it is that satire must now give way to a sober and serious appreciation of the clear and present danger his administration poses to the world.

      When Trump arrived at the podium at the UN to deliver his address to the world leaders and diplomats in attendance, it was impossible to resist pondering how it is that a man with zero political experience, whose dysfunctional relationship with the English language you would imagine would disqualify him from political office of any kind, could possibly find himself thrust onto the world stage in command of the largest economy and military, including nuclear weapons, ever known.

      Some have attempted to posit Trump’s election to the highest political office in the United States as confirmation of the unyielding magic of the American dream, the power it has to make the seemingly impossible eminently possible, carrying with it the source of America’s promise.

      However those of us who refuse to succumb to such illusions understand Trump’s election as evidence not of America’s greatness but of its weakness and decline. To put it another way, if Obama was our Emperor Augustus, a president who managed to succeed in cloaking the snarling beast of US imperialism and hegemony with the patina of peace and stability – a Pax Americana if you will – Trump is our Nero, a leader whose departure from reality knows no bounds.

    • The Trump Administration Is Looking to Make It Easier to Kill More People in More Places

      President Trump may relax Obama-era limits on drone and special forces’ kill missions. More civilians will die.

      The Trump administration is reportedly poised to kill more people in more countries around the world, from Nigeria to the Philippines.

      According to the New York Times, the administration is considering loosening Obama administration policy on drone killings and other lethal operations in places where the United States is not at war. The changes will result in more unlawful and secret killings, alienate our allies, and make the world less safe.

      To understand what these changes would mean, it helps to remember what the Obama administration did. Soon after coming to office, President Obama began to expand and normalize what had been a Bush administration aberration: a policy of invoking war-based legal rationales to kill terrorism suspects in places where the U.S. was not at war, usually through CIA drone strikes.

      In the early years, Obama’s killing rules were largely secret, even as a range of Obama officials gave speeches claiming — but not explaining how — they were lawful, necessary, and wise. Those government claims were repeatedly undercut by the facts.

    • What Are the Rights of an American Captured Fighting for ISIS?

      The Constitution is clear. Any American fighting for ISIS should be transferred to federal court for prosecution.

      Media outlets are reporting that the U.S. military is currently detaining an American citizen captured allegedly fighting on behalf of ISIS in Syria. The Trump administration has not released the citizen’s name or location, nor has it indicated whether the suspect will face criminal charges in federal court or be subjected to continued military detention.

      But the right choice here is plain: It would be a grave error for the administration to resurrect the failed and illegal Bush-era policy of enemy combatant detentions. If, in fact, the U.S. citizen was fighting for ISIS, the surest way to safeguard both our Constitution and security is to transfer the suspect promptly to federal court to face criminal charges.

      Even without knowing all the facts, the basic legal requirements for the suspect’s treatment, rights in detention, and prosecution are clear.

    • North Korea could test hydrogen bomb over Pacific Ocean, says foreign minister

      North Korea could test a powerful nuclear weapon over the Pacific Ocean in response to US President Donald Trump’s threats of military action, the country’s foreign minister has warned.
      Ri Yong Ho spoke to reporters in New York shortly after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made an unprecedented televised statement, accusing Trump of being “mentally deranged.”

    • Trump And Kim Playing With Fire

      The only thing that’s different is now we have two nut-cases leading USA and North Korea. Both “leaders” are erratic and unpredictable. They inspire fear and worry rather than confidence.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Sebastian Gorka Gave A Classified “Tirade” About Radical Islam

      A couple of weeks before he was ousted as deputy assistant to President Donald Trump, Sebastian Gorka gave an explosive two-and-a-half hour speech at to the army’s special operations school, which an officer who was present characterized as a “tirade” about the war in Afghanistan, Sharia law, radical Islamic terrorism, and the Trump administration’s aggressive policies to counter and “defeat it all.”

      It was “classic Gorka,” said another U.S. Army special operations officer.

      BuzzFeed News learned about the speech, which was classified, through documents obtained in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • At 50 tons and 700 kilowatt-hours, this truck is the biggest EV in the world

      When it comes to bench-racing electric vehicles, the kilowatt-hour is king. And over in Switzerland, there’s an EV that will make Tesla’s P100Ds look positively puny. But this is no carbon-fiber hypercar, and it’s never going set any records for 0-60 times or the standing quarter. No, this is an altogether more practical creation that’s meant to work for a living. It’s a Komatsu quarry truck that’s being modified by Kuhn Schweiz and Lithium Storage, weighing in at almost 50 tons (45 tonnes) and powered by a whopping 700kWh battery pack.

      The e-Dumper has been in the works for a couple of years now, during which time its battery capacity has grown from the original 600kWh to what is now the equivalent of seven top-of-the-line Teslas. The cells in question are nickel-manganese-cobalt, 1,440 of them in total, weighing almost 10,000lbs (4.5 tonnes). And once the team has found space in the chassis for all of that energy storage, the idea is for the e-Dumper to spend the next decade trundling between a Swiss cement quarry and the Ciments Vigier works near Biel.

    • Groups: Harvey Recovery Must Serve Vulnerable Victims, Not Corporate Polluters

      Prompted in part by the appointment of former Shell CEO Marvin Odum to lead Texas recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, a coalition of over 130 organizations released a joint statement directed at elected officials in Texas and Louisiana on Thursday demanding that hurricane relief funds be delivered to communities in need, not to big polluters—”the same corporate actors that caused or contributed to many of these problems in the first place.”

    • How Exxon Mobil May Soon Have Greater Sway Over Science Used in EPA Policies

      Exxon Mobil may soon have a greater hand in shaping the science used to develop major environmental regulations.

      The published list of potential names for the Science Advisory Board and the EPA Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee includes many industry representatives and consultants. The panels are typically composed primarily of independent academics and researchers charged with reviewing agency science and advising the Environmental Protection Agency on major policy decisions.

      While industry has always had a voice on those panels, comments from the Trump administration and the potential new appointees suggest the balance may soon change in favor of greater power for regulated companies, particularly the oil and gas industries.

      The long list of potential new advisory board members includes officials from Exxon Mobil, Phillips 66, Alcoa, Noble Energy, Total, and the American Chemistry Council, a lobbying group for the chemical industry. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt will make the final determination to select the members of the panels.

    • Florida Utilities Lobbied To Make It Illegal For Solar Users To Use Panels In Wake Of Hurricanes, Outages

      You may have noticed that the shift to solar is happening whether traditional utilities like it or not, and attempting to stop solar’s forward momentum is akin to believing you can thwart the Mississippi with a fork and a few copies of Mad Magazine. Said futility clearly hasn’t discouraged Florida utilities, who have gone to numerous, highly-creative lengths to try and hinder or curtail solar use. When last we checked in with legacy Florida utilities, they were busy using entirely fake consumer groups to push a law that professed to help the solar industry while actually undermining it.

      Fortunately Florida consumers ultimately saw through this effort, though this was just one of a steady stream of similar bills aimed at stalling progress. Many Florida Power and Light customers obviously lost power in the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma, despite promises by the company that endless rate hikes would help harden the utilities’ lines. But customers thinking they could use the solar panels on their roofs to help keep themselves afloat until traditional power was restored were in for a rude awakening.

    • Oil companies sued to pay for cost of rising sea levels, climate change

      At least five California municipalities are suing five major oil companies, claiming in public nuisance lawsuits that the firms should pay for the infrastructure costs associated with rising sea levels due to climate change.

      The latest suits announced Wednesday by Oakland and San Francisco name BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Royal Dutch Shell. The cities claim the oil companies knew of the dangers of fossil-fuel-driven climate change but kept mum. The cities claim that global warming, which they say has melted ice sheets and heated sea water, has contributed to rising seas by about eight inches in California over the past decade. They say it could rise 10 feet by the year 2100.

      “The bill has come due,” San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said. “It’s time for these companies to take responsibility.”

  • Finance
    • Uber really doesn’t want its drivers to be considered employees

      A three-judge panel at the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals appeared to lean in favor of Uber in a case that could have a profound impact on the future of employment and gig economy startups.

      On Wednesday, the court heard a consolidated appeal of 11 pending cases that essentially boil down to the same issue: should drivers be considered employees? If so, can they sue as part of a class-action lawsuit? If Uber prevails, drivers will be considered contractors—and they won’t, as is currently the case, receive numerous benefits.

    • London regulator announces Uber ban

      London’s taxi regulator is revoking Uber’s license to operate in the city, the agency announced on its Twitter feed on Friday morning. “Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility,” Transport for London wrote.

      The agency cited Uber’s “approach to reporting serious criminal offenses” as one problem with the company’s conduct. It also pointed to Greyball, a controversial software program Uber allegedly used to mislead regulators about the locations of its cars, making it more difficult for regulators to ticket Uber vehicles.

      Uber’s license expires on September 30. However, it has 21 days to appeal the agency’s ruling, and it can continue operating in the city during the appeal process.

      London’s Licensed Taxi Drivers Association praised the decision. “Since it first came onto our streets Uber has broken the law, exploited its drivers and refused to take responsibility for the safety of passengers,” a spokesman told the Independent.

    • Tech’s push to teach coding isn’t about kids’ success – it’s about cutting wages

      Computer science courses for children have proliferated rapidly in the past few years. A 2016 Gallup report found that 40% of American schools now offer coding classes – up from only 25% a few years ago. New York, with the largest public school system in the country, has pledged to offer computer science to all 1.1 million students by 2025. Los Angeles, with the second largest, plans to do the same by 2020. And Chicago, the fourth largest, has gone further, promising to make computer science a high school graduation requirement by 2018.

    • Theresa May’s Florentine gambit

      Theresa May arrives in Florence on Friday with the political realities of Brexit closing in around her.

      To begin negotiations on a future trade deal or even a transition period, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier must be able to advise EU leaders at the European Council summit in October that “sufficient progress” has been made on what it defines as “divorce issues,” including the so-called Brexit bill and citizens’ rights.

      Back in London, concern is building about the lack of time before the U.K. crashes out of the EU, with or without a deal, on March 29, 2019, when the two-year negotiation period allowed for under Article 50 expires.

      In a special two-and-a-half hour cabinet meeting Thursday, Chancellor Philip Hammond intervened to urge more haste. “’We need to keep the pace up’ was his message,” said one government official. Hammond believes the time has come to make a decision about what kind of relationship Britain wants with the EU post Brexit and argued the decision-making process needs to be speeded up considerably over the fall.

    • Brexit: Majority of British people believe UK should stay in the EU, finds latest poll

      British people have turned their backs on Brexit, according to a new poll released just as Theresa May prepares to give a make-or-break speech on her plans for EU withdrawal.

      The exclusive survey for The Independent by BMG Research shows a majority now believe the country should remain in the EU, after weeks in which deadlocked Brussels talks and cabinet splits exposed the sheer complexity of withdrawal.

      Ms May goes to Florence in the hope of convincing EU leaders of the “importance of negotiations making further progress” with time running out before Britain falls out of the bloc without terms.

    • The City of London: Capital of an Invisible Empire

      In July 2017 director Michael Oswald’s latest film, The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire was premiered at the Frontline Club in London. It has since had several screenings in London and public screenings can be organised from November onwards. This fascinating interview just published in Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten explores what inspired co-producers Michael Oswald and John Christensen to make a film documentary about London’s role as the world’s pre-eminent tax haven. Oswald and Christensen also talk about how London might develop once Brexit kicks in, exploring the possibility of deepening the City’s tax haven role through further tax cuts for the rich and more rolling back of financial market regulation and other social protections.

    • Uber stripped of London licence due to lack of corporate responsibility

      Uber’s application for a new licence in London has been rejected on the basis that the company is not a “fit and proper” private car hire operator.

      Uber said it planned to challenge the ruling by London’s transport authority in the courts immediately.

      The current licence expires on 30 September but Uber has 21 days to appeal and can continue to operate until that process expires.

    • WTO Market Access Committee Debates China, India Restrictions On IT, Russia’s GIs On Wine

      In the World Trade Organization Market Access Committee today, a range of member countries raised concern over China’s tariffs on semiconductors and India’s duties on a range of information technology products. In addition, the European Union raised concern over uneven application of lower tariffs for geographically indicated wines, favouring local producers.

      According to a Geneva trade official, at the 22 September meeting, six WTO members expressed concern over tariff increases by China that took effect at the start of the year, arguing that they violate China’s commitments under the WTO Information Technology Agreement (ITA).

      Complaints came from the United States, European Union, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and Singapore. The EU said some duty rates rose from 0 percent to 3.4 percent.

    • Who Was Behind the Move to Halt Reporting Rules on Equal Pay?

      The Trump administration’s decision was reached behind closed doors, without public input or sound justification.

      In its aggressive campaign to roll back efforts advanced in recent years to close the gender wage gap, the Trump administration now is politicizing the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency that was created more than 50 years ago by Congress to enforce the nation’s laws against discrimination in employment.

      On Wednesday, the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the EEOC seeking records concerning the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) recent decision directing the civil rights agency to halt implementation of its new pay data collection initiative. Set to go into effect in March 2018, the initiative updated the EEO-1, a form used by the government to collect information from certain employers about the gender, race, and ethnicity of their employees by job category. The updated EEO-1 would have required these employers to also provide information about the wages they pay their employees. Separately on Wednesday, the National Women’s Law Center and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights also filed several FOIA requests with OMB about the decision to stay the new EEO-1 data collection.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • The Media Has A Probability Problem

      You won’t be surprised to learn that I see a lot of similarities between hurricane forecasting and election forecasting — and between the media’s coverage of Irma and its coverage of the 2016 campaign. In recent elections, the media has often overestimated the precision of polling, cherry-picked data and portrayed elections as sure things when that conclusion very much wasn’t supported by polls or other empirical evidence.

    • Twitter Will Meet With Senate Intelligence Committee on Russia

      Twitter has confirmed it will meet with the Senate Intelligence Committee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. The company tells WIRED that it will speak with Senators next Wednesday about the prevalence of bot accounts, as well as the widespread dissemination of fake news and misinformation, on its platform.

    • Facebook revamps political-ad rules after discovering Russian ad buys

      Two weeks ago, Facebook admitted that a “shadowy Russian company” spent $100,000 on political ads targeting US Facebook users during the 2016 election campaign. At the time, Facebook turned in information about these ad buys to special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the election.

      Today, Facebook announced that it would also be turning the information over to Congressional investigators. And Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would be stepping up its efforts to prevent foreign election interference in the future.

      “The integrity of our elections is fundamental to democracy around the world,” Zuckerberg said in a video posted to Facebook. “We can’t prevent all governments from all interference. But we can make it harder.”

    • Instagram accidentally advertises itself on Facebook with rape threat photo
    • Instagram uses ‘I will rape you’ post as Facebook ad in latest algorithm mishap

      When Guardian reporter Olivia Solon was sent a rape threat, she posted a screenshot on Instagram. Then the Facebook-owned company made it an ad

    • Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook will end untraceable political ads
    • Islamophobic U.S. Mega-Donor Fuels German Far-Right Party With Viral Fake News

      THE RISE OF Alternative for Germany, the new far-right political party competing in the upcoming federal election, has unsettled the consensus-driven, moderate politics of postwar Germany with its rabid anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric, unabashed nationalism, and winking gestures embracing the country’s Nazi past.

      Election-watchers expected a flood of fake news and inflammatory social media aiding Alternative for Germany, known by its German initials, AfD, to come from Russia. But one of the major publishers of online content friendly to the far-right party is an American website financed in large part and lead by Jewish philanthropist Nina Rosenwald.

      Rosenwald’s site, the Gatestone Institute, publishes a steady flow of inflammatory content about the German election, focused on stoking fears about immigrants and Muslims. In one of the most recent posts, the website warns of the construction of mosques in Germany and claims that Christianity is becoming “extinct.”

      [...]

      Local German press, however, condemned the Gatestone story as false. A single house in Hamburg went into temporary trusteeship after several apartments at the home remained vacant. “Refugees did not play a role in the district’s decision,” fact-checking website Correctiv noted.

      The story was typical of Gatestone’s approach. The website’s Germany-related coverage includes story after story about migrants raping German women, claims that migrants are bringing “highly infectious diseases” to Germany, and Muslims are transforming entire German neighborhoods into “no-go zones” where local police have lost control. Many of the claims about Muslims in Europe have been debunked as false or sensationalized.

      Gatestone articles in the past have notably elevated Björn Höcke, an AfD leader who represents the party’s far-right faction. Höcke has since sparked controversy in January with a firebrand speech denouncing German guilt over its Nazi past and criticizing the Holocaust memorial in Berlin, claiming that Germans suffer from a “mentality of a totally vanquished people.”

      [...]

      Rosenwald, the president and funder of Gatestone, did not respond to a request for comment. She is the daughter of the late William Rosenwald, a famous Jewish philanthropist who used his share of the Sears, Roebuck & Co. department store fortune to settle Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi terror in Europe. Nina, however, has emerged as one of the most generous donors to campaigns against Muslim refugee in the U.S. and Europe.

    • Trump Says Frederick Douglass Is Doing An Amazing Job Making All His Friends Rich In Nambia

      With death lurking daily – either from our impending un-health care and the mountain of lies being told about it or from an understandably pissed North Korea threatening to take revenge on our “deranged” leader by setting off a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean – we’re thinking about moving to Nambia. It actually doesn’t exist – though Namibia does – but that didn’t stop the ever-well-informed Trump from praising its health care to African leaders at the U.N., painstakingly reading its name aloud twice among all the other foreign-type countries he’d clearly never heard of before.

      Cue a particularly riotous online response on the wonders of Nambia – where everyone has an Emmy and large hands, where the three to five million illegal immigrants who gave Hillary the popular vote win came from, where the climate’s between Narnia and Middle Earth, where Frederick Douglass is organizing refugees from the Bowling Green Massacre, where the government’s so broke they’re selling off letters from their name, where Trump U plans to open a campus offering a degree in Colonial Profiteering. And don’t forget their great covfefe.

      Still, Nambia was the fun part. Things got more weird and venal when Trump did his best mindless imitation of King Leopold, brutal colonizer and “Butcher of Congo” during whose reign of profit-seeking terror he killed, enslaved and cut off the hands of thousands of Africans. Trump got as far in his script as citing Africa’s “tremendous business potential” before veering disastrously off-course into one of his surreal ad-libs.

    • What We Do and Don’t Know About Facebook’s New Political Ad Transparency Initiative

      On Thursday, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg announced several steps to make political ads on the world’s largest social network more transparent. The changes follow Facebook’s acknowledgment earlier this month that $100,000 worth of political ads were placed during the 2016 election cycle by “inauthentic accounts” linked to Russia.

      The changes also follow ProPublica’s launch of a crowdsourcing effort earlier this month to collect political advertising from Facebook. Our goal was to ensure that political ads on Facebook, which until now have largely avoided scrutiny, receive the same level of fact-checking by journalists, advocacy groups and political opponents as do print, broadcast and radio political ads. We hope to have some results to share soon.

    • Bernie Sanders To Democrats: This Is What a Radical Foreign Policy Looks Like

      During the Democratic presidential primaries, politicians and pundits alike agreed that Sanders had a foreign policy deficit. “Foreign policy,” wrote David Ignatius, the Washington Post’s foreign affairs doyen, “is the hole in Sanders’s political doughnut.” Patrick Leahy, Sanders’s fellow senator from Vermont, was only a tad more diplomatic in an interview with the New York Times. “It’s not the subject he gravitates to, that’s fair to say,” acknowledged Leahy.

      A long-promised set piece speech on foreign policy during the campaign never came, and the Sanders campaign website lacked a foreign policy page for the first few months of his candidacy. Some of the figures identified by the senator as outside advisers on national security issues later claimed to hardly know him.

      His discomfort with the topic is palpable, but the truth is that the 76-year-old Sanders is far from a foreign policy neophyte. In the 1980s, as mayor of Burlington, Vermont, he was an outspoken critic of U.S. interventions in Latin America, becoming the highest-ranking elected U.S. official to visit Nicaragua and meet with President Daniel Ortega (which earned him the soubriquet “Sandernista”). He even went on honeymoon to the Soviet Union in 1988, as part of his effort to establish a sister city program between Burlington and Yaroslavl.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Silicon Valley Should Just Say No to Saudi

      American companies face a difficult tradeoff when dealing with government requests, but they should just say no to Saudi Arabia, which is using social media companies to do its dirty work in censoring Qatari media. Over the past few weeks, both Medium and Snap have caved to Saudi demands to geoblock journalistic content in the kingdom.

      The history of Silicon Valley companies’ compliance with requests from foreign governments is a sad one, and one that has undoubtedly led to more censorship around the world. While groups like EFF have been successful at pushing companies toward more transparency and at pushing back against domestic censorship in the United States, it seems that companies are unwilling or unable to see why protecting freedom of expression on their platforms abroad is important.

      After Yahoo’s compliance with a user data request from the Chinese government in the early 2000s resulted in the imprisonment of two Chinese citizens, the digital rights community began to pressure companies to use more scrutiny when dealing with orders from foreign governments. The early work of scholars such as Rebecca MacKinnon led to widespread awareness amongst civil society groups and the eventual creation of the Global Network Initiative, which created standards guiding companies’ compliance with foreign requests. A push from advocacy groups resulted in Google issuing its first transparency report in 2010, with other companies following the Silicon Valley giant’s lead. Today—thanks to tireless advocacy and projects like EFF’s Who Has Your Back report—dozens of companies issue their own reports.

      Transparency is vital. It helps users to understand who the censors are, and to make informed decisions about what platforms they use. But, as it turns out, transparency does not necessarily lead to less censorship.

    • Foxborough Exhibit On Media Censorship Gets Censored

      A photo exhibit at the Boyden Library about the dangers of news censorship and the threats reporters face around the world has itself been censored following a complaint.

      During September, the library played host to a photo exhibit showing posting dedicated to freedom of the press. Recently, some photos, including one that showed a beaten Ethopian journalist and another featuring an Iranian government official giving an pointed order to the media, were taken down, according to the Sun Chronicle.

    • In Foxboro, library exhibit on censorship is censored

      A publicly funded poster exhibit extolling press freedom has been removed from the Boyden Public Library following complaints over what some regarded as “graphic” and “inappropriate” content.

      Stephen Lewis, a collector and former union official, had produced the display, which consisted of more than 20 posters protesting threats to freedom or describing dangers faced by news-gatherers around the world in reporting on terrorism, war and corruption.

    • NU-Qatar Study Shows More Tolerance for Censorship of Mideast Media

      It’s well-established that trust in the U.S. media is at an all-time low, but that may be a sign that the press is doing its job.

      In the Middle East, trust in the media is twice that – 66 percent. But higher levels of trust may actually be because Middle Eastern media is less critical and less controversial, according to Everette Dennis, the dean and CEO Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Qatar).

    • Pahlaj Nihalani: India needs censorship rating between ‘U/A’ and ‘A’

      There are “two cracks” that need to be fixed in the Indian film censorship system, says controversial former chief of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) Pahlaj Nihalani, who believes introducing a new rating slab could be a solution.

      During his term as CBFC chief, Nihalani faced a lot of flak for refusing certificates to films or demanding cuts and beeps. He says the problem will never get sorted until the rules of the rating system are improved.

    • British PM Wants More Internet Censorship: Delete ‘Extremist Content’ In 2 Hours
    • After Milo Accuses D.C. Coffeehouse Of Censorship, It Faces Barrage Of Harassment [Ed: Racist sexist provocateur/troll paints himself as the victim]
    • Spain and Catalonia Wrestle Over .Cat Internet Domain
    • Censorship – 1984 dot now

      Truth initiatives are a horrible idea, because they imply there is just one truth and that it should somehow be accepted blindly. What this is going to do is make smart people even more suspicious of the nonsense the media tosses at them, and the stupid people even stupider. Maybe that’s the goal?

      I do not need pseudo-liberals to be my tranquility police. I do not subscribe to arbitrary values of goodness, because such a thing does not exist. The walled-garden mentality is a horrible thing, and it’s been done before, throughout history, in countries, societies and regimes that do not resonate well with the so-called democratic process.

      The greatest human trait is curiosity. The need to learn and challenge conventions. We got where we are by fighting the established truths, by coping with the unknown and uncertain, by not accepting the reality at face value. This is just the digital version of going to the middle ages and following the party dogma or some similar nonsense. One truth to bring them all and in the stupidity bind them. In the land of idiots where the data lies.

    • Bogus Lawsuit-Slinging Rep Management Firm Sued By Pissed Consumer

      Solvera — a reputation management firm allegedly engaging in legal fraud to delist criticism — is facing multiple legal problems as a result of its highly-questionable services. In late August, the Texas Attorney General filed a complaint against the company, alleging it defrauded courts by filing bogus defamation lawsuits on behalf of possibly-unaware clients, utilizing duped lawyers with bogus statements from fake defendants.

      This sort of behavior has been uncovered in recent months through investigations by Paul Alan Levy of Public Citizen and lawprof/blogger Eugene Volokh. It has also been revealed through independent research by Pissed Consumer, an obvious target of these unsavory (and illegal) reputation management tactics.

    • Comey convocation address derailed by angry protesters at Howard University

      Comey was unable to speak at first due to the disruption. After several minutes, Comey tried to begin. “I hope you’ll stay and listen to what I have to say. … I listened to you for five minutes,” he said, before pausing again.

      After several more minutes of protests, Comey launched into his prepared speech – which, ironically, was about how the rest of the world is often “too noisy” to take time to reflect, whereas Howard University represents an “island.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • NSA General Counsel Glenn Gerstell Remarks on Section 702 Oversight [Ed: No, they have zero oversight. A department that always says "yes" is just 'legal theatre']
    • NSA cryptography proposal rejected by allies

      Distrust of the US National Security Agency has caused experts from allied nations to reject its proposals for new cryptography standards.

      A “track record of subverting the standardisation process” has led to the intelligence agency losing much of the respect it once held, according to Dr Steven J Murdoch, a security researcher at University College London.

    • US allies accuse NSA of manipulating encryption standards

      The US National Security Agency (NSA) is in the global bad books again after allegations surfaced suggesting it was trying to manipulate international encryption standards. Reuters reports that it has seen interviews and emails from experts in countries including Germany, Japan and Israel expressing concern that the NSA has been pushing two particular encryption techniques not because they are secure, but because the agency knows how to break them.

    • NSA Tried to Push Global Encryption Standards “Because It Knew How to Break Them”

      The cybersecurity world continues to mistrust the National Security Agency of the United States. According to a latest Reuters report, an international group of cryptography experts from the country’s closest allies has forced the NSA to back down over two encryption techniques that the agency wanted to turn into global industry standards.

    • ‘Subversive’ NSA forced to back down over cyber encryption techniques

      US allies, distrustful of the NSA, have forced the agency to abandon some data encryption techniques it sought to set as the global standard, over fears the spy agency already knew how to bypass the security.

      Trust in the NSA is at an all-time low following whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations that, among other things, it had previously promoted technology it could penetrate and had plotted to manipulate international standards.

      This mistrust has manifested itself in a series of closed-door meetings, held around the world over the last three years, Reuters reports. The NSA was trying to push through two encryption techniques, Simon and Speck, that it said were needed for defensive purposes.

    • Friend Request film review: Another Facebook horror film? Yes—and it’s solid

      Friend Request is the second “Facebook horror film” to receive wide release in the past two years. That number may either seem too high or too low to you, but it’s certainly fertile pop-culture territory: young, hip kids live their lives online and die for it, mwahaha.

    • WhatsApp Reportedly Rejected UK Government Demand For Encryption Backdoor [Ed: Misleading PR stunt from Facebook. Facebook still can (and does) intercept everything. Government then asks for access. Stop telling people that things which are not secure can guard their privacy. Advice like that is doing far more harm than good. Can kill people.]
    • Nest adds new cameras and a wireless alarm system to its product suite [Ed: What kind of a fool does it take to install a CCTV for Google in one’s own home? And pay for it?]

      Alphabet-owned Nest announced several new products today, all of them focused on home security. Two new cameras have been introduced—the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor and Nest Hello—along with Nest Secure, a multi-device home alarm system powered by motion sensors.

    • Another court tells police: Want to use a stingray? Get a warrant

      The District of Columbia Court of Appeals ruled that the warrantless use of a cell-site simulator violated the Constitution when a man suspected of sexual assault and robbery was located by local police.

      In a 2-1 opinion issued Thursday, the DC Court of Appeals—effectively the equivalent of a state supreme court—agreed with the lower court’s ruling that the use of the device, also known as a stingray, was unconstitutional. In addition, however, the judges went further: they found that the violation was so egregious that any evidence derived from the stingray should be excluded from the case, which overturned the conviction.

      The case, Prince Jones v. United States, joins a recent string of judgements from around the country that concluded that stingrays are a “search” under the Fourth Amendment. That means they require a warrant, barring exigent circumstances or other known exceptions.

    • Appeals Court Rules Against Warrantless Cell-site Simulator Surveillance

      Law enforcement officers in Washington, D.C. violated the Fourth Amendment when they used a cell site simulator to locate a suspect without a warrant, a D.C. appeals court ruled on Thursday. The court thus found that the resulting evidence should have been excluded from trial and overturned the defendant’s convictions.

      EFF joined the ACLU in filing an amicus brief, arguing that the use of a cell-site simulator without a warrant constituted an illegal search. We applaud the court’s decision in applying long-established Fourth Amendment principles to the digital age.

    • ISO Rejects NSA Encryption Algorithms

      The ISO has decided not to approve two NSA-designed block encryption algorithms: Speck and Simon. It’s because the NSA is not trusted to put security ahead of surveillance:

    • ISO decides not to approve two NSA encryption algorithms, citing trust issues

      The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) decided not to approve the NSA encryption algorithms Speck and Simon after expressing concerns that the NSA was able to crack the encryption techniques and would thus gain a back door into coded transmissions.

      The decision follows a three year dispute behind closed doors around the world between academic and industry experts from countries including Germany, Japan and Israel about whether or not the two data encryption techniques would be set as global encryption standards, according to Reuters.

    • This Former GCHQ Head Took A Private Sector Role Without Asking For Government Approval – And Got Away With It

      A former head of the UK spy agency GCHQ has been criticised by the panel that advises on new jobs for former ministers and senior civil servants for taking a new role without seeking its permission – but was then immediately approved for a second role.

      Robert Hannigan, who earlier this year stepped down as the director of GCHQ, has launched a consultancy company and accepted a commission as head of the European advisory board for a new US cybersecurity firm, BlueteamGlobal.

      However, he did not seek approval from the Advisory Commission for Business Appointments (Acoba) before this role was announced. The move contradicts the committee’s rules for civil servants in the first two years after they leave public service.

    • UK banks to check 70m bank accounts in search for illegal immigrants

      Banks and building societies are to carry out immigration checks on 70m current accounts from January in the biggest extension of Theresa May’s plans to create a “hostile environment” for illegal immigrants in Britain, the Guardian has learned.

      The Home Office expects to identify 6,000 visa overstayers, failed asylum seekers and foreign national offenders facing deportation in the first year of the checks, which are to be carried out quarterly.

    • I Have Nothing to Hide – Really? Here’s why privacy matters to all of us

      The statement “I have nothing to hide” is very popular. But recently reversing this statement has also become very popular: “Give me your bank account login, your email login, your Facebook login.” Most people refuse this instantly, and for a good reason: Everybody has something to hide. To convince everybody – once and for all – let’s take a deep dive into why privacy matters and how everybody can protect their private data easily.

    • Parrot mimics owner to make purchases using Amazon Echo
  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Opening the black boxes: algorithmic bias and the need for accountability

      If this position is allowed to stand, we run the risk of turning algorithms into black boxes whose results we are forced to accept, but whose workings we may not query. In particular, we won’t know what personal information has been used in the decision-making process, and thus how our privacy is being affected.

    • Norway under fire for deporting woman who was whipped in Iran

      Social media is subjecting Norway’s ultra-strict attitude with asylum seekers to public trial after an Iranian woman was deported and given 80 lashes for allegedly consuming alcohol.

      Thirty-six-year-old Leila Bayat had lived in Norway for eight years, but was expelled in March this year, separating her from her 13-year-old son. Her punishment in Iran was on Tuesday. A friend in Norway contacted her.

      “Morning, Leila, how are you?”

      “Not at all well. It’s is very, very painful. I was whipped 80 times, I can hardly talk abut it”.

      Norway’s Immigration Ministry did not believe Leila’s reasons for demanding asylum. Now she intends to take it to court, and she has allies.

    • Anti-Fascist Heroines Then and Now

      The torchlit procession and violent rally of neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klan members in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month, and President Donald Trump’s repeated defense of the racist gathering, mark a turning point in modern America. Trump doubled down last week when he blamed both sides again, denouncing some anti-racist and anti-fascist protesters as “bad dudes,” a day after meeting with the Senate’s lone black Republican, Sen. Tim Scott, whom the White House called “Tom” Scott.

      To recap: Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old activist, was killed, and at least 19 more were injured, when a neo-Nazi rammed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters on Aug. 12. Hate groups and white supremacists, on the rise since Barack Obama became the first African-American president, are emboldened by Trump.

      The history of resistance to fascism is worth recalling at this critical moment in U.S. politics, and also at this time of the Jewish High Holy Days, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. The stories of Anne Frank and Sophie Scholl — two young German women, one a Jew, another a Christian — should guide and inspire us in this darkening time.

    • Is the West complicit in the Rohingya crisis?

      Britain and other Western countries have provided support to the Burmese military despite repeated reports of ethnic cleansing. Steve Shaw reports.

      Over 370,000 people have fled Burma’s Rakhine State, in the west of the country, since 25 August. They cross the border to Bangladesh with accounts of atrocities, torture and death, after what appears to be the latest and most horrific case of the Rohingya minority’s persecution by the country’s military.

      It is not known how many have been killed, and as many as 10,000 homes may have been destroyed. Entire villages have been torched, food and water supplies cut off and aid agencies shut out.

    • Abu Ghraib civil lawsuit returns to federal courthouse
    • Getty photographer arrested while covering protest in St. Louis

      Getty photographer Scott Olson was arrested while covering a protest in St. Louis on September 17, 2017.

      That night, hundreds of people gathered in downtown St. Louis to protest the acquittal of Jason Stockley, a white former St. Louis police officer who in 2011 fatally shot Anthony Lamar Smith, a black man.

      Olson told the Freedom of the Press Foundation that more than a hundred St. Louis police officers converged from all sides on the intersection of Washington Street and Tucker Boulevard, where a crowd of people had gathered. He described the crowd as a mix of a few activists, some journalists and many bystanders. He said that the police ordered everyone to disperse while simultaneously cutting off their exits and then ordered everyone to lie down on the ground and started to arrest them.

    • Home Office wrongly denying people bank accounts in 10% of cases

      As many as one in 10 people refused a new account because they failed an immigration status check were wrongly denied access to Britain’s banking system because of mistakes in Home Office records, according to an official watchdog.

      An examination of Theresa May’s existing “hostile environment” measures against illegal immigrants by the chief inspector of borders also found that hundreds of driving licences had been wrongly revoked after Home Office mistakes in identifying people as remaining in Britain unlawfully.

      David Bolt, the chief inspector of borders and immigration, said – after uncovering the 10% error rate in refusing new bank accounts in his 2016 report – that the Home Office “failed to appreciate the potential impact of such wrong decisions on those affected”.

    • White people are really confident that things are getting better for black people
    • The Breakthrough: A Reporter Finds a Man Proven Innocent, But Still Guilty in Eyes of the Law

      For five days, ProPublica reporter Megan Rose hunkered down in a very small, very hot conference room in Las Vegas, surrounded by boxes brimming with legal records. She took notes and scanned documents one page at a time. The grind of investigative reporting, personified.

      But in those pages lay a big payoff: a story of murder, misadventure and injustice.

    • Dedrick Asante-Muhammad on the Widening Racial Wealth Gap

      This week on CounterSpin: Virtually every newscast will contain some item about “the economy.” It’s always been a very inexact way to talk: The economy encompasses many factors and many actors. But as a new report underscores, even if we’re just talking about people’s economic well-being, speaking in broad terms doesn’t just miss a lot, it’s anti-explanatory; it obscures more than it reveals. The report is called The Road to Zero Wealth: How the Racial Wealth Divide Is Hollowing Out America’s Middle Class. It explores why that wealth gap exists, and how we might intervene to turn it around. Because if we don’t, we are driving the country toward what authors describe in no uncertain times as a “racial and economic apartheid state.”

    • People Power Launches 50-State Voting Rights Campaign to Reenergize Our Democracy

      Freedom Cities victories show how citizens can come together and bring change to their communities.

      While Donald Trump and Kris Kobach look for ways to disenfranchise Americans, People Power is launching the Let People Vote campaign to uphold, protect, and expand the right to vote.

      We have witnessed the impact of People Power activists in the ACLU’s ongoing Freedom Cities campaign, where volunteers have advocated that their communities adopt nine “model” rules to ensure that local police aren’t used to target and discriminate against immigrant communities.

      Just look at how a group of concerned citizens can make a difference in a city like Phoenix.

    • ‘Legislators Criminalize Practices That Led to Wrongdoings Being Exposed’

      Simply put, if an industry goes after people who seek to investigate it, it’s a pretty good indication that they’re doing something they don’t want you to know. This is certainly the case with the animal agriculture industry. The term “ag-gag,” introduced by New York Times food writer Mark Bittman, describes the slew of laws introduced to target undercover investigations and whistleblowing about the industry. Because, it turns out, when people don’t just hear about but see piglets having their heads bashed against cement floors, or cows too sick to walk being picked up by forklifts, it affects how they feel—and how they act.

    • Syrian Military Police defector “Caesar” Passes Key Evidence to German Federal Prosecutor

      Thousands of photos of corpses in Syrian government detention facilities, in high definition, many containing metadata – key evidence for the ongoing investigations into human rights abuses under Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
      “Caesar-File Support Group” files criminal complaint in Germany against senior officials from the Syrian intelligence services and the military police

      On 21 September 2017, the group around the former Syrian military police employee “Caesar” took for the first legal action by filing together with ECCHR a criminal complaint with the German Federal Prosecutor in Karlsruhe against senior officials from the Syrian intelligence services and the military police concerning crimes against humanity and war crimes. A representative of the “Caesar-File Support Group” also provided the Federal Prosecutor with a set of high-resolution images and metadata. The metadata can be used to verify the photographs and provide further information about them. This adds to the evidentiary value of the images and paves the way for further investigatory steps.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Report: T-Mobile, Sprint finally figuring out this merger thing

      T-Mobile USA and Sprint are getting further along in merger talks and are “close to agreeing [to] tentative terms on a deal,” Reuters reported today, citing anonymous sources.

      A merger would join the third and fourth largest wireless carriers in the US, leaving the country with three major nationwide carriers including Verizon Wireless and AT&T.

    • Verizon Hangs Up On Tens Of Thousands Of ‘Unlimited’ Wireless Customers For Using Too Much Data

      Over the last few years, you may have noticed that Verizon is attempting a pivot from stodgy old telco to sexy new advertising juggernaut. Part of that effort has involved refusing to upgrade its lagging DSL infrastructure in countless towns and cities as it shifts its focus toward wireless and using its AOL and Yahoo acquisitions to sling videos and advertisements at Millennials. To justify its failure to upgrade its fixed-line network during this period (something it’s being sued for by cities like New York), Verizon has long proclaimed that wireless is a “good enough” replacement for fixed-line alternatives.

    • Verizon kicking people off network for using just a few gigabytes a month

      When Verizon Wireless started disconnecting rural customers for using too much data, the nation’s largest wireless carrier described them as extremely heavy data users who were costing the company money. When the disconnections began in June, Verizon told Ars the customers “are using vast amounts of data—some as much as a terabyte or more a month—outside of our network footprint.”

      But it’s now become clear that Verizon’s disconnection notices also went to people using just a few gigabytes a month. As we’ve previously reported, the affected customers are supported by Verizon’s LTE in Rural America (LRA) program, which relies on a partnership between Verizon and small rural carriers who lease Verizon spectrum in order to build their own networks.

    • Email delivery is stuck on IPv4

      One of those things that I’ve always wondered was that now that we have IPv6 in the world would it be possible to run an email server only on IPv6. Given that most service providers have IPv6 now surely they would be able to deliver email on v6?

  • DRM
    • With the World Wide Web Consortium captured by the copyright industry, who will step up to lead web development next?

      The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which used to develop standards for the Web, has been captured by the copyright industry. In a doubly controversial vote, the W3C decided that media companies and not the user should be in control, ending their longstanding commitment to openness and the Internet’s core values. The open question is what new body web developers will choose to follow for future generations of standards.

    • Boring, complex and important: the deadly mix that blew up the open web

      I spent years working to get people to pay attention to the ramifications of the effort, but was stymied by the deadly combination of an issue that was super-technical and complicated, as well as kind of boring (standards-making is a slow-moving, legalistic process).

    • Boring, complex and important: a recipe for the web’s dire future

      Standards are boring, complicated and important. Reasonable people can debate at length the optimal gauge for a railroad track or voltage for a mains socket, but in the absence of an agreement at the end, your trains will go off the rails as your kettle will burst into flames.

    • Netflix, Microsoft, and Google just quietly changed how the web works

      There is no consensus on how bad EME will actually be for users. But what’s potentially more concerning is the perception that the organization that architects the world wide web has been colonized by big business. The World Wide Web Consortium was started at MIT in 1994 by Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the web, in collaboration with the CERN science center in Geneva with support from DARPA and the European Commission. It has always maintained that it is a “neutral forum.” From early press releases: “The Consortium is neutral forum, and no member has a priori a greater say than another.” “The Consortium is vendor-neutral.” Now, the passage of EME is fueling the perception that the consortium is in the pocket of its large corporate members. The consortium’s press release announcing EME included laudatory statements from the MPAA, the RIAA, and the cable industry.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Trademarks
      • What Netflix’s Congenial Trademark ‘Threat Letter’ Says About Everyone’s Tolerance For Trademark Bullying

        Readers of this site will be well-versed in trademark threat letters. With the sorts of trademark stories we cover here, our discussion about threat letters typically take the form of trademark holders going out of their way either to overstate their rights or to act as aggressive and threatening as possible. Or, of course, both of those things at the same time. But not every company goes full bully when sending out trademark cease and desist notices, as exemplified by Netflix this week, when it sent out a notice to a Chicago popup bar called The Upside Down, an obvious reference to Netflix’s hit show Stranger Things.

        [...]

        What is most interesting to me about this story isn’t Netflix’s letter itself, although it was certainly nice to see a company get this so right. More interesting was both the media’s and public’s reactions to the letter, which seems to indicate that on some level the media and general public are waking up to trademark bullying and the fact that there are other ways to handle trademark issues beyond being a jerk. While I cover trademark issues all the time, I don’t expect the everyman to have an understanding of ways to protect trademarks that goes beyond, “Company X has a trademark, so of course their lawyers sent out a threat.” The reaction to this story seems to indicate that the public is beginning to understand that enforcing trademark law doesn’t have to equal acting like a jerk. And that’s a good thing.

      • “Super classy” Netflix cease-and-desist letter shows how to boost goodwill while tackling infringement

        The letter was sent to The Upside Down, a Chicago pop-up bar themed on the popular Netflix series Stranger Things. Having opened in August with the initial intention of operating for six weeks, the venue planned to extend its lifespan until after the show’s second season premieres in October. However, it had not sought or received Netflix’s permission to use its protected branding.

    • Copyrights
      • The Soaring Cost Of Sports Programming Is Simply Not Sustainable

        One of the biggest reasons for soaring cable rates is the bloated and soaring cost of sports programming. Similarly, one of the biggest causes for the unprecedented rise in cord cutting (ditching cable and going with a streaming alternative) is the cost of sports programming. Surveys have shown that 56% of ESPN viewers would dump the channel just to save the $8 per month it costs each subscriber. Once streaming alternatives emerged for the sports-bloated traditional cable bundles that let them do just that, users began flooding to the exits at a historic rate.

        The reality is millions upon millions of customers don’t give a shit about sports, yet are forced to pay $120 or more per month for cable bundles filled with content they don’t watch, and didn’t want. And when some cable companies initially tried to offer “skinny bundles” without ESPN or other sports networks, they were sued by ESPN for trying to give consumers what they wanted. And while that has slowly started to change with the rise of live TV streaming alternatives, for traditional cable providers something in this cycle of dysfunction needs to change. Quickly.

      • European Commission spent 360,000€ on a piracy study, then buried it because they didn’t like what it said

        Estimating displacement rates of copyrighted content in the EU is a 360,000€ study commissioned by the European Commission from the Dutch consulting firm Ecorys, whose mandate was to “research the effect piracy had on sales of copyrighted content” — the report was completed in 2015, but never made public.

        That’s because the report concluded that “the results do not show robust statistical evidence of displacement of sales by online copyright infringements” with the exception of “recent top films.”

        The European Commission has gone on to institute and recommend a series of brutal, repressive systems of censorship and surveillance in the name of preventing copyright infringement, stating all along that this was necessary to preserve the arts in the EU.

      • EC DIAGNOSED WITH © ‘OSTRICH SYNDROME’: MISSING STUDY ON PIRACY

        German MEP Julia Reda (Greens/EFA) published a ‘new’ copyright study [PDF] from the European Commission (EC) titled “Estimating displacement rates of copyrighted content in the EU”.

        Yes, you’re reading the 1st paragraph correctly, an MEP published a study from the EC. If this sounds weird to you, that’s about right, and we know the feeling. So, before we dive into sharing some of the study’s findings, let’s first give you some insights on why this study is not so ‘breaking’ as one would assume, and how and why MEP Reda needed to dig it from under the sand and publish it online herself.

      • Joy, Are you Happy about This Lawsuit?

        Depending upon your mood, this case might make you happy, sad, angry, or afraid — perhaps even fill you with love.

        Daniels is known for creating the Moodsters – five anthropomorphic color-coded, gendered characters each representing a single abstract emotion that live in an world inside a child’s mind.

      • German Court: Thumbnail Images In Search Engines Not A Copyright Violation

        In a noteworthy ruling, the German Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe today decided that the use of picture search engines and the publishing of the resulting thumbnails and reference links does not violate German copyright law (I ZR 11/16 – Vorschaubilder III) . The case that had been brought by US adult content provider Perfect 10 against AOL Germany turned out favourable to Google in the end, whose picture search engine had been the tool in question.

      • German Federal Court of Justice rules that GS Media presumption of knowledge does not apply to Google Images

        Is Google responsible for the lawfulness of the images displayed through its Images search service?

        According to the German Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof – BGH), the answer is NO.

        In a judgment delivered yesterday (I ZR 11/16 – Preview III) the BGH relied on the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in GS Media, C-160/15 [Katposts here]and dismissed the action that the operator of a photography website had brought against Google and its search engine.

      • What the Commission found out about copyright infringement but ‘forgot’ to tell us

        The study’s conclusion: With the exception of recently released blockbusters, there is no evidence to support the idea that online copyright infringement displaces sales. While this result is not unique, but consistent with previous studies [...]

      • More concerns over the Copyright Directive: Germany questions Council Legal Service on Article 13
      • Are Cryptocurrency Miners The Future for Pirate Sites?

        Following in the footsteps of The Pirate Bay, pirate streaming link site Alluc has also added a cryptocurrency miner, hoping to generate some extra revenue through its visitors. This begs the question: Are these cryptocurrency miners the future for pirate sites?

      • Google Signs Agreement to Tackle YouTube Piracy

        Google has signed a deal with the audio-visual industry in France to more effectively target piracy on YouTube. The agreement, reached with anti-piracy outfit ALPA with government oversight, will see rightsholders gaining direct access to takedown mechanisms. Google will also provide financial support and training.

Courts Are Losing Patience for Gilstrap’s Unbridled Support of Patent Trolls

Friday 22nd of September 2017 09:08:06 PM

He’s no better than Randall Rader, a facilitator of trolls (discharged with dishonor, so to speak)


Photo from Reuters

Summary: The man whose court has become a trolling ‘factory’ is being refuted (but not reprimanded) by the CAFC, which certainly can see that something is amiss and serves to discredit the system as a whole

THE media does not usually name judges (personifying cases). But Gilstrap is a special case; he himself has become the story due to outrageous rulings on patents (and more recently copyrights, too). The judge whom prominent politicians have dubbed “reprehensible” keeps ignoring the Supreme Court [1, 2]. He has single-handedly decided that the litigation ‘industry’ in his town is more important than the law itself.

What will people think of the legal system, having read about the tales of Gilstrap? It’s almost as though he is proudly biased; he boasts about it and openly invites patent trolls to his court (for favourable treatment). If he continues to make complete and utter mockery of the law, how long will it take before higher courts intervene at a more personal level/capacity?

Well, towards the end of this week the patent microcosm’s media took note of one such development; “Federal Circuit rejects Gilstrap’s test for patent venue,” said the headline. Here is the opening paragraph (much of the rest is behind a paywall):

The Federal Circuit has reversed an Eastern District of Texas refusal to transfer the Cray case, and rejected Judge Gilstrap’s test for determining patent venue. This includes the appeals court stating there must be a physical, geographical location in the district from which the business of the defendant is carried out

Almost simultaneously the other site of the patent microcosm reaffirmed the view that Gilstrap is obviously rigging the system:

As a general matter, Judge Gilstrap’s interpretation appears fairly broad, and on writ of mandamus, the Federal Circuit has rejected Gisltrap’s analysis and directed that he transfer the case to a more appropriate venue.

Why is he tolerated after all he has done? The era of patent trolls in the US may be ending, but Trump’s nomination (USPTO Director) gives reasons for concern and judges like Gilstrap somehow maintain their job, in the face of growing controversy and outrage. Here is another new article to that effect (about patent venue):

Judge Leonard Stark of the District of Delaware has issues two rulings on motions to transfer that provide guidance for Hatch-Waxman and other patent litigation. This included ruling “regular and established place of business” requires a physical place of business in the district

The EFF has already commented on this. Yesterday Vera Ranieri wrote about Gilstrap , noting that this latest appeal/reversal is good news for those of us who work hard to stop software patents and patent trolls (overlapping issues). To quote some of the relevant parts:

In a closely watched case, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has issued an order that should see many more patent cases leaving the Eastern District of Texas. The order in In re Cray, together with the Supreme Court’s recent decision in TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods, should make it much more difficult for patent owners to pick and choose among various courts in the country. In particular, it should drastically limit the ability of patent trolls to file in their preferred venue: the Eastern District of Texas.

“Venue” is a legal doctrine that relates to where cases can be heard. Prior to 1990, the Supreme Court had long held that in patent cases, the statute found at 28 U.S.C. § 1400 controlled where a patent case could be filed. This statute says that venue in patent cases is proper either (1) where the defendant “resides” or (2) where the defendant has “committed acts of infringement and has a regular and established place of business.” However, in 1990 in a case called VE Holding, the Federal Circuit held that a small technical amendment to another statute—28 U.S.C. § 1391—abrogated this long line of cases. VE Holding, together with another case called Beverly Hills Fan, essentially meant that companies that sold products nationwide could be hailed into any court in the country on charges of patent infringement, regardless of how tenuous the connection to that forum.

[...]

One decision, Raytheon Co. v. Cray, Inc., written by Judge Gilstrap (a judge who at one point had ~25% of all patent cases in the entire country before him) appeared to take a broad view of what it meant to have a “regular and established place of business.” Judge Gilstrap held that “a fixed physical location in the district is not a prerequisite to proper venue.” More concerningly, Judge Gilstrap announced his own four-factor “test” that created greater possibilities that venue would be proper in the Eastern District.

The Federal Circuit has now rejected both that test and Judge Gilstrap’s finding that a physical location in the district is not necessary. The Federal Circuit specifically noted that the venue statute “cannot be read to refer merely to a virtual space or to electronic communications from one person to another.” Importantly, the Federal Circuit also held that it is not enough that an employee may live in the district. What is important is whether the alleged infringer has itself (as opposed to the employee) established a place of business in the district. The Federal Circuit did stress, however, that every case should be judged on its own facts. Based on the facts of Cray’s relationship to the district, the Federal Circuit ordered Judge Gilstrap to transfer the case out of the Eastern District.

What will it take for Gilstrap to accept that he is wrong to put the financial interests of litigators ahead of the law itself? What will compel those in charge to consider his dismissal (for making his mission as a judge akin to that of the disgraced CAFC judge, Randall Rader)? How are people expected to respect the patent system when rules are not being honoured even by these judges?

Update: Just an hour before publishing this article the CCIA’s Josh Landau wrote about this too. He mentioned the judge:

Yesterday afternoon, the Federal Circuit overturned the Eastern District of Texas’s test for venue. Even after TC Heartland, patent trolls were trying to keep defendants in the Eastern District of Texas. And in the first order issued by Judge Gilstrap, in a case called Raytheon v. Cray, it seemed like he was going to cooperate.

In Cray’s request to overturn Judge Gilstrap’s decision, the Federal Circuit ruled that Judge Gilstrap had abused his discretion in refusing to transfer the lawsuit out of the Eastern District. The Federal Circuit then established three key factors in analyzing the “regular and established place of business.” Their factors are based on the text of the patent venue statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1400, and the history of its development, a history that establishes that it was intended to restrict the availability of venue in patent cases.

The upshot? Having a website generally accessible in a district or a telecommuting employee isn’t enough to create venue. And that stems directly from the text of the statute – a district where “the defendant has … a regular and established place of business”.

Intellectual Ventures, GNU/Linux/Android/FOSS Patents, and the Ascent of European Patent Trolls

Friday 22nd of September 2017 08:24:41 PM

Summary: The existing status of GNU/Linux in a world full of patent trolls, which not only target OEMs from Asia — typically in the US — but are also dragging them into Europe, aided by the EPO’s ‘patent bubble’

THE FREE/LIBRE software world is thriving. It’s spreading everywhere. But that does not mean that users of such software are protected from frivolous lawsuits, especially in countries where software patents exist. Developers too are occasionally being threatened or sued; we have given examples where projects got shut down due to these actions.

Readers might rightly wonder why we haven’t said a single thing about Red Hat’s latest press release; we instead included about a dozen stories in our daily links under the Red Hat section (not much new there, just reiteration of a promise from a decade and a half ago). We are more concerned about real, existing, potent threats to software.

According to today’s blog post from IAM, Microsoft’s patent troll Nathan Myhrvold now dominates the world’s largest troll, Intellectual Ventures. IAM is a fan of his and this is what it wrote:

Intellectual Ventures founder Greg Gorder has left the firm, becoming the latest of the quartet of its founders to step away from the business, following Peter Detkin and Ed Jung. According to his bio, which remains on the IV website, Gorder left earlier this month and will now “focus on his family’s philanthropic activities”.

Detkin stood down as vice chairman in January 2015, although he has continued to devote part of his time to IV-related work. Earlier this year he became a senior adviser to Sherpa Technology Group, the consulting business that was established by former VP of IP at IBM and IP Hall of Fame member Kevin Rivette. Jung also took on a new role at the start of the year, becoming CEO of Xinova, the innovation business that was spun out of IV in 2016.

“Intellectual property is the next software,” Myhrvold once said. It means that to him it’s all about patents. This Microsoft-connected patent troll is already suing quite a few companies that distribute BSD and/or GNU/Linux. It’s not a matter of “if” or “when”. The battle began years ago, but Intellectual Ventures operates through various shells. One of those is Dominion Harbor, which is publicly defaming me and smearing the EFF. To them, there’s much money at stake.

“HTC took some of these patents for defensive purposes after Apple and Microsoft had sued or blackmailed.”As is widely known by now (it’s in our daily links also), Google is taking over a large portion of HTC and IAM notes that “HTC does have around 2,000 US patents including third-party assets from the likes of HP, NEC and Nokia. It is now clear that those patents will stay in the Taiwanese company’s possession.”

HTC took some of these patents for defensive purposes after Apple and Microsoft had sued or blackmailed. HTC was Apple’s first Android target (before Apple moved on to Samsung, the largest Android OEM at the time).

Samsung’s home base, South Korea, still seems to have very low tolerance for patent parasites/trolls (and the likes of them). IAM says that the new antitrust boss (KFTC) will be tough on those who seek to restrict competition using patents:

Over the past few years, South Korea’s antitrust regulator has been one of the toughest on issues of intellectual property. Now, the leader of the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) says the body is about to start an inquest focused on how patents affect competition in the Internet of Things (IoT) or 5G space.

KFTC chairman Kim Sang-jo mentioned the role of patents in IoT during an appearance Monday at which he outlined five priorities for competition policy. 5G communications, digital broadcasting and connected devices were named as fields in which the KFTC plans to study the market for “monopolistic and oligopolistic situations”. Apparently the watchdog will establish a “monitoring network for prevention of patent rights abuse”; it is not clear what that means, but if it leads to investigations of specific patent owners, it will make waves given the commission’s history of dealing out major fines.

Germany, on the other hand, goes the other way, with the EPO being a prominent symptom of it. German companies, in a country where trolling has become a fast-growing epidemic, are stockpiling patents and Florian Müller expects those companies to become trolls before these patents expire. To quote what he wrote the other day:

Meet the patent trolls of the 2030s: Bosch, Volkswagen, Daimler, BMW

our days before the 67th International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt will end, I’d like to offer a bold prediction: unless a miracle of the kind I can’t imagine happens, Germany’s automotive industry (car manufacturers as well as suppliers) will suffer a fate similar to that of the smartphone divisions of the likes of Nokia and Ericsson, ultimately resulting in “trollification” by the 2030s.

As Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung noted last month, 52% of all patent filings related to self-driving cars belong to German companies, with Bosch alone (which is number one and followed by Audi and Continental)holding three times as many patents in that field as Google and Apple or Tesla not having any significant patent holdings in that field yet. Besides Bosch, Audi, and Continental, three other German companies are among the top 10 patent holders in this field: BMW, Volkswagen, and Daimler.

Patent filings related to self-driving cars are picking up speed, so the landscape will almost certainly change in some ways in the coming years, but not entirely.

Müller can see these writings on the wall. We could not agree more; the situation at the EPO is untenable and patent grants in Germany are disproportionately high (almost an order of magnitude more than the UK’s). We certainly hope that EPO workers are paying attention to these trends; every patent grant can cause to an innocent engineer an equal (or greater) amount of agony than that inflicted by Battistelli. We’ll say more about patent trolls in our next post.

Shelston IP Blames “Well-Organised and Appropriately-Connected Open Source Lobby” for Ban on Software Patents

Friday 22nd of September 2017 07:50:40 PM

Summary: The activism is working and foes of programmers are feeling the pressure, for software patents are being more explicitly banned in some countries

THANKFULLY enough, New Zealand’s software industry (i.e. developers) managed to keep software patents away. The same is true, to some degree, in Australia (we wrote some articles about that a few weeks ago). We have covered the subject very closely for many years and it last intensified again a couple of years ago when Shelston IP et el — basically a bunch of self-serving liars (lying about the software industry) — reared their ugly heads again [1, 2, 3, 4]. No doubt they will keep on trying again and again until they get their way (if ever).

“It is now blaming FOSS — by name — for the de facto software patents ban (loopholes notwithstanding).”A couple of days ago Shelston IP had another go at it. It is now blaming FOSS — by name — for the de facto software patents ban (loopholes notwithstanding). The whole thing was “largely due to a well-organised and appropriately-connected open source lobby – however, the change of Government and its amenability to such campaigning cannot be ruled out as a contributing factor.”

Last year we wrote a lot of articles about the Productivity Commission of Australia, whose suggestions were more officially adopted only weeks ago, in defiance of pressure from law firms (whose agenda is altogether different; they’re patent maximalists).

Writing from Australia, here is what Shelston IP said about New Zealand:

With few exceptions, most of the reforms listed above are apolitical in the sense that they would likely have eventuated irrespective of which party held the balance of power at the time. That said, some of the specific detail of the various reforms may have had a slightly partisan political flavour to it – for instance, the issue of software patents in the lead-up to the new Patents Act 2013. Originally, when the exposure draft of the new legislation was published (2004), the Labour-led coalition of the time proposed no software-specific restrictions as to whether it was patentable. However, by 2010, the National-led Government had purported to impose not only an “as such” restriction – but, further, to align more with the English courts (exemplified in the Aerotel decision) than with the European system. New Zealand’s change in position over these six years was largely due to a well-organised and appropriately-connected open source lobby – however, the change of Government and its amenability to such campaigning cannot be ruled out as a contributing factor.

Unfortunately, in New Zealand and elsewhere, one cannot be too nice, courteous or polite; the only way to keep software patents away is to starve companies like Shelston IP which keep meddling in policy (and demonise/lie about people who are actually affected by those policies, e.g. software developers).

The EPO’s Latest Lies About the UPC and SMEs Unraveled, Long-Term Plan Described as Daunting

Friday 22nd of September 2017 06:43:27 PM

Battistelli sets up Europe for patent trolls and abuse

Summary: The vision of Battistelli and the latest lies (about SMEs) are being criticised anonymously — for fear of retaliation — as Europe braces for impact with patent trolls from all around the world

THE EPO has sunk to new lows this week, at least as far as lying is concerned. As we said last night, one must now assume that everything the EPO’s management says is a lie. It’s almost always the case (and we’re barely exaggerating).

Look at the EPO’s Twitter account. When they don’t post ‘template’ promotions (e.g. of some upcoming event or section of the site) they just carry on with the usual nonsense. Earlier today the EPO wrote: “The very first guide for obtaining, maintaining and managing Unitary Patents is out: http://bit.ly/2xuHsjV pic.twitter.com/Wl4xuQjUWC

“Remember that EPO examiners are smart people. They are very well educated and they obviously know all the above. They know when they’re being lied to by the management and are conscious when the management lies in their name/on their behalf.”So I responded: “Why put out a guide for a system that does not exist and probably will never exist?”

Later on they wrote: “See if and where a patent has been granted, if it is valid, if there is still time to challenge it, etc. All here: http://bit.ly/2uVaOpR”

They also wrote: “Want to know more about the opposition procedure at the EPO? This course will help…”

I told them that “Battistelli [had] narrowed [the] oppositions window, attacked the appeal board/s, forced examiners to issue many bogus patents” (as leaks serve to reaffirm).

“It’s getting very frustrating to work as a patent examiner, no matter the level of compensation (salary).”Remember that EPO examiners are smart people. They are very well educated and they obviously know all the above. They know when they’re being lied to by the management and are conscious when the management lies in their name/on their behalf. They are not happy about it, they try to join the union (in spite of retaliation risks), and they occasionally reach out to the press (what’s left of it that’s not paid by Battistelli to keep silent or issue PR pieces). It’s getting very frustrating to work as a patent examiner, no matter the level of compensation (salary). It’s not as rewarding as it used to be. “Producing stronger patents (or being able to produce them) is also a matter of professional pride for the examiners,” somebody explained a month ago.

Earlier today in IP Kat we saw two good comments from what might be existing or former examiners. The first comment says almost exactly what we have been warning about for years, alluding to a long message from “Proof of the Pudding” (which had been suppressed, apparently algorithmically, until it was broken into parts).

“It is a frightening thought,” said this comment,” but the more one looks at the situation, one can discover what the hidden agenda of the actual president of the EPO could have been, now was: transform the EPO in an examination-light office, reduce the boards of appeal to nothing, and push the UPC at any rate.”

Yes, this is exactly what we have said over the years. Here is the comment in full (buried down in a comments section that’s weeks old):

Proof of the Pudding’s picture is scary, but it cannot be dismissed.

It is a frightening thought, but the more one looks at the situation, one can discover what the hidden agenda of the actual president of the EPO could have been, now was: transform the EPO in an examination-light office, reduce the boards of appeal to nothing, and push the UPC at any rate.

One does not have been scholar of the ENA (the posh stable where the president comes from) to guess who will benefit from this.

As far as the UPC is concerned, the SMEs have always been used as fig leaf to push the project through for the benefit of any other players than the SMEs. That even the Commission once thought to introduce a litigation insurance says a lot. The stance about SMEs is repeated with the regularity of a Tibetan prayer mill turning in the wind.

As SMEs benefit from a fee reduction when filing European applications, it would be interesting to see if the EPO is prepared to publish statistics about the number of filings by SMEs in member states of the EPC in general, and from SMEs in the EU in particular, and then from the countries having ratified the UPC. I take bets that the number is barely worth mentioning, otherwise those figures would have been already published.

The official filing figures at the EPO are clear in themselves, even abundantly clear: filings coming from EU states are barely above a third of all filings. The first beneficiaries are easy to find: all non EPC member states.

Another figure which would be interesting: how many EP are validated in all EU member states? How many are validated in all EPC member states?

That at the last conference on the UPC in Munich, the organisers managed to find a SME which reaves about the UPC is a good marketing coup. It is certainly not representative of the real situation of SMEs.

The UPC is a perfect example of lobbying at its best, when one sees who will be the beneficiaries of the whole system: litigation lawyers (some of them having written themselves the Rules of Procedure of the UPC) and large companies acting internationally and with deep pockets.

It might be more expensive to litigate in each and every EU or EPC country, but at least it was a barrier for stopping some bullies. And if it was worth it, the litigants had enough money to fight were the market share was worth it. How many cases of this kind?

With the UPC, no reason to refrain, in one go all are caught. In the long run the number of diverging decisions between EPC member states have gone down and will continue to go down, so why do we absolutely need an instance like the UPC?

But is looks so social to apparently care for the smaller and poorer among us….

Propaganda/echo chamber ‘events’ (or ‘forums’) are taken note of, too. The EPO organises quite a few of these nowadays (Margot Fröhlinger is doing another one in a few days in Canada), sometimes helped by IAM (which did this in the US, sponsored by the EPO’s PR agency) and Managing IP (it last did this earlier this month in major cities in Europe).

It’s just gross. As the above notes: “That at the last conference on the UPC in Munich, the organisers managed to find a SME which reaves about the UPC is a good marketing coup. It is certainly not representative of the real situation of SMEs.”

“It’s like politicians who attempt to pass laws by speaking about “terrorism”, “the children”, or “piracy” (they allude to copyright).”See how they’re distorting the record?

No matter if SMEs oppose the UPC (the European Digital SME Alliance too has made it very clear) and the EPO covertly offered fast lanes to large corporations, the EPO persists with this lie that the UPC is “for SMEs” (or something along those lines). It’s like politicians who attempt to pass laws by speaking about “terrorism”, “the children”, or “piracy” (they allude to copyright).

The EPO has lied about it again (as above) and later pushed a so-called ‘study’ with lots of EPO promotion of it (five times yesterday alone).

As the following new comment (received earlier today) puts it, the paper labels trolls “SMEs” and conveniently cherry-picks:

The choice of SME in the EPO paper is quite telling as well. Most of them are known in the industry as patent trolls. Just check a few of their patents application and see what their contribution to the art really is.

That, of course, is a direct consequence of the EPO choosing the SME with the larger number of patents for their case studies. Normal SME only patent what they really intent to manufacture and sell, which amounts to a relatively small number of patents. When a small company applies for dozens of patents each year, it usually means that their main business is litigation.

Going back to IP Kat, the next comment skewers the EPO ‘study’ and takes note of the incredibly low sample size:

A study about the benefits for SMEs of the patent system, and hence also the benefits they can gain by using the UPC, has been published today by the EPO:

http://documents.epo.org/projects/babylon/eponet.nsf/0/FF76F6F0783153B7C12581A2004DA0D2/$File/epo_sme_case_studies_2017_en.pdf

It looks at 12(sic) cases of successful SMEs spread all over Europe.

If a drug manufacturer would file a demand for approval supported by just showing 12 positive cases, among a total of unknown cases, and without any negative cases, no approval would be obtained, as the result is not statistically proven and the benefits of the drug have not been demonstrated. One should not be mesmerised by this apparent string of success.

To be fair, the Spanish SME which was raving about the UPC at the last UPC conference in Munich is among the 12.

The figures relating to all the filings by SMEs compared to the overall figures of filings should be urgently published by the EPO! Negative cases should also be examined as there certainly are some.

The number of cases in which SMEs have been harassed by large companies, is much more difficult to apprehend, but this figure would also be useful.

Only then, the stance about the usefulness of the patent system for SMEs will have been correctly established.

What has been done here is just blending out the full breadth of the problems faced by SMEs attempting to use the patent system, or in other words, blow smoke in the eyes and pull the leg of the inattentive reader. One wonders why?

In a conference held in 2015 at the German Patent Office, Bavarian SMEs made clear what they thought of the UPC: a nightmare, whereby the fee reduction and the help with translations costs are not worth the bother. This result can certainly be extrapolated to the whole of Germany, if not to the whole of the EU, and everybody can draw its own conclusion.

So this is the EPO in 2017.

So anti-scientific that it should be offensive to science itself.

Moreover, the EPO is offensive to human rights and labour rights. As someone explained to us today:

In 2018, the EPO will also cut another 2 public holidays for its Munich staff: corpus christi and whit monday. Both are bank holidays in Bavaria and the Munich branch of the EPO has always been closed on these days. So shops, banks, everything is closed in Munich, but not the EPO.

Nothing shall stand in the way of “production”; the trolls are relying on hastily-granted patents for them to abuse for many decades to come (even after Battistelli is no longer alive to see these consequences).

In an Effort to Push the Unitary Patent (UPC), EPO and the Liar in Chief Spread the Famous Lie About SMEs

Thursday 21st of September 2017 11:23:42 PM

Rule of thumb: everything that the EPO says nowadays is a deliberate lie.

Summary: The EPO wants people to hear just a bunch of lies rather than the simple truth, courtesy of the people whom the EPO proclaims it represents

THE EPO offers nepotism and fast lanes to large corporations. It panics when the public finds out about it and constantly lies about the matter, stating that it protects SMEs, small inventors and so on. The European Digital SME Alliance has already refuted some of these lies, but that wasn’t enough to make the lies stop.

As a matter of priority, even though it’s past midnight right now, we’ve decided to compose a quick rebuttal/response to today’s EPO lies (disguised as ‘study’, as usual). What a nerve these people have. They are lying so much to the European public, with Battistelli taking the lead, as usual.

“hat a nerve these people have. They are lying so much to the European public, with Battistelli taking the lead, as usual.”The latest lie was promoted in Twitter in the late afternoon. I responded by stating that the “first EPO announcement in more than a month spreads a lie, the famous “SME”-themed lie [in which the EPO] makes up more “SME”-themed lies in order to sell the [other] lie that UPC is good for SMEs. See last paragraph.”

Yes, I used the word “lie” quite a lot. It’s as simple as this. They lied deliberately.

The official ‘news’ item (epo.org link), which quotes the ‘king’, as usual (self glorification), ends like this:

They also highlight the benefits that SMEs can expect from the planned Unitary Patent. These include savings in time and money, as well as increased legal certainty across the EU market.

That’s a lie. Even insiders know that it’s a lie and yet later in the day (earlier tonight) the Liar in Chief, Battistelli, promoted (epo.org link) the same Big Lie that SMEs want the UPC (it would kill them). From his closing paragraph:

As we look to the future of SMEs and patents, the case studies underline the significant role that the Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court are set to play in IP strategies. Many of the SMEs featured talk about how the cost-effectiveness of the Unitary Patent and the jurisdiction of the Court will help them expand into other European markets, previously unconsidered by those same companies. Potential savings of up to 70%, a simplified application process with the EPO acting as a one-stop-shop and greater legal certainty will all prove attractive features of the UP and UPC. So, whether they use the Unitary Patent or the classical European patent, or a combination of both, the future holds a wealth of opportunities for SMEs to make the most of patents. It is our hope that these case studies will help increase understanding of how IP can play a fundamental role in the success of SMEs.

That’s a lie again. It’s a lie that the EPO promoted in another tweet that said: “This publication gives you full access to twelve case studies on the benefits of IP for #SMEs http://bit.ly/SMEstudies2017 #IPforSMEs”

They even came up with a hastag for it: #IPforSMEs

It links to this page (epo.org link), which gives the veneer of a ‘study’ to something that’s a lie to the very core.

“So don’t expect the UPC any time soon (or ever). As for SMEs, they are unambiguously against it (see the above position paper from the European Digital SME Alliance).”First of all, the UPC isn’t happening. The UPC Preparatory Committee has in fact just officially admitted that their plan is derailed (no schedule) due to the situation in Germany. Team UPC wrote about it some hours ago. The best spin they could come up with was this: “The Preparatory Committee of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) has today published a short update, in which it notes that the pending case in the German Federal Constitutional Court will cause delay to Germany’s ratification of the UPC Agreement (UPCA) and the Protocol on Provisional Application (PPA) and concludes that it is currently difficult to predict any timeline for the start of the new system.”

So don’t expect the UPC any time soon (or ever). As for SMEs, they are unambiguously against it (see the above position paper from the European Digital SME Alliance). Even observers in the field know damn well that the UPC would be an SME killer. There were several comments to that effect in IP Kat on Thursday (today). Well, after the site stopped covering the scandals we rely on comments there; the authors/Kats (who now include CIPA) certainly won’t say anything negative about the UPC.

“What will happen if the UPC and the TBA come to totally different views with respect of the validity of a UP?” (Unitary Patent)

That’s what the first comment (relating to the earlier ones) said:

Thanks to Proof of the pudding for his interesting contribution on the law applicable for infringement.

I have a further question with respect to validity, which is also to be decided by the UPC.

What will happen if the UPC and the TBA come to totally different views with respect of the validity of a UP? In other words, in case of conflict between decisions of the UPC and the TBA.

At the latest conference on the UPC in Munich, Sir Jacob made it clear that for him the UPC will be the leading court in Europe. In other words, the UPC decisions should prevail. By doing so he forgets that there are also other non-EU member states at the EPO. And they also deserve some respect.

One example: it is abundantly clear that the boards of appeal of the EPO have taken a strict stance in respect of added subject-matter. What if the UPC waters down the requirements? This thought is not abstruse when one looks at certain national decisions in this respect.

The UP being a patent to be granted by the EPO, the examining and opposition divisions are bound to follow the case law of the boards of appeal, and especially that of the enlarged board. The strict stance will be maintained be it only for this reason.

If the UPC is more lenient in the matter, which is to be expected, the only way to have a patent scrutinised strictly on this point is to file an opposition at the EPO. Otherwise it might become difficult to have a strict view on the matter. That proprietors prefer a more lenient way is obvious, but the opponents will want exactly the opposite.

At the recent INGRES Conference reported in another blog on IPKat, Mr Hoying made an interesting comment. According to his view, “Art. 54(3) EPC [is] a big problem which leads to multiple patents for the same invention (and – via divisionals – unacceptable uncertainty of third parties). Why can EPO and Dutch courts not read “the content of European patent application” broader? The skilled person should always read (when reading for Art. 54(3) EPC purposes) with the common general knowledge and consider each combination with the common general knowledge as disclosed”.

This is to me a clear attempt to water down the requirement for novelty which is goes like an Ariadne thread through all decisions of the enlarged board, novelty, added subject-matter, priority, divisional applications and disclaimers.

If the UPC follows this line, then we can say good bye to certainty in this matter. Is this really want is good for the users of the system? For US companies yes, as they have never understood the problem, for European companies, and especially EU and SMEs among them, certainly not.

In any case, the uncertainty will remain. And to me, this is not good for business, unless it has deep pockets.

By the way, at the latest conference on the UPC in Munich, Sir Jacob made it also very clear what he thought of opposition divisions and the boards of appeal: an opposition is playing waiting for Godot! This is not very kind, to say the least.

To me, the problems with the UPC are not only when it comes to infringement as exemplified by Proof of the pudding, but also when it comes to validity.

Then, in reply to it, someone recalled Battistelli’s attack on TBA and said: “I would say that the EPO Boards of Appeal are history at least as a judicial or quasi-judicial instance.”

To quote the whole comment:

I would say that the EPO Boards of Appeal are history at least as a judicial or quasi-judicial instance. They may potter on for a while in Haar but their glory days are over.

The independence has been so far eroded despite or perhaps as a result of the fig-lesf reform in 2016 so that they can no longer be seriously considered as an independent judicial instance. The “President” of the Boards of Appeal cannot even appoint his deputy without the approval of the President of the EPO (nota bene: the EPO President and not the Admin Council has the final say here). The President of the EPO also has the final say over the promotion of Board members.

The plan of the EU manadarins seems to be to replace the EPO Boards of Appeal by the UPC. That much is clear from Jacob’s comments.

The next one said this:

The Boards of Appeal are likely not to survive the upcoming decisions of the German constitutional court, be it only because the Enlarged Board itself in a recent and disastrous disciplinary case stated it was under the influence of the President of the office.

This entirely changes the situation which prevailed for decades, when earlier decisions rightly concluded that the members of the Boards were judges in all but name.

As the next and final comment put it, “revocation actions at the UPC are likely to be an order of magnitude more expensive.”

It explained how the UPC would crush SMEs — something we have said repeatedly for years.

Here is the full comment:

Hmmmn. If that is true, then we could be looking at a very dark future indeed.

Oppositions at the EPO could hardly be described as a “low-cost” exercise. However, on any realistic assessment, revocation actions at the UPC are likely to be an order of magnitude more expensive.

It is therefore all too easy to envisage disastrous consequences for SMEs (and the public) across Europe if the UPC becomes the only forum for revoking European patents. That is, if the cost of knocking out a “bad” patent that has been asserted against you becomes prohibitively expensive, and the market for litigation insurance has (predictably) failed to materialise, how do you stop the “trolls”?

There is another factor could make this a “perfect storm” that could devastate important areas of industry across Europe, especially those that are largely populated by SMEs. That is, we need to consider that the management of the EPO has, in recent years, engaged upon a drive to grant as many patents as possible. It is clear to anyone who has been paying attention that this drive has involved a “light touch” approach to examination… thus greatly increasing the likelihood that patents will have been granted with overly-broad claims, or perhaps even no valid claims at all.

So, we could end upon with more “bad” patents and the prospect of hugely increased costs for knocking out such patents. Who would that benefit, I wonder?

Whilst I am very reluctant to believe in conspiracies, even I have to admit that the actions of the current EPO management (grant rate forced ever upwards, Boards of Appeal hobbled, chances of the opposition procedure surviving the constitutional complaints in Germany correspondingly decreased…) all seem to be tailor-made to benefit only a certain section of the patent ecosystem. We shall just have to wait and see whether this is the result of accident or design.

The last paragraph (above) is key. It spares us the need to once again explain why UPC would be an SME killer, contrary to what the EPO claimed 5 times today (new page, news item, blog post and 2 tweets).

It will actually be news when the EPO stops spreading lies.

Links 21/9/2017: Red Hat’s Open Source Patent Promise; Qt 5.6.3, Kali Linux 2017.2 Release

Thursday 21st of September 2017 10:21:12 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Server
    • The ISS just got its own Linux supercomputer

      A year-long project to determine how high-performance computers can perform in space has just cleared a major hurdle — successfully booting up on the International Space Station (ISS).

      This experiment conducted by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and NASA aims to run a commercial off-the-shelf high-performance computer in the harsh conditions of space for one year — roughly the amount of time it will take to travel to Mars.

    • Kubernetes Snaps: The Quick Version

      When we built the Canonical Distribution of Kubernetes (CDK), one of our goals was to provide snap packages for the various Kubernetes clients and services: kubectl, kube-apiserver, kubelet, etc.

      While we mainly built the snaps for use in CDK, they are freely available to use for other purposes as well. Let’s have a quick look at how to install and configure the Kubernetes snaps directly.

    • Kubernetes is Transforming Operations in the Enterprise

      At many organizations, managing containerized applications at scale is the order of the day (or soon will be). And few open source projects are having the impact in this arena that Kubernetes is.

      Above all, Kubernetes is ushering in “operations transformation” and helping organizations make the transition to cloud-native computing, says Craig McLuckie co-founder and CEO of Heptio and a co-founder of Kubernetes at Google, in a recent free webinar, ‘Getting to Know Kubernetes.’ Kubernetes was created at Google, which donated the open source project to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation.

    • Kubernetes gains momentum as big-name vendors flock to Cloud Native Computing Foundation

      Like a train gaining speed as it leaves the station, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation is quickly gathering momentum, attracting some of the biggest names in tech. In the last month and a half alone AWS, Oracle, Microsoft, VMware and Pivotal have all joined.

      It’s not every day you see this group of companies agree on anything, but as Kubernetes has developed into an essential industry tool, each of these companies sees it as a necessity to join the CNCF and support its mission. This is partly driven by customer demand and partly by the desire to simply have a say in how Kubernetes and other related cloud-native technologies are developed.

    • The Cloud-Native Architecture: One Stack, Many Options

      As the chief technology officer of a company specialized in cloud native storage, I have a first hand view of the massive transformation happening right now in enterprise IT. In short, two things are happening in parallel right now that make it radically simpler to build, deploy and run sophisticated applications.

      The first is the move to the cloud. This topic has been discussed so much that I won’t try to add anything new. We all know it’s happening, and we all know that its impact is huge.

    • Sysadmin 101: Leveling Up

      I hope this description of levels in systems administration has been helpful as you plan your own career. When it comes to gaining experience, nothing quite beats making your own mistakes and having to recover from them yourself. At the same time, it sure is a lot easier to invite battle-hardened senior sysadmins to beers and learn from their war stories. I hope this series in Sysadmin 101 fundamentals has been helpful for those of you new to the sysadmin trenches, and also I hope it helps save you from having to learn from your own mistakes as you move forward in your career.

  • Desktop
    • TUXEDO InfinityBook Pro 13 Review: a Powerful Ultrabook Running TUXEDO Xubuntu

      There is no doubt that the TUXEDO InfinityBook Pro 13 is not a powerful ultrabook, providing good value for the money. And having it shipped with a Linux OS pre-installed makes your Linux journey a breeze if you’re just getting started with exploring the wonderful world of Open Source software and GNU/Linux technologies.

      There are a few issues that caught our attention during our testing, and you should be aware of them before buying this laptop. For example, the LCD screen leaks light, which is most visible on a dark background and when watching movies. Also, the display is only be tilted back to about 120 degrees, which might be inconvenient for the owner.

      The laptop doesn’t heat up that much, and we find the backlit keyboard with the Tux logo on the Super key a plus when buying a TUXEDO InfinityBook Pro 13. Of course, if you don’t need all this power, you can always buy any other laptop out there and install your favorite Linux OS on it, but it’s not guaranteed that everything will work out of the box like on TUXEDO InfinityBook Pro 13.

    • Chromebook Owners Will Soon Be Able to Monitor CPU and RAM Usage in Real-Time

      Chromium evangelist François Beaufort announced today that Google’s Chrome OS engineers have managed to implement a new feature that will let Chromebook owners monitor the CPU usage, RAM, and zRam statistics in real-time.

      The feature was implemented in the Chrome Canary experimental channel and can be easily enabled by opening the Google Chrome web browser and accessing the chrome://flags/#sys-internals flag. There you’ll be able to monitor your Chromebook’s hardware and see what’s eating your memory or CPU during heavy workloads, all in real-time.

      “Chrome OS users can monitor in real-time their CPU usage, memory and zRam statistics thanks to the new internal page chrome://sys-internals in the latest Canary,” said François Beaufort in a Google+ post. “For that, enable the experimental chrome://flags/#sys-internals flag, restart Chrome, and enjoy watching real-time resource consumption.”

    • Free Software Install Fests on October 2

      The Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education (KITE) will conduct ‘Free Software Install Fests’ on October 2 as part of Software Freedom Day celebrations.

      The latest version of IT@School GNU/Linux will be installed free of cost in computers at the festival.

  • Intel
    • Intel Preps Their First Batch Of Graphics Changes For Linux 4.15

      The first batch of drm-intel-next changes are ready to be queued in DRM-Next as feature work for eventually merging to mainline come the Linux 4.15 merge window.

    • Announcing Intel® Clear Containers 3.0!

      The Clear Containers team has been working on the next generation of Clear Containers and today that work culminates in the release of Clear Containers 3.0!

      Today’s release presents a generational and architectural shift to utilize virtcontainers, a modular and hypervisor agnostic library for hardware virtualized containers. Clear Containers 3.0 is written in Go language and boasts an OCI* compatible runtime implementation (cc-runtime ) that works both on top of virtcontainers, and as a platform for deployment.

    • Intel Unleashes Clear Containers 3.0, Written In Go

      Clear Containers 3.0 as Intel’s latest Linux container tech is now written in the Go programming language rather than C. They are also now making use of virtcontainers as a modular and hypervisor agnostic library for hardware-virtualized containers. Clear Containers 3.0 also adds support for a virtio-blk storage back-end and other improvements for security and performance.

  • Kernel Space
    • Graphics Stack
      • Valve Is Collaborating On GPUVis For Tuning Radeon Linux VR Performance

        One of the many interesting talks at yesterday’s XDC2017 conference was Valve’s Pierre-Loup Griffais talking about GPUVis.

      • GPUVis, an open source Linux GPU profiler similar to GPUView

        It seems Valve have been busy. GPUVis is a Linux GPU profiler similar to GPUView on Windows. It’s supposed to help track down Linux gpu and application performance issues.

      • NVIDIA 384.90 Linux Driver Brings Fixes, Quadro P5200 Support

        One day after releasing updated GeForce Linux legacy drivers, NVIDIA is now out with an update to their long-lived 384 branch.

        The NVIDIA 384 Linux series is the current latest series for their proprietary driver. Coming out today is the 384.90 update that is primarily comprised of bug fixes but also includes Quadro P5200 support.

      • NVIDIA Continues Prepping The Linux Desktop Stack For HDR Display Support

        Besides working on the new Unix device memory allocator project, they have also been engaged with upstream open-source Linux developers over preparing the Linux desktop for HDR display support.

        Alex Goins of the NVIDIA Linux team presented on their HDR ambitions for the Linux desktop and the work they are still doing for prepping the X.Org stack for dealing with these next-generation computer displays. This is a project they have also been looking at for more than one year: NVIDIA Is Working Towards HDR Display Support For Linux, But The Desktop Isn’t Ready.

      • The State Of The VC4 Driver Stack, Early Work On VC5

        ric Anholt of Broadcom just finished presenting at XDC2017 Mountain View on the state of the VC4 driver stack most notably used by the Raspberry Pi devices. Additionally, he also shared about his early work on the VC5 driver for next-generation Broadcom graphics.

      • Intel’s Linux Driver & Mesa Have Hit Amazing Milestones This Year

        Kaveh Nasri, the manager of Intel’s Mesa driver team within the Open-Source Technology Center since 2011, spoke this morning at XDC2017 about the accomplishments of his team and more broadly the Mesa community. Particularly over the past year there has been amazing milestones accomplished for this open-source driver stack.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Qt 5.6.3 Released

        I am pleased to inform that Qt 5.6.3 has been released today. As always with a patch release Qt 5.6.3 does not bring any new features, just error corrections. For details of the bug fixes in Qt 5.6.3, please check the change logs for each module.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • PlayStation 4 controller support for Fedora Linux

        GNOME developer Bastien Nocera has implemented enhancements to the Bluetooth stack of the Fedora Linux operating system, reported Softpedia.

        The improvements are set to enhance the use of PlayStation 3 DualShock controllers in the GNOME desktop environment.

        The controller is now easier to connect to a PC, but still requires an initial connection via USB.

      • Nifty GNOME Global Menu Extension Is ‘Discontinued For the Moment’

        The developer behind the popular Global App Menu GNOME extension has announced it is “discontinued for the moment”.

        Explaining the reasons for his decision on Github, Lester Carballo cites the shift to Wayland (the extension doesn’t work in Wayland for a whole spaghetti heap of technical and ideological reasons) as being the primate motivator to move on.

        Canonical also has no plans to support the unity-gtk-module under Wayland (a crucial component that this extension, and similar app menu implementations, rely on).

  • Distributions
    • New Releases
      • Kali Linux 2017.2 Release

        We are happy to announce the release of Kali Linux 2017.2, available now for your downloading pleasure. This release is a roll-up of all updates and fixes since our 2017.1 release in April. In tangible terms, if you were to install Kali from your 2017.1 ISO, after logging in to the desktop and running ‘apt update && apt full-upgrade’, you would be faced with something similiar to this daunting message:

      • Kali Linux 2017.2 Released With New Hacking Tools — Download ISO And Torrent Files Here
      • Kali Linux 2017.2 Security OS Released With New Hacking Tools – Download Now!!!
      • Kali Linux 2017.2 Ethical Hacking & Pentesting OS Introduces New Security Tools

        Offensive Security announced the release and general availability of the Kali Linux 2017.2 installation images for their advanced penetration testing and ethical hacking GNU/Linux distribution.

        Kali Linux is the successor of the well-known Debian/Ubuntu-based BackTrack ethical hacking and penetration testing distro, and it follows a rolling release model where the user installs once and receives updates forever, or at least until he decides to reinstall.

        If that’s the case, the Kali Linux 2017.2 installation mediums are now available for download, and they include a bunch of general performance improvements and bugfixes, along with new security tools. The new images include all the updates pushed through the official channels since April’s release of Kali Linux 2017.1.

    • Red Hat Family
      • Red Hat expands its pioneering patent promise to the open source community

        Open source software business Red Hat this morning announced a big expansion of its patent promise, its commitment to not assert its patents against free and open source software which it launched in 2002. The expansion of the promise means that it now extends to all of Red Hat’s patents and so offers further defensive cover to the open source community.

        Red Hat claims that the new promise is significantly broader than the original agreement with the new version covering more than 99% of open source software compared with 35% for the original. The new promise also specifically covers permissive licences which, in recent years, have over taken copyleft licences as the most popular type of open source agreement.

      • Red Hat’s Patent Promise covers permissively-licensed code, offering broad protection for open innovation

        Red Hat announced on Thursday a significant revision of its Patent Promise, helping to protect open innovation. That promise, originating in 2002, was based on Red Hat’s intention not to enforce its patents against free and open source software.

        The expanded Patent Promise, while consistent with Red Hat’s prior positions, breaks new ground in expanding the amount of software covered and otherwise clarifying the scope of the promise. Red Hat believes its updated Patent Promise represents the broadest commitment to protecting the open source software community to date.

      • Red Hat Announces Broad Expansion to Open Source Patent Promise [Ed: Red Hat should toss out all the software patents, in case of takeover]

        Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, today announced a significant revision of its Patent Promise. That promise, originating in 2002, was based on Red Hat’s intention not to enforce its patents against free and open source software. The new version significantly expands and extends Red Hat’s promise, helping to protect open innovation.

        In its original Patent Promise, Red Hat explained that its patent portfolio was intended to discourage patent aggression against free and open source software. The expanded version published today reaffirms this intention and extends the zone of non-enforcement. It applies to all of Red Hat’s patents, and all software licensed under well-recognized open source licenses.

        The expanded Patent Promise, while consistent with Red Hat’s prior positions, breaks new ground in expanding the amount of software covered and otherwise clarifying the scope of the promise. Red Hat believes its updated Patent Promise represents the broadest commitment to protecting the open source software community to date.

      • How 10,000 people helped us rediscover our purpose [Ed: Red Hat openwashing again]
      • Ansible, or Not Ansible?: Interview with Director of Ansible Community
      • Finance
      • Fedora
        • PipeWire aims to do for video what PulseAudio did for sound

          An ambitious new project from GNOME is aiming to do for video what PulseAudio did for sound.

          It’s called PipeWire and it aims to improve the handling of audio and video on Linux to such an extent that it become a ‘core building block for the future of Linux application development’.

          PipeWire has been designed form the ground up to modernize the way video and audio processing is handled on Linux, with particular focus on supporting Wayland and Flatpak.

    • Debian Family
      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) Is Now Powered by Linux Kernel 4.13, GCC 7.2

            As of today, the upcoming Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) operating system is powered by the latest Linux 4.13 kernel, which arrived in the stable repositories along with GCC (GNU Compiler Collection) 7.2.

            So there you have it, Canonical kept on its promise to rebase the Ubuntu 17.10 release on the Linux 4.13 kernel series, and with today’s repo sync, the previous Linux 4.12 kernel, which is now EOL (End-of-Life) upstream, were replaced by a 4.13.0-11 kernel that’s apparently based on Linux kernel 4.13.1. Ubuntu 17.10 is also using the latest GCC 7.2 compiler and Mesa 17.2.1 graphics stack by default.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Open source-based business lessons from a seasoned CEO

    The default now is to build from open and in the open. So that’s a positive. The downside is that by open source being the default, we may be getting a little lazy. If you remember back 5-10 years, open sourcing was a big deal, and it forced a level of rigor that may have led, in some cases, to founders and early investors taking better approaches to building their company—for example, shifting towards SaaS wherever possible, in part because of the ability to demonstrate clear value versus their own open source.

  • Open source strategies bring benefits, but don’t rush in

    When organizations adopt open source strategies, they rarely intend to dive into the source code. That would require hiring internal miracle workers — an expensive proposition. Instead, they contract for support, usually with a vendor that’s a primary contributor to the open source project.

    Often, but not always, this is the company that has many of the original open source project contributors on staff, and continues to make the most commits back to the code base. Sometimes, like with big data analytics, this gets competitive, resulting in several downstream distributions — each from a different vendor.

  • The Symphony Software Foundation: Bringing Open Source To Wall Street

    Whenever banks merge, they typically bring along their overlapping, proprietary software platforms as luggage.

    “In most cases, they don’t merge … because it’s a massive business and technological endeavor,” Gabriele Columbro, 35, the executive director of the Symphony Software Foundation, told Benzinga.

    “Rather than undertaking massive consolidation projects, open source gives you a way to leapfrog it.”

    It’s one area in the financial services universe in which the nonprofit arm of the messaging platform Symphony Communications is working to bring wider adoption of open source software.

  • Unix to GitHub: 10 Key Events in Free and Open Source Software History
  • Engineer Spotlight: Brian Gerkey of Open Robotics Talks ROS and Robotics

    This year marks the 10th anniversary of the inception of the Robotic Operating System (ROS) — an open source robotics platform being used around the world in research, industrial, and recreational settings. The premise of ROS is simple: to simplify and standardize robotic programming, enabling faster development of robotic systems through the spirit of open source collaboration.

    On September 21st and 22nd, the Open Robotics (formerly the Open Source Robotics Foundation) will convene for the fifth time for ROSCon 2017. Delegates ranging from students, researchers, industry representatives, and hobbyists/enthusiasts will meet, discuss, and present on a range of topics related to the development of ROS. Even though ROSCon is still a relatively young event, every year it has continued to grow in both number of attendees and sponsors.

  • Ericsson CTO: Open source is good but fragmentation, not so much

    Open source, just like standards, can be a good thing as long as there aren’t too many of them, because that can result in fragmentation and too many resources being spread across too many groups, according to Ericsson Group CTO Erik Ekudden.

    “We can’t spread ourselves too thin, so we are focusing of course on open source as it’s relevant to network platforms”—and that includes everything from the cloud side to management and control, he told FierceWirelessTech on the sidelines of Mobile World Congress Americas (MWCA).

  • Events
  • Web Browsers
  • IBM
  • Databases
    • Keeping up with advances in open source database administration

      The world of open source databases is rapidly evolving. It seems like every day brings a new release of an open source technology that might make a database administrator’s life easier, if only he or she knew about it.

      Fortunately, there are many ways to stay on top of what’s going on with open source database technology. One such way is the Percona Live Open Source Database Conference, taking place next week in Dublin, Ireland. We’ve covered Percona Live before, and invite you to take a look back at some of our previous stories. From IoT to big data to working with the cloud, there’s plenty to keep up with. Here are a look at a couple of the sessions you might enjoy, as described by the speakers.

    • PostgreSQL 10 RC1 Released

      The PostgreSQL Global Development Group announces today that the first release candidate of version 10 is available for download. As a release candidate, 10 RC 1 should be identical to the final release of the new version. It contains fixes for all known issues found during testing, so users should test and report any issues that they find.

    • PostgreSQL 10 Release Candidate 1 Arrives

      PostgreSQL 10 has been queuing up improvements to declarative partitioning, logical replication support, an improved parallel query system, SCRAM authentication, performance speed-ups, hash indexes are now WAL, extended statistics, new integrity checking tools, smart connection handling, and many other promising improvements. Our earlier performance tests of Postgre 10 during its beta phase showed some speed-ups over PostgreSQL 9.

    • Pivotal Greenplum Analytic Database Adds Multicloud Support

      Pivotal’s latest release of its Greenplum analytic database includes multicloud support and, for the first time, is based entirely on open source code.

      In 2015, the company open sourced the core of Pivotal Greenplum as the Greenplum Database project. “This is the first commercially available release that we are shipping with the open source project truly at its core,” said Elisabeth Hendrickson, VP of data research and development at Pivotal.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • Public Services/Government
    • City of Rennes to tackle IT vendor lock-in

      Rennes, France’s eleventh largest city, aims to get rid of IT vendor lock-in. To begin with, the city will switch to Zimbra, an open source-based collaboration and email solution. Next year, it will commence a feasibility study into other free and open source software applications, including office productivity tools.

    • Thin Edge Of The Wedge
  • Licensing/Legal
    • Open source licensing: What every technologist should know

      If you’re a software developer today, you know how to use open source software, but do you know how and why open source licensing started? A little background will help you understand how and why the licenses work the way they do.

    • A New Era for Free Software Non-Profits

      The US Internal Revenue Service has ushered in a new and much more favorable treatment for free software projects seeking to have 501c3 tax exempt non-profit organizations of their own. After years of suffering from a specially prejudicial environment at IRS, free software projects—particularly new projects starting out and seeking organizational identity and the ability to solicit and receive tax-deductible contributions for the first time—can now do so much more easily, and with confident expectation of fast, favorable review. For lawyers and others counseling free software projects, this is without question “game-changing.”

      At SFLC, we have ridden all the ups and downs of the US tax law’s interaction with free software non-profits. When I formed SFLC—which in addition to being a 501c3 tax-deductible organization under US federal tax law is also a non-profit educational corporation under NY State law—in 2005, we acquired our federal 501c3 determination in less than 70 days. Over our first several years of operation, we shepherded several of our clients through the so-called “1023 process,” named after the form on which one applies for 501c3 determination, as well as creating several 501c3-determined “condominium” or “conservancy” arrangements, to allow multiple free software projects to share one tax-deductible legal identity.

      But by the middle of the Obama Administration’s first term, our ability to get new 501c3 determinations from the IRS largely ceased. The Service’s Exempt Organizations Division began scrutinizing certain classes of 1023’s particularly closely, forming task forces to centralize review of—and, seemingly, to prevent success of—these classes of application. In our practice on behalf of free software projects seeking legal organization and tax exemption, we began to deal with unremitting Service pushback against our clients’ applications. Sometimes, the determination to refuse our clients’ applications seemed to indicate a fixed political prejudice against their work; more than once we were asked by IRS examiners “What if your software is used by terrorists?”

    • The Faces of Open Source: Harald Welte

      Harald is the original GPL enforcer. He reached out to companies and brought the GPL to court for the first time, way back in the early 2000s. His activities, initially seen as controversial, ultimately led to much greater and improved dialogue between companies and the community-at-large, not least because it cast the GPL as a solid, simple legal document, with terms that a court could rule on.

      One of Harald’s most noticeable characteristics is his calm, measured, and carefully considered approach to matters. His passion for free software is genuine, but he is not driven by passion alone. He has clear, thoughtful arguments for issues that he engages with, and he often provides insight in an accessible manner. While he is far too modest to use the term, Harald is a thought-leader in open source, and this is one of the interviews I was most excited to shoot.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
  • Programming/Development
    • The Four Layers of Programming Skills

      When learning how to code for the first time, there’s a common misconception that learning how to code is primarily about learning the syntax of a programming language. That is, learning how the special symbols, keywords, and characters must be written in the right order for the language to run without errors.

      However, focusing only on knowledge of syntax is a bit like practicing to write a novel by only studying grammar and spelling. Grammar and spelling are needed to write a novel, but there are many other layers of skills that are needed in order to write an original, creative novel.

      [...]

      This is the layer that is most often focused on in the early learning phase. Syntax skills essentially means how to read and write a programming language using the rules for how different characters must be used for the code to actually work.

    • Beignet OpenCL Now Supports LLVM 5.0

      For those making use of Beignet for Intel graphics OpenCL acceleration on Linux, it finally has added support for LLVM 5.0.

      Beignet doesn’t tend to support new LLVM versions early but rather a bit notorious for their tardiness in supporting new LLVM releases. LLVM 5.0 has been out for two weeks, so Beignet Git has moved on to adding support for LLVM 5.

      There were Beignet changes to libocl and GBE for enabling the LLVM 5.0 support.

Leftovers
  • Health/Nutrition
    • On Heels of Progressive Wave, Rhode Island Expands Sick Leave to 100,000 Workers

      Rhode Island’s General Assembly voted 59 to 11 to pass a bill on Tuesday guaranteeing sick days to over 100,000 workers, joining the state Senate, which passed the legislation along a 25 to seven vote. The bill now goes to Gov. Gina Raimondo, who is expected to sign it.

      The new law will guarantee workers at large firms five earned sick days by 2020; workers at businesses with 17 or fewer employees will be allowed to have three unpaid sick days a year. Overall, around 90 percent of the state’s workforce will have access to paid sick days.

      The passage of the law is the culmination of a yearlong effort by the Rhode Island Earned Sick Days Campaign, made up of more than a dozen groups, including the Service Employees International Union, Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, and the Working Families Party, an organization founded in New York that has since spread its issue activism and electoral work to many other states.

      Over the last year of elections, WFP helped lay the groundwork for the passage of paid sick days by backing candidates supporting the issue in 10 legislative races. In seven of those races, its candidates won.

      Part of WFP’s challenge is how it chooses to engage in electoral politics. In New York, there is a fusion party system, in which groups other than the main parties can develop their own ballot line based on endorsements, which is the system WFP has used to create an independent voice in New York politics. Under that scenario, the same candidate can run on both the Democratic line and the WFP line, meaning people can vote for the WFP candidate without the fear of contributing to the victory of the opposing Republican.

    • Trump’s Failure to Tackle Opioid Crisis Is Costing Lives, House Democrats Say

      It’s been nearly six months since President Donald Trump issued an executive order forming a commission to combat the nation’s opioid crisis — which he described on August 10 as “a national emergency” — and almost two months since the White House panel issued interim recommendations for dealing with the epidemic. But Trump has made a habit of failing to follow-up on his executive orders, and his administration has yet to officially declare the crisis a national emergency. In fact, there’s no evidence that his administration has moved on nearly any of the of the commission’s recommendations.

      Now, members of Congress are saying the inaction is costing lives.

      In a letter to the president, 51 House Democrats led by Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., urged the administration to declare a national emergency and act on one critical recommendation: ensuring that naloxone, a drug used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, gets into the hands of every law enforcement officer in the United States.

    • Maine Won’t Let Nurse Practitioners Perform Early Abortions, and It’s Harming Our Patients — So I’m Suing

      I’m a nurse practitioner who has sent away patients in desperate situations even though I can provide abortion care safely.

      From the time I was in college, I knew two things: I wanted to be a nurse practitioner, and I wanted to be an abortion provider. As the stepdaughter of a Maine abortion provider, and then a patient advocate at a Maine abortion clinic, I’d seen firsthand the importance of high-quality, comprehensive reproductive health care. I saw the challenges and protestors, too, but that didn’t deter me—I couldn’t imagine a more fulfilling career.

      Today, I’m proud to say that I am a practicing nurse practitioner and that I had the gratifying experience of providing safe, compassionate abortion care while living in California. And now that I’m back in Maine, I provide my patients at Maine Family Planning with a range of reproductive health services, including inserting intrauterine contraceptive devices (IUDs) and performing colposcopies, which involve very similar skills as first-trimester abortion care.

    • Outlets That Scolded Sanders Over Deficits Uniformly Silent on $700B Pentagon Handout

      Where did all the concern over deficits go? After two years of the media lamenting, worrying and feigning outrage over the cost of Bernie Sanders’ two big-budget items—free college and single-payer healthcare—the same outlets are uniformly silent, days after the largest military budget increase in history.

      Monday, the Senate voted to increase military spending by a whopping $81 billion, from $619 billion to $700 billion–an increase of over 13 percent. (The House passed its own $696 billion Pentagon budget in July—Politico, 7/14/17.) The reaction thus far to this unprecedented handout to military contractors and weapons makers has been one big yawn.

      No write-ups worrying about the cost increase in the Washington Post or Vox or NPR. No op-eds expressing concern for “deficits” in the New York Times, Boston Globe or US News. No news segments on Fox News or CNN on the “unaffordable” increase in government spending. All the outlets that spent considerable column inches and airtime stressing over Sanders’ social programs are suddenly indifferent to “how we will afford” this latest military giveaway. The US government votes 89–9 to add $81 billion extra to the balance sheet—the equivalent of the government creating three new Justice Departments, four more NASAs, seven Treasury Departments, ten EPAs or 546 National Endowments for the the Arts—and there’s zero discussion as to “how we will pay for it.”

    • Head of Health Insurance Giant Aetna Slams Bernie Sanders’s Single-Payer Plan As “Lousy”

      The head of Aetna, the health insurance giant, not only slammed the gains being made in the push for universal Medicare, but also mocked its proponents as misguided. But in the process, Mark Bertolini got basic facts wrong about single-payer health care.

      Bertolini, the CEO of Aetna, the third-largest health insurance company in the U.S., rejected the Medicare for All proposal released last week by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and a group of 16 Senate Democrats. He at times used disparaging comments and outright falsehoods about neighboring countries’ national health systems to criticize the plan.

      Bertolini, speaking at the Strategic Investor Initiative conference in New York on Tuesday in response to a question from The Intercept, said that the Sanders single-payer bill does “nothing to fix the underlying cost structure” of the health care system. “So if we refinance a lousy product, what do we get? A lousy result,” Bertolini said.

    • Why Lisa Murkowski Is So Unlikely To Flip Her Vote On Repealing Obamacare

      The last-ditch Senate Republican effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act has zeroed in on a single target: Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who cast one of three decisive no votes in July.

      Her colleagues Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Susan Collins of Maine have been written off as no votes by the bill’s backers. If Murkowski joins them and votes no again, the bill, which cuts federal health-care spending and devolves power to the states, falls short of the 50 votes it needs.

      Murkowski has given no indication that she has re-thought her opposition, and on Tuesday, Alaska’s governor, Bill Walker, announced he was against the new bill. Later that day, while speaking with reporters, Murkowski quoted Walker’s statement, adding that she is not yet announcing her own position.

      If all that isn’t enough to give an indication of how she’ll vote this time around, take a look at a conversation she had with a class of high school interns just last month. Murkowski, who tends to hold her cards close to her vest, didn’t announce her decision last time before the vote, either. But that doesn’t mean she hadn’t made up her mind.

      In the Q&A with her outgoing interns, she allowed each to ask her a question. The back and forth was recorded and posted to YouTube. As of this writing, it has been viewed 523 times, and was referenced in a profile of Murkowski written in August by Jennifer Bendery of HuffPost.

      [...]

      Collins, for her part, is deeply disturbed that the Congressional Budget Office won’t be fully analyzing the bill. When The Intercept told her the CBO wouldn’t be studying its effect on the number of uninsured or the cost of premiums, she laughed. “Really? It will be interesting to see what they do have if they don’t have those two, because that’s pretty major,” she said. “That’s problematic. It’s part of the problem with short-circuiting the process.”

    • Latest GOP Plan ‘Is Even Worse for Women’s Health Than Previous Repeal Bills’

      The bill, coauthored by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.), would eliminate Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates requiring all Americans to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty, and all large employers to offer insurance plans. It would also end cost-sharing subsidies for insurers and tax credits that help Americans afford coverage.

      Further, the plan would halt Medicaid expansion, and restructure the distribution of federal funding so that states receive block grants, or lump sums to allocate as they see fit. As Anna North at Vox notes, “its program of block grants would create new ways for the federal government to restrict abortion coverage.”

    • Senate Republicans Scramble to Secure Votes for Last-Ditch Effort to Repeal Affordable Care Act

      Vice President Mike Pence and other Trump administration officials spent Tuesday on Capitol Hill lobbying Republican senators to support the latest healthcare plan, known as the Graham-Cassidy bill, named after its main architects, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. The last-ditch effort by Senate Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act has to be done by September 30, when a deadline allowing the Senate to pass the legislation by a simple majority expires. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says the bill would cause many millions of people to lose coverage, gut Medicaid, eliminate or weaken protections for people with pre-existing conditions and increase out-of-pocket healthcare costs to individuals, all while showering tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans. The New York Times editorial board wrote on Tuesday, “It is hard to overstate the cruelty of the Graham-Cassidy bill.” We speak with Alice Ollstein, a politics reporter at Talking Points Memo focusing on healthcare. Her recent piece is titled “Where Things Stand with the Senate’s Last-Ditch Obamacare Repeal Push.”

    • Panel Brings Out Key Public Interest Issues In Gene Editing Technology

      The still-emerging breakthrough CRISPR gene editing tool has the potential to transform the field and do enormous good for humankind. But let’s make sure we understand it better and ensure the public interest before launching into using it too widely. Meanwhile, companies and researchers are actively licensing the technology. That was a message of a set of panellists working close to CRISPR’s development, speaking at a recent event in Washington, DC.

  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Witnesses yell ‘he can’t hear you’ as cop shoots deaf man

      Oklahoma City police officers who opened fire on a man in front of his home as he approached them holding a metal pipe didn’t hear witnesses yelling that he was deaf, a department official said Wednesday.

      Magdiel Sanchez, 35, wasn’t obeying the officers’ commands before one shot him with a gun and the other with a Taser on Tuesday night, police Capt. Bo Mathews said at a news conference. He said witnesses were yelling “he can’t hear you” before the officers fired, but they didn’t hear them.

    • PBS’ ‘Vietnam War’ Tells Some Truths

      When PBS announced that it was broadcasting a 10-part, 18-hour series, entitled “The Vietnam War,” I wasn’t sure what to expect. As a network news correspondent who covered the war for five years through many of its bloodiest chapters, I have had mixed feelings about some of the other attempts to recount and explain the war.

      Many of the previous efforts were colored by the political pressures of the moment, especially from policymakers and journalists who had career stakes in how assessments of the failed war would make them look. So, with some trepidation, I watched the entire 10-part series and read the companion book by writer Geoffrey C. Ward over the past week. To my pleasant surprise, I found many reasons to applaud the effort and my criticisms were relatively minor.

      In my view, the PBS series, directed by Ken Burns and Lynne Novick, represents the most honest and thorough account available to the general public. Over those 18 hours, the series reveals so much duplicity and mendacity that this real history makes even the most cynical movies about the war, such as “Apocalypse Now,” and “The Deer Hunter,” look tame by comparison.

    • America’s NSA Spied On And Knew About India’s Secret Sagarika Ballistic Missile Back In 2005!

      In the world of covert intelligence gathering, no one is no one’s friend. What else explains America’s NSA spying on India’s nuclear and missile program in 2005, when the relations between the two countries were warming up?

    • US spies had info on India’s nuclear missiles years before launch – NSA leaks

      The NSA may have known about India’s nuclear-capable Sagarika and Dhanush missiles as early as 2005, newly released documents from the trove obtained by whistleblower Edward Snowden reveal.

      US spies also likely possessed “significant intelligence” about the bombs in service in India during that period.

      Those revelations come from the batch of 294 articles published by The Intercept last week, and traced back to the from National Security Agency’s Signal Intelligence Directorate internal newsletter, SIDtoday.

    • NYT Lets Think Tank Funded by Gov’t and Arms Industry Claim Huge US Military Budget Isn’t Huge Enough

      The New York Times (9/18/17) gave an enormous platform to a hawkish think tank that is funded by the US government and by top weapons corporations, letting it absurdly claim, without any pushback, that the gargantuan US military—by far the largest in the world—has been “underfunded.”

      On September 18, the Senate voted overwhelmingly (89 to eight) to pass an enormous, record-breaking $700 billion Pentagon bill, giving far-right President Donald Trump even more money for war than he had requested.

      Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg effectively helped to sell the bill in an extremely sympathetic article, headlined “Senate Passes $700 Billion Pentagon Bill, More Money Than Trump Sought.”

      Stolberg’s story also doubled as a kind of puff piece for hyper-hawkish Sen. John McCain, whom it lionized as an intrepid hero boldly taking the lead on the Pentagon legislation.

      The Times report all but openly applauded the bill, describing it as “a rare act of bipartisanship” that “sets forth a muscular vision of America as a global power.”

    • Trump, a Boorish Interventionist

      My political positions have very frequently been countercurrent. When American liberals were calling for Donald Trump’s head at the outset of his presidency, when Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi were preaching all-out obstructionism to thwart his policies, I was urging progressives to lay down their pitchforks and try to deal constructively with the new administration for the good of the nation.

    • Bernie Sanders: Saudi Arabia Is “Not an Ally” and the U.S. Should “Rethink” Its Approach to Iran

      Saudi Arabia is “not an ally of the United States,” according to Bernie Sanders, the independent senator and former Democratic presidential hopeful.

      Sanders broke with the bipartisan consensus on Capitol Hill in an exclusive interview with The Intercept. The United States has long considered Saudi Arabia to be a loyal friend, supporter, and partner in the so-called war on terror.

      Sanders issued a scathing denunciation of the Gulf kingdom, which has recently embarked on a new round of domestic repression.

      “I consider [Saudi Arabia] to be an undemocratic country that has supported terrorism around the world, it has funded terrorism. … They are not an ally of the United States.”

      The Vermont senator accused the “incredibly anti-democratic” Saudis of “continuing to fund madrasas” and spreading “an extremely radical Wahhabi doctrine in many countries around the world.”

      “They are fomenting a lot of hatred,” he added. In June, Sanders joined 46 other senators in voting to try and block the sale of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia. A Saudi-led coalition backed by the U.S. has been bombing Iranian-backed Houthi fighters in Yemen since 2015 and is accused of killing thousands of Yemeni civilians.

    • Who Will Pay for Huge Pentagon Budget Increase?

      This week, the United States Senate overwhelmingly voted in favor of increasing military spending by $700 billion, pouring even more money into by far the most expensive military in the world and exceeding military funding from any time during the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. The U.S. Military budget is larger than the next nine most expensive countries combined, and this new budget now makes it ten countries.

      Though both political parties are abrasive toward spending on social programs, from expanding the social safety net through policies like single payer healthcare, to boosting welfare, medicare, and social security, military spending receives little resistance, even in the wake of a massive accounting error at the Pentagon in which trillions of dollars are still unaccounted for. The spending increases continue a trend of enormous military spending set under the Obama Administration, in which the United States’ military budget was the highest its been since World War II.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Chelsea Manning: Harvard Told Me “Sean Spicer Has Something to Contribute to American Policy”

      Shortly after Harvard publicly rescinded whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s visiting fellowship, the dean of her would-be school called her personally to break the news.

      According to Manning, Douglas Elmendorf, the dean of the Harvard Kennedy School, began by reading what she later learned was a statement the school had already posted online. But as Manning pressed for more of an explanation, and noted some of the other controversial fellows at the school, he told her simply that “Sean Spicer has something to contribute to American policy,” and “you can’t really bring that to the table.”

      Manning relayed her story during an interview with the Nantucket Project on Sunday, two days after Harvard took away her fellowship.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • The Paris Agreement Dispute Is a Distraction. The Real Battle Is Playing Out in the EPA.

      For anyone who’s been following the fate of the United States’ involvement in the Paris agreement, the main question surrounding it recently has been pretty clear: Will he or won’t he?

      Conflicting reports over the weekend — sparked by a vague Wall Street Journal story on Saturday — alleged that the Trump administration was reconsidering its June decision to withdraw from the landmark climate deal. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster denied it, only to be upstaged Sunday morning by Secretary of State and former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, whose department would theoretically oversee either a renegotiation or a withdrawal. On this week’s Face the Nation, Tillerson said that President Donald Trump was “open to finding those conditions where we can remain engaged with others on what we all agree is still a challenging issue.”

      In what’s being taken as a for-now final word on the matter, chief economic adviser Gary Cohn emphasized Monday that the U.S. will leave the agreement “unless we can re-enter on terms that are more favorable to our country,” doubling down on the line the administration has held since its initial withdrawal announcement.

    • An Electric Bus Just Broke the World Record for Distance Traveled on a Single Charge

      When California-based automaker Proterra took one of their all-electric Catalyst E2 Max busses to the Navistar Proving Grounds in Indiana, the vehicle managed to cover 1,772.2 kilometers (1,101.2 miles) before its battery pack ran out of power, breaking the record for the longest distance travelled by an electric vehicle on a single charge.

      The 40-foot bus was outfitted with a 660 kWh battery pack for the trial — the equivalent of 11 Chevy Bolts — and according to the company, it could be back at full capacity in just an hour using Proterra’s high-speed charging system.

    • Hurricane Maria leaves Puerto Rico in total blackout as storm batters island

      Puerto Rico is without electricity, officials have said, after Hurricane Maria’s strong winds and flooding knocked out the US territory’s power service.

      Island residents endured a day of punishing winds and life-threatening flooding on Wednesday from the category 4 storm, which was the third hurricane to pummel the Caribbean in as many weeks.

  • Finance
    • Brexit means…progressive alliances, or ‘corporate absolutism’?

      The snap election in June tested to the limit the resolve by a progressive alliance of centre left parties to work together to defeat the Conservatives. The damage done to the Green Party’s electoral prospects resulted from a simplistic mistranslation of the progressive alliance as a tactical voting exercise; one that played to the benefit of Labour without reciprocal gains for the Greens.

      As a Labour supporter, I pushed hard for a local progressive alliance in Cornwall, and I share the dismay felt by many local Greens. In Cornwall, they stood down in three constituencies in the hope that local Labour would follow their example. They did not. What we got was the official line that ‘it is not Labour policy to pursue a progressive alliance’.

      Yet I remain hopeful. The political bargaining over marginal constituencies to remove the Tories may bear fruit next time round. Meanwhile there are other possibilities that progressives can explore, which side-step tribal politics; specifically, to turn instead to a ‘45-degree politics’ that involve centre-left parties looking outwards not upwards. To develop strong lateral networks with campaign and community groups as a counterbalance to the vertical structures of party control. But to what end?

      Currently in Cornwall and elsewhere, the focus has been on electoral reform and this is starting to gather a head of steam. While we did not break the Tory stranglehold in Cornwall, we have raised a much stronger awareness about our broken and outdated election system and the need to replace it with Proportional Representation.

    • Damaged by Hurricanes and “Vulture” Capitalism, Caribbean Islands Plead for Debt Relief

      Last week, just days after Hurricane Irma thrashed through the Caribbean with record-high winds, the Catholic bishop of the island nation of Dominica sent a letter to the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Bishop Gabriel Malzaire pleaded with the IMF to temporarily delay debt payments from Antigua and Barbuda and other islands left in ruins by the storm.

      “The few dozen small Island States across the world, for example, have neither the size nor developmental history to have been major contributors to current climate change,” Malzaire wrote on behalf of the Antilles Episcopal Conference, the Caribbean conference of Catholic Bishops. “Yet these small Island States are the most easily devastated by rising seas and harsher storms.”

    • More Republicans Now Support Free College Than Oppose It, Poll Finds

      Bernie Sanders’s plan to make tuition free at all public colleges and universities is becoming a mainstream position in the Democratic Party.

      But the plan has appeal far beyond the Democratic faithful.

      A Morning Consult poll conducted in mid-September finds that a plurality of self-identified Republicans now agree with a “proposal to make four-year public colleges and universities tuition-free,” as the question is worded.

      Forty-seven percent of Republican respondents say they strongly or somewhat support the proposal, while 45 percent say they strongly or somewhat oppose it. Seven percent say they don’t know or have no opinion.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • How Merkel’s Win May Hide Rising Discontent

      The citizens of Germany will head to the polls this Sunday, in the last of a series of elections in major European countries this year. Before the voting began, there were fears that populist, anti-system parties could actually win in some cases, in the wake of the victory of last year’s Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. That hasn’t happened, as Marine Le Pen of the National Front was defeated in a run-off in France, and Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party failed to break through in Holland.

    • Prosecutors Want Anthony Weiner to Serve About 2 Years in Prison
    • At Least Three Wealthy Trump Officials Used Private Jets For Government Work

      Three of President Trump’s agency heads have been using private jets for government travel, BuzzFeed News has confirmed, following days of news reports and ethical questions about the administration’s private jet use.

      A spokesperson for Linda McMahon, the head of the Small Business Administration, told BuzzFeed News Thursday that the former wrestling CEO has used private jets since she’s been in her post.

      “What I can pass along is that Administrator McMahon utilizes both commercial and private air services in accordance with all federal regulations and guidelines relating to travel for government officials,” Carol Wilkerson, spokesperson for McMahon, said in a statement.

    • What The World Thinks Of Trump
    • The scale of repression over Catalonia is exposing the crisis of the Spanish state

      On Wednesday Mariano Rajoy lost control of the narrative on the Catalan question. Appearing before the press after a series of raids and arrests designed to halt a unilateral referendum on independence planned for 1 October, the Spanish Prime Minister trotted out the government’s well-worn arguments in defence of the constitution and the “rights of all Spaniards”.

      However, Rajoy’s professed defence of the rule of law is increasingly at odds with reality on the ground. Over recent weeks, judges in Spain have used startlingly loose interpretations of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the referendum’s illegality to issue orders that violate many of the rights they’re charged with upholding. Local police across Catalonia have seized posters and banners related to the 1 October vote, and the Spanish Civil Guard has searched a number of newspaper offices for incriminating materials. These aren’t signs of a state that’s confident in its authority.

    • Spain’s attempt to block Catalonia’s referendum is a violation of our basic rights
    • Catalonia’s de facto independence

      It is hard to be an internationalist in the age of nationalism. It is hard to believe in individual rights in times when group rights are supposed to prevail. It is hard to believe in citizenship when all that seems to count is nationality. It is hard, in short, to be cosmopolitan in an age of parochialism and identity politics.

      And it is also hard, on the eve of a referendum/mobilisation due to take place on October 1 in Catalonia, to stay calm and moderate when facing a confrontation of two narratives that carry with them at least in part, some of the cleavages separating the two logics mentioned above.

    • China cannot ‘choke off’ Hong Kong’s democratic aspirations, says former governor Chris Patten
    • Seeking to Ban Mosques and Deport All Migrants, Right-Wing Party Is Set to Enter German Parliament

      In Germany’s upcoming federal elections on September 24, the extremist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) political party is expected to become the first openly far-right party to enter the German national parliament since the end of World War II.

      The AfD party is polling in third place at 11 percent of the prospective national vote behind the center-left Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) with 23 percent and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling conservative Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) with 36 percent. In Germany, a political party must attain at least 5 percent of the national vote to seat its members in the Bundestag, the lower chamber of the German parliament. Since its founding in 2013, the AfD has entered 13 out of 16 German state parliaments, known as Landtage, and it collectively holds 9 percent of the seats.

    • Facebook to share Russia-linked ads with U.S. Congress

      Facebook Inc (FB.O) said on Thursday it plans to share with U.S. congressional investigators some 3,000 political ads that it says Russia-based operatives ran on Facebook in the months before and after last year’s U.S. presidential election.

      Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, who has been under pressure to do more to prevent the use of Facebook for election manipulation, said in a live broadcast on Facebook that he supported the investigation by the U.S. Congress.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Meet Shadowsocks, the underground tool that China’s coders use to blast through the Great Firewall

      But the Great Firewall has since grown more powerful. Nowadays, even if you have a proxy server in Australia, the Great Firewall can identify and block traffic it doesn’t like from that server. It still knows you are requesting packets from Google—you’re just using a bit of an odd route for it. That’s where Shadowsocks comes in. It creates an encrypted connection between the Shadowsocks client on your local computer and the one running on your proxy server, using an open-source internet protocol called SOCKS5.

    • Alt-Right Twitter App Developers Sue Google After Gab.Ai App Is Kicked Out Of The Play Store

      Google’s decision to boot a controversial social media app from its Play store has resulted in a lawsuit. And it’s a very strange lawsuit — one that attempts to turn inconsistent moderation efforts into anti-trust allegations against Google.

      Some background information is necessary. Some of this can be gleaned from the complaint [PDF], which was put together by Marc Randazza (of First Amendment fame), Ron Coleman (key to the Slants’ Supreme Court trademark win), and Jordan Rushie (who has participated in/fought against copyright trolling efforts). Given the litigation credentials behind the filing, it’s surprising there’s not more to the complaint.

      But first, the background:

    • Saudi Arabia lifts ban on messaging apps like Skype and Snapchat
    • Lesotho govt accused of media censorship

      The Government of Lesotho has been under heavy criticism for shutting down a private radio station that is seen to be anti-government.

      But the government has defended its decision citing the current security volatility as the sole purpose of its drastic action on Moafrika FM.

      Pictures of the chief editor of Moafrika FM, Candy Ramainoane, being wrestled to the ground began circulating on social media recently.

    • ‘Snowflakes fall everywhere’: when ‘censorship‘ comes from the right

      Last week, the University of California, Berkeley, spent $600,000 (£443,000) on security to ensure that Ben Shapiro, a conservative writer, could speak on the campus without being disrupted. Also this month, Charles Murray, whose research is blasted by many as racist, appeared at Harvard University. Security was tight there, and some protested outside, but Mr Murray spoke without incident.

      In both cases, the universities rejected requests by some that the appearances be called off. In both cases, the speakers praised the universities for the way that they handled the events.

      The appearances don’t quite fit the narrative – widely in play after Mr Murray was shouted down at Middlebury College in the spring – that it’s impossible for controversial conservative speakers to appear on campuses these days, and that colleges won’t protect the right to free speech. Indeed, since the Murray incident at Middlebury, he has given speeches at several institutions – such as Columbia and Indiana Universities – with protests outside and heavy security but no disruptions. And when some students tried to disrupt his talk at Villanova University, campus police intervened, removed those disrupting, and the talk went on.

    • Berkeley launches website explaining free speech, denouncing ‘de facto censorship’

      Chancellor Christ is saying exactly the right things and Berkeley’s free speech site is too. Of course, it would be great if none of this was necessary because students already understood and valued free speech, but that’s clearly not where we are. In addition, the fact that Ben Shapiro’s speech was not canceled or shouted down suggests the school seems to be moving in a good direction. Of course, the real test is yet to come.

    • Academic journals defy Chinese censorship in case for integrity

      In recent years, China has been notorious for censoring the internet from the public and removing anything that doesn’t laud the Communist Party of China.

      Cambridge University Press, the oldest publishing house in the world, had initially complied with Chinese authorities by removing academic articles that the government didn’t want accessed by its public. On Aug. 18, CUP confirmed that the publisher was contacted by a Chinese import agency to block certain articles from The China Quarterly, an academic journal published by CUP.

    • New uni standards needed to counter Chinese censorship bids
    • Turkish Authorities Top For Twitter Censorship [Infographic]
    • Censorship: Facebook bans Rohingya group’s posts
    • Facebook bans Rohingya group’s posts as minority faces ‘ethnic cleansing’
    • M-103 talk turns to prosecution, censorship
    • .cat Domain a Casualty in Catalonian Independence Crackdown

      On October 1, a referendum will be held on whether Catalonia, an autonomous region of the northeast of Spain, should declare itself to be an independent country. The Spanish government has ruled the referendum illegal, and is taking action on a number of fronts to shut it down and to censor communications promoting it. One of its latest moves in this campaign was a Tuesday police raid of the offices of puntCAT, the domain registry that operates the .cat top-level domain, resulting in the seizure of computers, the arrest of its head of IT for sedition, and the deletion of domains promoting the October 1 referendum, such as refoct1.cat (that website is now available at an alternate URL).

      The .cat top-level domain was one of the earliest new top-level domains approved by ICANN in 2004, and is operated by a non-governmental, non-profit organization for the promotion of Catalan language and culture. Despite the seizure of computers at the puntCAT offices, because the operations of the domain registry are handled by an external provider, .cat domains not connected with the October 1 referendum (including eff.cat, EFF’s little-known Catalan language website) have not been affected.

    • Insanity: Theresa May Says Internet Companies Need To Remove ‘Extremist’ Content Within 2 Hours

      It’s fairly stunning just how much people believe that it’s easy for companies to moderate content online. Take, for example, this random dude who assumes its perfectly reasonable for Facebook, Google and Twitter to “manually review all content” on their platforms (and since Google is a search engine, I imagine this means basically all public web content that can be found via its search engine). This is, unfortunately, a complete failure of basic comprehension about the scale of these platforms and how much content flows through them.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Taser Wants to Build an Army of Smartphone Informants
    • Lidar tells distance, radar tells velocity, this new sensor aims to do both

      Silicon Valley is crawling with startups looking for a piece of the emerging self-driving car business. One of those startups, Aeva, just came out of stealth mode with a big write-up in The New York Times. Its breakthrough: building a single sensor that can determine both the position and velocity of surrounding objects.

      Most experts say that the best self-driving cars need a trifecta of sensors: cameras, lidar, and radar. They need all three sensor types because each performs a different function. Cameras can tell you what objects look like but not how far away they are or how fast they’re moving. Lidar measures distance, while radar provides a precise estimate of velocity.

    • Released Snowden Doc Shows NSA Thwarting Electronic Dead Drops By Using Email Metadata

      The latest batch of Snowden docs published at The Intercept cover a lot of ground. The internal informational sheets from the Signals Intelligence Directorate include info on a host of surveillance programs that haven’t been revealed by previous document dumps. Nor do they discuss the programs in full. As such, some of the information is limited.

      One of those published last week mentions the NSA’s targeting of internet cafes in Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries using a program called MASTERSHAKE. Using MASTERSHAKE, analysts were apparently able to drill down location info to which target was sitting in which chair at the cafes under surveillance.

      Further down the page [PDF], past this brief mention of a program discussed more fully elsewhere, there’s another interesting tidbit. Apparently, the NSA can suss out electronic dead drops using harvested metadata. (h/t Electrospaces)

    • Are you being watched? FinFisher government spy tool found hiding as WhatsApp and Skype
    • Distrustful US allies force spy agency to back down in encryption row

      An international group of cryptography experts has forced the U.S. National Security Agency to back down over two data encryption techniques it wanted set as global industry standards, reflecting deep mistrust among close U.S. allies.

      In interviews and emails seen by Reuters, academic and industry experts from countries including Germany, Japan and Israel worried that the U.S. electronic spy agency was pushing the new techniques not because they were good encryption tools, but because it knew how to break them.

      The NSA has now agreed to drop all but the most powerful versions of the techniques – those least likely to be vulnerable to hacks – to address the concerns.

    • NSA Employees Routinely Undermined ‘Non-Attributable’ Web Access With Personal Web Use

      Another large batch of Snowden docs have been released by The Intercept. The new documents are part of the site’s “SID (Signals Intelligence Directorate) Today” collection, a sort of interoffice newsletter featuring discussions of intelligence-gathering efforts the agency has engaged in, as well as more mundane office business.

      The one discussed in this Intercept post details some careless opsec by Intelligence Community (IC) employees. Like anyone in any office anywhere, IC employees use their office computers to send personal email, shop online, and fritter away the downtime with some web surfing.

      That’s where they’re running into problems. This SID Today document [PDF] deals with the IC’s personal use of company computers — namely, the “attribution” problem that develops when outside websites are accessed using IP addresses that can be traced back to the NSA and other IC components.

    • Another Chinese Developer Arrested For Selling VPN Access

      Reports coming out of China indicate that another citizen has been caught up in the country’s VPN dragnet. The software developer reportedly set up a VPN for his own use but sensing demand, sold access to the service to third parties. Despite making just $164 from his business, he was arrested and detained for three days.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Insidious management speak has infected the land, from our boardrooms to our school halls

      And as I became more attuned to this ridiculous, insidious corporate cant, I realised it wasn’t confined to large businesses. Politicians loved it to. I noticed Priti Patel, the International Development Secretary, was particularly fond of empty language like “outcome-focused models” and “bringing fresh ideas to the table”. I discovered government department brimming with business balderdash – like The Department for Exiting the European Union, which describes itself as aiming to “organise ourselves flexibly to deliver our objectives efficiently and effectively”.

    • I’m an immigration and human rights lawyer – and my chambers just won a case that could land Amber Rudd in prison

      On Sunday night, Samim Bigzad walked through the arrivals hall at London Heathrow, dropped his bag and ran into the arms of his friends. This was no ordinary end to a long flight. Rather, it was just one leg of a journey that saw Samim thrust into the centre of British politics and the debate about how the government should protect asylum seekers.

      It also placed Samim at the centre of a growing constitutional crisis that could land the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, in court for contempt – and ultimately, in prison.

      Samim’s case is remarkable. The Home Secretary authorised his removal to Afghanistan, sending him on a journey of over 4,000 miles to Kabul, via Istanbul. This journey occurred in breach of three High Court orders made by three different judges.

      Every mile of Samim’s journey was unlawful. It was only after four hours of legal argument in the Court of Appeal on Saturday afternoon that confirmation was received that Samim would be returned to the UK. Another 4,000 miles later and Samim arrived safely at Heathrow on Sunday evening.

    • Stingray surveillance ends with cop shooter getting 33 years in prison

      Last month, a federal judge in Oakland, California, ruled that police must generally have a warrant before they use a cell-site simulator to locate a criminal suspect. However, the same judge also ruled that, in this particular case, a warrant was not needed, and so the evidence obtained from it could stand.

      That ruling in United States v. Ellis effectively ended the case of the three remaining men charged with racketeering and the attempted murder of an Oakland police officer in 2013. A fourth defendant, Damien McDaniel, who had previously pleaded guilty in April 2017, was sentenced to 33 years in prison on Wednesday.

      According to prosecutors, McDaniel and two other co-defendants, Deante Kincaid (aka “Tay Tay”) and Joseph Pennymon (aka “Junkie”) also took similar plea deals last month. That leaves Purvis Ellis as the sole defendant left in the case—he is expected to plead guilty at a Thursday hearing.

    • Why Do Border Deaths Persist When the Number of Border Crossings Is Falling?

      In July, a sweltering tractor trailer ride in Texas became the latest harrowing example of the perils of crossing the U.S. border illegally. From the hospital, one survivor told authorities that he had paid smugglers to get him across the Rio Grande and then cram him on a northbound truck with what he guessed were nearly 100 people. The survivor managed to keep breathing in the pitch black trailer without food or water. But when the doors were opened in a San Antonio Walmart parking lot, eight migrants were dead, their bodies “lying on the floor like meat,” the truck’s driver subsequently said. Another two expired later.

      Those 10 deaths are among the 255 known migrant fatalities recorded by the International Organization for Migration in the first eight months of 2017. That’s up from 240 in the same period last year. Experts aren’t certain what’s causing the recent increase; verifying numbers is inherently difficult when it comes to an endeavor whose very mission is to avoid detection by the authorities.

    • After Charlottesville, The American Far Right Is Tearing Itself Apart

      When white nationalist Richard Spencer coined the term “alt-right” nearly a decade ago, his movement was marginal, impotent, and striving for respectability. The phrase was a useful euphemism for his genocidal ideology, a palatable alternative to “the Ku Klux Klan” or “the American Nazi Party” to go with his suit, tie, and military undercut.

      In the years to follow, as trolling culture grew online and began to adopt the symbols and lexicon of white supremacy — first ironically, then less so — “alt-right” proved a conveniently ambiguous label for the sanitized neo-Nazi movement’s new prankster fellow travelers. The online trolls who flocked to the “alt-right” liked to play footsie with racist extremism, then laugh at anyone who took it seriously. Like their cryptic “Kek” flags and Pepe the Frog memes, the “alt-right” label signaled an allegiance to white nationalism without fully committing to it. It was so malleable, in fact, that during the 2016 election, it expanded to include just about anyone on the right who considered themselves “anti-establishment,” including many of Donald Trump’s rank-and-file supporters.

    • The Fight to Kill Texas’ Anti-Immigrant Law SB4 Is Not Over, But We Have the Constitution on Our Side

      Texas continues to push the false narrative that SB4 is about public safety despite police opposition to the law.

      The fight to kill SB4, Texas’ unconstitutional anti-immigrant law, is not over yet.

      Following a defeat in federal court where key provisions of SB4 were declared unconstitutional just two days before it was to go into effect, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott filed an emergency motion at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals asking that SB4 be allowed to go into effect, claiming that the decision to block it “makes Texas communities less safe.”

      Let’s be clear: Enforcing SB4 is not about safety.

    • St. Louis Police’s Chants of ‘Whose Streets? Our Streets!’ Once Again Reveal the Warped Mindset Infecting Too Many Departments

      The streets do not belong to the police. They belong to the community. The time for police reform is now.

      The antagonistic “us versus them” culture that plagues many police departments with regard to their interactions with communities of color was on full, disturbing display this week in St. Louis. In response to protests by community members over the acquittal of police officer Jason Stockley in the killing of Anthony Lamar Smith, a group of St. Louis police officers provocatively chanted, “Whose streets? Our streets!”

      That’s right — in one of the nation’s most racially segregated cities, where zip codes separated by only a few miles can mean an 18-year difference in life expectancy — a police department entrusted to serve the community aggressively claimed ownership over public streets while mocking protestors expressing the community’s pain and frustration. They did so by co-opting a chant that emanated from the very communities of color long marginalized and victimized by this country’s criminal, economic, and political systems. And adding insult to injury, they did so less than a 10-minute drive from where Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • FCC Sued For Ignoring FOIA Request Investigating Fraudulent Net Neutrality Comments

      or months now we’ve noted how somebody is intentionally filling the FCC’s net neutrality comment proceeding with bot-generated bogus comments supporting the agency’s plan to kill net neutrality protections. Despite these fake comments being easily identifiable, the FCC has made it abundantly clear it intends to do absolutely nothing about it. Similarly, the FCC has told me it refuses to do anything about the fact that someone is using my name to file comments like this one falsely claiming I support killing net neutrality rules (you may have noticed I don’t).

      While nobody has identified who is polluting the FCC comment system with fake support, it should be fairly obvious who this effort benefits. By undermining the legitimacy of the public FCC comment proceeding (the one opportunity for transparent, public dialogue on this subject), it’s easier for ISPs and the FCC to downplay the massive public opposition to killing popular net neutrality rules. After all, most analysis has shown that once you remove form, bot and other automated comments from the proceeding, the vast, vast majority of consumers oppose what the FCC and Trump administration are up to.

    • Ajit Pai’s plan to lower broadband standards is “crazy,” FCC Democrat says

      The Federal Communications Commission chairman’s proposal that could lower the country’s broadband standard is “crazy” and does nothing to solve the United States’ broadband accessibility problems, a Democratic FCC commissioner said yesterday.

      The FCC is “proposing to lower US broadband standard from 25 to 10Mbps,” FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel tweeted. “This is crazy. Lowering standards doesn’t solve our broadband problems.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • 3D Printing Patent Landscape

      he field of 3D printing has been growing rapidly for years. It has applications in many areas of life and the economy, such as healthcare, aerospace, and parts replacement. 3D printing also reshapes supply chains and democratizes manufacturing. Fueled by this growth, 3D printing-related patent filings are trending upward.

      The graph and table below show the growth of issued 3D printing-related patents since 1995 (in blue) and of published patent applications since 2001 (in magenta). Patent applications are not made public at the time of filing—they are usually published 18 months after filing—so the graph shows only published applications. Also, counting 3D printing-related patents is not an exact science. Depending on the patent title, a patent covering 3D printing technology may not be picked up in a keyword search, and searches can also include false positives, for example, products made by additive processes that are not typically viewed as 3D printing technologies. The U.S. Patent Office recently developed a new standard classification system for identifying patents related to 3D printing, which should help to identify new patents going forward.

    • Trademarks
      • “Comic-Con” trademark may have to activate superpowers to survive attack

        The future survival of the trademarked term “Comic-Con” is at stake.

        The trademark is facing its potential doom because of the legal fallout from the producers of the San Diego Comic-Con flexing their IP muscles. They sued a competing “Comic-Con” convention for using the unhyphenated form of their trademarked term “Comic-Con” without paying licensing fees. But their suit has raised questions about the legitimacy of the trademark—in particular whether the trademark has become too generic and, hence, a victim to its own pop-culture popularity.

    • Copyrights
      • EU Buried Its Own $400,000 Study Showing Unauthorized Downloads Have Almost No Effect On Sales

        One of the problems in the debate about the impact of unauthorized downloads on the copyright industry is the paucity of large-scale, rigorous data. That makes it easy for the industry to demand government policies that are not supported by any evidence they are needed or will work.

      • With Court Ruling, Fan Subtitles Officially Copyright Infringement In Sweden

        Several years ago, in an unfortunate display of police bending the knee to the copyright industries, Swedish law enforcement raided the offices of Undertexter, a site chiefly dedicated to fan translations for subtitles of films. While these fan translations have been handcuffed to film piracy — mostly through the messaging efforts of film and television content producers — the raid registered as an extreme escalation in the battle on subtitles. Most folks have a hard time understanding why such action was taken, with most fan translations only being useful due to the content makers underserving parts of the earth that speak a variety of languages. These fan translations mostly open up those markets for makers of movies and television who have otherwise chosen not to translate their work into the relevant languages.

      • Furie-ous creator of Pepe the Frog determined to use copyright to get his green creation back

        Can the author of a comic character oppose what he believes to be a distortion of the character’s meaning?

        Katfriend Nedim Malovic (Sandart & Partners) reports on the heated debate surrounding Matt Furie’s Pepe the Frog.

        [...]

        The Pepe the Frog case is one to watch: it raises issues of character protection, but also prompts a discussion around the thin moral rights regime in US copyright law. Finally, it calls for consideration – once again – of the interplay between copyright protection, fair use, and freedom of expression.”

      • Windstream Gives Up Preemptive Fight Over ISP’s Piracy Liability

        U.S. Internet provider Windstream has given up on its preemptive “piracy liability” case against BMG and Rightscorp. The ISP hoped to get legal clarity after it was accused of direct and contributory copyright infringement, but after an initial setback and subsequent appeal, it has now dropped the case.

East Asia’s Patent Peril and the Curse of Patent Trolls

Thursday 21st of September 2017 08:42:48 AM

From manufacturing to merely taxing manufacturers?

Summary: The high cost of China’s new obsession with patents and the never-ending saga of Samsung (Korea), which gets dragged into courts not only in the US but also in China

THE unit once owned by Google (now Lenovo) — namely Motorola‘s mobile business — is in the news again. IAM says that the judge who oversaw Microsoft’s patent war on Linux (Android/Motorola) is upset that Britain now enables patent trolls to operate in London (we wrote a lot about this decision at the time). Huawei, a Chinese giant and leading Android OEM, was attacked by Ericsson’s patent troll. As IAM puts it:

US district court judge James Robart has taken aim at the decision handed down by Justice Colin Birss in the high profile London High Court SEP/FRAND case of Unwired Planet v Huawei, decided earlier this year. Speaking at the annual IPO meeting in San Francisco yesterday, Robart – who handed down the famous Microsoft v Motorola decision in 2013 and sits in the Western District of Washington – said that Birss was wrong to offer specific royalty rates for the technology in question, rather than offering a range, and stated that he did not expect the judgment to be particularly influential in US courthouses.

[...]

Robart’s claim that the Unwired decision wouldn’t have much influence over US courts has previously been made by former Chief Judge for the Federal Circuit Paul Michel who told this blog after the London ruling was handed down that the US legal system was traditionally inward looking and so rarely paid much heed to overseas cases. Of course, judges around the world often disagree on key areas of patent law – the Supreme Court’s rulings in several patent eligibility cases has meant that the US is out-of-step with many jurisdictions in sectors like medical diagnostics – but Robart’s comments highlight the degree to which the law in FRAND licensing remains unsettled.

This decision ought to have been a wake-up call for Huawei, Lenovo (now holding Motorola’s ‘assets’), and China in general. Patent maximalism harms them everywhere. IAM also wrote about this collapse of a Chinese company that wrongly relies on patents rather than production. To quote:

Sanan Optoelectronics failed to take over Osram after having its bold $8.2 billion bid rebuffed late last year. But the Chinese LED maker has turned to the patent market to shore up its IP position, most recently buying a pair of portfolios from Sony. As increased scrutiny from regulators in both Europe and the United States threatens to scuttle Chinese firms’ more audacious M&A endeavours, there is still significant scope for them to acquire IP in smaller-scale deals.

[...]

A USPTO database search turned up just one previous example of Sony transferring patents to a Chinese entity. In 2015, it assigned six imaging-related assets to Hikvision, a video surveillance company whose controlling shareholder is a state-owned enterprise. So it appears to be a relatively rare occurance. Throughout this year and going back to 2015, Sony has steadily transferred LED-related assets to JOLED, an entity which was formed to combine the OLED functions of Sony, Panasonic and Japan Display in 2014. The Sanan sale perhaps shows that Sony has identified assets in the technology area which are not needed by its spun-out business but can find willing buyers on the open market.

As we said here many times before, this strategy of China’s patent gold rush (with government support/backing/financing) is going to be self-destructive. China is, indeed, becoming a patent trolls hub (self harm). IAM wrote about it the other day in relation to Samsung coming under fire. Shortly beforehand, Florian Müller wrote about the Apple v Samsung design patent case — a case which was discussed some days ago:

About a month and a half ago, Judge Lucy Koh of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California held that Samsung had not waived its “article of manufacture” argument in the first Apple v. Samsung case. That was another step forward for Samsung in its quest to get the damages award reduced. But prior to ordering a new trial on design patent damages, Judge Koh ordered briefing on various questions to be resolved first.

Last week, the parties filed their answers to the court’s questions (Apple, Samsung). Samsung argues that Apple has the burden of proof and that the only way the damages question could be resolved without a new trial would be for the court to find an evidentiary failure on Apple’s part. Apple refers the court to the Solicitor General’s Supreme Court brief. According to Apple, after a prima facie showing regarding the article of manufacture that infringes a design patent, the burden of proof is on the defendant to show that a component of that product is the appropriate basis for a disgorgement of infringer’s profits. While I tend to consider Samsung’s proposition better policy, I have no idea to what extent Judge Koh may be influenced by the DoJ’s Supreme Court brief.

Design patents were certainly on the line after the case had been escalated to the Supreme Court and then sent back down to lower courts. As one publication put it the other day:

The U.S. Supreme Court furthered a legal dispute last year as it sent a patent law case involving the two biggest smartphone makers, Apple and Samsung, back to lower courts. Intellectual property experts are now looking to those courts to better define an “article of manufacture” and determine how to place value on individual features in a complex device.

This case seems like it has lasted forever (so far). The only party happy about it is the patent ‘industry’, which is wasting time bickering over patents instead of creating something.

USPTO Starts Discriminating Against Poor People, and Does So Even When They Rightly Point Out Errors

Thursday 21st of September 2017 07:59:03 AM

Forget these photo-ops, he doesn’t work “for the children” (patent indoctrination starts early)


Source: USPTO’s Leadership blog

Summary: Even though the burden of proof ought to be on one who grants a monopoly, the legal costs are being offloaded onto those who challenge an erroneously-granted monopoly (even if the court sides with the challenger)

YESTERDAY we wrote about a bogus Google patent making its way through the system. The Polish challenger could not afford legal advice and therefore it seems likely that Google will get its way. Such is the nature of the system today and it seems to have just gotten worse. As one firm put it a few days ago (emphasis below is ours):

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently began making applicants who challenge agency rulings on trademarks and patents in district court pay the attorney fees and expenses of the agency, regardless of the case’s outcome. This was supported by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals for trademarks in 2015, and more recently by a panel of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit for patents in Nantkwest, Inc v Matal (June 23 2017). However, the Federal Circuit appears to be having second thoughts, as in August 2017 it vacated the Nantkwest panel decision of its own accord and ordered a rehearing by the full court.

This is really bad. So it’s going to get a lot harder for anyone other than large corporations to point out errors in examination. In addition to this, there’s now a big lobby (led by trolls and parasites) against PTAB, which has made challenges more affordable.

Whose system is this and what is it for? It was supposed to correctly issue patents and revoke/reject applications where triviality/prior art, for instance, could be demonstrated/shown.

The USPTO grants patents which certainly look like parody sometimes. Consider this example of a patent, spotted by Dennis Crouch the other day. Notice the length:

Thought pioneer Dan Abelow fits within an interesting designation. So far in 2017, his U.S. Patent Application No. 2012/0069131 – mysteriously titled “Reality Alternate” – is the Most-Oft examiner cited U.S. prior art reference. The document – now patented as U.S. Patent No. 9,183,560 – covers a method of providing “a portal for a user … to be present simultaneously in two or more different non-fictional alternate realities that are distinct from a non-fictional physical reality of the user.” [Here, I’m looking at Examiner citations rather than those submitted by Applicants]

[...]

In addition to being written in a way that draws diverse connections (helpful for obviousness conclusions), the reference is also 750 pages long! (The patentee paid an extra $4,000+ in filing costs for the extra page length). One of the best patent attorneys in the country – David Feigenbaum – filed this case and helped push it through to issuance.

What has become of this system? If it openly discriminates against those who are without deep pockets, then certainly it will promote the perception of protectionism (for the rich) rather than innovation.

More in Tux Machines

Linux and Graphics: AMD, Linux 4.14 LTS, Etnaviv Gallium3D

  • Linux 4.14 Ensures The "Core Performance Boost" Bit Gets Set For AMD Ryzen CPUs
    Recently making waves in our forums was talk of a kernel patch to address a case where the AMD CPB (Core Performance Boost) isn't being exposed by Ryzen processors. Here's more details on that and some benchmarks. Being talked about recently is f7f3dc0: "CPUID Fn8000_0007_EDX[CPB] is wrongly 0 on models up to B1. But they do support CPB (AMD's Core Performance Boosting cpufreq CPU feature), so fix that."
  • Linus Torvalds Is Confident That Linux Kernel 4.14 LTS Will Arrive on November 5
    Development of Linux 4.14, the next LTS (Long Term Support) kernel series, continues with the fifth RC (Release Candidate) milestone, which was announced by Linus Torvalds himself this past weekend. According to Linus Torvalds, things have finally starting to calm down for the development of the Linux 4.14 LTS kernel, and it looks like the RC5 snapshot is smaller than he would have expected, at least smaller than last week's RC4, which is a good thing, meaning that there won't be need for eight RCs during this cycle.
  • Etnaviv Gallium3D Is Almost To OpenGL 2.0 Compliance
    The Etnaviv Gallium3D driver that provides reverse-engineered, open-source graphics support for Vivante graphics hardware is almost to exposing OpenGL 2.0. Etnaviv contributor Christian Gmeiner today posted a set of patches for adding occlusion queries support to the driver. The code at just over one thousand lines of code is the last major feature needed for exposing desktop OpenGL 2.0 capabilities with this community-driven driver.
  • AMD Developers Begin Making Open-Source FreeSync/AdaptiveSync Plans
    While the AMDGPU DC code is expected to land for Linux 4.15 with goodies like Vega display support, HDMI/DP audio, and atomic mode-setting, one of the sought after display features won't be initially supported: FreeSync or the VESA-backed AdaptiveSync. As we've known for a while, while AMDGPU DC fills out the requirements for being able to support FreeSync, the last bits of the implementation are not present as the interfaces are basically yet to be decided among the open-source driver developers. While AMD can post their existing FreeSync code as found in AMDGPU-PRO hybrid driver, they are trying to come up with a more standardized interface that will satisfy the other upstream Linux driver developers too that might want to support AdaptiveSync.

Servers and Red Hat: Cloud Foundry, Docker, CRI-O 1.0, Alibaba and Elasticsearch

  • How to deploy multi-cloud serverless and Cloud Foundry APIs at scale
    Ken Parmelee, who leads the API gateway for IBM and Big Blue’s open source projects, has a few ideas about open-source methods for “attacking” the API and how to create micro-services and make them scale. “Micro-services and APIs are products and we need to be thinking about them that way,” Parmelee says. “As you start to put them up people rely on them as part of their business. That’s a key aspect of what you’re doing in this space.”
  • Docker Opens Up to Support Kubernetes Container Orchestration
    There's been a lot of adoption of Kubernetes in the last few years, and as of Oct. 17 the open-source container orchestration technology has one more supporter. Docker Inc. announced at its DockerCon EU conference here that it is expanding its Docker platform to support Kubernetes. Docker had been directly competing against Kubernetes with its Swarm container orchestration system since 2015. The plan now is to provide a seamless platform that supports a heterogenous deployment that can include both Swarm and Kubernetes clusters. "Docker adapts to you because it's open," Docker founder Solomon Hykes said during his keynote address at DockerCon.
  • Introducing CRI-O 1.0
    Last year, the Kubernetes project introduced its Container Runtime Interface (CRI) -- a plugin interface that gives kubelet (a cluster node agent used to create pods and start containers) the ability to use different OCI-compliant container runtimes, without needing to recompile Kubernetes. Building on that work, the CRI-O project (originally known as OCID) is ready to provide a lightweight runtime for Kubernetes.
  • Red Hat brings its open source solutions to Alibaba Cloud
    Alibaba Cloud has joined the Red Hat Certified Cloud and Service Provider program, with Red Hat solutions to become directly available to Alibaba Cloud customers in the coming months.
  • Elasticsearch now on Alibaba Cloud, eyes China market
    The Amsterdam-based company behind Elasticsearch and Elastic Stack said the new offering would be available to Alibaba Cloud customers as an add-on, giving them access to real-time search, logging, and data analytics capabilities.

Software: VirtualBox 5.1.30, Cockpit 153, GNOME Mutter 3.27.1, KDE Neon

  • Oracle Releases VirtualBox 5.1.30 to Patch Glibc 2.26 Compile Bug on Linux Hosts
    Oracle released VirtualBox 5.1.30, a minor maintenance update to the open-source and cross-platform virtualization software that addresses a few important issues reported by users from previous versions. Coming one month after the VirtualBox 5.1.28 release, which probably most of you out there use right now on your personal computers, VirtualBox 5.1.30 contains a fix for a Glibc 2.26 compilation bug for Linux hosts and a 3D-related crash for Windows guest that use the Windows Additions package.
  • Cockpit 153
    Cockpit is the modern Linux admin interface. We release regularly. Here are the release notes from version 153.
  • GNOME Mutter 3.27.1 Brings Hybrid GPU Support
    Mutter 3.27.1 has just been released as the first development release for the GNOME 3.28 cycle of this compositor / window manager. The change most interesting to us about Mutter 3.27.1 is support for hybrid GPU systems. The context for the hybrid GPU system support is explained via this bug report, "supporting systems with multiple GPUs connected to their own connectors. A common configuration is laptops with an integrated Intel GPU connected to the panel, and a dedicated Nvidia/AMD GPU connected to the HDMI ports."
  • #KDE #KDENEON Release bonanaza! Frameworks, Plasma, KmyMoney and Digikam

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